Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yes, we still build guitars...

First, let's get something straight. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we do actually spend most of our time building guitars and not promoting/attending concerts. That having been said, we've got a killer shop concert planned for this weekend...

(thanks Julia for the poster!)

Ken Whiteley is officially the real deal. A multi-instrumentalist with a powerful voice that draws from a deep repertoire of blues, gospel, and folk music, Ken's been performing and recording since the 60's. When Mike O'Brien stopped by the shop the other day to return one of Jeremy's guitars he had been borrowing, he got to talking about Ken and said, "He's like Jedi, man. Right when you think he's completely blown your mind he plays something else and blows it even more."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Li'l Andy and Terry Joe Banjo Shop Concert

The town I grew up in has no stoplights -- I am not from a city. Moving to Montreal last fall was a big change for many reasons and living in a city for the first time was one of the biggest. I was sure I'd be lost in a sea of unknown (and much more fashionably attired) people without any sense of community. I could not have been more wrong. I am constantly surprised at all the familiar faces and friends we run into at concerts, art exhibits, and even just walking down the sidewalk. At the beginning of the month we hosted another fantastic shop concert that really made me appreciate this feeling. At one point in each of their sets both Li'l Andy and Terry Joe Banjo had the crowd sing along and everyone sang together. Looking around and seeing a crowd of friends and smiling singers made me realize that we really are part of a community here, even in a "big city" like Montreal. And I'll tell you, it feels pretty good!

The night started with a stellar performance by Terry Joe Banjo. Terry Joe frails a long necked Gibson 5 string banjo like no one I've ever seen. One of my all-time heroes Doc Watson described Terry Joe's playing as "...some mighty fine banjo picking... I've never heard anyone frail that fast in all my life." Trust me, if Doc Watson says you're good, you're good. Terry Joe is also quite a versatile performer playing guitar, harmonica, a paper bag (apparently Tim Horton's bags have superior acoustic properties), and doing a little shuffle tap dance at various points throughout his set. You can hear one of his songs, "For Pete's Sake", below...

"For Pete's Sake" - Terry Joe Banjo
(audio only)

About 3 days into my first guitar building course Pat and Joshia brought me into Ottawa to see a friend's concert. Little did I know then that over four years later I would have seen Li'l Andy play countless shows and actually get the chance to have him perform in our shop! The CBC (that's Canadian for NPR for my American comrades) described Andy as having a "knack for packing the entire tear-jerking history of country music into one sucker-punch to the gut". Normally I don't enjoy getting punched in the gut (sucker or not), but I'll take it every time when Andy's doing the singing. Listen to him belt it out on "Auburn Fades Away"...

"Auburn Fades Away" - Li'l Andy
(audio only)

ps. Andy, if you read this, next time I see you please don't actually punch me in the gut.