“I am enthused about the West Coast builders,” says Rorick, who began with a tiny show two years ago at the Colony Café, expanded to Bearsville in 2009 with an artistic richness beyond his dreams. This year, with the addition of more space at Utopia Soundstage, across the driveway from the Bearsville Theater, the show climbs to the upper echelons. “There’ll be half a dozen from San Francisco area and Sonoma county, including Tom Ribbecke — Ribbecke guitars — one of the top archtop builders and the founder of Healdsburg Festival, the inspiration for this show. Ervin Somogyi is coming, and he’s one of the great American guitar makers. Last year we had Linda Manzer, Ken Parker, John Monteleone, and they’ll be back. But Ervin, he’s a major figure, sort of a coup for me. These are the luminaries, the grandfathers of this whole thing. Michihiro Matsuda — out of East Bay, like Ervin, was a student and disciple of Ervin’s. He’s a young Japanese American, pushing the envelope, doing stuff like no one’s ever done before. And they’re not cheap, they start at $11,000. I hope he’s bringing a harp guitar this time. It’s a different aesthetic, different approach…jaw dropping.”
There will be another four or five major guitar builders from the west coast, he said.
“It’s validation in some ways. A lot of them are regular exhibitors at Montreal. The success of my show last year, small as it is, created a buzz. This year, some of the big guns, who have to come from across the country and shift their guitars at great expense, are coming.”
Visitors to the show should plan to stay awhile to commune with the several hundred hand made custom guitars from 40 to 50 builders, ranging from flattops of all sizes, some with multiple sound holes in untraditional places; metal body guitars; archtops that weigh mere pounds and can fill a crowded room with sound; ouds and classical guitars…the range and the work is nothing less than astonishing.
“I haven’t really slept in the last four weeks,” says Rorick. “I’m planning on catching up after it’s over. I learned a lot last year. I just got email from a wood vendor from New Hampshire, who’s coming down to meet with people. I did get, for instance, three or four of the major acoustic guitar oriented magazines — most of my national advertising this year was compliments of them in return for sponsorship. That allows me to spend more locally and regionally.”
The instruments are not just for viewing. “Last year, at least 40 percent of the builders sold at the show, in tough economic times. Some people did sell out, like Farouk the oud maker. Some people sold some pretty pricy stuff. Others get new commissions, make connections. It’s very much the opportunity to see guitars you can’t see in stores. The important thing about the community is that these guys all work in solitude and there’s only one or two times per year that they can meet their peers, swap stories and techniques and get a little time away form the bench.”
Local acoustic guitar builders will be represented, too, including Joe Veillette, whose reputation ranks up with the best, and Bruce Ackerman, who almost never shows his beautiful instruments.
A series of clinics is also offered, next door at the Bear Café. Paul Asbell will offer Fingerstyle Country Blues Workshop; Vicki Genfan’s workshop will be on Percussive Techniques for Acoustic Guitar; Vic Juris will have a Jazz Guitar Workshop; Kinloch Nelson will talk about Arranging Songs For Solo Guitar, Some Fingerboard Mapping and A Little Theory; and Maria Zementauski will offer Flamenco Techniques. (Note: the workshops have a separate $35 admission for each; advance reservations are recommended. Participants should bring their own instruments.
“I am most looking forward to the Friday night string sampler kick off concert. It puts together diverse musical styles, fantastic virtuousity, something for everybody, from trad jazz, to bluegrass and bach, fingerstyles, and the return of Ari Dinkjian Trio.” On the bill will be Vicki Genfan; Vic Juris; Woodstock banjo legend Bill Keith and Mark Patton. There’ll be a separate admission for this show of $30.
Also during the days of the event, music will be constant in the bar area of the Bearsville Theater, with some eye popping shows, including a return appearance of the incredible jazz guitarist Eddie Diehl, who’ll play with Lou Pappas, for an hour at 5 p.m. Saturday, October 23. Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams are doing the same thing Sunday, closing the show, with whoever else shows up with them. These shows are included in the price of general admission, which is $15 for one day, or $25 for two.
For more information, write firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.woodstockinvitational.com, or call 679-4406.++