Boak Bash Two – All-Star Benefit Concert

Marty Stuart, Roseanne Cash, Laurence Juber to perform for their friend Dick Boak

Dick Boak and his friend Steve Miller host a benefit concert at the State Theatre in Easton, Pennsylvania will the the site of the event. In the spirit of Dick’s fabulous retirement concert comes a sequel to be savored in the imagination before it arrives, and in the memories it will leave behind for years to come.

Last time, the concert was in celebration of Dick Boak’s retirement from Martin Guitar, where he spent 35 years making it a better place for making better guitars. But a deep freeze left one Marty Stuart snowbound and unable to attend. This time around, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives will be headlining, along with other fine heavy hitters.


All tickets are being handled by the State Theatre Box Office. Tickets to State Theatre Members (only) go on sale on Wednesday, December 1st. Tickets to the Public go on sale a week later on Wednesday, December 8th.

If you want to jump on the opportunity, you can become a member of the theatre for $75.00 ($55.00 for Seniors 65 and older). Tickets can be ordered online (depending upon your member or non-member status) at or by calling the Box Office at (610) 252-3132.

Purchasing a membership in the theatre allows you to purchase up to six tickets prior to ticket sales to the public. The maximum number of tickets per purchaser is six. Ticket holders must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 and show proof of vaccination in order to be admitted into the theatre.

Performer participation is subject to last minute changes.

Charitable Support

Proceeds from Boak Bash Two will equally benefit:

The Musical Instrument Collection of the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth, PA. Link:

The State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton, PA. Link:

Both are 501c3 charitable organizations.

C. F. Martin IV Announces Retirement

Chris Martin Announces Retirement as C.E.O of Martin Guitars

Will remain as Chairman, following in the footsteps of his grandfather C.F. Martin III

Jackie Renner to retire as President

On July 16, C. F. Martin & Co. announced that an executive succession plan is being put in place for the
company. Christian Martin IV has decided that at the conclusion of his NAMM Chairmanship in July
2021, he will step into the role of Executive Chairman of C.F. Martin & Co. He will remain Chairman of
the Board and family ownership of the company will continue.

“I’ve spent over 40 years in my family business and what a ride it’s been,” said Chris Martin, Chairman
and CEO of C.F. Martin & Co., Inc. “Now I’ve reached the point where it’s time for me to move into the
role of Executive Chairman. I am confident in the current leadership team because I know they love the
company as much as I do and I will be working closely with them through this transition.”

Jacqueline Renner, President of C.F. Martin & Co. also announced her plans to retire on October 1, 2021.
She feels with Chris’ change, it is the right time for her to transition as well. She is committed to
working with Chris on a smooth executive transition process. “I have truly enjoyed working with Chris
and all our co-workers over the last five years to strengthen Martin Guitar. I look forward to continuing
to do so through the executive transition process. I appreciate Chris’ planned approach for a smooth
transition for the company which benefits our customers, co-workers and ultimately the musicians that
Martin Guitar seeks to inspire.”

“I am very grateful for the support and leadership that Jackie has shown as President over these past
five years.” said Chris.

Martin will be doing a search for a CEO-President who will embrace and augment our unique culture and
continue to enhance the Martin brand around the world. Hudson Gain Corporation has been retained to
conduct this search.

Chris Martin Retires Jackie Renner

Distant Arts for Socially Distancing Audiences

Musicians, Comics, Writers, and Readers to Perform Social Distancing Show

I am organizing a collective of performing artists to stream live to a Facebook Group

Check back here for more information soon.

If you are interested in taking part, drop me a line.

I am expecting the new Group (not yet public) will work like a public access TV station, with a calendar that participating artists share and the collective “friends” of all the artists can visit the group to see Facebook Live streaming performances, typically up to 20 minutes in length.

But I also want to organize shows on specific evenings where a succession of artists take their turn doing a 20 minute set. This would be similar to some of the long-running avant garde variety shows I have taken part in here in NYC since the 1980s, like Dog & Pony NYC, and Blow Hole Theater.

Audience members will not need to have a Facebook account to visit the page and watch the performances. But they will need an account to leave comments or live emote reactions.



Dick Boak Art Exhibit – NYC November 17, 2018

The Illustrations and Guitars of Dick Boak

with the paintings of Tullio Desantis

Saturday November 17, New York City, I will be playing solo acoustic fingerstyle guitar for my friend Dick Boak at the opening of “Illustrations and Guitars by Dick Boak and Paintings by Tullio Desantis.”

Dick Boak self portrait

Self Portrait (2016)

273 Bleecker Street (formerly Matt Umanov Guitar Shop,) NY, NY 10014. 

5 – 9 PM.

For those unfamiliar, Dick was the longtime good will ambassador and public face for C. F. Martin & Co., the premiere builder of acoustic guitars in the world, before his retirement earlier this year.

Tullio Desantis is a painter, author, and educator who Boak cites as a major inspiration for his art and outlook.

Live guitar music provided by our very own T Spoon Phillips




Summer NAMM 2018 Recap

Acoustic guitars of note among the booths and pavilions of Nashville NAMM

Something for every budget and taste

Summer NAMM banner

The summer installment of the biannual trade show of the National Association of Music Merchants took place on July 28-30, at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. While never having quite the impact and inventory of Winter NAMM, the 2018 summer show provided some interesting additions to this year’s lineup of new guitars. Most of those being electric guitars, the acoustics required some sleuthing to track down. But they still cover most price ranges and a great deal of the familiar brand names.

Here are some of the most interesting acoustic guitars seen at Summer NAMM


Alvarez Artist Series was attracting attention with the updated AGW77AR showing up on Twitter videos throughout the weekend.

This long-scale Grand Auditorium model has walnut top with forward-shifted scalloped bracing and walnut back and sides, and their new, sleeker body bevel. Priced to sell at $499.

See all the 2018 Alvarez guitars here.


Luthier Dana Bourgeois clearly enjoys his trips to NAMM, and always comes up with some some seriously amazing one-of-a-kind guitars, like this OMS wood deluxe,  with a redwood top and figured English walnut for the back and sides!

Bourgois OMS wood deluxe Summer NAMM 2018

Check out Bourgeois Guitars’ Facebook page for an eye-popping array of this NAMM’s belles of the ball.

Or go to their main website to what’s new and interesting, and which dealers landed these very special instruments.



“The AJ-220S has a unique bell-like shape, a larger lower bout, and a small round upperbout which gives this new addition to our Advanced Jumbo family of guitars a unique voice.” These guitars feature a glued-in dovetail neck joint, mahogany back and sides, and solid Sitka Spruce tops, or an optional solid mahogany top that has its own mahogany burst toner option.

Typical price $269. And there is also the cutaway acoustic-electric AJ-220SCE for $369.

Epiphone J-200CE Summer NAMM 2018


Offered in a variety of colored and burst finishes, these cutaway Super Jumbos feature the Shadow eSonic-II™ Stereo Pickup System and Grover machine heads, pricing starts at $459.

“The EJ-200SCE reimagines the historic ‘J-200 Jumbo’ acoustic guitar now featuring a Solid Spruce top, Grover Rotomatic™ machine heads, and the revolutionary new Shadow eSonic-II™ Stereo Pickup System that maintains your true acoustic tone when plugged in to an amp or PA system.”


Guild_jumbo_junior_mahogany_Summer NAMM 2018

The new Jumbo Junior is a smaller jumbo model made with a solid Sitka top and Guild’s arched back of either mahogany or maple. These should prove comfortable couch or travel guitars for a MSRP of $555


C. F. Martin & Co. had a smallish offering compared to the January show, but it is spread across board. These include, but are not limited to a new affordable Road Series model, the 000RSG, with solid Siris back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top (MAP $1,499,) two limited edition models made from black walnut, GPCE Black Walnut Ambertone, and the DE Black Walnut Ambertone which come with Fishman electronics(MAP $2,649 each,) a black, slope shoulder Jimmy Buffet Custom edition to go along with the Broadway musical Margaritaville (MAP $5,999,) the had-to-happen D-16EPD with soundboard featuring the iconic poker playing dogs painting (MAP $2,799,) and the stunning OM Arts and Crafts 2018 featuring ornate pearl inlay evoking the aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts movement in design, as well as German white oak back and sides, a torrefied Adirondack spruce top, Guatemalan rosewood trim with a MAP of $13,999.00.

Martin Summer NAMM models

See all the new Martin models here.


After introducing their new “V Class” bracing at Winter NAMM, Taylor Guitars released a new Builder’s Series model at Summer NAMM, the maple Builder’s Edition 614ce, as well as new Grand Auditorium models in their affordable 300 Series, the 314ce (Saple/Sitka) and the 324ce (Tasmanian Blackwood/mahogany) and 400 Series, 414ce (Ovankok/Sitka) and the 414ce-R (Indian rosewood/Stika) that feature V Class bracing, and individual cosmetic appointments.

Taylor Summer NAMM 2018

This debut was accompanied by the announcement that Taylor expects to convert all their series to the new bracing. It is intended to deliver a “more dynamic voice.” And from my experience with their Winter NAMM offering it does do exactly that, at least when compared to similar Taylors made the previous year.

The Builder’s Edition 14ce has solid figured Big Leaf maple back and sides with a torrefied solid Sitka spruce top, beveled armrest, new Silent Satin finish with a Wild Honey burst on the back and sides (optional for the top,) and Scepter faceplate and fretboard inlays are among the impressive features.

The 300 and 400 Series instruments will begin shipping in July and include the 314, 314ce, 324, 324e, 324ce, 414e-R,414ce, 414ce-R

More at

About NAMM

NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), established in 1901, is the not-for-profit association that strengthens the $17 billion global music, sound and event technology products industry. Our association and our trade shows serve as the crossroads for professionals wanting to seek out the newest innovations in music, recording technology, sound, stage and lighting products. Membership also includes access to the latest industry news and education, opportunities for music advocacy and cost-saving programs that will help your business thrive. All of these activities and programs are designed to promote music making for people of all ages and to help create a more musical world.

Bourgeois Guitars – New Factory, New President

Dana Bourgeois will continue to build guitars in Lewiston, Maine, at a new location

Forced to move, a fortuitous reunion led to a unique solution, and a new President of Bourgeois Guitars

As described at the official Bourgeois website, Dana ran into an old friend at a college reunion, who has considerable experience with upper-level management. That friend, Bob Smallwood, has been retired for some time, from business, but was keeping busy as a volunteer fireman, instructor, and musician. But now he has joined forces with Dana Bourgeois and along with his wife, has relocated to Maine to take over as President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. He has already been responsible for locating the site of the new guitar factory and oversaw its creation.

“The Smallwood home is located in the glorious rocky mountains outside of Estes Park, Colorado. Bob was the Assistant Fire Chief and Medical Training Director of the Glen Haven Volunteer Fire Department. Sonjia, a 100lb firefighter and emergency medical responder, was decorated with Bob for heroism during the floods of 2013. Bob and Sonjia volunteered at the same food bank in Estes Park when they met and fell in love 6 years ago. Together they were part of the music entertainment scene in Colorado’s northern mountain communities. Now, they have stepped from one adventure to another by relocating to Maine to join Dana at Bourgeois Guitars. They are excited to help write the next chapter for this venerable brand.”

We very much wish the Smallwoods and Dana very good luck as this new chapter unfolds!

Transatlantic Sessions Guitars Shine

I attended the final show of the Transatlantic Sessions Tour, which featured Jerry Douglas and a host of UK, Irish, and American musicians, including several A List special guests.

There were acoustic guitars there by multiple Martins, as well as single representatives from Beard (Jerry’s Dobro style resonator guitar,) Collings, Gibson, Greven, Huss & Dalton, Lowden, Martin as well as John Doyle’s hybrid bouzouki-guitar by Kevin Muiderman, and Sarah Jaroz’s archtop octave mandolin by Fletcher Brock.

And all of them were put to excellent use.

You can see some video excerpts of the show HERE.

transatlantic sessions

Martinfest 15 – A Big Success

Martinfest is the annual gathering of the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum

Taking place in and around Nazareth, Pennsylvania, home of Martin Guitars, the 15th Martinfest was a successful mixture of tradition and new directions.

Here is a video of just some of the amazing instruments I and others got to play at Martinfest 15, over the first weekend of August, 2016, all of them made by C. F. Martin & Co, est. 1833.

Those guitars referred to as “converted” typically started as Martins from the 1950s or 1960s. which had aged gracefully, or been through some hard times, before they were re-topped and braced to be much more like the Martin guitars of the 1930s than most modern guitars. The conversions in this video were all accomplished by master craftsman who honed their skills at the Martin factory for decades, before going into “private practice.”

A Wonderful Annual Party

As described in greater detail elsewhere, Martinfest consists of a friendly gathering of guitarists from all levels of skill and varied musical tastes, along with their friends and family members. This year there were some 180 people registered, although they didn’t all stay at the main hotel.

During the days, we congregated at Nazareth’s Boro Park (Friday and Sunday) and the town center for the Martin on Main street fair (Saturday.) The evenings consisted of all-night reveling and music making at the hotel. This year, we were joined by the one and only Laurence Juber, one of the world’s best guitarists. LJ was our special guest at Maritnfest 5 and Martinfest 10.

It was a new hotel this year, for the very first time. And while it may be too far from Nazareth to become our new home, it was a very good stop-gap place to stay and play.

Here is a video showing some of the goings on, but only representing a fraction of the people who actually attended the overall event.

Details of the 2016 Martinfest events, and in depth descriptions of some of the guitars can be read at the UMGF in my personal Martinfest Journal of Adventure.

Below is a picture by famed photog Robert Corwin, showing your humble Spoon playing a 1930 OM-45 De Luxe.

Spoon Phillips plays 1930 Martin OM-45 De Luxe photo: Robert Corwin

photo: R. Corwin

One of 11 made, it among the most valuable guitars ever built. Since I was asked to demonstrate the one at the Martin Museum on that Friday night, I may be the only person in history to play two of these less than two days apart since they were shipped from Nazareth in 1930.

Yeah, Martinfest is that kind of event.

Martins you may wish to buy at the Martin Experience

The Martin Experience took place last night at Rudy’s Music in Soho, New York City.

A series of traveling presentations at various musical instrument retailers across the nation, this particular Martin Experience gave the  general public an opportunity to get up close and personal with showcase guitars built in Martin’s Custom Shop, along with a couple of the people who design them.

Martin Experience array
(click on photos to enlarge)

Adhering to Martin’s current policy of keeping things on a first name basis, they were introduced as Randy and Emily, and I shall leave it at that.

Emily is normally housed within the Custom Shop where she designs one-of-a-kind or sometimes three-of-a-kind Martins, and helps build others that were ordered by various Martin dealers or their private customers.

Randy is District Sales Manager for the New England area and each of them personally designed some of the guitars on display.

Every instrument was for sale with “aggressive pricing” just for that particular evening, and future evenings. Check out the link to the Martin Experience schedule below, if interested.

They did a quick overview of the difference between typical Martin models with names like D-18 or OM-42, and the guitars they were exhibiting like a private fashion show of Tiffany jewelry, which Randy kept referring to as “Custom Shops.”

Each instrument was shown front and back to the crowd of some two dozen oglers, and briefly strummed, while Randy and Emily revealed some of the specs and details that went into it. After some discussion of various tonewoods, bracing, and neck joints, torrefied wood, and fielding related questions, the wide-eyed onlookers were set free to play the many guitars set before them, like a pack of puppies who had obediently stayed in place far too long before permission was granted to pounce on a trough full of Alpo.

I certainly couldn’t blame them, as the bevy of Martins were extremely inviting to behold, and later to be heard. I did not get to play many of them, as I didn’t want to get in the way of potential sales. There ended up being more than one Martin that left that night in the hands of a new and very lucky owner.

Here is a quick overview of the line up.

As I said, some of these were made in batches of three, while others were one-of-a-kind. But when it came to the guitars designed by Randy, each was made in a batch of five.

If any of these instruments sound appealing enough to seek out, he said that you should contact your local dealer so that proper channels may ultimately supply the appropriate build sheet and list price.

Martin Experience Macassar ebony D-45The most expensive was arguably the most impressive. A 14-fret dreadnought made in Style 45, with back and sides of wood Emily referred to only as “Asian ebony.” I assumed it must be Macassar ebony, which grows only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes.) But it turns out it is Mun ebony, which grows on the Asian mainland, in Viet Nam. She said they acquired but three sets, which have now been used, and in this case very well used indeed.

I have been a big fan of guitars made from Macassar ebony and Adirondack spruce since I played my first one, built by Bruce Petros some 12 years ago. But a Martin made with this ebony is one exotic bird.

The top has forward-shifted, Golden Era bracing, and insanely tight grain. As such, it seemed a bit subdued when flatpicking, kind of down inside itself. But when strummed, and especially when fingierpicked, it was glorious. Alive with splendid colors in the harmonics that reflected off the dense ebony undertone, I could have played it for hours. Just an infant with a tremendous future ahead of it, it is going to let loose soon enough and flatpick like a champ.

Martin Experience CEO-7 3 piece backAnother serious favorite was the slope shoulder 00L that Randy had designed. In his words, it was the CEO-7 with some upgrades that included a high-color abalone rosette, Indian rosewood back and sides, and a center wedge of koa. It also has the High Performance neck, while retaining the short scale.

What a versatile tone machine! Jimmy Rodgers, George Barnes, George Jones, George Harrison, George George George of the Jungle, it looked and sounded magnificent regardless of who was playing what. And when I heard it was for sale for just over $2,700 I was sorely tempted, as that is an outrageously great price for that kind of tone and playability.

For a lot more money, there was also a 00L in Madagascar rosewood with old fashion looks to its very straight grain, with an Adirondack spruce top that had the M1 torrefaction used on the Authentic Series. In Emily’s estimation, all the Madagascar rosewood remotely like it is “all gone.” And it had that way down deep openness that the new torrefaction wakes up in a brand new guitar.

Martin Experience all mahoganyOn the much more affordable side there were some guitars built along the lines of the 15 Series and new 17 Series, including a 12-fret 00, made with domestic Cherry and Adirondack spruce, and an all-mahogany OM with a slender rosette and back strip made in the multi-color herringbone first used on the Martin EMP models of the 1990s, which Emily said she “just found in a drawer.”

And then there was the slope shoulder 14-fret dreadnought with the same body shape used on the CEO-6 models, but with the build, looks, and thin finish of the new Black Smoke models from the 17 Series, only without a pickguard and and the addition of a wisp of abalone around the soundhole. I have speculated that we will see a slope shoulder dread added to the 17 Series sooner than later and this guitar only made me that much more eager to see that come true.

Others from Randy’s batches of five custom Martins included a flamed mahogany 000-18 and an OM-21 with high altitude Swiss spruce for the top, Foden-style fingerboard Markers (aka Style 25 markers) made in high color abalone, to go with an abalone rosette.

There was also a luscious Cocobolo OM-28V, and a modern OM-28 with Adirondack spruce for the top and one of seventy-five sets of Honduran rosewood they got in recently, which also has a beautifully figured headstock.

Martin Experience Indian rosewood backThere was a D-18 with rear-shifted bracing under its Adirondack spruce top, and a regular forward-shifted D-18 with Ambertone shading on the Sitka spruce, and a single ring abalone rosette.

I also loved the East Indian rosewood flatsawn back on a cutaway acoustic-electric dreadnought. It looks like some fluted passageway worn out of the sandstone at the Grand Canyon, or perhaps the Georgia O’Keefe painting of it. But as full-bodied as it sounded, it was bested by the Cocobolo dreadnought with the torrefied Sitka spruce top and forward-shifted bracing.

Unfortunately my photos of these guitars did not come out, since I was using a smartphone in low light. Emily was kind enough to text this one along this afternoon. But no photo can capture the 3D illusion it has in person.

How about an M size guitar, with Swiss spruce for the top and a maple back that was both flamed and had birds eye? A rare and very handsome set indeed. And it had a most beautiful little sister in a birds eye maple 00-41 with a top grade Sitka spruce soundboard that sang as glittering and magical as Cinderella’s ball gown must have looked. It also had Madagascar rosewood for the binding and the center strip running up the two-piece maple neck.

Martin Experience 00-41 maple


The Martin Experience offers a variety of events, some with live musical performances, historical presentations, and a chance to play some amazing one-of-a-kind Martin guitars. There are also free t-shirts, and in this case anyone who bought a set of strings at Rudy’s got a free set of Martin Lifespan strings to go with it.

Martin Experience events are currently scheduled throughout the USA from now until December. Find one in your area HERE

More photos from last night HERE






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