After focusing on Brin Addison 2 blogs ago, I’m now catching up on the many new players and their videos and recordings, along with a couple new builders and instruments they’re using. This Part 1 features the larger group of “contemporary music” players. I’ve undoubtedly missed a few as I can’t keep up with all the separate activity now on YouTube, Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, and am finding myself more and more left out of the loop. From the (relatively) simple start of Harpguitars.net 11 years ago, it’s become a Harp Guitar Wild West out there!
No sooner had Brin become ubiquitous via Guitarplayer.com then they featured one of Jamie Dupuis’ new harp guitar videos. I’m privately chortling over Jamie’s output, as the fellow came over one day (then a teen-aged play-any-style of guitar wunderkind) and bought one of the first Holloway Chinese prototypes – only to return it untouched after a while admitting that he simply didn’t have time to devote to it. Apparently he regretted giving it up, as two years later, he got a Tonedevil and has been going full blast ever since. I had no doubt he’d instantly figure it out and come up with all sorts of styles and great music on it.
We all knew it was only a matter of time before Don Ross jumped in, and he did so in a big way by having Marc Beneteau build his first harp guitar. Hope I get to hear that in person some day! Nice to see Andy McKee working on some new harp guitar material (and a new Dyer harp guitar as well, besides his Greenfield) – hopefully, many more harp guitar players and music will be coming out of Andy’s Musicarium.
Speaking of new Dyers, Alex Anderson is using his new Style 8 exclusively for his “Tree of Life” album (great title!) due in early 2016 he says. He’s got videos of these new tunes popping up everywhere lately.
Andy McKee protege Travis Bowman recently upgraded from his Wishnevsky (which made such distinctive videos!) to a new Dyer Style 5.
And I think Adrian Bellue got a new Dyer? (I know he first had a Buckey) – I hope he plays it on his new CD “Steppes” which I believe is out already.
Another new Dyer owner is 13-year-old Campbell Grier McEntire (or “CGM”), who was in West Virginia but now in Hong Kong for a couple years. He’s already nailing Stephen Bennett tunes and arrangements, and is anxious to come to a Gathering someday – as are we!
Other new CDs with harp guitar I’ve heard about include releases by Tim Bertsch and Tommy Loose, and Don Alder has a new tune with vocals that well apparently appear on a new release this year. Of course, I’ve also got a new CD in the works, but don’t like to mention it, as I have my own glacial pace…but you’ll see why when finally done (think non-seasonal “A Christmas Collection” but with all Knutsen and Dyer instruments).
In other news, Calum Graham had to take a short hiatus from his new harp guitar while he has a 6th sub-bass retrofitted by the maker (Shifflett). He says 5 wasn’t cutting it. Coincidentally, this topic is just one of my hundred and one tips I’ll be sharing in my special new HGG workshop this year “So You Want to Be a Harp Guitarist?”.
PS: I’m actually hoping that more non-harp guitarists show up this year, as, IMHO, much can be learned and would best be decided before you go running off to buy your first instrument. So I hope you “Newbies” and “Hopo-to-be’s” find your way to the Gathering in October. (PS: Book your hotel room immediately, if you haven’t already)
I think this pretty much covers the U.S., but there’s also a lot of activity throughout the farthest reaches of the planet! Where to begin?
Why, with our old friend Hirokatsu Takai! He’s finally received his brand new, one-of-a-kind triple-neck koto harp guitar designed and built by Brussels’ own Benoit Meulle-Stef. Can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next!
Jetting over from Japan to Austria, next month will see the release of my Viennese friend Joachim Csaikl’s second album “Out of Control!”.
Nextdoor, German luthier Oliver Klapproth kindly sends in photos every time he builds a new design. One of them now appears in a nice video by the customer, an excellent player named Stephan Bormann.
In nearby France, our friend Jason Carter (who uploads a new professional harp guitar video about once a week!) also has a brand new CD out.
In Brazil, there is the extremely cool “Sullivan/Elliott-style” version of Brad Hoyt’s Sedgwick Arpa Viola Caipira – like a miniature John Doan harp guitar in style, but sounding like the magical instrument Brad invented. It was built for traditional caipira player Fernando Deghi by Anelio Ferroni.
Russian Ilya Druzhinin is the second harp guitarist to tackle a Queen song (“We Are the Champions”), giving Andy Wahlberg (whose “Bohemian Rhapsody” is at 400,000+ views and counting!) a run for his money.
SanHa (Korea) plays a nicely designed multi-string harp guitar in his video (above), while Tien Truongminh of Viet Nam (below) plays a new 11-string (7+4) double-neck harp guitar made by luthier Nguyen Minh Chau (below).
Finally…theoretically, there should be about as many new harp ukuleles out there now as harp guitars – and videos are starting to appear. There’s a nice one by harp-ukist Sungha Jung:
Players and Builders! It’s becoming increasingly time-consuming for me to hunt you all down – and I can only assume you want your activities to be known…? So if you’d like visibility on Harpguitars.net, don’t be shy – send me your links and news!
One of the manifold pleasures of our HGG history has been seeing, hearing–and especially knowing the harpmeisters from around the globe. This is best encapsulated for us by the wonderful picture of Hiro and the stupendous instrument by Benoit–two of the most treasured members of our HGG family. We hope we can hear it in person soon. We also hope to meet more new friends and devotees of this marvelous musical niche we share, ideally at HGG this year!
Dan and Bets