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 …

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 …

Muriel Anderson: Day Tripper

Okay.  I’m officially in love. I posted a video earlier this morning of Muriel Anderson playing harp guitar.  When the video ended, it did the normal YouTube thing and gave me an offering of related videos to view.  I clicked on “Day Tripper” – one of my favorite Beatles tune – and within about 20 seconds I was mesmerized. Here’s Muriel Anderson, playing this wonderful and complex pop tune while explaining the thought process that went into the arrangement.  She’s copying McCartney’s bass line (never an easy thing to do even when you aren’t talking) but then she has the melody going, and then she switches to play in B, and then…well, see for yourself. Amazing. More to come… DJB

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 …