Welcoming into assembly this week a zebrawood & maple Birdsong Corto2 bass, a Harmony Hill model guitar I’m making on the side of hickory & mahogany with rosewood, a special order Birdsong Custom out of one piece of wild walnut (also with maple board), and another Corto2 of spalted Texas pecan with a matching headstock. These turned the magic corner from being necks and bodies into being instruments as they find their way from the green shop (THE Wingfeather Workshop) into Johnny’s ~ the rebuilt workshop of my late mentor, now where assembly happens. Coming into this place when it was a ways down the backroads from here 16 years ago changed me too, so I relate to the walk these guitars & basses take from being parts and pieces into something whole being built.
A few months prior to that was April 1st, 2000 – a day I celebrate as a personal day of independence. Music has been my path since 13 when I committed to follow it and see where it took me. In Melrose, Massachusetts there still stands a little music shop that was simultaneously the next chapter along the path and the garden that seeded everything I and life were to become since. At the time you don’t know that, but that’s why you go for your little dreams no matter how well meaning the choir around you tries to talk you onto a more rational, paint-by-numbers approach. In the mid ‘90s I added myself up in the van by the side of the road and it added up to a music shop. So I figured out how to get one going back in a place I knew needed some music, and hung in for the ride. I was “all in” as they say.
There among the guitars, amps, albums, used CDs, and all manner of music stuff formed my first real batch of students; my first leap from repairs & modifications into actual guitar building; and a circle of customers who became friends young and old in a time of much change in my life. It grew, I focused, and on April 1st 2000 I handed the keys off ~ setting myself free to show up back in Texas for whatever I was supposed to help make happen next. Showing up in a much better place and position (life is a series of chess moves sometimes), everything that was to come… began. April 1st of that year truly was the first day of the rest of my life, and I was onward with a blueprint of how to make things work and how to work myself to make it happen.
I could go have a ceremony today, me and this chapter’s van, and sit out in an interstate rest area listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival's Chronicle. Looking back on a lot of it, that does seem how my chapters have been bookended ~ a van, a parking lot, and “Long As I Can See The Light”… but no, not today. See, I’m STILL “all in” and there is no better way for me to honor this day than to tend to the garden it turned into. There are glued-up blanks to unclamp, headstock veneers to trim, carving and shaping to do, next oil finish coats to rub on the bodies in finishing so they can take the places of these now in assembly as they fly the nest over the coming weeks. There are pictures to take & post, this week’s Friday update to put up, and clients to talk to. In other words, another great day.
I will do two things though – I will go down a certain path now grown in to where an old van sits, sunk into the earth. I will lay my hands on its rusted bumper with a faded “Make it in Massachusetts” sticker. Later, a little toast of Laphroaig to those great people, now off somewhere in this world or beyond, who always seem to show up to help you down the road. I am very grateful to all of the above for helping me get here. And the answering machine at The Music Shop will record the yearly well wishes from some guy that says he used to own the place.
Happy April 1st everybody!
Listening to: Alice In Chains, Dirt; Fast Company (audio book, David Gross’ adventures turning around an Italian motorcycle company); Los Lobos, Colossal Head; Richard Betts, Highway Call; and Mississippi Fred McDowell.