Thursday, May 5, 2011

Acoustic beauty

I’m not much of a thing person, but one thing I’d like to have some day is a Martin guitar. Perhaps it’s my Pennsylvania roots longing, or the fact that I’ve heard a few played well in my life thus far. There’s something special about acoustic music. This is in no way a statement knocking the fun and sheer power of amplified music. I love rock ‘n roll a lot. But I love acoustic music including a beautiful symphony orchestra. The other instrument I love is the cello.

In the 70’s while at college, I escaped campus frequently to frequent the Towne Crier Café, then located in Beekman NY. It’s moved since to Pawling NY. This was an old roadside inn with great wood and …acoustics. The music there was cool. Members of the Band frequented the place which served no alcohol at the time, but there was other stuff available. This is not about the Towne Crier Café, though. This thought is about acoustics.

It didn’t bother me when Dylan plugged in. I’m not political when it comes to music, although there’s great discussion possible in the topic. I like instruments, the way they’re built to sound a certain way when played well. My favorite guitar players are Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey. Acoustic musicians. Yes, I realize their recordings amplify things. Yes, I know they performed with mics. But back to the Towne Crier.

The music at the Towne Crier I enjoyed the most was acoustic…Leon Redbone comes to mind. Leon, his glass of whiskey, and his guitar. A mic for his voice, but no pickup. We listened to music there. It was admittedly a small place free of the riff raff conversations at the bar. People listened, musicians played. The place was like sitting inside of a guitar too. The acoustic guitar sounds fit there well. I know that’s not the case everywhere, but there it fit.

Not many places these days where acoustic music fits. Not many places where a guitar player can play a Martin unassisted by electricity. Not many places where a Martin can just be a Martin. In most venues, even concert halls, music competes with a lot of elements. Acoustic music, fingers on strings, bows stroking, reeds vibrating, drums pounding, horns blowing, somehow need electricity. In some small venues I think acoustic could happen but musicians are comfortable having to amplify. Singers too.

At the Towne Crier, I remember how we used to be able to sit close to the musicians. It was crowded often, but we leaned forward together so close that I could clearly see C.F. Martin & Co. est 1833, and hear it as well. This is not a memory trip because acoustic "is"...

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