Nylon-string classical and flamenco guitars, steel-string guitars — flattops, archtops, manouche, resonators, hybrids — plus mandolins, lutes, ouds, ukuleles, banjos, and stringed oddities will all be on display in the Bearsville Theater as The Seventh Annual Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase (and Tonewood Festival) returns to town Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 23, 24 & 25.
The Showcase, according to Baker Rorick, the founder and producer of the weekend, is an intimate gathering for the community of acoustic stringed-instrument builders, players, collectors and aficionados. But it can hardly be called that, these days, as the show itself has become known worldwide.
“In the small world of man made acoustic guitar festivals this little Woodstock show has somehow developed a reputation as a significant event,” says Rorick. “In the past year we developed cooperative associations with all the European festivals, with the Osaka festival. We schedule our events around each other…exchange ideas…”
The weekend has always been about acoustic instruments, but you can’t feature them without hearing expert players demonstrating them — and that’s a large component. For the price of admission you get to hear a non-stop concert, with some truly great players, like the incomparable Bucky Pizzarelli with Ed Laub. “They’re going to teach a couple of workshops on Friday morning and do a performance at around 1 p.m., for one of the guitar makers.” The great jazz guitarist Eddie Diehl, along with bassist Lou Pappas, makes his annual appearance Saturday afternoon. “Trying to keep the Woodstock spirit and legacy, we have Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Mike and Ruthie and friends will close the show Sunday…” Happy Traum and Ellie Wininger will do a tribute to Artie Traum…and the program goes on and on.
Then there’s the String Sampler concert Saturday night at the Woodstock Playhouse, featuring Jorma Kaukonen, David Broza and Doug Wamble (see ulsterpub.staging.wpengineplayhouse.org for tickets.) There is a series of Instructional Clinics and Workshops for players, plus seminars and colloquia for builders, by separate admission.
What’s new this year, we ask?
“One of the things we’re happiest about this year is that we’re receiving grant money, from the Bluestein Family Foundation — Joel Bluestein, whom you probably know, has been a big supporter. The Family Foundation has always supported arts and education. We’re devoting pretty much all that money to free events for the community. The Byrdcliffe Guild is administering the grant.” One of the free events is a screening of David Broza’s documentary, East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem about the making of the album produced by Steve Earle by Israeli and Palestinian musicians, recorded in Palestine. It had it’s world premier last year as the kickoff event for the Woodstock Film Festival. That will be 7 p.m. Friday, October 23 at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 34 Tinker Street, Woodstock.
Sunday will be a free concert and demonstration — The Extended Family of Mexican Guitars: A Showcase of Mexican Folk Stringed Instruments, live with two-time Grammy nominated group Sones de Mexico Ensemble (www.sonesdemexico.com).
“It’ll be a pared down version of their show, probably just using 40 of the instruments. But it will feature all styles of traditional Mexican folk music, dance. We hope to get them back next year for the full concert ensemble. It’s free and open to the public for kids and families…it’s payback to the community for its support.”
“This year we have less exhibitors than last year,” says Rorick. “We were slammed last year, it was an experiment in inclusion, where we tried to fit as many people who’d been trying to get in. We had over 75 exhibitors last year. This year, we’ll only have about 65 — 50-55 dedicated luthiers, plus our sponsors, suppliers and other vendors. It’s another reason why we’re going to a full three days. This year, on the Friday, the serious, potential buyer can come in…”
“I kinda don’t know what it means to me, after seven years of making things up as we go along, building it and developing a wonderful team of partners and supporters, volunteer staff from the community who come and do the thing… As usual, it’s about this wonderful community of builders, who, again, all work in solitude all year along, and there’s few occasions like this when they can all get together and meet their peers and they’re all happy as puppy dogs to see each other…”
For more information on the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, Friday, October 23-Sunday, October 25 at the Bearsville Theater and other Woodstock environs, hours, tickets, schedules, history, links, updates, directions, lodging, etc., see ulsterpub.staging.wpengineinvitational.com.