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Saturday, April 16, 2016

UPDATED! Mid-April, onward: music news, events, what you need to plan tuneful times...

This edition has ADDITIONS. It also has CORRECTIONS for the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, happening APRIL 20-24.

News, events, a round-up of the best Merle Haggard tributes, the festival & concert scene, special releases for Saturday's annual "National Record Store Day," Earth Day, a wonderful retro show coming to Caltech, and two special features: banjo & fiddle, to get you ready for next month's Topanga•Banjo Contest & Folk Festival.

Here's what's in this edition...









9)  BANJO "HOT RODS" - by Barry Hunn

10)  PAINTED VIOLINS — PROS & CONS - by Will Cornell

Let's get started!


# 1 news feature...


It's seen a lot of changes in the past two years, and there were plenty of skeptics when a Hollywood production arrived and ran the festival out of its original, longtime home at Gene Autry's old Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios. But last year's makeshift move to Hart Park worked, and looks to be permanent.

There's plenty of Western movie and tv heritage in and around Santa Clarita and especially old Newhall, one of the original towns absorbed into the modern commuter bedroom community. Today's town sprawls through canyons and keeps bringing condos and McMansions into river bottoms.

But once a year, the focus is on that rich cowboy heritage, which has included working horse and cattle ranches and countless old movie locations, some with singin' cowboys. The latter started with Autry, and led to the movie-set western town at his ranch. And there's the new festival site, Hart Park, a gift long-ago "to the people" from silent-era movie star William S. Hart. It was Hart's working ranch, and the buffalo literally still roam there.

The Cowboy Festival, which began as a cowboy poetry festival with some music, flipped those emphases end-for-end more than a decade back, en-route to becoming one of the nation's top Western music festivals. Even with the forced move away from Autry's movie town, top music-makers — from traditional cowboy to contemporary Western and honky tonk — all play here every year. That hasn't changed. But what you need to do to see them has.

The biggest change is, it's no longer a one-price-for-all-stages event. The daytime Saturday-and-Sunday main festival site has multiple stages. But the headliner acts are scattered around town in some very nice theatres, starting Wednesday night. Each of those shows requires a separate ticket. That concept is actually a return to the early days at Melody Ranch, when top acts were inside the sound stages and required extra tickets.

Friday at 11 am, there's a satellite festival at historic Rancho Camulos out Hwy 126 near Piru. It's under the auspices of the main festival, and it's where you go to see headliner Dave Stamey, winner of 'purt near every award there is in Western music. It's the place where "Ramona" was written. One of the top-selling novels of the 19th century purportedly based on an old Californio Romeo & Juliet who lived there, though the annual "Ramona Pageant," California's official outdoor play, is in Hemet, April 18-May 3 (see listing) a couple hundred miles inland. (Friday's Santa Clarita satellite festival is "CALIFORNIA FIESTA DE RANCHO CAMULOS" at Rancho Camulos Museum, 5164 E Telegraph Rd, Piru 93040.)

Mostly, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival headliner acts only perform full sets in the assortment of theatres around town, though some will play short sets at Hart Park on Saturday or Sunday. There are also bus trip tours to famous film locations, the induction of new honorees on the Western Walk of Fame and dedication of their monuments. And activities in the park include champion ropers, six-gun twirlers, crafts, food — with the ever-popular dutch-oven biscuits 'n gravy and peach cobbler.

So, bottom line? You still park free in a central lot and ride a free shuttle bus — to Hart Park instead of Melody Ranch. Admission to the main site activities is cheaper than it was at the Ranch, but you likely won't see the big stars there in the Park. You'll need individual tickets to those various venues for that. Last year — the first with this new set-up — proved it is still a lot of fun, and still very worth going. But it is a very different festival, and all those extra tickets can get expensive.

Schedules, maps, and tix info:

Main Festival site general admission - single day -(Saturday OR Sunday)
Adult $10.
Child (age 3-12) $7.
VIP pkg tix $75.

Tix include free round-trip transportation from parking area to festival site at William S. Hart Park Event Area, 24151 Newhall Av, Santa Clarita 91321; 661-250-3735;


# 2 news feature...


One day a year, we celebrate a happily improbable turn-around in what seemed an irresistible change. And that day doubles as an excuse to go out and discover your new favorite album — that you never knew existed.
That's National Record Store Day. And it's this Saturday.

Not long ago, the record store — any record store, whether a retail chain or indie — was on the cultural endangered species list. Thanks to a whole lot of factors that include fortitude, grassroots uprising, intransigent inability to accept one-size-fits-all distribution of limited offerings of music, nostalgia, and the irreplaceable feeling of being with "your people" musically, you can again find one of (more, if you're lucky) those magical places that invites you to flip through CD jewel cases and vinyl album jackets, freshly minted or resurrected with Lazarus himself.

The most entrepreneurial labels get in on the celebration by releasing new, often blink-and-you-miss-them, limited editions. Rhino Records has announced "27 Limited Edition Vinyl Releases," all available at participating independent record stores on April 16.

Those 27 Rhino specials for Record Store Day from include:

√ "TRUCK DRIVIN' MAN (LIVE)" (SIDE BY SIDE SERIES) — Willie Nelson / Uncle Tupelo

√ "THE CRITERIA SESSIONS" — Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

√ "LIVE AT THE BOTTOM LINE 2/12/96" — Son Volt

√ "LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA 1975" — Allen Toussaint

√ "WEREWOLVES OF LONDON" (SIDE BY SIDE SERIES) — Warren Zevon / Flamin' Groovie.

√ "BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN" (SIDE BY SIDE SERIES) — Albert King / The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

√ "THE DEMOS 1994-1998" — Alanis Morissette

√ "THE ROULETTE SIDES" — John Coltrane




√ "(ALTERNATE) TUSK" — Fleetwood Mac


√ "TVC15" — David Bowie

√ "CAPITOL THEATER 4/25/77 - PASSAIC, NJ" — Grateful Dead

Plus there are all those other labels and whatever each store does on its own for the day.

Find your local retailer at:

Happy hunting. And remember to tell the proprietors thanks for being there!


# 3 news feature...


PLENTY is out there, from this weekend through the rest of Spring. Some require prompt action before tickets are gone.


√  THE HONEY WHISKEY TRIO: Sat, Apr 16, 7 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days) at 626-798-6236. Tix, $18.


√  WESLEY STACE (formerly known as John Wesley Harding) plays Sat, Apr 16, 8 pm, his first McCabe's show in quite some time, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; Tix, $20.


√  ANDY & RENEE: Sat, Apr 16, 9 pm-12 am, starting after the King's playoff game, they're a superb roots-Americana / roots rock / Dylanesque band, playing at Texas Loosey's, 22252 Palos Verdes Bl, Torrance 90505; 310-540-9799.


√  MURPHY'S FLAW BLUEGRASS BAND plays two days, Sun, Apr 17, noon-2 pm brunch; Mon, Apr 18, 8 pm for the monthly BASC BLUEGRASS NIGHT, both at Cody's Viva Cantina, on Riverside Dr in Burbank, next to L.A. Equestrian Center.


√  3rd Annual "ALTADENA COWBOY MUSIC & POETRY FESTIVAL," Sun, Apr 17, 3 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days) at 626-798-6236. A sit-down show in an intimate venue, avoiding the hubbub of next weekend's big Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. With (billing with characterizations as we received them): THE SAGUARO SISTERS, “Songbirds of the Golden West”; CLIFF EMMICH, “Cowboy Poet of the Year”; MARK TWAINMAN, “The Sam Clemenski of Stand-Up Humorists”; KATY CAVERA, “Princess of the West”; JOHN “PRESTO” REYNOLDS, “Potentate of the Plectrum”; WILL RYAN, “King of the Radio Cowboys” & author of “The Tiny Little Book of Cowboy Haiku”; IPHAGENIA PENTAMETER and KATIE LEIGH, from the International Society of Cowboy Poets and Lyricists, Geneva, Switzerland; BENNY BRYDERN, “Wenceslaus of Western Skiffle Swing”; and from Cactus County, California, “The Band that Won the West,” WILL RYAN & THE CACTUS COUNTY COWBOYS. Tix, $20.


√  ERNEST TROOST and RICK SHEA: Sun, Apr 17, 7 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days) at 626-798-6236. Tix, $18.


√  RICHARD SMITH, guitar wizard: Sun, Apr 17, 8 pm, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; Tix, $15.


√  Annual "RAMONA PAGEANT" runs Apr 18-May 3 in the Ramona Bowl in Hemet. “Ramona” is "California’s Official Outdoor Play" and the longest continuously-running outdoor drama in the United States. It's based on a a bestselling 19th century novel that was written at Rancho Camulos in inland Ventura County and based on a legend of old Californio Romeo & Juliet. So, naturally, the book became a play performed in a theatre bearing its name — nearly 200 miles away. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful rolling hills of Hemet, California, embraced by a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, The Ramona Bowl, established in 1923, is a genuine historic landmark and a California treasure. Through the summer, the Ramona Bowl hosts concerts and other outdoor entertainment..Info on the concert season & tix for "Ramona" — before they sell-out for the year — at:


Spotlight feature story...
√  STREETLIGHT CADENCE: Thu, Apr 21, 8 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Phone for reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days): 626-798-6236. Winners of a NaHoku award for their second album (that’s the Hawaiian equivalent of a Grammy). Not Hawaiian, but from Hawaii. They honed their performance chops on the sidewalks of Waikiki, as yes, street performers. But don’t for a minute think that these guys are not super pros. They are all classically trained, they all sing in gorgeous harmonies, one plays three instruments at the same time (yes, that's right). They’re funny, and they know how to keep you bouncing in your seat from song to song and in between. They write folky, poppy, happy, catchy melodies and they layer lyrics that are meaningful and memorable from the first listen. Their songs stick with you. They've been in L.A. barely 4 months and have wowed audiences, even performing on the rooftop patio of the Grammy Museum downtown. You can sometimes catch them in a coveted spot on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, but the best way to hear them without street noises is in the intimacy of this little hideaway while seated in Bob's fine plastic patio chairs. Bob Stane says, "You won’t catch them for long at this price. Their newest album is up for another NaHoku. Can the Grammys be next?" Tix, $18.


√  HAGFEST: A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO MERLE HAGGARD:  Fri, Apr 22, 8 pm, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; Curated by McCabe's own Fred Sokolow and featuring a stellar cast of L.A. players, including some of Merle's band mates. L.A.'s finest country musicians gather to celebrate Merle Haggard and his songs. Fred Sokolow leads a band that includes Taras Prodaniuk (Merle's bass player for many years), Harry Orlove, Dean Parks, Marty Rifkin, Dillon O'Brian, Aubrey Richmond, Brantley Kearns, Zac Sokolow, and more. Many singers will perform, including Rick Shea, Ronnie Mack, The Americans, Nettie Rose, and lots of surprise guests. Tix, $12.50.


√  Annual "SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STORY SWAP FESTIVAL" is Sat, Apr 23, 8:30 am-3:30 pm, presented by South Coast Storytellers Guild, at the Anaheim United Methodist Church, 1000 South State College Bl, Anaheim 92806.


√  FREEBO & His FABULOUS FRIENDS: Sat, Apr 23, 8 pm, in Thousand Oaks, (full band show), at Hillcrest Center For The Arts, 403 W Hillcrest Dr, Thousand Oaks 91360. Freebo says, "I’ll be joined by my excellent L.A. band of CHAD WATSON (bass), FUZZBEE MORSE (guitar) and MICHAEL JOCHUM (drums) for a very special show at Steve Brogden’s new venue in Thousand Oaks, CA. It’s been a long time since the band has played together, and adding Michael Jochum on drums will be a real treat. We will rock & jam, yet fill your ears with great songs with excellent lyrical content." Advance tix, $20, at:


√  KRISTEN KORB & FRIENDS: Sat, Apr 23, 8 pm, at Alvas Showroom, 1417 W 8th St, San Pedro 90732;; adv. tix: 310-519-1314.

The venue has gotten in heavy jazz immersions, beyond where most Folk-Americana tastes go — except for the above, and these other highly recommended shows (tix avail. now):

•  Tim Weisberg: Sat, Jun 18; 8 pm.
•  John York: Sat, Jun 25; 8 pm.
•  Sarah McQuaid: Sun, Sep 18; 4 pm. 

Complimentary hot coffee, tea, cocoa, and a filtered water fountain are provided. Bring your own food & drinks.


√  17th Annual "NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL" is spotlighting Irish cinema and culture on Sun, Apr 24, 6 pm, with screening of "My Name Is Emily" at Edwards Big Newport, 300 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660. The post-screening celebration at Muldoon's Irish Pub, 545 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach. Tix & info:


√  "INTERNATIONAL URANIUM FILM FESTIVAL," Wed, Apr 27, noon-11 pm, is FREE with advance tix, at Raleigh Studios Hollywood.Featuring live music in a courtyard reception with filmmakers following a series of films and a brief panel discussion moderated by Harvey Wasserman and Kat Kramer. The Festival questions the proliferation of nuclear power and the risks of radioactivity, from uranium mining to nuclear waste. Comp tickets are available by contacting:


√  BIG STARS THIRD LIVE with Full Orchestra & special guests: Wed, Apr 27, 8 pm, at the Alex Theatre, 216 N Brand Bl, Glendale 91203.  Tix,


√  "MALIBU GUITAR FESTIVAL," Apr 28-May 1, in the center of Malibu, built-around an all-day outdoor festival concert held at the Cross-Creek area. Footsteps from the beach and various local parks, stores and restaurants. Featuring performances from award-winning legendary musicians from around the world, including Kenny Wayne Shepard, Albert Lee, Laurence Juber, Dale Watson, Randy Jackson, Michael Hayes, Eddie Money & the Sound Of Money, Buzz Wizzards featuring Steve Stevens, the Maze with Michelle Wolf, and more, plus more to be announced. Limited Early Bird tix now available, and all info, at:


√  Annual "STAGECOACH FESTIVAL" is Fri-Sun, Apr 29-May 1, at Empire Polo Grounds in Indio. Tix:


√  26th Annual "DYLANFEST" hosted by the award-winning band Andy & Renee & Hard Rain, is an exceptional event with Grammy winners and nominees and top touring and session musicians. Each performs one or two songs written by Bob Dylan, with no songs repeated, all day. Some selections bring-out fans with costumes, props, placards, and the like. It's all-ages, with kids activities, and plenty of indoor space for anyone needing more shade than the trees. Held on a nice stage in the courtyard of the Torrance Performing Arts Center. Info and adv. tix (recommended) at


√  "VICTORIAN FAIR" is Sat & Sun, Apr 30 & May 1, 1-5 pm both days, FREE, at the Homestead Museum, 15415 E Don Julian Rd, City of Industry 91745;; 626-968-8492. Bring spending money for food and shopping. No pets allowed (only certified service animals are permitted). All ages are invited to travel back in time to participate in a lively Victorian Fair on the beautiful grounds of the Homestead Museum. Live music, dancing, crafts, historic house tours, demonstrations, much more. This museum also produces the "Ticket to the Twenties" festival every fall. The museum provides a unique way to look at Southern California's history from the 1840s, when this land was still part of Mexico, through the 1920s, when Los Angeles came to be known as a major metropolitan city. This six-acre site features the Workman House, a Victorian-era country home constructed around an 1840s adobe; La Casa Nueva, a 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival mansion noted for its architectural crafts; and El Campo Santo, one of the oldest private cemeteries in Southern California. Through all of its programs, the museum strives to create advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles. Info: 626-968-8492 or


√  PACIFIC SYMPHONY SANTIAGO STRINGS Youth Ensemble: Sun, May 1, 7 pm, at Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 615 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa. FREE, but tickets are required. More info / reserve tix, call 714-755-5799 or online at: Recently returned from a tour to Florida and energized by a season of artistic achievement, Santiago Strings delivers an electrifying musical culmination of its silver jubilee. From Copland’s toe-tapping “Hoe-Down” to the jazzy rhythms of “Cook it Hot or Get Out of the Kitchen,” there’s something for everyone to dance to in this brilliant display of young talent and robust dance styles. This concert reflects on Santiago Strings’ 25 years of musical excellence and celebrates the future with a world premiere commission by Pacific Symphony Composer-in-Residence Narong Prangcharoen. Also, Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dance” in E Minor, Bartok’s “Dances of Transylvania” and more.


√  2nd Annual "SOIREE TO BENEFIT THE LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY:" May 11 at the Teragram Ballroom, 1234 W 7th St, Los Angeles 90017. Singer-songwriters Jason Ryan Taylor and Brian Ripps are hosting with LLS Woman of the Year nominee Stephanie Insalaco. Taylor is previewing his upcoming album "Creation Creator," plus indie artists Erland, Chris Ayer, Alex John Butte, and Saint London will perform, along with Puscie Jones and Brenda Carsey & the Awe. Adv. tix, $20, available online or at the Teragram Ballroom Box Office, or $25 at the door. A limited number of VIP meet-and-greet tickets are available, including a chance to meet Robby Krieger from The Doors at the event.


√  Annual "LOS ANGELES OLD TIME SOCIAL" returns Apr 12-14 to several venues around L.A., as the perfect lead-in to Sunday's Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival. This one is all about the revival of that fun, lively, raucous music that pre-dates bluegrass. While bluegrass is often caught-up in murder ballads, fire-and-brimstone religion and other depressing topics, "old time is good time" and smiles abound. There are a couple of evening concerts, dances, jams, and Saturday is a full day of workshops. More info soon.


√  JANIVA MAGNESS, May 14, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; It's a CD release concert by the Blues Foundation "Entertainer of the Year" winner, bringing her full-tilt blues and R&B.


√  Annual "TOPANGA BANJO•FIDDLE CONTEST & FOLK FESTIVAL" is Sun, May 15, and, as we've been telling you for years, the best one-day festival anywhere. It is a delightful day in the country in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the National Park Service protects nature and the Old West town movie sets at Paramount Ranch. The event attracts contestants from several states and presents professional musicians on multiple stages and superb jamming. New this year is trad dance competition. Adv. tix and complete schedules:


√  Annual "CLAREMONT FOLK FESTIVAL" is Sun, May 22. More info soon.


√  Annual "HUCK FINN JUBILEE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL" is June 10-12, with a great line-up, in Ontario.


√  "A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION" FINALE is Fri, Jul 1, in the Hollywood Bowl. Tickets go on sale May 1 for Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion in its final appearance in Los Angeles, as he retires from the landmark show that has been a delight and, notably, a tremendous national stage for folk musicians for over 40 years. This will sell-out very fast.


Miscellaneous things to do...


Apr 7 – Jun 15...
Eighth Biennial Ontario Invitational Art Exhibit


Apr 29 – May 1
Upland Lemon Festival in downtown Upland is FREE and includes live music and everything lemony that's edible. Info:


May 1
Third Biennial Invitational Sculpture in the Garden exhibition


May 28 & 29
"STAR WARS READS" with actor Billy Dee Williams is a special event in the literacy program at the Rancho Cucamonga Library at Victoria Gardens.  It's a two-day event over the Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of "Star Wars" fans are expected to enjoy a free, fun, family time with several entertainment options. On Sunday, a limited number of people will have the opportunity to take part in “A Conversation with Billy Dee Williams” at the Lewis Family Playhouse. Then he will read to the crowd outside the theatre.


# 4 news feature...


GRAMMY Museum Opens "Shining Like A National Guitar Exhibit"

On your next visit to the GRAMMY Museum, make sure you check out their newly installed special display on the fourth floor, "Shining Like A National Guitar." The display features the largest collection of guitars from the National company, and was gifted to the Museum as part of its permanent collection.

The National company built an amazingly varied and creative line of acoustic resonator instruments until World War II forced the company to effectively cease production.

The folk revival of the 1960s saw a renewed interest in the resonator guitar, and since that time, the original instruments have been highly sought by discerning players.

Blues artists including Tampa Red, Son House, Bukka White, and, more recently, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winter, and Mark Knopfler have all used National instruments extensively in recording and performance. These instruments are as beautiful to look at as they are to play.

The Grammy Museum is located adjacent to the Staples Center and LA Live complex and contains an astonishing array of music history and interactive displays. You can ride the Metro rail Blue Line to Chick Hearn Station and avoid expensive parking.


# 5 news feature...


Merle Haggard was one of the few authentically essential Americana songwriters and musicians. He died on Wednesday, April 6, on his birthday, at age of 79. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had released their excellent "Django and Jimmie" album in 2015. Merle had a new one, partially finished.

Chuck Todd, host of tv's "Meet the Press," opened that Wednesday's "MTP Daily" broadcast with this: "As Merle Haggard used to say, 'The good times aren't over for good.'"

That's influence on the national culture.

Of course, the famous all came forward with tributes, commencing the moment the world learned he had died. So did many others.

The Guide's founding editor, Larry Wines, says, "I can see him like it was a couple hours ago, on stage ten feet away, that sly smile when he made eye contact, absolutely in his natural element. Then I think of Tracy Newman's great song about the unaware teenage waitress who waited on him in a coffee shop, somewhere in America, on a late night after he had played a concert.

And there's the real-life tale from photographer Michele Marotta, born into a show biz family, but for a time in her youth, rattling around, waitressing in the middle of nowhere. As Michele tells it:

"I met Merle Haggard just once, in 1974. I was a waitress at a dive coffee shop and he and his entourage came in for food. This was in El Paso, Texas, at a diner named Jord-inns. A real dive.

"I introduced myself to him and told him how much I loved his music. He knew from my accent I was not from Texas or any part of the Southwest. When I told him where I was from and who my family was (yes, music biz) he very firmly told me to get back to L.A. and go back to work in music.

"We reconnected in Facebook last year. He said he remembered me, however I doubt he did. He was just that kind of guy — the perfect gentleman. I never saw him in concert. He and his music will be missed."

She speaks of that long ago meeting as a crossroads.

A certain amount of mythology accompanies any celebrity. But there are too many stories, giving ample reason to know that this guy was the real deal. Starting with his being born in a converted boxcar in Oildale (I was driven by that old wood-sheathed Santa Fe boxcar which must have been retired from the rails nearly 100 years ago. It was still there, not more than two years back).

But the story really takes form with his place in lockup in San Quentin, as a hopeless hard case — until Johnny Cash came to play there, and record that famous "live" album. It was transformative for the young Haggard. He would always say it was literally when he resolved to turn his life around. And how he did.

Plenty of links and excerpts for words and music follow in a moment, proving that point.

The tributes poured forth, so abundantly that no one could have kept up with the best of them at the time.

Having had time to catch our breath and read a fair number of them, we have chosen a few to recommend, ones very worth your time. Here they are, with a few excerpts.

Cathy Spaulding writes for the Muskogee Phoenix. In her story, she looks at how "Merle Haggard's legacy lives on in Muskogee" — Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA. It was picked-up by the Richmond Register, in Virginia. Like everything about "The Hag," as friends called him, his influence reaches well beyond the Oklahoma his impoverished parents fled as Dustbowl refugees. Indeed, there are few whose music has gone farther. To wit:

"When the Apollo 16 mission to the moon was launched in April 1972, Charles Duke Jr. was the lunar module pilot. Wanting to take along something that was quintessentially American,he took two identical cassette tapes of songs. 'Okie From Muskogee' was on those cassettes...

"Duke played the cassettes while in space and then left one at the base of the American flag that he and his crewmate John Young planted on the moon’s surface. Duke brought the other cassette back to Earth, and he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum."

Cathy Spaulding's full story is at:

On NPR, Patterson Hood of the band Drive By Truckers remembers growing up with Merle Haggard's music "carved in stone." Part can be read, part is for listening, at:

Brian Dugger, whose job title is "staff writer" at the Toledo Blade in Ohio, has interviewed way more than his share of famous musicians. How he begins his story, and where Merle takes it, make it a must-share:

"April 6, 2016. It’s a day that country music fans will never forget.

"It’s the day that Merle Haggard, one of the fathers of outlaw country and the Bakersfield Sound, died.

"Seven months ago, I interviewed Merle and it was an experience I will always treasure. I tell people that I love my job because I have the opportunity to talk to the giants of country music: Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton. They all will be interviews that I will recall fondly when I write my final story.

"But Merle was different. He was a legend, and I paced around my house nervously waiting to call him in September, so nervous in fact that my wife, Victoria, took notice. 'Why are you nervous? You talk to these guys all the time, and you never get nervous.'

"Incredulous, I responded, 'It’s MERLE HAGGARD.'

"Over and over when I talk to artists, they mention Merle and his influence on their lives. Eric Church recorded a song called 'Pledge Allegiance to the Hag.' Years ago, I remember Blaine Larsen telling me about a song on his album, 'If Merle Would Sing My Song.' One of the lines in the song was 'If Merle would sing my song, I could go back home and tell everyone I know that dreams come true.' And Larsen’s dream did come true because Haggard sang the final lines of the song.

"He was revered, and I was more nervous than I have ever been before that September interview.

"But Merle made the nerves go away.

"He answered the phone, and it was like talking to my grandfather. He told stories about the good old days. His stories were captivating, about meeting Johnny Cash in San Quentin Prison and becoming lifelong friends with Willie Nelson, and about how marijuana is God’s gift to mankind. And he complained about the young kids of today, how no one can hold a melody, and they just scream too much. Interestingly, he also talked about about how he really admired Taylor Swift, how she was one young musician he really appreciated.

"But mostly, he talked about what a truly special life he has had.

"'It’s been wonderful, it’s been interesting, it’s been exciting, it’s been terrifying,' he said. 'It’s been everything. It’s been unbelievable.'

"It was 50 years of unbelievable. It was 50 years ago that he had his first breakthrough hit, 'Swinging Doors,' which peaked at No. 5 on the country charts. By the time his career ended on Wednesday, he had piled up 40 No. 1 hits, including chart-toppers in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

"He proved his relevance last year when he and Nelson released an album, 'Django & Jimmie,' which debuted at No. 1 on the country albums chart and No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart for all genres. When he talked to me, he said he had been working on his own album at his studio on his 250-acre ranch in California. He said it was about three-quarters of the way done. At this point, that album has not been released.

"Before I hung up with him, I asked if there was anything else he might want his fans to know.

"He just chuckled. 'I think my fans know more about me than I do.'"

Read Brian Dugger's full story at:

Rolling Stone published two full feature tributes in as many days. The first was a team effort of its staff and a great many prominent musicians and show biz luminaries.

Titled, "Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Clint Eastwood Remember Merle Haggard," the subtitle is, "Celebrity friends also including Ron Howard, Eric Church and Tanya Tucker pay tribute to the late country music legend." And that doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the who's-who in this story.

Here's just one:

"Haggard once admitted a big crush on Dolly Parton, with whom he toured in 1974 and 1975. Their many collaborations included a few songs on Parton's own television show. 'We've lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time,' says Parton. 'His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle.'"

Read the many quips and quotes in the story — and enjoy the extensive Merle Haggard music playlist link — at:

Rolling Stone's second feature came on April 7th. David Menconi smartly thought of the book by Ray Benson of quintessential Texas band Asleep at the Wheel. His story, "Ray Benson Recalls Fightin' Side of Merle Haggard," is built on an excerpt from Benson's book, in which he tells the story of a heated Music Row argument.

Read it at:

The L.A. Times provided fine coverage with solid perspective, too. Randy Lewis reaches the essence of the artist, the man, and his vital place in the pantheon on American folk music, in his story, "Merle Haggard: The authentic and gifted voice of the people."

Lewis asserts, "Honky tonk laments were just the tip of the iceberg. If folk-protest hero Woody Guthrie had a lifelong country music ally and disciple in his unflagging empathy for the plight of working people, it was Haggard. Time and again he returned to the subject of those who have to scratch out a living any way they could in the land of plenty."

Lewis also notes:

"Merle Haggard's songs always seemed to channel the people he sang for through his 79 years: blue-collar workers, prison inmates, forlorn lovers and everyday Americans looking for signs of reassurance or stability as their world changed around them.

"He didn't invent the so-called 'Bakersfield sound' in country music, a punchier, twangier, edgier counterpoint to what was coming out of Nashville's recording studios in the 1950s and '60s. That credit belongs to some of Haggard's predecessors in the oil- and agricultural-rooted community: Tommy Collins, Bill Woods, Wynn Stewart and, the first bona fide country star out of Bakersfield, Buck Owens.

"But Haggard, born in nearby Oildale, quickly became the most erudite and insightful voice of the Bakersfield sound. In song after song, he articulated with utter authenticity the dreams, the fears, the hurts, the hopes of not just his fellow Americans, but his fellow human beings.

"In his first Top 5 country hit, 'Swinging Doors' from 1966, he freshened up the even-then clichéd subject of the hapless guy booted out of his home, forced to take up residence at the local honky tonk:

'I've got everything I need to drive me crazy

'I've got everything it takes to lose my mind

'And in here the atmosphere's just right for heartaches

'And thanks to you I'm always here till closing time.'

"In 'I Take A Lot of Pride in What I Am' from 1969, he sang of one who owned his place on society's fringes, and keeping his head unbowed:

'Home is anywhere I'm livin'

'If it's sleepin' on some vacant bench in City Square

'Or if I'm workin' on some road gang

'Or just livin' off the fat of our great land

'I never been nobody's idol, but at least I got a title

'And I take a lot of pride in what I am.'"

Lewis also notes:

"His love songs are among the best ever written, which is why they've been recorded and performed by others extensively over time. 'I Started Loving You Again,' from 1968, has a lyrical nod to Owens' earlier hit 'Crying Time,' yet still became a country classic on its own."

We noted political tv anchor Chuck Todd's on-air tribute. Randy Lewis explores the complexity of the politics of Merle Haggard's music:

"Haggard was long a favorite of political conservatives, in no small part because his early anthems seeming to espouse traditional values such as 'Okie From Muskogee' and 'The Fightin' Side of Me.' Yet when Democrat Barack Obama was elected president, Haggard was filled with patriotic pride.

"'I think we're probably guilty of living up to the Constitution for the first time in the history of America —which is really something to say,' Haggard told me in 2009. 'In my lifetime, they were still lynching blacks without a court, without a trial. To see it come all the way to [an African American] being elected president is really something.'

"Every time I watched him sing 'Okie From Muskogee' — outwardly poking fun at the hippie peace-and-love generation that was in full flower when he wrote it in 1969 — I tried to discern whether he was being sincere, or being slyly ironic. I finally concluded it was a little of both, which also was part of his great gift as a writer.

"As much as anyone, he recognized that life wasn't etched in black and white but in a full complement of colors. And like Mark Twain, Haggard could convincingly capture the attitude of any number of characters in his songs, without necessarily internalizing the views he helped them express."

You can enjoy the full piece by Randy Lewis at:

You will, for sure, want an additional link from the L.A. Times to these Merle Haggard recorded performances, including "Okie from Muskogee." It's a nice compilation of music performance links, with a title that shows the reach of the man's music: "'Okie from Muskogee' to Obama." The link is:

Finally, for the more stodgy Folk aficionado, hit the internet and find the very fine and fun album by Chris Hillman and Herb Pederson, "The Bakersfield Sound."

In fact, stodgy folkie or not, you'll love that album. Beyond that, you can't beat any of Merle Haggard's own records. And they'll still be saying that, many years from now.


# 6 news feature...


National Park Week, America's biggest annual celebration of our nation's greatest treasures, is much older than Earth Day. For those able to take a trip, it's all about exploring incredible places. Whether you can physically go, it's still about connecting with our nation's rich history and culture, and giving back to help strengthen and sustain "America's Best Idea" – our national parks.

This year's National Park Week is especially important as we commemorate the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. Honoring the achievements of the last 100 years, we must all do our part to fight mindless "austerity" and assure adequate funding for the future of our national parks — and a legacy we will pass on to the next generation. How we care for our national parks today determines how our children and our grandchildren will experience these treasured places tomorrow.

Your help is always sought to preserve America's public lands for the indigenous creatures and plants that live on them and for future generations. This year, we honor "National Park Week " and the National Park Service Centennial, as the first of our parks turn 100 years old.

Use your browser. See what your favorite park needs. Or discover ones you didn't know were there, and help them.


# 7 news feature...


Presented by the Pasadena Folk Music Society, this is a highlight of the Spring concert season as this road show passes through California. The concert in Beckman Institute Auditorium at Caltech, aka "Little Beckman," has limited seating, so don't dawdle getting tickets.

Jayme Stone is a world renowned banjo player from Canada who has traveled the world, bridging musical styles in wonderful ways. In this project, the music stays in North America and features an assortment of great roots music, some familiar, some new to most listeners.

The original "Lomax Project" recording features 20 songs that were collected by Smithsonian folklorist Alan Lomax, who in the 1930s and 1940s traveled throughout the South, recording rural music with the hope of preserving it and making it better known in a changing world.

This new recording was nominated for a 2016 Juno Award for “Traditional Album of the Year.”

There have been many musicians involved in the recording and various roadshows, including Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Margaret Glaspy, Moira Smiley, Brittany Haas, Julian Lage, Eli West, and others. The line-up for this show includes Jayme Stone (banjo, vocals), Sumaia Jackson (fiddle, vocals), Joe Phillips (bass, vocals) and Moira Smiley (vocals, accordion).

"Songlines" called the project, "A groundbreaking piece of work" and National Public Radio said, "They’ve put a fresh contemporary sound on musical treasures found in Lomax's deep and rich archives."

Sat, Apr 23, 8 pm is showtime. Tix for the show at Caltech are $20 for adults and $5 for Caltech students and children. It'll sell-out. Order at 626-395-4652, or online at:

Or go in person to the Caltech ticket office located at Winnett Student Center on campus; buy in person without a processing fee; open 9 am-4 pm, Mon-Fri.

* COMING UP in the series: Andrea Beaton and Dick Hensold on Sat, May 21.

* JUST ADDED: fiddler Kevin Burke on Sat, Jun 18. Tix for May & June shows available soon.

Full info at:


# 8 news feature...


Victoria & Alfonso, aka THE BLUE DOLPHINS, get to go hiking every day in the Santa Monica Mountains where they live. If you aren't already jealous, they are sharing especially exciting news, deserving of multiple congratulations.

Victoria says, "The Molly Malone's show on the March 11 turned out to be memorable in three different ways. We celebrated Alfonso's third Grammy win, his birthday and... a proposal. After a decade of writing love songs together, he popped the question at the end of our song, 'Shelter Me'. I said yes. It was epic!"

Always the musician, she adds, "We are also excited to have hit the Top 25 in the Indie Radio Alliance chart and No. 8 on Reverb Nation's local chart this month." There's more at:

Their next gig...

√  THE BLUE DOLPHINS play Mon, Apr 18, 8 pm, at The Six, 23536, Calabasas Rd, Calabasas 91302, plus songwriters Joee Corso, Sophie Rose, Jody Jones, and Paul Damon. Expect excellent music, food and drinks all evening.


# 9 news feature...


(Editor's note: With the annual Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival coming up in May, it's time to think banjo. Plus, players of multiple string instruments sometimes harbor assumptions about similarities or differences that just are not correct. You'll find plenty in here to guide you through what is and isn't so — beyond the banjo. The good folks at Deering are just in time with this easy-to-follow single-read D-I-Y clinic on all that, plus what to do and what not to do to have your banjo ready for Topanga.)


Inherent in the construction of banjos are certain parts that help address the needs of banjo set up. Among these are what we will call your “hot rods” – the coordinator rods and the truss rods. But what does all this mean to you, the player, when it comes to banjo set up?

We get a lot of questions from our beginner banjo customers about making adjustments on their banjos and these two particular parts of the banjo are sometimes regarded with fear and apprehension. This “hot rod” topic is complicated by myth and misunderstanding commonly borrowed from the world of guitars by both players and technicians.

The first thing we want to know is what each of these rods do, the reason that they exist, and then how they work together so you can do a proper banjo set up.

Truss Rods

The truss rod is usually some sort of steel threaded rod that is embedded in a fretted instrument neck beneath the fingerboard. There are adjustable truss rods that offer “adjustment” to the amount of curvature in the neck and there are truss rods that are a stiff, solid material that are not adjustable.

The first myth regards the use of the truss rod. Folks believe you use it to “prevent the neck from warping” because of the tension of the strings. Well… Yes, sort of, but not exactly.

The Effects of Mother Nature:

Traditionally, banjo and guitar necks have been made of woods, like maple, mahogany, walnut and other various hardwoods. Also traditionally, some have had fingerboards made of rosewood or ebony that is glued to the playing surface of the neck.

Woodworkers throughout history have learned that gluing two different species of wood together, depending on the shape, thickness, size etc., can be subject to issues of “natural movement of the woods.” In other words, when we glue an ebony fingerboard to a maple neck, the ebony will expand and contract completely differently than the maple. It is this combining of two completely different materials that both have their own expansion and contraction properties that causes “warping” or twisting in banjo and guitar necks.

String Tension:

The intensity of steel string tension can exacerbate and exaggerate the movement of these two woods. But depending on how many strings there are and how thick or stiff they are, the string tension itself is not the whole story.

Truss Rod Effect:

Having said that, this is where a fixed rigid bar or a threaded steel rod can help equalize the pressure of the expansion and contraction of the combined pieces of two different species of wood… Particularly in something long and slender like a banjo neck or a steel string guitar neck.

Built In Compatibility:

Deering’s Goodtime banjos have necks made of hard rock maple, and the frets are mounted directly into the rock maple neck without a separate fingerboard, so there is no need for a truss rod. The proper curvature for the neck is built into the neck from the start. This is one reason we recommend the use of light gauge strings for the Goodtime banjo, because the proper curvature was achieved by the known tension of the light gauge strings that we use, relative to the amount of curve needed to keep the banjo fretting as easy as possible.

Deering’s new Artisan Goodtime banjos have a rock maple neck and a separate Midnight Maple™ Fingerboard. Because these necks have the same wood in them as the fingerboard, the expansion and contraction characteristics of the neck and the fingerboard are the same. So again, there is no need for a truss rod because there are no conflicting forces that arise from two different species of wood, and the proper curvature can be built into the neck during construction.

These techniques are not unique to Deering as there have been guitarmakers as long ago as the 1960s that made maple necks with maple fingerboards and maple necks with no separate fingerboard, and many of these guitars have achieved world-wide collector status and are still played today.

The second myth of a banjo or guitar neck is “It should be flat.” This is completely false.

When a banjo string or guitar string vibrates, it moves or oscillates very little at the ends of the vibrating length of the string and moves much more in the middle of the string’s vibrating length. (The vibrating length is the distance between fingerboard edge of the nut and the face of the bridge that faces the fingerboard.)

On a five string banjo with the 26 ¼ inch scale length, the string moves or oscillates the least right next to the bridge and right next to the nut. It moves or oscillates the most over the 12th fret. The 12th fret is the center of the strings' vibrating length.

The banjo that frets the easiest is the one where the string just clears all of the frets when it vibrates or oscillates. Because the oscillation or movement of the string is small at the end and bigger in the middle, trying to keep the string close to the fret means the fretboard must follow the curve of the oscillating string without touching it. The vibrating string is kind of a skinny banana shape when it’s vibrating; thin on the ends and thick in the middle. This is why all fretted instruments have strings that are very close to the frets where the nut is, and the strings get higher or further from the fretboard the closer they get to the body.

If you have a fingerboard (neck) that is completely flat with no curvature, you will either have to raise the string height extremely high above the fingerboard and the frets so that the vibrating strings don’t hit the frets, or, you will have to play so softly to prevent the oscillating movement of the string from hitting the frets that you will likely be creating very, very little sound, if any.

The properly installed truss rod that is “adjustable” does allow the player to “contour the curve of the neck” so the strings can be plucked and they will not touch frets on the fingerboard.

A third myth that comes from the world of guitars is that “the truss rod is how you adjust the action, or playability of your instrument.” This is not the whole story.

The curvature of the neck can be changed slightly to account for players with a very heavy attack or those with a very light attack. The effect of these changes is definitely real, but they are only part of the equation, and more often than not these changes are extremely subtle.

The angle at which the neck of the banjo is mounted to the body is the most prominent factor to adjust a banjo’s playability, or action. (It’s the same on a guitar; both electric and acoustic). The banjo neck angle must be precisely cut so the neck tips back far enough or mounted high enough so the strings are close enough for comfortable fretting and far enough from the frets to prevent the strings from striking the frets… Usually called buzzing.

Before we get into the angle of the neck of the banjo, let’s leave this conversation about the curvature of the truss rod at this: if the curvature of the neck is correct so that it follows the vibrating shape of the strings, then there’s nothing more the truss rod can or should be expected to do.

The truss rod does not change the neck angle that it is mounted to the body, just the neck curvature.

The Coordinator Rod(s)

The rod, or rods, that run through the middle of the body of the banjo serve three functions: (1) they hold the neck tightly to the banjo, (2) they help “stabilize” the banjo’s rim and (3) the rod that is closest to the player’s tummy can be used for very minor action adjustments. Some banjos have one rod (like Deering’s Goodtime banjos and several Vega models as well) and some have 2 rods like the Deering Sierra, Deluxe, etc.

The stabilizing function basically means that the rod helps keep the rim round by adding some rigidity to help resist the constant string tension that makes the rim want to compress or twist.

The lower coordinator Rod, (the one closest to your tummy) in addition to helping stabilize the rim from compression or twisting, is fastened on the neck end to one of the hanger bolts in the heel of the neck and holds the neck tightly to the body. The end of the lower rod is held in place by two half-inch nuts which can be used to slightly raise or slightly lower the string height above the fingerboard. So in essence, the lower rod can make minor neck angle adjustments to either raise or lower strings for playing comfort. However, the amount of adjustment is very small and can only be considered useful for “finessing” or “making very minor adjustments” to the angle of the neck.

The reasons for this are – The lower rod can exert so much pressure on the rim that the tone of the banjo will be stifled or pinched because the lower rod actually bends the rim in order to make the change in the string height.

A banjo rim that has excessive pressure, squeezing it together / pushing it apart, does not vibrate as freely as one that has little to no pressure.

That is why the angle at which the neck is cut is critical for a high quality banjo. A poorly cut neck angle cannot be corrected by super tightening a coordinator Rod. (Although some folks do it to compensate for incorrectly angled necks.) However, very small adjustments can sometimes enhance the playing enjoyment and have virtually no negative effect on the tone of the banjo.

In banjos that have two coordinator rods, the rod that runs in the middle of the body of the banjo (the one that is closest to the strings) is strictly a stabilizing device and also fastens the neck to the body ofthe banjo. It is not capable of any action adjustment whatsoever.

A Coordinated Effort

When a banjo neck has the proper curvature for the tension of the strings being used, and the neck angle is properly cut, the banjo will play its very best.

For example, Deering and Goodtime banjos are designed so that the first four strings are just about 1/8 of an inch above the 22nd fret. This is considered a “low” action by most banjo players. Some players like to have their strings just a little lower and they play so softly that they don’t create buzzing of the strings against the frets. Also, some players who play more aggressively will prefer to have their strings higher than 1/8 of an inch.

There are some players who prefer to have their strings a full one-quarter of an inch above the 22nd fret. Most players consider this a “high” action. For an action this high, a Deering banjo would have to have a specially cut neck angle, because no amount of coordinator Rod adjustment would raise the strings this high, without seriously distorting the round wood rim and affecting the tone severely.

Most of the time, a coordinator Rod adjustment can raise or lower the strings approximately 1/32 of an inch without creating too much tone change. There are players who believe the rim should have absolutely no torquing tension from the coordinator rods. There are also players who believe the banjo sounds a little better when there is just a little tension on the coordinator rods, whether it’s squeezing the rim together slightly or spreading the rim apart slightly.

Essentially though, the best playing banjos always start with a properly cut neck angle. This allows for very minor adjustments of the strings slightly up or slightly down to suit the players purpose.

On banjos with a truss rod, once the rod is adjusted to the correct curvature for the strings being used, then the majority of the action adjustment comes from the proper neck angle and very minor adjustments to the coordinator rods.

Some electric guitar players who enjoy playing with devices that create electronic distortion will sometimes insist on a neck that is virtually straight. This can work for them, as it allows for a very light touch, but any string buzzing is camouflaged by the electronic distortion they are utilizing in their amplification system. This is contrasted by an electric jazz guitar player, who is creating a very clear tone where a flat fingerboard is virtually impossible to use without hearing the buzzing sound of the strings rattling against the frets.

“Hot Rods” Banjo Set Up Conclusion:

As banjo players, we are all working toward a very clear tone. With the exception of course of some of the new, young players who are adapting their banjo-playing to rock ‘n roll music and using electronic distortion with their banjos like they do with their guitars.

When searching for a repair man for your banjo, be certain that your repairman works on acoustic guitars and banjos so the understanding of the neck curvature is part of their everyday routine. Electric guitar techs may be extremely skilled, but if someone recommends the fingerboard be completely flat, this will not work for your banjo adjustments.

So, the truss rod must have the correct amount of relief adjusted into the neck or, for banjos with no truss rod in the neck , the neck must be shaped or carved with the proper amount of curve built into the neck. This is where the action adjustment starts.

Next, a banjo should have the tension of the head adjusted to the tone that the player likes, with the bridge height that is compatible with the neck angle.

And finally, the neck angle must be extremely precisely cut so that the angle is compatible with the height of the bridge in the curvature of the neck for the most comfortable playability and clearest tone.

Adjusting coordinator rods and truss rods in Deering banjos is simple. What can cause complications is expecting adjustments to have more effect than they are designed to have. Trying to correct a neck angle more than string movement of 1/32 of an inch at the 22nd fret is asking for tone trouble or even part breakage for both the truss rod and the coordinator rods. Fortunately, Deering banjos generally don’t need these kinds of massive adjustments.

… And that’s one major reason Deering banjos are fun to adjust in service.




# 10 news feature...


By Will Cornell

(We first met Will Cornell at the NAMM Show a few years back. He's with Dallas-based AMV Sales, a music industry supplier. Will is a guy who delves into all-things music, sending and sometimes writing details and perspectives on music topics. Here's his latest.)

Instrument manufacturer Rozanna's Violins gets many questions regarding violins — painted… or not?

Does the paint affect performance? No more than any other coating would. Rozanna's says, "Our violins have no more layers of paint than others do of varnish, or even polyurethane seen on a lot of student violins."

Rozanna's continues, "While school orchestra leaders and teachers may want traditional looks, we respect that. But what about that aspiring fiddler that wants to rock, be a country/bluegrass star, jazz hotshot, or the next Lindsey Stirling?"

Remember, guitars used to be pretty much one color, too. Why not give the violin world some of that visual flair?

Famous violinists/fiddlers that have had colored or painted violins include:

• Doug Kershaw
• Jean Luc-Ponty
• David LaFlamme
• Sugarcane Harris
• and(!) even Stradivari himself

Each of them played violins with painted images, or an instrument of some color other than the standard finish.

Check-out youngster Alex Cameron of Oklahoma playing Rozanna's "Blue Lightning" model on the way to winning a recent "Learning For Life" competition (look for the arrow, mid-screen) in the video, at:

(Will added a note: Alex's little brother Sean came in third, with his own Rozanna's"Blue Lightning." He sent a photo of both brothers, charming little guys posing with their awards hardware.)

Here's a bit more on the subject from "Strings Magazine," March, 2013:

3 Myths About Painted Violins

...Myth: Paint inhibits tone. The notion that paint produces an inferior tone is pure speculation. After all, many inexpensive student violins are covered in a heavy polyurethane finish that offers no more chance for the wood to “breathe” than paint.

...Myth: Painted violins are poorly constructed. Many manufacturers of painted violins adhere to the same construction quality found on similarly priced stained and varnished student violins.

...Myth: Painted violins are inherently unplayable. Painted violins are no more or less playable than a comparable wood-finish student violin in the same price range.

All the rules for selecting a student violin apply: check the set-up (the bridge, the string height, the neck angle, the comfort), the condition of the fingerboard, etc.

Not all "purple violins" are created equal, so you should have an expert evaluate the sound, construction, and playability.

Will's conclusion...

Overall? Painted violins are no worse than painted guitars.

You can reach Will at:

(Warning: he'll probably sell you something. He's got a lottttt of things in that giant emporium in Dallas.)


Much more, soon, on other topics.


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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell.

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