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M Sarad 01-19-2020 11:10 AM

Remembering the forgotten songs and reminiscing on the last forty years.
It was 1980, I woke up in Sonoma after a long night recovering from the Grateful Dead at the Warfield, where they were celebrating 15 years. It was a so so performance. The chemical combination didn’t improve the quality of the performance, but I was energetic until the wee hours before I was driven to a friend’s house and put to bed.

A few hours later I woke up to magnificent guitar music flowing from the stereo. It was Alex DeGrassi’s second album, Slow Circle. I had heard the first one at a frien’s house a year or two before. I remember the cover, but not the music.

This time it was perfect. Alex’s playing and composition made perfect sense and I knew what was in store: I was going to go full on fingerstyle and find myself in the guitar.

It took a few years. I contacted Ervin Somogyi and we talked at great length. At $2500, his guitars were expensive. I went to his shop and discovered that his guitars were ugly and odd looking. His apprentice at the time had built a guitar that looked like a Somogyi with a beautiful finish. A guy there was playing a DeGrassi song just like the record. I was confused. On that trip I stopped at Guitar Solo n San Francisco where I saw a Santa Cruz FTC, a beautiful, magnificent sounding guitar that was more appealing than the Somogyi. At $1,000 dollars, it was in my price range. Like the fool I was at 24, I didn’t put it on layaway. I came back a few months later with my checkbook but it was gone.

In 1981 I went to Santa Cruz Guitar on Ingalls Street in Santa Cruz, just a two man shop in a smallish space. Bruce and Richard tried to interest me in an H. I wanted a Dread Cutaway. I ordered one and waited. I lost my job and thought I was done. My brother sold his house and he owed me and the other two brothers $1,500 each to pay us back from the profits since our parents helped him out. Sweet deal, I got the Santa Cruz, which I still have.

Since I was inspired by Slow Circle, I learned the DeGrassi tuning: DADEAD. I worked on Turning:Turning Back, getting closer over the many months of listening to it. One day I was in my neighborhood shop laying an original and a guitarist I knew, Phil Hernandez, walked in and asked, ‘ Who’s playing that Windham Hill stuff?”

I quickly stopped in embarrassment. No one else could spot it. I was faking my original brilliance with DeGrassi just dripping from my now shaking fingertips.

I turned to DADGAD after hearing Richard Thompson’s version of Banish Misfortune on his instrumental album, Strict Tempo, but I kept DADEAD stashed in my brain.

I came up with two originals in that tuning. That was it. I named the second one Tom’s Lament after a close friend who was then and will always be a far better player.

Yesterday I took out my Brondel A2 Essential and turned it to DADEAD. after an hour I had remembered most of Tom’s Lament. The Melody was still there, but I couldn’t remember the fingerings. I did the best I could. Lying awake in the early morning hours, I thought about the shapes and positions on the neck, trying to put them all together.

We shall see what today brings.

I finally met Alex DeGrassi at Healdsburg when I was working with Kathy Wingert. I bought a guitar from her and she had me do her demo, which scared the daylights out of me since I was only playing at home. He stopped at our booth and played her guitars. A year later I went to the seminar at his house, and followed up twice more. He became a friend and was the officiant at my wedding in 2016 after I discovered he was a minister. It was a great night to get married with Eric Skye providing all the music at the ceremony. Two of my heroes on guitar? My new wife, Darie had met them both before and was unaware of who they were. She had met so many guitarists, she was not impressed at their celebrity in the guitar world.

Life has been good to me because of Santa Cruz Guitars, Windham Hill Records, Kathy Wingert, Healdsburg Guitar Festival, my buddy Tom Long,Laurent Brondel, Jim Merrill, John Kinnaird, Nick Kukich, Matt Mustapick, and the Acoustic Guitar Forum.

rokdog49 01-19-2020 11:34 AM

I read your post because of the title. Sadly (for me) I mostly have no idea about much of which you spoke.

M Sarad 01-19-2020 12:06 PM

Listen to DeGrassi. It will start to make sense.

When I was 24, there was no internet. It was search and discover. I found a Kathy Wingert through an ad in Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

Now Iím 64. Still playing every day. In two electric bands and an acoustic duo, I stay busy with music in retirement.

jaymarsch 01-19-2020 12:16 PM

Unlike rokdog49, I know much about what you are speaking of, Matt. You and I have run into each other a number of times as part of the California guitar community - guitar parties and festivals. I believe that the first time I met you was when you came to my home in November of 2004 when Kathy delivered a Wingert 12 fret E - my first custom guitar. You sat and played it for me - something in DADGAD, I believe. A great memory.

It is nice when you rekindle your love of some old songs and remember what a great community of people that you have come to know through a shared love of acoustic guitar.


M Sarad 01-19-2020 12:19 PM

Jayne, Iíll be hanging out with Svea next weekend. Lets try to get together and pick.

I remember playing Smokey at Healdsburg. I love that guitar.

Mr. Jelly 01-19-2020 01:48 PM

Thanks for sharing! Many of life's wonderings are wonderful. And that came through your post. Thank you.

lowrider 01-19-2020 01:58 PM

I'm lost, what happened after the Dead show?

Deliberate1 01-19-2020 02:08 PM


Originally Posted by lowrider (Post 6269561)
I'm lost, what happened after the Dead show?

Pretty much everything, as I read it.

tippy5 01-19-2020 02:13 PM

Love the details.

When I moved from my parents house to Santa Barbara in 1976 I fortunately had a new roommate with a fabulous record collection. Fahey, Kottke, Old and In the Way, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, ODetta, Bromberg, Croce, Doc Watson, Grisham, Prine and others. I was blown away discovering these genres.

Then I started going to the bluegrass monthly festival in Tuckers Grove.
Additionally that whole first year out of the house, at 21 years old, I would play on the porch with a rotating half dozen of acoustic players. Most days after work playing simple songs. Marshall tucker through folk music.

I have no instore, celebrity, stage or prominent luthier acquaintances. We all played what we had. Not unlike the millions across the world that love acoustic music.

LWSog 01-19-2020 02:24 PM

M Sarad, I sure enjoyed your post. Great reading. Thanks!

Brucebubs 01-19-2020 02:25 PM

What a great read, I really enjoyed it.
I also have quite a collection of Windham Hill albums including many by Alex DeGrassi and WH founder Will Ackerman.

There's a great version of 'Turning; Turning Back' on the album 'An Evening of Windham Hill Live'

M Sarad 01-19-2020 03:21 PM


Originally Posted by lowrider (Post 6269561)
I'm lost, what happened after the Dead show?

I drove across the deserted Golden Gate Bridge around 2 in the morning. My fuel gauge was on empty. I wondered what it would be like to run out of gas halfway across.

We made it to San Rafael and talked until sunrise. Evidently I was incoherent when they loaded me into the car for the trip to Sonoma where I woke up not knowing where I was or how I got there.

zmf 01-19-2020 05:34 PM


Originally Posted by tippy5 (Post 6269570)
Then I started going to the bluegrass monthly festival in Tuckers Grove.

Tucker's Grove. That really brings back old memories.

Nine degrees of separation, I guess.

WiseAxe 01-19-2020 05:44 PM

A great read. I'd buy the book.

Brucebubs 01-19-2020 06:01 PM


Originally Posted by WiseAxe (Post 6269717)
A great read. I'd buy the book.

... might be a few blank pages. :)

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