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)