January 31, 2008

Paul Geremia

Paul Geremia has been carrying the torch of American roots music for over forty years. An exceptional player, singer, and interpreter of traditional music, Geremia is nothing short of a national treasure.

From his bio:

Geremia's background isn't typical for a bluesman. He is a third generation Italian-American who, as he laughingly puts it, "was born in the Providence River Delta". Growing up in a family that moved across the country and back numerous times weaned his appetite for music, history and travel, which served him well later on.

During the sixties, Paul noticed that the music he had enjoyed playing on harmonica (his first instrument) was now referred to as "Folk Music" and was enjoying popularity. During his short time in agriculture college, he was mostly occupied with learning guitar and hitch-hiking to where the music was. He soon left college and hit the road permanently. He found paying gigs in coffee houses and "basket houses" in cities and at college campuses and made occasional forays South and West in search of the music he loved and what gigs he could find.

Looking at his calendar, readers in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts should get out and see Paul in the weeks to come.

January 30, 2008

Le Trio Joubran

On Saturday, February 23rd, Le Trio Joubran will be performing at 8:00 pm at Hamline University's Sundin Hall.

Brothers Samir, Wissam, and Adnan all perform on the oud. Samir also lends his vocal talents to the group, and Wissam studied under his father and at the Antonio Stradivarius Institute of Cremona as an instrument builder.

Here is a clip of the trio from Janaury 2007 at Webster Hall in NYC:

January 29, 2008

Changing Guitar Strings

One of the things that seems challenging to new guitarists is the process of changing the strings on his or her instrument. While not particularly difficult, the first few times can be a bit challenging. How much string to wind onto the tuning machine? Which direction to wind? How tight should the string be wound? How do you get those darn pegs out?

In the shop, we teach people how to change the strings on a guitar all the time.

Since not everyone can visit us at The Podium - and given the sub zero weather we are currently experiencing in Minnesota, our hope is that living in a warmer climate is the reason you can't visit us in person - guitar repair guru Martin Reynolds has graciously given his time to demonstrate this fundamental and important skill.

Thanks Marty!

January 23, 2008

National Resophonic at NAMM

In addition to the new Reso-Acoustic 400 Sound System - an acoustic amplifier voiced for the resonator guitar - NRP brought out two new offerings in their guitar line-up:

The Don

This is a single cone, German Silver reso inspired by the classic National of the same name. Featuring a V-neck profile, 14 fret neck, Double-cut Diamond pattern engraving, engraved handstrap, MOP position inlays, a pearloid headstock overlay, arched back, and Waverly tuners, this is the first German Silver guitar produced by NRP. The guitar will be a limited production of 100 instruments, with a tri-cone model to follow.

Also new from the folks at NRP is the Resolectric Junior:

January 17, 2008

Carolina Chocolate Drops

On Sunday, January 20th, this acclaimed African-American stringband will be hosting a workshop at the new MacPhail Center for Music from 2:00-3:00 pm, and performing in concert at the Cedar Cultural Center at 7:30 pm.

From the bands bio:

"The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a group of young African-American stringband musicians that have come to together to play the rich tradition of fiddle and banjo music in Carolinas’ piedmont. Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson both hail from the green hills of the North Carolina Piedmont while Dom Flemons is native to sunny Arizona.

Although we have diverse musical backgrounds, we draw our musical heritage from the foothills of the North and South Carolina. We have been under the tutelage of Joe Thompson, said to be the last black traditional string band player, of Mebane, NC and we strive to carry on the long standing traditional music of the black and white communities.

Joe’s musical heritage runs as deeply and fluidly as the many rivers and streams that traverse our landscape. We are proud to carry on the tradition of black musicians like Odell and Nate Thompson, Dink Roberts, John Snipes, Libba Cotten, Emp White, and countless others who have passed beyond memory and recognition."

Come and check out these extraordinary performers!

January 16, 2008

Lily Afshar

This week, Iranian-born classical guitarist and head of the University of Memphis guitar program Lily Afshar will be performing on Friday, January 18th at 8:00 pm at Hamline University's Sundin Hall.

On Thursday, Afshar will be presenting a workshop at the University of St. Thomas featuring an ancient Persian instrument - the Setar.

For more information, visit the Minnesota Guitar Society website.

January 15, 2008

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

In the futuristic landscape of 2008, with hovering cars running on water instead of petroleum, cathode ray terminals in every home that permit users to shop at virtual stores and send telegrams electronically, and telephone-like devices that operate without wires we present...

The Robot Guitar

Gone are the days of having to rely on one's hearing to adjust the tuning of an instrument. Simply press a button and the guitar, enhanced with state-of-the-art electronics, will tune the instrument for you.

Given Gibson's lackluster success with their USB guitar, I can't help but think of this as a "look at us - we are on the cutting edge" sort of marketing angle.

Nevertheless, I present:

The Robot Guitar

January 10, 2008

Joe Pass

The other day I was talking to David Roos - jazz guitarist extraordinaire and a veritable walking encyclopedia of all things guitar at The Podium.

He was telling some great Joe Pass stories, and I remarked that as amazing a player as Joe was, I never really could get into his recorded work. Dave understood, and remarked that in a live context, the excitement that Joe had for the guitar and guitar music was so palpable and present - in short, wonderful.

He's right of course, and thankfully I had an open mind and enough sense to trust David.

For your enjoyment and amazement:

January 9, 2008


While The Podium's mission is to provide our customers with some of the greatest acoustic guitars in the world, you could say that we've been electrified for some time.

A number of offerings from Taylor, Martin, Seagull, and Larrivee come stock with pickup systems, ready to plug into an amplifier or direct box.

Other guitars are often fitted with pickup systems by our in house guru Marty at the customer's request. We offer a wide range of solutions from Fishman, Highlander, L.R. Baggs, K&K, Schertler, Sunrise, and others.

But I'm talking ELECTRIC here.

Recently, Taylor has entered the game with a few solid bodied electric models. Following the success of the electro-acoustic hybrid T5 series, Taylor has developed a series of solid bodied guitars featuring their new Style 1 and Style 2 humbucking pickups, single cut-away, patented T-Lock neck joint, and innovative use of tone chambers.

Check out these Taylors here, here, and here.

Extending his love for carved tops, as evidenced in his mandolins and archtop acoustics, Bill Collings has also entered the electric fray.

The SoCo Deluxe features a carved top, premium lacquer finish, incredible neck, and wonderful pickups from Jason Lollar. Featuring a more traditional aesthetic than the Taylors, these guitars are ideal for the same tone connoisseurs that have made Collings one of the most sought after boutique builders.

Another voice, another guitar.

Both of these builders have presented players with an option that serves a different function, but remains consistent with the quality that fans have come to expect.

January 8, 2008

Choosing a Harmonica

The combination of guitar and harmonica has a well established history. From folkies to rockers, blues players to jug band stompers, the harp offers a sound that far surpasses its diminutive size.

It's no wonder that a number of musicians want to try out the harmonica for themselves. It's small, affordable, and as long as a prospective player's expectations aren't virtuosic, the harmonica's diatonic nature makes it hard to play a bad note.

The question we most often field in regard to harmonicas - "Which key should I buy?"

This is a question that can be difficult to answer for a number of reasons. While it is true that the harmonica is only capable of playing a full major scale in the key that it is sold in, there are work-arounds.

First off, the harmonica can be used to play in other keys, albeit with some missing notes, in the various positions. Bending and over-blowing can help to fill in some of the missing notes as well.

Secondly, a player may be interested in playing a melodic "straight harp" style, or a bluesy "cross harp" style full of bends and overblows. (Yes, you can bend notes rather accurately on a diatonic harmonica. To hear this done to good effect, and with a virtuosic accuracy, check out the stylings of Howard Levy.)

Most new players will likely be looking at the harmonica from the perspective of the first two positions to start with.

To play a harp in first position, you simply match the key of the harp to the key of the song that you are playing. If you are strumming a country ballad in the key of G, you will likely play a harp in the key of G.

For people exploring the bluesy "cross harp" style, you choose the harp based on the second position which places an emphasis on the draw, and as such, facilitates easier bending. In this case, you choose a harp that is in a different key than the song is written.

Here is a chart that will help you to determine the key to choose:

Many new harp players might want to begin by using a book, CD, or other learning tool. In that case, the most common key is C, though you should check with the materials first to be sure. Having the right key harp will make it possible to play in tune with the lesson materials.

For the price of a few packs of strings, giving the harp a try is a pretty low risk investment that could open up a world of fun.

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to all from The Podium. May 2008 be a year of joy, music, and of course, fine guitars.