No sooner did we wrap up Stephen Bennett’s surprise tribute, than we had something in store for another “living legend” – Bob Hartman!
Actually, it should’ve followed immediately, but we all sat there waiting for the secret guest of honor for a good ten minutes, as no one knew that he was next door being interviewed for the new Nealham/Powells film project since he of course had no idea he was about to be feted onstage.
What a comedy of errors. Finally, he and his wife Carol arrived, and we plopped them in the first-row exit so that he could “be ready to come up and help me with my presentation,” titled Anniversary Highlights 2: Ten Years of Knutsen and Dyer Discoveries. Again, I immediately x’d out the opening slide as we surprised Bob with his own tribute.
This was Stephen’s idea originally. He brought up Bob’s importance to our group (he’s been to every single Gathering) – via Bob’s relationship (grandson) to Carl Larson, half of the legend that gave the world the Dyer harp guitar. Most of you know Bob’s books on the subject (what I alluded to as his continuing series of “final editions”). He has shared this information, along with various new discoveries, during presentations (alone, or with myself, or, last year, John Thomas) at every Gathering but one.
I gave a Down Memory Lane slideshow of those segments, including Bob’s special displays of original Larson tools, new instrument discoveries he brought with him, and Bob enjoying himself in the jam sessions – whether playing some Larson harp guitar or just listening – at every event.
Stephen had suggested presenting some sort of plaque to show our appreciation for Bob’s efforts and acknowledge his contributions to our community, “as a unique bridge linking the present and the past.” So – cool visual pun – maybe a graphic depicting a Dyer bridge?
After brainstorming, we decided to attempt a plaque with a real bridge. We just had to find a volunteer to create it. Don Druckenbrodt was our first choice, and he happily accepted the task, which he generously donated to the cause. Don (below, with the Hartmans) – a Dallas resident who came to his first Gathering this year – had first restored a “basket case” Dyer (documented here), and is subsequently building new “copies.”
It was no small effort to create an authentic bridge that would also incorporate Bob’s name in pearl inlay. Then mount it to an authentic piece of Adirondack spruce top in a frame (no, Don didn’t go so far as to test it for “tap tone”). The hardest part was the rest of the lettering, which he at first tried to have laser engraved, but ended up with a tricky decal.
We think the end result was a fitting tribute to Robert Carl Hartman, our friend, and fixture of the Harp Guitar Gathering, who not unexpectedly teared up a bit before his near-speechless “thank you” speech.
Another standing ovation!