In junior high I took a belt sander to my $20 guitar to get rid of its thick finish. It looked a little rough but actually sounded better. In 1984 I moved to Berkeley, California, found Ervin Somogyi’s Telegraph Avenue guitar shop and signed up for a guitar building class. On the strength of that student guitar I started an apprenticeship in the early 1990s with TJ Thompson and the second iteration of the Schoenberg Guitar project. My years with TJ immersed me in the joyful lunacy of woodworking perfectionism, the still-spicy smell of 70 year old Brazilian rosewood, and the emotionally rich sound of 1920s-30s Martin OM guitars.

For 7 years I was the shop manager for Ervin Somogyi Guitars, building some of the thinest topped, nicest sounding modern steel string guitars. Ervin’s shop is also notable for its highly selective apprenticeship program. Regularly bringing in new, talented guitarmakers forces one to explain and justify their building methods, and be open to “the new kid’s” input. It was an honor to teach and learn from Ray KrautChris MorimotoJason KostalMark TrippHiro Ebata, and John Thayer. In other (and sometimes concurrent) lifetimes I produced The National Organic Directory and a technical manual about almond production, played on some recordings, helped run an affordable housing non-profit, married a pianist and turned bowls.


Irish Bouzouki Information:
A video playlist I’ve assembled and briefly annotated to highlight various aspects of the Irish bouzouki

CDs & Bands:
Driving with Fergus, the traditional Irish music group I started and have played with for the last 15 years.

Ceilizemer, a Klezmer-Irish fusion project I was involved in that produced the critically-acclaimed soundtrack for the documentary, Shalom Ireland

For the last few years I’ve been playing with Marla Fibish, and when he isn’t in Ireland or on the road, Dave Cory.

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Gregoire Vion

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