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Play Misty for Me – – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post – better late than Thursday –

For over twelve years I’ve been compiling, producing and presenting a radio show called ‘Celtic Clanjamphry’ that now airs on two NPR stations here in the US and a community station in Scotland.

For the last few years, instead of traveling down to the parent station in Tennessee, I was recording these at a good friend’s home studio a couple of hours away. We usually do five at a time and then my colleague and excellent engineer Dirk sends them to the station by DropBox. I usually put together all the music for each program in a file in the order it will play and send these to him, then record all the links etc. in his studio. I use my extensive music collection plus promo CDs and such sent by bands in the Celtic world.

When the pandemic put a stop to our gathering, I set up with a soundproof box in the pre-Civil-War jail behind our house. Wendy didn’t mind sharing her writing studio…..

Using this method, I still send the music to Dirk ahead of time; he checks and lets me know how much time I have for the links, station idents etc. Of course he had to advise me on how to make a recording clean enough to work. All part of the team effort. But we do miss the face to face teamwork.

Dirk and I come to the music from very different directions, so sitting across from each other in his studio while recording the links was a very social thing, with much chatting back and forward. That added a lot to the atmosphere of the show and we both miss that enormously. We’re both hoping that it won’t be too long before we can get back working that way again!

When I was first invited to start the show I had no idea it would still be going after twelve years or that it would end up on multiple stations. But it’s a labor of love for both Dirk and me as we’re both big fans of NPR so we’re happy to provide the show as our contribution of support.

Celtic Clanjamphry can be heard as follows –

WETS.fm/HD1 – Sunday 9pm and on-line

WETS.fm/HD2 – Monday 8pm and Saturday 10am and on-line

WEHC.fm – Sunday 6pm

The above times are US Eastern Time

Alive Radio 107.3 (Scotland) – Monday 9pm and Thursday 5am and on-line

The above times are UK times (5 hours later than US)

My executive producer at WETS is Wayne Winkler who for some reason continues to have faith in me.

My desk jockey and engineer Dirk Wiley does films as an independent producer; you can see some of them here: https://vimeo.com/understated

Finally – all these stations need your support so if you listen to them at all please consider supporting them as they need it more and more.

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book – Clapton’s Guitar

Clapton’s Guitar (Allen St. John)

Jack presents the Monday book today

As I’m a bit of a guitar freak, I looked forward to reading this and I wasn’t disappointed. However, I do have a few caveats –

First of all, despite the title, this isn’t a book about Eric Clapton – he makes no appearance. This book follows master guitar luthier Wayne Henderson as he builds two nearly identical guitars. One is being made speculatively for Clapton while the other is to auction off and raise money for Junior Appalachian Musicians (Jam). Jam was the brainchild of Henderson’s late partner Helen White and there are branches throughout Appalachia.

This brings me to my second issue with the book. There’s hardly a mention of White or JAM in the book, which strikes me as very strange. I have seen Wayne and Helen perform a good few times together and their individual activities were very much intertwined.  Perhaps she declined to be involved; I don’t know. I only know Henderson by reputation, whereas I had a friendly and mutually respecting connection with White through providing advice on tutor training for JAM. There’s no report in the book of how much went to JAM or whether any did.

I’m also not impressed with the way the author describes the various characters who hang out regularly at Henderson’s workshop. There was more than a hint of Appalachian stereotyping and condescension. For example, eating cold fast-food and the famous tail out of the box trick.

Aside from these issues, the book does describe wonderfully how Henderson puts these guitars together, where he gets his wood, the tools he uses and the sheer craftsmanship involved. This I found truly fascinating. I won’t give you a spoiler on whether Clapton bought the guitar.

The author is also a guitar freak, and he references many other excellent and well known luthiers, such as T. J. Thompson (I’m surprised he didn’t include Dana Bourgoise in Maine or Chris Bozung in Nashville.)

If your interest is in how a top notch luthier puts together a hand crafted guitar, then I can thoroughly recommend this book. Just ignore the ‘local color’ and wait for another volume that should be written about the life achievements of Helen White.

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Filed under book reviews, crafting, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing