In­vi­ta­tional Luthiers Show­case re­turns this week­end

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - PREVIEW - By Brian Hu­bert bhu­bert@free­manon­ @bri­anat­free­man on Twit­ter

Wood­stock Cel­e­brates the world of hand­crafted string in­stru­ments with the re­turn of the Wood­stock In­vi­ta­tional Luthiers Show­case Fri­day through Sun­day.

“A luthier is any string in­stru­ment maker,” Baker Rorick, the event’s founder said.

“Luthier” de­rives from the lute, a stringed in­stru­ment from the me­dieval and re­nais­sance pe­riod that stringed in­stru­ments rang­ing from man­dolins to vi­o­lins to gui­tars and cel­los de­scended from, he said.

“You can see and hear th­ese in­stru­ments,” Rorick said. “Some of them are very sim­ple form and func­tion, many ex­am­ples have gor­geous in­lays, ex­otic woods, it’s artistry.”

Th­ese in­stru­ments can be heard dur­ing seven hours of live mu­sic each day.

The String Sam­pler Con­cert at the Wood­stock Play­house at 8 p.m. Satur­day will fea­ture 14-time Grammy Award-win­ner blue­grass gui­tarist Gerry Dou­glas and 90-year-old jazz gui­tarist Bucky Piterz­erelli.

Wood­stock’s own Teresa Wil­liams per­forms with Larry Camp­bell at Bearsville Theater at 4:40 p.m. Sun­day.

Sonas De Mex­ico En­sem­ble, of Chicago, of­fers two free pro­grams aimed at fam­i­lies on Sun­day.

At noon is “Fi­esta Mex­i­cana,” which fea­tures Mex­i­can songs and sto­ry­telling. At 2 p.m. is “Beyond the Mu­sic” which uses 30 to 40 dif­fer­ent Mex­i­can stringed in­stru­ments to teach Mex­ico’s mu­si­cal ge­og­ra­phy.

“They’ll ex­plain and per­form 12 dif­fer­ent re­gional Mex­i­can mu­si­cal styles,” Rorick said. “It’s in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing stuff, the mu­sic they make.

“They’ve per­formed at the Li­brary of Congress, the Smith­so­nian and as far away as China.”

On top of the per­for­mances, the Show­case of­fers a chance to see some of the best in­stru­ment mak­ers in the world, Rorick said.

“I’m very ex­cited, we have a num­ber of Euro­peans and Ja­panese mak­ers,” he said.

Other luthiers, like Martin Keith of Sauger­ties, are trav­el­ling just a few miles.

“He’s one of own lo­cal builders push­ing the en­ve­lope,” Rorick said. “His work­man­ship is fan­tas­tic.

“He’s just one ex­am­ple of a new gen­er­a­tion.”

Rorick said Keith spe­cial­izes in flat top acous­tic gui­tars, but also makes a solid body elec­tric bass.

Rorick said Keith’s acous­tic gui­tars fea­ture car­bon graphite el­e­ments for re­in­force­ment and an in­di­vid­ual de­sign aes­thetic. “It’s an in­stru­ment with in­cred­i­ble tonal­ity,” Rorick said. “He’s de­vel­op­ing an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for his in­stru­ment.”

Martin and an­other mu­si­cian are slated to per­form on his gui­tars at 5:10 p.m. Satur­day at the Bearsville Theater.

The hand­made bou­tique in­stru­ment move­ment has taken off in the past 30 years, Martin said.

“Th­ese are legacy in­stru­ments,” Martin said, adding that many hand­made in­stru­ments are passed down gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion and some even end up in mu­se­ums.

“A few of the builders have had their works in the Smith­so­nian, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art and the Boston Mu­seum of Fine Arts,” Rorick said.

Th­ese mod­ern luthiers are to acous­tic gui­tars what the Cre­mona mak­ers were to vi­o­lins in the 1700s, he said.

While they are both stringed in­stru­ments, gui­tars are quite dif­fer­ent than vi­o­lins, Rorick said.

“Why is a vi­o­lin less than a pound, but is louder than a guitar that weighs five pounds?” Rorick said.

Th­ese dif­fer­ences haven’t stopped some luthiers from adapt­ing vi­o­lin tech­niques to guitar mak­ing, he said.

As for what luthiers talk about when they get to­gether, Rorick said it often isn’t gui­tars.

“They talk about their tools, their var­nishes,” Rorick said, adding that the event serves as great net­work­ing event for luthiers.

“That’s one of the pur­poses of this,” Rorick said. “It’s very dif­fer­ent from the larger mu­si­cal in­stru­ment in­dus­try.

“It’s very much a com­mu­nity, with in­cred­i­ble gen­eros­ity.”

Long­time builders sup­port younger builders and there are no se­crets, he


“If some­body comes up with a bet­ter way, they in­spire mak­ers to make bet­ter in­stru­ments that make bet­ter mu­sic,” Rorick said.

While the Show­case is one of the small­est events of its kind, it’s gained the rep­u­ta­tion as one the most pres­ti­gious, he said.

It’s a ju­ried ex­po­si­tion, he said. “We like to fea­ture lu­mi­nar­ies and big names,” Rorick said. “This year there’s a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of younger builders, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, who are build­ing their rep­u­ta­tion.”

Rorick said they look for di­ver­sity in ex­hibitors.

The show high­lights all kinds of gui­tars in­clud­ing flat tops, hy­brids and harp gui­tars with ex­tra long necks and an ar­ray of up to 24 strings that give them the range of a harp, he said.

“They were pop­u­lar in the late 1800s,” Rorick said. “There’s been a re­vival in the last 10-20 years of th­ese.”

The show also fea­tures man­dolins, dul­cimers and ukuleles.

Rorick said he’s worked in the larger guitar in­dus­try in sales and mar­ket­ing and as a jour­nal­ist who has writ­ten for ma­jor guitar mag­a­zines, but he hasn’t made string in­stru­ments him­self. “In the past eight years, this has be­come my call­ing,” Rorick said.

Over the years he said he’s be­come a bit of a his­to­rian as well.

Gui­tars first started to take off in the Baroque pe­riod in the 1700s and their pop­u­lar­ity boomed in the late 1800s in the U.S. when ev­ery ma­jor city had man­dolin and harp guitar or­ches­tras, Rorick said. “The guitar is fairly easy to play and it ac­com­pa­nies the hu­man voice well,” he said. That pop­u­lar­ity ex­ploded with the folk re­vival of the late 1950s and 1960s, Rorick said. Then came the Bea­tles. “The Bea­tles came along, and ev­ery­one wanted to play guitar,” he said.

String in­stru­ment-mak­ing of­fers a re­turn to a kind of sim­plic­ity in an in­creas­ingly tech­no­log­i­cal age, Rorick said.

“It’s a call­ing, artistry,” Rorick said. “Any of th­ese builders, even the most suc­cess­ful and revered, will say this is my art, this is my craft.

“If I wanted to make money, I’d be do­ing some­thing else.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED A past Wood­stock In­vi­ta­tional Luthiers Show­case at the Bearsville Theater.

Four­teen-time Grammy Award win­ning blue­grass mu­si­cian Jerry Dou­glas plays at the Wood­stock Play­house at 8 p.m. Satur­day as part of the Wood­stock Luthiers In­vi­ta­tional Show­case’s String Sam­pler. The Show­case, which runs from Fri­day through Sun­day high­lights the best in hand­crafted string in­stru­ments and their mak­ers.


Chicago-based Sones De Mex­ico will of­fer fam­ily-friendly per­for­mances at noon and 2 p.m. Sun­day at the Klein­ert James Cen­ter on Tin­ker Street in Wood­stock as part of the Wood­stock In­vi­ta­tional Luthiers Show­case, which runs from Fri­day-Sun­day. The noon pro­gram ex­plores Mex­i­can mu­sic and sto­ry­telling, while the 2 p.m. pro­gram ex­plores Mex­ico’s mu­si­cal ge­og­ra­phy through 30-40 dif­fer­ent stringed in­stru­ments.

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