Harp Guitar Gathering 13: Saturday Morning Presentations

On to the second day of the 13th annual Harp Guitar Gathering!  After a late Friday night – (who could possibly go to bed with that kind of party?!), we all set our alarms bright and early…

Our founder SB…a quick cup o’ joe and he’s off to the venue to get things prepped.

His assistant, Joe Morgan attempts to camouflage himself against the wall to escape notice…but ordering breakfast does him in.

I’m still sleep-walking…when I come to, host Randall Sprinkle is already welcoming the 75+ attendees to the day’s festivities at our venue, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

First presentation was by Canadian Don Alder, who we hadn’t seen for some time.  He played some new (and old) tunes on a Holloway Dyer signed with some unusual signatures.  He explained it in his accompanying “Career Highlights” slide show – performing at an event with Astronaut Chris Hadfield and William Shatner (who said something typically Shatnerish about his HG…something along the lines of “Cool man, that would’ve fit right in on Star Trek.”).  Also Alice Cooper.  What a unusual trio/group!

Then there was the story of his win on the Canadian version of American Idol…

Don’s playing style is as complex and sleight-of-hand as ever!

Next was the first-ever Gathering appearance (and a rare non-New Orleans appearance, period) of the astounding jazz “Guitarpist” Phil deGruy.

He’s what’s known as a guitar virtuoso’s guitar virtuoso.  Breathtaking chops and imagination…on17 strings, no less!

We got the story of his remarkable 17-string invention – a sort of continuous “limitless guitar” that he now expands even further with a digital “whammy bar” that can scoot the 10 super-trebles up in pitch to the stratosphere.

Phil just sent me this sneak peak at the next iteration of the Guitarp: a semi-hollowbody by off-the-radar luthier Vince Guidroz.

 We then did a harp guitar 180 to the Zingaresca Duo and authentic Russian gypsy harp guitar music.  It was amazing how much bass they got out of their two antique Russian instruments, as they traded melody and accompaniment.  Vadim Kolpakov (left) played insanely hot plectrum-style Gypsy solos with his fingers.  

Partner Oleg Timofeyev was the more sedate player, though of course as accomplished as ever.  Some of the group remembered Oleg from HGG10, where he surprised us with a new concept of “harp guitar”: the Russian guitar, with 7 strings on the neck, was tuned to open D specifically to allow more open note cross-string arranging – to sound more harp-like than the standard 6-string.  This year’s presentation focused on the “folk” (Romany) style of Russian guitar (which also used the “harp guitar” version of the instrument).

I think these two photos wonderfully illustrate the personalities and musical temperaments of the fiery-to-stern duo!  We’ll see more of them in the evening’s concert…

During lunch, we had a sign-up sheet for folks to do short sets on stage.  Dan Schwartz went first (another great singer!)

I told you how singer John Riley brought his whole collection of harp guitars…

I love how John appreciates – and gets great sound out of – everything from a beautiful classic Gibson to a bare bones Wishnevsky.

There was a sudden lull, so while no one was looking (most were out eating) I took the opportunity to practice.  Doing some trick sub bends…and of course, you all know about my patented “sub-bass fret snare,” I assume.

Before long, I had gathered Dan, Frank, Steve Silva and Tony, my four actual fans…

…I’m working up to five.

I think I’ve already mentioned how capable, cool and collected our host Randall was…he even had time and the brain cells to entertain!

Next: Luthiers and Musically Yours!

Previous episodes:

Harp Guitar Gathering 13 Pre-Party

Harp Guitar Gathering 13: A First Timer’s Experience

Harp Guitar Gathering 13: Friday Night Banquet and Open Mic

  1. Michael Schreiner Says:

    Great to hear and see everyone play. One of my favorite HG pieces is “Blue Shift Principle” by Don Alder. It was really cool to hear him play it in person again. I also had the pleasure of picking up, dropping off and being the driver for Phil deGury during his visit. I was nervous to meet the star but when he told me he doesn’t text and that we have the exact same flip phone I began to feel more comfortable. Great guy! He had a great time and hopes to be invited again.

  2. Don Alder Says:

    Needless to say whenever I attend a Harp Guitar Gathering Im always blown away by the musicianship but even more by the type of people that attend. They are Intelligent, Good hearted, friendly a huge sense of humour and a giving nature. When you travel on the road as much as I do to pay the bills you meet a lot of shady and nasty people. The Gathering brings together the BEST people on the Planet, NEVER STOP and I hope I can find a way to continue to be part of this community till my dying day. When you leave this event you feel changed and humbled. That’s all time to go play some rowdy rock and roll.

  3. Don Alder Says:

    and Michael Schreiner thanks so much, liking Blue Shift Principle. Much appreciated.

  4. Tony Barnard Says:

    You are so right Don, I’m with you, what a truly amazing bunch of people we had the privilege of being with. I can’t wait for next year. Loved your set and as for Michael Schreiner, what a lovely man and what a beautiful guitar he made! See you all next year and for many more after that I hope.

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