For many people, there are just two kinds of guitars — acoustic and electric. But those in search of some of the clearest notes the instrument is capable of know there’s another kind — the archtop.
The go-to choice for jazz and rockabilly guitarists, archtops are among the most difficult to build. Unlike the most common acoustic and electric guitars that have flat tops where the strings are, archtops are curved outward. The end result is as often a piece of sculpture as a fully functional instrument. And that’s something luthier Greg German knows all about.
“I used to do medical illustrations, which is an art and a science, and guitar making appeals to art and science as well,” German said. “There’s an attention to detail in both, and while artistic expression is important, you can’t let it wreck the show. In the end, the product has a job to do.”
Musicians, guitar fans and art aficionados will all find something to wow them at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Archtop Festival, held at various locations in Olde Town Arvada from Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 22. Locations are Silver Vines Winery, 7509 Grandview Ave., No. 2511, La Dolce Vita coffee shop, 5756 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., the Hilton Garden Inn, 5455 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., and the Olde Town Pickin Parlour, 7515 Grandview Ave.
As part of the festival, luthiers (custom guitar makers) like German and others will be performing and demonstrating their craft. There will be performances held throughout the weekend and workshops and presentations on a variety of topics, including the past, present and future of archtop guitar building, melodic guitar playing and more.
“These kinds of shows get loads of professional musicians and amazing instruments in same the room,” German said. “I get to talk to people about design and see them play my instruments. It’s great to watch someone else enjoy the instrument I made and make it talk.”
German has been a fan of music and guitars since he was a child and built electric guitar amplifiers when he was younger. From there, it wasn’t a far leap to building guitars. He apprenticed at the Olde Town Pickin Parlour and worked there until 2008, before going off to do work out of his own shop.
“I’ve been to shows where some people in crowd have no experience at all with the musical instrument, instead they see the guitars as sculptures,” German said. “Every guitar you see are going to be one-of-a-kind objects that are tools to make music but are also art objects. It could be an eye-opening experience.”
For information and tickets, visit www.archtopfestival.com.
Open the doors to Denver’s architecture
There’s a lot of great architecture around the metro area, and you can explore much of it at Doors Open Denver 2019.
Organized by the Denver Architecture Foundation, the event takes place on Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22 at locations as varied as the Women’s Press Club, Mile High Stadium, graffiti locations and Capitol Hill.
Participants can explore the city through self-guided or expert-guided tours. Self-guided tours can be taken from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., while expert-guided tours go at scheduled times.
Visit www.denverarchitecture.org to get the details and go exploring.
Who could miss the HOOTenanny?
If you’re a fan of owls or just looking for a unique way to spend a Saturday, the 9th Annual HOOTenanny Owl and Music Festival will be up your alley.
Held at the Audubon Center at Chatfield, 11280 Waterton Road near Littleton, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, this is the organization’s largest family event of the year and only owl festival in the Denver-metro area (surprising there’s not a whole bunch, right?).
The event will feature owl demonstrations with Nature’s Educators, a hidden owl scavenger hunt in the Native Plant Gardens, owl pellet dissections, educational owl booths, owl crafts, live folk music from local Denver band Nearly There, eats from the Migration Taco food truck, and owl merchandise from local vendors.
Visit www.denveraudubon.org/events for details.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Chance the Rapper at Pepsi Center
**UPDATE: THIS SHOW HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO JAN. 11**
If you think about it, it’s amazing Chance the Rapper has become the massive star he is. He started out making knotty, Kanye West-influenced backpack rap and really blew up when he injected a heavy dose of gospel and his Christian faith into his tunes. I suppose if you’re really good at what you do and sincere about it as well, things can work out.
In support of “The Big Day,” his long-awaited “debut album” (whatever that means in the modern music industry) he’ll be performing at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle in Denver, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Visit www.altitudetickets.com to get your tickets to what is sure to be one of the best rap shows of the year.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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