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Thread: Chris Thile in London Interview

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    Default Chris Thile in London Interview

    The Mandolin Cafe has posted the following news release:
    Chris Thile in London Interview

    Dan Beimborn sat down with Chris Thile while in London on Tour with Punch Brothers and produced this exclusive interview for the Mandolin Cafe.



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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    That's why I love the interviews here. Gives me a chance to hear tech and gear talk from top players. And hearing stuff from my favorite player is awesome. Thanks for the interview.
    "Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man."

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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    I'd like to thank Dan Beimborn for putting this together. Not a lot of full-feature interviews with Chris out there. He's so busy he's hard to pin down for an interview.

    Also a huge thanks to Joe Spann who made some great contributions to the article as well and is still doing some research on the original owner.

    I placed a call (went to voicemail) to the one great grandchild of orchestra leader Howard D. Fisher that Joe found (that had an associated phone number--there are actually several). She lives in Wichita which is just a few miles down the road from El Dorado, Kansas. Didn't get a return call but it was likely a pretty strange experience and all of this information may very well be totally new to them. For those not aware, I'm based in Kansas about 90 minutes from El Dorado.

    Interesting side note: in the orchestra photo bottom left is a young boy holding what appears to be a Fern F5. There was a Loar signed Fern that turned up in the area a few years ago which would be about 100 miles from where this photo was taken and it would not be unusual for someone to migrate from south central Kansas to the suburbs of Kansas City where the mandolin ended up. I'm in the process of contacting the family that owned that instrument. Thinking there's a real possibility the young man in the photo was the grandfather of the elderly owners of this instrument. Very interesting stuff. Of all of the orchestra photos I've ever seen, this one haunts me most, and I'm determined to uncover the names of these musicians. Thinking a trip to El Dorado for the day or more to look into the archives of the local newspaper may be in my future.

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Great interview! Once again, the Mandolin Cafe shines its stuff as the BEST instrument site on the web!

    As a (former) journalist, great questions from Dan, and terrific work from you guys on the historical data about Chris' mandolin. Fascinating.
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Yes, nice job Dan and Scott.

    Having listened to an advance copy of the CD, I can confirm that the production does indeed mark a very big change for the P-Bros. As Chris points out, the first recordings were about capturing the well-honed acoustic sound of the band. The new disc is unlike anything I've heard before, and very unlike the experience of hearing the band live in recent years. It took me a few listenings just to adjust my expectations, but I'm diggin' it now.
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Tichenor View Post

    Interesting side note: in the orchestra photo bottom left is a young boy holding what appears to be a Fern F5. There was a Loar signed Fern that turned up in the area a few years ago which would be about 100 miles from where this photo was taken and it would not be unusual for someone to migrate from south central Kansas to the suburbs of Kansas City where the mandolin ended up. I'm in the process of contacting the family that owned that instrument. Thinking there's a real possibility the young man in the photo was the grandfather of the elderly owners of this instrument. Very interesting stuff. Of all of the orchestra photos I've ever seen, this one haunts me most, and I'm determined to uncover the names of these musicians. Thinking a trip to El Dorado for the day or more to look into the archives of the local newspaper may be in my future.
    I thought the same thing Scott.

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    I have stared and stared at pictures of old mandolin orchestras and players, with the wild idea of finding my '23 A2 snakehead. I can't imagine the possability of not just seeing the same model or year, but seeing the very instrument. And then to be able to document the history from original purchase to my eventual ownership. Its just amazing, over the top amazing.

    I side with Chris on playing the darn things.They weren't made to be seen as much as to be heard. It needs to be said, and and said by Chris, because coming from me would be ridiculously lame. I don't have a reasonable expectation of ever being in a position to have to make those decisions.

    Dan good job. I know I would not be able to do it. I am too much of a fanboy, I would probably start to stutter.
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    It's true that Chris' opinion carries some real weight, and what he says about replacing fingerboards is true for thousands of old Gibsons. If they don't play in tune, there is no reason to hesitate in replacing a fingerboard (and luckily, the inlay patterns aren't too elaborate, so preserving pearl isn't usually an issue). This should increase the value of a vintage mandolin, not decrease it. (although I can't honestly say if that is the current state of the market) The market for classical instruments is more 'mature', and I don't think a replaced fingerboard is considered a problem at all there.

    If you place a modern fingerboard by a good maker up against a vintage Gibson, sometimes you will see a shocking variation in the fret placement. It's easiest to do this with a modern fretboard blank that hasn't been fretted.
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    Smile Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    cool interview. And I am very excited for this new punch brothers album now, the video previews are really good. Also, I use the same ATM-35 mic! It really is very nice, I use it sometimes to mic a harp player and it is unreal how good of sound comes from a live performance with it. I just need to figure out how to use it with my weber bridger....

    Thanks for the interview! Oh, one more thing, we are all big boys and girls here, why did you **** out a few words of profanity? I mean, if he said it, let it be printed. I am not one to swear myself, but it seems very Jr. High-ish to censor out a few words in an interview, just my opinion.

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    I thought Chris's comments were spot-on. I'm as guilty as the rest of us (heck, more so... I'm the "cheif purveyor of mando porn" really) with originality concerns etc. As I've been doing this longer, my own tastes are venturing toward mandolins with repairs, serious maintenance, neck-sets, replaced parts etc. The original parts are really quite gorgeous when you see all the original intent and look of a piece, but then it's distracting from seeing these are musical instruments.

    Having it playable really trumps everything else, though obviously the respect for it as a musical instrument does encourage you to be conservative and always keep it's true purpose to hand.
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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Really enjoyed this - thank you. (That pic of the mandolin orchestra is my new desktop background.)

    Thile is one of the most interesting people in the music business right now. Maybe one of the most interesting ever. Can't wait to see how his career unfolds over the years. And I'm REALLY looking forward to the Bach project.
    ...

  13. #12

    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Norman Blake has also declared the fret placement on many Gibson mandolins as "lousy", and the Loar-era one's amongst the worst of them. He has also said that he has had "frets moved" on many Gibson mandolins that he owns or has owned.
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    A really good interview by Dan B. I'm pleased that CT agrees with my point of view that 'Loar' Mandolins are not 'Museum pieces'.Maybe 'somebody' will bring Bill Monroe's Loar out of it's case some time,& who better than Mr C.Thile to give it a new airing - i wish !!!,
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Notice in the picture that many are fretting an open G. Can you hear it?

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Great interview - cheers Dan. I kept an eye out for you at the gig but didn't spot you.
    Rigel A Natural

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    To quote Chris Thile if I may... BAM!

    Here's a bit of news.

    Just off the phone with Jim at Mass. Street Music who had the Fern in question that I spoke of in my opening post. This is in reference to the boy in the orchestra sitting on the ground, bottom left, who appears to be holding a Fern F-5. Jim tells me the owners of that Fern he had for some time had family from that part of the state going back that far, so while he hasn't spoken to them yet, at this point he thinks it's without question that this is the same family. If that's the case, in the next day or so we should have a second name in the orchestra and a positive ID of the original owner of a #76782, a March 31, 1924 Fern with virzi.

    Here's an article Bill Graham did for us on the mandolin back in 2009:
    http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pub...s_001016.shtml

    Gets better... Just now re-reading Bill's article and found this:

    Victor and Lena Semisch of rural Butler County, Kan., east of Wichita, acquired this Gibson F5 that he played and a Gibson archtop guitar that she played. Victor was a country school teacher who later operated a small general store and gas station.

    Daughter Phyllis Shanline, 80, of Manhattan, Kan., remembers her father teaching her how to sing harmonies as he she rode with him to make gas deliveries to farmers. But she only has vague memories of the mandolin and him playing "Redwing" on it.

    Her sister, Jody Kennedy, 73, of Olathe, Kan., in the Kansas City suburbs, remembers seeing the mandolin surface when she was young. Kennedy asked him about it and he took it out and played it a bit, but that's all she remembers.

    Friends tell them her parents played with other musicians at community gatherings at the school or in homes. The girls didn't pay close attention.

    "I thought, why on earth can't they play something up-to-date," Shanline said.

    Their parents apparently didn't play much at all after World War II, Kennedy said. Victor Semisch died in 1961 at age 59. Lena Semisch held onto the instruments.

    Both the mandolin and the guitar survived a fire at the family business and later an explosion next to a closet where they were stored. Kennedy acquired the mandolin in 2001 after her mother died, and another relative has the guitar.

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Kansas is proving an important state in Mandolin History. Also the home of innovative mandolin luthier, Albert Shutt!
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    The description of the tone on that Loar is just how I would describe my mandolin.

    Just lucky, I guess.
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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    This IS a great time waster, at least for me.

    Based on some new information Joe Spann just sent I think the orchestra leader Fisher is seated in the middle, bottom row. That would make the Fern owner in question on the far left. According to Joe's information, he would have been 21 at the time. The kid on the ground I think we'd agree is definitely not 21. This is where the family will help us out.

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Scott I hope you are able to make the time. This is some of the most fascinating stuff I have read in a long time.

    I have photographs of me holding each of my mandolins, with a brief description of when, where, and how I bought it and what I play, written on the back. I keep these pictures in the case.

    I started this several years ago, and the idea is to give future owners a head start, at least as far back as me.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    About his mandolin not being played and kept with the original fingerboard, maybe that's OK too. I can think of worse things to do to a Loar. - Like if I had got one from under a grandparent's bed at the age of 14. At least this way, it made it to where it needed to go. Not bad that it waited for Gilchrist to set it up, either.

    I am now for sure waiting to buy the new recording until I first see some of it performed live on March 1. Based on this interview, live may be much different / less full sounding in comparison to the recording. Maybe a topic for future discussion?
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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Thanks to Dan Beimborn for this great interview with so much interesting information! I enjoyed reading it very much.

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    I agree with Thile that all instruments were designed to be played, not admired on a wall like a painting. Especially not hidden in a case. Replacing a fingerboard makes sense, but I think painting one the way Frank Wakefield did is getting a little carried away.
    "If you got time to breathe, you got time for music !" - Briscoe Darling

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    There is an extended interview with Thile about the Punch Brothers, together with a video of their performance of one of the new album tracks in today's Observer newspaper. The group are attracting a lot of media attention in the UK from the 'quality press'. You can find the article here: https://www.theguardian.com/music/20...oung-interview

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    Default Re: Chris Thile in London Interview

    Excellent interview! Thile is my hero. And this is also an absolutely fascinating thread. Scott, I hope you can get all of the history sorted!
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