Muriel has missed only one Gathering since its inception – last year’s when she was at a Slack Key festival in Hawaii. She’s been featured a couple of times, with the latest turn a workshop on the whys and wherefores of playing and composing for 3 different harp guitars: nylon-string, steel-string, and super-trebles.
The nylon-string is of course her original Mike Doolin “harp requinto,” tuned a third higher. She now has a special set of GHS nylon basses made for this instrument and has made some sets available through Harp Guitar Music (which I’ll post shortly).
Her original harp guitar was a steel-string (as her initial introduction to the instrument was Michael Hedges) made by Del Langejans. She had to retire it due to its size. After borrowing a modern steel-string HG from Benoit while on tour in Europe with Tierra Negra, she decided that the steel-string was a better contrast with the two nylon 6-strings played by the duo, so upon returning to Nashville, she commissioned local luthier David Taylor to build her a small steel-string. David didn’t make it to the Gathering, but I hear he is building a second one of these. I can tell you that I agree with Muriel that David is one of the best-kept secrets in modern lutherie – his guitars sound fantastic, and he doesn’t yet know how good he is.
Muriel’s latest is another Doolin nylon-string, but with an additional 8 super-trebles. I think we all know where she got that idea … and by coincidence, the new Muriel Anderson / John Doan Harp Guitar Duos CD arrived the day before the Gathering (though she doesn’t play the new Doolin on it, leaving [for now] the treble duties to John). She played a bit of 2 brand new arrangements on the new instrument that I am pleased (and honored) to say that I “commissioned” (i.e.: suggested by way of a challenge, or even a dare, if you like!). If all goes well (and so far, the works-in-progress are amazing), these are destined for the next 2 HGM compilations scheduled (and half-completed) for next year.
Muriel even had a fourth harp guitar – a terz-tuned, short-scale harp guitar Mike Brittain built with her in mind.
We (Brad, Frank & I) had a list of topics and questions we had prepared to ask Muriel during her segment. She cracked up reading the first one on the list, which read “Gregg says he feels threatened now that you’re becoming a harp guitar collector…what’s the deal?”
I was joking of course (no, we didn’t use that one), but seriously – the question will one day need to be asked!