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Mandolin Mondays #305 w/ Special Guest Jody Stecher

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This week on Mandolin Mondays we have the venerable Jody Stecher with us to play through these two beautiful tunes "Leslie's Waltz" and "A Waltz Like Midnight" on his Stan Miller Mandolin.

Jody Stecher has been teaching and sharing his love for music since his days in the 1960s as a budding folklorist and influential picker in New York City's old-time and bluegrass scene. Stecher has played virtually every stringed instrument, delving deeply into traditional music forms from blues to Bahamain and even Hindustani classical. A musician of constant aesthetic integrity, Jody is regarded as one of America's leading traditional folk artists. You might know him from his work with Peter Rowan as well. These days, he lives in the Bay Area and enjoys singing and performing songs with his wife, Kate Brislin.

Check out his 2010 Mandolin Cafe interview here for more info on his celebrated career:

Jody also has a brand new double album that just came out last year called Dreams from the Overlook--check it out here:

Here's a quote from Jody about the mandolin that he's playing here for the video too, "The mandolin I’m playing was made by Stan Miller on a little school desk in Bellingham Washington. It was completed on July 31, 1984. I bought it soon after. I am the first and only owner. I have made lots of recordings with this mandolin and have gotten so many compliments on its sonic beauty. (It looks great too), particularly from professional musicians who had preconceptions about what an A model sounds like. Over the years the mandolin has been modified. I bought the mandolin for its sound. There was another of Stan’s A model mandolins I was considering. ( He makes great F models but I did not have the $ to buy one). The other A model sounded more like a typical F-5 — it has what I’d call a dry sound. The one I chose was more “wet”. It meant I could play fiddle tunes and sound a lot like a fiddle. When I want or need a drier sound I play closer to the bridge. Another reason I chose this mandolin was the chop. It just growled. And that made it a good instrument to play in a bluegrass band. But although I loved the sound I found the neck a bit small and the fingerboard a bit narrow. So the first change was a radius fingerboard. This made it seem to my left hand like I had more room. Paul Hostetter did the job. Paul also refretted the mandolin a number of times over the years. After about 10 years I had worn away the finish in a couple of places on the top. ( My pick grip has changed since then so it would probably not happen now). There was one spot where more than the finish was worn. I was eating into the wood. Paul had an old busted Greek lauto with a giant shell pick guard.that was in horrible condition but had some good pieces. He removed one of the good pieces and shaped it and inlaid it into the face of the mandolin where the wood was vanishing. It had no effect on the sound. About 10 years after that Stan Miller (the luthier who build this mandolin) contacted all his customers about a new tailpiece design he liked. He offered to send it to anyone who wanted one. As I was playing a gig in Bellingham and as I couldn’t understand the directions about how to set up this tailpiece I asked Stan if he’d change the tailpiece himself. He happily agreed and he did it quickly. Now another Miller mandolin owner is Tom Rozum. Prior to my having the tailpiece changed Tom and I were talking about the new tailpiece. He said that it would change the sound. I might like it and I might not. He was right. It did change the sound. I liked it. It wasn’t better, just different. But just as good."

And be sure to connect with Jody at the following link below for more information about his music:

And as always, tune in next week for more Mandolin Mondays! Until then...

Happy Picking!

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  1. Alfons's Avatar
    Very nice! great sound and playing, and I enjoyed the unhurried pace of these tunes.
  2. Cheryl Watson's Avatar
    I really enjoyed that, Jody, thank you. Your mandolin is a gem. It's one of the best things I love about playing mandolin, just sitting around and picking solo, slower tunes with a gentle touch, for tone and feeling. It is very therapeutic.
  3. William Smith's Avatar
    Great tune and Mandolin. Love it, well done as usual.
  4. jd.panko's Avatar
    So good! Thanks.
  5. tuhker's Avatar
    so good. Kate and Jody are national treasures.
  6. Todd Bowman's Avatar
    Wonderful! Such a peaceful, contemplative, tune! Thanks for sharing!