2016 has been an extraordinarily bad year for our favourite musicians passing away, and now I'm sorry to learn that Greg Lake has died.
No doubt we'll be hearing his 1975 solo hit "I Believe In Father Christmas" over this festive season; although not explicitly about Christmas it's one of the better records to be categorised by many as such, but now will be tinged with sadness.
G L Wilson
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Congratulations are in order for six of our Martin Ambassadors who together collected eight 2017 GRAMMY nominations!
- Martin Ambassador Sturgill Simpson is nominated for Album Of The Year and Best Country Album for "A Sailor's Guide To The Earth."
- Martin Ambassadors Dierks Bentley and Elle King are nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "It's Different For Girls."
- Martin Ambassador Thomas Rhett is nominated for Best Country Song for "Die A Happy Man."
- Martin Ambassador Brandy Clark is nominated for Best Country Solo Performance for "Love Can Go To Hell" and Best Country Album for "Big Day In A Small Town."
- Martin Ambassadors The Avett Brothers are nominated for Best American Roots Performance for "Ain't No Man" and Best Americana Album for "True Sadness."
The 2017 GRAMMYs will air on February 12 on CBS. For a full list of nominations, click here.
Guitar slinger friends, I have just launched a separate Youtube channel dedicated to videos in French!
The reason for it: there is a large offering of demos or general guitar and effects talk in the English speaking world, but not much so in the French speaking world.
To kickstart this new channel, I have released three videos in a new series dedicated to what I call “Legendary Pedals”: the Proco RAT, the Boss DS-1 and the Ibanez Tube Screamer.
In a departure from all my other videos, there is some talking before the demo bits. I recount the history behind the pedals and their famous users and I give some tips as well. If you don’t speak or understand French, jump to about half way on each video to hear some tones!
Hideo Kamimoto, Complete Guitar Repair, 1975
I have so much work to do!
Today, I finished nailing down the roof sheathing and got some trim up on the fascia. I would have put up more trim, but the local lumber yard had nothing but junky 1x8 pine, I was a little disgusted by the selection.
The day started out partly sunny, the temperature was about 16 degrees Fahrenheit, by noon the temperature dropped to 12 degrees and a breeze came up making it too cold to work. Yes, there was a time in my life when I would framing in subzero temperatures, I work for myself now, no point in making work a brutal thing.
As I write this post, it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit with heavy snow. The forecast calls for subzero temperatures tonight with up to one foot of snow!
After getting the rafters up and into place, day seven, I got the sub-fascia up on the north and south elevations...
...the sub-fascia almost up...
and getting the the lookouts made on the east...
and west elevations.
Day eight I put down the 5/8 thick OSB roof sheathing.
I need to finish nailing all the wall shear, then 1/4 exterior plywood needs to be purchased, along with some ice and water shield and corrugated roofing for the roof.
Electrical wire needs to be pulled, outlet and lighting boxes located and nailed up, then there's insulation to put in. Did I mention the ten sashes that I will build entirely by hand?
Good thing I got my copy of Charles Hayward's The Woodworker today from Lost Art Press! I admit that sashes were much easier to make when I worked at Yosemite National Park, the workshop was equipped with a floor mounted mortising machine, an eight inch joiner, a twenty four inch thickness planer, a 3hp shaper and a dedicated tenoning/coping machine just for sashes. I like Hayward's description of how to make a sash, I look forward to the task.
About a month or so ago, Fender discontinued their American Standard line of guitars. Details of the replacement line has finally come out, and they are now calling it the American Professional series. This new series encompasses their core American-made lineup of guitars and basses.
One new addition is something I’ve wanted for a long time: an American-made non-vintage Jazzmaster! I’ve owned one of the American Vintage Reissue Jazzmasters, but I wasn’t a big fan of the 7.25″ radius so I sold it. Now, Fender has made a Jazzmaster that really interests me.
Vintage enthusiasts should probably look past this model, though, as it does have more changes than just the fretboard radius. Most notably, they have removed the rhythm circuit from the guitar and moved the pickup selector above the strings, similar to a Les Paul. I happen to like the pickup selector there, but it seems that vintage enthusiasts are not in favor of the change.
Another departure from vintage is the availability of a maple fretboard, something not typically associated with a Jazzmaster. I’m not a big fan of maple fingerboards, so I’ll stick with rosewood, but it’s nice to have the option.
The neck profile has also been tweaked into what they are calling a “Deep C”-shaped neck with tall, but narrow frets. I’m a little concerned about the neck profile as I liked the modern Fender profile. Early reports are that it’s only slightly larger than the previous American Standard series, so I suspect it will feel somewhat similar but it’s definitely something I need to check out in person.
The pickups are also newly designed and are called V-Mod Jazzmaster pickups. They are described as having hot, vintage-inspired tone and come with a treble-bleed circuit to retain high-end clarity when lowering the volume.
Fender has improved the tremolo and bridge, which has long been a complaint of the previous design. The new bridge uses brass Mustang saddles to prevent the string slippage that sometimes occurred on the traditional Jazzmaster bridge. The tremolo now has a screw-in arm, so you can set it up so the bar doesn’t flop around like it does on vintage-inspired models.
Based on early details, the Jazzmaster will come in four colors: three-tone sunburst, Olympic white, sonic grey, and mystic seafoam. The sonic grey and mystic seafoam are new colors for this line and will come with a maple fretboard. The sunburst and white models will come with a rosewood fretboard.
The rumors are that the American Professional line, including the Jazzmaster, will be available at retailers as early as this week. Some retailers have already received models in store, so you if you’re interested, check with your local Fender dealer.
Note: The image above shows the new Jazzmaster alongside the new Jaguar, which is also being introduced with the American Professional series. Click the image for larger size.
Aloha! Shhh! Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the Christmas season upon us and do you know any Christmas songs on ukulele? If you’re anything like me, the Christmas season rolls around and you think “it sure would be nice to know some Christmas songs.” After all, they’re catchy, bright, and even the sad ones still make you feel good in a way – a lot of them are just perfect songs regardless of your religious persuasion. Timeless, too. But the season is upon me already and it seems like it’s too late to learn the songs.
“Next year,” I say to myself, “I’ll start learning early so I’ll be prepared for any impromptu Christmas jams.” But then I get busy, feel like there’s a ton of time to learn, then I get all wrapped up in Halloween, and the next thing you know I’m focusing on the delicious food for Thanksgiving and then – holy crap – the season is upon me again!
Well no more! Last year I learned just one song in time for Christmas and think I did pretty good, but I’m always up for learning more to fill out my repertoire. And there are a ton of ukulele Christmas books to pull songs from, but the thing about them is that there are only so many in a book and sometimes they’re a bit complex for learning something fast.
If only there was a way – a book, perhaps – that can help you get through a show. Maybe even fake your way through it if you don’t know the songs’ chords.
Well ho, ho, ho, there is. Hal Leonard has a Christmas Ukulele Fake Book that has over 250 songs (actually 255 if I counted right) for you to look at and quickly grasp. The ukulele chord boxes are prevalent and easy to read and you can strum along as you sing your heart out. And at 255 songs, you can rest assured that just about anything you want is located within. Yes, it’s meant as more of a strummer’s guide to getting you through the songs so it’s not the most complex thing in the world, but it leaves room for you to embellish as you want. Once you know the chords, you can add whatever flourishes you want and still have the bones there for people to follow and be familiar with.
The book comes in 5.5 X 8.5″ size, which is convenient enough to throw in a gig bag or backpack and be good to go and the comb binding means it can lay flat, but won’t have the long-term detrimental effects of spiral-bound books. There’s even a label on the plastic so you can easily find it on a shelf. The small size, while great for portability, does make it a bit hard to see when you’re standing up on a stage but for home use, it’s a perfect size.
For a guy who loves Christmas songs as much as I do, this book is a holy grail of sorts. It won’t stop me from getting more ukulele Christmas books because I like seeing different interpretations of songs and trying to learn different styles in the same song construct but I do consider my educational material to be lacking without this book. It’s just that awesome.
If you’re thinking about getting it, I recommend getting it soon. The season’s upon us!
Until next time! Mahalo!
Continuing my thread of a couple posts ago I wanted to recommend some other artists I’ve been listening to and music I’ve been using with my students. First and foremost….
Sarah Jarosz. I’ve used her (live) cover of Paul Simon’s “Kathy’s Song” for a year or so with some of my students. Recently I began using a couple tunes off her recent album “Build Me Up From Bones” including “Take Me Back’ and “Mile on the Moon.” The former is not hard to play – kind of a medium tempo minor key thing that is tons of fun to do improvisational lead guitar with. The latter is a great finger-picked song using Travis-style picking, just challenging enough to be good with students but not too over the top in difficulty. Sarah is the real deal, folks. Her singing is way beyond her years and her playing and writing are first rate. My prediction is that she will be a major force in acoustic music for decades to come. I hope to see her perform live one of these days.
Shawn Colvin. I’ve loved her music for better than 20 years and her guitar playing is unique. Her album of all covers that came out a couple years ago is well worth a listen. Her single guitar-and-vocals arrangement of the Paul Simon masterpiece “American Tune” (which I quoted in my last blog entry) is fantastic. And that song has never been more poignant or relevant. The chords are relatively easy but the rhythm takes a bit of getting used to as it switches from 4/4 to 2/4 repeatedly. But it works.
And speaking of Paul Simon….
I recently finished read the new (unauthorized) biography of Paul, “Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon” by Peter Ames Carlin. It is an exhaustive and fascinating view of Paul’s life and work and while some of the facts may be open to discussion my sense is that it is a mostly accurate portrayal of this incredible musician and individual. From his early days right through his current projects it portrays a true musical genius with a troubled soul. I remember reading an interview with his good friend Lorne Michaels (producer of Saturday Night Live) a while back when Lorne stated that writing is never easy and often excruciating for Paul. This doesn’t surprise me at all as he is an absolute perfectionist and has no patience with musicians, critics or others who question his motivation or commitment to his craft. And through it all are his complex relationships, with women, musicians and especially with his friend/enemy/collaborator Art Garfunkel. Read this book if you want insight into one of the most complex and magical relationships in modern music.
On a different note entirely, I was again rudely reminded of the importance of treating guitars well if you live in a place with varying temperature and humidity. I preach this to my students all the time of course, but sometimes things just….happen. I recently acquired a beautiful Martin HD-28 CTB (“custom tortoise bound”, one of 97 made in 1992 as a Martin Guitar of the Month from their custom shop). It is a spectacular looking and sounding guitar with a combination of herringbone and tortoise binding (which I much prefer to the while binding used on most Martins), the classic mother of pearl “torch” inlay on the head stock, the Martin logo inlaid in pearl at the 12th fret, diamond fret markers, gold embossed tuning machine knobs, and highest grade solid rosewood sides and back with a AAAA spruce top. With the exception of a couple tiny dents on the top, it was in perfect condition. To make a long and sad story short, I went out to my (well humidified) studio a week or so ago to find that the thermostat had stopped working and the temperature had dropped to the high 40s. The light was coming through the window in just a certain way and I noticed it immediately: two long spider web like “checks” in the top finish. AAAARRGGHH!!! Now, these are cosmetic issues only – the wood was not cracked, thank goodness – but I was depressed for days and couldn’t help seeing them immediately every time I picked up that beautiful Martin.
One of my students who I love to give grief to (all in good fun) said this when I related my sad tale and showed her the guitar.
Look, she said in so many words, maybe this is a sign that you need to stop buying and selling so many guitars in search for the perfect one that you will probably never find. Kind of like a loved one who has a bit of a physical malady but you love anyway, maybe you should break your rule about not getting emotionally involved with your guitar.
Hmmm. I thought about this for a few days. She was right. I’m looking at that wonderful Martin right now, and I think it will probably be with me for a long, long time. No matter what.
And oh yeah. I got my thermostat fixed.
Peace & good music,
For some time now, we have wanted to have a way to communicate with those who really have interest in what the Custom Shop is up to and why. Each month going forward, a Custom Shop Team member will write a blog based on subject matter they are passionate about regarding custom guitars. This will keep it interesting and informative but more importantly, give you a peek inside what we do every day. The team’s passion is expressed in the guitars we create, whether designed by you the customer or by the team itself. The desire is to share our direction with those who are as guitar crazy as we are.
'Tis the season of sharing, but to be honest, I have struggled with selecting the initial subject with which to launch this new blog. So I’ve decided to begin by going back in time to an era I believe is responsible for many of today’s desirable guitar features. In the mid-30’s, Martin Guitar’s 14-Fret D-28 began flowing out of the factory in quantities that allowed many of them to still exist today. Many of our favorite musicians own and play Martin products and much of the recorded music we have heard throughout our lives was recorded using a Martin.
What makes those old Martins so special? That’s tough to answer since we enthusiasts look and listen for different things, things that tell our brains something is special. For the sake of a short read, we’ll stick to those things most hard-core enthusiasts agree on; old Martins just sound great. Let’s face it, in their own way, they look great too. They look great because……well, it makes sense….it’s an old guitar. It shouldn’t look new. Just like your favorite flannel shirt, worn jeans, or as my son would add, ‘his favorite blankie he cuddles with’. They are comfortable and they just feel ‘right’. With the introduction of the Martin Vintage Tone System (VTS) last year, we began the journey towards finding those special features that bring an instrument closer to those old Martins. Sure, we can play a new guitar day after day and the tone gets sweeter as the guitar opens up, it is a wonderful thing. In contrast, that very first ding or scratch we get on our new guitar sends chills down our back. But slowly, year after year, that guitar takes on a look that says, ‘I’ve been around and I’ve played a lot of songs.’
Of course one can simply buy a new Martin and play it for decades, putting their own patina on it and it will eventually look and sound like an old guitar. Yeah they sound great to begin with but only sound like the old ones when time has done its magic. VTS allows us get that tone much faster but the look of the instrument still says, “I’m new.”
Sure, there are those who never want a guitar to look used and prefer pristine finishes. We get it; we like that too. However, there are many who wish they could afford to go out and purchase a 1937 D-28 but it simply would cause too much trouble at home….you know what I mean? To have a new Martin that not only sounds like an older Martin but also looks like a rare older Martin would be nirvana for many of us. Too often I receive comments from customers and dealers who express great interest in Martins that not only reach for that older Martin sound right out of the box, but they share the desire to have them look like an old Martin.
This consistent request has been received loud and clear! Being guitar nuts ourselves makes it very easy to see the attraction a guitar like this from Martin would be. Let’s face it; not many companies can produce an factory-aged guitar and it seem ‘right’. If the company has been around long enough for their products to naturally be that old, then yes, it becomes more acceptable for them to produce aged versions today. A company that has only been around for a short time has visual and mental obstacles to overcome. Does it look right to see factory-aged versions of their guitars trying to masquerade as guitars that never existed? Nobody wants to see a Rat Rod Tesla.
In 2017, the Martin Custom Shop will be producing a limited quantity of hand-aged Authentics that capture not only the sound but the look of Martin’s from the 1930’s. We have painstakingly reproduced those features that appear on our 30’s era museum guitars. As we move forward, we plan to create more versions and levels of aging on guitars through the Custom Shop. You can learn more about this process in January 2017 here.
Stay tuned each month as we open the doors to the Custom Shop and share the experience.
G.M. Custom Shop
C.F. Martin & CO., Inc.
|The Staff at Gruhn Guitars with the Eric Clapton Collection|
Gruhn Guitars of Nashville, Tennessee has just announced it is offering the sale of 29 guitars owned by Eric Clapton. This sale runs the gamut of acoustic and nylon string instruments to electric guitars and bass guitars.
Two guitars are pre-WWII Martins, while others are custom shop one-of-a-kind guitars. Each guitar will be accompanied by a photo of Clapton with the guitars and a signed letter by him attesting ownership and provenance. Be advised that you will need a rather fat wallet when you make the trip.
|1941 Martin 000-45|
The asking price for his 2014 personal Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster is $42,500.
Among the other pieces offered are the following:
|1931 Martin OM-28|
A 1931 Martin OM-28, which as already been sold at an undisclosed price.
|1980 Santa Cruz|
A 1980 Santa Cruz FTC-17 that was recently restored by Santa Cruz guitars and is going for $30,000.
|1998 Gerundino GF1|
A 1998 spruce top Gerundino GF1 Flamenco guitar that Clapton purchased in 2006 has been sold.
|2003 Gerundion GF4|
Another Gerundino Flamenco guitar. This is a 2003 model number GF4 with a cedar top has already been sold.
|1929 National Tricone|
A gorgeous 1929 National Style 3 Tricone resonator guitar that Clapton purchased in 2006 and Derek Trucks used on a tour that same year is offered, but has been sold.
Gruhn’s is also offering some of Clapton’s Fender Custom Shop Stratocasters and a few have already been sold.
|2007 Crossroads Strat|
His black 2007 Crossroads Antiqua Foundation Stratocaster, number 1 of 100, which was built by Mark Kendrick, features a 25 db active boost, and Fender noiseless pickups is going for $35,000 with hardshell case.
Two Porsche Atlas Grey 2006 Custom Shop Stratocaster have already been sold.
A 2009 Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster in Daphne Blue, featuring Fender noiseless pickups and an active boost has also been sold.
His 2011 Fender Custom Shop red Stratocaster that he used for warm-up before shows.
|2006 Blackie Relic Strat|
Another Fender Custom Shop creation was Clapton’s 2006 “Blackie” relic. This guitar has been sold.
|2007 Crossroads Strat|
A 2007 black Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster that was built for Clapton's Crossroads Antiqua Foundation by Fender custom builder Dennis Galuszka is also for sale. Asking price is $35,000.
|2014 Buddy Holly Style|
A 2014 Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster in the style of Buddy Holly’s guitar, with a two-tone sunburst finish has been sold.
|2007 Gibson SG|
Clapton’s 2007 Gibson SG Standard features a cherry finish, however it has been sold.
|1991 Firebird V|
Clapton’s 1991 red Gibson Firebird V with a two-tone headstock (red and black) has also been sold.
|2000 Epiphone Les Paul|
A 2000 black Epiphone Les Paul with a white pickguard (signed by Les Paul) and a Bigsby vibrato has been sold.
Clapton’s 2015 Gretsch G612TCB-JR, which was given to Clapton by guitarist Ed Sheeran has been sold.
|'80's Roland Synth Guitar|
A 1980’s Roland G-505 Synth guitar unit was offered for sale, but has been sold. This is similar to the one used by Randy Bachman in the Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive.
|'80 MusicMan Fretless Bass|
Clapton has offered a sunburst 1980 Fretless Music Man Stingray Bass which has already been sold.
|2009 Byrdland Custom|
Clapton’s beautiful cherry red 2009 Gibson Byrdland Custom with dual humbucking pickups has been sold.
Another natural maple 2009 Gibson Byrdland Custom with a single alnico pickup has also been sold.
|2013 L-5 Wes Montgomery|
Clapton’s sunburst 2013 Gibson Wes Montgomery Custom L-5 that he used at the Royal Albert Hall has been sold.
A gorgeous handmade Alexandr Svistunov 17” archtop acoustic guitar with a violin finish, made in the tradition of Stromberg guitars has been sold.
|'41 D'Angelico New Yorker|
Clapton is also parting with his collection of vintage D’Angelico guitars including a 1941 3 tone sunburst D’Angelico New Yorker that he purchased in 2006. The asking price is $20,000.
|'38 D'Angelico Excel|
His 1938 dark sunburst D’Angelico Excel, with a 17” top and a DeArmond pickup has already been sold.
|'45 D'Angelico Style A|
Clapton’s 1945 D’Angelico Style A with a natural finish and a DeArmond pick can be yours for $20,000.
|'37 D'Angelico Excel|
A 1937 dark sunburst D’Angelico Excel that he purchased in 2006 has been sold.
|2013 D'Angelico Excel|
Two newer 2013 D’Angelico guitars are also offered including a 2013 D’Angelico Excel that was handmade in the USA with a 3 tone sunburst finish and a single pick is offered at $20,000.
|2013 D'Angelico Style B|
And finally a 2013 sunburst D’Angelico Style B, which was handmade in the USA is priced at $20,000.
You can see these at Gruhn Guitars at 2120 8th Avenue South in Nashville, Tennessee 37204.
Please check out my Guitars Currently Available page to see the specs of available guitars and to read what internationally known guitarists are saying about my guitars.
If there is one that you are interested in, please call or email me for more details. It is best if you call me, that way we can discuss the individual guitar, payment and shipping options.
I can ship guitars for approval upon receiving a cashier's or bank check for the total price of the instrument. You will have 48 hours after receiving shipment to decide if you wish to keep the instrument. If the guitar is returned within this 48 hour period, I will refund payment. If the instrument is not returned within 48 hours, it will be considered sold. All costs for shipping and insurance are the responsibility of the customer.
I look forward to hearing from you!
It is always amazing when two iconic brands team up to bring fans new music. That's one of the reasons we teamed up with Stetson for their new video series.
The talented, Nashville rebel Nikki Lane strummed her new single "Highway Queen" for the series at the Electric Lady Studios recently. During the performance, Nikki Lane dons a classic Stetson hat and a 000-15SM strung with light gauge SP Lifespan strings. Her third album will be released on February 17th, 2016. You can watch Stetson Presents: Nikki Lane Powered By Martin Guitar here.
Willis H. Wagner, Modern Carpentry, 1992
Yesterday was Day Five of framing the new workshop.
I replaced the header over the door with a longer header, the door opening was too close to the east wall, I was afraid that you would bump into the wall when you entered the building. The opening was shifted to the west.
Then it was a matter of nailing up sheets of OSB shearing to keep the building from falling down.
I need to buy some 3/8" thick exterior grade plywood to cover the OSB and finish the exterior, but I want to prime and paint it before I put it up. The temperature didn't get above 24 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, and there was a good breeze which made it feel even colder! Not the warmest day for swinging a hammer or for painting!
It is nice to walk through the door opening instead of squeezing through wall studs!
This shop will have a bank of five upper windows and three big windows, these will be approximately 30"x40", giving me plenty of light to work by. I will make the sashes by hand, I have a feeling I am going to get to know my Stanley No.45 plane very well this winter! I don't want to set up a router and router table to rout the rails, stiles and muntins, too much noise and dust!
I was hoping to fly the rafters today, but there are a few errands to run. The walls need to be "string lined" and straighten, the rafter pattern needs to be temporarily put in place to see if it fits properly so I can cut the other rafters.
Once the "lid" is on, I can pull wire and insulate. There is also the matter of finding a nice propane heater and having a gas line run to the building.
I can't wait to finish this shop!
I don’t really need to use clamps when gluing up a dulcimer peghead assembly but I feel better knowing the clamp is there. Hide glue added to a clean and well-fitting joint grabs and pulls the joint together as the hide glue sets up.
Clamping the parts together at an angle is tricky but in the photograph you can sort of see the peghead and the block beneath it are pressed up against an angled block of wood covered with wax paper. The peghead is clamped to the work board and there is wax paper on the work board as well.
This arrangement keeps parts from sliding when downward pressure is applied to the joint. They probably wouldn’t slide anyway since I’m using hide glue but I feel better knowing there is no chance of a rude surprise.
The wax paper prevents someone from getting a dulcimer with a work-board and an angled block of wood stuck to the peghead. That would make the dulcimer difficult to tune and it would be hard to find a case that fits.
After everything is clamped up I clean up the squeezed out glue with a rag and warm water. This is another benefit of hide glue; it cleans up with warm water and a rag.
You can see more photographs of dulcimers in progress and other stuff by following me on Instagram.
I was thinking about Narciso Yepes going blind at the end of his career and how he must have learned music differently. He would have needed to memorize chunks of it after first reading and this reading would have been by looking at the score with a large magnifier. Doing he would have registered the music as imagined sound with the internal images of where our fingers go to produce those sounds.
Students who try to do this because they don’t enjoy reading music create a precarious situation – if you learn something wrong it is very hard to change. There is a period of assimilation and acculturation that young minds need to work through. Western art music is a series of cultural constructions and our brain needs to amass quite a bit of data in order before one can hear new pieces and predict what might come next.
For an artist of Yepes’ experience this was not an issue, and I think of him learning a phrase, then closing his eyes immediately afterwards as he played thorough it a second time. Closing the eyes allows them to rest, a very important thing with deteriorating eye issues. It would also impress the notation on the imagination: writing the music straight onto his brain.
Simply closing your eyes changes everything as the visual stimulus decreases, other brain functions can manifest. These are the processes that are key to music making, imagining the sound and conjuring how to produce it. The body will figure how to do it if you trust it. Narciso at this point in his life had no choice just like Stevie Wonder never had a choice to watch his fingers. It marvelous to think of musicians so far apart in style united in their approach.
Nasrudin was coming back from a friend’s house very late one night when he saw a man sleeping on the grass smelling of drink. He went closer and saw the man to be a judge, well known for handing down sever penalties for moral offences, so, between snores, Nasrudin removed the judge’s coat and slippers and went home.
The next day, having realized his missing clothing the judge ordered his enforcers to check every house and to bring the thief to court. Nasrudin was soon before the magistrate who asked where he had gotten the slippers and coat.“Well, you see, I borrowed them from a drunk lying in a gutter last night. I would like to return them, do you happen to know him?” Realizing the dilemma, the judge dismissed the case.
I made a mistake last night that I regret. I was with close friends, people I care about deeply and treasure in my life. Although we are pretty much on the same page when it comes to politics when the discussion turned personal and we began speaking about how the current political climate affects our very lives I couldn’t keep my frustration in check. My friend’s two children have spouses from other countries and they are trying their best to expose their children to positive attitudes about race, gender and equality, all things that are vitally important. The husband of my friend’s daughter was recently confronted with outright bigotry for the first time since he moved here from his native Cayman Islands. It was disturbing, to say the least and I felt their pain and anger. My friends went on to describe how one of their grandchildren attends a school that is attended by a widely diverse student population and both they and their son and daughter-in-law are thrilled with how much diversity is celebrated and demonstrated there.
But here’s where I lost my cool. I listened for a while (as I have before, for what it’s worth) but something was missing form my friend’s adulation of “celebrating diversity.” And that was a core value: No matter how much we embrace diversity, in the end, we are all Americans.
What does that mean, exactly? Many things, now more than ever and I’ve given this a lot of thought throughout the months leading up to the recent election.
I guess I couldn’t help myself and exclaimed (too loudly) that if we lose sight of that in celebration of our differences there is a very real danger that we will lose sight of who we are as a whole. My friend countered that this celebration of diversity is nothing new, think about the old Italian American and Portuguese American and Irish American Clubs of our parent’s generation, he said. They celebrated their heritage, and they still do today. But wait, I said. In all those clubs you would surely find American flags on display, and meetings almost always started with the Pledge. This may sound a bit out of date in our modern, melded, connected and somewhat smug world, even a bit corny, but the take-away was that no matter how many times they called each other paisano or padre they knew that they might not have the freedom to do that if not for core belief in their country or the sacrifices of those who came before. I wondered aloud (again, too loudly) if the diverse student population of my friend’s grandchildren’s school happened to have a flag in their school or if the Pledge was part of their daily curriculum. Perhaps they do and I am totally off base. I have not been there so I cannot say.
Before I go any further I want to state categorically that I deplore people who wrap the flag around themselves as they practice racism, prejudice, misogyny, intolerance and hatred. The perversion of American values and beliefs must cease if we are to survive. Let’s not forget that we are ALL immigrants (although I know Native Americans have been here much longer than Europeans) and it wasn’t so long ago that the very people who are demonstrating such disgusting intolerance today probably had grandparents or great-grandparents who faced similar hatred.
So how does any of this relate to music? For me anyway, certain songs can sometimes sum up the way I feel about many things. In this case it is Paul Simon’s masterpiece, “An American Tune.” The last verse says it all.
“We come in a ship they called Mayflower,
We come on a ship that sailed the moon.
We come in ages’ most uncertain hours, and sing an American tune.
And it’s alright, oh it’s alright, you can be forever blessed.
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day and I’m trying to get some rest,
That’s all, I’m trying to get some rest.”
Peace & good music,
Marples Chisels with rubber grip handle, 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", 1" wide blades, purchased in 2004.
One Wagner Safe-T-Planer kit w/ original box, planer, instructions and replacement blades. Used once, purchased in 2007.
One hand made carpenter mallet, red oak handle, maple head, made in 2002.
Three unmarked coping saws, two circa 1960's, one from 2005.
One hand made chair devil, Claro walnut body with ebony and scraper blade. Made in 2003.
One Starrett micrometer, circa 1960's with owner's name on it.
One 1/2"wide Veritas Tenon cutter with brass depth setting gauge, purchased c.1999.
One AMT brand spoon gouge used from carving violin tops and backs, with hang hole, c.1999.
One French made pencil dividers, original screw is missing to hold pencil
One Fuller brand Phillips tip screwdriver, 1960's vintage
One Stanley brand slotted screw driver for hand brace, 5/16" wide, c.1950's
One slotted screw driver for hand brace, GP bar over Eye surrounded by a heart mark, with no. 352
One 5/16" fluted reamer for hand brace, Diamond "C" mark
One Victoria brand hoof knife, purchased 1986.
All tools in good to good++ condition. Wagner Safe-T-Planer is near mint.
Please ask questions and I can supply more photos.