New Guitar Body Octave Mandolin

I just received a new guitar body octave mandolin (GBOM) crafted by luthier Mike Black of Mike Black Mandolins  It’s a beautiful instrument to play and look at, and I can’t put it down.  In a past post, I featured two other instruments — my original Trinity College Irish bouzouki and the guitar body Irish bouzouki that luthier Paddy Burgin in New Zealand made for me.  I still have the former, but I sold the latter.  Its flat top gave it a sound more like a guitar than something in the mandolin family, which was not what I was looking for, although the instrument was beautiful.  The Black GBOM has that distinctive mando family sound, with a richness that far exceeds the commercially produced Trinity College bouzouki.  Also, because octave mandolins have a shorter scale length (21-3/4″ in this case) than bouzoukis (the Trinity College scale length is 26″), it is significantly easier to play — the frets are closer together and the string tension is considerably less.

All around a fantastic instruments!

Note: By all means comment on this post, but I routinely get a million comments (slight exaggeration), solicitations really, from website developers pushers wanting me to buy there services.  If you’re really interested in commenting about this instrument or other music-related things on my website, you might want to send me a message via the Comments page.

Doster & Engle Visit Mauritania as Arts Envoys

Doster & Engle — Mauritania 2015

English Class 2 editGreg Engle and Stephen Doster performed, played of music with many fantastic local musicians and had a great time talking to high school students about songwriting during their July 2016 trip to Mauritania.  The trip, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Arts Envoy Program and organized by the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, afforded yet another opportunity to reach across national borders to connect with people through music.

Mauritania, at the edge of the Sahara, is steeped in Sahelian musical traditions.  The musicians Doster & Engle had the pleasure to play with each had his or her own way to weave together rich Sahelian, African and Arabic styles with more modern genres.  The Sahelian roots of the blues were striking.  The music was beautiful.

Two events were standouts.  One was the Embassy’s Independence Day reception at which Doster & Engle played with Mauritanian songwriter and musician Cheikh Lebiad, who spontaneously made up and sang verses to “This Land Is Your Land” in Hassaniya — music diplomacy at its finest.

Equally inspiring was an evening with Malouma, one of Mauritania’s best known and beloved musicians, who also happens to be a member of the the country’s Senate.  It was an honor and a thrill to play for and then with Malouma and her band.

Click arrows in the gallery pane to view the slideshow.

With Malouma      Echos du Sahel School  Independence Day Reception with Ambassador Larry Andre  With Cheikh Lebiad      Making Music with Malouma and her Band
With Malouma

Fender Donates Guitars for Kids in Africa

Fender donates guitars for kids in Africa

Fender Donation w Jeff Van Zandt Small

Greg Engle (left) and Stephen Doster (right) accept five Fender guitars from Fender’s Austin representative, Jeff Van Zandt (right), on behalf of Guitars for Swaziland.  Four of the guitars will go to Mauritania, where a fledgling music school and a foundation for the preservation of Mauritanian music will each receive two.  The fifth guitar will be auctioned off at Imagine, a John Lennon birthday celebration on October 9, 2016 at Threadgill’s (south). Proceeds from the auction will help fund Guitars for Swaziland projects that give African children the opportunity to learn to play the guitar.