Terra Sigillata

Aspen live-blogging – part 3

Sorry, gang, but this is just more journal than blog – and yet another emphatic and blathering reason of why I love this town.


Had a lovely hike yesterday with PharmGirl and PharmPreSchooler to the Grottos just outside of Aspen proper, an amazing series of igneous rocks and ice caves at the base of Independence Pass. PharmMom now forbids posting pictures of her beautiful granddaughter on these here internets, so here’s an inanimate shot that still doesn’t do justice to the view:

i-13950307ea7c1e453d08af1ffd966ea5-Grottos - toward Aspen.jpg

Then, had a lovely lunch with a dear friend in Explorer Bookstore and Bistro, an idyllic setting in an old Victorian house on Aspen’s Main Street . Afterwards, I popped around the corner to rent an acoustic guitar for the week at Great Divide Music, one of the best small music stores/learning centers in the US dedicated to outstanding modern, rare, and vintage acoustic instruments and the unpretentious sharing of a rich folks music culture across the generations.

While there, I ran into B&eacutela Fleck, the famed “New Grass” banjo player and leader of the Flecktones, a fave of many of us ScienceBloggers. Mr. Fleck, a Manhattan-born banjoist (full bio here), is now writing a concerto with bassist Edgar Meyer, a player he met on the streets of Aspen in 1982. Folks around Aspen keep coming back because no one really recognizes them or, if they do, rarely make a huge commotion about it. Ricky Skaggs played here last night and B&eacutela was kind enough to take a couple of students from the store to go and see one of his own contemporary heroes.

I always look forward to going to Great Divide to learn more about handcrafted acoustic guitars. Owner since 1977, Sandy Munro, is a walking history of folk instruments, and the small staff are always personable with a collective wealth of knowledge and plain ol’ good musical spirit.

This year, the favorite I got to play a tremendous Collings acoustic guitar from Austin, Texas luthier and Ohio transplant, Mike Collings. Collings prides himself on handcrafting instruments in the style of pre-WWII Martin guitars and the construction, power, and resonance of these beauties is beyond description. To give you an idea of the care put into these guitars, Great Divide only gets a new Collings ever eight months or so, and the company just produced only the 10,000th guitar in its history. I got to play the latest arrival, a D-2A (mahogany dreadnought with a Adirondack spruce top). I’d have to sell a few of my other instruments to buy this one, but it didn’t stop Paul and Sandy from betting whether I’d leave town with this baby.

Regardless, it’s great to visit with some good souls and touch some real handcrafted history being made today. If you’re in the area, be sure to catch Sandy and The Crowlin Ferlies whipping up some Irish-Celtic music tonight at The Double Dog Pub.

Comments

  1. #1 Shelley Batts
    July 11, 2006

    Wow, I can’t believe you just ‘bumped’ into Bela Fleck! Thats awesome, I’m so jealous! :)

  2. #2 anjou
    July 11, 2006

    Several of us here in PA woulda enjoyed that hike– looks beautiful! And, altho Im a lousy guitar player and dont warrant the guitar I got as a gift this year– I still get a kick out of trying a really beautifully made guitar

  3. #3 Abel Pharmboy
    July 12, 2006

    Shelley, it turns out that Béla was more impressed that I knew Shelley Batts of Retrospectacle!

    He was a really gracious and down-to-earth guy; has a great reputation in the industry as one of the truly nice guys.

  4. #4 Abel Pharmboy
    August 5, 2006

    Hey Anjou, I totally missed your comment but we’ve got to get together and jam. What could be better?: drinking wine and playing guitar with good friends, and the occasional lapse into some cancer research talk!

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