Meeting Bryn.

Last weekend at Unearthed In A Field turned out to be a very meaningful festival to me after I met this young guy called Bryn. He came up to my stall and happily played the guitars with me for at least a couple of hours every day.
On the second day his mother came over and explained that Bryn is autistic and could usually be very timid, and that he had never even played guitar before! She was so happy to see him playing guitar with me that she secretly decided to buy him one and on the last day we formed a big jam session, where I presented Bryn with his new guitar. He picked it right up and played it with ease in front of everybody there which brought his mother (and then me) to tears! He told me he’d made up two of his own songs already by the time i’d left, so i’m expecting his first album soon..

Amzie’s World

Amzie took me to a gallery where his handmade bass guitar is on show along with many of his extraordinary paintings. After demonstrating how the bass works he explained how it completely changed his style of playing music, due to its simplicity.

As mentioned in the last post, Amzie has been making music out of junk since the 60’s which makes him one of the longest running Cigar Box Guitarists in NOLA. He recalled his surprise when he saw a poster for the New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival for the first time and discovered that the concept was gaining momentum around the world.

I met Amzie and Ben by the banks of the Mississippi river as the sun set behind the skyline for a jam session which couldn’t have been any more bluesy, with the ships rolling by and the freight train running behind us!

Amzie tuned his Voodoo Stick to the sound of the freight train and let loose with it down by the tracks.
Warning.. this video contains handmade avant-garde punk music and loud noises!


Meeting Ben Gitty Baker, Amzie Adams, & Collins Kirby at The Frenchmen.

Ben Gitty Baker is the proud owner of Cigar Box Nation and C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply, an informative  database and supplier of parts, kits and gear for makers all around the world.

I met him at the Frenchmen hotel with his three string ‘2 cent Genny‘ along with his friend Amzie Adams who is a musician, a widely-known painter, and probably the most recognisable character on Frenchmen Street.

Amzie brought along his ‘godzilla’ instrument made from a 2 x 4, three cigar boxes, and 6 strings. As well as this monster, he’s been making and playing all sorts of handmade instruments since the late 60s, possibly making him one of the most established cigar box guitarists in New Orleans.

We were also joined by Collins Kirby who has been one of the main powers behind the New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar festival, a cultural and musical celebration of handmade stringed instruments.

We all sat in the shade and shared stories about our experience with the instruments and discussed their
visible potential. It was interesting to hear Ben’s modest driving force behind such a well established business and finding parallels in both of our aims.

More to come after another meeting with Ben & Amzie…

Samantha Fish Interview.

Samantha Fish is a blues musician from Kansas City, Missouri.
She first heard a cigar box guitar when she was a teenager and since then has released several albums and toured extensively, covering a range of blues, roots rock, and soul.

I caught up with Samantha at a little coffee shop in the Marigny area of New Orleans on a sunny afternoon to talk about her use of cigar box guitars and how it has influenced her music.

With thanks to Samantha and her manager Pati for sparing the time.


Samantha Fish at New Orleans Jazz Festival.

Often referred to as Kansas City’s queen of Rock & Roll, Samantha Fish has become a distinguished name amongst the blues and rock genre, as well as being highly regarded amongst cigar box guitar enthusiasts for her use of a four string CBG during her live shows.

Photo by Scott Vincent 2006

I made it to her show last night at Republic NOLA for the 6th annual Nolafunk series during the Jazz Festival, where she was opening for the blues legend Tab Benoit.

Her turbulent set was made up with a mix of older material in between songs from her newest album. It was towards the end of the set when her white SG was swapped for a four string cigar box guitar, which seemed to have an instant electrifying effect on the audience.

There were soon more cameras and phones than people, all taking pictures of Samantha with the wonderful cigar box guitar playing her cover of ‘Crow Jane’ sung by Skip James and later, Derek Trucks.

I’ll be catching Samantha Fish later this week for an interview!

Chaos in Atlanta.

A dramatic day in Atlanta yesterday after an underground train coming into the station caught on fire and became stuck in a tunnel. Luckily I was on the train before it, and I was in the station when we were evacuated. Within minutes the whole system was shut down, streets blocked off, sirens blazing, tv crews, and I counted over 30 response vehicles!
Firefighters poured into the stations with axes and ladders whilst we all stood and waited for the remaining passengers to escape. Thankfully everyone came out uninjured.

Snowden Guitars

Snowden’s ‘Chicken coop blues‘ is one of the first cigar box guitar videos that I ever stumbled across, so I felt truly honoured to meet with Mike at his workshop today in Marietta, Georgia.

Mike Snowden has made around 1400 cigar box guitars in the last ten years and is regarded as a prominent figure in the most recent revival of cigar box guitars, as well as writing 6 albums of cigar box guitar music (I now own 5 of them!) and continually performing with his instruments.

As well as performances and stalls at festivals, Snowden enjoys hosting workshops for children to make and play simple guitars, which he says is always so rewarding when they finish.

In this video he explains why he makes cigar box guitars and plays a rendition of Chicken Coop Blues.

Ozzy and Jack Osbourne recently visited Snowden’s workshop to film part of their series Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour in which Ozzy bought a guitar from Snowden which puts him on a long list of stars to own one of Snowden’s guitars and I expect this list will continue to expand as a result of his enthusiasm and craftsmanship.