(This Is The) Squirrel Hunters perform at Yester-Fest in Portage Wisconsin on August 10th 2008
I was setting up a new MacBook at work yesterday and couldn’t resist the temptation to try out Photo Booth and iSight.
If you haven’t ever been to Michigan’s upper peninsula then you’re probably wondering what a yooper and a pasty are. If you happen to hail from Cornwall, England then you undoubtedly know that a pasty (pɑːsti) differs considerably from a pastie (pay’stee). If you’ve never had a pasty think of it as a pot pie without the pot. Anyway the pasty played a central role in our camping trip across Michigan and Gina ate her first true “Yooper Burrito” at Colonel K’s Pasty Shop in Menominee Mi at the outset of our vacation.
This trip all started when I heard Peter Rowan & Tony Rice were playing at the Dunegrass Festival in Empire Mi just outside of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We had been looking for a reason to go up to the U.P. and chow down on some pastys. We also wanted to go to Mackinac to reminisce about the summer I once spent as the “Fort Fiddler” at Fort Michilimackinac back in 1990. The festival seemed like as good a reason as any to go on a camping trip throughout northern Michigan and the U.P. so away we went.
Sleeping Bear Dunes is on the lower peninsula but it turned out to be such a cool place that when we arrived at the festival and saw that the Djembe Factor outweighed the Bluegrass Factor we decided to forgo the steep ticket prices and stay inside the park. I knew it was going to be a hippy-fest and that didn’t bother me but part of the reason for going there was for some parking lot picking which unfortunately was nonexistent.
After twenty-two years I finally procured a great guitar. Sure I’m about due for a new car but who cares. I’m not getting any younger and the opportunity presented itself so I jumped on it.
The latest addition to the household is an ’04 Santa Cruz Tony Rice model and to say it’s dead mint would not be an exaggeration. I was pretty happy with my ’86 Yairi DY75 until my brother bought an ’03 Santa Cruz H13 and left it at my house for me to “break in” a bit. Since that day sometime last fall the Yairi has only made its way out of the case once and that was only so I could take some pictures of it to post in the for sale ad on Craigslist. Madison’s Craigslist is a little slow so I still have it. I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping the Yairi on as a “camping guitar” but in reality I don’t camp that much and would probably take the Tony anyway. So keep an eye on Madison’s Craigslist if you’re in the market for a nice Japanese Dread.
By the pictures you can see this Tony Rice looks like most. I’m especially fond of the blank headstock and fingerboard with nothing on it but that little squiggly logo at the 12th fret. I’ve wanted one of these guitars for over a decade but was briefly sidetracked from the urge concerned that everybody else plays them and not wanting to be a sheep I figured I would get something different. As you can see I got over that brief foolishness.
I started investigating guitars more closely a few months back and decided I wanted a traditional style guitar which quickly narrowed my search down to five builders; Martin, Santa Cruz, Collings, Bourgeois and Huss & Dalton. After playing many guitars I started assembling a list of specs I really wanted. This may sound strange but I’m a stickler for a volute (dart) and decided, unless I found a screaming deal on a D18 Golden Era, I couldn’t live without this seemingly insignificant accoutrement. The next item on the list was a dovetail joint which, much to my dismay, quickly widdled my list of five makers down to two. Martin or Santa Cruz were my only options if I wanted to avoid a mortise and tenon neck joint which essentially is a bolt-on neck. I’m not saying this is an inferior design in any way but the purest in me just couldn’t come to terms with having a bolt in my $3000 guitar’s neck block. Again let me assure you I’ve played some pretty happening Collings, Bourgeois and one Huss & Dalton that was the loudest guitar I have played to date. I imagine there were a few people that turned their noses up to the concept of a truss rod so perhaps some day I will own a guitar with a bolt in the neck and the neck block. The other features I was hoping to get were neck binding, a zig-zag backstipe and a chunkier neck. The H13 I’ve been playing has a 1 3/4 neck that feels perfect so I’ve kind of gotten used to that.
To sum it all up the Tony has all of the features I wanted except for the neck width. Oh well I can certainly live with 1 11/16ths.
Today I made it up to “Balanced Rock” on the east bluff and continued on to the west bluff all the way around the lake. It was supposed to be sunny but the clouds never broke. That’s all fine by me since it keeps the fair-weather hikers at bay as well as the deer ticks.
I caught a halfway decent photo of a Turkey Vulture which reminded me of Sweeps. I tried to get him to go with me today but couldn’t get him off the couch so I left him there to watch reruns of “The Shield” and chow down quarts of Ben & Jerry’s.
Maybe next time.