Blues mandolin, even more than jazz on the eight-string instrument, has always been the domain of a few determined, extraordinarily talented players. Committed to playing the music in their soul on the instrument they love, blues mandolin players have invented new playing styles, blues-specific tunings, unique rhythm patterns and a host of other adaptations to fit the instrument into a genre generally dominated by soloists on electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano and a few random instruments such as violin, slide guitar and others.
The roots run deep. Indianapolis native and blues legend Yank Rachell picking up a Harmony electric mandolin, tuning the strings down a step and a half, ushered in a new sound to hardcore blues audiences. He authored the blues classic, She Caught The Katy, that was featured in the Blues Brothers movie, and recorded and performed with numerous blues stars. Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong often used mandolin in his work with the seminal blues and roots quartet Martin, Bogan and Armstrong. He played with blues greats such as Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie and Sleepy John Estes. More...
Something curious is happening north of Los Angeles in the suburban, rolling hills of Santa Clarita, California. Steve Sorensen has been designing and building mandolins and archtop guitars in his converted garage for the past several years. In a relatively short amount of time, he has built his business from scratch in much the same way that he builds his mandolins - assuming nothing, considering his options, pushing hard when he can and making course corrections as needed - and now his mandolins are attracting a great deal of attention.
After recently attending the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) World of Bluegrass 2012, Sorensen finds himself at a turning point. He has reached a place where he foresees trouble ahead: meeting and keeping up with the demand on his instruments. Being a one-person shop has given him a lot of flexibility, but now it could get in his way. More...
Joe Walsh's Wolfcat Breakdown in the previous issue had a correction. Here is the corrected version.
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