Instrumental Musings…Mandolin by Franciscan

Mandolin by Franciscan
Mandolin by Franciscan photo by JOtwell



Age unknown

F-holes and peardrop shaped, it’s a pawnshop number, nothing spectacular, but true in it’s tuning, with an easy neck and good projection. Records well.

Instrumental Musings…BOUZOUKI by BARDSONG

Bouzouki photo by JOtwell
Bouzouki photo by JOtwell


I designed this unique instrument, incorporating various Celtic motifs, and it was beautifully constructed by the luthiers of Bardsong. They allowed me to hand-pick the fine exotic woods from their on-site inventory, and they worked from my scale drawings.

The instrument is strung in three double courses: octave low D, octave A and octave high D, which gives it a range similar to a 12-string guitar, but with the open-fifth tuning, sitar effects are possible, in addition to the traditional bouzouki voicings.

It has full electronic capability, with two piezo pickups, and outboard tone and volume controls.

To accommodate the low D course, the neck measures 27″ from nut to bridge.

The pewter headstock escutcheon of Celtic design was a gift from noted Irish traditional singer Elizabeth Reed, after I produced one of her albums: Go raibh maithe agat, Eilis!

Toots Thielmanns, “ Live at Chapiteau Opera, Liege”

Toots Thielmanns illustration by JOtwell (click to buy)
Toots Thielmanns illustration by JOtwell (click to buy)

Imagine, if you will, a frail silver-haired ,ninety year old Belgian harmonica player, confined to a wheelchair, yet still the undisputed master of a notoriously difficult instrument, the chromatic harmonica.

There have been very few players to reach the heights on this instrument…Larry Adler and Stevie Wonder come to mind, but this old guy, Toots Thielmanns, was , and still is, the guy. Ask anybody.

He celebrated his ninetieth birthday with a live concert in Liege, which has recently become available on DVD. “ Live at Chapiteau Opera, Liege”

Not only a wonderful testament to a monumental musician, but living proof that if the musical spirit is deep in your soul, age ain’t got nothin’ to do with  it.

Totally recommended at every level. Feed your souls with this remarkable performance.