Every year, for the last 68 years, there has been a New England Folk Festival. Held each year about the third weekend of April, the festival is a wonderful event, and is a truly extraordinary, all-volunteer effort. If you’ve never been, here is a word of advice.
My trip to NEFFA was to play (guitar) with the Woods Hole Folk Orchestra, to help provide tunes for Marcie Van Cleave’s International Folk Dance Medley event on Saturday night.
Some of the nice things about NEFFA include meeting old friends, making new ones, playing and hearing music, dancing, going to performances, attending workshops, joining jam sessions, and more. There is also a “folk bazaar”. And there are crafts and craft workers. Exploring the craft area, having been attracted by some astonishingly beautiful instruments, I had a conversation with Al Carruth, luthier extraordinaire, of Newport (which is not a port), New Hampshire.
His discussion of the physics and mechanics of strings and sound production, and of his craft, stretched my ability to comprehend. The man has been making instruments for decades, and knows a lot about musical instrument making. He graciously gave me permission to photograph his work, and below may be found some of the vistas that turned up during a close tour of these instruments.
Not just any viola. Count the strings…
We live in the Golden Age of guitar building. Al is not the only luthier working in the world today. There are more people creating work of this quality. Al says that there are young luthiers, coming up, whose work will surpass that of their elders. The future is going to look back with awe and appreciation at the instruments made in the late 20th and early 21st Century.
Al Carruth’s website is: alcarruthluthier.com
If you missed this year’s NEFFA, there’s next year!
NEFFA website is: neffa.org