GREGG MINER & COMPANY
Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Best Friends
(Harp Guitar Music)

 

Guitarist and recording artist Gregg Miner heads up the Harp Guitar Music recording company. As a prime exponent of the harp guitar in the 21st century, Miner is a master in the recording studio and, as he’s proven in the past, he knows how to record the guitar and harp guitar to get maximum depth in the sound spectrum. For guitar lovers unaware of the harp guitar, it’s basically a six string acoustic with additional ‘floating’ harp like strings adding more range and depth to the guitar sound. With a number of intriguing instrumental CDs, each featuring the exotic looking and sublime sounding harp guitar, already in the Harp Guitar Music catalog, the label’s late ‘09 releases includes the third CD from French harp guitar sensation Philippe Fouquet entitled Turning Point. For his 2009 CD, Fouquet has written thirteen tracks that place him in the melodic realm of outstanding guitarists. Fouquet’s guitar technique and mastery of the compositional aspect of the guitar is well detailed on this superb release. Miner’s own 2009 CD from his Gregg Miner & Company, Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Best Friends has hilarious cover art. Miner’s blend of instrumental acoustic guitar music has a touch of humor in it but make no mistake, this is serious musical business and Miner is a well respected name among the finest harp guitar players on the planet today. With those two fun loving dogs on the cover art, Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Best Friends CD was conceived as sixteen tracks of instrumental musical snapshots by Miner and his pooch loving guitar buddies. The colorful CD booklet is really great with its in depth dog tales and touching pics. Track for track Miner has truly constructed possibly the first all instrumental multi-artist harp guitar collection, all dedicated to man’s best friend. A portion of CD’s sales goes to www.SearchDogFoundation.org Also released in 2009 by Harp Guitar Music is Case Closed from Canadian harp guitar master Carter Lancaster. Just one look at Carter on the CD cover art with that wild looking harp guitar an you just know he means business. Lancaster’s second solo album, and the first to feature his harp guitar compositions, Case Closed features a wealth of original guitar instrumentals, with many tracks crafted and created for harpguitar and six string steel string acoustic guitar. Lancaster’s original songs are inventive and each receive the royal treatment on his classic guitars. Another CD release on the Harp Guitar label sure to pick up interest in 2010 is a fascinating release from a piano man named Brad Hoyt, entitled Together Alone. Subtitled Duets With Piano And Harp Guitar, the fourteen track CD features Brad Hoyt on various pianos performing original music in duet form with some of the finest exponents of the harp guitar including the album’s co-producer Gregg Miner, Carter Lancaster, Antoine Dufour, Jeff Titus, Mike Doolin, Stacy Hobbs, Muriel Anderson, John Doan, Don Alder and Pete Bradshaw. Although he’s the piano player, Hoyt himself takes the spotlight performing both piano and harp guitar on the CD closing “Sheechka Moye.” Guitar fans and piano fans will marvel at the amazing talent and technique of Hoyt and his gifted harp guitar players, yet the real star on Together Alone is Hoyt’s sublime compositions, which combine a number of classical, jazz and slightly shaded New Age / Americana motifs in his instrumental originals. The CD booklet features liner notes by Hoyt and Miner while track by track liner notes here feature information on the many fine instruments on the recording—instruments that pair Hoyt’s immaculate sounding Steinway D piano with harp guitars with names like Noble harp guitar, the Carlson “Oracle” harp sympitar (with its ethereal sitar like effect), the Doolin jazz harp guitar, the Doolin harp requinto, the Sullivan-Elliot 20-string harp guitar, the Zimmerman harp guitar, the Knutsen harp mandolin, the Dyer harp guitar, Spillers harp guitar, the Gibson harp guitar, the Wingert harp guitar and last but not least, the Sedgwick 30-string arpa viola Caipira, a Brazilian harp country guitar that’s played by Hoyt, dueting with himself on the glorious sounding tack piano on the aforementioned set closing track. As a side note, way back in 1986, I released an now classic CD of all instrumental music on my then Breakthru’ Records label from the brilliant Swedish pianist Stefan Nilsson entitled Romantic Piano Dreams, which featured Stefan on Steinway performing all instrumental original piano solos. That CD wasn’t classical, it wasn’t pop, it wasn’t New Age, but rather a combination of all. Since the release of that CD, this writer hasn’t heard a piano based album that conjures up that same sense of ethereal keyboard wonder as well as Hoyt’s Together Alone. Looking back in time, Brad Hoyt’s Together Alone is just as fascinating as Stefan Nilsson’s now classic CD—plus along with Hoyt's piano sound you get to hear some of the greatest harp guitarists of the modern musical era. Now that’s what I call a great deal! Perhaps the one thing these four CD’s, released on the Harp Guitar Music label, have in common is a focused attention to musical composition, state of the art recording techniques, in depth annotation of each player here, prominent CD design and packaging and a splendid devotion to the art and craft of the guitar, specifically the captivating sound of the heavenly harp guitar.


MWE3.com speaks to GREGG MINER



Tell us something about your musical background and how long you’ve been playing guitar and any other instruments as well.

Robert, if you’ve seen my 1995 CD set A Christmas Collection you’ll believe me when I say that my musical background would fill a book. That project featured every single instrument I owned at the time, each played once. About a hundred mostly plucked strings—that by now were assembled into “The Miner Museum of Vintage, Exotic & Just Plain Unusual Musical Instruments.” We’ll have to skip over that, I think!

I did start with the guitar, as we all did I suppose, sometime during grade school. Played a Black Beauty Les Paul in the obligatory high school basement rock band (daily rehearsals, no gigs). We also had our “folk guitars” and were doing Crosby, Stills & Nash and similar guitar-based music. We weren’t aware of instrumental music per se until later on when I discovered Leo Kottke, and finally started paying attention to this whole rich world I had been ignorant of—Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, classical guitar, blues, jazz, early “world” (remember Ralph Towner?), fusion, you-name-it. Embarrassing, I know—but this was an era (late ‘60s) where we Chicago suburbians shopped for albums at Sears. I remember discovering the brand new Mountain and Black Sabbath in those bins!. Beyond that it was random word of mouth.

With no specific plans, I hung out at home, worked part time, and took classical and jazz guitar lessons in Chicago once a week. My bedroom was filled with reptiles, guitars, Roger Dean and Tolkien posters, and a TEAC 3340.

About 1976 (age 21), my girlfriend stole me away to an Illinois college town for 3 years. There, I started working on my own steel-string fingerstyle guitar technique, adapted from stumbling through Kottke tunes, and especially from learning new hero Dave Evans’ entire Kicking Mule Sad Pig Dance album. I rarely played solo, but layered onto my home recordings various other instruments I had randomly picked up—the beginnings of what would become “the Museum.”

How did you become introduced and what attracted you to playing the harp guitar and how would you describe the main differences between the acoustic steel string and the harp guitar?

As I recall, it was the discovery of Baines’ infamous book, “American & European Musical Instruments,” which our library had a copy of. It was Disneyland for a guitar/instrument lover. I probably kept it on permanent loan and would drool endlessly over these incredible “exotic” instruments—arch-citterns, harpolyres, harp-lutes, and on and on! More specifically, the Michigan Ave. 6-story building where I took lessons had the “Guitar Gallery” on the 3rd floor—where, hanging behind the counter was a black Gibson harp guitar—to this day unsurpassed in aesthetics, as far as I’m concerned. I would stop off at their floor once a week after lessons and just stare at that thing, imagining a fantasy future where I would actually find and own one myself—an impossible dream at the time!

In 1983, now in Los Angeles (another long story), I finally got my first harp guitar—a red Gibson Style U! It was $1500, which I put on my Visa line of credit and paid off for 2 years, whilst eating Kraft macaroni & cheese. It was and is—terrible for fingerstyle guitar, but I used it for “authenticity” in the Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra, where I played mandocello for some time. Other than that, it was just a spectacular wall-hanger. The Gibson, and later, Knutsen and other harp guitars, were still just “another unusual stringed instrument” that I would pick up when I was able to stumble on something affordable. I didn’t truly play one until the Christmas project, when they were part of the “roster” – meaning; now I had to play them!An aside: Ironically, at the exact moment Michael Hedges was making history with his Dyer (late ‘80s), I was virtually ignorant as I was concentrating almost exclusively on the concert harp, at the time my main instrument and theoretical future.

So I guess I’m one of the few players who wasn’t influenced by either Hedges or Stephen Bennett (and now a plethora of active harp guitarists). I was attracted to playing it for the same reason as for any of the lutes, zithers and stranger things in the growing collection. They were indescribable, irresistible, intoxicating mysteries of invention, art, history, music and sound to explore.

As far as comparing the “modern” harp guitar (strangely enough, a vintage Dyer or copy) to an acoustic 6-string, there are various ways players utilize the extra strings, both technically and musically (Hedges uses them in his famous “Because It’s There” essentially backwards). My tendency immediately developed towards using the subs as a way to open up the voicings one might otherwise play on the neck—to not only lower them, but expand them. So much so that I can no longer find my way around a 6-string! Another advantage—especially when in an open tuning, like I usually am—is sustain and overlapping notes. My Christmas album solo “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” is perhaps an extreme example—I think it uses a couple thousand open strings (neck and subs) and a handful of fretted ones! One of the most magical effects on the harp guitar, which most players eventually discover, is playing harmonics on the subs—that’s reason enough to spend any amount of money to acquire a great instrument.

How about the stringing challenges required for the harp guitar? What strings do you prefer and does the harp guitar present any recording challenges?

That may be the one and only drawback—that proper strings don’t yet exist. I’ve been operating my web store Harp Guitar Music—where, among other things—I offer strings, since 2006; and I still haven’t found a string manufacturer willing to produce the gauges and/or materials that dozens of players actually require (at least affordably). As we speak, many amateur and professional harp guitarists are using strings that may be a poor compromise. But this situation will soon be improving, one way or another, I can promise you. Regardless of the gauge situation, another inherent problem is vibrating string length—and thus the specifics of manufacturing each gauge. You need double, and even triple, wound strings (I’m talking phosphor bronze) as you get into the lower notes. The problem is that both historical and modern custom harp guitars come with every conceivable scale length for each individual sub! With these strings, one can’t simply snip to length and use—many a player has spent ten dollars on a single string only to watch it go “sproing” from attempting to get through their tuner post.

As for preferred strings, do you mean “type” or “brand”? I have instruments strung with both nylon (basses are nylon overspun with silver-plated copper) and steel (phosphor bronze). Nearly all my personal music is played on Dyer-style steel-string instruments, the brand being largely unimportant—again, with the gauge problem, we are often mixing available D’Addario and John Pearse strings on our subs out of necessity, for example. Other modern players might use all nylon (Muriel Anderson) or a mixture (John Doan with Elixir steels on the neck, but nylon LaBella subs). The missing piece of the puzzle—and tops on my “want list” whenever I do find that manufacturer—is something in between: Silk & Bronze subs. This would be the modern equivalent of historical strings used on every “originally strung” Knutsen or Dyer we have found. They would be about eighty percent the tone of PB—a bit softer—and less tension, and I think the most requested string out there, if I can get them produced!

Tell us something about some of your favorite guitars and the harp guitars and other guitars featured on your latest album.

My favorite 6-string is in mothballs: my totally beat up but cannon-like 1928 Martin 0-28 (heard on my Christmas album).Like I said, 6-strings now confuse me! Favorite harp guitar—for playing and listening to, is the vintage Dyer, in this case a Style 8. That would be my main harp guitar. I was a hundred percent vintage-only guy—even a snob—until I started hearing some of the modern instruments. When I got a certain 2007 Merrill harp guitar for the business, it sold immediately, but I begged the buyer to let me keep it for a month to record with. One of those pieces is on the new album (the tune “Jasta” on Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Best Friends). It’s like having a “new” Dyer, one advantage being easier to record, as the balance and overtones are more controlled. And of course, there are no pesky intonation problems or other neck/fret imperfections. I’ve now ordered a couple—to sell, and maybe to keep one! There is actually one harp guitar that blows away the Dyer, and that is my particular Knutsen Symphony Harp Guitar, pre-1900. It is notoriously difficult to record as the overtones are so prevalent you hear assorted super-high specific chromatic harmonics as you play various notes. Live, however, it is a miracle—wild and wooly, an explosion of wood and air—and every pro guitarist who visits the museum says it’s their favorite instrument. It’s on Beyond Six Strings, our inaugural release, but not recorded to do it justice. I don’t know if it can be captured. I did use another cool Knutsen, recently restored, on the new album: it’s one of his three-quarter harp guitars—in his case, truly three-quarter: the scale length of the neck is 19-1/4”! With subs proportional or a bit longer. So naturally, I tuned it up a third higher, and it is very interesting! I could have gone a fourth higher, but was losing sustain on the high melody, essential to the tune “Mickey,” about our little runt Papillon. Oh, and I also played one of my Knutsen “true” harp mandolins; true in the sense that it has 4 sub-basses! These I found to make no musical sense whatsoever in any traditional mandolin way, but they’re great fun to play fingerstyle, which is what I did, in a duet with a harp. I used it again—fingerstyle, with a plectrum solo—on one of my duets with pianist Brad Hoyt on his new CD.

How about your guitar recording set ups, special amps, and any other gear you are currently using?

Recording or amps? At this point, I’m still in the lovely dark ages of acoustic-only playing and recording. Recording has always been a challenge. Brad, a Steinberg Application Specialist, finally set me up with Cubase, used for the Dog CD and his tunes. What a vacation! The whole Christmas double-CD was recorded with only an ADAT and Mackie mixer! Being my own engineer, I still get by with a bare minimum: a large, fully padded (dead) closet and a vintage stereo Neumann mic. A/D and mic-pre are an inexpensive new Mackie interface Brad found. My previous Demeter tube mic-pre (way excellent) had maybe two to three percent more noticeable “life” but about ten percent more noise, so I retired it. I’m told that my results are starting to not suck. But you be the judge!

Tell us about your new solo CD, the name of it, when and where it was recorded, who plays with you on the CD, adding in some information on the way the album was recorded and how it reflects your overall musicianship and/or guitar style.

That’s about an 8-part question, but I’ll try! Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Best Friends is my long-awaited second album (and I still needed help!). After the 1995 Christmas project, I eventually started on a follow-up: another “themed” album using not all, but many, of the instruments—ironically with only one harp guitar piece. I had maybe half of it demoed in rough form, when the whole “harp guitar thing” happened, and I simply had to abandon it. In a nutshell, I was thrust into a position—or took advantage of some serendipitous opportunities to become by default—the “harp guitar historian,” evolving eventually into the “harp guitar pope.” Starting in 2003, very quickly, Stephen Bennett’s Harp Guitar Gathering happened, I started Harpguitars.net, then Harp Guitar Music, and now am president of the non-profit Harp Guitar Foundation. Just kill me now. I don’t have time to play harp guitar, let alone the other now-200 Miner Museum instruments. Remember, I’m an aerospace engineer by day, for cryin’ out loud!

OK, sorry to vent. Anyway…My wife, Jaci, who, among other things, runs a pet products business, had been bugging me to write an instrumental tune for one of our dear-departed dogs—which I finally managed—and then eventually, some of our other past and current dogs (we have them instead of children). As I was developing a little repertoire of these “dog tunes,” and as she was aware of other dog pieces some of our musical friends had done, she came up with the idea to do this themed compilation. To make it come alive, we’d picture each dog, and write a little vignette of our inspiration. I finally acquiesced and became her co-producer. By now, I had several tunes, and we realized it was becoming a “Gregg Miner” album, so we asked our dog-loving friends if they minded being part of an “…and Friends” project. All said yes. Mind you, the first was Stephen Bennett. I may be “the pope” in the HG community, but in the world of harp guitar players, he’s the king.He not only licensed 3 of his older tunes to us, but donated a brand new, unreleased harp guitar piece (“Adventure Dog”). Boy, am I gonna owe him! Another harp guitar friend, Joe Morgan let me re-mix and use 2 of the 3 dog tunes he did with hammered dulcimer partner David Moran on their last album. A couple of other friends—all part of the harp guitar community—asked or agreed to come up with tunes about current or past canine companions. We ended up then with a tune each by Frank Doucette (my assistant in all things harp guitar), Carter Lancaster and Brad Hoyt—the latter two in the process of releasing their own CD’s through the label around the same time. Only Carter played harp guitar (Stephen and Joe having one piece each on the instrument); Brad played a piano solo, and Frank’s was on 6-string. My own were mostly harp guitar pieces, that being the instrument I now solely concentrate on, but I managed to sneak a couple other things in, including the Celtic harp, which I hadn’t touched in 6-7 years (the acrylic nail conundrum). It’s my first and only harp solo! But that’s what Maezi (our latest pooch) demanded. Musically, I mean, not personally.

Like other Harp Guitar Music compilations, each artist recorded their piece where and when they could, I did some editing on a couple, then the great Kim Person (SB’s engineer) and mastering guru Bill Wolf got things as consistent as possible.

How does this album reflect my style? I don’t know—Don Alder (fingerstyle champ and harp guitarist) called me “the Frank Zappa of the harp guitar”—referring to my “unexpected choice of notes.” Some guitar players respond to it at the Gatherings, perhaps because there’s a bit of quirkiness in there, along with a bit of loveliness (I hope!). I can’t judge my own work in the least, I just do it for my own amusement—and if anyone else can enjoy it, how wonderful! I definitely am not “background music”! The point of this project was that I would produce an instrumental mostly-guitar album for those fans to my best ability, while Jaci was ensuring that it was entertaining and accessible to the audience she hopes to reach—the thousands of dog owners/lovers. The goal is getting instrumental music fans to read the booklet, and dog owners who should enjoy the booklet to discover our music (“you mean there aren’t any words”?). Everyone who has actually sat down and read and listened has laughed and cried, and that says something.

How did the Harp Guitar label begin and can you say something about the responsibility of wearing the two hats of artist and label owner?

At the end of the very first Harp Guitar Gathering in 2003, a couple of us were brainstorming, and thought “what we need now is a harp guitar compilation album of all of us.” So we did it. Stephen Bennett, John Doan and I co-produced Beyond Six Strings, which was a grass roots “co-op” CD of pretty much all the harp guitar players who were active at the time and had a great tune (or wrote one) to include. We got it out just in time for the 2nd (already annual) Gathering. All 13 players jointly invested, and we sold the thousand copies, and we pressed another batch, again sharing the costs. By now there were a lot of great comments about it, and I was really lamenting the fact that we hadn’t sent it to any radio stations or a single guitar mag for review, because it had no home. There was no owner or entity behind this otherwise seminal noteworthy history-making release!

After some logistical brainstorming with John Doan, who finally agreed that I would have to be the one to do it (gee, thanks!), I polled the group of 13, and all agreed to license the master to me, under newly-created Harp Guitar Music. So in 2006, Beyond Six Strings became the inaugural Harp Guitar Music record label release. I’m on my own second printing, and it’s outselling all my other titles on Amazon.

The perk of being, as you say, both artist and label owner, is that I can finally get on a damn album without a rejection letter! The responsibility is that I do have to hold my own with consummate virtuosos—and with digital editing, I just manage. But seriously, I also have my assistant Frank Doucette—who has the most reliable discerning taste in guitar music of anyone alive—approve my compositions, recordings and final mixes. Believe me, if something is not stellar, he’d tell me.

Despite the obvious connections we’ve made in the harp guitar community, we don’t let politics or friendship influence any musical decisions. Our one and only goal is presenting great music.

Can you say something about how you find the artists featured on the Harp Guitar Music label such as Philippe Fouquet who comes all the way from France.

The majority are artists I hear at the Harp Guitar Gatherings. It helps to have a personal connection—many attendees have become dear friends—but I also must be personally drawn to their music. Then the process begins: I try to befriend them, convince them I am their greatest fan, get them to agree to do an album together, and then bluntly give these “heroes” my critique on every single note of their beloved tunes! Well, OK, the process is more subtle than that, but still, I succeed I suppose because I have great hubris, but greater passion. I wear my heart on my sleeve, have no control over my mouth, and if I love something, or not, you’ll know it!

I approached Andy Wahlberg with an album concept that way, and later Carter Lancaster. His CD—the debut of his incredible harp guitar—is one of the new releases. Other solo projects with Stacy Hobbs and Tim Donahue—again, Gathering artists—are still in the works. Brad Hoyt (the latest release) was this fellow who came to the Gathering every year from year 2—without owning or playing the instrument! He was a multi-instrumentalist exploring how to create a unique version of a harp guitar—and boy, did he ever! It’s on his CD. He is predominately a pianist and prolific composer, and came up with the idea of a duet album of piano and harp guitar—various harp guitars and players pulled from the friends he’d made over the years. I thought it was a great idea, and we agreed to do it on the label, and I got to cherry-pick my favorite Brad Hoyt tunes. I did three, as it was originally just to be a handful of us with 2-3 tunes each. Almost three years later, the end result instead included a larger roster of incredible players we got on board. The title, Together Alone is appropriate as no two players recorded in the same room! He tried, but schedules and logisitics dictated that each record their part in his or her own city and country. The back-and-forth arranging took the most time, but the flawless final collaborations are amazing.

Outside the Gatherings, in my role as editor of Harpguitars.net, I hear about pretty much everyone out there playing harp guitar. Often, I’m the first to discover it, or one of our many constituents stumbles across somebody and sends me a link. We’re always weighing these new discoveries—those that are starting to perform on the harp guitar—for possible label projects. Some are aware of Harpguitars.net, where I collate and archive every last use and appearance of the instrument. More often, we find and approach them. One easy way for me, as owner of Harp Guitar Music, is to simply ask each purchaser of strings “Who are you and what are you doing with harp guitar?”—which of course interests me both as head of the Harp Guitar Foundation and Harpguitars.net, and for Harp Guitar Music potential. There are hundreds of new harp guitar builders, owners and players out there—but almost to a man (and the occasional woman) they are initially private and/or shy.

Philippe is one of the few artists on the label or on our compilations that I haven’t met. Frank knew him as an interesting 6-string player, and only found him because he owned a Kathy Wingert guitar as Frank did. We both liked his music, and that’s always the first step! The second Frank discovered Philippe owned an old kontragitarre (Viennese harp guitar), which he eventually recorded one piece with, we were all over it. We almost got him on “Harp Guitar Dreams” (“technical guitar difficulties” prevented his inclusion), and the experience was positive enough (creative discussion and co-production with little ego) that we mutually agreed to work together on a full album, provided harp guitar was at least half of it.

The “co-production” and collaboration between me and an artist like Philippe is purely musical and creatively fulfilling, with some necessary practicalities worked out. As a business model, it’s all but nonsensical in today’s music business reality—an artist doesn’t really need HGM, and I’m making little or nothing for my own efforts. So why do we both choose to do it? Simple—for the love of the music, which in the end, both parties should feel is stronger from the collaboration. So far, all agree that it is.

Can you mention some of your musical influences, favorite guitarists and most influential albums?

I’ve never purposely or consciously thought to copy anybody or sound like anyone else—who would? But on the other hand, when one is learning, and especially has not yet learned to write (something I wouldn’t yet claim), one learns to play the music of others that one likes, and when experimenting on the same instrument, naturally a lot of those techniques and sounds come out. I suppose a bit of simplified Kottke was part of my first steel-string fingerstyle technique (long after listening to him as a god, and only after classical and other guitar studies). Then as I said earlier—Dave Evans was someone whose music I just loved, but it was also about the only guitar finger-style that I found easy to do, yet it sounds impressive! Somehow it fit my meager talents. An aside: By a strange circle of fate, 30 years later, Dave and I met and become friends. I subsequently arranged his “Sad Pig Dance” on harp guitar, which he loved. Better yet, Dave has been listening to, and enjoying the new Dog CD, and says he hears himself in my playing. I guess that’s your question answered!

I have plenty of favorite guitarists, from many styles. Frankly, I’m not interested in guitar technique, or style—only music. Two of my favorite composers would be Metheny (from the older Group era - “Combo Americana Jazz” I describe it) and Stephen Bennett (from the beginning to date). That latter is not a suck-up, I truly mean it. I love Pierre Bensusan and Jimi Hendrix as so many of us do, and my favorite bar none has always been Allan Holdsworth. An influence? Well, yes and no. I couldn’t play electric guitar like that in a million years—nor ever tried to—but the “gist” of him inspires me constantly. I don’t mean the speed, which is neither here nor there, nor his strange, Sci-Fi compositions, most of which leave me cold. It’s the miracle where he can improvise a few melodic licks, and somehow—in the space of just a few measures—infuse them with all the drama, humor, character, and “mind’s ear” storytelling as Prokofiev’s entire “Peter and the Wolf.” He does this somewhere on most every album, in one tune or another. I live for that creative gift. There’s nothing akin to it—like certain Bennett pieces, the only thing I can think of are the Impressionists—Debussy, Satie, Poulenc, Ravel, et al. They created this “color” and ear-candy exoticism perhaps intellectually and deliberately, but to the same end. ‘melodic storytelling.’ (Yes, they’re my favorite composers if you couldn’t guess) Favorite 3 albums if stuck on a desert island? The 3 Bothy Band studio albums. Of course, I listen to everything by Bela Fleck and have never gotten over that first Bulgarian Women’s Chorus album way back. I could go on all day. I don’t know if there’s any thematic pattern here or not! Or influence. I hope so, but I hope not—I wish I could pull off something one percent as wonderful that’s just pure me. Wouldn’t that be something?

Thanks Gregg, in closing can you fill in the readers about current and upcoming plans regarding your recordings, new recording sessions, upcoming tours and performances? And how about future plans for the Harp guitar record label as well?

My own recordings? Thanks for asking. Well, I’ve got a pile of grandiose, spectacular albums in my head... I’ll try to chip away at one or another while I meanwhile blatantly insert myself into every group harp guitar production I develop. At least until I find a way to kick myself off. Sadly, I never tour, and rarely perform. I simply don’t have the time! Once in awhile, you might catch me at some special event, and I’m always busting my you-know-what to prep for our annual Harp Guitar Gatherings.

As for Harp Guitar Music releases, the hope was—remember this is one part-time job of many—to do at least one release a year if cash-flow allows. By coincidence, four new long-time-in-the-making releases just happened to finish up at the same time: mine, Philippe Fouquet’s (Turning Point), Carter Lancaster’s (Case Closed), and now Brad Hoyt’s (Together Alone). I consider all these “firsts”—either in presenting a new concept or the artist’s first harp guitar record.

I’ve got at least ten “concept album” compilations in the pipeline and will try to enlist some of the “usual suspects” and hopefully more new players. I’ve got material myself for some of these already. The goal is for certain special releases to be all-new material, while others may be collections. I won’t jinx any by announcing them. They usually evolve organically and randomly—and then really quickly. For instance, the previous Harp Guitar Dreams compilation developed when it did, in the way it did, only because Alex de Grassi had borrowed this outrageous Fred Carlson harp-sympitar to do a big Healdsburg Guitar Festival demo, and in those short couple months got some material recorded. As Alex was, by my great fortune, yet another guitar idol I got to befriend, I had been bugging him to get into the instrument—and if he ever did, well, “gosh, a track sure would be nice…” I figured that might be our one and only chance—and when he agreed, the call went out: we’re doing a new compilation, now! And what a stunning track - and concept album—it turned out to be.

In the end, there are already enough exciting harp guitar projects to fill up the rest of my years. And we are just getting started! The “movement” has been slowly but exponentially growing, and next year will see an explosion of new players when the first quality Chinese Dyer harp guitar copies hit the market. I kid you not: Holloway Harp Guitars. Just think what would happen if one of these ended up in the hands of a John Mayer, or a Dave Matthews or someone like that!

www.HarpGuitarMusic.com / www.BradHoyt.com / www.CarterLancaster.com
www.MinerMusic.com / www.PhilippeFouquet.com
www.HarpGuitar.fr
/ www.TwoLittleDogs.com

 

 
   
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