Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Santa Cruz Art of Guitar Festival

Jayme Kelly Curtis
The 2014 Santa Cruz Art of Guitar Festival is a wrap. All of the shows, receptions, concerts and demos are done, and the festival could not have been better. Jayme Kelly Curtis's vision was fully realized and exceeded. The pulse of interest and excitement has reached not only all around Santa Cruz, but also much more globally, I've had interest and comments coming in from all over the country. 

Simon, Owen, and Quillan
Our participation as Hill Guitar has been quite satisfying. When Jayme first told me about the idea 3 years ago the first thing that jumped into my mind was to put together a guitar making demo. And we did it. For the February 7th event at the Museum of Art and History my sons and I moved part of our workshop into the museum atrium and built guitars in public, while many of the best musicians of Santa Cruz took stage to demo the varied fine guitars of our local luthiers. More than a thousand people turned out that evening and it was wonderful to see how intrigued they were watching our craftsmen at work, neck carving, side bending, the inside details of the instruments, and French polishing. The boys did an amazing job just doing their work, in addition to explaining their processes and reasons, and glowing with enthusiasm. I'm very proud of them. 

Evan Hirschelman &
The Athens Guitar Duo
The two concerts we sponsored were also grand. First Evan Hirschelman opened a show sharing the bill with with Bill Coulter and Alex de Grassi. My God, I've heard Evan play many times, but he always astounds me with the power, imagination and virtuosity of his compositions. That sold out show was amazing, and we actually arranged a second house concert so we could hear it all again. Then 4 days later the Athens Guitar Duo came in from Georgia. I had heard a recent CD of theirs, but never actually met them, and once again, their playing and their repertoire was so beautiful. Their performances were very satisfying, moving, and it is very gratifying to hear our instruments do what they are made to do on such a lofty level. 

Kenny in concert at the MAH
Thanks to everyone who came out. We live in an amazing community. This show focusing on luthiers of Santa Cruz was much more than that, it became a stand in for all of the creativity and beauty that our neighbors and friends and family support here all the time. For all of the luthiers I know here, the business is necessarily world wide. In fact lutherie in Santa Cruz is essentially an export business. Though we sell a few instruments locally to local musicians, I think 90% of hand-made guitar sales will go to other parts of the country or the world, which helps keep the Santa Cruz trade balance positive. It is a privilege to be based in a place where art and ideas and creativity can be so well cultivated and appreciated. It is good to see all of our colleagues getting together, and realize how the love of the work still infects us all, maybe even stronger than when we began. 
Thank you Jayme, what a great idea you had. And also special thanks to Rick Mackee, Nicole Ward, Rob Blitzer, Bill Coulter, Jim and Renee, my kids, and all the others who did so much behind the scenes.
Kenny Hill
March 2014

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