Homegrown Music: A Potpourri of Music Information for 1983

Whether its making instruments, finding books, or finding bluegrass recordings, we have the music information you need.

| May/June 1983

  • Marc Bristol playing guitar
    Marc Bristol is a fount of useful music information.
    Photo by Brent Thorgren

  • Marc Bristol playing guitar

Well folks, spring has finally sprung! It's time to restring the old guitar, shine up the penny whistle, and sit out on the back porch to jam awhile in the sunshine. And it's also a great time to explore some fresh ideas and new sources of information. In fact, since I've been doing a bit of spring cleaning (by way of going through my mail!), I've discovered a virtual potpourri of "noteworthy" music information that I'd like to pass on to you right now — before you get caught up in chores yourself!

A Whistle for Your Thoughts

First off, I've been really pleased by all the feedback I've received on Part I and Part II of my "Make a Bamboo Flute" article. (By the way, if you've already crafted one of these instruments, now that the weather's warmer I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much fun they are to play outdoors!) Indeed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there's an entire network of woodwind enthusiasts. One of these musicians, Sandi Bushnell, from the state of Washington, took the trouble to send me a list of various makers of flutes and ocarinas (small, rounded whistles that give a soft, hollow sound), a news sheet about ocarina design, and a cute little handmade, four-hole ocarina shaped like a dragon. Thank you, Sandi! Since her letterhead featured a picture of an instrument just like the one she'd sent me, along with the title "Clayzeness Whistleworks," I suspect that Sandi makes and sells these woodwinds herself.

The one-page news sheet that Ms. Bushnell included in her "surprise package," as well as the list of woodwind crafters, was compiled by a whistlemaker in San Francisco, Alan Albright. I checked with Alan, who said he'd be glad to send the list and/or the design sheet (as long as supplies last), at no charge, to anyone who requests them.

How-To Material

I also noticed, while going through my mail, that many of you are still asking where you can locate books for beginning musicians. Well, one source of addresses is my book, Homegrown Music. In addition, a good how-to book company has come to my attention: Centerstream Publishing .

I wrote and asked for Centerstream's catalog, which was quickly mailed to me. The listing is chock-full of instructions for playing the guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, harmonica, and drums — it even includes a book entitled Guitar Tuning for the Complete Idiot (tuning can certainly be frustrating, and is all too often a neglected topic!).

The folks at Centerstream also sent me the Backpacker's Songbook, which sells for $4.95 plus $1.00 for postage and handling. This paperback contains the words and chords to more than 200 folk songs, a whole chapter on how best to pack a guitar (or banjo) so you'll be able to carry it easily on the trail, as well as a short section on first aid (and other emergency situation procedures). Why, this nifty little publication could be the picker's ultimate outdoor handbook!

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