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.
We welcome noted author and journalist Gene Santoro for an extensive conversation about his long association with music both as a writer and performer. Gene is one of the lucky ones who roamed NYC’s music haunts in the 1960s and was able to see and hear first hand John Coltrane, The Blues Project, Dave Van Ronk, The Mothers of Invention, Tiny Tim and many others. Starting to write about music with Guitar World Magazine his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Down Beat, Rolling Stone, The Nation and other periodicals. He is the author of “Myself When I Am Real” the definitive biography of Jazz Legend Charles Mingus and 2 collections of his music related articles “Dancing in Your Head” and “Highway 61 Revisited” for the Oxford University Press. The musicians he has interviewed are simply too numerous to mention. He doesn’t hold back in this podcast. It’s difficult to say what is more interesting, the people he has interviewed or his observations and opinions on American music and culture of the last 50 + years.
Gene wasn’t kidding when he talked about being at The Lone Star when Ronnie and Keith were there to see Irma Thomas. Here they are on another night after we had completed a photo and interview session with Lonnie Mack who was playing the Lone Star with Tim Drummond on bass. Who should join them but Ronnie and Keith?
There are 2 books of collected articles that Gene has written. You will certainly enjoy both of them.
“Myself When I Am Real”, Gene’s biography of Charles Mingus is considered definitive.
Gene interviewed and I photographed Keith Richards for the March 1986″Guitar World”. He could not have been more cooperative, a real pleasure to work with.
O K probably not their best LP but at least Gene got to Jam with them in the studio while they were recording it
Another great joint venture was the “Guitar World” interview with Buddy Guy. I always had an amp in the studio for these guys to plug into. Note lower right corner. He’s not faking it in this photo.
In this podcast Gene discusses a dream project we laid out “back in the day” of touring the classic Southern soul music recording studios and interviewing the musicians who worked in them. Unfortunately for us this trip never took place. To be honest we were both on fire having just read Peter Guralnick’s amazing “Sweet Soul Music”.
Gene and I did attend a few shows in New York in the 80s to lay some ground work for our dream “Soul Guitar “project . Here are some shots for SOBs where Etta James was the headliner with support from Otis Clay backed by the fantastic Hi Rhythm Section.
The Hi Rhythm Section L-R: Howard Grimes-drums, Charles Hodges Keys. Teenie Hodges Guitar and Leroy Hodges-Bass
One thing for sure, Santoro’s got great taste. The other interview we did together was with the Meters great guitarist, Leo Nocentelli. This was at Tramps when it was on 21st St. Mr Nocentelli is the only guitarist who comes to mind that plays a Fender Starfire.
If you follow live music in New York then the buzz about Emily Duff has been inescapable. She turns out great new songs with a frequency not seen since that scruffy fellow landed in the Village back in ’61. God bless whoever funded her recent trip to Muscle Shoals to record “Maybe in the Morning ” an L P that stands with the best to EVER come out of The FAME Studio and that’s not said casually. In this podcast, she discusses her music, life and passions with candor and humor. She is joined by her lead guitarist, Scott Aldrich for even more insights and a bit of candid string bending and tube torture. So clear a bit of time, grind some beans, brew a cup of the good stuff and prepare to be throughly entertained by Ms Duff and friends.
“Go Tell Your Friends” is an 8 song CD of Demos she cut with Scott that just had to be fleshed out to this finished product unfortunately no longer available as a CD. You can download it however and better yet catch her live. Prepare to be stunned by her “Force of Nature” live sets of original material.
Her residency at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame (3rd Monday every month) is one of the best live music scenes in NYC. Greenwich Village like it used to be.
The playlist for this podcast is naturally heavy with Muscle Shoals tunes.
The interplay between Scott and Emily is a rare thing and a joy to behold.
Emily Duff’s latest “Maybe in the Morning” was recorded at The Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals. She completely channels the vibe of that storied studio. Do yourself a favor, get in as a vinyl LP.
Emily is returning to Muscle Shoals to record a 2nd Lp. You can support her effort with a contribution to her “Go Fund Me” drive at:
A deep discussion with John Sebastian concerning his boyhood and musical development in Greenwich Village and the folk movement, his founding of The Lovin’ Spoonful, his move to California and his solo career which continues today. A raconteur of the first order who has had a front row seat when he hasn’t been on stage himself to some of the most important events in American popular music of the last 60 years.
Especially good Spotify playlist link due to John’s involvement and direct references.
The 3 Lovin’ Spoonful albums produced by Eric Jacobson are essential, all remain relevant today.
Born in Greenwich village with a professional musician father, John was perfectly positioned to catch the “Folk Music Wave” who’s epicenter was his neighborhood. The Even Dozen Jug Band (more of a recording project than a touring band) was an early recording experience. Like Cambridge’s Jim Kweskin Jug Band, The Even Dozen Band was loaded with talented musicians who would go on to great success.
John developed a friendship with Bob Dylan which took them upstate to Woodstock. Here in 1964 John plays a favorite Gibson J 45 lost to the sands of time. Bob goes electric on a Japanese bass.
The Dylanologist are yet to nail down if and on what cut John (or Steve Boone) add the bass parts. Best guess is Maggies Farm. A Fender Precision Bass can be seen in John’s hands at the BIABH sessions. Note the Fender “Tweed” amp sitting on the chair left of Bob.
Here’s John with that J 45 again along with fellow Greenwich Village running buddy John Hammond on a Wurlitzer keyboard. Bob is playing his Gibson Nick Lucas acoustic which John sold him. This whole scene looks like lots of fun.
If you are interested in the Folk performers that went on to larger careers in rock then you will enjoy “Turn!Turn!Turn the 60s folk rock revolution” by Ritchie Unterberger. This guy has a head for details. There is a Vol II “Eight Miles High Folk Rock’s Flight from Haight-Asbury to Woodstock”
John’s first solo Lp after The Lovin’ Spoonful released early 1970 recorded in L.A. for Reprise is a fine LP
In this podcast, John discusses his chance attendance at Woodstock and being pressed into performing as well as his memorable tie dyed outfit and how he created it.
Mr Unterberger also wrote the liner notes for John Sebastian’s “Tarzana Kid John’s last LP for Reprise released in 1974. The list of musicians on this album is amazing : Lowell George,Amos Garrett, The Pointer Sisters, Buddy Emmons, Emmylou Harris, David Lindley, David Grossman, Ry Cooder and Phil Everly. Whew!
1996 saw the release of “I Want My Roots” John Sebastian and the J-Band which featured Jimmy Vivino, Fritz Richmond James Wormworth, Paul Rishnell, Annie Raines and Rory Block.
For “Chain’ Gus’s Ghost” released 1999 The J Band added Geoff Muldaur and Yank Rachell.
John is on board along with Fritz Richmond, David Grisman, Dan Hicks, Taj Mahal and others for Ms Muldaur’s 2006 CD “Maria Muldaur and her Garden of Joy”. “Good Music for Hard Times” Man were they prescient.