All posts tagged: The Fretboard Journal

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 …

Acoustic Music Old and New

Airline travel has its occasional benefits. Earlier this week I had a trip to Boston booked on Jet Blue Airlines.  When I sat down in the seat, I glanced at the arm rest and thought, “Hot dog – Jet Blue is the airline with free XM radio!”  I whipped out my ear buds and settled in for 90 minutes of the XM station Bluegrass Junction. I love to listen to my own iPod playlist, but it also great fun to settle in to an airline seat or a rental car to catch XM radio’s bluegrass station.  Every time that happens I always end up hearing some great new music, and my Boston trip was no exception. On one leg of the trip, the station was featuring one of its staples:  a program entitled Track By Track where the DJ plays a full album by a featured artist who provides commentary along the way.  This week’s show featured the new Compass Records album Somewhere South of Crazy by the Southern songbird Dale Ann Bradley. Now I’ve …

Running Dog Guitar Ought-3

Fretboard Journal: The 20th Issue

The 20th issue of The Fretboard Journal showed up in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago.  Any time a big package shows up in the mailbox these days, the kids get excited as they wait to hear back on their applications to college.  But I’m the one who shouts for  joy when I see the package that turns out to be my favorite magazine. I’m glad to see The Fretboard Journal make it to 20 issues, as I wasn’t sure they could sustain this model.  But the editors keep putting out the best guitar porn on the planet, with stories about both players and builders. Readers who like North Carolina’s Avett Brothers will want to check out this issue.  As always, there are great introductions to builders and players I’ve never heard of (see the Joe Veillette article and his beautiful creations).   I enjoyed a Bobby Long piece about how Dylan’s Gibson J-200 on the front of Nashville Skyline (see photo at the top of the post) inspired a life-long passion.  Paul Mehling, founder …

Bush, O’Brien and Froggy Bottom

Two of my favorite musicians – plus one of this era’s best guitar builders – are all featured in the Fall 2010 issue of The Fretboard Journal which landed in my mailbox last week.  Let’s begin with those musicians. I’ve been listening to New Grass Revival founder Sam Bush (on the right in the picture by Thomas Petillo at the top) since about 1973.  A few years later I began to hear Hot Rize member Tim O’Brien in a number of venues.  Both are multi-instrumentalists who have stretched the boundaries of bluegrass since coming on the scene. The Fretboard Journal has a laid back yet informative “conversation” between Bush and O’Brien as the cover story of the most recent issue.  The topics are wide-ranging, from playing with jazz pianist Bill Evans at the Blue Note to the night when Bush and Mark O’Connor joined the Hot Rize alter ego band Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers for a set. When the conversation turned to hearing someone for the first time, my mind went back to the …

Harp Guitar

More harp guitar

After writing the post last evening on the harp guitar article in the Spring 2010 issue of  The Fretboard Journal, I kept looking around on YouTube for other players mentioned in the article…and I came across this wonderful video of Muriel Anderson that I had to share. Anderson’s harp guitar is a classical-style model which has a beautiful sound.  I hope you’re able to listen to these videos on a computer that has a good bass speaker, because the sound of those ringing bass strings turns a beautiful tune into a magical tune. (As an aside, check out all those beautiful harp guitars on the stage behind Muriel at the opening of the video.  Guitar eye candy indeed!) Here’s “Lady Pamela” by Muriel Anderson.  Enjoy. More to come… DJB

More strings make beautiful music

Several weeks ago the Spring 2010 issue of The Fretboard Journal showed up in my mailbox.  I was traveling a great deal at the time, so I popped in it my briefcase and caught up on all the news from the world of beautiful instruments in airplanes and hotel rooms. Ricky Skaggs, the young acoustic band Bearfoot (which I caught at last year’s Merlefest), and Bedford County, Virginia luthier James Jones are all featured in this issue.  But my eye was immediately taken to an article on harp guitars. I had never seen a harp guitar until I attended the Shenandoah Valley’s Oak Grove Music Festival one year and Stephen Bennett pulled out the strangest instrument imaginable.  But then he began playing the most beautiful music, and I was transfixed.  I’ve since met Stephen through my friends the Pearsons and Harringtons, and I’m always amazed at how someone can play such lovely music on such an awkward looking guitar. Stephen Bennett and Gregg Miner (whose guitar photo from harpguitars.net leads off this post) are featured …

Eighth of January

For all who love great old-time fiddle tunes, here’s a little luncheon treat. One of my favorites among the old-time tunes is the Eighth of January, which many will remember from the old Johnny Horton country hit The Battle of New Orleans. (The date of the battle was January 8, 1815, and Jimmy Driftwood, an Arkansas school principal who wrote the words to the song to interest children in history, used the fiddle tune for the music.)  The Eighth of January is a sweet little melody that’s relatively easy to play but has lots of possibilities for variations. I found this video by Roland White with a nice short mandolin version.  I wrote about Roland and his brother Clarence back in March 2009 when they were featured in the Fretboard Journal. So, on January 8, 2010, enjoy the Eighth of January in a more timeless mode. More to come… DJB

When Passions Collide

I love it when my passions collide. Like when the November/December issue of Preservation magazine has a story on the saving of one of the few remaining Negro League baseball stadiums.  Any preservation story that begins with the name Monte Irvin is guaranteed to warm the heart of this old NY baseball Giants fan.  My mother-in-law thought that because of my position with the National Trust for Historic Preservation I must have chosen the cover picture for the magazine.  I didn’t (although I gave writer Eric Wills lots of encouragement as he put the story together), but I do have a beautiful print of that great shot ready for framing for my office.  And from Preservation Online comes the encouraging news that Patterson, New Jersey’s  Hinchliffe Stadium… …may be restored. The city of Paterson and the school board entered into a shared services agreement in late October 2009, and in early November, voters passed a referendum asking for $15 million to fund the stadium’s renovation. If all goes according to plan, the city will receive permission to issue a …

Jerry Douglas, Travis Tritt, and the Fretboard Journal cap first day of Merlefest 2009

With just a Dobro, acoustic guitar, and one great country blues voice, Jerry Douglas and Travis Tritt filled the North Carolina night with terrific music at the end of Day One of Merlefest 2009. I left this morning and drove to Wilkesboro on a picture perfect spring day.  The Shenandoah was beautiful as I drove up the valley: red-buds were everywhere, and the hardwoods were just beginning to green.  Just another reason I treasure my 15 years in Staunton and go back as often as possible. I arrived at the Wilkes Community College campus — home to Merlefest — in time to catch most of the Lovell Sisters’ act.  I’ve written about the Lovell Sisters before, but they continue to grow as musicians and as a band, with more complex arrangements and beautiful harmony singing.   They ended with a tune by that well-known bluegrass composer Jimi Hendrix. Wayne Henderson followed on the Cabin Stage.  Wearing his Boston Red Sox hat (see photo at right) and finger-picking on a beautiful Henderson guitar, Wayne and his band-mates …