Page 1

~ 3 e um

4 e u Iss

Vol

h c i R g

e r G

M

e l i ob


, 7 – v2

s t o o s, B

! s a e hS

0 2 0 2

No grass on

g i H the

ue l B &

at g n i t r Sta son!s & r e p / $589 rt charge

o xes, p luded] a t l l a [ nc fees i

Suit

u

g yo

in Join

d...

oar on b

” alor V “ l iva n r reso a g C o r e n th tán at P o s in lean d, Yuca r unta O o M h New el Islan efes N m o ng fr l: Cozum i l i a S Cal f o s Port ass r

ng G

ki Brea

R

utry

utry

er

dl Chan

red

live & De

e mor d n a ... me! to co

& own e r B Jeff som Lone l l i t S

utler

B erald

Em

r Edga ilk erm Loud

A Zack

Jeff A

Nick

Long

ah ebek

e n Le o d n Bra s Adam

ncy.

ubl

upa e occ

ough r h t nly ndard o on, i s e r l e rp ilab rass Sta a 9 pe v 8 a 5 $ t ngs e Blueg i 76 ing a t k 5 r a o 8 t o S h 6 b T -63 ! nside

, do cabin

60

7 Call

y

toda


from the Publisher's desk

ers of This month we welcome the mak of the musical instruments to the pages eir stories! Standard – we hope you enjoy th er of st ro a h it w th on m xt ne rn tu re e W ecial sp a d an , ge ra ve co st ti ar w ne dbran ason! focus on the upcoming festival se Keith Barnacastle — Publisher The Bluegrass Standard − click here to subscribe − it's free! The Bluegrass Standard magazine is published monthly. Opinions expressed are not necessarily the opinions of The Bluegrass Standard or its staff, advertisers or readers with the exception of editorials. Publication of the name or the photograph of any person, business or organization in articles or advertising in The Bluegrass Standard is not to be construed as any indication of support of such person, business or organization. The Bluegrass Standard disclaims any responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Advertising rates are subject to change without notice. The Bluegrass Standard reserves the right at its sole discretion to reject any advertising for any reason. It is our policy to publish any letters to the editor that are signed and verifiable by phone number. We reserve the right of anonymity upon request. Letters must be grammatically correct, clarity and original and free of libel. The Bluegrass Standard reserves the right to decline to publish any letter. Please send your comments to: editor@thebluegrassstandard.com The views expressed are not necessarily those of The Bluegrass Standard. Copyright ©2019. All Rights reserved. No portion of the publication may be reproduced in any form without the expressed consent of the publisher.

click here for great advertising deals!

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Greg Rich

Recording King

Hartley Peavey Peavey Electronics

Greg Deering

Deering Banjos

The Wardens Dana Bourgeois Bourgeois Guitars

more THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


Jeff Poss Calton Cases RC Williams Co. Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars:

Austin Hefflefinger

Rick Shubb Shubb Capos Marc Minarik

Minarik Guitars more THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

CONTENTS

Rick Williams


Robin Boucher

Boucher Guitars Fiddler’s porch

CONTENTS

Come From Away

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

A SPBGMA Story Festival Guide THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

back


The Blu e gras s St andard St aff Keith Barnacastle • Publisher The Bluegrass Standard is a life-long dream of Keith Barnacastle, who grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. For three years, Keith brought the Suits, Boots and Bluegrass Festival to Meridian. Now, with the Bluegrass Standard, Keith's enthusiasm for the music, and his vision of its future, reaches a nationwide audience every month!

Keith@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Richelle Putnam • Managing Journalist Editor Richelle Putnam is a Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artist/Roster Artist (Literary), a Mississippi Humanities Speaker, and a 2014 MAC Literary Arts Fellowship recipient. Her non-fiction books include Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History, Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi and Mississippi and the Great Depression. She writes for many publications.

Richelle@TheBluegrassStandard.com

James Babb • Creative Director James is a native Californian, and a long-time resident of Palm Springs. He creates a unique "look" for every issue of The Bluegrass Standard, and enjoys learning about each artist. In addition to his creative work with The Bluegrass Standard, James also provides graphic design and technical support to a variety of clients.

James@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Shelby C. Berry • Journalist Editor Shelby Campbell is a writer and designer whose heart beats for creativity. A native of rural Livingston, AL, she found her passion in journalism and design at The University of West Alabama, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. Shelby also has her own photography business.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


The Blu e gras s St andard St aff Kara Martinez Bachman • Journalist Kara Martinez Bachman is an author, editor and journalist. Her music and culture reporting has appeared in dozens of publications and she's interviewed many performers over the years, from local musicians to well-known celebrities. She's a native of New Orleans and lives just outside the city with her husband, two kids, and two silly mutts.

Stephen Pitalo • Journalist Stephen Pitalo has been an entertainment journalist for more than 30 years, having interviewed everyone from Joey Ramone to Bill Plympton to John Landis. He is the world’s leading authority on the The Golden Age of Music Video (1976-1993), mining inside stories from interviews 70+ music video directors and countless artists of the pre-internet music era. GoldenAgeOfMusicVideo.com

Susan Marquez • Journalist Susan Marquez is a freelance writer based in Madison, Mississippi and a Mississippi Arts Commission Roster Artist. After a 20+ year career in advertising and marketing, she began a professional writing career in 2001. Since that time she has written over 2000 articles which have been published in magazines, newspapers, business journals, trade publications.

Emerald Butler • Journalist

Emerald Butler is a writer, songwriter, fiddler, and entertainer from Sale Creek, TN. She has worked and performed various occasions with artists such as Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborn, Becky Buller, Alison Brown, top 40 radio host Bob Kingsley, and country songwriter Roger Alan Wade. With a bachelor’s degree in Music Business and a minor in Marketing, Emerald has used her education, experience, and creative talent to share the love of music with others.

Emerald@TheBluegrassStandard.com

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

9


CONTENTS

Greg Rich The Mastermind of Recording King by Kara Martinez Bachman You’d imagine a boy growing up on the west coast of California would spend most of his time surfing or being a beach bum. There are many images that come to mind when we consider life in that part of the country; it sometimes might seem a world away from the familiar terrain of most bluegrass musicians.

Instrument maker Greg Rich destroys all those stereotypes. He started to play music by age 14. By age 16, he was already getting his feet wet in designing as well. 10

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “One of my neighbors was a vintage instrument collector,” he said, of his early influences. “I started self-teaching myself to build banjos and guitars.” He said when he tells people where he came from, they’re usually surprised. Rich laughed, his buoyant personality showing through as he reflected on the past. “How do you learn to build a banjo growing up in Newport Beach, California?” they’d ask him. As Rich tells it, the answer is that he committed to teaching himself whatever was needed. He found a few people to advise him. At first, he said, it was “an experiment in failure.” But over time, he’d seek out whoever he needed THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

11


CONTENTS

12

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS to nail down a new skill set. He’d talk to wood carvers. Metal engravers. Whoever he needed to consult in creating things that sounded better and looked better. Eventually, Rich’s obsession with instruments found him running the banjo division at Gibson in the late 1980s.

“I helped to revive the Gibson banjo line,” he said. A quick Google search of Rich shows how respected he is among banjo players familiar with his work. He’d come to Gibson after a low point in production; the image of the company’s banjo line had been damaged due to inferior quality of materials and production techniques. Professional musicians at the time were hesitant to go anywhere near a Gibson banjo. When Rich came onboard in 1987, everything changed. He revived the quality Gibson had been known for back in the 1930s, when their banjos had been considered reputable. Today, his work is so respected that Gibson banjos from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s are described as being from 13 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

the “Greg Rich Era.” He left Gibson in the early ‘90s and today, is head creative honcho at Recording King. His vast knowledge and design acumen come to bear in creating an extensive line of guitars, banjos, resonators, mandolins and lap steel guitars. He said his goal at Recording King — and no doubt, his goal all along — has been to design products for musicians “that are historically correct to the music that they’re playing.” The company’s website describes the current goal, of upholding Recording King’s historic 14

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

legacy by using vintage designs and handassembled parts: “Our instruments have the look, feel and sound of the classic models, with impeccable workmanship and enhancements for contemporary players.” “Our banjo line for sure is kind of dominating the market from a price-point and quality standpoint,” Rich said. “We’re really careful before releasing a product.” That care comes into play not just in the manufacturing process, but in everything that happens before a single piece of wood is cut or THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

15


CONTENTS a single string attached. Much of it happens in intelligent design. “I design most of the product line, with input from others,” Rich said. One example where he admitted leaning more on his team is when designing electric guitars. He said he doesn’t personally play electric, so often counts on other electric guitar players to set him straight. Rich laughed when explaining fellow designers will sometimes have to say things to him such as: “No, we’re not putting a turbocharger on that guitar.” By any measure, Rich’s description of Recording King design sessions sounds like the perfect mix of open creativity and down-to-earth seeking of quality and tradition. According to Rich, it’s not just the creative aspects that lead to Recording

16

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS King’s success — it’s the business side of things as well. “We’re really in a unique position here,” he said. “We buy our own materials. We produce our own parts. We buy wood from the same sources as Martin guitars.” He said Recording King focusing solely on its own line makes a difference.

“What we do is just for us,” Rich explained. “We’re able to focus on our designs. Our quality.”

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

17


Two Wheels are better Than NOne Transport your bass with ease. • Easy to use • Fits any size bass • Compact • Lightweight • Inexpensive

Follow us on social media.

RCWilliamsCompany.com | 913.912.1083

©2017 RC Williams Company, LLC. Designed and manufactured by RC Williams. All products made in the U.S.A.

tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!


CONTENTS

Peavey Electronics by Susan Marquez As a boy growing up in Meridian, Mississippi in the 1950s, Hartley Peavey excelled in shop class. He took wood and metal shop, as well as mechanical and electronic engineering. He didn’t realize at the time that not everyone had the same THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

19


CONTENTS skill set he had. Around that same time, he attended a Bo Diddley concert in Laurel, a neighboring town, and came home wanting to learn the guitar. His father, who ironically had been a musician in the 1930s and owned a music store in Meridian, told young Hartley that rock-n-roll would never survive. Hartley still pursued his dream of playing guitar in a band, and played in a few bands throughout high school, but there came a day when he realized that he wasn’t going to be the next big thing, and he needed to decide what to do with the rest of his life. During his stint as a guitar player, one thing Hartley discovered was that bands needed gear, and they needed it at a fair price. Hartley made his first tube amps and they were a hit with local bands. In 1965, Peavey Electronics was founded, and soon Hartley’s amps were sought out by some of the biggest names in rock-n-roll.

20

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

21


CONTENTS Those amps were followed by solid state amps, sound reinforcement, power amplifiers and eventually, their own line of loud speakers. Fred Poole, currently Peavey’s general manager of product development, began his music career selling Peavey products for Mid-Michigan Music. For 11 years, Poole sold Peavey products and in doing so, he learned to appreciate the company that he would eventually work for. “I moved to Meridian to work for Peavey 16 years ago,” says Poole. Poole explains that Peavey was started with the primary purpose to create sound amplification equipment that was affordable to most musicians. “It was designed to amplify sound for a crowd of 20 people up to hundreds of people.” Country music performers were quick to adopt Peavey products. “The amps were ideal for primitive acoustic music. Of course, that included bluegrass 22

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS as well.� Over time, Peavey got into the guitarmaking business in the mid-1970s, with a desire to manufacture guitars in a different way. That included creating and manufacturing a composite acoustic guitar that was ideal for outdoor bluegrass concerts. He borrowed the technology used to build precision firearms and used it to build guitars. He found the equipment to make precision guitar parts in Europe and bought it for his manufacturing facility in Meridian. It was another step in Peavey’s path toward musical perfection.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

23


CONTENTS

Since its start in 1965, Peavey Electronics Corporation has grown to be one of the largest makers and suppliers of amplifiers, musical instruments and professional audio systems in the world, distributing more than 2,000 products to more than 130 countries worldwide. The company’s newest division, Media Matrix, manufactures digital audio networking systems that are used in theme parks, casinos and even in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Hartley Peavey has been quoted on many occasions as saying, “in order to be better, by definition you must be different.” He 24

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS approaches his business with a unique vision, from product design to distribution to be the largest independently owned manufacturer in his field. The company has over 180 patents, and their innovations affect the way musicians play music and the way fans listen to it. Hartley encourages his employees to try new and different things, to be creative in all they do. In a YouTube video interview with Hartley Peavey, he says that music is all about passion, and since 1965, that passion is still there at Peavey. He said the company has managed to evolve under the same ownership and management. Poole says that passion and leadership is what keeps him working at Peavey. “It’s amazing to find a company in the United State that has been successful for 54 years under the same owner. Hartley Peavey is still very much hands-on here, and his passion for this company is evident in all we do.” THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

25


CONTENTS

SIDEBAR STORY: Rick Allen knows a thing or two about bluegrass. He owned a music store, Mid Michigan Music, and plays the five-string guitar, dobro, pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin and guitar with a network of bluegrass performers in Midland, Michigan, where he and his wife live half the year, and in San Marco Island, Florida, where they live the other half of the year. Rick retired from owning the music store and has moved on to other pursuits, but he still plays bluegrass whenever he can. 26

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

In the late 1980s, Rick became a Peavey dealer, selling Peavey products in his music store. “I met Hartley and his late wife, Melia. They explained to me that they were dedicated to the ‘little guy,’ independently-owned music stores. They wanted to do business with us, but they expected a commitment from us in return. I recognized Peavey as being a great company that made a great product. Peavey had become a respected name in bluegrass, primarily because their amplification was ideal for pedal steels and acoustic guitars, which works very well in the country and bluegrass worlds.” THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

27


CONTENTS

Rick says that he played all types of music before homing in on bluegrass. “There’s a unique rhythm and energy with bluegrass that you can’t get anywhere else. And the people in the bluegrass world are the best, all are so nice and inclusive. Peavey just fits right in. It’s nice to work with a company that’s privately owned by a family. It makes everything so much more personal.”

28

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Deering Banjos by Stephen Pitalo According to his son Jamie, Greg Deering had a burning passion to make banjos. He simply didn’t want to do anything else. “He loves working with wood and metal, and banjos have both,” explained Jamie. “Marrying the two into something that makes an instrument he plays, THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

29


CONTENTS and loves, is the best of both worlds.” Greg and his wife Janet built the Deering Banjo brand into an iconic business from a small operation that began 43 years ago. They produce a full range of American made banjos including the Deering, Vega, Tenbrooks, and Goodtime banjos. In their facility in Spring Valley, California, every banjo is built individually by Greg, Janet, or one of their team of nearly 50 dedicated banjo specialists. “We use a variety of vintage machines and hand tools, all the way to computerized milling machines, in the process of making our banjos,” Jamie said. “The amount of time each banjo takes to make depends on the model. Start to finish, a Goodtime banjo takes 10 days to complete, while one of our more elaborate Deering models can require several months.”

But just what does it take to become a “banjo specialist”? “The foundation for any production position at Deering is strong hand skills,” Jamie explained. “Due to the lack of shop classes available in 30

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Deering family at the shop, circa 1980 Southern California nowadays, there are not as many already trained folks available, so we do skills testing on anyone wanting to work here. Once hired as part of the team, we do on-thejob, one-on-one training for what the person will do. We have several guys now who can jump in and handle more than one part of the building process through cross training. This is similar to what Martin Guitars do with their crew. I admire the structure they have in that regard. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

31


CONTENTS “To grow into being a full banjo specialist on our crew, one must first love banjos. We hear often from our customers that they think of Deering as the Martin of the banjo world. This is a wonderful complement, and is true in our quality, dedication to the craft, and being American made. The part that is good to have perspective on is that yes, in relation to other banjo makers we are a large company but compared to the major guitar companies we are still a family run luthier. We have 42 employees. Compare that to the several hundred who work at Martin and Taylor and you get a good concept of that. “Deering Banjos introduced the Goodtime Banjo Series in 1997, providing what had previously been an anomaly: a top-quality yet affordable American-made banjo. Up to that time the inexpensive banjos available were imported, and usually mass produced in Asia in a factory that made a lot of other things besides musical instruments. For us, it is always important to have the customer experience the most important part of what we do. We don’t build banjos for ourselves, we build them for the 32

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Tony Trischka Silver Clipper customer who will have many many years of enjoyment with it. “Something many may not know about the banjo is the significantly high cost to build them, compared to, say a guitar,” Jamie also explained. “There is a great deal of highly precise metal components for example, not to mention the cost of having them plated to the quality we expect. This is why, in part, banjos often cost a little more than your average guitar. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

33


CONTENTS “Secondly, with all this metal, most people are really shocked at the weight of some upper line banjos. This is a banjo thing, not just related to Deering, and we have taken steps to provide lighter weight options in a professional level banjo with the release of our White Lotus model, among others.” Producing just over 7,000 banjos a year between the Goodtime Series and the Deering, Tenbrooks and Vega lines, Deering Banjos can range in their wood base, depending on the structural intention. “The main woods we use are maple, walnut, mahogany and white oak,” Jamie said. “Most of these are sourced in North America. We use both maple and ebony for our fingerboards. For some models we will also use Grenadillo wood in place of the metal tone ring. You can see this on models such as the John Hartford and Dropkick Murphys signature banjo. The idea of a wood tone ring originally came about in collaboration with John Hartford. For metals we stick with the traditional ones for banjo: brass, bronze, and steel. Not every metal is used for its tonality. 34

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Some metals are quieter than others and so don’t add overtones to the banjo that get in the way of a good sound. So, the right metal for the right use is important.” The Deerings also encourage and endorse music education and instruction to complement the banjo experience, whether the customer has ever played the banjo or not. “It is easy for one to assume they cannot play an instrument or be musical before they have given it a try,” Jamie said. “Watching a master play, some people can feel they will never be able to do that. While that may

Deering family today

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

35


CONTENTS be true, it doesn’t mean they cannot play at their own level and experience the joy of creating music. Additionally, there are many studies done about what playing a musical instrument does for one’s mental and emotional health, so we want to do all we can to make playing music, and especially banjo within reach for everyone.

Goodtime Banjo Ukulele 36

“Banjo as an instrument has the unfair bad rep of being

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS considered a hard instrument to play. “This is not true. We have had groups of people who have never played an instrument before strumming along playing “You Are My Sunshine” after only 10 minutes of instruction. Banjo is especially easier as it is tuned to an open G so you strum it and already have your first chord G. Then you can start out super basic, with barre chords getting the full scale of notes and then progress from there.” “Yes, if one wants to play like Earl Scruggs or Jens Kruger or Tony Trischka, then it will take a lot of hours of practice. But for many being able to pick a few tunes with their friends brings significant joy, and a good amount of the fun is the process of constantly making progress as a player.” Apparently, being a Deering isn’t necessary for you to work at Deering Banjos — but it helps! “My brother and I grew up helping in the factory. I have worked or helped in all the areas of building except the neck and set up areas. My brother was a computer minded person and he eventually went to school for THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

37


CONTENTS computer engineering and is an IT Man for major corporations in Houston, Texas now.” “Two of my cousins have worked at Deering. It was a great place to get work experience and be part of the family company. They have each gone on to careers following their own creative passion, one is a production manager for filming commercials in Los Angeles, another designs and puts in high-end Kitchens. My aunt Carol is also our office coordinator and the lovely voice who answers the phone when anyone calls the factory. She has been an important part of our team for over 20 years now. And of course, my folks are still at the helm of the ship inspiring us all!” “In many ways whether our family works at the factory or not they are part of our team. Whenever one sees a Deering Banjo somewhere unexpected or exciting, like in a movie or played by an artist they like, our family will send us a message telling us all about it. We all take pride in what Deering Banjos does.” Even in a family that holds true to tradition, the Deerings are also all about embracing diversity. 38 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

“This is something many don’t know about the Deering Family unless you grew up with one of us,” Jamie said. “That is, because my grandparents decided in the 1950’s not to be prejudiced and embracing diverse marriages in our family, so we have cousins whose heritage goes back to almost every continent on earth. Our family reunions are really amazing. This influence is part of why we are such a champion for all banjo types, all playing styles, and welcome all people who want to play the banjo.”

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

39


CONTENTS

Kristin Scott Benson, four-time International Bluegrass Music Association's Banjo Player of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), and the 2018 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, recommends the Deering Banjo Company’s Goodtime Banjo to her students. “The Goodtimes are always playable, and I always tell people playability is the most important. I’ve never played a Goodtime that didn’t have good intonation and high playability.” 40

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!


CONTENTS

The Wardens by Richelle Putnam Nothing is more appealing to the lady’s eye than a rock star on stage...except maybe... a man in uniform. But what if you could have both? Well, this is your lucky day! Meet The Wardens, the Canadian Banff National Park trio made up of Scott Ward (vocals, fingerstyle guitar), Bradley Bischoff (vocals, lead, rhythm guitar) and Ray Schmidt (vocals, upright bass, mandolin).

42

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Ward grew up in the Canadian national parks. “My father was a biologist stationed in Jasper and Banff National Parks,” said Ward, who, as a park warden, spent over 30 years protecting Banff National Park. “My bandmate Bradley Bischoff grew up in Manitoba, all over the province, as his father was a Royal Canadian Mountie. Ray Schmidt, our third bandmate, grew up in Ontario and migrated west to the Rockies at an early age.” Bischoff is a 30-year retired park warden and Ray Schmidt is a current park warden stationed in Canada's Glacier National Park. “We got together ten years ago and formed a band after we had all performed independently at a national gathering of park wardens from across Canada,” said Ward. “We were all working out of the Banff warden office at the time. We started playing park interpretive theaters and then branched out to small acoustic venues and finally into performing arts centers.” Through their blending of folk, roots and western style mountain music, The Wardens reflect their admiration, devotion, love, and concern for the Canadian wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

43


CONTENTS Ward admits that his first step into music isn’t easy to define. “I can't say I became a musician naturally as there is no musical talent in my family. I was interested in music and playing the guitar at around 12 years of age. I loved folk/roots music right away and followed such Canadian acts as Gordon Lightfoot, and Ian Tyson, as well as the great American singer/ songwriters of the day.” However, being reared in a national park, Ward also noticed and admired how park wardens lived in the remote backcountry areas of the park. “We have 8,000 square miles of national parks here in the Canadian Rockies and 90 percent of it is backcountry accessible only on foot or horseback.” Ward’s strong feelings for the pristine Canadian terrain and being a national park warden gives him “a rich amount of material to use in songwriting. The beautiful landscapes, the characters I have met and my personal experiences as a backcountry horse warden and a visitor safety specialist have all contributed,” he said. While assigned to Visitor Safety, Ward 44

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS took part in mountain rescues and avalanche forecasting and control. “I was also a search and rescue dog handler for half of my 35-year career. I am retired from parks now and have become a full-time musician.” Many characters within Ward’s songs reflect people he has met or historical figures of the area that inspired him. His main character often becomes the landscape itself. “As I progress in my songwriting, I challenge myself to paint a

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

45


CONTENTS picture with fewer, but more powerful words and images. Avoiding clichés and trying to think of different ways to phrase an image is always a challenge.” Each band member’s individual role as a park warden has inspired these scenic details, but also initiated the use of “actual names of the local rivers, mountains and valleys to add mystique to the images,” said Ward. “Many of the landscape features have romantic names such as the Panther River, Mystic Valley, Monarch Ramparts, Egypt Lake, and Indianhead Cabin. They “paint their own picture,” he said. “My favorite settings for inspiration are the Canadian Rockies along the continental divide and on the eastern slopes.” The guys knew they had something different right off the mark that no one else could replicate, “but we have had to work very hard on our music. All three of us are songwriters, so that adds a lot of variety to the show and we all sing lead on our own songs with the others providing back up harmonies and instrumentation.” The trio realized they needed someone to look 46 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS at their show from the outside and offer honest feedback and coaching, “so we worked with performance consultant Vicki Ambinder from Oregon over Skype for several months.” The awards, he added, have “come with hard work, longevity and the fact that we have worked to put on an entertaining show with no dead spots. We usually project large screen images behind us timed to the song. The images alone are worth the price of admission—beautiful landscapes, horses, and wildlife rescues.” The Wardens have recorded three albums and are working on their fourth. They perform at folk festivals, community halls and soft seat venues and have toured extensively in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and California. Most touring gigs have evolved from Showcase Conferences, such as Arts Northwest, International Folk Alliance, Folk Alliance West, Montana Showcase, British Columbia touring Alliance, Alberta Showcase, Montana Showcase and Agricultural Societies Showcase. The band’s touring season usually runs from September 47 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS until April “because Ray works in the park over the summer and it is harder for him to get time off.” However, they do manage a folk festival or two during the summer. The fall of the year will open an extensive tour of the west coast of Canada playing the bigger theatres and some community halls. “We are also putting together a spring tour in Montana. We did 52 shows last year and 2019 and 2020 are starting to fill up.” Though The Wardens’ music has bluegrass influence in some songs, it’s hard to pin down their style to a specific genre. “We have mostly fallen into the folk/roots genre; I guess you could call it folk-western,” said Ward. “It’s not country—Its backcountry.” Ward adds, “Ray is an avid bluegrass player and attends bluegrass camps and festivals.” With one six-song EP and two full-length albums behind them, they are working on their fourth project. “The songs are written, and we are roadtesting some of them now in performance. In the past, the band used folk rocker Leeroy Stagger as producer, “and he has done a great job,” said Ward. However, they are going in another 48

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

direction for the new project with plans to step it up a notch. “If you love gripping stories leading up to wellcrafted songs and acoustic music, then you will enjoy our show,” said Ward. Oh, and one more thing about The Wardens. “We are a friendly bunch who love to meet people while on the road.”

Advice from a Warden: “If we all put the needs of the world ahead of our own needs—that is the only thing that will save us from destroying the world and ourselves. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

49


CONTENTS

“We may have to alter our lifestyles in the western world in the coming decades and it's not going to be easy. “Wilderness is sacred and must be preserved and expanded through the creation of more land reserves. Government must get serious about climate change and preservation. It must start at the top. Keep after your politicians.” – Scott Ward

The Wardens

50

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Bourgeois Guitars by Emerald Butler

Dana Bourgeois grew up in a household filled with guitars. His father played Country music, but Dana Bourgeois wasn’t interested in that music or the instrument until he discovered the Beatle's with the rest of the United States on the Ed Sullivan Show. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

51


CONTENTS In the mid-'70s, Dana began building guitars as a hobby. He was working in an art museum at the time while also pursuing the idea of graduate school and restoring art. Then one day Dana had an epiphany. “I liked people in the music world better than I liked people in the art world,� Dana remembers. After some time doing fret jobs and building guitars on his own, he started doing some repair work for The Music Emporium in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although it wasn't the capital city of Bluegrass, Dana recalls there being a good music scene in the area.

52

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “Russ Barenburg was teaching out of The Music Emporium, Tony Rice was working out of Boston, and Joe Val was still alive.” All of this gave Dana Bourgeois and entry point into the Bluegrass community. Bourgeois Guitars opened in Lewiston, Maine in 1992. By that time Dana had already made innovative and regenerative steps in working with Eric Schoenberg and C.F. Martin and Co. by developing a regular production version of a Martin OM. In the 1980s Bourgeois was one of the first guitar builders to use Adirondack spruce wood for many of his instrument tops. In the late 1990’s Bryan Sutton discovered a Bourgeois D-150 Dreadnought then described and dubbed it as “The Banjo Killer.” Sutton set out to meet Dana Bourgeois, and they soon became friends. Dana continued to build several guitars for both Sutton and Ricky Skaggs. From then on, he made even more guitars for the likes of Dan Tyminski, Ron Block, and Courtney Hartman. Currently, Dana is building a custom guitar for Josh Williams. “I like flat pickers,” Dana confessed. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

53


CONTENTS

However, it might be better fitting to say that flat pickers like Bourgeois Guitars. So, what is it about these guitars that attract flat pickers so much? “One thing that I realized back in the '70s,” Dana began, “Bluegrass guitar went from playing key runs in five different capo positions to the same kind of technique that a jazz player has. A good flat picker uses every note on the fretboard.” Dana shared that he believes that an OM guitar has the ideal string to string and note to note balance. In the '80s, before he lost contact with the flat picker, Tony Rice had suggested that Dana put the sound of an OM into a bigger guitar, and that’s when the light bulb switched on. 54

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “Basically, the way he was using a dreadnought guitar was the same way that a jazz player might use it. He was using every single note and they all had to have a good balance. So I already knew that from building OM’s. It took me about 10 years to put that in a dreadnought package, but my ability to do that I think is accounted for in my success with flat pickers.” Today Dana Bourgeois still builds guitars at his shop in an 1850’s mill in Lewiston, Maine with his small yet dedicated crew. They hand build around 400 guitars a year. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

55


CONTENTS Bourgeois Guitars still builds dreadnought and OM guitars along with Small Jumbo, Slope D, Jumbo Orchestra, and many other body styles. Bourgeois even conducts shop tours for those interested in seeing where and how the guitars are made.

56

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!


CONTENTS

Calton Cases by Stephen Pitalo

58

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Just in Case Calton Cases Protects Precious Instruments as it Reaches its Golden Anniversary In 1969, Keith Calton was looking for suggestions on what to make in the then relatively new fiberglass material. One in the group pointed to his Guild guitar sitting in a cardboard case held together with tape and wire and asked, “Can you make anything better than that?” Keith said yes, and Calton Cases was born. Demand for Keith’s cases continued to escalate for years, but Keith was only able to hand-craft a small number of cases each week, almost all of which were sold in Europe from his base in Ash, England. Calton Cases was introduced to the North American market in 1988, when bass player THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

59


CONTENTS

Al Williams acquired a license to make Calton Cases in Canada for the US and Canadian markets. The cases quickly became revered by musicians in these markets for their impeccable quality and durability, winning 60

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS a Gold Players’ Choice Award six times from Acoustic Guitar Magazine. After a successful 20-year run, Al sold the business in 2008 to retire. While Keith continued to focus on satisfying strong demand in Europe, the Calton brand faltered in North America.

Enter Jeff Poss... “In 2013, I was approached with the idea of becoming involved with bringing Calton production into the United States,” Poss explained. “I had a 6,500 sq. ft. shop in my backyard, and I was between projects. I’m a big fan of anything custom made and that is where all my work existed. I was also captured by the rich history of the brand, the strong user following and the story of Keith Calton and Al Williams. I love to build things and work with my hands, and I like being around people who feel the same way.” Jeff said that his shop had to learn the Calton process from the men themselves, but even THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

61


CONTENTS that has experienced improvements. “There are so many variations if you add up the options and the types of instruments. I’m sure it could be done by big machinery and equipment and programming, but it’s just not what we are interested in. We have been rebuilding the entire line since we first started here in Texas. We worked with Keith to continue his development ideas and also improve the standards of texture, shape, fit and weight to strength. All this takes some time and we have our method of prototyping and design development. It suits us the way it is.” Located in the perfect music town, Austin Texas, Calton Cases aren’t so much produced as they are created, and very meticulously at that. “It is a very involved process. It is truly a craft that takes a lot of time to perfect. It has to fit right, which ours do. You can customize the outside colors and patterns, and the inside colors of velvet. And these cases are extremely tough and strong. Every person in the process has to do their part and inspect carefully. 62 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

“It shows in how much pride everyone here has in building these cases. All the materials hold up very well over decades of use and abuse.” THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

63


CONTENTS Using fiberglass, wood, fabric, foams and rubber, Calton Cases are fiberglass on the outside, with color-fast velvet fabric inside to hold the instrument. The company looks to double its output in the coming year, having produced one thousand cases last year. Poss is very excited about some of the newer innovations in their case products.

“We recently launched a new fiddle case that we are really excited about. We are also in development on a double case for any combination of fiddle & mandolin. We redesigned our mandolin case about a year ago to give a little more room in the headstock area, as well as made our pick box a little larger in the mandolin. Also, this year we added a lot more custom options. We now have 15 standard exterior colors, we still have granite, splatter, and glitter, but we’ve upped our glitter options to 27 choices! And we also now have 9 colors to choose from for our interior velvet.” 64

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “Calton cases have never let me down. Durable and tougher than a night in jail!” — Adam McIntosh, Musician and owner of the Banjo Store “I get more comments these days on my cases than the guitars that are in them! They bring me great enjoyment to me, and I feel fortunate to have a connection with such a great company. I highly recommend them and have fun picking out your case!” —Dale Adams AKA ToneDr, Musician “Calton Cases are perfect for your prized vintage instrument. Rough, tough, and beautiful.” —Austin Vintage Guitars “These folks refined a wonderful case with informed insight, real value, and great attention to customers. I have more orders in the plan. Great work.” —Aaron Huff, Luthier THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

65


CONTENTS

66

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

67


CONTENTS

RC Williams by Susan Marquez Rick Williams is the kind of guy who, when he sees a need, can figure out a most creative way to fill it. He is an inventive person by nature, inventing not only items that will be both beautiful and useful, but reinventing himself, time and time again. From his studio in Merriam, Kansas, Rick explains that he has been a woodworker since he was ten years old. “I’ve always loved working with wood, seeing how it can be turned into something useful.” Yet he chose a different path in life, helping others through his profession as a social worker, with woodworking being a hobby on the side. After retiring from social work, he took up woodworking professionally, something he did for twelve years. Rick made custom one-of-akind furniture, but eventually left that business because customers didn’t always want to pay 68

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS custom furniture prices for his unique pieces. Luckily, he stumbled into the violin business. For 19 years he was a part-owner of a company that turned out beautiful violins, violas and double basses. “We even developed our own CNC controls and programs to generate parts for instruments,” said Rick. As the company grew, the partners didn’t see eye-to-eye on how to run it, so in 2011 he exited and took with him his intellectual property: The Bass Buggie™, the first item in a line of unique and useful products sold by Rick’s company, R.C. Williams Co., LLC., which manufactures and sells a line of accessories that has changed the way musicians handle, transport and play their instruments. “The Bass Buggie is something I came up with to help musicians transport those heavy double bass instruments. So many older musicians don’t play as much, because they have difficulty carrying their double bass. I came up with a solution that is easy to use.” The ergonomic bass carrier allows the instrument to stand upright during transport, and can be used over THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

69


CONTENTS

indoor or outdoor terrain, which helps reduce possible wear and tear during transport. Rick studied how musicians played their instruments, both on stage and in the studio. 70

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS He also paid close attention to how they placed their instruments when they weren’t playing them. Flimsy metal stands and stools were the norm, until Rick played around in his shop and came up with a design for the Amazing Bass Stand. Some may ask if it’s a stand or a chair. Rick’s answer is that it’s both! Weighing in at under 20 pounds, the Amazing Bass Stand can be used as a double bass stand, which securely keeps a bass upright, or as a chair, supporting up to 500 pounds. The footrest is uniquely designed for a natural and proper playing position. The Amazing Bass Stand was such a hit with musicians that Rick went on to design the Amazing Cello Stand. One of the biggest dangers for a cello is risk of damage and being knocked over into an orchestra pit or off a dark stage. The Amazing Cello Stand has rubbercoated edges to protect cellos from damage. An added advantage is preventing player fatigue while encouraging better posture while playing. More products have followed from the R.C. Williams design studio. The Concert Black THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

71


CONTENTS Stand, the Amazing X Stand and the Studio G Stand are all innovative products that are easy to set up and to take down, as well as to transport. “They are great for studios, or for what I call ‘park and pic’ sessions,” says Rick. The response to the products has been so great that production space for his ever-expanding line of products has been increased from 2000sf to over 5000sf. “That gives us room to grow, keep up with production and to create new inventions,” Rick says. The company will soon be working on customized parts for instruments. 72

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “I used to be a vocalist,” said Rick, “I’m actually a bass. But I had vocal cancer a few years ago and that put an end to my singing days.” While cancer may have robbed him of his singing voice, Rick still speaks strong and clear in support of musicians everywhere. “So many bass players have been surprised by what we’re doing. We help conserve their fine instruments, which for many are like their babies. More people are finding out about us every day and our products are now being sold internationally.”

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

73


tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!


CONTENTS

Austin Hefflefinger by Shelby C. Berry THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

75


CONTENTS

New Artist with a Heart for Bluegrass

Like many young musicians, the first time Austin Hefflefinger picked up the banjo, his instrument of choice, it just didn’t quite stick. 76

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS At age 13, this young artist from Rimmersburg, Pennsylvania decided that he wanted to play the banjo three years ago when his dad purchased the instrument for him for Christmas. After a few failed lessons, Austin began teaching himself how to play the banjo – as he was determined to learn. Soon after, Austin met a man named Gregg Welty. This changed the course of his life and his career in music. They met at the Clarion River Jam in Clarion, Pennsylvania. “We talked a little while, and he asked me to play for him. Then he offered to teach me. For whatever reason, things just clicked with him,” said Austin. As teacher and student, the pair works well together—so much so that Austin got to play his first show in 2018. A new artist to the bluegrass world, Austin’s talent was quickly recognized. He received competition winnings, played special performances, and was asked to join a group of young bluegrass musicians. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

77


CONTENTS During the 2018 Richmond Folk Festival, Austin entered the Scott Street Five Strings Finals, an annual competition held in memory of a former board member of JAMInc who died from cancer. This board member, Scott Street, was known for his commitment to young people learning Appalachian string music. Austin was honored to win the first-place award in the bluegrass division of the competition. “I’ve very thankful to have won that one,” said Austin. “The competition was tight. The trophy is beautiful. It makes me wonder what an IBMA crystal would look like next to it. I'm shooting for that!” Not only did last year consist of competition wins, but Austin was also asked by well-known artist Rhonda Vincent to join her on-stage at Mickey's Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Ohio. This performance gained Austin a lot of attention—especially that of bluegrass group Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars. This organization’s purpose is to support and encourage young bluegrass musicians through embracing them, their families, and their bands 78 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS while promoting opportunities for them within the bluegrass community. Performing with Rhonda Vincent caught the attention of TBS’ former president, John Colburn, and Austin has been a member of TBS ever since. I got a chance to catch up with Austin to talk about his goals in bluegrass, his success so far, and even his favorite songs to sing. The Bluegrass Standard: What is your favorite part of playing bluegrass music? Austin Hefflefinger: I think getting to be part of the bluegrass community is amazing. All the great people that I've met through festivals and conventions - just amazing. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

79


CONTENTS TBS: What is your most memorable on-stage moment since you began playing? AH: Getting to play with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage! I still can't believe Mrs. Vincent was kind enough to bring someone like me up there to play with a band like that. That really got the ball rolling for me. TBS: Tell me a bit about your music’s sound. What makes you different from other young artists? AH: I just try to think, “If Ron Block and Ron Stewart were one person, what would it sound like?” TBS: What are your favorite songs to perform? AH: Man, that's a tough one! I think if I could only play two, it would be ‘I'll Remember Your Love In My Prayers’ and ‘Jesse James.’ TBS: Tell me about your experience with Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars. What made you join? AH: I haven't been in TBS very long, but I can tell you that all the people I've met in the 80

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS organization are absolutely fantastic. After seeing a video of me playing with Rhonda Vincent, John Colburn approached me insisting that I join this group of young people called Tomorrow's Bluegrass Stars. After a little research and some phone calls, I decided to join. It was a GREAT decision! TBS: How has Mr. John Colburn and other TBS leaders helped you with your career in bluegrass? AH: They have promoted my playing many times and introduced me to all the great friends I have now. Those kids have introduced me to other people they know, so the networking is amazing! TBS: If you had any advice for an upcoming bluegrass musician wanting to join TBS, what would that be? AH: Join. Work hard. Be a servant. TBS: What is your favorite part about being amongst other young bluegrass musicians in TBS? AH: Being able to play with people my age. It's really not something I get to do very often. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

81


CONTENTS TBS: What are your dreams for your future in music – specifically bluegrass? AH: It seems pretty far away, but I'd like to be the kind of player and person that someone would want on their record and tour bus over and over again. TBS: Anything new on the horizon? AH: A few gigs throughout the year with Matt Efaw and Rural Free Delivery. I just started taking mandolin lessons. And I’m looking forward to IBMA 2019!

82

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Rick Shubb

Shubb Capos by Stephen Pitalo THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

83


CONTENTS

A Tip of the Capo Rick Shubb Has Taken Shubb Capos to the Top The Shubb Capo company began in California in 1974, when Rick Shubb and Dave Koontz collaborated to design and produce a fifth string capo for banjo. Shubb, a professional banjo player and teacher, and Dave, a mechanic and banjo student, were talking about existing methods of “capo-ing” the fifth string, which 84

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS were substandard in Shubb’s mind. His idea was a capo that operated on a lever principle, so that it would provide enough pressure for a good tone. Little did he know that these capos would become the sensation they did, and 45 years later, Shubb Capos are still an unparalleled industry standard, both in the bluegrass world, and beyond. “I wanted a better fifth string capo for my own banjo,” Shubb said. “I had an idea of how it should work, complete with drawings.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

85


CONTENTS “When I showed them to Dave Coontz, he made a rough prototype. We worked together in refining it, and it wasn’t until we had settled on a production version that it occurred to us that other players would want them, too.” “The first guitar capo we made was very crude compared to today’s Shubb Capo in terms of fit and finish, but its mechanical action was so uniquely effective that it won people’s hearts.

86

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Today’s Shubb Capo is much better made than the early ones, but not because of advanced technology; it’s the result of a lifetime of attention to detail and pride in the product.” Shubb said that he strives for perfection, but not even he can make a perfect capo. “In terms of intonation, fretted instruments are imperfect devices,” Shubb explained, “and no capo, not even a Shubb, can make them perfect. The best we can do is to not add problems, and that is where the Shubb excels. Its overcenter locking action and materials most closely resemble the human hand.” “As for building capos, I guess it could surprise some people how much hand work and individual attention goes into each one,” Shubb continued. “When it comes to using capos: experienced users know this, but some players need to learn that there is a “just right” amount of pressure you want to put on the strings. This is why the custom designed sleeve material on a Shubb is so important. Its resilience allows the string to ‘relax’ into the material, and not bend it over the fret.” 87 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Also, Shubb’s Deluxe brand capos and FineTuneband capos are made of stainless steel while their standard capos are made of brass — some being nickel plated, black chrome plated, or left in natural unfinished brass. In addition, Shubb also worked to establish another banjo innovation, the compensated bridge, by simply applying the already-known principles of bridge compensation to the banjo, correcting, in his mind, what was a long-standing oversight. “A compensated bridge does not have its string slots set in a straight line,” Shubb explained, “but is staggered to set each string’s length relative to the others according to its gauge and composition. This is intended to help correct intonation issues inherent in fretted instruments. “The need for bridge compensation on fretted instruments has been well known for generations. Guitars and mandolins mostly had compensated bridges on them long before I came along, but no one was producing a compensated bridge for banjo. Earlier playing styles on banjo did not demand accurate intonation at the higher frets, especially on lower 88

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS strings. But about the time that I was learning to play, many players — including myself — were developing playing styles that required more accurate intonation from all the frets.” Strangely enough, Shubb’s talent for technology moved him toward database building and management, eventually resulting in establishing two famous programs for musicians: SongMaster and GigMaster. “When computers started getting popular, my friend Chip Dunbar turned me on to Macs, and he and I were all over them. He worked as a Mac consultant and troubleshooter, and I sometimes helped him with database solutions. I had become extremely proficient at a program called FileMaker. Having developed some pretty intricate solutions for clients, I eventually decided to create software that I though musicians would find helpful.” “First was SongMaster, a database for keeping track of songs, chord charts, lyrics, and much more, including a tool for constructions set lists for performance. Then GigMaster; powerful, fullfeatured gig tracking software for performers. 89 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “Eventually I merged the two; GigMaster included an integrated version of SongMaster.” I put way more work into these two applications than I could have hoped to recover in income from sales, but it was a labor of love. They never did conquer the world, but the few hundred musicians who used them liked them a lot and grew to depend on them. Eventually it came to a point where a total revamp of my software would be necessary to run on newer operating systems, and I opted to pull the plug. But to this day, there are still a few users who have kept an older computer running just to use GigMaster. Shubb is also proud of the Shubb Reversible Guitar Slide, originally called the Axys. 90

“I actually still call it THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Axys myself most of the time, but we ran into a guy at the Frankfurt Musikmesse who held a trademark of ‘Axis’ on some products, and he gave us some heat about it. If we had launched a legal battle over it, I know we would have prevailed, but it just didn’t seem worth fighting over. Hence its new name.” The Shubb Reversible Guitar Slide was developed by Brooks Story — who originally named it — with a few finishing touches put onto it by me. When Brooks was first beginning to promote his invention, a music store owner was impressed and told him ‘This could become the Shubb Capo of slides!’ That’s when Brooks decided to contact me.” There have been various approaches to combining slide playing with normal fretting, but I still think this one is the most elegant. Shubb said that seeing his products being used by good musicians and knowing that his capos and other products are playing a small part in making their music more rewarding and more fun is a concept that never ceases to please him.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

91


CONTENTS

“My company has been around for a long time now, and over these years many other capos have come, and some have gone, but nothing has come along to rival our basic design. Shubb Capos are still the best! And we’re not resting on our laurels. Every day we pay close attention to the efficiency of our production, and especially to the needs of our customers. Musicians are my people, and I regard each of them as a superstar.” 92

Shubb Reversible Guitar Slide

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

“Shubb is my capo of choice – easy to use, reliable and resilient.” — Bonnie Raitt LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Country music superstar Clint Black was the recipient of Shubb Capo’s first black capo.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

93


tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!


CONTENTS

by Shelby C. Berry THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

95


CONTENTS

Epic Sounds & Electric Tunes 96

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Sometimes the most talented musicians take a different career path to share their passion for music—musicians like Marc Minarik, creator of a widely successful electric guitar company, Minarik Guitars, based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Almost two decades ago, Mark was involved in musical design work when a colleague suggested that he try his luck at designing guitars and other stringed instruments. The idea resonated and Mark decided to design a line of electric guitars. His vision of advancing the sonic technology of instruments began in his shop where he hand-built custom guitars and basses. In what seemed overnight, Minarik Guitars became super successful and today, after 20 years, Marc is still just as passionate about bringing his customers one-of-a-kind hand-crafted instruments. “If you put a Minarik guitar up against any other guitar, you’ll immediately notice the difference in the sound,” said Marc Minarik. “We hide Easter eggs in the internal design that help the sound of our guitars. We have many great musicians who love to sound test and validate what we say 97 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS about our instruments. They are broader, wider, and more articulate than our competitors.” The body engineering of the instrument’s interior as well as the exterior design, especially the nontraditional shapes that allow for more sound engineering, set the company apart from other companies. The Minarik Guitars custom series allows options in creating a guitar from scratch and the Studio X-treme Series bring technologies in more affordable packages. The Minarik team ensures that imported instruments achieve the same sonic range quality as custom instruments, at a fraction of the cost. “Both our custom and import lines are very important to Minarik Guitars,” said Marc. “People fall in love with the custom line but will end up going with the import line due to the price range, and they will still be able to get 99% of what they wanted in their instrument.” Another goal is to offer every instrument in a left-handed style, so Minarik Guitars has a partnership with an exclusive global guitar distributor for their left-handed guitar line. 98

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS “Left-handed guitars are a huge deal. You are supposed to be able to build and produce instruments everybody can use, and I like having something that can be a conduit for those left-handed artists. I’m looking to make these

Minarik’s “Goddess Acoustic” THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

99


CONTENTS instruments just the new black – having the same instruments for everyone,” said Marc. As Minarik Guitars moves into the future, it has adopted an important motto – to have passion: passion to use the finest materials possible; passion to make a guitar that blows listeners away; passion to create the finest quality instruments available anywhere. When an artist picks up a Minarik guitar for the first time, they hold something revolutionary. They see it. They feel it. Then, a spark of passion urges the artist to go with the revolution and leave the past. “There is something about the shape of a Minarik guitar that will resonate with an artist on a personal level,” said Marc. “It opens up a channel of creativity – creating music, improving songwriting, and encouraging you to be a better version of yourself. The sound is huge in itself, but there is also something you can’t put your finger on. Those two things combined is what brings people the passion to keep coming back to Minarik Guitars. There is a real connectivity there with people and their Minarik instrument.” 100 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

This passion reaches musicians like progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria’s lead singer Claudio Paul Sanchez III. He currently plays the Medusa model and is designing a signature model to release to the public. Although Minarik Guitars is established and recognized in the rock music world, they are looking forward to a day when they can make an impact in country and bluegrass music. Minarik Guitars continues to build a community of artists and musicians who love their products and understand that Minarik instruments directly enhance performance. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

101


CONTENTS

“I’d really like to see the explosion of an artist using one of our guitars in the country world. That’s where we want to go next! Who is next is very important as things in the musical world are turning back toward organic music and instruments. 102

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

“I’m excited for what is blossoming in the realms of new artists!” —Marc Minarik

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

103


CONTENTS

AND “AWAY� WE GO! COME FROM AWAY Takes True Americans-in-Canada Tale & Sets It To Folk Music by Stephen Pitalo Come From Away, currently playing on Broadway, is the touching, exciting, and completely true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town of Gander in Newfoundland that welcomed them when their planes were rerouted and grounded on 9/11. The town takes the people under their wing and although cultures clashed and tensions were high, new friendships and mutual trust emerged from their experiences, reflected in this amazing musical production at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

104

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Now, it might seem strange to turn the story about how a small Newfoundland community welcomed 7,000 passengers on 38 planes that were diverted to their town on 9/11 into a musical. However, the inventive songs, the highly skilled cast and talented musicians pull the audience in. This show is all heart, all night, and the standing ovations are earned, I assure you. At the heart of the music is a folk-driven sunniness in the face of adversity; inside this show about a specific time and place you’ll find lessons about embracing diversity and building character. The Canadian married writing team of Irene Sankoff

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

105


CONTENTS and David Hein have created a work of joy in this execution. They developed Come From Away at the Canadian Music Theatre Project and Goodspeed Musicals’ Festival of New Artists, showcased at the NAMT Festival of New Works and enjoyed a record setting world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory, followed by Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto and, in a nod to the production’s town setting, the Gander Community Centre Hockey Rink. Come From Away also won four Helen Hayes Awards, five Outer Critics Circle Awards and three Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical. Sankoff and Hein were nominated for Tony® Awards for Best Book and Score and won the 2017 Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards for Best Book. The performing musicians are onstage throughout the performance, and are seamlessly weaved in and out, sometimes performing alongside the actors during the more rousing and celebratory numbers. The band, consisting of Ian Eisendrath as conductor but also playing keyboard, accordion and harmonium; Ben Power playing whistles, Irish flute and Uilleann pipes; Caitlin Warbelow playing fiddle; Alec Berlin playing acoustic and electric guitar; Nate Lueck on acoustic guitar, mandolin and bouzouki,

106

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Carl Carter on acoustic and electric guitar; Romano Di Nillo playing bodhran and percussion; and Larry Lelli on drums and percussion. All these musicians deliver high energy with tight precision, with most of the music pulling from folk influences ranging from Irish drinking songs to dark sea shanties to what might have even been a square dance reel. It’s rollicking good fun, which is not easy to pull off. Shifting tone in a show about tragedy can be tricky, but these songs follow the tragic events of that day with perspective. The hearts of the townspeople and the passengers grew full by circumstance and connection, even as the world mourned. Come From Away is great fun for folk music lovers, but it’s also a show that everyone can embrace.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

107


u l B u N tour dates

April 4 - Northeast Lousiana Bluegrass Festival -Oak Grove, LA April 12 - Sterling Bluegrass Jamboree -Sterling, OH April 13 - Moon City Event Center -Moon City, OH April 14 - Chicago Street Theater -Valapariso, IN April 19 - Main Street Market -Polk, PA April 20 - mActivity Coffeehouse -New Haven, CT

New DVD Release !

Now Available At www.nu-blu.com

From the deep woods of the Appalachian Mountains, in the far northern reaches of Quebec, a special red spruce grows. A hybrid blend of black and white spruce, the densityto-lightness ratio of the Picea Rubens is such that it is known worldwide for its harmonic qualities. “Our little village of Berthier-sur-Mer is actually surrounded by red spruce,” says Robin Boucher. “Many bluegrass artists now know that it is the best spruce species...


CONTENTS

by Susan Marquez THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

109


CONTENTS

for making bluegrass guitars.” Boucher comes from a guitar-building family. “My Uncle Norman was the founder of Norman Guitars, the first acoustic guitar company in Canada.” He started the company in 1969, and young Boucher first toured the guitar factory when he was ten years old. “I remember it like it was yesterday. When I was 11 years old, my uncle let me put a top knot on one of his guitars. That’s where my passion for making guitars came from.” It was also at age 11 that Boucher learned to play the guitar... He took it very seriously, practicing whenever he could. From 1983 to 1987, he earned his income 110

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

solely from playing the guitar. “I played a lot of styles of music, including country, folk, rock-nroll and Top 40.” Boucher explains that his father played the banjo and steel guitar. “I grew up listening to country and bluegrass.” In 2005, Boucher followed in his uncle’s footsteps and founded Boucher Guitars. He knew that he would utilize the rare red spruce that grew so abundantly in the area where he lived. “I source the wood from various saw mills and lumber yards. I even have farmers who contact me directly, because they understand that I buy large lots of wood at a time.” The wood grows in Appalachian regions from Virginia to New York, Vermont to Maine and into Canada in New Brunswick and into Nova THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

111


CONTENTS

Scotia. “It grows exclusively in the Appalachian Mountains,” says Boucher. “It’s sometimes called Adirondack spruce, because it grows in the Adirondacks, which are in the middle of the Appalachians. Boucher sources other woods as well, including exotic rosewood, cocobolo and bubinga in addition to South American mahogany, koa and western Canadian bigleaf maple. Boucher developed his goose series that began with the studio goose series. About that time, he got a call from a guy in Ft. Kent, Maine named Toby Saucier. Saucier played with a bluegrass band called Blistered Fingers. “Toby found us in a roundabout way,” laughs Boucher. “He received a damage bass amplifier from Chicago Music 112

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Exchange. In communicating with them about the amplifier, which was quickly replaced to Toby’s satisfaction, Toby noticed on the Chicago Music Exchange website that they sold Boucher guitars. He had never heard of us, but his wife’s maiden name was Boucher. I invited him up to tour our factory, along with his band. I asked them to bring their instruments. They played for about an hour, then I had them play a few more songs on our guitars. After two or three chords, they were amazed. We’ve developed a great relationship over the years, and I consider Toby and his wife, Jennifer, to be good friends. It was after that visit that I created the Bluegrass Goose series. Before meeting Toby, I was not in the bluegrass market. Now 35 to 40 percent of THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

113


CONTENTS products we sell are for bluegrass.” The Bluegrass Goose series crafted and engineered to meet the high standards of bluegrass guitarists both on stage and in the studio, according to Boucher. “Our guitars are very ‘present’ among the other bluegrass instruments. The sound spectrum on the Bluegrass Goose includes rich low ends, driving mids and beefy highs.” Boucher says his company makes 400 guitars a year and supplies 20,000 acoustic guitar tops to other guitar manufacturers. “We have 14 employees, with four of them dedicated to making acoustic tops.” The word about Boucher guitars spread like wildfire after the company was name the Backer Best of Show in the guitar category at the 2014 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show. “I like the bluegrass music style,” says Boucher. “And I like the bluegrass community. They are very respectful. It’s the only music that can be played outside and really heard, because the people in the audience respect the musicians and they want to really listen to the music.” 114 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

When Toby Saucier, a bass player in a bluegrass band in northern Maine, stumbled across Boucher Guitars on a musical supply website, he took a second look. His wife’s maiden name was Boucher. He made a call to Robin Boucher, the company’s owner, and asked if he and his band could come tour the factory. “We were welcomed with open arms, like we had been friends all our lives,” says Saucier. “We were all hooked,” laughs Saucier. “The playability is butter smooth. A Boucher can stand up to any guitar. Now we eat, drink and sleep Boucher. Between all of us, we have 11 Bouchers. The quality and sound are second to none. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Lord lined it up for Robin and me to meet. We’ve become great friends, and he has become a life-long bluegrass fan. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

115


CONTENTS

116

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


The entire year in Bluegrass, at your fingertips! Order your copy now, only $19.95...


CONTENTS

 Fiddler’s Porch 

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley by Emerald Butler 118

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS Last year was a big year for Bluegrass duo Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley. Although both of the musicians had played the Grand Ole Opry before, the duo made their debut performance together on the hallowed circle in Nashville, Tennessee on June 1st of last year. Ickes and Hensley have continued to perform on the Opry and Ryman stage since then, and there are even more appearances scheduled throughout the year. “The first time was pretty nerve racking, but pretty awesome,” Trey admitted. “It’s just kind of a big step,” Rob shared. “It’s been about three years now, and it’s been fun since the get go… it’s just nice to keep taking this thing as far as it can go.” Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley have also kept busy with recording. Rob played on Josh Turner’s latest album called I Serve A Savior. The album was produced by Kenny Greenburg who Rob had worked with before. “I think they wanted a real acoustic kind of album for this, and (were) just kind of keeping it simple. It was fun and pretty fast moving. I think we cut the whole thing in THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

119


CONTENTS two days. A few months later we went up to Bill Gaither’s place and recorded. They ended up including a few songs from the tv show on the album. I think Josh is just a real good voice. He has a pretty good knowledge of bluegrass. It was pretty dang fun.” The duo is signed with Compass Records which is based in Nashville, Tennessee. During their time with Compass Records they have collaborated with many of the label’s artists and bands including Bobby Osborne, Special Consensus, and Frank Solivan’s latest album, If You Can’t Stand The Heat. They will also be performing some shows with Frank Solivan and the Dirty Kitchen this month as well. Trey shared that most of these collaborations are very organic. It usually starts with someone giving them a call because of relationships. The label isn’t controlling in that. “We all love being on Compass together,” Trey said. “Even Compass in general is an organic label… they want things to happen for musical reasons.” Rob and Trey have also been recording their own new album. They wrapped up recording 120

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS in January. Most of the material will be original songs that they have written which they say is a little unusual because most of their recordings have been obscure covers. There’s even a horn section somewhere throughout the recording. The album is produced by Brent Maher who has worked on projects with artists like Kenny Rogers, Nickel Creek, Elvis Presley, and the Judds. Rob and Trey shared that there will be special guests

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

121


CONTENTS on the album including Vince Gill and Susan Cox. No certain dates or titles have been released yet, but they hope to release the album in early summer. Scheduled for their year is a two-week tour in Europe. They will be contributing to several music camps around the globe, and then the duo will also be opening shows for the 50th anniversary tour of Electric Hot Tuna later this year.

122

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

Rob and Trey mentioned other special announcements, but they weren’t at liberty to share anything else yet. Nevertheless, a new album, European tour, music camps, and U.S. tour will keep the boys busy.

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

123


CONTENTS

m o c . y e r T RobAnd 124

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

 Fiddler’s Porch 

A SPBGMA Story

by Emerald Butler Hopefully, by now we are reaching the end of the cold and flu season, or as I like to call it, SPBGMA. Now yes, I know, I am a month or two behind in talking about SPBGMA, but we all look forward to it throughout the year, so why not talk about it a little longer? Or do we really look forward to it all year long? A weekend full of bluegrass jamming, Nashville staying, and hooky playing. That part THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

125


CONTENTS is fun. Yet would somebody please tell me how to stay somewhat well during the event because every time I go, I get sick! This year my SPBGMA weekend began with me getting sick the day I left for Nashville. Unfortunately, I spent half of the days staying in my hotel room because my nose was pouring like all the rain we’ve gotten in Tennessee this year. Just don’t tell Keith Barnacastle that because he thinks I was jamming, shaking hands, and kissing babies for the magazine the entire time. Sorry, Keith! Honestly, though, I did get to catch up with some wonderful people and record some fun videos. If you haven’t seen them on The Bluegrass Standard Facebook page you should definitely go check that out! But not yet! You have to finish reading this first! Anyway, year after year I get sick, and I see social media posts about other people getting sick. I remember seeing a post one year about Becky Buller’s stash of remedies for preparation of the event. I tell people who don’t know that it’s a Bluegrass conference, but once they see all of 126 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS my cold medicine I’m sure they think it’s a clinical conference or something. I promise I’m not a drug dealer. So, I went to the all-knowing place of knowledge and opinions... I got on Facebook. I asked all of my friends if they had any suggestions on how to stay well during SPBGMA. The answers varied from homeopathic medicine, elderberry syrup, hand sanitizer, washing hands, and just not touching anything. Which that last one is hard for me especially when I'm trying out instruments at the vendors' booths. I wonder if they sanitize their instruments at the end of the day. I’m sure there is some obvious scientific answer to all of this. There are viruses going around, it’s cold outside so more people are inside, or bluegrassers are just extra friendly people so they’re more concerned with sharing the love than not sharing germs. I can see it now. I probably hugged someone, and they thought "thanks for the affection but don't touch me, you sick person!" Please take this as my public apology if I got you sick that weekend, but it was still good to see you! THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

127


CONTENTS Alright, I’m just rambling now, but seriously, I get sick every year. Sure, I may have contracted something before I got to the Sheraton, but it still falls on that weekend. Even Keith told me that he got sick, and he was in California! Therefore, I am convinced that there must be some sort of SPBGMA curse. However, we are currently greeting spring and the outdoor, non-contagious festivals. There are several months left before we frantically sanitize our banjos and fiddles, but until then, if you could tell me your secret to warding off this contagious event called SPBGMA please let me know. Just don't tell me not to go because that doesn't work for me either. 128

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!


CONTENTS

April Bluegrass Festivals Dates

Event

Location

Apr 11-13

Big Lick Bluegrass Festival

Oakboro, North Carolina

Apr 11-14

Bender Jamboree

Las Vegas, Nevada

Apr 11-14

Big Sky Big Grass

Big Sky , Montana

Apr 11-14

Old Settler's Music Festival

Tilmon, Texas

Apr 12-13

Nelson McGee Memorial Bluegrass Fest

San Angelo, Texas

Apr 12-14

Durango Bluegrass Meltdown

Durango, Colorado

Apr 12-14

Temecula Bluegrass Festival

Temecula, California

Apr 12-14

Wilmington Bluegrass Festival

Claymont, Delaware

Apr 25-28

MerleFest

Wilksboro, North Carolina

Apr 26-27

Charm City Bluegrass Festival

Baltimore, Maryland

Apr 27

Fort Cooper Bluegrass Festival

Inverness, Florida

Apr 27

The Ladies of Bluegrass Music Festival

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Apr 27-28

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival

Dahlonega, Georgia

For the complete list with links to full info, check out our Events tab at TheBluegrassStandard.com! 130

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


CONTENTS

May Bluegrass Festivals Dates

Event

Location

May 2-4

Bluegrass & Old-Time Country Festival

Drakesville, Iowa

May 2-4

Boxcar Pinion Bluegrass Festival

Chickamauga, Georgia

May 2-4

Little Roy & Lizzy Music Festival

Lincolnton, Georgia

May 2-4

Mr. B's Bluegrass Festival

Woodford, Virginia

May 2-4

Twin Oaks Park Spring Bluegrass Festival

Hoboken, Georgia

May 2-27

Silver Dollar City Bluegrass and BBQ Festival

Branson, Missouri

May 3-5

Bluegrass Heritage Festival

Farmers Branch, Texas

May 9-11

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bluegrass Fest.

Denton, North Carolina

May 9-11

Great Southern Music Festival

Ochlocknee, Georgia

May 9-12

Parkfield Bluegrass Festival

Parkfield, California

May 10-11

Aiken Bluegrass Festival

Aiken, South Carolina

May 10-11

North Carolina Brewers & Music Festival

Huntersville, N. Carolina

May 11

Hollywood Bluegrass Festival

Leonardtown, Maryland

May 15-18

Outer Banks Bluegrass Island Festival

Manteo, North Carolina

May 16-18

Amelia Bluegrass Festival

Amelia, Virginia

May 16-19

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival - May

Gettysburg, Penn.

May 17-18

Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival

Sevierville, Tennessee

continued...

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

131


CONTENTS

May Bluegrass Festivals Dates

Event

Location

May 17-18

Bluegrass in the Bottoms

Kansas City, Missouri

May 17-18

River City Bluegrass Festival

St. Louis, Missouri

May 17-19

Bluegrass From the Forest Festival

Shelton, Washington

May 17-19

SEMBA May Bluegrass Festival

Houston, Minnesota

May 19

Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest and Folk Fest.

Agoura Hills, California

May 23-26

DelFest

Cumberland, Maryland

May 23-25

Lil John's Mountain Music Festival

Snow Camp, N. Carolina

May 23-25

Ralph Stanley Bluegrass Festival

McClure, Virginia

May 23-25

Chantilly Farm Bluegrass Festival

Floyd, Virginia

May 24 - Jun 2

Dollywood Bluegrass & Barbeque

Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

May 29 - Jun 1

John Hartford Memorial Festival

Bean Blossom, Indiana

May 30 - Jun 1

Graves Mountain Music Festival

Syria, Virginia

May 30 - Jun 2

NEPA Bluegrass Festival

Tunkhannock, Penn.

May 30 - Jun 2

Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival

Preston, Connecticut

May 31 - Jun 2

Minnesota Homegrown Kickoff

Richmond, Minnesota

May 31 - Jun 2

Ogden Music Festival

Ogden, Utah

132

THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


Suits, Boots & Bluegrass

fan photos


Suits, Boots & Bluegrass

fan photos


Thank You to Our Sponsors:

Help support The Bluegrass Standard, get your logo included for only $75/month! Contact advertising@thebluegrassstandard.com, or call 760-636-8576


Turnberry Records & Management • Booking 2019–2020 •

Christian Davis soulful baritone

Rebekah Long

unique & captivating, small-town Georgia Bluegrass & Americana artist

No Time Flatt

Tennessee Music Awards “Bluegrass Band of the Year”, 2017–2018

The Kody Norris Show classic bluegrass showmanship

Phillip Steinmetz & His Sunny Tennesseans crowd-pleasing nostalgia

Bluegrass Outlaws

tight, melody-driven harmonies 760.883.8160 • turnberryrecords@gmail.com 12168 Turnberry Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 www.TurnberryRecords.com

tell them you saw it in The Bluegrass Standard!

Profile for The Bluegrass Standard

The Bluegrass Standard - Mobile - Volume 3, Issue 4  

This month we turn to the instrument makers: the people behind the guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, dobros, even ukuleles that make blue...

The Bluegrass Standard - Mobile - Volume 3, Issue 4  

This month we turn to the instrument makers: the people behind the guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, dobros, even ukuleles that make blue...