Healdsburg, Part 2

Though there weren’t a whole lot of new harp guitar builds at this particular show, harp guitar music was featured more prominently than ever before, with the first festival appearance of Stephen Bennett and also (I believe?) Antoine Dufour.  Ken Bonfield also performed on “the Beastess” by Alan Carruth (which debuted at HGG8), Rich Mermer had customer JRJ demo his old “Thor” (from HGG5), and of course, as I mentioned in Part 1, Tony McManus surprised the crowd with a demo of the new Linda Manzer Pikasso.  Mike Doolin even brought his new personal acoustic down (but didn’t display or perform).

As always, the harp guitars on display, but especially the playing of them, received a lot of attention from the multitude of 6-string players.  Stephen and Antoine seemed to go over particularly well (as I would expect!).  Stephen also did a Harp Guitar workshop, attended by a few enthusiastic newbies.

Photos and Commentary:

Rich Mermer had 3 impressive redwood-topped instruments (l-r:): harp guitar “Thor,” an acoustic “Stick,” and the bass/baritone acoustic/electric he showed at HGG7.  All 3 were loaned by their owner, JRJ, who first bought Rich’s Nova harp guitar (not shown) from me in 2008.

That’s Jim Worland’s head behind the Stick, his table showcasing his new electrics.

JRJ did Rich’s demo on Thor the next day.  They couldn’t get his electronics rig going, but he gamely entertained the crowd.

Harry Fleishman had one of his original harp guitars displayed – perhaps the most beautiful of them all (the original owner offering for sale).

Duane Noble had a beautiful new black top.  The Lutz spruce sounded quite different from his standard sitka (loud and open, as if the brand new instrument had been played straight for a year).

Antoine demo’d this the second day. With little warm-up (he owns a Noble), he played his two virtuoso harp guitar pieces.  No pickups, but they managed to get the problematic P.A. dialed in this time, and he sounded incredible!

Antoine’s other demo was for (and with) his main guitar – a Mario Beauregard.

Stephen did Kathy Wingert’s demo, first playing her “sinker redwood” top 6-string….

And his own Wingert HG.

Concerts on the main stage outdoors included Ken Bonfield on “the Beastess”

Antoine on his 6-string

And Stephen on Kathy’s 6-string…

…and harp guitar

There was plenty of down time and socializing as well.  Here, Antoine tries out SB’s Wingert.

Of course, we also schmoozed and tried to inspire other builders to come to the Gathering this year (or soon): Allan Beardsell, Linda Manzer, Alan Perlman, Michael Greenfield.  Some are thinking about it….

There were concerts each night at various local venues.  On the last night (Sunday), 6 artists played in Sebastopol: (l-r) Sean McGowan (fingerstyle jazz monster), Vicki Genfan (tap and slap-happy), and Ken.

Ken mesmerizing the crowd (and perhaps himself) with the HG.

The second set brought on Giacomo Fiore (nylon string player from Italy), Stephen and Kinloch Nelson (possibly in the market for an HG, I think…).

Stephen was obviously having fun, as did we all.  Me, too much, as usual.  So I let Frank drive, who got stopped by the cops, but passed the follow-the-cop’s-finger test (while I frantically searched for the registration I didn’t have, and John Thomas feigned sleep in the back seat).

What a fantastic weekend full of music, guitars and friends!

  1. Darrell Says:


  2. Frank Says:

    I was trying to figure out directions and made a turn that, while apparently not illegal, was unusual for that intersection. The officer took notice as we had just left a pub.

    Anyhow, it was a fantastic weekend! A memorable time for me was dinner with Gregg, SB and an old friend of his at a spectacular restaurant in Healdsburg proper called Zin. We enjoyed stories of Stephen’s rock and roll youth.

    By the way, somebody buy that cute little parlor guitar pictured on Duane’s table. It’s a fantastic instrument going for a great price! If only I had more money and more time to play……

  3. Andy Wahlberg Says:

    Sounds like a blast, my G. Next year I am going to be there. Y’all drive careful now, hea’!

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