Harp Guitar Working Vacation: France Part 2

Mulhouse, France Day 2

As I think Jaci and I were the only two not staying in the adorable bunk bed barracks of the college dorm last night, we were on our own the next day and again slept in.  Hoping to get a map of the area so she could go off on her own (a plan that would prove futile), we headed off to the Town Centre to try to find the Tourist Center.  We never found it. But we did find a delightful book fair stretched over the charming center square.

The original town hall was spectacularly festooned by a rather adventurous trompe l’oeil artist.

A shot taken from its entryway captures the old church and modern carousel.  We would return here the next morning with some of the others for a more leisurely look.

Time to head back, stopping only for the occasional intriguing architectural element.  Jaci does loves her doors! (as so I)

I knew that our festival was being held in an astounding train museum (full size trains, that is!), but hadn’t realized that Mulhouse was also home to one of the world’s great antique car museums (Cite de l’Automobile), housing the fabled Schlumpf collection.  Through my friend Frank Doucette, I have become a rather passionate aficionado of this fascinating world (though with none of his expertise), and as Jaci appreciates pretty much anything artistic or historical thrown at her, she was game to make a quick run (all too literally) through the place.

I shot a bunch of photos and a couple of these iPhone pans.  I just love the pre-1900 stuff – far more than I’ve ever seen in one place.  Makes me wonder if I’ve been collecting the wrong things all these years…(yeah, as if!)

One of six Bugatti Royales ever made (they have two, plus a replica).  Not too shabby.

Slightly later, and amazingly cool, European cars.

Some fellow who collected nothing but animal-themed hood ornaments has his entire 600 piece collection on permanent loan and display.

OK, but we’ve gotta run!  Time to meet the gang at the Cite du Train (the largest railway museum in the world).  Yaouen expected a good showing at the 2-day festival, perhaps due to the nice coverage in the paper with a bit of bling.

This is the center of the first main room (kept lit like this); the bit of glowing light almost dead center is our stage, with seating for a hundred or two set up smack in the middle of these incredible machines.

I’ll show a few shots of some trains later, let’s go find the luthiers!

Ben (Benoit Meulle-Stef) is understandably proud of his new custom creation for Hiro Takai (Hiro, you are one crazy harp guitarist!).

Sean Woolley, that ex-pat living in France, had four new instrument designs!  Starting with the far right, and 18-string (course) all nylon harp guitar he built in 2013 after my lecture on super-trebles at the first French festival.  Next to that is a mini-HG (short scale, he tunes it ~ a step up), his first harp-uke (sounded excellent!) and a blacktop cutaway nylon.  More pics:

Michel Pellerin had two of his instruments on display: Claude Laflamme’s original super-treble instrument and a walnut 7-sub HG commissioned by Steve Silva after attending the Harp Guitar Gathering.  Steve ended up choosing its near-twin built immediately after (which by complete coincidence, we’ll be seeing in the next leg of my Working Vacation in Boston).

Cedric Verglas displayed Yaouen’s steel-string instrument and a new work-in-progress that will incorporate strings everywhere and a small drum at the end of the arm!

The lucky recipient?  Co-designer and Festival performer Jan Vanek (who tends to play a lot of percussion on his guitars), seen here (left) with Cedric (right).

I finally got to meet my friend Lukas Brunner from Switzerland.  He had an entire array of his latest “Compact” guitars and harp guitars.

I’ve been a fan of these amazing travel harp guitars from the beginning and the new ones are better by far.  The new one-piece “double-neck” looks great and snaps on twice as fast.  The tone is amazing, as Luke has again reimagined his top bracing system (entirely made of curves – it makes sense to me!).  Apparently, John Doan has a new 20-string instrument on order.

Yaoeun also had the novel idea to include harps (players and builders) within the festival, including Matthias Desmyter.

Asking about the Master Class (given by Claude Laflamme), I was told to head into the next huge room full of full size historical trains and follow the sound.  After some time, I looked through the windows of this delightful passenger car to see:

Claude with his students, including Jon Pickard from England on the right.

I’ll check out some more of these spectacular trains tomorrow, assuming I have time.   First I’m off to track down a laptop for my public presentation in 30 minutes (Yaouen and I each thought the other was providing it!).  Ooops!

Next: Does no one have a friggin’ laptop in this entire town?!   Plus the Festival concerts and more tourist time!

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