“What is that instrument called?”
Although I play many fretted string instruments, the one that most people are most curious about is my Harp Guitar. It is essentially a steel stringed acoustic guitar with an additional set of five low strings that are plucked, not fretted. They are much more harp than guitar. They allow me to access a lower register that a conventional guitar cannot provide, and this in turn allows me to create from a larger palate when crafting song arrangements.
“How did you come up with that?”
I didn’t. The harp guitar that I play is modeled on an earlier version of the steel string harp guitar that was produced in the US at the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th century. Specifically, it is modeled on a Dyer brand “Symphony” model Harp Guitar. I first encountered the harp guitar when I was about 16 years old and heard the most amazing guitarist, Michael Hedges play one on his “Aerial Boundaries” record.
“How long have you been playing it?”
In 2000 a friend and master luthier Harry Eibert began building my instrument, informed by his work restoring several original harp guitars from various states of disrepair, as well as his work building harp style mandolins and ukuleles. Somewhere in about 2002 the instrument was in my hands and so began the long slow road to today.
“Who are some of your favorite musicians?”
Pierre Bensusan, Alex DeGrassi, Oliver Mtukudzi, Michael Hedges, Miles Davis, Toumani Diabate, Pat Metheny, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Django Reinhardt, John McLaughlin, John Coltrane, Esperanza Spalding, Jerry Garcia, Leo Kottke, Joe Pass, Pablo Casals, Patricia Petibon, Stanley Jordan, Norman Blake, Tim O’Brien, Mark Knopfler, Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards, and many more…
“What are your songs about?”
This is a very big question with a very elaborate answer. In short, life itself. I do not take on characters in songs, nor do I preach my own perspective. Rather, like a theater actor, my songs and performances are really an art of reflection. A vehicle from which we can illustrate the essence of what it is to be human, and thus attempt to reconnect to the shared experience of life, and our shared humanity. So that even a simple song, a love song, or a sad song, can help connect us to each other, ourselves and our source.