Dan Forte’s musical journey was blessed from the start: Family– father who loved Django Reinhardt, Location- the S.F. Bay Area, Timing- the 60s. Throw in talent, humor, taste and skill for a can’t miss mixture. Dan took full advantage of S.F.’s 60’s- 70’s scene where live music was everything. While getting his BA at Stanford, he taught an accredited “History of the Blues”class, put on concerts and wrote about music for the university‘s newspaper. Journalism followed, where he helped Guitar Player Magazine rise to the top.
Eventually Senior Associate Editor at GP, Danalso introduced the mysterious but always humorous Teisco Del Rey who has brought to light some of the weirdest guitars ever, and received the prestigious ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. After relocating to Austin, he released 2 instrumental-rock albums, “The Many Moods of Teisco Del Rey” (1992) and “Teisco Del Rey Plays Music for Lovers” (1996). As Teisco he maintains an inspiring if sporadic concert schedule.
Dan has interviewed a veritable encyclopedia of guitarists. We await the book that must be forthcoming. For more than a decade, he has called Vintage Guitar Magazine home base. His cover story on Mike Bloomfield is as good as it gets. His VG reviews are always spot on as well.
In this extensive podcast Dan holds nothing back. It’s a joyful ride where he shares his lifetime pursuit and love of music.
Dan and Albert King Hayward California 1970
Dan and James Jamerson in L.A. 1977 with the Precision Bass that changed music
From his position at Guitar Player Magazine during the 80’s Dan interviewed many of the greats. It helped that he knew who the greats were. Here he is having too much fun interviewing Duane Eddy
Teisco Del Rey, Dan’s nom de guitar makes the scene at a late 80s NYC guitar show
This guitar followed him home. He kept it for awhile
The Many Moods of Teiseco Del Rey
No Sophomore Slump for Teisco
Gary Smith on Harp with Dan on guitar. Check Gary’s harp on Southbay Beatdown on the Spotify playlist for SLN #34
Do yourself a favor. Listen to this podcast and get captivated by the musical camaraderie that swirls between John Dunbar lead singer and songwrtiter (A Confederacy of Dunces, The Kunks), Sal Maida, bassist (Roxy Music, Sparks, Milk N Cookies) and Sal Nunziato, drummer (Pep In The Cat, The Cool Jerks). The musical references come fast and furious like they probably did in the studio when they recorded their hook fueled new C D “Nothing Doing” a follow up to their first CD , “A New Set of Downs”. The 3 New Yorkers were kind enough to share their experiences and enthusiasm for this podcast. These guys know their craft and are having a good time practicing it. A great ride for sure.
Ian S. Port’s book “The Birth Of Loud” tells a well researched story of the birth of the electric guitar and it’s impact on popular music and our culture. It’s a refreshing read where Ian looks into corners seldom searched and gives some well deserving figures their time in the light. His literary device of a rivalry between Les Paul and Leo Fender frames the story well but more accurately describes the marketing and cultural forces that both figures were operating in. Leo and Les are throughly depicted as the unique Americans that they were who’s influence still resonates today. It does not matter if you are a musician or someone with an interest in popular music “The Birth of Loud’ will be a delightful read and add to your enjoyment of this music.
This video features The California Playboys, the first California teen age band that played Fender instruments. Leo Fender was certainly a fan of Western Swing.
L to R: George Fullerton, Les Paul, Chet Atkins and Leo Fender
Les Paul at home in Mahway with his original 8 track recorder early 80’s
His house was insane. Equipment was everywhere.
Les was still using a 4X4 block strung with guitar strings to test pickups. Why not?
We gathered a few guitars and shot them on his bed.
Here’s Les performing at that time with the “Paulverizor” mounted on his guitar
Les, ever the tinkerer was his own “roadie” at this show.
Robb Lawrence along with others is thanked by Ian in the acknowledgements. Here Robb is seen showing one of his prototype guitars to Leo Fender at a NAMM Show in the early 80s
It’s a bit difficult to describe Dick Boak without resorting to cliches; renaissance man, gentleman and a scholar etc. I could keep stringing them on because in Dick’s case the descriptions apply. For 42 years Dick was employed by the C. F. Martin Guitar Company where he used his considerable skills as artist, musician, woodworker, draftsman, luthier, public relations maven and art director. His 1976 hiring at Martin perfectly coincided with the vintage guitar phenomenon. Dick and Chris Martin IV, CEO and chairman, are recognized as returning the company to its former stature and bringing it to a new prominence. Dick established the artist relations department where they produced the highly sought after signature edition guitars with artists Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, CSNY, Mark Knopfler, Marty Stuart and others. In this case “every guitar tells a story” so settle in for a great podcast where he tells personal tales and music anecdotes and his all to rare story of a talent flowering in a corporate environment. Of course, his talents and lively sensibility weren’t left behind at Martin. We look forward to what he gets up to in the next chapter of his amazing journey. But for now enjoy this podcast filled with his extremely interesting stories thus far.
Here is Gene Autry in about 1934 with a Martin OM-45 with his name in script on the fretboard
Chris Martin IV saw Autrys original 1933 D-45 at an event at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. An Appeal to the Museum to authorize an authentic replica Autry’s D-45 was approved with the stipulation that the profits go to charity. The success of this project set a precedent for approved signature edition guitars with proceeds going to charity. With the success of Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album where Eric played a 1939 OOO-42, Dick Boak was allowed to approach Eric about a signature model.
Dick had to find a meaningful number to apply to the signature Clapton guitars . Clapton’s “comeback” album 461 Ocean Blvd. provided the answer. With legendary producer Tom Dowd in Miami’s Criteria studios Eric produced a great LP with the lead off single “I shot the Sheriff” The signature Clapton model sold all 416 within minutes. The LP sold a few more.
Mention must be made of pioneering vintage guitar dealers Stan Jay and Hap Kuffner, The Mandolin Brothers. Here photographed in Nazareth in 1976 with the first of their special Mandolin Bros D-45s and the Martin department managers who built it. Today Hap has this to say about this very special model: “Historically speaking it started the C.F. Martin custom shop. Until then no Grained Ivoroid Binding, Pre War Scalloped Braces, Aged Toner Finish, Tortoise Shell Colored Headstock Overlay, Vintage Style Tuners, Squared Headstock, and custom Label. 91 were to be made but only about 50 were completed. A Great Martin D45 Guitar!”
We can not leave the Martin factory at this point in time without paying homage to Mike Longworth, seen below.
The Kingston Trio’s importance to American popular music can not be overstated. It’s fair to say that The C.F. Martin Guitar Company would not be the same today without their influence.
Joan Baez is another folk music performer that has always chosen to play Martin Guitars. Generally choosing vintage O or OO 40s . Of course Dick collaborated with her on a signature model.
Here’s Joan as photographed by Jim Marshall for a 1969 brochure put out by Folklore Productions (Manuel Greenhill her manager)
Without a doubt the coolest place to be in 1968 was Laurel Canyon at Joni Mitchell’s with a few Martins laying around so David Crosby and Eric Clapton could join in if they knew which tuning she was using.
Dick Boak best known for his work with The C. F. Martin Guitar Co. has another side. Dick is an established artist and illustrator with an exhibition Nov. 17-Dec. 8th. daily 3-9 P.M. located in Matt Umanov’s guitar shop 273 Bleecker St Greenwich Village in New York city. Dick’s original pen and ink drawings are on display as well as some images as prints. 7 of Dick’s custom guitars and basses are on display. Also on display are paintings by Tullio Desantis.
Alan Rogan Has consulted on, found, set up, tuned and looked after the guitars of some the the most demanding guitarist of the last 40 years. You’ll know who he is talking about when he uses the names: Pete, George, Keith, Mick, Eric, Ronnie, Jeff and others. From his relaxed, gentlemanly and informed conversation it is obvious why he’s lasted so long in such demanding situations. It is an honor to sit across the table from him in London 10/19 for this podcast.
Here’s one of the Telecasters that Alan set up for Keith .
Keith”s use of multiple Fender “Tweed” Twins for live performances is well known. In 1986 Alan Rogan borrowed this Fender Pro amplifier model 5E5 for Keith to use for the “Dirty Work” sessions. Apparently he liked the sound. Alan enlisted amp guru Cesar Diaz to bring several “Tweed” Twins into spec. The rest is history.
Here is Keith Moon and The Who at the Fillmore in San Francisco in the late 60s a bit before Alan started to work for them.
November 1981 The Stones at Madison Sq. Garden touring to support Tattoo You . Probably just before Alan started to work for them. Note Ronnie Wood is playing the blond Stratocaster.
Here is the full line up of principals for that tour with Bobby Keys on sax and Ian Stewart (the 6th Stone) on keys and left of him Ian McLagan also on piano
Hard to believe but Alan tells of George Harrison asking him to find a Carvin guitar for him. Carvin? Well here’s their 1962 catalogue. I’m sure they are serviceable but they appear to be about one level above shop class build.
in this podcast we discuss our mutual like for the Fender Jazzmaster and discuss “The Jazzmaster that never was” made by Fender’s custom shop for G. E. Smith.
A great read from a friend of Alan’s. You won’t put this one down.
Jimmy Vivino is the complete musician, guitarist, keyboard player, composer, arranger, and producer with a deep appreciation for the musical path we are all on. Mr Vivino is well known for a variety of gigs. His collaborations with legendary blues and rock luminaries are simply to lengthy to list. For years he has been a member of The Fab Faux (the ultimate Beatles re-creation band) with Will Lee, Rich Pagano, Jack Petruzzelli and Frank Angello. He currently resides in Los Angeles but was involved with the vibrant east coast scene around Woodstock, N Y working with John Sebastion and crew on several Jug band projects and the much celebrated “Midnight Rambles” sessions hosted by Levon Helm while he was still with us but still carrying on today. Clear some time to enjoy this podcast featuring Jimmy’s stories all of which reflect his deep appreciation and love of musicians and all thing musical. A raconteur of the first order.
The Fab Faux is the ultimate Beatles re-creation Band.
Here they are early on at NYC’s The Bitter End kind of like their Cavern Days.
Here are some photos of the band at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom April 2002 early in their run. As you can tell they were serious about this right out of the box.
Jimmy of course on a RickenbackerL-R Jack, Frank, Will and JimmyL-R Will-JimmyThe Hogshead Horns Rich Pagano on drumsJimmy with his “The Fool” SG for “While my guitar gently weeps” Even the back is correct.Jimmy’s back
Jimmy’s work with Johnny Johnson brought him close to Chuck Berry who’s influence on American music can not be overstated. Here’s Chuck at San Francisco’s Fillmore in the late 60’s
Before moving to Los Angeles where he now lives, Jimmy was involved with the music scene in Woodstock, N Y. He worked with John Sebastion on several Jug band projects.
Although Levon is no longer with us his barn “Music Rambles” continue. Jimmy was a big part of their success. He also appears on the C D “Electric Dirt” .
Jimmy refers to a photo shoot where I shot his early head shots. It took a bit of digging but I found them. He’s always looked cool.
The Songbirds Guitar Museum has been open in Chattanooga, Tennessee. for a little more than a year now. If you are a vintage guitar geek then you probably already have heard about it. Terry Foster (SLN #11) and I paid a visit to examine a recent addition to the museum’s collection, Fender Spanish guitar #0075 . In this podcast we discuss the Museum’s creation and mission with it’s chief curator David Davidson. Songbirds has done it right, a beautifully repurposed industrial space (the old Chattanooga Choo Choo Station) houses a mind boggling collection of vintage guitars. Do not listen to this podcast if you can’t book a trip to Chattanooga .
David Davidson has been in charge of assembling the stunning collection of important guitars for the last 20 years. Thanks to David the time and money have been well spent.
I don’t think Gibson has a collection of custom colored Firebirds to rival these
Of course Fender produced a few custom colored guitars as well. Here are a few examples but the really rare colored Fenders are in “The Vault” easily accessible.
Don’t worry acoustics are well represented. Loyd Loar signed the tags inside these master Gibsons all on the same day.
This is the small performance stage used for local songwriter’s night. I told you they do it right. The mixing board for this venue rivals some recording studios I’ve been in. There is a lager stage downstairs for national acts.
Each display case at Songbirds is themed for maximum impact from side by side comparison.
The 2nd half of the podcast Terry and I discuss Fender #0075 with David. Terry believes it’s the most important Fender discovered for the last 20 years.
Here is Leo Fender’s first published image of his Spainish guitar and it’s description in the 1950 Fender catalogue.
Below is my attempt to duplicate Leo’s photo in color using Fender guitar #0075 which we believe is the same guitar. This instrument is now at Songbirds.
James and Kami Walbourne are The Rails, a husband and wife duo from London. “Fair Warning”, their first album was called by Mojo magazine the best folk album of 2014. Their newest CD, “Other People” broadens their sound and if possible is even better. James is the lead guitarist for The Pretenders and Kami is the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson. This podcast was recorded with them in New York the morning after a very successful gig at The Mercury Lounge just before returning to London. Most anything you would want to discuss is covered in the conversation, their roots, musical and otherwise, their recent recording in Nashville with producer Ray Kennedy, their admiration for a varied list of fellow musicians and of course favorite guitars. Catch them live if you can. Their songs and their harmony singing will convince you that we will emerge from these Dark Times into a brighter future. Who doesn’t want some of that?
Video about the recording of “Other People” with Ray Kennedy at Room and Board in Nashville.
Here is the current recording discussed in the video above. It is just excellent.
Fair Warning is their first recording which I can’t get enough of
We discuss this LP during the podcast with Kami and James. The event and LP were produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson father of Cody Dickinson who is the drummer in Nashville for TheRail’s .”Other People ” CD. Both the L P and a CD are still available directly from Bear Family Records and Amazon.