“Each Martinfest is different. And this one was differenter than most.” That is how I put it throughout the weekend.
For example, I didn’t get into the Inner Sanctum but once the entire weekend. The irony of this is, for once my room was directly next door to Special Ed Madonio.
I walked in on Sunday night, and listened to Ed sing a song, while playing what was probably Mike Longworth’s 12-fret 00-45.
And then I went off to make an appointment, and I just never found my way back in there to see what priceless guitars were stacked up in there like Aladdin’s cave. I heard tell of a pre-war Gibson J-200 made of mahogany no less. Actually, I had played that guitar before. But I am sure there were others I would have loved to see for the first time.
But I did finally track down Wayne Wirta (twelvestringer) and his amazing #1 of the last Laurence Juber Signature Editions, that is made with Guatemalan rosewood, high-altitude Swiss spruce, as well as hide glue and thin finish, etc. My custom is similar, but made in the short scale, with Adirondack spruce. And while I find that Juber model to be particularly awesome, I was pleased the Wayne felt my guitar was right up there with it.
After we left the hotel, we drove to Brother’s Music in Wind Gap, PA, where we were treated to a pizza lunch, and I got to check out Brother’s Music’s first build. This is the first guitar they have built from scratch, with koa back and sides they had to bend to make the sides, a righteous Adirondack spruce top, 1937 style bracing, but a post-1938 1-11/16” neck, all done up in Old Style-42!
It has much more soul and depth in the bottom end then one might associate with koa, typically speaking, and that worked so well to support those angels in the high end that koa has like no other tonewood. REALLY magnificent.
And they also had a 1927 00-45 belonging to someone who wondering around Martins on Main, and was in the song circle room when I arrived Saturday night. But she and her sideman were just leaving. A pity. Oh, and they have a 1932 OM-28, in need of a lot of work on the neck and fretboard. But I have never seen a ’32 before! A very cool way to end the day.
And for all the guitars I missed out on playing at this once in a year opportunity, or maybe even once in a lifetime, there were also the people I missed out on.
So many names and faces that came and went who belong in this journal of adventure, and are in it, even if I failed to mention them directly. But for too many of them were barely brushed as I made my way to some room or another.
I got to play some sore-hand licks in the hallway, for maybe one minute, as Craig Lambeth (Craigo) tore UP a 1943 000-18. I got to hear some of Marshall Oberholtzer tearing up some blues his own weathered D-18, at the Park open mic. But saw narrow a note during the hotel jamming. But at least I got to hear Danny Kerr nailing a Jason Isbell tune that Laura would have LOVED. And then sing a stunning tune with with his partner in music Bri Fornay, and his Aunt, Margaret Prunty (0018Vfan.)
And then there are those would couldn’t make it, like Jim and Pam Fix from Arkansas, and Fred Cummings and Jim Behnke from Arizona, and Evan Blanchard from Wisconsin, and Ira Strum from New Jersey, and Bill and Amy Kunsman from Pennsylvania who had to be in Texas for very important family reasons. All wanted to be here but more important matters kept them away. And then there are those who really should come back one of these days, like Gary Hydrick, Tom Conroy, Ed Ard, Cliff and Paula Monges, Tim Porter, Rick, Marylou, and Jack Colgan, Pete Bentley, the list really does go on and on.
But their ranks have been filled with newer folks, and some who can’t always make it but did this year, like Mike Thompson from Cambridge, England, and Rod Loomis (Rod Loomis) from Michigan, who was happily back after a year off for other important matters.
As in other years, when someone would ask, “How are you?” I would answer, “I’m at Martinfest!” And enough was said.
But while this was as bittersweet as any Martinfest has been to date, there were many, many people walking around with that smile they didn’t even realize they had, because they were at Martinfest, Len Rosenberg (Ragpicker,) Dick Boak, and Tony Phillips come to mind here, as does Rich Gerardis (Rich 28H) and Sue Probst and Sue Schier (Jamesue1.)
And it is less than 360 days to the next one.
I hope you all can make it!
Ya never know who you might run into…