Michael Kang’s Gilchrist available

Michael Kang's Gilcrhist

If you’ve ever wanted an instrument with some underlying noteworthiness, like say one that belonged to Michael Kang the mandolin player for the String Cheese Incident, then now is your chance. Run, don’t walk, over to your friendly neighborhood mandolin Cafe classifieds, and get out your phat check book. Make the check out for $19,000 and then sit back and bask in the glow of your collectable mandolin noteworthiness.

Well I suppose just owning a playable work of art that sounds as good as any mandolin ever will would be worth the price of admission.  Three cheers for Gilchrists!

The Deadly Gentlemen, Carry Me to Home – A Review.


The Free Downloadable - Deadly Gentlemen


This morning I was made aware of the Deadly Gentlmen thanks to a post over on the Bluegrass Blog covering the Crooked Still folks. The Deadly Gentlemen’s  album “Carry Me to Home” is available for FREE download, gotta like that.

The Deadly Gentlemen, if we are to believe their own bio info, are a young super group of wunderkinds including Dawg’s son Sam on Bass. A genetic winning lottery ticket like being the son of the greatest madolin player in history gives them a huge leg up on the competition, but lets put that fact aside because in the end thats pretty immaterial to the musical properties and merits of the band.

I really don’t want to be a hater, and most who know me would say I’m not. I want to like this stuff, because in general its exploring new territory on the instruments that I love. Its breaking new ground, and there is something to say for that alone, I totally respect that.

But in the end, the album comes off like the long-lost never-before-heard bluegrass tracks form a bizzaro version of Phish’s Junta album, and not in a good way. The lyrics are basically machine gun delivery with multi-part harmony leads. I’m sure it is impressive in a bar, and plays very well with lots of screaming adoring fans. I’m sure they are pretty good live, and have a quite a following, if for nothing else than the fact that they are nice looking young white kids playing Bluegrass instruments. But man, it gets old, real quick. There isn’t a singable catchy hook any where in sight. The entire album is a barren wasteland of unpleasant acoustic art rock. It’s a beyond the thunder dome, post apocalyptic, scatterbrained , short attention span, Ritalin chewing, mess.

Its the vocals stupid. Its just way too much over the top yelling and crazy ADHD cut-and-paste Hip-hop contributions by the supporting voices. That, and I guess they never got the memo that Trey doesn’t have a very good singing voice and that imitating him doesn’t turn out well.

Although, for the folks that wish Phish would have been an all acoustic bluegrass band with amazing chops, these are your peeps.

The instrumentation is pretty good for the most part, but the banjo stuff is odd and never really gives it to you like you want it. The fiddle playing is outstanding but again is held to a bizzare cut and paste riffyness that never gets its done. The mandolin playing is basically relegated to rhythm with only a few leads and is disappointing. Like imagine if Chris Thile never blew your mind with a solo and thats pretty much the gist of it, a lot of fancy chopping tricks and not much more. I mean even with all this singing and shouting and fancy licks going on, never, not once did I find my self thinking Ah this good stuff right here. Its like one giant intro, with no pay off. Its like a joke without a punch line.

And oddly enough, in a testament to how tastes change over time, this is a band that 10 years ago I would have thought was the coolest thing since sliced bread. I would have dragged my then-to-be wife to the show, where she would look at me after two songs and said these guys suck, lets go to Dick’s Den.

That being said its worth the cost of admission, free 🙂

Now if you want to hear some guys who can really let you have it and never let up, not even for a minute, check out the Drowsy Lads. It ain’t Bluegrass, but it sure is good!

Dawg unveils new Mandola model from Eastman.

In an excellent interview on the Mandolin Cafe David Grisman recently unveiled photos of the new Eastman Mandola prototype (shown above). As someone who doesn’t own a mandola this is a tempting addition to the arsenal, for sure.

Since it would never be a primary tool for me as a player, I could never justify the expense of a high end custom mandola like the Kimble I lusted after at IBMA so many moons ago. So for me an imported Eastman mandola might be just the ticket, especially if it looks as good as those prototype pics appear.

I’m a sucker for those good old Lyon and Healy designs, bring it on!

I suppose I’ll need to figure out where the local Eastman dealers are huh?

Question from Jim MacDaniel: Thank you for all of the music you’ve shared with us over the years, and for inspiring many of us (myself included) to learn the mandolin. I also want to thank you for Corrado Giacomel’s J5 design into the realm of affordability for many of us, through your partnership with Corrado and Eastman—and we also loved the Eastman revival of the Bacon. On this latter note, is there anything new on the drawing board that you can share with us now?

David Grisman: As you may already know Jim, the next model in the Dawg Collection Series is a replica of the Lyon & Healy Style A mandola, an incredible design that hasn’t been produced for 80+ years! This has taken a bit longer as Eastman recently moved their USA offices from Maryland to California. I recently approved the 2nd prototype (with a slightly more acute neck angle and slimmer neck profile) and production has begun on these models. I’m very pleased with their attention to detail and willingness to build instruments that are different than the norm and reasonably priced. Other models are on the drawing boards and I’ll let Scott know about them as they near completion. No F-5s though, I’m avoiding the fray.

The Infamous Stringdusters SUCK!

Ok actually they are a pretty good band, I’m just jealous, and the video below will help explain why. They get to ride around the US picking on stage in front of throngs of adoring and gyrating young fans, ski, ride their bikes (and tricycles apparently?) generally have a blast. I’m also guessing that at least one of them has waved fly rod more than once, but I can’t say for sure. Yeah they suck!

What they don’t show is how much it sucks to be stuck in a van most days with four other dudes who you’re most likely sick of, but thats its a trade off to leading the “Grasstar” lifestyle.I think I invented a new word there. Grasstar, its like being rock star that most people could care less about, but a certain group of obsessed fools will fawn over and more likely than not request some obscure number written in 1933. Then said fool will proceed to give you the left over pie from their family reunion, or something like that. Anyway they look like they are doing well, and bringing the young people out for some grass, and we like that.

We all know that the folks the Bluegrass community thought were carrying the torch, like Yonder and King Wilkie went the way of the bluegrass dodo bird.

Anyway, I just thought I would make it known that the Infamous Stringdusters suck.

Got a spare $20,000, invest in a Nugget

One Michael Whitlow posted this beautiful two-point Nugget today on the Cafe classifieds. Who needs stocks when you’ve got Nuggets. Go get it, play it, love it, hug it, call it George, it will be worth it. Or better yet, if you’re feeling generous, buy it and send it to me. So I can play it, love it, and hug it.

Let’s pause today to remember a great one.

Clarence and Roland White – I am a Pilgrim

On this day July 15th, only a few years before I was born, we lost one of the best guitar players of all time, Clarence White. So it is without further adieu that I present a great rendition of I am a Pilgrim and Soldier’s Joy.