All posts tagged: John Balch

In praise of Gallagher Guitars

Gallagher Guitars have been in my consciousness – if not my life – since first putting the landmark Will the Circle Be Unbroken album on the turntable in 1972 and hearing the most famous words ever uttered about a Gallagher: Merle Travis:  That guitar, by the way, rings like a bell. Doc Watson:  It’s a pretty good little box — a Mr. Gallagher down in Wartrace, Tennessee made it. So I was thrilled to open the most recent issue of The Fretboard Journal and see a story and photo essay on Gallagher Guitars.  Regular readers know that I eagerly await the sight of The Fretboard Journal in my mailbox. The Circle album gave me the flat-picking/bluegrass bug, and I began thinking about a new guitar.  The first Gallagher I played for any length of time belonged to my long-time friend and clawhammer banjo player John Balch, who still plays his 1975 G-50 on a regular basis.  It was a beautiful sounding guitar which whetted my appetite for one of my own.  The first picture below …

Old-Time for the New Year

The coming of the New Year is always a time to look back and look ahead.  I’ve done both the past couple of days as I’ve enjoyed seeing some new video of the “progressive” old-time banjo work of my buddy John Balch. John and I played together in high school and college under a couple of band names – the best one being The Fiery Gizzard String Band (which we used about 20 years before another band from the area took it up).  The name comes from a beautiful and wild area in the South Cumberland region of Tennessee that I’m pleased to say has recently been saved by my friends at the Land Trust for Tennessee (winners of a 2010 National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award). But I digress.  I’m talking about new style old-time music. John is a terrific clawhammer banjo player, with two stellar CDs out under his own name.  Clawhammer is known as an old-time style, but John’s music sounds as fresh and current as anything coming out in the …