I attend the first two festivals, the first at The Coffee Grounds coffee house in Falcon Heights and last year at the Historic Suburban World Theatre. These were two remarkable festivals featuring some of the worlds best resophonic players. If you don't know what resophonic guitar is, see the short explanation and history below.
The following is a short interview (with Deb George, NRNO Organizer 2002) and preview of this great two-day festival.
Ray: Tell me about this year's festival?
Deb: We are having an atypical festival for the Cedar with two stages one inside and one outside on the patio on Cedar Ave. We will be featuring an array of local talent, some regional and a couple of national headliners. We are really excited about it because it's a great way to promote our local community and its going to showcase the incredible talent we have both locally, regionally and nationally.
These are Resophonic players. We are going to have lot of blues players there and what you will find on the blues front is going to be more of the roots style of blues. Things people may not hear as much of today. That's what we are trying to bring back.. Its going to be really exciting.
Ray: It's an unusual festival, the first year, two years ago it was at…
Deb: Yeah the Coffee Grounds in Falcon Heights. That was so well received and we packed the place the one night we had it. Last year it was extended to two nights and that was at the Historic Suburban World Theatre in Minneapolis.
Ray: How was that venue chosen?
Deb: We were looking for a unique setting where food could be served and people could have more of a cabaret / café style for entertainment. And it was just a nice size for the next step up. Because we continue to see this growing. The Cedar sees this as something that's going to continue to grow.
Last year we also had workshops going on over at the History Center in St. Paul and this year we're going to host the whole weekend (concerts, jams and workshops) right at the Cedar. In fact Jerry Kosak is going to do a workshop called Soloing the Blues (Sat. morning at 11 am). We will also some other styles featured in different workshops. Bob Brozman will be teaching in the afternoon at 3:30 (Sat.), he will be coving his whole repertoire of styles.
While the workshops are going on we will also have open stage with host for people to come and bring their resophonics and just play.
Ray: Why a third location in the third year?
Deb: Because its growing and the Cedar was very interested last year but we just couldn't work out an arrangement with their schedule. And all the activities will be at one location this year. Also because of the nature of what we are doing it fits, the Cedar is a great venue for something this unique.
Ray: The Cedar is a great venue for this type of music. What is the format for this year?
Deb: There three different performance parts: national, regional and local acts in concert, open jams or stage for anyone to play, and workshops and classes. Plus we will have displays, some antique resophonic guitars on display. Some of our sponsors will have displays and information: National Reso-Phonic Guitars, Willie's American Guitars, Electro Voice Microphones, Latch Lake Music and KFAI.
Ray: Why this showcase in the first place, what brought it about?
Deb: The musician's and the people that are on the committee are all passionate about this instrument and the sound and I guess the unique way that it communicates what it is they want to say with their music…And because it is such a diverse instrument and because of the history and antiquity of it and that fact that is an American instrument.
We are talking about any type of resonator instrument, not just National. National has been very supportive of us however and their support was instrumental in helping us get this event started. And people who are passionate about this instrument wanted to share it with the rest of the arts community.
Ray: There seems to be a very unique sub-culture built around the resonator guitar (almost cult like).
Deb: Yes, and very opinionated (laughs) about their brand of resonator…the different manufactures. And even the different music communities, the difference between the blues and bluegrass.
We will have all varieties of styles represented and in a way there's almost a tension between the different styles and it's a good tension, and we want to break some of that. Our goal is to make this diverse. But I will say we are pretty heavy in the blues and I think that speaks for the instrument itself and the players around town.
I might add, we are looking for more resonator players for future years (as well as this year's open stages). I'm sure we haven't tapped the whole community yet. We want to promote and showcase local musicians as well and if anybody is interested in being involved they can come this Saturday open jam and play or they can follow up with our artistic director who is booking this show. We'd be happy to have them next year to.
Ray: Where do people go to listen to resonator guitar music now?
Deb: We have talked about building a list that people can have access to on our website: www.iresonation.org
There isn't just one venue for it and it would be great…in fact that's a goal as we continue to grow this--to start coalescing this at a new level and make it more available and accessible for people to come and listen to it in particular places or at least have a communication that people can regularly look at to find out who is playing and where.
What's a Resonator? (from their website)
Resophonic instruments were developed in the early years of the twentieth century in the U.S., in response to a need to amplify instruments as audiences and performance halls grew larger. John Dopyera, a Slovak luthier living in Los Angeles, premiered a design in the late 1920s incorporating aluminum cones as resonators or amplifiers within a guitar body (reso mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, and other instruments would come later). You'll know a resonator by its characteristic metal cover plate (where a guitar sound hole would be). Some are all metal, while others project a sweeter tone through a wooden body.
Musicians jumped at the chance to play the new resonator instruments, which worked so well to project sound and featured a voice like no other instrument. Delta blues players like Son House, Tampa Red, and Robert Johnson are closely identified with National
Steel guitars (Tampa Red's funky guitar had three metal cones: a triplate); the bluegrass world (giants Tut Taylor, Josh Graves, Mike Auldridge, and others) connected with Dobro. Hawaiian players like Sol Hoopii played both styles of resonators.
Resonator instruments fell into disuse for several decades when electricity came along, making amplification just a plug-in away. Recently, however, a resophonic renaissance has kicked into high gear, through players like Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Douglas, Sally Van Meter, Mark Knopfler, Keb Mo, Cindy Cashdollar, and others.
In the midst of this increasingly technological world, people are looking for their roots: they want to hear the high lonesome sound of a country dobro, and the pulsating slide of a backporch blues. Audiences are hungry for that uniquely American art form, without which blues and country wouldn't exist: the American Resophonic.
Friday, June 21 - $20
Festival opens at 6:00 pm. Many local musicians on two stages.
6:00 Keith Rintala
6:30 Mayim Alpert
7:00 Dan Abbene
7:30 Tim Caswell
8:00 Tom Feldmann
7:00 David Hanners
7:20 Mike Williams
7:40 Dakota Dave Hull
8:00 Peter Hutter
8:20 Kari Larson & Lisa Schultz
8:40 Gabriela Sweet & Philip Rampi
9:00 Gary Mortensen
9:30 Molly Maher
10:15 Mike Auldridge
Saturday, June 22 - $20
Opens at noon. Open jamming and concerts throughout the day and evening.
Workshops from 11am to 5pm.
12:00 Open Stage with host Katie Holland
1:30 Open Stage with host Cooker John
3:00 Open Stage with host Dan Rumsey
4:30 Open Stage with host Grant Johnson
6:00 Chad Guerrero
6:30 John Ewoldt
7:00 Big Surf
7:30 Cal Hand & Andy Kozak
6:00 Steve Kaul & Leo Whitebird
6:20 Curtis & Loretta
6:40 Jerry Kosak
7:00 Grant Johnson
7:20 Lonesome Dan Case
7:40 Charlie Parr
8:00 Jim Miller
8:30 Cam Waters
9:00 Hull & Larson
10:00 Bob Brozman
Review of first year's National Resophonic Night Out
Read profiles of Mike Auldridge and Bob Brozman
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