THE ARTICLE PAGE
The good news is that they moved it from 10 PM to 7 PM on Saturdays. It is a step in the right direction. But my goal is to get "DERAILED", one of the two best shows in my opinion, on Bluegrass Junction- its own full-time station!!
Before my explanation I want to mention the other "best show"-in my opinion on Bluegrass Junction. That is, Handpicked with Del McCoury. Probably the most educational Bluegrass show ever. Del gives his slant on stories from the past. He introduces music that is necessary listening and gives a behind the scenes view of the Bluegrass music world as only he can. His interviewing partners name escapes me and I just looked at a dozen articles on the Internet and still can't find his name which is a shame because he really knows how to get the best out of Del.
Back to "Derailed", hosted by Ned Luberecki.
Saturday nights Ned hosts “Derailed” the Newgrass/Progressive Bluegrass show on Bluegrass Junction. This is when you’ll hear artists like New Grass Revival, John Hartford, Sam Bush, John Cowan, The Deadly Gentlemen, Crooked Still, The Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek, Milk Drive, The Greencards, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Infamous Stringdusters, David Grisman, Missy Raines and the New Hip and the more modern sounds of Bluegrass and acoustic music. Bluegrass music from the cutting edge. Bluegrass music that I wish the world recognized as such. Past guests on the show include: Sam Bush, John Cowan, Cadillac Sky, Chris Pandolfi, Missy Raines, Bill Evans and Megan Lynch. You never know who might show up!
When I speak to people about Bluegrass I often think to myself that they are not aware of the vast spectrum of this great genre. Evolution can be thanked for new music being played a little differently.
Personally, this is my favorite kind of music. That's a subjective thing. But let's look at this another way. Who do the festivals call to headline when they want to sell tickets? Who is on the stage when you can't get close to the stage.
Derailed is my kind of Bluegrass. My educated guess is that if "Derailed" had it's own station on Sirius XM they would have more fans than "Bluegrass Junction" within a year's time. And they should put Ned Luberecki at the helm. After all, he is Derailed.
is thrilled to introduce our good friend
Cal Country, RoadTripper
Join us in welcoming Cal and his vast enthusiasm to
The BackstageView.com Family!!
Cal's first article speaks for itself right here.
January is the time of year for Bluegrass Road Trippers to rest up and kick back in front of a fire, rereading a worn copy of “Still Inside”, eating a bowl of chili thinking about all the great times you’ve had the previous year at the festivals you attended, right? Wrong! January is the time for planning next year’s road trips and hitting the road to the Winter Village Bluegrass Festival in Ithaca, NY
Below Sea Level
Faces and Stories of Bluegrass Music in the Netherlands
Do you think you are interested in the Dutch Bluegrass and Roots music scene? This book will definitely spark your interest in a very big way.
Vocalist and bassist Loes van Schaijk traveled her country with photographer Marieke Odekerken interviewing musicians. This amazing book brings you deep into a world we recognize well yet is quite a distance away.
Bluegrass and Roots music is international. We knew that. However, taking this journey to this far away land has been most fascinating.
Bill Monroe was half Dutch. His mothers last name was Vandiver (as well as Uncle Pen). In the Netherlands the name is well known as Vander Veere, meaning ‘from the small island city of Veere in the province of Zeeland'. Bill Monroe had toured the Netherlands.
For her master’s thesis in Arts & Culture, the author chose to investigate whether Bluegrass in the Netherlands was in some way related to the cultural phenomenon as it is in the U.S.A. Schaijk has essentially become another Ambassador of the musical genre we all so much appreciate. Exposing her fellow citizens and observing their reactions must have been a wonderful exercise. I met her at the IBMA in Raleigh, NC. She has an exuberance second to none.
There is no doubt that High Lonesome Below Sea Level, is an art book. It is about culture. Many stories of many fine people who are part of this great community. Excellent musicians who may have heard bluegrass music for the first time on the American Forces Network in the 1950’s. Imagine what the quality of the reception was then.
The photography in this book is perfect. It is in black and white and it gives a rich real unique artistic feel. Every story page has an accompanied photo page. Extremely well done.
Some of these musicians grew up in a time when Austrian and German music was the cool way to go. Not for these musicians. These are Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar and mandolin players. People who heard a certain sound and needed to hear much more of it. To become part of it. Sound familiar?
I particularly appreciated the numerous ways different folk got the bluegrass bug.
-Buying a record based solely on the art design (Flatt & Scruggs);
-Being a Led Zeppelin fanatic and your friend says, “We are starting an Old Time Band and we want you to be part of it”;
-or the story of playing a weekly unpaid gig when the band met two Japanese people who were on Holiday in the Netherlands and who were specifically searching for some Bluegrass Music.
These musicians have a history of their own yet they are all influenced by the same hero’s we all share. They raised money and flew to the U.S. on behalf of the Dutch Bluegrass Community in 1985 to present a check for Joe “Val” Valiante, who was seriously ill with Cancer. These are our Brothers and Sisters who start local Bluegrass radio stations just to share their enthusiasm for the art they love.
This hardcover book is loaded with one fantastic story after another. It can easily be considered a coffee table book. Open it up on any page and you are guaranteed to read a great bluegrass story.
As you delve into these great stories you can taste the emotion and the enthusiasm. The fire these musicians bring to each performance. So many of these fine musicians toured and/or visited the U.S. You most likely have seen some on stage or pick’n at a festival driving their musical personalities and influencing the music we listen to.
The musical influences of many of these musicians are similar to our American influences. From Bill Monroe, Pete Seeger, Flatt & Scruggs to Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury, David Grisman, Tony Rice, Tony Trishka, Sam Bush - just to name a few. There were many names of influences that I did not recognize. A great part of our community is finding new artists recommended by others. Then their music becomes familiar and possibly our new influences and favorites.
I particularly loved the story where a family was at a bluegrass festival and were preparing to put their children to bed before Hot Rize was to perform. Their young daughter instead convinced the parents to take her to see the band. Decades later that daughter is taking over Dads position on the Board of Boet’n Deure, an outdoor concert platform for acoustic music in its purest state where musicians are encouraged to get out and play (logically this means you should bring your kids to a Hot Rize show to secure their future success).
There is a hunger in everyone that can be satisfied by learning. Learning new things. Learning old things from a different perspective. Fortunately, we all speak a common language. That is music.
This book should be on your coffee table. A great gift for anyone who loves people and their stories. A fantastic gift for those of us who also love music, photography and culture.
For more information on this great book:
In 1938, Bill Monroe and his brother Charlie broke up their successful duet act, the Monroe Brothers. That same year Bill formed his own band, the Blue Grass Boys.
A new form of music was born. 77 years later Mile Twelve put out a new EP. Make no mistake about it that Mile Twelve’s new EP is related to everything that Bill Monroe started however you can feel the addition of Jazz, Old Time Music, Scottish, Irish, Folk and more. Oh, and throw in that these young musicians are highly educated musicians.
Mile Twelve has a beautiful ‘Down Home Sound”. The vocal harmonies are nothing short of amazing and terrific. The first song on this EP is “Heartbroken”. They really are great at hitting those high register notes changing quickly to a tenor sound that sweeps you off your feet.
Then when Evan Murphy, (guitarist and lead singer) comes back in, his vocals hits you so right. First time you hear this song you know that this band has “it” Evan holds a bachelors degree in Theater and Music from Boston College and has studied bluegrass guitar and singing extensively with Michael Daves.
Nate Sabat (Bass and Vocals) sings “Rooftop Graveyard”. You can tell he has choral experience. He is in his last year as a student at Berklee College of Music and has performed, recorded and studied with artists such as Darol Anger, Brittany Haas,
The New York Pops, Eugene Friesen and Bruce Molsky.
Catherine (BB) Bowness (banjo, vocals) is a New Zealand
native who currently makes her home in Boston, MA and is one of the most in-demand bluegrass banjo players and teachers in New England. She is such an awesome banjo player. At first it is difficult accepting that she was not born on the same street as Earl Scruggs.
She has won the Uncle Dave Macon banjo contest in Murfreesboro, TN and holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from The New Zealand School of Music.
Bronwyn Keith Hynes (fiddle), originally from Charlottesville, VA is the 2014 Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Champion and has performed with Tony Trischka, Peter Rowan and The Milk Carton Kids. In addition to being an extremely accomplished bluegrass
fiddler, Bronwyn has a rich background in Scottish and Irish fiddling. She has placed in the National Scottish Fiddle Championship as well as the MidWest Fleadh Cheoil Irish
Fiddle Competition, has toured France with Celtic Dances, and has traveled to Ireland extensively to study with local traditional musicians. She is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and has gone on to teach fiddle at the 2014 Berklee Five Week
Program. She also teaches workshops at fiddle camps and bluegrass festivals throughout New England.
Mile Twelve is a young band that has a soul that was born many moons ago. They have taken a genre that started 77 years ago and clearly have mastered it. With fiddle, guitar, banjo, bass and vocals, these skilled musicians create captivating songs and daring instrumental pieces that draw from a diverse set of influences, including bluegrass, jazz, folk and oldtime music.
Mile Twelve is original and traditional as well as hard driving and oh, so right on the vocals. Then that fiddle comes in so perfect with banjo just doing it ever so right. Guitar and Bass and these guys are really, really good.
The new EP has 6 songs very worth listening to. Look for them at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival this year.
They also have performed in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, France, Canada and the United States, bringing their
infectious groove and intricate melodies to a wide range of appreciative audiences.
Keith Arneson just played his final gig Friday night, May 12th, 2017 with The United States Navy Bands Bluegrass arm COUNTRY CURRENT.
Bluegrass Today reported that Keith had played for twenty four years and this last Friday night was his last show in uniform. He walked off the stage in his Navy Whites at Circa Blue Fest in Martinsburg, WV and left the building in several layers of tie-dye shirts and jackets with his 5 string hanging over his shoulder.
Arneson is the second banjo player in the bands 44 year history. The first being the legend Bill Emerson. Other great alumni from The U.S. Navy Band include Wayne Taylor and the great Frank Solivan and Jeremy Middleton from Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen Band (such a great band!)
Arneson has announced he is rejoining former Navy Band colleague Wayne Taylor. He also has been playing in a guitar-banjo-bass trio in the Washington DC area with Shannon Borges and Shelly Howard.
We look forward to seeing & hearing Keith Arneson on the Bluegrass scene and we all extend our congratulations and thank him for his service to our country.
THE KRUGER BROTHERS
To say the Kruger Brothers are a great band does not come close to explaining how great the Kruger Brothers are. They are a great band. But they are so much more.
Talent? Oh yeah.They got that. Eve (Uve’) can sing a song that would put a wild animal at ease. His voice is oh so soothing. He shows you his chops and takes incredible leads that Doc Watson clearly would be (and was) proud of. Not to mention that he has mastered the guitar as an accompanying instrument. like nobody else.
Then there is Jens (Yens). Are you ready for some banjo? You think you are but not the way he plays. From Classical to Pop to Bluegrass to anything…. If you were to pay him ‘by the note’ he would rival Bill Gates as one of the richest people in the world. But remember, “Speed ain’t nothing without class” and Jens is ALL CLASS. Tasty. Oh yeah. … They need to make more awards just so they can give it to him.
And then there is Joel. It’s been said that if you need something….Contact Joel. Joel has that Bass down pat. As comfortable as he can be with all the different genre’s being played. Holding the backbone down to perfection. Setting the stage so Jens and Eve can do their thing perfectly. And as a team they seem invincible.
My favorite moment was when Joel was holding down the backbone with clarity, power and improvisation and both Eve and Jens were ripping apart a solo together-note for note-faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive.
Is that all? Hell no. Far from it.
When we go out for the evening we want to be entertained. Musically, no doubt we are being entertained at the highest level. But there is more. We want to laugh. Not with old recirculated jokes. They give us a great perspective and they make us laugh often, They explain the songs, their childhood, their friends and family and they keep us comfortable and make it easy for us to laugh and have a great time listening to great music.
Catch up with The Kruger Brothers and catch as many shows as you can. You will be happy you did.
SAM BUSH PUTS OUT AN ALBUM YOU NEED TO HEAR!!
“The joy of the music comes to me and overtakes me sometimes––I just become part of the music.”
Banjo Player of the Year:
Another major snowstorm was hitting the East Coast with 7 to 10 inches expected.
Everything is closed so stay home. Unless, of course, you are planning to catch "The Road To Delfest" at The Ardmore in Philadelphia with the Travelin' McCourys featuring the great Bill Nershi and the opener of The Jeff Austin Band featuring Danny Barnes.
"What snow?" was the comment on the Travelin' McCoury's Facebook page that day and thank goodness for that.
I arrived before noon for a show that didn’t begin seating until 7 P.M. hoping to interview these guys. I thought that they would have come in the night before from the Brooklyn Bowl but apparently not (just part of the job for a Passionate Street Reporter for Backstage View).
Jeff Austin took the stage with his band and instantly reminded us of what a talented musician and personality he is. Jeff put together a band that is worth writing home about.
Guitarist Ross Martin has chops. On bass is Eric Thorin. He really knows how to rip it apart on the bass along with longtime collaborator Danny Barnes.
I keep thinking that the best way of describing Danny Barnes was the look on Jason Carter's face when everyone was on stage jammed together towards the end of the night and Jason was observing Danny up close. The interest, what appeared to be astonishment, seems to have said so much.
Jeff's band plays awesome, but it is not your standard straight forward toe-tapping songs all the time. They go into these space sets that had the genius of what you would expect if the late, great Frank Zappa was writing the score (In my book that is a great compliment to the band).
The group’s debut solo album is called “The Simple Truth.” Every Jeff Austin fan owes it himself to pick this up. It's not your familiar jam band sounds as you will hear hints of power pop, ballads, bluegrass and rock as only Jeff Austin's band can do.
Cody Dickinson of The North Mississippi Allstars is on percussion on the new CD (also assisting on the new CD are acclaimed guests including Todd Snider, Jenn Harswick, Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's McGee and Sarah Siskind).
It seemed like mostly original songs that they played at the show. Although at one time there was a familiarity and then the words to "Ragdoll" began. I got thumbs up from "Puffy" across the other side of the floor (see Puffy's Picks on this site). Our band used to play that song, but certainly nothing like this. The Jeff Austin Band goes where no man has gone before.
This was a real long version of the song and I wasn't sure we were still in that song until close to the end when Jeff brought us back from very far away. Jeff is a great front man. He reminds us how lucky we are to be in a world where Del McCoury is still performing. Amen to that, or rather Del, “yeah to that.”
After a short break the Travelin' McCoury's took the stage. Joining the band was Bill Nershi, a founding member of the String Cheese Incident, Honkytonk Homeslice, and the great Emmitt Nershi Band.
I have always loved watching and listening to Nershi but after this show I can say the same thing and add 10 times to that. Bill Nershi is such a talented musician. He has awesome tunes that everyone can't help but love and want to sing along with. He is a brilliant guitar flatpicker and is seriously an impressive guitarist.
I had listened and investigated his music since the show and it seems he has done some great work with so many people including his daughter Jillian who has such a great voice.
If you have ever seen the Travelin' McCoury's you know what to expect. Just the best musicians ripping it apart and giving you the best show that money can buy. They are consistently great and give you the best show that money can buy. Each band member is a master of their craft. Seriously. They have won every award there is to win numerous times. Any artist would love to have any of them working on their projects.
Rob McCoury has his first new solo album out and The 5String Flame Thrower is really great. Bobby Osborne guests on a few tunes singing and playing mandolin. Sonny sings and plays a bit of twin banjo too.
Also, check this out: Robbie sings a complex low harmony part with Bobby and Sonny (you can go back and reread that. It's true). Personally, I love listening when Jason and Ronnie just totally take off. I had bought a CD when they first came out and was looking forward to buying another as a gift but I was bummed they didn't have copies for sale at the show. This is something you want to look for if you don't already have a copy.
These guys are so incredible that each one of them deserves mentioning. Alan Bartrum plays bass in an incredible way. His vocals are stellar and his stage presence and banter with the audience are terrific.
Jason Carter is probably the most versatile fiddle players alive. Let me just remind you that he won "Fiddle player of the Year" at the IBMA's ...yet again for the third time. On top of that he also sings some great tunes and adds so much to the harmonies.
Rob on the 5-string kills it. He is so good on the banjo that he makes it look so easy. He is a Scruggs protégé.
Together Rob and Brother Ronnie literally have it in their blood. And Ronnie is without a doubt a mandolin messiah. He is the Michael Jordan of mandolin players. I don't think anybody will argue that since he is the winner of mandolin player of the year eight times in a row.
After a short break the two bands come out together and jam like there is no tomorrow. They remind us of the upcoming Delfest Festival (see my review in the Festival section). Delfest is something you need to checkout. Just look at the lineup. Del goes way out of the Bluegrass Box and has a lineup that is amazing. I have never missed a Delfest yet.
Check it out and you will understand why.
Don't miss The Travelin' McCoury's, Bill Nershi, The Jeff Austin Band or especially The Del McCoury Band and Delfest. They are always great shows, guaranteed.
Look for Rob McCoury's new album
“The 5-String Flame Thrower.”
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!!!
Are you interested in some new great music? Something that you probably haven't heard of. A beautiful sound. If you were to ask me to suggest a great CD this would definitely be one at the top of my list.
There is a constant “changing of the guard” on what I love listening to most. I love many different types of sounds.
There is one CD that I listened to and wanted to introduce to everyone with their own copy. I immediately bought 3 copies. One for each of our kids. A few weeks later I passed this recommendation on to my brothers and about a half-dozen friends who all received their own copies.
Never in my life have I bought so many of the same CDs. I love this CD so much that I wanted everyone to have their own copy instead of me just burning the CDs as I have done in the past.
You probably never heard of this artist, but I suggest you check out Saravanan (Sav) Sankaran's CD "Back to Bassics"
His vocals kill me, they are so good. I am reminded of when I was a kid and my dad explained to me that Frank Sinatra’s magic was in his voice. No, Sav sounds nothing like Frank, but he has that same “magic” in his voice that my dad once explained to me.
Sav plays the bass and, according to what I read, plays many instruments. This CD showcases an incredible band consisting of legendary mandolinist Adam Steffey (The Boxcars), Ron Stewart plays fiddle and banjo, Ricky Cooper is on guitar, and Darren Nicholson (Balsam Range) and Robert Greer (Town Mountain) assist on vocals.
There are 11 awesome tracks with each one better than the previous. His two original songs are my favorites. "Alleghenies" pays tribute to Sav's rural Pennsylvania roots, while "Miner's Lament" is a great ballad told from the perspective of a broken down coal digger whose heart has turned "as cold as the hard anthracite" he mines.
I anxiously await a follow-up CD from this great artist. Do yourself a favor and check this out!
After listening to this CD a couple of times, please send in your thoughts.
Send to [email protected]
Subject line: "Back to Bassics"
Pete Brown is a luthier near Philadelphia in South Jersey. He makes all kinds of instruments and is able to fix and rebuild them when necessary. Pete's story is quite interesting. Check out some of the things he can do.
Pete Brown has a little hidden shop behind the main road in Collingswood, New Jersey. Pete is involved in many aspects within the music business. We are going to discuss his luthier expertise and his business of making instruments called LOUDO MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
Pete's dream was always to build guitars. But 16 years ago he hadn't a clue how that was done. But after a trip to the Martin Factory in Nazareth, PA, he decided to start out in college as music major. As he describes it, "Like most people then, I was more interested in partying and meeting girls".
He never checked his grades and was totally surprised to find out that he made the Dean’s List. That same day he got his bill for the next semester of college. Pete decided that he was going to quit college because he felt like it was a big waste of time for him personally.
He was looking for work and quickly found a job as a piano tuner. In no time he excelled and within 3 weeks was going out on calls tuning pianos all day. However, he found this to also be quite grueling because for every adjustment there were an additional 87 adjustment to be made since there are 88 keys on a piano which is very repetitive, but he did learn that he was very good at fixing things. He was growing to hate this position because after sitting around tuning pianos all day you really notice everything that's out of tune. He was playing in a band at night and all the fun of playing in the band was diminishing.
After tuning his 3rd piano each day it would have this hypnotic effect on him of being real tired regardless of how much sleep he got the night before. So after 9 months he knew it was time to move on
By tuning 2 cents shy of your mark you will always have a natural chorus and have a different sound than if there were 2 guitar players playing the same thing. You both stick out from one another.
Pete's friend who played bass in his band had always spoken about going to Roberto Venn School. So Pete decided to look it up. After reviewing it he knew that he wanted to become a Luthier. He still had some money left over for his education so he called his Mom and she was very supportive so he called and the school said they would love to have him but there is a two year wait. He decided that was fine and he would wait. Two weeks later they called that there is an opening and he was suddenly on a Greyhound Bus on his way to Arizona to Luthier school.
The program is 7 months of intensive learning. Pete says that after those 7 months he had his credentials and was a Luthier. However, now he understands that he really wasn't a Luthier until about 10 years after graduation. As a Luthier your education doesn't end after graduation. If anything, it is really just beginning. "It is so deep and it goes into so many other fields, that it takes at least a decade to really understand this craft".
A luthier builds and fixes stringed instruments.
After school they line up a job for you. Luthiers are definitely a different breed of people. For some reason there seems to be an overabundance on the west coast. So Pete came back east.
His newest career job was basically sitting on the end of a C & C machine - (Computer Numerical Controlled). In layman's terms it is a gigantic router that comes out. You program the coordinates of what you want it to cut (or move) and this gigantic router just cuts.
So his first day he was sitting there doing his work. By lunch his boss said how he was doing such a good job and all the other people working there were real nice trying to welcome him to be working there. Before he took a bite of his sandwich Pete stood up and quit. He worked there a total of about 4 hours but he knew this was not for him.
He knew he wanted to build guitars. But not like this. So after he left he called his mom. Told her this job wasn't going to work out. She always has his back.
Pete went to Guitar Center to be a salesman on the floor. He went to the Manager and told him that he has to hire him. He filled out the application. They told him they would call him. They then had him come back for a few days talking to different managers. They agreed they would hire him but they said they couldn't pay him anything close to what he wanted. They said he was overqualified for this position.
At the time Guitar Center was jobbing out all their repairs. They told him that they think that guy they job out repairs to could use some help. So Pete went to work for the Repair guy who ran his own business. He was supposed to start off as a part-time employee but within a day he had a full time position and he stayed there for four and a half years. When Pete got there this guy had only one Guitar Center account. By the time Pete left he had 5 Guitar Center accounts. And it remained just the two of them working there the entire time. The boss was hardly there. He was always busy running around on the road going to the Guitar Centers and trying to get more work. Pete was the work horse and it was here that he really cut his teeth.
At one point Pete recalls that he did something like 40 guitars within one week, which is pretty impressive. There were some real easy things to fix. Many of Guitar Centers customers have simple instrument problems. When Pete started working here he decided to put 10% of his money aside and start buying tools. He often would spend much more than that.
Often times people buy a new instrument and aren't aware that they need a set-up. A set-up doesn't cost much but it will make a huge difference in how your stringed instrument sounds.
After he left he was going to try and find work elsewhere. The problem he ran into was that everyone wanted to hire him but they all wanted to have him sign a non-compete clause within a certain mile radius. Pete saw this as a problem because if they decided to fire him he wouldn't be able to work elsewhere. He didn't have to sign one before and he proved there is no reason because he isn't that type of guy to steal customers. But business is business and that's just how things work.
So Pete instead set up shop in his apartment and put ads on Craigslist. Suddenly he was in business for himself. He did have numerous other jobs to help pay the bills. And then his girlfriend at the time was tired of having their living room be a guitar workshop.
So he found another location for his shop. He had a few customers already. And now he noticed he was getting more work and getting more respect by having his own business location. From there he was on his way and soon after moved to a larger location in Collinswood.
LOUDO MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS started when he was still in school. As a student you are building instruments. He was planning on building guitars as soon as he got out of school but he didn't have a recognizable name and nobody knew who he was.
"Who will you sell it to if nobody knows who you are?"
Up until 6 months ago, I have been making everything, whether it is a template, a piece of plastic, a neck, anything, I made every single piece, 100% by hand.
The trick to being a good luthier, making instruments for people, is allowing your clients to think they are making the choices.
Every musician thinks they know what they want. They base their opinions on things they read about on the Internet or in forums or stuff they hear from their buddies. But they do not have Luthier experience so in order to keep the price reasonable I need to help them understand better what they are really looking for. So instead tell me what you think you need. Let me ask you 5 to 10 questions and see what I come up with because a lot of times I know musicians better than they know themselves.
The past 15 years I have been making by hand all my templates
My first true LOUDO design is called the "Recluse". It was first designed by using a copy machine and I loved the way it looked, so I took it to Kinkos and resized it until I thought it was the right size. I always thought that the best way to make an instrument was for it to be totally hand built. And it probably is. But the problem is that by the time you’re done you cannot charge what it is worth or you just have to accept that you will make less money than if you worked at McDonald's. Hand building an instrument is never fast.
Before developing my computer program I built 28 instruments completely by hand. Ukuleles, lap steels, electric guitars. I now know that building instruments by hand and selling them at a fair price will never really allow me to make the kind of living I would like. Now using computer programs I am able to do so.
Over the last 6 months I made the time to learn how to do C & C cutting (Computer Numerical Control), 3-D printing, laser cutting. Now from start to finish it is 100% me. I have developed a computer program that allows me to generate a 3-D image of basically any stringed instrument that you would like. And it takes about 30 minutes to generate.
When I was making everything by hand I would make a template for the neck. I only made one neck template. Each one of those had the same neck profile. All the carves were different because I did do different things with them but all the profile cuts are exactly the same.
But now you can tell me you want your neck to be the width of your Gibson, but you want it to be the scale length of your Fender, and you want to have the frets of your Ibanez and I can make all that happen now because now instead of making a handmade template for every part, instead I generate a 3-D image which creates every single part down to the plastic you need to cover up your control cavities, and I can have that in under 30 minutes digitally. Then I can output those files to a tool patching program which I send to a C & C machine. Now I can completely custom build guitars.
If someone wants a totally custom stringed instrument from me I can produce it in about a month.
Besides selling to the public Pete is planning on having some fun and taking a road trip on his motorcycle. He says he will just kick in the doors of some music stores and sell a lot of guitars. It will be a hard sell. He plans on taking his motorcycle - he does a fair amount of bike touring- He rides an old Vintage Honda.
"Everybody always wants to talk to you about it. When they see you have New Jersey plates and your 5 states away. My plan is to park my motorcycle right in front of the music shop, with my license plate facing the window so they know that I'm not from around there. Prior to arriving I will have mailed out 10 guitars to that area at a mailbox place or something like that where they can hold it for me. Then I will just walk through the door with a guitar on my back. I will let them know that I have 10 of these right now. Here is how much they are. Here's what you could sell them for. They are going to sell. If you don't buy them - the guy down the street is going to buy them.
I also am going to tell them that I am NOT going to sell them to Guitar Center. This is an Independent Music Shop only instrument. I can't stand Guitar Center. It's not a secret. I love their employees but I hate them as a company. They have ruined the local music dealing scene. The Ma/Paw music shops can't carry so many lines except the lower tier ones because Guitar Center has such a strangle hold on so many music companies. They can't even compete. The same way Home Depot ruined it for all the little local hardware stores. That's the #1 reason why I will never sell to a big chain like that. I feel that this is one of the biggest problems we have in this country. Everything closes down and opens up as a box store.
For the individuals that want to buy from Pete he says you should just pop on the website. Send in an inquiry. Eventually I will put my guitar program on my website and you can build your own guitar and see it in front of you. It's not hard. The program is already built. I just have to plug it in.
Every design I make has a specific player in mind.
The prices are competitive with the big guys but with Pete your guitar is custom to your liking and totally 100% built by him here in America. The only part Pete doesn't make is the Tuners, the fretwire and the electronic components although he does wire those. That's where the magic is on his guitars, in the electronic components.
He recreates a couple of choice old vintage pickups and has 15 different designs on pickups. They all recreate a vintage pickup. But then he makes them all do a little more by tricking them out and those tricks only really work in his electronic schemes. Guaranteed!
In 15 years of doing this he has seen everything that comes out stock. Nothing has ever come out with an electronic scheme close to mine.
He makes his own trust rods. His own pickups He makes his own pick up bobbins. He applies his own finishes (not common for the big guys).
"I've always believed that the best marketing you can do is just provide good information. That's something I plan on providing on my site. Not just about my instruments but about instruments in general. How best to care for your instruments at home (even if you didn't buy from me).
Pete also runs workshops on making instruments. The next one will be a Laser Cut Ukulele Class. You come in. You don't know anything about Laser cutting. You don't know anything about Guitar building. You’re coming in straight off the streets with no previous knowledge. No previous experience required. I then make the process simple enough. You will still be building a quality instrument. I will just do all the thinking ahead of time to where the process is simple enough that you don't need to know how to use the tooling or anything. And I will get you to actually build a ukulele. That will probably be 6 sessions, 2 hours per session course in his sister Philadelphia location. That class will probably be in the summertime. He also offers a class on cigar box guitar building.
Pete also regularly takes on apprentices. The only concern is that people often start off thinking they can learn quite quickly. To be a Luthier does take time. It is something you need to dedicate your life to. It becomes your life.
One of the benefits to doing Luthery is that everything else becomes easy. In the past 6 months I have learned how to run a complete metal shop, learned how to program C & C machines, learned how to write 3-D programs, learned how to weld, learned how to use 3-D printers, learned how to use Laser cutters. In other words, I learned how to do all this crazy technology stuff in no time.
"I attribute it to the fact that being a Luthier you measure everything to the thousands of an inch. I have had a caliper in my hands every day for the past 15 years. I can sand a piece of wood or a piece of bone to a uniformed thickness down to a thousandth of an inch by hand with a sander. In the metal shop you have a mill that does that. When I had access to a metal shop I lost my mind. I knew how everything worked. Nobody is ever like, 'hey you've never worked on a mill before, alright, here's my $10 mill. Here. Go learn on it'. It's like teaching someone how to drive a stick in your new sports car. That doesn't happen"
So I took classes for the past 6 months. From July 20 to Dec. 1, I took 52 classes. I had to work extra hard afterwards because I am still running my business. I'm just crazy like that. I do feel real confident in the new skills I have acquired, especially because the company where I went to learn everything just hired me to build their new second location. They know that I know what I am doing.