Two of my brothers-in-Martin make up the R and F in D.O.R.K.F., the classic rock cover band that perform in Pennsylvania, but once a year with a long list of special guests.
Marshall Fleisher has been journeyman musician since the Woodstock era and is one of those players with a built in encyclopedia of songs and his own arrangements of fingerstyle tunes, who I get to hear at Martinfest and occasionally elsewhere.
Maury Rutch made his living as a performing musician long before he started moonlighting as a dealer in fine Martin, Blue Ridge, Reverend, and Mesa/Boogie music-making machines. And when he’s not out gigging with one of his own bands, he is happy to serve as sideman for visiting musicians, wandering minstrels, or the occasional back alley tomcat.
May 17, 1966 – Bob Dylan performs Visions of Johanna, solo acoustic
Try imagining someone hearing this song for the first time, rendered by Dylan in top form
Love songs have been a part of music since, well, forever. Many are light or even trite, while some others can be truly moving.
But when it came to popular music in modern times, there were songs about falling in love, falling out of love, being a teenager in love, or a teenager being dumped, occasionally letting someone down easy, or telling them to “hit the road, Jack.”
I just found this tonight by accident. Neil Young’s Natural Beauty from 1992.
When everyone in the audience was hearing it for the very first time.
Countless people may strum guitar chords and sing a song and make enjoyable music, without the need for “fancy pickin.” But few perform it with so much infectious emotion as Neil Young, so that it moves the deepest wells of what the most optimistic among us call the soul.
When I met Maury Rutch at Boro Park in Nazreth PA, at the first Martinfest, I knew immediately we would become fast friends. He had a Martin OM-28V with Jackson Browne’s autograph written with a Sharpie on the inside of the Indian rosewood back. And when he took his turn at the little open mic, he sang a lovely song written for his wife, who had given him the guitar as a present.
When he started his business a couple of years later, he asked me to perform at the grand opening of Maury’s Music, where I put on an unofficial clinic, demonstrating various Martin guitars and talking about how they differed. Afterwords I was approached and complimented by another future good friend, Tim Teel, Director of Instrument Design at C. F. Martin. And I have been paying visits to each of them ever since, grateful for the opportunity to try out so many new and delightful guitars, and share the results with all of you.
Pete Huttlinger has died at the age of 54, after suffering a stroke.
A phenomenal arranger, composer, and performer of fingerstyle guitar music.
Huttlinger’s precision playing made the most challenging pieces appear easy as pie, even though the degree of difficulty was anything but.
Here is his signature arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, with the original story of how he came to perform it. There was once a very clean video of Pete in a TV interview telling the same story before playing the tune, but it is no longer on Youtube. So this one will have to do.
Born in Washington, D.C. in June, 1961. Pete Huttlinger was a 1984 graduate of Berklee School of Music, in Boston. He toured with John Denver and has performed with and for many other A List recording and touring artists. He also won the 2000 National Fingerstyle Championship.
Steely Dan’s “Josie” ala one-man-band Pete Huttlinger.
Born with congenital heart problems, Huttlinger had a massive stroke in 2010 and heart failure some months later. But after a long and arduous recovery, including a battery powered pump to keep his heart going, he regained the ability to play the guitar. His final performance was in Atlanta, on January 9, 2016.
He released the album Parnassus in 2015 in collaboration with Mollie Weaver. And his 2013 album McGuire’s Landing was critically acclaimed. Here is the title cut.