Harp Guitarists Visit
Alex de Grassi's Weekend Guitar
by Gregg Miner
Saturday night, July 15th, 2006, the class of
Alex de Grassi's
weekend guitar camp in Los Gatos, California planned to kick back with food, drink and
relaxed jamming. They got a special treat when Fred Carlson came
his latest harp guitar creation with the group of acoustic guitar lovers. As
my wife Jaci and I happened to be
staying with Fred that weekend, Alex agreed
to let me crash the party, and then invited Jeff Titus to make it a whole harp guitar evening!
|At the outdoor stage, Fred discussed and demonstrated the New
Dream, perhaps his most marvelous creation yet.
||He tied the discussion in nicely with his earlier harp
guitar - Jeff's Oracle - which was in turn loosely based on
Michael Hedges' Dyer.
||I then shortened my usual 3-hour lecture to about 3
minutes, then did my harp-mando piece and a tune on my Style 8 Dyer.
|Jeff followed with a few pieces of Hedges and his own,
with his friend Drew Youngs accompanying. Drew is recording
and producing Jeff's first CD, and is a virtuoso guitarist of the John
||Alex and his students listen, enthralled (this must have
been during my segment).
|I certainly had no intention of jamming - something I
rarely attempt, as I perform only once or twice per year. And
certainly not with two guitar heroes! It all started when someone
asked me to play my The Friends I Finally Met harp-mandolin solo
again. Drew immediately began so creatively and intuitively
accompanying me that it sounded as if we wrote it together. Though
I am a "prepared player" only, I managed to hold it together
to very end....
||...when Alex sat down with his Sympitar. So I had to
extend the tune with improv over the chords for another ten
minutes. With Drew leading the way we continued to jam literally
non-stop for two hours. Fred nick-named me "Shred Miner"
as I went b*lls-out to keep up with these guys, sweating enough to make
Stacy Hobbs look bone-dry by comparison. Fred tensely waited for
this permanent bead of sweat to fall off my nose onto my Knutsen,
but it managed to defy all laws of physics throughout the entire
|We then added Jeff, who cranked on a 6-string, then Roger
from the class (a former teacher himself). The rest of the group
(especially Fred) were apparently digging the whole night.
Finally, each of the students played a piece, and Alex finished the
night with his stunning arrangement of Hendrix' Angel (heard on
that NY Guitar Festival compilation).
||I surprised the group with a rare "meets minimum
requirements" true harp guitar (actually a relative).
Received directly from Portugal the day before (through the efforts of
Brad Hoyt), you will learn all about this strange overly-voluptuous
instrument in Brad's upcoming article. Alex found it a great Blues
lead instrument, especially as it could not remotely hold tune.
|Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was my musical genius -
who am I to judge? - but this was about as much fun as a musician can
have with his pants on (outside of our own Harp Guitar Gathering jams
with Bennett, et al...).
Apparently we didn't wear out our welcome (well, I might have)
as Alex invited Fred and Jeff
back for the following week's class as well. With the addition of
Jeff Traugott, they
repeated much of their presentation to an eager new group of twelve
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