Five For Friday: September 6, 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…

Passings: Jimmy Johnson and Keith Case
Muscle Shoals guitar legend Jimmy Johnson passed away this week. His imprint on popular music is beyond comprehension: That’s him on many of Aretha Franklin’s biggest hits (“Respect,” “Think,” “Chain of Fools”), as well as “Mustang Sally,” “I’m Your Puppet,” “Sweet Soul Music,” and so many other incredible songs. Johnson was 76.

You often only hear about the infamous managers and booking agents, the guys who screw over your favorite acts. Keith Case was the just the opposite: A respected member of the Nashville music scene who fostered great acoustic music and musicians. At his peak, his roster read like a who’s-who of Americana legends: Guy Clark, John Hartford, Tony Rice, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Townes Van Zandt, Gillian Welch, Hot Rize and many others. On a personal level, when we were just starting the magazine, Case was a huge supporter of our efforts, helping us connect with early cover story subjects Guy Clark, Tony Rice and others. After a lengthy illness, Case passed away at the age of 79 on September 3.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass’ Full Lineup
San Francisco’s famed (and free!) Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (October 4-6, 2019) announced their full lineup this week, including FJ favorites Bill Frisell, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Steve Earle and the Milk Carton Kids. Get the full schedule here:

The Continued Evolution of the Guitar Show
This week, we learned that the Holy Grail Guitar Show– Europe’s take on a Woodstock / Healdsburg luthier showcase – will be ending with its fifth show, taking place in Berlin, May 2-3, 2020. The founders – all accomplished luthiers – understandably want to focus more of their time and resources on building instruments.

Across the pond (and closer to our home), archtop and jazz fans are gearing up for the first-ever Rocky Mountain Archtop Festival, taking place in Arvada, Colorado, September 20-22 of this year. Some of the best archtop builders alive today – including Ken Parker, Tom Ribbecke, Benedetto, Cris Mirabella and others – are set to showcase their wares. There will also be music performances, clinics and more. Get your tickets here. 

Chase Bliss (Almost) Unleashes the Blooper
Joel Korte of Chase Bliss Audio and the mysterious figure behind the ever-popular KNOBs YouTube channel collaborated on a pedal they’ve dubbed “blooper.” Revealed at the NAMM show, it’s a looper pedal with a lot going on under the hood (we won’t even attempt to explain it). On September 5, Chase Bliss launched a Kickstarter for this nascent pedal, hoping to hit $100,000 in pre-orders in a month as they ramp up on production. They hit that goal and then some… $140,000 (and counting) in less than 24 hours, an impressive feat considering each pedal sells for $500. The Kickstarter campaign’s lengthy video – a must-see production featuring a cameo from Joel’s son and a poolside David Torn (pictured above) – hints at what all the fuss is about.  

A Priceless Archive of New Orleans Is Found
This week, the LA Times brought us the unbelievable story of a treasure trove of unreleased recordings largely from New Orleans’ Sea-Saint Recording Studio. The reel-to-reel tapes, presumed lost after Hurricane Katrina, somehow resurfaced at a foreclosed storage unit in Torrance, California. Included were recordings of the Meters, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, even an unreleased 1975 solo album from Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli (someone, please reissue this someday). As with all things music business and reissue, clearing rights and royalties for all this material will prove to be a Herculean effort… but maybe a few select sessions will see the light of day. Read the whole story here.

As a reader-supported publication, we’re having a subscription drive for the entire month of September. If you enjoy the FJ’s mix of industry news, long-form interviews, podcasts and performance videos, we hope you’ll support us via a print or discounted digital subscription to our magazine. Subscriptions start at just $29.99 for a year.