Annual Luthiers extravaganza arrives in Woodstock

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Late October in Woodstock has a very special meaning for guitar lovers, which means almost everyone around here. It’s when the annual — this year the ninth annual — Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase (and Tonewood Festival) arrives at the Bearsville Theater complex and surrounding areas. Whether you are a music lover, musician, guitar player or an admirer of fine art and craftsmanship, this is a show not to be missed. The festival begins at 8 p.m. Thursday night, October 26, with a Kick-Off Concert at the new and exquisitely refurbished Colony, 22 Rock City Road. In an intimate setting, you can be amazed and dumbfounded by the guitar marvels Shine Delphi, Antoine Dufour, Tim Farrell, Adam Miller, Kinloch Nelson, and Macyn Taylor,  all playing handmade guitars. Tickets for this special event are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the show.

The main event takes place 11 a.m.-6 p.m. from Friday, October 27 to Sunday, October 29t at the Bearsville Theater/Utopia Soundstage located at 291 and 293 Tinker Street off of Route 212. The price of tickets are $20 per day or $50 for a three-day pass. Over these three days you can indulge yourself with continuous live music including Luthier mini concerts, guitar clinics, demos and special appearances by guest performers.

Other venues in town that will host the Festival include the Woodstock Playhouse, 103 Mill Hill Road, The Kleinert/James Center, 34 Tinker Street off Route 212 and the Colony at 22 Rock City Road.


For three days you can visit over 50 guitar makers as they show off their finest handmade instruments. You can play them yourself or hear them played by their builders and some of the finest guitar players in the world. In addition, another 22 guitar accessories vendors, Tonewood suppliers and sponsoring manufacturers will be present, plus two Special Exhibits of rare guitars in Utopia Soundstage. This will be the largest and most diversified Luthier Festival to date.

“The whole thing started on a whim. I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. In the ninth year we built a great team. We are doing more and more each year,” says Baker Rorick who masterminded and continues to put his all into the Festival year after year. Over the nine years, Rorick has built a cracker jack team of people who are responsible for getting this event off the ground and assuring that it will be a stellar weekend of music and viewing handmade custom guitars.

Rorick acknowledges his hard-working team. “Sharon Klein is music director/coordinator is responsible for all the international musical diversity. Chip Brill is program publisher and operations manager, Mark Heller is responsible for showcase development and social media. Lu-Ann Bielawa is the events and volunteer coordinator.”

There will be several charity raffles for Family of Woodstock, including two weekend raffles for the John Herald Fund, that gives a helping hand to musicians and artists in need. Luthier Ben Wilborn, of Wilborn Guitars from Reno, Nevada has donated one of his guitars, the Wilborn Lion #117, valued at $7,100, for a raffle. The guitar has a curly koa back and sides; a sinker redwood top; Honduran mahogany neck; Gabon ebony bridge and fingerboard; decorative appointments of Paua abalone, wenge, maple and Mother of Pearl; and a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Included with the instrument us a hard-shell case. It’s an instrument any guitar player would drool over.

This year, once again The Bluestein Family Foundation has donated funds for Rorick to use for the Festival. “Our mission is paying back something to our community. With thanks to Joel Bluestein and the Bluestein Family Foundation they have been supporting the Festival with grant money that includes music and education for kids and their families.” The funds will create a free event, an Arabic Music presentation by the Simon Shaheen Trio at the Kleinert James Center for the Arts, at noon, Sunday, October 29.

Happy Traum, the master of the six-stringed acoustic guitar and a regular at all of these shows will be teaching one of the numerous workshops “deconstructing” Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain” at The Commune Saloon on Friday, October 27 at 1 p.m.  “Every year, Woodstock encounters an invasion of the nicest kind. Dozens of the world’s best luthiers (a.k.a. acoustic guitar builders), along with cohorts of top-notch players, wood purveyors, instructors and their fans, descend on Bearsville for a one-of-a-kind showcase of unusually impressive talent,” says Traum. “The luthiers, in particular, are a rare and unusual breed of artists and craftspeople – highly skilled artisans who transform the most beautiful and exotic woods into objects that literally sing in rich and varied tonalities.”

With a selected collection of some of the world’s finest Luthier’s, Woodstock will be well represented with such familiar faces as Joe Veillette of Veillette Guitars, Bruce Ackerman, Peter Einhorn of Creative Tunings, Inc., Martin Keith of Martin Keith Guitars and Julian Gaffney of Gaffney Guitars.

The Luthier Show will also have performances by such notables as Paul Asbell, Woodstock’s all women trio The Cupcakes, Bruce Molskly’s Mountain Drifters, Doug Wamble, Mike Moreno, and many more of the world’s finest guitar players.

Courtney Hartman will close the show on Sunday evening at the Bearsville Theater at 5 p.m. Courtney has toured and written for Della Mae as well as worked with the likes of Jim Lauderdale, Robert Ellis, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell, among others.

And, this year there will be a Post Show party at Colony, 22 Rock City Roaed, starting at 7:30 pm and hosted by Kinloch Nelson with performances by the Festival’s participants, remaining luthiers, local notables and special guests; M.C.’d by Norm Wennet. Free Admission for all.

See for a full list of events and performers.

Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge.

Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge in String Sampler Concert

Topping the bill this year at the annual String Sampler Concert at the Woodstock Playhouse (8 p.m. Saturday, October 28) is the duo, Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge. Their first CD, “Avalon” gained huge critical acclaim. On the heels of the release of their new CD,” Mount Royal”, this unique duo will be playing songs from both of their CD’s,” Avalon” was their first CD released in 2014.  Julian is a world-renowned jazz guitarist while Chris, a member of The Punch Brothers, is a bluegrass player of the highest caliber. Their collaboration has gained them attention all over the world.

“It’s not the United Nations,” laughs Lage. “It’s not like I’m the jazz representative and he’s the bluegrass representative. We could care less about that.” Instead, they create music simply as friends and individuals who happen to have unique ideas and techniques.

The String Sampler Concert will be held at the gorgeous Woodstock Playhouse 103 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock and will also feature The Simon Shaheen Trio and Woody Mann.

Tickets are sold separately for this event. Front Row is $65, Gold Section $50, Blue & Green Sections $40, tickets available from Woodstock Playhouse Box Office, or call 845-679-6900.