Category Archives: Interviews

Interview : Catching Up With Denis Turbide

W&W : It’s been about a year since your first interview on Work & Worry.  What have you been up to since then? How’s life treating you?

Life’s been really busy, Ray.  I wish I could say I’ve been busy making more music, but a full time job and young children aren’t always conducive to a musician’s lifestyle!  I just need to find a better balance. That being said, I am trying to move the music thing along.

I reconnected with Alana Mark, an old friend from high school.  Facebook is amazing sometimes!  We’re writing songs together, which is new to me.  I’ve always been a singer, but lyrics have always escaped me.  We’ve started recording together, and have a couple of videos on Youtube. We still have a lot of work to do.  We’ve both been really busy this summer, so I’m looking forward to getting together with her in the near future.

There is a CD compilation, by the members of the Acoustic Guitar Forum, that came out last fall.  There’s another one coming out in August.  I wrote a new tune, which I recorded and released just a few weeks ago, called “Squish”.   I have a friend using my music in his Youtube videos to promote his T-shirt company.  Another music library has offered to add my music to their roster for use in TV and movies.   Youtube is still going strong, and a couple of guitarists out there have decided they like my music enough to cover it in their own videos, which is nice and still a bit surprising to me.  I guess I have been kind of busy. Continue reading

“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Sean Smith

By Raymond Morin

Well, here we are at the end of “Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Week.  I really hope you’ve enjoyed our interviews with all of the great guitarists involved in the project.  Today, we finish up with Sean Smith, producer and curator of both the original Berkeley Guitar collection, as well as Beyond Berkeley Guitar, which is out now on Tompkins Square. Sean has developed quite a reputation as a leading light in the new solo guitar movement, and we tend to agree… his full length album Eternal got a great review on this very website, and from talking to many of his Bay area contemporaries (as well as the man himself) I’ve come away with the image of an ambitious and talented, yet warm and friendly young guitarist, truly an asset to the Berkeley guitar scene, and for that matter, to the world of music in general.  Sean’s solo “Ourselves When We Are Real” is the centerpiece of Beyond Berkeley Guitar, and in it’s nearly 12 minutes, covers many moods and techniques. Continue reading

“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Lucas Boilon

by Raymond Morin

We’re entering the home-stretch of our series of interviews around the new Tompkins Square compilation Beyond Berkeley Guitar. Today we talk to Lucas Boilon, whose track “Studies of the Oak as Pertaining to Druidic Rites of Passage” is one of my favorites from the collection.

W&W : Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it

It’s a Gibson Blueridge Custom that my father gave to me when I moved back to California. It’s not super fancy, just a nice sounding, working-man’s guitar. I think my pops got it in ’73 sometime, and gave it to me in 2003. It’s fantastic and I love it.

W&W : What is the tuning / capo position (if any) on your track?

I tune to Drop D for one half and open D for the other. I haven’t really ever used a capo proper-style. Continue reading

“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Chuck Johnson

Chuck Johnson is based in Oakland, CA. In addition to writing scores for film and dance, Chuck has worked extensively in the fields of modern composition and experimental rock, and also composes very fine acoustic guitar instrumentals. We recently interviewed Chuck about his appearance on the new Tompkin’s Square compilation Beyond Berkeley Guitar, which features new music from seven Bay Area guitarists.  Chuck’s track is available as a free download at the link above.

W&W : Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it.

It’s a 2001 Martin 000-17s. I bought it new in ’01 or ’02 from Elderly, after playing one at a local store (I lived in North Carolina at the time.) The 000-17s is an all mahogany guitar with the older Martin 000 design – 12-fret body, slotted headstock, longer scale and wider neck. It is really fun to play and has a melancholy voice that works well on certain pieces, especially in the open D tunings. Martin ended up only making a couple hundred of them for some reason, and I have played the 000-15s that looks identical and is still available, but it has different bracing and just doesn’t have the same mojo in my opinion. Like any mahogany top guitar it takes a little more work to get the top moving, but I love how the mid-high overtones sing out when you drive it, kind of a lower register than what you might expect from a spruce top. Continue reading

“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Ava Mendoza

Oakland, California’s Ava Mendoza is a guitarist and composer who channels a broad range of influences, combining them into her own singular style.  Country-blues, western swing, free jazz and heavy rock all find their way into her unique and exciting playing, and she has shared the stage with many luminaries from the west coast improv scene.  We recently interviewed Ava about her appearance on Tompkins Square’s new showcase of Bay Area guitarists, Beyond Berkeley Guitar, which is out this week. Ava closes the collection with her composition “Redwood Regional Park Blues : Between Hay and Grass”.

W&W : Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it.

I’m playing a Gibson ES 125. It’s a hollowbody with one P-90 pickup on it. I got it about 6 years ago off Ebay for about $600. They are cheap because they were and are not very popular guitars, not sure why… They’re not very versatile I guess, they kind of just have their one warm, fat sound, and they can get muddy through a dirty amp or effects if you’re not careful.  In any case, I love this one a lot and have used it for many different things. Continue reading

“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Rich Osborn

Rich Osborn is a Bay area acoustic guitarist working in the style of the late Robbie Basho. Rich is featured on the new Tompkins Square release Beyond Berkeley Guitar. We recently interviewed Rich about his track, his history with Basho, and his approach to playing the guitar.

W&W : Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it.

For this piece, and almost all of the “free raga style” work that I do, I play a guitar made in 1915 by Vincenzo DeLuccia. I got it in 1976 at Jon Lundberg’s once famous mecca for vintage guitars on Dwight Way in Berkeley. Jon told me that the face had been caved in when he first got it, so it’s gone through a major restoration. The saddle is not the original, and has been extended out to meet the fan bracing underneath. I recently learned in a conversation with luthier Paul Hostetter that this large saddle design was a unique signature of a luthier named Mario Martello who worked for Lundberg. Continue reading

“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Trevor Healy

by Raymond Morin

Trevor Healy is a guitarist, repairman and luthier based in the San Francisco Bay area. In addition to playing in the group Meridians, Trevor composes for solo acoustic guitar, and was tapped by Sean Smith for the new Beyond Berkeley Guitar collection, out now on Tompkins Square. We recently talked to Trevor about his appearance on the comp, as well as his approach to building and playing the guitar.

W&W: Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it.

The guitar is a Stella 12-string, made by Harmony sometime in the 1960’s. I got it on EBay about 6 years ago after becoming interested in Leadbelly’s 12-string playing. When the box arrived, I realized that the guitar had not been taken out of its case since the 60’s, but needed a ton of work to make it a playable instrument. Like many Harmony guitars, its body is made of plywood and the neck is poplar, which some consider low-grade materials. It’s light weight and darker tone spoke to me though, and I thought it had some real potential to become a decent instrument. So, I re-set the neck for proper bridge and action height, made a new bridge and saddle, radiused the previously flat fingerboard and re-fretted it. Acoustically it is pretty quiet and has an almost lute-like tone. I have come to love this quality. I then put in an under-saddle piezo pickup to amplify the sound in live situations. When I first plugged in the guitar, I was blown away by its tone. I have played it almost exclusively since then. Continue reading