old guitars and black dogs
I'm working on a magazine story about a guitar. In my research to track down experts and luthiers I found a proprietor down in Nashville known for his expertise on vintage acoustics. We ended up talking for hours. I felt like I was talking to an artist, historian, museum curator and musician all in one. Every question lead to more questions. Quotes lead to books, and photographs in those books lead to even more phone calls and interviews. I was inhaling sitka spruce yesterday, day dreaming about old jumbos and the people who picked them. I hope the story comes out as impassioned as the research gathering's been. It certainly had me stopping every so often to pick up my trusty Epiphone acoustic and pop in an instructional DVD to work on some fingerpicking or new chords. I'm not a great guitarist, but great guitars make me weak in the knees and inspire me to be better. Show me a pre war Southern Jumbo and watch me quiver like a fourteen year-old in a Twilight pre-screening. I don't want Edward. I want Dylan.
After a few pages of notes and a few hours with my guitar I got a phone call from a friend about a concert that was in town for one last night. Mads Tolling, a Danish Grammy award-winning jazz fiddler was doing a show at the elementary school with his guitarist, bassist, and drummer. It was fall-down-the-stairs good. He started with some spicy self composed numbers, the rolled into Monk and Miles Davis covers (though "cover" is hardly the right word when talking about improvisational jazz) and ended with a floor-shaking version of Zeppelin's Black Dog. His guitarist was amazing, working with that Gibson hollowbody (and if you click that link in the sentence before. You'll know what I mean). I watched this guy play one of the same guitars I had been talking about that very morning. It was like waking up and reading Black Beauty and then watching a black stallion show up in your backyard.
I was grateful Vermont has people bringing folks like this in to keep us bottom feeding musicians clamoring for our own evolution. A great performance makes me want to just go home and play. Not to sound like a fiddler like Mads, but to sound like a better version of Jenna. There is ample room for improvement. I'm never bored.