Please note: due to changes in regulations and constant design developments, we sometimes need to change details such as binding and inlay materials.
The Ullapool Guitar Festival is getting closer, and because of COVID, I’ve been concerned that we will have hardly anything to put on display. I am trying to keep hold of any instruments that have been traded in rather than selling them straight away, and we have managed to finish two rather special guitars. There were three, but I had my arm twisted and agreed to sell one, sorry.
Here is one that I’m hanging on to until October. I’ll show the other one next month.
This is a special Ariel, with timbers chosen for dark, dramatic appeal, not just in the visual appearance, but in the tone too. As it's not for sale at the moment, I won't try and sell it to you, yet, but will publish more details around November, if it is still here!!
We are trying hard to finish one or two more special instruments by then as well, one of which we hope to sell on behalf of the festival. Watch this space.
A nice little change from guitar music. I've featured Tijn's playing many times, but I know very little about him, I'd love it if somebody could tell me more, he's an exceptional player and I like his shoes.
I do try to keep all the mandolin models moving through the workshop, it helps to have some "smaller" jobs to fit in while we wait for the kettle to boil, glue to dry, muscles to recover, worries to fade etc.
The plan is to have some instruments available fairly quickly but does depend upon my crystal ball being in working order. It must have been dusty this time, because I have a spare Signature Touchstone Mandolin.
Lovely thing, for sale £1750 plus case ... SOLD
Live at the London Arena, Bill does give value for money, doesn't he? A Fylde Mandola through a Marshall stack no less.
I didn't know we had made an insane mandola, although I suppose I'm not surprised. Maybe that can be a new model - the "King Lear" would make sense.
We all had a few days panic when John’s guitar was “lost” by the airline when he was forced to return from touring in Canada due to COVID. All ok now though, the only damage was a loose pickup and a dent in the case. I was beginning to plan making him another one!!
John is preparing for another tour with Katherine Priddy;
Richard playing his Black Orleans guitar at what would have been my local festival in Lytham. That links nicely to several features that involve the Orleans model, and to Martin Simpson, who inspired it.
At last, I’ve managed to get something about this splendid new model onto the website. We’ve made it in several variations so far and I haven’t finalised anything, but I do want it to be “out there” for everybody to see. Most of what you might want to know is here.
Martin Simpson was (still is) very involved in the development of this design, and the name comes from a rather nice correlation between the place where Martin used to live, and one of Shakespeare's more interesting characters - "The Bastard of Orleans", which in the Bard's time was almost a compliment.
There is a lot more information in the website details, and if you are interested, I’m happy to discuss, email please, not phone.
Ben Walker sent me this picture - Six Fylde guitars amongst the advanced students at the Halsway Manor gathering, tutored by Ben. Two of those guitars are the new "Orleans" model featured above. They also had a Fylde mandola amongst the students, our world domination is slow, but it is happening.
Ben has put the six study pieces from the weekend on video - very generous of him, great to watch and one of the best teaching tools there is. Even I could follow most of this although my fingers are not what they used to be. Don't get me wrong, they are still, technically, fingers, but they are rather older than the rest of me.
Keeping all the “Bens” together. The Oberon was the first model we made and remains popular for this style of music, sort of "Elizabethan". The short scale and wide fingerboard make the guitar very comfortable to play, and the music that suits the shape and size does not require the big boomy bass that was always there in American guitars.
Ritchie is still using various Fyldes, they pop up in lots of his videos.
This one is special though, Ritchie on his Lute 12 string, and "Earl Grey" on double neck guitar and bass.
Ritchie is the only artist I've met who had a bodyguard. I'm thinking of letting out little snippets from my memory banks every so often. While I still can.
Another video from the Isle of Skye. I've always liked to see somebody dancing to the acoustic guitar. I wish there was more of it.
Innes has his old Faithfull Alexander tuned to GAELIC for this, so his playing is in the same language as the singing.
Will McNicol keeps me up to date with Heathers work, she is one of his students, but actually lives quite close to our workshop. There is some great guitar playing going on out there. I do hope I can keep up with it all.
There are a few tickets left but not much time. It's going to be a super friendly event, a regrouping of colleagues after two years missed. Everybody will be older and wiser, possibly.
There is always a lot going on that the website doesn't tell you. For instance, Gordon Giltrap will be there this year, possibly joining in on stage and hosting a workshop or two.
This a massive multimedia project, perhaps Gordon's most ambitious to date, music, stories and artworks, I’m very impressed. It's a collaboration between Gordon, Paul Ward, and Nick Hooper, the complexity makes it difficult to do it justice in my own words, so do please read all of Gordon notes here ...
and see what it's all about here ...
I think Gordons guitar playing is rather more prominent in the "mix" on this album that it has been on others, which of course is the way I like it. Gordon has told me which guitars he used on each track - Almost all of the acoustic parts are played on his Fyldes.
Quite beautiful actually.
This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often.
Gordon has given me a small number of CDs that will never be available on the open market, and he thought I might give them away with guitars,
Gordon says: "The CDs have two tracks PRECIOUS and THE MELODY WEAVERS SON that are different to the official release on July 23rd. Basically when the album master was sent for pressing, due to a technical digital error the two tracks mentioned above were somehow compiled in error. Under normal circumstances those CDs would have been scrapped, but I thought “no” these can be used and will become collectible".
They don't have proper cases or sleeves, but I will invent something for that, so at Gordons request, very soon, a small number of lucky people will be getting one of these unique recordings along with the guitar they have ordered.
Seven Fyldes in this picture, and there is one more not shown, all in San Francisco. I think I'll start giving prizes for most Fyldes owned.
Bruce has become a good friend, and I thought I'd ask him to write a synopsis of, well, everything.
MARLA FIBISH and BRUCE VICTOR are NOCTAMBULE. They play a wide variety of musical forms – musical settings of a broad range of poetry, traditional Irish tunes and songs, and their own compositions written in traditional and not-so-traditional forms. They offer a distinctive sound, blending an array of strings -- various guitars in varied tunings, mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, cittern, tenor guitar – with their two voices and their good humour.
They take the name Noctambule, French for 'night-owl,’ from a Robert Service poem about a nocturnal ramble through the back alleys of Paris, which they set to music and included on their first CD together, released in 2013. Three more CDs have followed since, culminating with their most recent release – Every Migrant is My Fellow – in 2021.
They have toured not only throughout the United States, but also in Ireland, where they will be launching Every Migrant this summer, starting with the Fiddler’s Green Festival 27-31 July in Rostrevor, Co. Down. They will return to play at the Iúr Cinn Fleadh – Newry City Music Festival – 25-29 August. In addition to performing, they will be participating in workshops on Music and Healing in both festivals and will be doing a special presentation on setting poetry to music at Iúr Cinn Fleadh. Their final performance in Ireland will be a special concert at Bagenal’s Castle on 10 September.
BRUCE VICTOR is an eclectic and accomplished guitarist, composer and singer, who plays several different guitars in several different tunings, as well as cittern and bouzouki. Seemingly resisting any single musical genre, he has been labelled a 'poly-stylist’ by one of the editors of Acoustic Guitar magazine. He was the founder of The Acoustic Vortex, a non-profit musical organization that produced house concerts, mentored youth performers, and performed benefit concerts for various causes. He is also a practicing psychiatrist and was a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. In June of 2020 he launched a blog entitled Call the Musician in which he explores the connection between music and healing – largely as a fulcrum for studying the phenomenon of ‘connection’ in general. Most recently he has become a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Sociology, where he studies the current and historical use of music in conflict resolution.
MARLA FIBISH is one of the prominent voices of the mandolin in Irish music. She brings a deep and distinctive sensibility to the tradition on one of its lesser-heard instruments. She is also known as a singer, and for her compositions -- musical settings of poetry and instrumental pieces that have been featured in her work over the years with Out of the Rain, Three Mile Stone, and on her acclaimed all-instrumental recording with Jimmy Crowley, The Morning Star. In January 2020 she released a solo album, The Bright Hollow Fog. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar and accordion. An experienced and sought-after mandolin teacher, Marla teaches private students, classes, online with Peghead Nation, and has been on the faculty at many music camps and workshops, including The Mandolin Symposium, The Swannanoa Gathering, O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, California Coast Music Camp, Colorado Roots Music Camp, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Lark Camp, Portal Irish Music Week and others.
Couldn't resist, sorry. I do like rocks, so I took a "snap" of this one in the river next to our house.
I have to be careful when I take the grandchildren paddling, I don't want them to get eaten, I got into terrible trouble last time.
And talking about grandchildren, here is one of them, helping me to fit a bridge, catch em young!
I suppose I'm going to get comments about who is wearing all the protective gear, but I must point out that she will recover quicker than me.
A Gaff Spar from the Brigantine “Eye of the Wind”, built in 1911, broken in Australia in 1994.
This is quite a simple example of the way ships masts are put together from smaller sections of suitable wood, this time I think, Columbian Pine which is still available in long straight lengths. All the pieces are bound together in iron bands and glued with what looks like Araldite, which doesn’t actually match the date of manufacture so perhaps the glue was applied after the damage. This picture was taken in the house of an elderly couple that sailed over from Australia in the Replica "Endeavour", back to Whitby and Staithes where Captain Cook started his seafaring career on the original ship. Lovely stories
You can also see some progress on the conservatory project. Walls plastered, window sills installed, first coat of oil finish on the oak. Nearly there!
If I keep taking these photographs at various times of day, I might just capture a picture of the lovely Roe Deer that are nibbling away at things in our garden. Whenever I actually point the camera at them, they disappear.
Like this -
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