Danny Barnes returns to the Fretboard Journal Podcast to talk about the making of his 2020 Grammy-nominated album, Man on Fire (ATO). The album is full of surprising twists, right down to the lineup: Bill Frisell, Dave Matthews and John Paul Jones all make appearances. We talk to Barnes about the making of the Man on Fire, how he met Jones, and learn a bit about his creative process (beyond banjo playing and songwriting, Barnes is a talented visual artist and cartoonist). It's a great chat with one of our favorite boundary-pushing musicians.
Danny's Music page: https://dannybarnes.com/
Danny's Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/isotope709?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=911282867
Danny's interview with Bill Frisell for the FJ's fourth issue: https://www.fretboardjournal.com/columns/listen-danny-barnes-new-awful-strange/
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Jordan Tice and Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids join us on this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast to talk about the making of Tice’s 2020 album, Motivational Speakeasy. The Pattengale-produced solo album is noteworthy not just for Tice’s always-exceptional playing and vocals, but also for its stripped-down beauty. It’s one of our favorite albums of 2020.
During the call, we hear about the songs on the album, Pattengale’s recording process and Tice’s latest guitar acquisition (yes, he's doubled his guitar collection). Pattengale - at the time hunkered down in a cabin in Eastern Canada - also hilariously describes the pandemic project he picked up in 2020, plus a lot more. It's a fun chat about the making of a great acoustic album.
Note: We've included a track from Motivational Speakeasy on our new Thirty for 2020 Spotify playlist, filled with some of our favorite songs from the year.
Recorded November 11, 2020.
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We make a rare exception on this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast and talk to a drummer! Percussionist / singer-songwriter Joachim Cooder joins us to talk about his new album, Over that Road I'm Bound: The Songs of Uncle Dave Macon. It's a captivating collection of Macon songs performed on a rather unlikely instrument, the electric mbira. Joachim is also joined by his dad, Ry Cooder, on the banjo; Rayna Gellert on fiddle, Juliette Commagere on vocals; and Sam Gendel on bass-guitar hybrid.
During our chat, we hear about Joachim's first exposure to the music of Uncle Dave Macon as a kid, his own daughter's infatuation with this material, the versatility of the electric mbira, his pedal board of choice and a lot more. Whether or not you're a fan of Macon's decades-old original recordings, we can't recommend this new album enough.
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Nels Cline joins us on this week’s podcast to discuss his new double-album on Blue Note, Share the Wealth. Share the Wealth finds Nels alongside the powerhouse lineup of Scott Amendola, Skerik, Trevor Dunn, Brian Marsella and Cyro Baptista. Inspired by the cut-up recording methods of Os Mutantes and influenced at least a bit by Miles Davis' electric period, it's one of his wildest projects to date. During our chat, we also talk gear (including the guitar that is closest to his heart while he’s quarantining during the pandemic, his pedal board and more), collaborator Julian Lage, forthcoming Wilco recordings and more. It’s a fun conversation with a Fretboard Journal favorite.
Author and guitar collector John Stubbings joins us for a very special episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast to read from his monumental book, The Devil Is In It: A Story of Love, Obsession, and the American Acoustic Guitar. This hefty, slipbound-cased tome is equal parts history lesson, art book and memoir, showcasing John's love for the modern lutherie movement and all things acoustic guitar. It also features exquisite illustrations from FJ contributor Drew Christie.
Listeners to the podcast can get a 50 GBP discount if they order now by using the discount code LONDON. Click here.
On his latest release, 'I Love You,' Kevin Breit does something truly monumental: 30 covers of his favorite songs performed entirely on vintage, mandolin family instruments. Performing all the parts, Breit himself becomes a one-man-band mandolin orchestra, while a different guest vocalist appears on each tune.
It's just the latest brilliant idea to come from the Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist and mandolin player. Over the years, Breit has backed the likes of Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, Cassandra Wilson and Hugh Laurie. He's also released some truly high concept solo albums and 2019's 'Stella Bella Strada,' where he showcased his latest custom guitar from builder Joe Yanuziello.
During this week's podcast, we talk to Breit about his love for the mandolin, hear about the cool-looking pickups that inspired the 'Stella Bella Strada' album and much more.
This episode is sponsored by Mono Cases.
Kevin Breit's 'I Love You' (Bandcamp)
Guitarist and composer Jim Fox has backed dozens of vocal luminaries over the years, including Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Rosemary Clooney and Dean Martin. During this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk about his start in music, attending Berklee, his early stint backing Bobby Vinton, and the numerous years he spent accompanying Frank Sinatra, Jr. We also talk about Fox's jazz albums, his friendship with late studio legend Bob Bain, and his obsession with the archtop guitars of Australian luthier Steve Gilchrist.
The Fretboard Journal Podcast is sponsored by Mono Cases. Want to support the show? Get a digital or print subscription to the Fretboard Journal magazine. Digital subscriptions are just $30 per year.
The Fretboard Journal Podcast is sponsored by Mono Cases.
Steve McCreary is the GM of Collings Guitars and Mandolins and one of the most respected members of the musical instrument industry. Since joining Collings in 1992, he's helped helm the Austin, Texas-based company's growth into mandolins, electric guitars, and – most recently – their more affordable Waterloo line of instruments.
During this lengthy interview, we hear about Steve's unique background (he's a former stonemason), what it was like to work with the late Bill Collings (a larger-than-life character) and how the company is navigating the COVID crisis through 2020 and beyond. We also talk about Collings' ongoing collaboration with guitarist Julian Lage, hear about the '70s and '80s Austin music scene, and a lot more
If you enjoy in-depth interviews with the people behind your favorite guitars, we’d love your support. Get a digital subscription to the Fretboard Journal for just $30 (click here) or a keepsake print edition subscription (click here). We know you'll love it.
Fretboard Journal #46 just mailed and our next issue will be out in early December 2020. Subscribers also get subscriber-only perks.
Previous Collings Interviews:
Bill Collings on the Fretboard Journal Podcast (link)
Bruce VanWart of Collings on the Fretboard Journal Podcast (link)
Our tribute to Bill Collings in the Fretboard Journal magazine (link)
Robert "Nitebob" Czaykowski is a legendary rock & roll sound engineer. For nearly 50 years, he's done front-of-house mixing for musicians both famous and infamous, consulted with musical instrument companies (there's a "Nitebob" setting on Fender Cyber-Twins), worked as a gear tech, and even served as Walter Becker's de facto "guitar pimp." During this sprawling talk (hopefully the first of many), Nitebob reflects upon years working for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Steely Dan, Lez Zeppelin, and REM (to name a few), talks about his early love for the guitar, explains what makes a great live mix and so much more. We think you'll love getting to know Nitebob.
Support our show with a subscription to the Fretboard Journal magazine (get our digital/PDF version or the keepsake print edition). Our new, 46th issue is now mailing featuring John Leventhal and Rosanne Cash, Hubert Sumlin, luthier Steve Grimes and many other guitar greats.
Links mentioned: Nitebob on Roadie Free Radio; Nitebob on Joseph Arthur's Come to Where I'm From; Satellite Amplifiers on the Truth About Vintage Amps Podcast; and the Fretboard Journal's tribute to the guitars of Walter Becker.
For our 300th episode, we're mixing things up with an informal Zoom conversation with two of our favorite people, jazz guitarists Bill Frisell and Anthony Wilson. During this hour-plus chat, these two friends riff on influences, the Los Angeles jazz scene, Dennis Budimir, Gerald Wilson (Anthony's dad), Gabor Szabo, and so much more.
Watch Bill Frisell perform alongside Dennis Budimir and Bob Bain here.
We are also sponsored by Izotope. Use the coupon code RUIN10 at izotope.com/ruinous to save 10% off any order.
The Fretboard Journal's new 46th issue is now available, with features on John Leventhal and Rosanne Cash, Hubert Sumlin and much more. Order or subscribe via this link.
Guitar great Adam Miller joins us once again (he originally appeared on Fretboard Journal Podcast #240) to talk about the making of his fantastic new electric album, Unify. Miller has had quite an interesting year: He and his wife were all set to relocate to Los Angeles full-time when COVID hit and sent him back home to Australia. He recounts how Unify came together, the influence his California time had on the album and why he decided to re-record its guitar parts. We also hear about Adam's current gear of choice and a lot more.
Check out fretboardjournal.com for a new video featuring Adam playing the track "Leaving" from his new album.
With Beginners (ANTI- Records), Christian Lee Hutson released one of our favorite records of 2020, so it only felt fitting to invite this Los Angeles-based musician back on the Fretboard Journal Podcast. During our chat, Hutson talks about the making of his album (including his previous failed attempts to record these songs); overcoming self-doubt; working alongside Phoebe Bridgers (who ended up producing Beginners and appearing on it); taking up the clarinet and flute in the middle of the pandemic and much more.
On this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast, Jason checks in with luthier and fellow podcaster, Michael Bashkin. It's an unfiltered and fun chat about the boutique guitar industry at large, the annual output of an independent solo maker, Michael's Luthier on Luthier Podcast and a lot more. Jason also asks Michael about guitar shows, Moon spruce and the realities of building production guitars overseas. It's a nearly 90-minute look at the state of the handmade guitar market.
Luthier on Luthier on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/luthier-on-luthier-with-michael-bashkin/id1208172851
Beginning in March of 2020, while most of the world was in lockdown mode due to COVID, Daniel Romano did something truly remarkable: He began releasing an album nearly every week on his Bandcamp page.
On this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to the Canadian musician about his prolific output this year: from a track-by-track re-creation of Bob Dylan's Infidels album played as if the Plugz were Dylan's backing band, to his British folk-inspired Alias Ensemble album, and all points in-between. We hear about some of the self-imposed rules he gives himself when recording, his current gear of choice, his forthcoming (ninth) album for 2020, 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' (out Sept. 18, 2020 on You've Changed Records) and a lot more. Romano is one of our favorite musicians and it was great to get a peek at his creative process.
Further reading: The story of the Plugz and Bob Dylan's appearance on Letterman.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars and Mono Cases.
Support the podcast by picking up a PDF or print subscription to the Fretboard Journal.
For forty years, Bruce Harvie (Orcas Island Tonewoods) has carved out a nice existence for himself in the instrument making world as a tonewood supplier. His one-man operation is based in one of the most beautiful spots in North America (Washington State's San Juan Islands), where he sells spruce, redwood and other raw materials to mandolin and bowed instrument makers around the world. He's also a prolific musician.
Musician and singer-songwriter Mac McAnally has led quite a life: As a teenager, he was a studio musician in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, able to jump from between sessions and studios as an in-demand acoustic guitarist. He soon started writing songs, got a record deal of his own and penned hit songs for Jimmy Buffett, Alabama, and other top country acts. Since 1994, he's played guitar in Buffett's Coral Reefer Band.
As you'll hear on this podcast, McAnally is as humble as it gets, but he's also a ten-time CMA Musician of the Year winner. In 2007, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
McAnally just released his latest solo record, Once in a Lifetime. On this week's podcast, he recounts his early days in the Muscle Shoals scene, tells about his gear of choice (including his cherished, slot-head Martin guitar), and we talk about the making of the new album.
As a kid, guitarmaker Sherwood "Woody" Phifer would tinker with everything, from model airplanes to his high school track shoes. "I would look at something and I'd be redesigning it as I was looking at it," he says. Eventually, he was taking guitars apart, which led to him building his own instrument and stumbling upon Charles LoBue's Guitar Lab in 1970. Within a couple of visits to that influential NYC shop, he found his passion for lutherie and his life's calling. During this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast, Phifer tells us about that fateful trip to Guitar Lab (a shop that employed soon-to-be-legendary employees Larry DiMarzio, Charles LoBue, Ralph Novak and Steve Kauffman), walks us through some of his thoroughly original creations (including his archtop guitars, his chambered-body electrics, his unique bridge system and more), and describes what it's like to be one of the only Black guitarmakers in the country.
Earlier this month, Gibson announced a $59,000 reward for the safe return of their 1959-1960 shipping ledger, a book that, if it exists, has been missing for decades. If found, the ledger could shed light on the details of Gibson's production of guitars during a legendary period of time, including the variations found on all those famed, uber-collectible '59 and '60 'Bursts.
On this bonus episode of the Fretboard Journal podcast, we talk to Cesar Gueikian (CMO) and Mat Koehler (Head of Product Development) from Gibson about where they think the ledger might be, why they're on the hunt for it, and what they think they could learn from it. We also hear about some new and forthcoming Gibson projects, including collaborations with Jerry Cantrell and Adam Jones, forthcoming Flying V and white SG Custom Shop tributes to Jimi Hendrix, a Slim Harpo ES-330 reissue and a lot more.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars and Mono Cases.
Michael Millard of Froggy Bottom Guitars reflects upon 50 years of guitarmaking with one of our most insightful podcast interviews to date. Millard is a legendary figure in the world of musical instruments, using the lessons he learned working alongside Michael Gurian in the early 1970s to create one of the most collectible acoustic guitar brands of the modern era.
During this nearly hour-long chat, he talks about the unique ways Froggy Bottoms are made, describes his company's unorthodox business model, and announces his plan for retirement at the end of 2020. Millard was trained as a psychologist and his unfiltered thoughts on social injustice, the opportunities afforded him, and the danger of expectations are a breath of fresh air.
For years, ragtime guitarist Craig Ventresco was one of the music world's best-kept secrets: The only way to see him was to catch him in his hometown of San Francisco, playing a solo show at a small cafe or with his gypsy jazz band, Gaucho. He seldom left the city and recordings weren't a big part of his career.
Like many others, when COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders hit, Craig and partner Meredith Axelrod turned to the internet to keep performing. Here's where things get interesting: With a minimalist setup, Ventresco and Axelrod started live streaming their performances on Facebook... not once a month or weekly, but every single night. As of this interview, Ventresco and Axelrod were up to 100-plus shows. And their unique take on ragtime guitar is suddenly finding new fans around the globe.
On this week's podcast, we chat with Ventresco about growing up in Maine, getting turned on to 78 records, the years he spent busking around SF, his role on the 'Crumb' soundtrack, and his life online. We also talk about his Fraulini guitars, the music he's been obsessing over and much more.
Meredith Axelrod's Facebook page (where Craig and Meredith perform every night at 8pm PT): https://www.facebook.com/meredithaxelrod
Their tip jars: Paypal.me/meredithaxelrod Venmo: @meredithaxelrod
Fraulini Guitars: http://fraulini.com
Fretboard Journal: https://www.fretboardjournal.com
(Use the discount code PODCAST when you check out and save $5 off any order)
If you've read any guitar magazines over the last several years, you've probably seen the bylines of today's guests: Teja Gerken and Doug Young. The two Bay Area fingerstyle guitarists have written extensively about gear and technique for a variety of publications and today Teja is a partner at online music instruction portal Peghead Nation. On this week's podcast, they talk about their beautiful new instrumental album, simply titled Duets. They tell us about some of the unique guitars they used on the recording, give us tips for recording remotely via Zoom/Skype, and much more.
Check out Duets here: https://tejaanddougguitar.bandcamp.com
Order the Fretboard Journal's new Electric Guitar Annual here: https://shop.fretboardjournal.com/collections/all/products/2019-electric-annual-pre-order
Jontavious Willis is only 24, but he's already earned numerous accolades - and a Grammy nomination - for his mastery of the blues. On this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to Willis from his home in Georgia about being a largely self-taught guitarist, the one standard tuning guitar lesson he took (just five years ago!), the gear he uses today (including his Fraulini 12-string guitar), and his love for original 78 records.
We hear about the influence that Keb' Mo' and Taj Mahal had on his career (Mo' produced 'Spectacular Class,' the album that earned Willis the Grammy nod) and Willis tells us how, even during COVID-19, a community of young Black blues musicians is mentoring each other through social media. Willis also explains the #RobertJohnsonChallenge, where he and fellow musicians Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and Marquise Knox are interpreting Robert Johnson tunes online, every Wednesday. Inspired by the recently discovered third photo of Johnson, the challenge is required viewing if you're a blues fan.
Watch Willis' most recent Robert Johnson Challenge contribution here: https://www.facebook.com/JontaviousWillis/videos/250502482919394/
Subscribe to the reader-powered Fretboard Journal here: https://shop.fretboardjournal.com
Sarah Jarosz just released 'World on the Ground,' her first solo album in four years. On this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast, she talks to us about the making of the album, working with John Leventhal (who produced the project and helped co-write a few songs), her favorite songwriting tools (including her Collings D1A and her Fletcher Brock-built octave mandolin), and much more.
For the last decade, luthier David Murray helmed an audacious project: Teaching the craft of guitarmaking to young Tibetan refugees in foothills of the Himalayas. It was one of the least hospitable places imaginable for a woodworking business (from both a climate and political perspective), but somehow the Dehradun Guitar Company steadily produced about one custom acoustic guitar a week. As David says goodbye to this chapter of his life – which we originally profiled in the Fretboard Journal #38 – we wanted to bring him on the podcast to hear what transpired. From Thailand, where his family currently resides, we talk about the challenges he experienced setting up Dehradun: the climate, CITES regulations, prohibitive shipping costs, an Indian government that threw his family out of the country and more. Despite all the above, Murray and his team were able to create around 200 amazing instruments and, he admits, “it was a dream come true.” We also talk a bit about the Fretboard Journal today, the influence Bob Taylor had on him as a builder and business owner, and what's next for the Murrays.