Featured Artist March 2015

GIBSON-COVERIn Tune With History
Gibson Celebrates 120 Years Of Mandolins And More
By Larry Nager

It’s been 120 years since Orville Gibson started carving his newfangled mandolins in a tiny workshop in the town of Kalamazoo, Mich. An eccentric renaissance man, he was a performing musician and inventor who had decided that just because those big-bellied “taterbug” mandolins had been around for hundreds of years, it didn’t mean he couldn’t come up with something better. Borrowing concepts from the great violin makers, combined with a personal aesthetic steeped in the flowery flourishes of the nineteenth century Art Nouveau movement, Gibson invented the modern mandolin, an American instrument for a new century.

“He had a modest little workshop on the second floor of a retail store,” says Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of the multi-national entity now known as Gibson Brands, Inc. “He was a musician that played the mandolin and determined that none of the instruments of the day were acceptable, and so he set about making his own instrument to meet his standards of perfection.”

The patent he filed after building that first mandolin was awarded in 1898 and remains his sole patent. First and foremost an artist, Gibson’s many talents did not include finance. “Orville was not interested in really being in business,” Juszkiewicz explains. “He was only interested in making the best instrument. And he did, and it got a lot of attention. The legend in the company goes that he was approached by Wurlitzer (the major American dealer and distributor of quality musical instruments in the first half of the twentieth century) and was asked if they could buy one hundred of his mandolins. Orville replied, ‘Well, that’s possible. But I am currently making one mandolin a year, so it will take me a hundred years to fulfill that order.’” Fortunately for mandolinists, production increased in 1902 when a group of Kalamazoo businessmen bought Orville out for $2,500 and started the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Co. Ltd. Read entire article »

In Tune With History
Gibson Celebrates 120 Years Of Mandolins And More
By Larry Nager

A Beatles Banjo?
Rod Davis Played A Five-String In John Lennon’s First Band
By Richard D. Smith

Understanding Strings
By Jim Hatlo

Hoffee Carbon Fiber Cases—In Search Of The Perfect Instrument Case
By Dick Kimmel

Peace In The Ivory Wars?
By Richard D. Smith

General Store
Obituary-Julia Mainer
Obituary-John Douglas “Buddy” Davis
Obituary-Robert Billy Yates
Obituary-Dixie Hall
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March 2015 Reviews


THE CROWE BROTHERS FORTY YEARS OLD Mountain Fever Records MFR 141028 With the release of Forty Years Old, the Crowe Brothers, Josh and Wayne, do a nice job of straddling the line between country and bluegrass. Using bluegrass instrumentation (Wayne on bass, Josh on guitar, Steve Sutton on banjo and dojo, Brian Blaylock on mandolin, […]

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ART ROSENBAUM’S OLD-TIME BANJO BOOK BY ART ROSENBAUM Mel Bay MB30494DP. (Mel Bay, 4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.melbay.com.) This is an exciting new book and DVD from one of the modern masters of old-time banjo. Rosenbaum is retired from the University of Georgia after a long career as an art professor. He’s widely […]

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TURNING GROUND CELL OF MINE No Label No Number Eastern Kentucky is a place of pressure. Geologically and sociologically, the region is known for the power that comes from that pressure that makes for coal and great music. These fellows sure bring that power to their music. Racing out of the starting gate, the Arnett […]

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SAVAGE FIDDLER METHOD BOOK AND ONLINE LESSON METHOD BY ANNIE SAVAGE No Label, No Number. (www.savagefiddler.com) This books compliments the many files found on Annie Savage’s website. There was no password included with this book, so the opportunity to view the online tools was not fully realized. Each tune is taught with the following steps. […]

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MIKE AULDRIDGE, JERRY DOUGLAS AND ROB ICKES THREE BELLS Rounder Records 11661-35773-02    Three Bells is a fascinating album by three of the best resonator guitar players who will ever play the instrument. For Douglas and Ickes, it’s a labor of love musically, giving tribute to Auldridge for taking this unique instrument to a new level […]

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DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER IN SESSION Mountain Home MH15732 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver’s latest album, In Session, captures a celebrated veteran band at full power. It’s a masterful showcase of imaginative song choices, superlative harmonies, inspired vocal arrangements and powerhouse picking. The production, handled by Lawson with the assistance of recording engineer Josh Swift, is […]

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JOHNNY WILLIAMS GOING MY WAY Mountain Road Recordings MRR-1021 Johnny Williams’ most distinctive work on this, his second solo release on Mountain Road, comes in bunches—three separate bunches. The tracks in between are fine. Those in the bunches stay with you. At track three, begins the first bunch. You can feel the shift immediately. Where […]

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NICK HORNBUCKLE TWELVE BY TWO (PLUS OR MINUS ONE) Corvus Records CR 022            On 12×2(+/-1), Nick Hornbuckle, Washington State banjo player for John Reischman and the Jaybirds, presents a striking instrumental album showcasing his unique two-finger picking style on a thoughtful selection of mostly traditional tunes. The title refers to […]

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DONNA HUGHES FROM THE HEART Running Dog Records RDR-03 Obviously, Donna Hughes has been busy putting pen to paper in the four years since her last album. She is releasing two records this year. One, titled Fly, has eight originals. This one has 19 to go along with covers of the old gospel standard “I’ll […]

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CHRIS JONES AND THE NIGHT DRIVERS LIVE AT THE OLD FEED STORE GSM Records 103 Here’s a live album that gets it right. Just enough ambiance and crowd involvement so you get the experience. Instruments and voices are in balance so you hear everyone clearly. Introductions are kept to a minimum or on separate tracks […]

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LARRY STEPHENSON BAND PULL YOUR SAVIOR IN Whysper Dream Music 7 4262 9 How appropriate that Larry Stephenson celebrates his 25th year as a bandleader by releasing his fifth all-gospel album. Stephenson always seems to put an extra something into such releases, and this one is no different in that regard. The man definitely has […]

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SONGWRITING STRATEGIES: A 360° APPROACH—BY MARK SIMOS Berklee Press 978-0-87639-151-8. 210 pp. $22.99. (Berklee Online, 1140 Boylston St., MS-855 BM, Boston, MA 02215, www.berkleepress.com.) Now, when someone asks, “Which comes first—the melody or the words?” I can reply: Songwriting Strategies by Mark Simos comes first. That is, if what the question is really asking is, “How […]

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BECKY BULLER ’TWEEN EARTH AND SKY Dark Shadow Recordings 114681    Becky Buller has been a regular on the bluegrass scene for over a decade now, although at times she has flown under the radar. The fact is, however, she’s a triple threat who is finally getting some much-deserved recognition with her new album ’Tween […]

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THE KEVIN PRATER BAND WERE YOU THERE No Label No Number This is Prater’s full gospel release with a new band that includes Prater (mandolin, guitar), Tom Timberlake (banjo), Albon Clevenger (fiddle), Cole Spears (guitar), and Danny Stiltner (bass). Prater’s career with such bands as James King and Melvin Goins, as well as influential mentoring […]

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THE CLAIRE LYNCH BAND HOLIDAY Compass Records THR4121 The test of a good Christmas recording is to find yourself able to listen to it when it arrives within a few days of Old Christmas (January 6). Just about any of them will sound good in early December. One that sounds good when your ear has […]

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CHRIS COOLE AND IVAN ROSENBERG RETURN TO TRION Vole-O-Tone #004 This sophomore release is full of musical adventures from the fearless duo of Coole and Rosenberg from the frozen North Country. You have to keep the music hot in that clime. This Canadian duo is back after their release Farewell To Trion with an even […]

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WAYNE TAYLOR MOVIN’ ON Raincoe Music RM-07012014 A new Wayne Taylor project is always a joy to find in the mailbox. Wayne is a prolific songwriter and this new CD is chock-full of his songs. He’s joined in the studio by Dale Ann Bradley (vocals), Emory Lester (mandolin, guitar), Rickie Simpkins (fiddle), Gaven Largent (resonator […]

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