A few weeks ago the girlfriend and I took a trip to do some backpacking in the smokies. Great trip, good weather, etc.
Interesting stuff on the post-hiking trip. Ran into a couple that plays old time in Gatlinburg, Jerry and Joan (they were excellent) and started talking to them about local music. I asked them in they knew any old time or any sort of mandolin going on in the area. So they let us know about a band that would be playing that weekend that had a small amount of mandolin.
So we get to the bar to see this band and I recognized one of the guys but couldn't figure out from where. I figured it out finally and it was this guy (from an old thread I couldn't find) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gCdH...feature=relmfu This is going to be interesting. Guy played fiddle and banjo really well but never picked up the mandolin. Another guy in the band did though, and he was pretty good at it. Turns out the one guy with the youtube video did it as a school project or something and didn't actually play mandolin, just threw it together. He was aware of the harsh comments. Pretty good band, the mandolin was from some small maker in Indiana who's name I can't remember now, but thing sounded nice.
A few nights before that I got to hear my first Gil, an early 81 if I remember correctly. I didn't know what it was at first, I just knew it sounded amazing. Guy playing it knew what he was doing with it also, which didn't hurt.
Got to see an old Bluegrass boy in action, Ralph Lewis. Not sure how old the guy is, but he could pick like a rock star still. It was impressive to say the least, his son and his sons son also had some chops on the thing. I think it was a 68 and I want to say F-12 but thats probably wrong, had a pick-up installed at the base of the fretboard and it sounded good in the hands of those guys.
Probably the coolest thing mandolin related that I did though was visit the shop of James Condino. I stopped by his shop for a couple hours one evening and shot the breeze. Learned more in those two hours than my brain was able to properly process and store, got to see some works in progress and also got to play one in the white still. I've played the walls at Gruhns and Elderly before but I'm not a strong enough player to make a lot of mandolins sing. Now this thing, and I'm not good at describing sound, but the first notes I plucked on this thing just rang. For some reason I measure mandolins by the D string and then the balance according to that. The D on this thing had the gentleness of a harp with the strength of 30lb sledge. The other strings were the same way. I couldn't put it down, literally. James had to take it out of my hands. I've liked mandolins before and I own a couple that I really like, this thing though, this thing just blew me away. I can still hear the way it sang when Condino was playing away on it. I can still feel the way it laid in my hands and just the purity and power of the sounds my meager skills could get out of it. Then I looked at the thing, it was gorgeous. The back was some old brazilian rosewood that just blew my mind. I forget what the top was, but whatever it was it did its intended job and rang like a bell. The neck and balance were as close to perfect as I've found so far. I wanted the thing. I'm still impressed at the level of skill and knowledge and talent that it takes to build one of these things. It's a lot to take in, but a great thing to have a beer and contemplate. This mandolin does deserve its own thread, but I didn't get any pictures. Maybe James will see this and have some. All I can say about the thing is wow. I still can't get the sound of it out of my head.
Anyway, interesting trip and I guess the point I was trying to make is that its amazing the amount of mandolin related stuff you can stumble into sometimes. It was the proverbial icing on the cake.