A day of a blues festival provided plenty of people watching opportunities.
Thanks to a man named Norman Petty the small eastern New Mexico town has a big piece of American music history. It is here that Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others first recorded their music.
When I was planning out the road trip I discovered this, and made plans to stop by the ‘studio’. When the navigation system said we arrived it was in front of a newer building that was the Chamber of Commerce, as well as a museum. Upon entry I asked about the studio, the person at the desk said that is across town – and rarely open. Disappointed, we checked out the museum.
The museum was in the basement. After watching a video about Norman and Vi Petty, we toured their exhibits. They have a number of nice displays.
After leaving I was able to google and find the actual studio address. It was located across town, just a couple of miles away.
When we arrived I noticed the gate to the compound was open. When I walked in I tried a door to a building and to my surprise it too was unlocked. There were four people standing in the lobby and when I asked if I could take some photos outside they said yes, but then said they were starting a studio tour – would we like to see it!
Our first stop and the room that the recording engineer worked the soundboard.
Our tour was lead by a man named Dave Bigham. Our good fortunate hit the jackpot here, as Dave was one of Buddy Holly’s backup singers back in the 1950s.
Dave was a fantastic guide – he was very knowledgeable, adding tons of background to each of the songs. When he started to sing his backup parts along with the song he was playing I got goose bumps!
While the mixing board was updated in the 1970s, most of the other equipment is from the 1950s when Buddy and others recorded here.
In the back of the building is an apartment where the musicians would crash when recording here. The story was told that they tended to record overnight, and sleep through the day.
The studio is where the magic occurred. Nearly all of the instruments, amps and other equipment is original from the 1950s.
We were very honored to have lucked into this tour, and to have Dave lead us through the facility. It was easily one of the highlights of the 3 week road trip.
The actual mic that Buddy Holly recorded all those classics. What an afternoon in Clovis, New Mexico.
For the past 7 years the National Guitar Museum has had a travelling exhibit on the history of Guitar. This exhibit has been on display at 21 science museums, with Cincinnati’s turn ending soon.
With more than 60 items on display, the exhibit gives an excellent overview of the history of stringed instruments, as well as the science behind the guitar. The example below is an Oud, a Persian instrument similar to a lute.
The exhibit covered everything from banjos to electric guitar and synthesizers.
The artistic aspect was emphasized.
As well as some unusual designs.
The rare Gibson Harp Guitar.
Any exhibit on guitar must have a Gibson Les Paul
And a Fender Stratocaster!
Gresch was well represented, including this dobro
And a White Falcon
The quantity and quality of the guitars was very impressive. As a photographer the lighting and reflective glass/plastic was very challenging. One would think ‘world class museums’ could do better.
Still, it was well worth the trip to Cincinnati.
The Martin Guitar Company has been making guitars since 1833. The current CEO is the 5th generation of Martin’s to run the company.
The business started in New York City but moved to Pennsylvania after a few years, being located in Nazareth ever since.
As you enter the facility you are immediately greeted by the company museum.
The museum houses over 130 guitars from the 1830s until now. It is striking to see how similar they are from 200 years ago.
In addition to the guitars they have some components from over the years.
The craftsmanship is amazing.
Martin also makes ukuleles and mandolins.
The museum housed some custom ones, including one from the Grand Ole’ Opry.
Having finished the museum portion, we headed out on the factory tour. The guide handed each person a headset and we headed out. First stop was where they are ‘booking the wood’, basically splitting it and attaching the pieces so the grain matches and is wide enough for the body.
Nearly all of the manufacturing is done by hand.
After formed they sit for an extensive amount of time with their collection of clothes pins to hold it together.
The build process involves weeks and months of time as components dry.
Fret board assembly.
It was amazing the workers could focus with the continual tours walking by taking their photos.
A polishing/sanding station.
Closer to being completed, but still more waiting – it takes months to get a custom guitar from Martin.
One of the few automated functions – a polisher.
Note someone from a tour watching the worker.
This person was applying the detail around the edge of the body of the guitar.
Similar to this worker – their lighting has been custom built to provide the optimum view.
The work continues….
Throughout the plant….
Applying the strings.
And a final polish.
Before a test drive!
The visit to the Martin Guitar Factory Tour is easily one of the best we have done. Having the chance to walk the factory floor and take great photos of the quality work and hard working craftsman was fantastic.
If you ever get the chance to go to Nazareth, Pennsylvania and visit them – it is well worth the effort.
It has been over 10 years since the last visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but having recently read that they now allow photography in most places it seemed like a good time to make a return visit.
I had forgotten how many artifacts they have from many genres, not just Rock. Since blues had such an influence, there was an extensive exhibit honoring those who contributed, such as Bo Diddley.
In my opinion Ruth Brown is the best blues singer of all time…
And Muddy Waters was one of the best as well. Note the partial view of the album in the upper right corner. It is ‘Hard Again’, featuring Muddy, Bob Margolin on Guitar, Pinetop Perkins on piano, James Cotton on harmonica, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith on drums, Charles Calmese on bass and produced, as well as playing guitar, Johnny Winter. The Best Blues Album Ever!
The sign from Elvis’ famed 1968 comeback TV special
Another cool Bo Diddley guitar.
Mixing blues and rock makes another of my favorites, the Allman Brothers Band.
Beyond the instruments and outfits there is an excellent collection of paraphernalia, including the original lyrics – such as Riders on the Storm by the Doors.
The upper floors had a tribute to 50 years of Rolling Stone magazine.
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfit
Long Live Rock!
The Museum of Pop Art in Seattle started life as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. Recently they rebranded themselves and have some nice other exhibits.
The guitar collection was amazing.
The Hendrix area
A large area for sci-fi
Cleveland’s approach to large, decorated fiberglass art were 10′ high guitars. Scattered around downtown for the exhibit, they were later moved to various public and private locations, so the opportunity to see them all was once in a lifetime.
While most lined Euclid Avenue, or were in Tower City, a number were appropriate placed outside of the Rock Hall of Fame.