Snapshot: It’s 5 AM on the button, dark outside but fluorescent in workshop 2 where assembly happens. A temple in my life, this little building - and this morning’s sadhana (real meaning of the word) actually a cross between a Cortobass and and a Skyrider – a custom awaiting its voice. The pickups are in and Derek & The Dominos Live at The Fillmore fills the air with feelgood, sonic waves dancing with the incense, as I wire volume and tone pots. This is where the instrument comes to life. The wood comes back with that first handrub of oil, but now it will speak. And with a little more attention – a few adjustments, some TLC – sing.
I have been handed the keys to this perpetual dawn service of manifesting tools with voices to soon become yours, part of your service, your way of the inner music coming out. In songs of wood and wire I give form to the stirrings of the muse.
In a couple of hours, after a round of wiring on the Custom and a Hy5 5-string, some copper lining of another 5s control cavity and a bit of typing on this to be posted tomorrow which you now read, the green shop – “Wingfeather Workshop” proper and another sacred space, will itself come to life for the day and fill the air with its own song. Whirring small machines a-spin and cutting, and the sound of sandpaper or rasp in shaping blending as percussion into the music providing the beat.
The heartbeat of life in there this morning will probably be jazz, most likely New York guitar jazz. It might morph into some long Grateful Dead soundscapes or over into classical guitar like Segovia. That’s the basic vibe in there. Delta blues like RL Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Jack Owens is really good guitar building music too. I have my list of “nexts” and I am alive again this morning, gifted one more lap around the light, one more round on the beads of the tasks of another day itself one more prayer-by-action in a string of its own. I don’t need coffee; it would only put me back to sleep anyway. The steps to this door are all I need. When they no longer bring me to life then the calling has been completed.
I don’t make product, I craft talismans. To you it might be only the tool portion or some recipe of function, handcraft and mojo – I don’t know. I can’t really know that, that’s for you. I only know what it’s like in here surrounded by the coming-to-be of these all around me and – somehow, through some twist of fate – through me. Bringing things to life day after day does something to the soul and consumes the rest as its fuel. Whatever a Birdsong bass or Texas Lap Steel or anything else that flies this nest is to you, I am happy it serves you in that way. I am fulfilled that what is spent of me, of the hands that help me, of the ripples of our mentors and the echoes of theirs within them, help the highest in you come out to dance in the moment and be shared with the others.
It’s gradually getting lighter through the trees, familiar shapes and shadows returning in a blue glow with spreading orange in one spot. Good morning sunshine, sorry I just couldn’t wait.
If you’ll excuse me now, there is an instrument – a tool of creation – who has been waiting for this moment since the instant it ceased to be tree, and the universe has decreed me to be the one to show it some love, bring it to life, and put it in good hands.
Listening to: John Coltrane Coltrane Plays The Blues; Back In New York by Doug Raney: Derek & The Dominos Live at The Fillmore; RL Burnside Too Bad Jim