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The Group of Seven Guitar Project


Group of Seven Guitar Project

I've just picked up my copy of the new long-version (104 minutes) of the Group of Seven Guitar Project DVD by Riddle Films and viewed it for the first time myself. Jason Charters, Liam Romalis and all of the talented folks at Riddle have outdone themselves, that's for sure. The production values are wonderful and their creativity is in full evidence with regards to content and editiing ... kudos to all concerned!

Anyone who would like a copy of this, complete with a very nifty booklet ... drop me an email and I'll get you hooked up.

This film will be shown nation-wide starting September 5th through Cineplex locations! For times and locations, click here


Group of Seven Guitar Project


Group of Seven Guitar Project


Well, mark Sunday August 27th on your calendar folks ... this is going to be a blast! As part of the Group of Seven Guitar project, three of us will be participating in an "Acoustic Conversation" taking place at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg ... a moderated discussion about the project as a whole, the Franklin Carmichael Guitar that was my contribution, and talking points about guitars and the arts in general ... followed by a concert by Michael Francis!

Group of Seven Guitar Project


Moderator Kerry Crawford is a musician and producer who has spent over thirty years in recording studios, working in a production capacity for advertising music, TV shows such as Second City Television, and producing records for noted Canadian artists such as Bruce Cockburn and Jane Siberry. Kerry has enjoyed working with a diverse group of musicians whose venues have ranged from the sidewalk to our finest concert halls. Being a guitarist himself, he has taken a special interest in the evolution of the instrument and is a great admirer of the remarkably talented luthiers participating in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s The Group of Seven Guitar Project.

Mike Francis is considered by many to be the most recorded guitar player in Canada. He has spent over 35 years working in the Toronto recording scene on literally thousands of jingles, numerous tv shows, films, and recording projects for variety artists and producers. The various styles he plays include Blues, R+B, Funk, Jazz, Pop, Folk and Country music.  He has recorded with Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden, Enrique Iglesias, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Nelly Furtado, Kim MItchell, Alannah Myles, Jesse Winchester, Smokey Robinson, and many others.

For my part, I'll be walking everyone through the creative process of my instrument and commenting on the past, present and future of handmade guitars in Canada, the universe and beyond!




Group of Seven Guitar Project



Tom Power

Linda Manzer and I had a great time being interviewed on CBC's "q" by Tom Power about the Group of Seven Guitar Project! All the folks at CBC were super nice, including Tom himself. This program goes nation-wide and is heard by over 3 million people every day! Here's a link to the interview (click on "Listen" just below the first image)

Link to the interview



Group of Seven Guitar Project



Group of Seven Guitar Project

left to right: Tony Duggan-Smith, Linda Manzer, Grit Laskin, David Wren, George Gray and Sergei de Jonge

I have NO idea how we got talked into performing at the McMichael gallery's exclusive ($500.00 a plate) Moonlight Gala fundraiser ... but after one rehearsal at Linda's place, we performed Grit's song "I'm A Guitarmaker" in front of 700 well-heeled patrons of the arts. I guess the band reunion will be in twenty years?



Group of Seven Guitar Project



Group of Seven Guitar Project


Well ... the Group of Seven Guitar Project was launched at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on May 6th and will run until October 31st. There were an estimated 500 people at the opening which is apparently a record for the gallery! This project was conceived and directed by Linda Manzer and included works by Jean Larrivée, Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, William Grit Laskin, Linda Manzer and myself ... each luthier creating an instrument that was a tribute to one of the original Group of Seven painters.

Leading up to the opening of the exhibit, we received a nice smattering of press, including two articles in the Globe and Mail (both online and in print), a nice piece in Acoustic Guitar Magazine (again online and print) and nice podcast by Fretboard Journal!

I was honoured to be asked to participate in this project and had a blast working with the old gang from back in the seventies ... I just wish it could have been the Group of 77 so that all of the other incredible luthiers could have participated. The first builder who comes to mind is G.W. Barry. Gordon apprenticed and worked with Jean Larrivee 35 years ago and since that time has created a body of work that is second to none!


Link to the Acoustic Guitar Magazine article

Link to the Globe and Mail article

Link to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on the Group of Seven Guitar Project (number 144)



Group of Seven Guitar Project




Group of Seven Guitar Project


Two days after the opening of the Group of Seven Guitar Project at the McMichael, the documentary by Riddle Films was premiered at the TIFF/Bell Lightbox Theater in downtown Toronto. It was a bit bizarre seeing this project take shape on that large screen! We've just heard that PBS has picked up this film and will be airing it in August and that Cineplex will be releasing it nation-wide in conjunction with a special series celebrating Canada's 150th birthday!






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Thanks to the folks at Japan's prestigeous "Acoustic Guitar" magazine for the segment and photos highlighting my JB-0 model! It still amazes me how word spreads in the digital age!




American Lutherie


     Thanks to Steve Denvir for writing this article and interviewing us for "American Lutherie" magazine ... and to the folks at the Guild of American Luthiers for including us in their prestigeous publication! What a great look back at the early Larrivee years!





Guitar Bench 2014


What an honour it is to be included in Guitar Bench Magazine again! This Hong Kong based on-line publication is read world wide by hand made guitar enthusiasts ... and this time they have done a nine page spread of my latest Lutz/Brazilian Concert Model!

It's definitely worth subscribing to this magazine at http://www.guitarbench.com





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 The Fretboard Journal is published in the U.S. , distributed world wide and has been one of my favorite periodicals since it's inception. What a thrill it was when I received a phone call from editor Jazon Verlinde and asked to be included in their "Bench Press" series on luthiers! Here's a link to the article.





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   The Guild of American Luthiers just published Steve Denvir's interview of me in their quarterly magazine "American Lutherie"! I've been reading this publication for almost 40 years and I have to say, it is an honor to be included in my craft's premier periodical!

   The Guild of American Luthiers and American Lutherie magazine are definitely worth checking out here





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   After interviewing me in their inaugural issue last year, this month Guitar Bench Magazine has included an image of one of my instruments in their feature on Cocobolo ... what a nice surprise! If you haven't already subscribed to this very informative publication, check out their free on-line sampler magazines here.





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   What an honor to have my interview with Terrence Tan published in the inaugeral issue of Guitar Bench Magazine! This on-line magazine is filled with high quality photos and in depth articles on luthiers from around the globe ... check it out when you get a chance!




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    Fine Woodworking Magazine is published out of Connecticut and was the only non-music oriented periodical that I subscribed to in the early years. On a lark, I submitted photos of one of my archtop jazz instruments to their annual Design Book series ... and was pleasantly surprised when they contacted me to indicate that they would like to include my work!

    I made archtops right from the start of my career. As a matter of fact, my very first professional guitar sale was a carved top jazz guitar. A young gentleman came in Jean's shop in 1975 and asked him if he accepted orders for archtops, to which Jean replied "no, but he does". Since there were only the two of us building at that point in time, I had to assume he meant me. The next weekend, we drove to International Violin in New York and purchased a cello set of wood, and I started my first commission!


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     In 1979 I received a phone call indicating that Joan Baez was about to play a concert at Roy Thompson Hall and needed a guitar since her long-time Martin had been damaged by the airlines. I took an instrument down to the venue, only to discover that a large chain store had already supplied her with a half dozen instruments. My wife and I stayed for the concert anyway, and to our surprise Ms. Baez came on stage with the instrument I had provided. Ultimately I ended up making her an instrument that she tours and records with to this day. What an absolutely lovely person she was to deal with too!


Joan Baez





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     "Frets" was published out of  California  by Guitar Player Magazine in the '70s and '80s ... and was the source for all things acoustic guitar in North America (we're talking pre-internet here!). You can imagine that I was pretty anxious when it became apparent that they were going to review one of my instruments. I was ecstatic when they sent me a pre-publication copy of the article with a composite score of 91%.

    The "Concert" model reviewed by "Frets" was my bread and butter for over a decade and after building over 190 of this body shape, it has evolved into possibly the most versatile instrument that I fabricate to this day.



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    Acoustic Guitar Magazine initiated an article about the resurgence of hand building acoustic guitars in North America. The Larrivee shop history figured prominently in this issue, with quotes from several of us that had apprenticed with Jean ... and a photo of me & the maestro himself from our days on Dwight Ave. in Toronto.



Bruce Cockburn

    Bruce Cockburn was my main acoustic guitar hero during my apprenticeship, and from 1978 to 1981 I had the opportunity to build him three different guitars which he toured and recorded with. What a pleasure and an honor it is, to build instruments for musicians at this level ... he really is a unique talent who has enjoyed a long and eclectic career.




Fretboard Journal

(from top left : clockwise)  
(1) the tiny shop on Mt. Pleasant where Jean worked with William Laskin and myself as apprentices.
Jean and Wendy lived in a small room in the back of this storefront!
(2) a young Jean, roping binding in the Dwight Ave. shop
(3) a current shot of Jean showing his recent work   
(4) a photo of me burning the midnight oil, sanding necks in the Dwight shop.

    The Fretboard Journal is a quarterly publication out of Washington  that has rapidly gained a reputation as the premier acoustic instrument magazine. One of their earliest issues featured a comprehensive article on Jean Larrivee that encompased everything from the early years to the present. The article featured a photo collage pictured above.



Jackson Browne

    It was pretty surreal when I picked up the phone one day and the voice on the other end is telling me that it is Jackson Browne ... and that he played the instrument I had made for Joan Baez ... and wanted one too. Here is a note he sent me with a sketch of the angel he wanted on the peghead. Unfortunately, I ended up putting my luthier career on hiatus when I became partners in the Twelfth Fret Guitarists' Pro Shop, and ended up cancelling his order (one of the most difficult decisions I've made in my guitar building career).




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    When my buddy Grit Laskin wrote The World of Musical Instrument Makers, I was honored to be included, along with many other luthiers. As we all have come to know, when Grit does something, he does it right. This was a very classy hardcover book on quality paper stock, with a high colour graphics content ... very well written and researched. This was the first of several non-fiction and fiction books that Grit has authored. The photo shows me in my old Oakcrest Ave. shop, holding a burst OM with pyramid bridge.



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    I haven't applied my hand to much inlay work in recent years, but back in the day, I spent some time developing and executing custom inlays on my instruments. It was very gratifying when Frets Magazine included one of my pegheads when they featured North American inlay artists!




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   In 2005 Robert Everett-Green's article on Canadian guitar builders was published in the Globe and Mail (Canada's largest circulation national newspaper). Myself, Jean Larrivee, William Laskin, Linda Manzer, Sergei de Jonge, Rene Wilhelmy, Shelly Park and Michael Dunn are all quoted and mentioned in this piece. Yep ... there are more than a few folks up here in the frozen north who know one end of a chisel from the other!






Willie P Bennett Wren Guitars


I'll never forget the day Willie P. walked in to the original Kingston Road location of the Twelfth Fret and picked up a guitar I'd just completed ... and asked to purchase it. What an honour it was to have one of my musical heroes playing a Wren! 

Willie was always a real pro to deal with ... and a very nice gentleman to boot ... miss ya Willie.





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   This was an article from 1982 about an exhibit mounted by the Ontario Crafts Council (and curated by William Grit Laskin) featuring thirty instrument makers. I can't even name thirty luthiers from that time period ... but obviously they were around!


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