With nary a pause after Alex Anderson ended his Saturday morning debut Harp Guitar Gathering 14 appearance, three more players took the stage with their own thirty minute sets.  We called this 90 minute section “Harp Guitar Converts” – though, technically, aren’t we all?!

However, we had not featured any of these players before, and saw their styles and paths to the instrument as very different.  Indeed, they all shared their journeys of 6 string-to-harp guitar with us.

Lou Alano, from New York state, is a singer-songwriter-guitarist-now-harp-guitarist (those will be some expensive business cards, pal).  His instrument is by Jim Worland.

A friend of Stephen Bennett’s, Lou had impressed both Stephen & Nancy with his deeply personal songs.  They are simple, sad, but heartrendingly poignant.

Lou himself joked that his was “music to slit your wrists by.”  In fact, the very real memories and tragedies were so intense that the following day he was unable to sing and instead played an instrumental for us.

A rapt audience included Sally & Ed Dowling.  Lou’s wife Teresa sits far right.

L-R: Craig Keever, Bruce Labadie, Scott Holloway, Steve Klein.

Not a dry eye in the house.

Next, Dan Schwartz from Minnesota fired up his Charles Hoffman harp guitar.  He shared the story of that discovery and purchase, and played a handful of new tunes.  Dan showed up at last year’s Gathering as a recent harp guitar convert, but has been on our radar as a gifted 6-string and Weissenborn player for years.  Frank Doucette knew him during the early ’90s when they were both in John Strope’s Fingerstyle Guitar program at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.  And Stephen Bennett was on Narada’s 1997 CD Masters of Acoustic Guitar along with a dozen other acoustic players including Dan.  In case you couldn’t guess, he’s handling harp guitar quite exquisitely.

Here I am worshiping at his feet.  OK, not really…I was running his PowerPoint.

Dan telling us about John Strope’s (seen on screen) own interest in the harp guitar all those years ago.

I was surprised to learn that it was Dan who helped John come up with the dozens of new symbols to denote the unusual guitar techniques of Michael Hedges for Strope’s groundbreaking TAB project.  Here Dan shows us his original scribbles on Hedges’ “Because It’s There.”

Quite a long and winding career there, convert Dan!

Wrapping up the segment was convert Kinloch Nelson, no stranger to 6-string guitar fans on the East Coast, the Newport Guitar Festival and a hundred other guitar venues.

He’s playing the harp guitar he fabricated out of an old nylon string he found in someone’s trash can.  Someone please loan him some money so he can buy a real instrument!

Actually, he (and I) see no reason to change – it sounds great, and obviously works for him.  He can play anything on it, and did!  I’ve been playing his very entertaining CDs in the car all week as I was wanting to hear more.

As often happens at the Harp Guitar Gathering, I found myself appreciating these guys as good friends rather than just great musicians.

OK, time for a quick 5-minute bathroom break. Don’t trip over all the cases!

Our dedicated spouse volunteers are still setting up the product table.  No time to look – we’ve got to get back in for…

Next: Don Ross, harp guitarist!