A special greeting this month to my new friends from the Keene Music Festival and from my recent Amazing Things Arts Center show. This month’s Kitchen Musician features “Phil’s Guitar”, a new song about a very special guitar that a good friend commissioned. Welcome to my kitchen!
Tom at Amazing Things Arts Center, Aug. 2010, Photo: Dan Tappan
My family and I recently returned from three wonderful weeks in New Hampshire. When we are asked to describe our time in Jaffrey, we usually say that the most urgent decision of the day is whether we make turkey or roast beef sandwiches for the daily trip to Thorndike Pond. Think “slow”. When we returned home, we were greeted with an obvious symbol of how hot it was in Boston last month. The melted candle in our side room clung bravely to its post, and will remain there through the winter to remind us that summer will return.
I have been asked by several of you about the progress of my recording project. Yes, I am actively recording my first studio album of completely original music. This will be my fourth album, the first three being traditional folk songs for children. I started this project last fall, but unfortunately was side tracked by a busy calendar at my day job and an extended bad streak of vocal problems over the winter. But I am back in the studio saddle now and hope to have my tracks done by the end of September. I will follow that with a few sessions to add some instrumental and vocal backup. I am fortunate to be working on this project with Seth Connelly at Humming Lake Studio in Brookline, NH. It is too early to set a release date, since my day job and other things are likely to interfere with any date I set. I’ll share more when I am confident I can keep to a date.
This Month’s Music
© 2010 Tom Smith
Please note: If you would like to sing this song, please use revised lyrics in comments below.
I met Phil Knudsen about four years ago at a Boston area folk music event. We became fast friends, and I instantly became a fan of his music making, both solo and with his equally talented and engaging poet/singer wife Trisha. Phil makes his wonderful music with a factory-made guitar. It is a good guitar, but modest by the standards of some of our professional musician friends. Last year, Phil shared with me that following the death of his mother and father, and with a little cash left over from the sale of their beloved family homestead, he commissioned a hand-made guitar by Chuck Sanzone, a talented local luthier. Phil writes, “I wanted to build the guitar to honor my parents. It was my mother who asked me not to play too loud, so I learned to fingerpick. It was my father who rewrote the words to every hymn he ever sang in church and encouraged me by his example to write my own songs. Both of them loved music – in the end – even mine.” (A typical tongue-in-cheek comment by Phil, at his own expense.)
With Chuck Sanzone’s help, Phil carefully chose woods that would be both beautiful and functional individually, but would also complement each other, like the strings themselves which each sound an individual note but when played together resonate sympathetically. I was fascinated by the progress of this project, and eagerly tuned in when Phil announced each milestone. Last month Phil debuted his new guitar by playing a song that he and Trisha wrote for their son’s wedding. How appropriate that this new guitar play an important role in their celebration â€” almost as if Phil’s parents were physically present.
What makes this guitar so special? Phil describes it’s physical appearance, the beautiful sound that it produces, and how well it fits his hands. All true, but I came away from these conversations with the feeling that this guitar is special because of the music that Phil will make with it. With this guitar, he will continue his long history of singing songs that have a strong personal meaning to him and his loved ones. This guitar will be used to tell stories, to make people laugh and to build community.
At the school where I work, occasionally I sing at “Morning Meeting”, a time when teachers and students gather before launching into the business of teaching and learning. Today, to help start the new school year, I sang “Phil’s Guitar” to help make the point that although it is wonderful to have the very best of tools – the best computer, the best lacrosse stick, the best paint and brushes – it is the unique way each of us uses our tools that define who we are.
Wishing you wings for your guitar.
~ Peace and music,
(I invite you to leave a comment. Just scroll down to the end of this page.)
Sep 11, Saturday, 4:15 pm Joining Kate Chadbourne and friends for an afternoon of music to celebrate Concord’s 375th anniversary.
Oct. 6, Wednesday, 7:30 pm A special (and unusual) show as the feature artist at the Amazing Things Arts Center Comedy Open Mique. Yes, I will get my sillies out and would love to have you join me.
Click to view details about all upcoming shows.
Featured Non-Profit: Fender Music Foundation
In looking for an organization which works to provide musical instruments for those who most need and can least afford them, I was impressed by the mission statement of the Fender Music Foundation.
“We understand the impact music has on the lives of people of all ages, and the tremendous gift it brings to participants and listeners. We understand the power of music on the soul and the vehicle it provides for our sanity, health and creativity. We want to help make that gift available to everyone, with the understanding that the process of participating in music is a means to this end; that people don’t have to be rock stars or professional musicians to enjoy the rewards of music participation, and that age is not a factor in the enjoyment or ability to learn to play music.”
Here here! To join me in amplifying their mission, please click to make a donation.