Well, we’re nearing the end of my short saga in NY (for the AMIS conference, remember?). I went with the hope of fitting in three additional musical instrument excursions, two of which panned out well (though the getting there was a bit more complex than anticipated!). The first was a clandestine subway>train>car ride to meet a remarkable private collector of guitars and banjos (I expect he’ll become rather well known after his amazing new guitar book is published by Hal Leonard in about a year…) and then an equally remarkable restoration genius (again, a request for privacy) who is beginning his second repair of a rare 1830’s Scherr harp guitar (mine).
I had another short window to spend some quality time in a gridlocked cab, and then just enough time to meet the irrepressible Steve Uhrik, owner of Retrofret in Brooklyn. As assured by several mutual friends, he proved a charming host and kindred spirit, giving me free reign of the packed brownstone shop.
Most (if not all) of these instruments are listed on their web site. But like any collection, better seen in person…
No, I did not see the infamous “Mammoth Gibson Makeover,” as it had been sold.
I nice group of banjos that included several impressive guitar banjos.
Though I was curiously drawn to this early fretless with brass fingerboard.
In the case behind it was a Levien Guitare-Harpe.
Another really cool banjo, atop the violin case.
It seems I’ve never seen one of the well-known Lyon & Healy double-neck harp guitars in person. It was interesting to see at close hand their unique all-metal sub-bass head.
Another I was anxious to inspect in person was the Selmer/Maccaferri harp guitar, #275. The partial trail of this specimen is discussed in my Maccaferri Harp Guitar PDF book. Here’s a new shot of the headstock, which shows clean restoration work.
It had a really interesting slope/compound bend from the back transition to the arm…
Even cooler was the original case, complete with remnants of a Transatlantic sticker. Curiously, the reddish-brown covering looked like a match to my own case for the late-‘twenties personal Maccaferri harp guitar…
I had a great visit – thanks to Steve and staff! (Peter, George, Osei)
On a complete non sequitur…my final planned instrument visit (to NY collector/dealer Sid Glickman) fell through, so for my last free Sunday morning, I spent a couple hours geeking out at the incredible American Museum of Natural History…
…where the Dinosaur halls are filled with original 1900s (restored) art by paleo-idol Charles Knight (a terrific new book on his work just produced recently, by the way…).
They had everything from Knight’s giant murals to small paintings to his exquisite prehistoric wildlife sculptures.
My idea of heaven…where paleontology and herpetology obsessions meet.
In my few trips to NY, I’ve somehow missed the obligatory walk through Central Park. It was quite lovely. Bikini-clad natives use this area – by the miniature Belvedere Castle – for their “beach.”
Hope you enjoyed these tidbits of my New York adventures – it was a highly enjoyable “working vacation”!