For our 93rd podcast, we talk to Seattle musician Eli West, who is just about to wrap up a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first solo record. West is a prolific musician, perhaps best known for his work in Cahalen Morrison & Eli West. His forthcoming solo album features a host of guest performers, including Bill Frisell and Dori Freeman.
We talk shop with West about the album, his background and also the acoustic and electric gear he’s been using both on the road and in the studio.
Support Eli West’s Kickstarter here:
The first-ever Fretboard Summit was filled with magical music performances and informative lectures but one clear highlight was this session featuring Joe Henry and David Crosby discussing the art of record production. This candid, hour-long conversation started with Henry asking Crosby about If I Could Only Remember My Name One, but it quickly stretched far beyond that topic and hit upon inspiration, timelessness and the pitfalls that an artist can make inside the studio. They also fielded questions from some of the Summit attendees in attendance.
The term “living legend” gets tossed around a lot these days, but Seattle’s Michael Gurian certainly fits the bill. Gurian is currently in his 55th year of building instruments and instrument parts. Long before today’s boutique guitar movement, he was hand-crafting guitars for players such as Bob Dylan, David Lindley and Paul Simon.
Today, Gurian helms a factory on a floating barge in Seattle where he and his small staff fabricate purfling, bridge pins and inlays for several well-known guitar makers. During this interview, he talks about his role in the lutherie community, his plans to build instruments again and his love for the oud.
Every time we check in with musician Julian Lage, he seems to have a cool new project brewing. For our 90th podcast, we talk to the ridiculously talented guitarist about his forthcoming electric guitar trio, his recent purchase of a Blackguard Tele, the recording of his stellar solo acoustic album World’s Fair and his plans for November’s Fretboard Summit.
The Fretboard Summit takes place November 6-8, 2015 at the Costanoa resort in California and includes performances by Lage and Chris Eldridge, Bill Frisell, Blake Mills, Matt Munisteri, Bryan Sutton, Joe Henry and David Crosby. Tickets are selling fast but are still available at www.fretboardsummit.com/home
Most modern electric guitar builders focus on classic Fender and Gibson designs but Anthony Paine of Harvester Guitars is inspired by the unusual: Wandre guitars of the ‘50s and ‘60s and Travis Bean instruments of the ‘70s. On our 89th podcast, we talk to Paine from his Melbourne, Australia workshop to hear about his background in design, how he painstakingly makes aluminum-necked instruments and how social media has expanded his customer base. To see more of these unique, bespoke instruments, follow Harvester Guitars via their website, Facebook or Instagram.
Sam Jones is easily one of the most in-demand photographers working today: he’s well-known for his trademark shots of George Clooney, President Obama and numerous other A-List celebrities. Jones is also the director behind the Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart and Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued and the host of Off Camera, an interview series currently airing on DirecTV.
For our 87th podcast, we talk Dobro and steel guitars with famed musician Cindy Cashdollar. Cashdollar walks us through some of her favorite instruments, including the Lap King guitar she brought to our session, explains how certain guitars seem to favor certain tunings and tells us about the huge impact that John Fahey's Of Rivers and Religion had on her guitar playing. We also talk to her about her role on the legendary Time Out of Mind sessions with Bob Dylan.
In the late 1970s, Preston Thompson moved from Texas to Vermont to learn the art of lutherie at Charles Fox’s School of the Guitar Research & Design Center. He’d eventually spend time at Randy Wood’s legendary Pickin’ Parlor before returning to Fox’s school, setting up his own shop and working for numerous flatpicking legends, including Charles Sawtelle and Peter Rowan.
Thompson now resides in Bend, Oregon. After a long stint away from guitarmaking to serve as a Director of Marketing at a local golf resort, he has started making guitars again. Operating out of a small shop in Sisters, Oregon, Thompson and his team are busier than ever crafting guitars inspired by vintage Martins. This year, he expects to make around 75 instruments.
From a tiny workshop in East LA, the small staff of Guadalupe Custom Strings create string sets not only for acoustic and electric guitarists but also for mariachi, jarocho, bajosexto and arpa players (to name a few). On this Fretboard Journal podcast, we talk to Guadalupe’s Gabriel Tenorio about how he became a full-time string maker and why handmade, RoundCore strings are so important to their customers. We also learn about the company’s connection to the band Los Lobos (founding member Fransisco Gonzalez started Guadalupe).
Roger Siminoff has always been a tinkerer. At 21, he designed and built a prototype offset press for his family’s printing business. When the music bug hit, Siminoff began building instruments, including banjos, pedal steels and, eventually, mandolins. Today, he is considered one of the foremost authorities on mandolin and banjo construction as well as the physics of musical instruments. He teaches classes and clinics, supplies many makers with banjo and mandolin parts and sells mandolin and mandola kits. He also has a deep history in publishing, both with his own book projects (both music and boat-related) and for his work with Pickin’ and Frets magazine. On today’s podcast, Siminoff talks about all of that as well as his latest project, Straight Up Strings. Straight Up Strings are strings Siminoff designed specifically for mandolins and banjos with traditional bridges. Roger tells us what makes these strings unique and the many years of R&D that went into their creation. In addition to chatting with Siminoff, we also hear about the just-announced Fretboard Summit from Fretboard Journal publisher Jason Verlinde. The event takes places November 6-8, 2015 and will be a unique weekend for guitar fanatics, filled with some of the magazine’s favorite artists, luthiers and speakers. http://siminoff.net https://www.fretboardjournal.com/summit
Chris Eldridge of the Punch Brothers stops by the Fretboard Journal to talk about his love for John Hartford, how his recording sessions with Thile and company come to be and a lot more. We also talk about his current lineup of acoustic guitars and ask when a Chris Eldridge solo album will be available. It’s a 20 minute chat with one of the world’s finest flatpickers. Special note: Eldridge will be featured at the first-ever Fretboard Summit, taking place November 6-8, 2015.
Over the years, Nashville's John Knowles has earned a PhD, a Grammy and even two Emmy nominations. Perhaps even more impressive, he's one of a handful of musicians given the "Certified Guitar Player" award from Chet Atkins. On our 82nd podcast, we talk to Knowles about Atkins, the state of fingerstyle guitar playing today, his role as an educator and arranger (he's also the publisher of FingerStyle Quarterly) and about the influence Lenny Breau had on his playing. We also hear a bit about the recording project he's currently working on with Tommy Emmanuel and, at the very end, get a gem of a Bill Monroe story.
Call it whatever you like: torrefaction, thermo-cured, roasted or baked. Fact of the matter is that acoustic guitar companies are flocking to a process where woods are put in a specialized, oxygen-free kiln and essentially cooked, resulting in a stiffer, drier end product (not unlike the woods found in a 60 or 70 year old guitar).
In this hour-long interview, Nels Cline (Wilco) and Julian Lage sit down to talk to us about their fateful meeting (thanks to a lunch date with the late jazz great Jim Hall), the art of the guitar duo, gear (Cline is playing a Gibson Barney Kessel here; Lage is playing his Linda Manzer archtop) and much more. We also hear three tunes from Room, the pair's debut album. This interview features the audio tracks from our Fretboard Journal Live session with the duo, the FJ's live streamed video series.