Five for Friday, September 27, 2019

The Fretboard Journal is happy to be announce Five For Friday, a new column where we recap what went down in the guitar world this week…

Mary Halvorson Is a MacArthur Fellow

Just announced: Boundary pushing jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson (pictured above) is the lone musician to become a MacArthur Fellow (aka MacArthur “Genius” Grant) for 2019. The $625,000 grant is paid over the course of five years.


Passings: Robert Hunter

Rarely do lyrics look as good on paper as in song, but those penned by Robert Hunter for the Grateful Dead bucked that trend. His lyrics were, quite literally, poetry (just look up “Ripple”). Hunter passed away this week at the age of 78. Numerous musicians took to social media and stages to pay tribute to the legend, including Bob Weir who just played an entire set of Hunter’s tunes (with a “Peggy-O” thrown in for good measure).

Joe Henry Returns

After a publicized Stage IV cancer diagnosis, a lot of us were concerned for acclaimed writer/producer/musician Joe Henry (who graciously once penned a lengthy Greg Leisz feature for our magazine). We were heartened to see that Henry is back with a new album entitled The Gospel According to Water, out November 15. In typical, poetic Henry fashion, he explains the production: “These recordings are raw and wirey and spare because the songs insisted they be. But I believe them to be as wholly realized–as “produced”–as anything I’ve touched, as well as being deeply and fundamentally romantic: in love with life, even when that life founders and threatens to disappear; lustfully aglow, not in spite of the storm but because of one.”

Walter Becker’s Enormous Collection Going to Auction

On October 18 and 19, Julien’s Auctions will attempt to auction off over 1000 instruments from the estate of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker. A quick browse reveals that Becker’s enormous collection encompasses everything from vintage amps to boutique guitars and some unlikely surprises like four vintage Bacon & Day Senoritas. Look for a feature on Becker’s collection in the FJ‘s 2019 Electric Guitar Annual.

2019 IBMA Awards Announced

Can you hear the banjos? The bluegrass masses have converged upon Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend for the IBMA World of Bluegrass. Last night, the industry held its annual awards show and former FJ cover artist Billy Strings snagged both New Artist of the Year and Guitar Player of the Year. Meanwhile, just in time for its unveiling at IBMA’s trade show, our friends at Pre-War Guitar Co. decided to shoot a perfectly good dreadnought, taking their whole relic/pre-aged thing up a whole ‘nother level.

Photo above: Mary Halvorson courtesy John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation