The Pick-Fondle-Grin Lu`au
September 9, 2006

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You know life is good when the 21st Century Queen of the Blues comes to your house for a party, and doesn't get drunk or abusive, doesn't break any furniture, and doesn't break up any marriages. Svea is obviously very much a Blues Queen for a semi-civilized era.

But just because she's polite and thoughtful doesn't mean she can't put that old chill down your spine when she starts to testify. And her new Greven L-00 replica is the tool for her job, lemme tell you. It's got the bark and the growl.


Unless I'm mistaken, Steve Hawkins got the distance award this year, cruising down from our tax free neighbor to the north. Like many others he was drawn to the drama of Dave Hilyards Bills guitar.

Listen, anyone who impresses Matt Sarad with hot picking is going some, and that's just what Stephen did.


Natalie is the blues picker, Rob is her financial backer/roadie/dad.

Natalie plays out regularly with other local blues artists, she's got the fire in her fingers.


Here's one of the nicest guys around, Ace Batacan, doing his way smooth picking thing on Howard Klepper's sweet instrument.

Howard Klepper's cutaway was one guitar everyone had to try. Howard completely ignores the "build a vintage Martin" school of luthiery and creates instruments with distinctive appearance and innovative features.


Brian Kolner met Skip Johnson in the Chicago Airport and recognized a fellow guitar player by the odd shaped luggage. Skip and Dawn were in the neighborhood so they joined us for the party. Alan Perlman has passed his latest classical masterpiece over to Skip for a trial run.

Dawn and I hit it off because she's a baker. Cousins of the oven, as it were, so we traded a few tips and I sent her home with the recipe for the triple chocolate cookies I baked for the party. Which were accidentally double instead of triple because I left out the cocoa powder. They were still edible.


Charlie Hunt and Matt Sarad seem engrossed. Looks like a McCollum, maybe a bari?, going off against a Merrill??

Stand back, folks, it could get musical.


Mark Macalik is a recent addition to our parties. I'll bet he likes Tony's OM-Y.

It's always been great to live in the San Francisco area, but now that we have so many excellent luthiers building in the area it's even better. Hey, maybe that's why housing prices have gotten so high!


I'm sure glad we got a pic of Dawn McCollum. She's been to all but one of our parties, and we'd sure miss her if she stayed home.

Bart moved to nearby Sonoma recently and we've been trying to get together to fondle each other's guitars. You would think we would have finally done it at this party but ... So we still have to get together. Tom Lamson on the right was one of the first arrivals. He sat down to give us a concert of gorgeous Beatles tunes. I accused him of practicing, and fined him on the spot.


Here's Natalie playing Charlie Hunt's semi-legendary Triple Ugly Martin 000-18. The story is that this guitar was broken into three separate pieces in a bar fight. Then stored in a Florida attic where the glue melted out.

Charlie tried various luthiers for the repair, but only Lance McCollum was willing to take the challenge and put it back together as an evening project "while watching TV."


Brandt is in a volume-induced trance as he plucks the mighty National El Trovador.

This is one instrument with mojo.


Here's the `ukulele contingent, Phil, Matsu and Marie, all from Lynn's hula halau. Phil and Mats play and sing, Marie dances, plays, and sings.

Besides being talented herself, Marie has raised a talented family. One son dances professionally, another recently released his first CD of Hawaiian music, and two of her daughters are star dancers in the halau Na Mamo No`eau (the wise and artistically clever Mamo birds). Mats pitched in to put the finishing touches on the kalua pork.


Marshall Newman is telling one of his tales to Daniel Nestlerode, my inspiration for these parties, and Joel Wummer, who's been a regular at most of them.

Daniel has mostly concentrated on the mandolin the last few years, and really made some new fans when he pulled it out for the song circle that ended the evening. Joel has done some singer/songwriter tunes for us in the past but this year he seemed more into socializing than picking or fondling guitars.


David Siegler seems to have a deep stash of fascinating instruments, but he still looks at others. Must be some kind of sickness.

He brought along the mighty National El Trovador, and here he's checking Svea's Greven.


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