2018 is the 100th anniversary year of Orville Gibson’s death (August 19th) and I was recently thrilled to see special attention being paid to our hero by a bunch of fine people.
I’m assuming all my readers are familiar with Gibson guitars, mandolins and (obviously) harp guitars. I imagine that you all at least know the name of the guy who designed all these instruments, yet how many know anything about him? Me neither. That’s been slowing changing recently thanks to new books on or featuring Gibson mandolins (plus another in the works) and new research from not one but two woman authors working on books specifically about Orville himself.
About time, is all I can say. (Hey, at least no one can say I haven’t been doing my part on this site insofar as the harp guitars are concerned!)
I’ve caught up with some of these folks in the last couple weeks, and met the ring-leader of the “Orville-ites” (and creator of the phrase and new Facebook page) – Sharon Delorto. She’s my kind of passionate (read: obsessive), and has been part of a whole Orville celebration that in the last month has:
- Put up a 13 foot tall mural on the building address where Orville worked in Kalamazoo (thanks to Photographer, Mark Bugnaski and Roger Siminoff and gang for that one!). And they’ve been holding “flash mobs” of Gibson players I hear…
- Done radio interviews about all this, including the latest in my own neck of the woods: An hour guitar show given over to Sharon and gang about the centennial events.
This was 2 Monday nights ago, a week into the events, and totally last minute when Sharon realized I was just down the street from host Jeff Floro’s Sherman Oaks LA Talk Radio studio! I grabbed the giant 12-bass HG and 3-point mandolin (both Orville designs), tuned ’em up as best I could and met them there after work. We had a blast of an hour with a “conference call” interview with Dick Decosse (owner of the property where Orville was born), David R. Nichols (of Custom Pearl Inlays) and Mark Bugnaski (vinyl poster creator). You can stream my section (and another) from my Facebook page. I found out afterwards that my friend, harpguitarist Don Alder in Canada had tuned in!
Jeff Floro (“All About Guitar” on Monday nights) is holding his Barney Kessel, Sharon’s husband is holding my mando. His name is also spelled Gregg – he worked at Gibson’s Heritage Guitars division, has a huge guitar collection, and plays a helluva jazz guitar. They’re in Southern Cal also and will be in touch, I’m sure!
Anything I can do to help Peggy, Sharon, Robb and anyone else with their Gibson harp guitar research, just let me know.
Your faithful Orville-ite,
Gregg (Sir Gregory) Miner