Monday, June 25, 2007

Bluegrass & Country CDs Now Available

We've done some rearranging here at The Bluegrass Shack. With about 15 new guitars and several more new banjos, we had to put some more instruments up on the walls. We also added another rolling wire shelf/rack for books and CDs. The bluegrass and country CDs we ordered came in on Friday, and they are now out for sale. They range in price from $5.00 - $15.00, and they are all brand new and sealed. Come take a look!

Saturday Night at Bobby's Frozen Custard

What a great night we had at Bobby's on Saturday! The Chris Talley Trio played from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. to a packed parking lot. I saw many friends and many new faces. We had such great crowd response that we only took one 10-minute break during the whole three-hours! We did quite a few requests, too. It's so much fun when everyone talks to us and lets us know what they want to hear.

After the show, we all got free custard! Mmmm! If you haven't been to Bobby's, it is located on Highway 159 in Maryville, Illinois. It is definately worth the trip. There is live music in the summer on the weekends.

Video of Banjo Sign Installation

I finally got around to uploading the video of the banjo installation that took place in May. I thought everyone might enjoy looking at it. It is posted on YouTube, but here is a link to get to it:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Backlog of Repairs Done!

I spent the afternoon and early evening catching up on all the repair work that has to be done around here. There are still a few things left, but most of it is done.

I put a new tenon cork (neck cork) on a saxophone and also brazed the octave key. The octave key was broken in half and this was one of those "no-name" saxophones made in China. It really needs a new key, but so far the braze is successful and the key is working and seems to be strong enough to hold. Thank goodness it is not in a weight-bearing position. Just a note on Chinese instruments: Some are okay and some are not. Make sure you purchase a brand that replacement parts are available for. If the person you are buying from doesn't know if replacement parts exist, then they probably don't!

I also setup a banjo for Matt. It is his "knock-around" banjo and just needed the head tightened and the string action lowered. And Matt - if you're reading this - it needs a new neck (Matt is left-handed).

Nathan's fiddle had an accident this week. It was sitting on his bed and his younger brother sat on it. He was very lucky that more damage wasn't done. The fiddle wasn't cracked at all on the outside, but the end block cracked on the inside and I had to take off the back of the fiddle to replace the block. While I was in there, I did a little work on bass bar and thinned the top. The back is drying right now (the glue, that is), so I won't be able to complete the repair work until tomorrow. I'll have to drill a hole in the new endblock, and then set it all back up again.

Three fiddles needed a basic setup and very small adjustments, like fine tuners or a bridge. One needed the fingerboard glued back on. All of that is done now.

There are two fiddles, two guitars, and a banjo that still need repair work. I think I'm going to get some dinner now!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday's Beginner's Jam

We had our biggest ever beginner's jam tonight with a total of 16 participants. This jam session is for anyone who wants to learn how to play with other people. Tonight, we talked specifically about the Nashville number system, how to tell when you are supposed to take a break, how to "cue" someone else to take a break, song structure, chord structure, what a tag and a turnaround is, how to handle a "Jam Hog," do's and don'ts for several different jam situations, how to kick-off and end specific songs, and more.

We practiced Worried Man Blues, Gold Watch and Chain, Jambalaya, Rebel Soldier, and Roll in my Sweet Baby's Arms. We talked about how to take a fake break on each of the instruments: fiddle, guitar, banjo and mandolin. There were quite a few really good questions, then everyone stayed for a while to "open jam" while I made practice CDs for everyone with all of the songs.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturdays Happenings

We had another very busy Saturday. More new folks in today, and four more fiddle students signed up for lessons today. We should have a bumper crop of great fiddlers in the years to come!

I finished up a fingerboard replacement for Ashley. Her fiddle also got new pegs, strings, bridge, nut, endpin and soundpost setting. I can't wait for her to play it now!

We purchased from several different folks a guitar, two fiddles, a clarinet and a trumpet today. All need work, but we got the guitar ready to go this afternoon. The fiddles need A LOT of work, but the trumpet and clarinet are almost ready to go.

Don't forget - The Chris Talley Trio will be at Perk's tonight from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. Bobby's Frozen Custard in Maryville, IL will be next Saturday from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. You don't want to miss the ice cream or the music!

Bluegrass & Country CDs Coming Soon!

Just wanted to let you know that we'll be getting some new CDs to sell soon. I have not been able to find the exact source that I would like to have to get many different artists, but we will at least have a supply of some nice compilation CDs, Bill Monroe, John Denver, Raymond Fairchild, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, gospel, instrumentals and more. Price will be $6.00 - $12.00 each, depending upon the CD. I'll post when we get them in so you can come by and take a look.

Raffle is Expanded!

We have expanded our Rhinestone Fiddle raffle to also include an option of choosing a $75.00 gift certificate to The Bluegrass Shack good for merchandise of any kind (but not lessons). The money raised will go towards the expenses of our Junior Fiddle Contest to be held on Sunday, July 22, 2007.

Tickets are $1.00 donation each, or 6 for $5.00. You do not need to be present to win, though you do need to make arrangements to pick up your prize if you win. Drawing will be held on Sunday, July 22, 2007, during the fiddle contest. Tickets are available here at The Bluegrass Shack. I have posted a picture of the rhinestone fiddle below. It is made by Knilling and has a retail value of $800. Click on the picture if you would like to make it bigger.

Chris Talley Trio at Perk's Tonight!

The Chris Talley Trio will be playing in Freeburg, IL tonight (Saturday, June 16, 2007) from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. at Perk's & More Coffeehouse. Perk's is located in the strip mall in the center of town on Highway 15. Please note that Perk's is now charging a $3.00 cover to help with their expenses. (This is not going to the band.) I hope that you'll come out and listen!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Guitar Coloring Contest

We are sponsoring a guitar art contest for anyone 16 years of age and under. Come by The Bluegrass Shack to pick up a free cardboard cutout of a guitar while supplies last. We have a total of 24, but when they're gone, that's it! We will be awarding prizes, and then having an auction to help pay for the Junior Fiddle Contest that will be on Sunday, July 22, 2007.

Basic rules for the guitar art contest:
1. You must use one of our cardboard guitar cutouts (they are free).
2. No entry fee.
3. You can decorate the guitar cutout in ANY way you would like. You can use crayons, pencils, markers, paint, fabric, tissue paper, whatever you can dream up!
4. Although I probably don't have to mention this one: Please keep the artwork "non-offensive."
5. We have the right to keep, display, advertise and auction off any guitar art. We will be displaying the artwork in our shop prior to the July 22 Fiddle Contest.

Any questions? Send me an e-mail or call our shop! You'll find our phone number and e-mail address on the home page of The Bluegrass Shack.

Teachers at The Bluegrass Shack!

I just wanted to make mention of the teachers and instrument instruction that we have available at The Bluegrass Shack. We are so fortunate to have such fine musicians who are willing to share their skills and talent with others.

New! Dobro & Mandolin - Ben Fox
New! Mandolin - John Brewer
New! Suzuki Violin, Fiddle & Piano - Christine Hummert
New! Advanced Piano & Performance - Sharla Stasiak (MA from Notre Dame)
New! Hammer & Mountain Dulcimer - Rachel Neel
Fiddle - Jennifer Robbins
Banjo - Justin Robbins
Beginning Guitar (including note reading) & Mountain Dulcimer - Bev Robbins
Beginning Banjo - Terry Hill
Country / Bluegrass Guitar & Piano by Ear - Mike Easton
Any Style / Level Guitar - Bill Barttelbort
Beginning Fiddle (including note reading) - Chelsea Perkinson
All Levels Banjo (including 4- and 5-string), all levels fiddle (including note reading), school band instruments, group lessons and group instructional jams, and whatever else I end up with - Chris Talley Armstrong

Carie's Shop Work

Carie was over twice this weekend to work in the shop on her bass. I mentioned her in an earlier post and that she was thinning the neck on her Chinese bass. She finished the work on Saturday afternoon, and so I wanted to post a few pictures of her work. She did a great job!

This is a picture of the neck after several hours of thinning. You'll notice it has kind of a square shape to it.

This is Carie after she switched from a scraper to file to round the edges of the neck and do the final shaping.

This is the finished product. After filing and shaping, Carie had to sand with several grades of sandpaper, and then 0000 steel wool.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Big Banjo Makes Front Page of Newspaper

I was so happy that the designer and maker of our big banjo sign, Terry Hill, was interviewed for the front page story of the this week's Journal Messenger. The Journal Messenger is the local paper for New Athens and is part of the Belleville News Democrat. Here is a copy of the story. If you click on it, it will open larger so that you can actually read it.

Chris Talley Trio Plays at Highland VFW Hall

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, The Chris Talley Trio will be playing at the VFW Hall in Highland, IL on Sunday, June 10, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. It is a benefit concert, so come on by!

Still Here!

Well, it's been a while since I've been able to post here. I'm so happy that we're busy, but it does make it hard to get blog entries in!

Yesterday, we had about 10 people in the shop at once. Carie and I were working in the shop, each doing something different, when everyone decided to come visit The Bluegrass Shack. I guess it was fiddle day! I did four fiddle setups while customers watched. I forget how fascinating some of this stuff is because I do it everyday. People like to watch me set soundposts because it has to be done through the f-holes in the top of the fiddle. It used to take me 3 hours to set a soundpost! It was so frustrating learning how to do it. Now it takes only a minute or two.

Carie was working on the neck of her bass. It is one of those Chinese basses with the really thick necks. I was showing her what to do to thin out the neck, and she was working very hard to get it done. Carie will be over again today to finish up the job. It will be very nice when she's done! Carie said it took her four hours to take 1/2" of thickness off the neck, so you've got to have a lot of patience to do this!

I finally finished the neck reset on the old archtop guitar. The customer came by to pick it up same day, too. It wasn't anything expensive, but I just loved the pickguard. It was a thick, plastic tortoiseshell-look pickguard with a rhinestone treble clef inlaid into it. I've never seen another one like it, but I'm sure there are more. I guess I'll always have my favorites.

I've got a ton of work to get done today, so I'm going to end it here, but I'll try to get back again sooner and post the happenings here.