When four attendees of the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Framingham, MA this past Saturday discovered that they had brought 5 Gilchrist Model 5's with them, an impromptu GilFest took place. We sat in a circle starting out with our own instrument and then passed it to our left after each tune enabling us to sample a 22 year span of Steve Gilchrist’s amazing work. Proud Gil owners in order of age (not the owners, the mandolins) were:
Keith Hillyard: 1987 Fern #87177, original style tailpiece, one-piece back, feature photo in Steve’s 1990 catalog
Ken Reback: 2003 Fern #03558, 10” radius, fresh off the Joe Val main stage after being played during the Back Eddy set
Rich Michaud: 2004 Flowerpot #04568, wide nut (not Rich, the mandolin), scooped extension, most mojo of the bunch
Rich Michaud: 2005 Fern #05590, check the classifieds this one is available
Paul Murphy: 2009 Flowerpot #641-09, 3-piece neck, scooped extension, 1 of only 2 model 5's made in 2009
Because Rich had 2 Gils, he brought the talented fiddler/mando player Cameron Freer with him to enable us to hear all 5 mandos during the same sitting. Surprisingly, all 5 mandolins were tone bar models and all had the standard nut width except #04568.
Needless to say, a good time was had by all. Maybe we should actually plan ahead for an even bigger GilFest next year.
And thank you Mr. Gilchrist!