|SOUTHERN CROSSING||FAR FROM HERE||KNUCKLED BRASS & BONE||THORNS TO SLEEP||THORNS TO SLEEP LP||THORNS TO
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A Celebration of Australian Handcrafted Guitars
With one laptop, 2 microphones and 12 instrumental tunes under his belt, David Ross Macdonald hobo’ed his way across Australia during the bush-fire ravaged summer of 2002 visiting some of the countries finest guitar builders.
After sitting down with each craftsman for coffee and conversation on all things guitar, Dave set up his microphones in the luthiers kitchens, living rooms or workshops, was handed a freshly minted hand crafted instrument and pressed ‘record’.
1 month, 12 guitars and 3000 miles later ‘Southern Crossing’ was completed and is an expose and homage to the spirit, craft and musical works of art those luthiers embody in their guitars.
Album, Luthiers and their Guitars
Below you can read about these wonderful builders and their hear their creations as recorded in situ in the luthiers homes and recorded on Southern Crossing and if you are just looking for a single transcription then you can buy them here too.
DAVID CHURCHILL GUITARS
|Yeskimo||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
David has been refining cedar topped finger-style steel strings for more than 20 years. His office is a renovated 100-year-old corner shop in the historic gold rush town of Ballarat, two hours north of Melbourne. His wisdom and painstaking attention to detail combine to create musical works of art, one piece which I am fortunate enough to own. Ballarat was the birthplace of Australian unionism when the miners repelled the government military. This occurred during the mid 1800′s gold rush and is known as the Eureka Stockade.
It is also home to the famous Australian honeycomb and chocolate movie theatre treat, Malteesers.
|Boston||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Rad builds at the hub of the acoustic folk scene in Fremantle, Western Australia. A visit to his workshop usually involves a lively debate on wood acoustics, bracing patterns, and his latest designs over a cup of legendary coffee. Ninety-eight guitars to his name, Rad’s career began when he built a Hofner copy 15 years ago. I was privileged to play this gem after a stroll down the historic Freo precinct complete with trendy cafes, buskers, a restaurant-fringed harbour and long sandy beaches. Every year Fremantle hosts the Sardine Festival where the town explodes with music, dance, history, and sardines.
Contact: Rad Guitars
10 Gummow Street
Hamilton Hill, Western Australia 6163
GERARD GILET GUITARS
|Bedtime||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Gerard has been building for over 20 years and his instruments reflect this experience and knowledge. He is a great believer in sharing this information and is one of the few traditional Australian luthiers who has expanded his business by training and employing upcoming builders. Gilet and his small team of craftsmen work in a warehouse situated at the end of runway six at the Sydney Airport in Botany Bay. Every four and a half minutes a jet flew directly overhead while I was recording, so I selected a short and fast tune to fit between takeoffs!
GREG BEETON GUITARS
|The Pearl||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Greg Beeton lives and builds along the coast near the Hawkesbury River region, one and a half hours north of Sydney. This coastline is one of the most picturesque and peaceful places I know and is home to many of Australia’s top country music stars. Greg has eight years of building experience. His extensive knowledge in guitar history and construction, along with his carpentry and joinery roots, is evident in his spectacular instruments. This Style 1 Tricone, brass -bodied resonator belongs to acoustic slide and roots guitarist and singer / songwriter Jeff Lang. I recorded it in Brighton, near Melbourne, in Jeff’s living room while he walked his puppies.
TIM WRIGHT GUITARS
|Old Macs Tractor||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Tim Wright divides his time between creating fine instruments, making copper jewelry, being a dad and tending to his legendary tomatoes. Tim has spent the last eight years building guitars in a converted backyard shed in Adelaide, South Australia. A keen innovator, Tim works closely with professional players to satisfy their diverse musical palates. I grew up around the city of Adelaide, so I was fortunate to record this Parlour Cutaway in my mother’s living room and enjoy some of her home cooking.
SCOTT WISE GUITARS
|Waltz For Kim||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Scott Wise has inspired numerous musicians and apprentice luthiers for over 20 years. A member in the ragtime blues and roots band, the Ten Cent Shooters, Scott is a true musician/instrument builder with guitar, violin and harmonica expertise. He constantly road tests his instruments and experiments with different designs and woods. The Huon pine and jarrah wood used in this guitar is one example. Wise’s workshop is located four hours south of Perth in the popular town of Margaret River. Home to some of the world’s premium wines, Margaret River is located in the heart of spectacular karri forests which border the rugged southwest surf coast of Western Australia.
DAVID WORTHY GUITARS
|Tri Continental||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
I recorded this Talisman in David Worthy’s house in Belgrave, one hour east of Melbourne in the lush Dandenong Ranges. After the recording session, David and I drove through the ash forest adjacent to his house in his green 1957 Rover and paused at the tracks of the historic steam train, The Puffing Billy, which had disrupted my living room recording session earlier. Innovative and responsive best describes David’s creations. David has a second portable guitar workshop that he tours with during his other full-time job as a technical stage manager. A job within a job, he makes guitars while listening to productions such as The Sound of Music and Les Miserables.
JACK SPIRA GUITARS
|There For Me||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Jack Spira has been building guitars and Irish bouzoukis since his graduation from the London College of Furniture 12 years ago. Jack’s studio is situated in the Dandenong Ranges of Victoria, a spectacular region of native eucalypt forests and fern gullies. It is also home to the flightless Lyrebird, which can mimic anything from other birdcalls to chain saws. I recorded this guitar in my friend’s living room in Melbourne between the sporadic screeching outbursts of his neighbour’s cockatoo. Of note is the annual Dandenong Ranges Folk Festival which attracts some of the countries finest musicians in relaxed and beautiful settings.
DAN DUBOWSKI GUITARS
|Bela Flak!||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Dan Dubowski is a young gun with three years of building on the clock. Inspired by handmade instruments on display at Australia’s National Folk Festival in Canberra, Dan left the fitter-machinist world to build guitars. His Irish bouzoukis have given him a name as his reputation builds. Self taught, Dan credits his creative evolution to the wisdom and support of Gilet, Churchill, De Gruchy and Spira. I recorded this Parlour guitar while performing at Australia’s biggest folk festival, the amazing Woodford Folk Festival in sub-tropical Queensland. The six-day music, dance and folk festival takes place in a lush sub-tropical valley two hours north of Brisbane and culminates in a spectacular fire event followed by Tibetan monks chanting in the New Year.
JOHN McGRATH GUITARS
|Waiting For Claire||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
John McGrath, the son of a carpenter and a keen guitarist in his teens, was drawn to the American styles of ragtime and bluegrass music. A crushed finger from a bicycle accident ended his professional guitar aspirations. Twenty-three years ago John started building prewar Martin and Gibson inspired instruments finished to astonishing detail rivalling anything I’ve seen. John’s words, “There are no secrets. Information sharing is important,” reflect his generous nature. He resides one hour west of Melbourne in Geelong, Victoria, gateway to the rugged Surf Coast. A short drive from Geelong is the annual Queenscliff Music Festival, a must see and hear event.
Contact: McGrath Guitars.
38 Loch St.
East Geelong, Victoria, 3219
BRYAN De GRUCHY GUITARS
|The Hammer||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Oracle, soothsayer, storyteller, and guitar builder for over25 years, Bryan De Gruchy’s guitars are coveted and played by many of Australia’s top country and pop artists. A specialist in Brazilian rosewood and Sitka spruce, Bryan’s instruments exhibit his years of dedicated guitar building. His office rests in Belair, located an hour south of Adelaide, South Australia. Nestled high in the Mt Lofty Ranges among eucalypt forest, Bryan’s workshop sits next to the local rail line as some of the out-takes are testament to.
JIM REDGATE GUITARS
|O'Carolines Last Pint||MP3 $.99||PDF & MP3 $1.99 |
Jim Redgate’s studio is only a 20-minute bush walk from Bryan De Gruchy’s place in Belair, South Australia. Jim built his house, studio and first instruments while attaining his performance degree in classical guitar 18 years ago. A classical guitar builder for the international market, I was lucky to find two of his rare steel strings for this project. After the recording session, Jim and I went to the pub and discovered that I went to junior school with the guitar’s owner!