February 21, 2008

R.I.P. The Original Snakeboy

The Original Snakeboy, blues guitarist extraordinaire, has left this world for the next.

Founding member of the Asylum Street Spankers, The Original Snakeboy (aka Bill Thompson) was an exceptional performer who brought his New Orleans' roots to Portland, via Austin, Texas, and numerous wanderings in between.

His passing came as a surprise to many as news quickly made its way around the globe via the various online communities of blues fans and aficionados.

Sadly, like too many before him, The Original Snakeboy's passing was at his own hands, and friends who knew him are positively devastated.

Fellow Asylum Street Spanker Guy Forsyth offers his remembrance on his blog.

Perhaps the best memories can be found in the music he shared with everyone who would listen:

February 20, 2008

Marty Reynolds

Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the talents of those around you.

Fortunately, that is never the case here at The Podium when it comes to our dedicated and ever amazing repair guru Martin Reynolds.

Truth be told, if you've done something wrong when it comes to guitars, prepare to be gently scolded - and humidify that doggone guitar for goodness sake!

Marty's work reflects the care and precision of a true craftsman, backed by a lifetime of experience and a passion for doing things properly. Marty keeps us all on our toes, and the queue that builds every Saturday morning in front of the shop, when Marty offers weekly walk-in service, is just another testament to the trust that people have in Marty to care for their beloved six-stringed friends.

Marty is no guitar snob. While he loves finely crafted guitars as much as any of us, he has a special fondness in his heart for the proletariat guitars of yesteryear, resurrecting solid wood guitars from the Chicago builders like Harmony, and imported plywood wonders from the infamous "lawsuit era" builders like Ventura. These forgotten gems become truly great player's instruments once they leave Marty's bench, ready for another twenty years of music making for folks whose wells of creativity are deeper than their wallets.

For the college student on a budget, Marty has been known to raid his bins and canisters of random parts to keep their instruments working just a little bit longer, without having to skip any meals that week to afford the repair.

Marty once afforded me the compliment that he appreciated not having to listen in on my conversations with customers, as he trusted that whatever was coming out of my mouth was reliable information.

I'd like to return the favor by acknowledging that at The Podium, we are more than just a little lucky to have Marty's shop here in the store. His experience and knowledge are called on every day by the staff, and Marty always graciously offers his pearls of wisdom, even when he is up to his ears in delicate work.

Thank you Marty, for everything!

Martin Reynolds - great luthier, exceptional man (just ask any of the bored-to-tears children who Marty has cheered up with a coloring book while mom or dad needed to try just one more guitar! )

Here's a great feature on Marty in the local university paper, The Minnesota Daily.

And a short video by Travis Heying about Marty - brought to my attention by longtime friend of The Podium (and cracking good guitar player) Bill Hammond.

February 19, 2008

Birth of the Dreadnought

John "Woody" Woodland is a guitarist, producer, luthier, guitar tech to the stars, and all around vintage guitar aficionado.

Anyone here in the Twin Cities guitar community knows Woody as the in-house repairman at Willie's American Guitars, a fine shop specializing in vintage American guitars, and tube amplifiers of the vintage and boutique variety.

I've had a number of conversations with Woody over the years, and he has always displayed a special fondness for (and expert knowledge of) all things Martin - particularly the older and more esoteric guitars.

Back in December, he worked with Dick Boak, Martin's manager of artist relations, to help set up a unique event at Lehigh University's Zoeliner Arts Center. Pat Donahue was in town with Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, and played a number of vintage guitars built and owned by Martin Guitar during the two shows.

Getting to the point...

Woodland, along with Peter Kohman and Richard Johnston, is behind the new book Birth of the Dreadnought, an exhaustive history that explores the origins of Martin's most famous contribution to American luthiery.

From Woodland's book blog:

The book is a never-before seen, in-depth look into the archives of the C.F. Martin Guitar Company, the most complete and detailed archives of any American musical instrument maker. The book’s authors, John Woodland, Peter Kohman and Richard Johnston, have done extensive research combing through the attics of the old Martin factory, researching thousands of pages of stored correspondence, most of it unseen since it was originally filed. The book also includes a large collection of unpublished photographs, elegantly illustrating the guitar’s journey. The enveloping music scenes throughout the country during the Dreadnought’s development are also well documented. Many different archival and personal sources have been consulted, and the story told includes voluminous details that have not previously been researched or compiled, let alone published. The result is a comprehensive and compelling new understanding of the instrument made famous by the C.F. Martin Company, as well as an entertaining look into the lives of the people responsible for its design.

To read more about the project, and to see some excellent photo's and scans of primary source material, visit: http://northstreetattic.blogspot.com/

February 18, 2008

Benefit for Jeff Krumm

Jeff Krumm is the founder and owner of Savage Audio, a great guitar amp company, and one of the best places to have your vintage tube amp serviced or restored.

From the Savage website:

Please join us at the Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis on March 22nd and be part of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Krumm."

It's a benefit show for Jeff Krumm, founder and owner of Savage Audio, the maker of Savage Amps. Jeff is battling cancer, and we are going to help him. He rocks and he makes others rock, so do what you can.

This show will feature a slew of fine Minneapolis bands including The Honeydogs, Quietdrive, The Hopefuls, This World Fair, Tim Mahoney, Conver Watts, Cryptic and other special guests, with Jason Nagel hosting.

Please check out our MySpace page for the latest information at http://www.myspace.com/benefitofmrkrumm


Everyone at The Podium wishes Jeff the best in his fight!

February 7, 2008

John King

The ukulele is most often identified with the music of Hawaii, and to some extent, with popular American music of the 1930's and '40's. Mass produced ukes flooded the market in the post-war U.S., with the Chicago makers (Harmony, Silvertone, Airline, etc.), Martin, Gibson, and Favilla responding to the ukulele craze.

Rarely is the ukulele seen in the context of western classical music, despite its origin as an adapted version of the Portuguese Cavaquinho.

Here is a clip of guitarist and ukulele enthusiast John King, and his arrangement of Bach for the little four-stringed wonder:

February 6, 2008


Developed in conjunction with guitarist Mike Dowling, National Resophonic has introduced the Hotplate.

Previously, the pickup options for the single cone resophonic guitar were limited to a number of piezo-based solutions from a variety of manufacturers, including K&K and Highlander, or thin, surface mount magnetic pickups like those offered by Lace. Some people have sought out some of the classic Dearmond pickups, but those are few in number, and fewer yet are thin enough to fit between the top of the guitar and still allow adequate string clearance.

The Hotplate features a single coil Telecaster sized pickup from Jason Lollar. Lollar's pickups are quickly becoming some of the most sought after replacements for classic electric guitars, basses, and steel guitars. Currently, Collings is installing his pickups in their boutique electric guitars, and as any Collings fan can tell you - they simply use the best materials available.

The Hotplate is a drop-in replacement for all of the single cone, biscuit bridge National guitars, and the slightly oblong mounting holes should allow installation in a variety of imported resos currently available on the market. The Hotplate cover is available in either brushed (shown) or bright plated surfaces; and features a tone control, volume control, and a standard 1/4" output jack. This design means that one needn't drill a hole in their guitar for the output - a serious consideration for steel and brass bodied guitars.

The demand for these is great, so prepare for a bit of a wait while NRP ramps up production - (The Podium is currently on the waiting list and will have a couple of these as soon as National can get them out the door.)