No, I haven’t actually made such a list…but if I had, I would’ve just checked off a major one!

Yes, I have joined the elite club of those who’ve had songs written for them by guitarist/harp guitarist Stephen Bennett.

It’s taken a dozen years of sucking up, but at last I managed to inspire the same motivation as those that have come before – a rarefied list that includes loved ones, special friends, strangers he’s met, assorted quaint towns, a handful of dogs and a tree.

I’m teasing my friend of course.  SB’s special gift is turning any source of inspiration – be it a global event or a heron in a creek – into a successful, fully evocative musical sketch, beloved by millions.  So it’s a major thrill to have been honored with my very own “Bennett Impression.”

He surprised me last year just before the 11th Harp Guitar Gathering, debuting for the small group gathered around the dinner table (below) the brand new piece “Sir Gregory Goes to Genoa Town.”

(Clockwise from SB: Randall Sprinkle, Ann Quigley, Claude Laflamme, Jaci, Vickie & Steve Farmer, Nancy B, Joe Morgan, me, Benoit Meulle-Stef. Photo by Linda Morgan)

To quote from another of his tune titles, I was simply verklempt.  The title references both the honorary “harp guitar knighthood” he bestowed upon me at HGG10 and my continuing Taraffo-themed adventures in Genoa with my friend Franco (who signed the impressive document).

A year later, the tune now opens SB’s brand new CD Still On the Line.  Even ignoring the emotional aspect for a moment, I find it by far the coolest and most interesting piece on the album (well, consider the source material…).

But seriously, it’s humbling, magical and a bit of an “out-of-body” experience.

But I digress!  This blog was originally simply going to be about some new CD releases (sorry that it morphed out of control). Believe it or not, SB released two brand new CDs simultaneously. (This prolific, unmatched output is becoming annoying!)

More Beatles is another great set of tunes, played mostly on harp guitar and including a bunch of favorites along with rarely-covered songs like “Your Mother Should Know” and “For No One.”  I love his new cover artist as well, so hope some folks splurge for hardcopies (both titles are available at Harp Guitar Music or SB directly).

New harp guitar releases have been scarce for quite a while now, so I was excited to receive a brand new live recording from our friends Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts.  A great selection of obscure tunes, with about a quarter or third having Paul on his Sedgwick harp guitar.

I mentioned last year getting a sneak peek on Jason Carter’s laptop of his series of classical “mash-ups.”  Goofy, fun, artistic or cool or all of the above depending on your tastes.  You’ve seen the videos…I see he’s now uploading tracks to bandcamp as they get finished, with a 5-piece album so far.  Mostly classical guitar, some HG tracks, great new virtual CD cover!

Luis Diaz Santana | Mexican Music for Guitar, From the 19th Century

I also just received news of a recording of historical Mexican music by Luis Diaz Santana, who plays it all on a 7-string instrument.  Technically a “meets minimum requirements” harp guitar album, there is of course just the one extra floating D – but it gets a workout!

In other news, a non-harp guitar (but long and eagerly-awaited) brand new recording by archguitar virtuoso Elliott Gibbons – recently seen in my presentation at HGG12 – has just come out.  The Harmonious Blacksmith is downloadable from bandcamp.

Anyone else out there?