Year of the Harp Guitar

June, 2006 - July, 2007

by Gregg Miner

Why have I proclaimed this (non-calendar) period as the Year of the Harp Guitar?  Shouldn't every year be a harp guitar year?  Well, yes - but this particular period is seeing an expansion of the harp guitar community into several new areas.  And so I announced this special theme.  With any luck, it will just keep on going until we reach the Decade, and then the Century of the Harp Guitar!

Besides continual performing and touring of the many fine full and part-time harp guitarists around the world, there are several specific major events transpiring during this period, with smaller events being added or even spontaneously happening.  I hope to provide a report with photos on each one.  The Year begins with:

June 21-25th, 2006: The Guild of American Luthier’s Convention in Tacoma, Washington.  The well-known GAL highlighted the instrument quite visibly this year with a harp guitar luthiers panel, a special harp guitar exhibit and presentation (by myself), along with a short harp guitar concert by Fred Carlson and myself, and a full concert by John Doan.  It was incredible!  Here is my GAL Convention Harp Guitar Scrapbook, and the official GAL page.

July 6-9, 2006: The 2nd International 10-string Guitar Festival, in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Narciso Yepes protégé Janet Marlow hosts this event, now in its second year.  Though they concentrate on the fully-fretted, more modern 10-string, they delve into some historical 10-strings, and are beginning to invite not only harp guitarists, but multi-string guitarists of any string count.  This year's event included historical harp guitarist Dennis Cinelli (at right), who presented a workshop on the evolution of the 10-string guitar and performed on his replica of an 1850s Scherzer.

Read Stephen Rekas' Mel Bay Guitar Sessions report.

July 15th, 2006: Alex de Grassi's Weekend Intensive Guitar Workshop in Los Gatos, California.  Alex invited Fred Carlson to come and discuss his latest harp guitar creation with the class.  As I was going to be staying with Fred that weekend (to pick up my GAL instruments), Alex agreed to make it a whole harp guitar evening with myself and Jeff Titus as Fred's stooges.  See how much fun we had here.  Fred and Jeff attended the next week's class as well.

August 26, 2006: Harp Guitar Music is live!   This is my new “boutique” record label devoted exclusively to the harp guitar, and online “one-stop-harp-guitar-shop.”   This is a commercial outgrowth of and the increasing popularity of an instrument that is clearly here to stay (and I’m going to ride the wave until the bitter end!).  Come shop 'til you drop!

September 7-10, 2006: PRIMAL TWANG: The Legacy of the Guitar at the North Park Theatre in San Diego.

By a fortunate set of circumstances, the harp guitar was represented at this major guitar event with the inclusion of John Doan!  Read his report here.

Flatpicker Dan Crary, through his work with Beppe Gambetta, has been aware of the harp guitar for some time, but really became enamored after meeting John and trying out his custom 20-string (John says that "Dan was so impressed with the harp guitar that he wants to get a 21-string version for himself!  He would be committed to working up some new pick techniques to include the expanded range of the instrument."). When Dan's guitar documentary project became a reality, he invited John to represent the instrument, alongside top 6-string players of all genres.  Best of all, the concerts were filmed for a DVD release!

September 13, 2006: Walnut Valley Festival, Winfield, Kansas. The famous festival opened Wednesday night with a special harp guitar concert hosted by Stephen Bennett, with Andy McKee, Dan LaVoie, Brian Henke and Tom Shinness! 

Read and see highlights from our roving reporter, Joe Morgan.

Fall continues with the 4th Annual International Harp Guitar Gathering in a new location! Namely, Naples, Florida, hosted by Andy Wahlberg on Sept 30-Oct 1.

We saw lots of new fans, friends and participants along with the growing core community!

Meanwhile (September, 2006), over in Italy, a major Mozzani history resurgence is taking place.

Finally -  the first-ever, extended public exhibit devoted solely to the harp guitar is taking place now!

See highlights from the Gala Opening and concert series!

This temporary exhibit will run from  January 15th through July 31, 2007 at the delightful Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California (off the 5 freeway, north of San Diego). I helped put this together with luthier legend Rick Turner and the Museum’s enthusiastic staff, with the bulk of the exhibit consisting of about thirty instruments from my own collection, and several loans of spectacular new instruments.

The exhibit kicked off on Saturday night, Feb 3, with a grand opening concert by Stephen Bennett, followed with concerts by John Doan on March.24 and William Eaton on April 21.  Anyone visiting the Southern California area next spring should not miss this!

Meanwhile, continues to grow, with the latest addition of a new Members Only section for our Subscribers. Email for your password today!

If anyone has other interesting or significant harp guitar events in this period, please let us know.

By now it should be clear that the harp guitar is here to stay!

The Harp Guitar Foundation            The Harp Guitar Gathering

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