Tag Archives: Tompkins Square

Dual Review : The Acoustic Guitar Forum “Hand Made Music” CD (2010) and “Imagination Anthem Vol. 4” CD/LP (Tompkins Square, 2010)

by Raymond Morin

This review will be the first time that I’ve covered two releases in one piece of writing. Oftentimes when I’m reading a music magazine and come across a “combined review” I get just a little irritated, usually expecting one album or the other to get shortchanged, or that the writer must not have felt that either recording was important enough to warrant its own review.  I can assure you that in this case, both releases are equally deserving of discussion.  I’ve decided to review them together not because of their similarities (though those will be touched upon) but for their differences, which I find to be very interesting indeed. Continue reading

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Review : Ava Mendoza “Shadow Stories” CD (Resipiscent Records, 2010)

by David Leicht

In June, Work & Worry interviewed Oakland-based guitarist Ava Mendoza as part of its week-long series celebrating Tompkins Square Records’ new Beyond Berkeley Guitar compilation. Ava’s contribution, the ebullient “Regional Redwood Park Blues: Between Hay and Grass” is one of the collection’s highlights, sounding rather exotic in context with the other, more contemplative entries.  Ava studied classical guitar technique while growing up, then traditional music theory at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and modern classical/electronic theory at Mills College in Oakland.  Her formal musical background will come as no surprise to anyone hearing “Regional Redwood” for the first time, given its sophisticated chord movement and voicings.  Yet, Ava plays with a sense of wonder, a sort of illusory naiveté, using a gritty-sounding, amplified Gibson ES125, exaggerating bends and ripping through runs with abandon.  This dichotomy between sophistication and sense of wonder is in full bloom on her new solo guitar album, Shadow Stories. 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