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Thread: Tony Willamson and Loars at MerleFest

  1. #1
    Registered User zookster's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    North Carolina

    Default Tony Willamson and Loars at MerleFest

    I had the priviledge of having a front row seat when Tony presented an hour long program featuring 8 different Loars. I've heard a couple of Loars played together before (Tony and Ronnie McCoury backstage at the Creekside Stage), and I've even been able to play a Loar owned by a local fellow here in WNC. Hearing the difference in the individual instruments, from the seminal periods, was absolutely amazing. Not surprising, they really do all sound somewhat different. Tony had the mando mike turned off so he could play each one unamplified using just the hall acoustics, then continued contrasting the sounds with the mike back on. A couple even had a Virzi, which made the comparison even more facinating. There was even a matched set of F5/H5 made on the same day, and judging from the wood, the exact same boards.

    I had always followed the buzz about the difference between the July 23 batch and the fern 24s, but man, you can actually HEAR the difference!

    Of course, Tony with his easy going manner was obviously having a good time and his love of the instruments is very apparent. His musical selctions tended more toward jazz/swing which I think augmented the true sound of what these instruments were orignally designed for. Some of his personal anecdotes made the afternoon very special. I'm hoping somebody recorded it.

    Thanks, Tony!

  2. #2
    Registered User pickloser's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    North Carolina
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    Default Re: Tony Willamson and Loars at MerleFest

    I have played a few times (and hope to play more) with a bass player at work. We didn't play last week, because he was volunteering at Merlefest, which he has done for many years. Today I got this email from him:

    just a couple of things I found interesting at Merlefest.

    A guy that works for me as a stage hand was asking me one evening if he could get his entry pass for the next day early. He said that an artist was doing a set the next day on LLoyd Loar mandolins and wanted my stage hand to bring in some equipment for him and my stage hand did not want to leave his car way away in the general parking area. After talking to him for a few minutes, I asked him what he was bringing and he said, "oh, Tony (as in Tony Williamson) asked me if I would bring 3 (THREE) of my Loars for his gig tomorrow." I said, "YOU HAVE 3 LOARS!!!!!! and he said, "Yeah, I have more than that but I did not want to BRING ALL OF THEM." !!!!!!!!!! go figure
    You just never know.
    Got to catch phone, other story later
    Then the second email came:

    Sunday around 1:00ish my wife was sitting in the shade at the Americana stage watching Richard Watson, Jack Lawrence, T.Michael Coleman, Jeff little and I don't know who else. They were doing a Merle Watson tribute set. Anyway, not long after they began, 2 guys came and sat down just to the right of my wife, just where she could not see them without turning her head. She said they went on and on about the fact that they did not know the folks on stage and why didn't they know them and they should know them, etc etc. It got to the point that my wife really wanted to turn around and say "who cares if you know them or not, just shut up". Of course she did not do that but finally she did turn around to see who was making the fuss and turns out it was Sam Bush and some other guy she did not recognize and she said Sam sat right there beside her for the whole set just having a good time....... Never can tell up there who might be just around the corner

    That's all, I thought it was kind of funny
    . . .I just gotta get to Merlefest next year.

  3. #3
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Re: Tony Willamson and Loars at MerleFest

    I too sat on the front row. To me this was a real LoarFest. When you get more than 4 together at one time it becomes a feast of Loars. Tony really took the time to give dimenstrations on why not all Loars are created equal and alike. The two with the Virzi did stand out and were really well balanced and projection out front was superb. The July 9th with reverse binding(like Monroes) stood pretty mighty among the rest. No wonder Monroe liked that batch. From 1922 to 1924 it was a prefect way to show why these mandolins made by Gibson are still so special after all these years. A few of them looked like they were made last week they shined so new looking from the stage lights. I can't believe I didn't have a camera or a recorder for the event but who knew Tony would have 8 of them. It was not well advertised what was going to happen. Similar to not knowing what 60's rock album would be featured at the Album jam on the Hillside or who is going to show up for the Midnight Jam. It was the first Jimi Hendrix LP and Sam Bush and John Cowan blew out of the park on some of those songs. Not sure who came to the midnight jam. Tickets sell out early for that event.

  4. #4
    Registered User stratman62's Avatar
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    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Tony Willamson and Loars at MerleFest

    I also was able to attend Tony's workshop and was just blown away by the variations in tones of those different Loars. A never forget day. Am proud to say F5Loar stopped in momentarily for one of our welcome stage slots. Thanks Tom
    dwight in NC

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