(Photographs copyright 2012 by Dan Routh)
(Photographs copyright 2011 b Dan Routh}
Grays Chapel neighbor Gerald Hampton plays mandolin on the weekends with the band Molasses Creek, but during the week he spends his time building guitars and repairing guitars, mandolins and the occasional fiddle like the one shown below. Gerald said it was found inside a wall of an old South Carolina house and he describes it as a “project”.
I went by an afternoon concert in High Point on Sunday and heard neighbor and Grays Chapel native Gerald Hampton play his mandolin with the band Molasses Creek. A hot evening produced some hot music. Along with Gerald, Gary Mitchell, Dave Tweedie, Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro (all four from Ocracoke Island), produce tight instrumentals and smooth vocals. Their repertoire goes from Bob Wills tunes to Peter Paul and Mary to original work with Cape Breton style fiddle. It goes from the Ink Spots to Dolly Parton and to traditional bluegrass with the addition of world class banjo picker, Stan Brown from Coleridge. For more info and to hear the band, go to http://www.molassescreek.com.
The area of downtown Greensboro, North Carolina south of the railroad tracks is known locally as Old Greensboro. A center for antique shops, it is also a thriving hub of artists and artisans. Across the alley from my studio is John Foy Piano Restoration. Run by John Foy, they specialize in maintaining, repairing and rebuilding grand pianos, primarily those made by Steinway and Sons. John has been doing this for about 27 years. He was trained as a classical pianist but began tuning and maintaining instruments. Soon, the need for repairing pianos arose and since he was familiar with woodworking from his father, he trained at North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA in piano repair and rebuilding. He and his staff now perform complete piano restoration in their Elm Street shop. For info, go to his website at http://www.johnfoypiano.com.
Below, John P. Johanson, a member of John’s staff, works on rebuilding a Steinway piano. While the technology in these instruments is old, the craftsmanship needed to work on these beautiful pianos is truly an art.
I was down in Chapel Hill on Friday to move my son out of his dorm at UNC and took the time to stop by the Carolina Inn to see old classmate and mandolin virtuoso Tony Williamson play with his son Rad Andy and the Tony Williamson Band. They play a sort of blluegrass-jazz-blues-fusion that is pretty cool, especially on a warm Spring Carolina afternoon. For info about Tony and his music, check out http://www.mandolincentral.com/.