The Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase 2017
What do you see when you close your eyes and hear the word, Woodstock? For me, it has to be the legend Jimi Hendrix on stage playing 'Purple Haze'. That suspended chord that hangs in the air and then dropped into the riff we all know and love. So you can imagine the excitement as I booked my flights to attend this year's Woodstock Luthiers Invitational Showcase.
After an easy flight into Newark airport and 20 minutes slog going round in circles trying to find the Avis hire car location I find myself driving down the freeway with Manhattan on my left and a busy open road ahead..to Woodstock!
I got to be honest, I didn't know what to expect, half of me was still hoping to see hoards of young free-loving hippies walking the streets with backpacks on trying to find Bethel, New York and the main stage. But of course not the case...Woodstock is a gorgeous quaint little town filled with friendly people, boutique shops, amazing bakeries and essentially music running through its veins. As I walked up the high street every street corner, lamp post and shop windows seems to advertise gigs, bands and musicians alike playing in and around the town. You know you are in Woodstock.
For this trip, I was lucky enough to grab a room at the house our dear friend and luthier Jason Kostal was renting with Mike Baranick of Baranick Guitars. To say the house and its surroundings were beautiful is an understatement, set in the hills of Bearsville NY and surrounded by woods the backdrop was picturesque; at night a little scary (images of any American Classic horror movie) but by day just gorgeous. One of the joys of doing a whirlwind 3 day stop to the US is the jet lag is so bad you are up at 5am and therefore get to see the sun come up which I got to say was pretty special here.
The 6am View from the front porch.
Day 1 of the show started off with a mandatory cheese, ham and egg bagel at the local bakery before heading into the world-renowned Bearsville Theatre. Now having been to two NAMM shows, the Guitar Summit and several other guitar focused events this year I was not sure what to expect when entering this venue but it certainly looked inviting!
As you walked into the hall you immediately felt welcomed. There was an overwhelming sense of community and respect for this wonderful industry we work in. Many of the local Woodstockian (is this a word?) community all chipping in to put the show on, luthiers not exhibiting had travelled to help run the show, local artists (some who were local shop owners) playing on the main stage alongside fingerstyle supers stars as well as the luthiers themselves all supporting and complimenting each other on the instruments they where exhibiting. Yes this was a very different type of guitar show!
The Main Stage - The masterful Tim Farrell
Bearsville Theatre Hall One
Didnt find the luthier of this one..
Bearsville Theatre Hall Two
A very busy Hall One..
Our dear Friend and guitar aficionado Adam Miller
The great Tim Farrell.
There is no doubt that this show each and every luthier exhibiting had pulled out all the stops! And boy oh boy did it show...guitars on display from both luthiers we represented and did not represent were absolutely stunning both to the eyes and ears, and gave a huge sense of pride just being involved in this part of the guitar market.
The best thing about attending a show like the Woodstock Invitational Showcase is not just catching up with old friends and colleagues but also meeting our luthiers for the first time. As we are a small company based in London who represent luthiers from all over the world we very often don't get to meet our luthiers until a trip from either party is made across the pond.
It was wonderful to finally meet Julian Gaffney of Gaffney Guitars for the first time. This year has been an incredible year for Julian with his popularity growing daily form sales and orders all over the world. Look out for our Talking Guitar session with Julian in the next few weeks...
Julian and I holding his beautiful Modified Dreadnought Cutaway with a stunning set of Sapele back and side we recently sold at TNAG.
What a set of Sapele!
For more information on Gaffney Guitars click here:
Next, on the first time meet list, was the newest member of the TNAG roster Ryan Gerber of Gerber Guitars. Ryan and I have been in touch throughout the year via phone and emial so it was great to finally speak face. 2017 has been a big year for Ryan, with his new workshop and orders coming in thick and fast from both his US and Japan dealers. We are incredibly proud to be his European exclusive dealer and having already sold one of the first two guitars incoming into The North American Guitar showroom, I think we will be seeing a lot more of gerber Guitars in the hands of both players and collectors.
We also got to catch up with long-standing friend and legendary archtop luthier Cristian Mirabells. Cristian was exhibiting a beautiful collection of his models including the TNAG favourite Crosssfire. Look out for an in depth interview with Cristian in a few weeks time and more in our catch up at the Woodstock show in the next blog..
Cristian Mirabella of Mirabella Guitars
As always seeing the team at Bourgeouis guitars was great fun. We discussed and ordered some very exciting new incoming guitars that Dana and I spec's out together for early 2018, including a couple of LDBO's Country Boys and OM's. Watch this space.
Dana & James on a wood buying mission.
And of course, it was fabulous to catch up with our long-standing friend and luthier superstar Jason Kostal. More info on what we have planned for 2018 in the next blog...
Jason Kostal exhibiting a stunning OMC in Walnut & a MDW in Koa (SOLD) - both coming into TNAG in a few weeks.
Overall I have to say this was my favourite show of 2017 and I hope not the first time either myself or a TNAG team member attends. Thank you to everyone who showed me around and made me feel so welcome.
For more photos of the trip please click here to visit our facebook page.
Before I go I will leave you with this...enjoy!
Have a great weekend.