By John Herzler
Encouraged by General Beauregard Lee’s prediction of an early spring, the performers and audience at Acoustic Showcase enjoyed a warm evening of entertainment at the Clubhouse. Performers included Jim Pulliam, Tom Kilpatrick, Bob Knysz, Brad Morgan, Frank Lozano, Shiraz Alikhan, Mobile Holmes, and John Herzler. They were joined by newcomers David Hildreth, Mike Cantley and Ruth Herzler who made her singing debut. The music was varied and included old standards as well as original compositions with some Pink Floyd thrown in for good measure.
I have often mentioned how blessed we are to have a community of extremely talented people, particularly when it comes to making music. With that in mind, let me tell you about one of our neighbors, Frank Brewer. Frank is our Big Canoe resident luthier and the owner of Clinchfield Instruments. Derived from the French word luth, Frank is someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box. A Georgia Tech engineer by training, Frank started down this path by building fine furniture. Despite being a musician since the age of 12, he didn’t make the quantum leap to becoming a luthier until 2011. Since that time, he has built 35 stringed instruments, mostly guitars and ukuleles. Two members of the North Georgia Bluegrass band “Brushfire” feature Frank’s guitars. Additionally, there are four Big Canoe residents who own one of Frank’s instruments.
Guitar aficionados can tell the difference in sound between a mass-produced instrument versus one that is totally hand built, with the hand built guitar usually the hands down winner. At a recent Acoustic Jam workshop, we compared one of Frank’s Spruce and Sapele Dreadnought’s to several high end commercially produced instruments. The difference in warmth and tone was readily apparent. Based on that demonstration, Frank has several quotes out for guitars and will no doubt have a waiting list as the word spreads.
About that name – Clinchfield Instruments. Many will recognize a railroad connection with music, particularly Country or Bluegrass. There is the quintessential “Ballad of Casey Jones” as Hank Williams was the son of a railroad engineer, the list goes on and on. Four generations of Frank’s family had railroad careers going back to Frank’s great-grandfather. Frank’s father worked for the old Clinchfield Railroad until it was absorbed by the CSX in the late ‘70s. In his father’s memory, the name Clinchfield Instruments was adopted, hence the C and I logo on the peg head.
I predict you’ll be hearing one of Frank’s instruments at our upcoming Acoustic Showcases. Our next one will be Thursday, March 2 at the Swim Club at 7:00 p.m. I expect we’ll see some leprechauns and perhaps hear a few Irish drinking songs. Come early, it’s always packed!