Stars and their Guitars, part 1
Ask an artist to talk about themselves and sometimes they’re either a little coy or a little jaded. But ask them to talk about their guitar and their eyes light up and they tell the story of how they got it, who owned it before or the many places it was lost. This is a compilation of what some of the artists who have spoken to Backroads recently have had to say about their beloved guitars.
Carrie Elkin – I was in a small record shop in Nashville and I had been looking for an old Martin or something. I went in and played a bunch of Martins that I couldn’t afford, and I was leaving the store and I happened to look up on my way out and the Gurian was hanging there and I thought it was a C on the headstock of the guitar and I thought: ‘Oh, C for Carrie’. It turns out it was a G for Gurian but I started playing it and it just played beautifully and I was in love with it. They were made in New Hampshire by a man named Michael Gurian. Then I looked up the serial number and it happened to be made the year I was born, which was another kind of fun thing.
Gurf Morlix – The guitar that I’m playing live I really love. It’s a little parlour guitar made by a Canadian company called Art et Lutherie. It’s inexpensive and it’s great. I love it.
Devon Sproule – The Gibson was a present for my birthday from my husband Paul and some other friends. He actually found it on eBay. It was built in 1954 and the story goes that it was owned by an older couple who played it on cruise ships as entertainment. I like to think that I’m picking up on those vibes.
Eric Taylor – It’s a Ross-Kinscherff, made about 15 years ago in Austin, Texas. I think it’s probably the best guitar ever made. It sounds like a piano.
Sam Baker – It’s a Taylor 414, standard left-handed guitar. I bought it off eBay. It’s a well-built guitar that sounds good. I put a pickguard on it on both sides because I thought it looked lopsided. I felt like it makes it more balanced. It looks like little wings. Don’t you think it looks more as if it were wingèd, as if it were to fly? It did fly without me coming over here. It is capable of getting from Newark, New Jersey, without my help. We could all use an extra wing sometimes.
Darden Smith – The guitar I just bought is a 1959 Gibson J45. It belonged to Eliza Gilkyson before I bought it. I love this guitar. I grew up with a Gibson J50 and it was stolen from me when I was about 22 and I’ve always loved the sound of these guitars, so I’ve been looking for one for about five years. I saw this guitar and I bought it. It was a bit of cash, but I’ve written so many songs on this guitar, it’s like this guitar has so many songs in it. It really is an amazing instrument.
Fred Eaglesmith – I have a Gretsch guitar that looks like a real cheap one. I bought it in Kentucky in a store and the guy said ‘oh it’s a prototype, it’s not very good, I don’t know why it was delivered here’. And he sold it to me incredibly cheap and it turned out to be an incredibly great guitar.
Brenley MacEachern (Madison Violet) – I play a 1977 Martin M38 and I discovered this guitar when I was shopping for an electric guitar. I ran in the store to just have a little gander at the electrics. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this beautiful acoustic guitar, which I was not in the market for at all. The light just hit it. I took it off the wall and I strummed it a couple of times, and I just walked up to the counter and dropped my Visa down and said 'I really just want to buy this guitar'. It ended up costing thousands of dollars, but I just said 'I need it'. And then I found out that it was Greg Keelor’s old guitar, and I’m a big fan of Blue Rodeo. It was very serendipitous.