Martinfest 2018 – Saturday

So there I was, sliding my room card into my room’s door at 3:30 AM…

And I was still leaving a few people standing in the snacks room with guitars in their hands, or hovering about those who still had guitars in their hands.

Three of these people were Jim.

There was Jim Adams (Green River Running) pounding out the tunes on a rosewood custom dreadnought, customized enough that it would be hard categorize it, other than to say it subtle pearl accents around the top, rosette, and fretboard. Jim has been the last man standing alongside me at more than one Martinfest, although it has been more difficult for him to get here since he relocated out West to Vista, CA.

There was Jim Burke, from Colonia, NJ, as even keeled as ever with the CEO-7 that just seems like an extension of his corporal and spiritual body, and that constant expression of serenely enjoying yet another Martinfest, while humbly exhibiting how, as was described that night by someone else as, Jim is a much better guitar player than he realizes.

And there was Jim Fortmuller (Fortja) from Alexandria, VA, with someone else’s 000-28 Eric Clapton model – Jim’s own loyal D-35 still waiting for its master in the song circle room, in its baby blue Martin case. It has been over five years since he and I were working for the same company, and here he is, finally making his first Martinfest, and making the most of it. I knew he was a very good songwriter, and now so many others found that out, in the song circle room, and from his short set at Martin on Main earlier in the day.

The others in that last little group were Skye Van Saun (Skyewriter,) just enjoying the vibe with while holding her long-empty champagne glass like a scepter of high office; Tony Phillips (Tonguy,) whose scotch class was rarely empty, nor the chambers of his smoking Quip and Jestin’; and  Danny Kerr, from Marysville, Ohio, who opened the Martin on Main performances in harmony with his brother Matt (Orangematt), and who was falling hard for the Madagascar and Adirondack seduction in the America’s Guitar limited edition belonging to Jay Keller (Jay Keller,) who was also there as I slipped out, still pounding out songs with Jim Adams.

Before I found my way to that hardcores sanctuary, I had been taking part in some jamming on traditional Country and Jazz and Latin tunes led by Paul Ukena (Mac Mechanic,) with one of our guest artists, Will Marin on the upright bass fiddle and lead vocal, and including stalwarts like Rick McClay (McThistile) on a Martin acoustic bass guitar, Fred Kagen with his wonderful 1943 000-18, when he wasn’t playing Bob Hamilton’s (Pickaherringbone) heavenly 1934 000-28, and Al Coppella (AlCopp) who wasn’t singing a capella, and eventually Frank Krupit (LEFTFRANK) whose arrival allowed us to pull out some of our Paul Ukena Trio tunes, albeit in much looser arrangements to accommodate the other players.

Similar loose arrangements were filling up the room next door early in the evening, as Will and her partner Robert Bowlin were at the heart of a much larger play-along with mandolins and a bunch of guitars in addition to Robert’s 1943 000-18 and his well-worn fiddle, as well as Will’s 1950’s D-28. Standouts included Don MacNeil from Celtic Spirit, on Mandolin, and Lee Cunningham on his very new custom dreadnought that appeared to be a D-18 with a large sound hole, and colorful wood marquetry ala Style 30.

Lee caught me mesmerized as my internal computer tried to download the imagery and processes what his guitar might be, and he turned to guy next to him and said, “He’s doing it again.”

And I spent the first part of the evening in the song circle room, listening to some of the people already mentioned, along with Diana Keller (Dianasaur) just knocking it out of the park with contemporary cover tunes owned by her soulful voice, and Gypsy Davey Kraut (David’s Harp) pulling out edgy traditionals and delightful originals I have never heard him play in all these years.

By the way, I got a report of a fella in that circle with “curly hair” and a pinkish shirt, who had a wonderful singing voice and sang something he had written for his wife. But I was out of the room. And I cannot figure out who it was. So if anyone remembers, please let me know!

Not much else to mention, except for another successful Martin on Main at the top of the street fair in downtown Nazareth, PA, where Martin had a booth set up of new guitars – including an amazing D-28 Authentic 1937 with a surprisingly comfortable neck, running into Danny Brown, manager at the Custom Shop who sought me out to thank me for the letter I wrote to them expressing my appreciation for the custom Martin I received in December; C. F. Martin IV, who was happy to have his photo taken with me and that same guitar, a whole host of talented musicians taking the main stage, along with our guest artists Robert and Will, who played a very nice set indeed thanks to Will’s charming voice and Roberts very genuine voice and his nimble fingers that have made him the only person to date to win the title of National Champion at Winfield in both flatpicking and fingerpicking.

It is too bad that the rain came back to cut the day short. But it was great fun while it lasted. I was among those whose set was cancelled. But I still got some brownie points back at the hotel by playing the Tom Waits song I had doctored a bit in dedication to my sweetie pie, who is here for her first Martinfest and having a wonderful time. And she finally got to do some singing of her own in the song circle room last night and will be making her lead singer debut at the Park open mic later today.

OK, gotta get to the free breakfast while it lasts…

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