I'm not sure I'd ever heard the word "luthier" before I met Rick. But you can't know Rick without knowing his guitar. And you can't know his guitar without knowing about its maker, Richard Brune.
So, when Rick and I headed toward Minneapolis last weekend for a family funeral, we made a stop at Evanston, IL., where Richard Brune's studio/showroom/workshop is so that Richard could "give the guitar a little love."
Rick's a pretty good guitarist. When the instrument went into Richard's hands, it began to really sing.
I have to say, I felt very privileged to meet Richard and to see his workshops and guitars. Not everyone has a letter from Andres Segovia on their wall or a recommendation from the master on his website saying "I promise to play your guitar daily and give you an account from time to time as to how it is evolving. Thank you and I send you a strong embrace."
It's no accident that the guitar was at home in the hands of its maker. Brune started building guitars in 1966 and played flamenco guitar professionally in Mexico in the 1960s and '70s.
He later moved to Chicago and began crafting this beautiful instrument full time.
His workshop is tucked into a quiet neighborhood in Evanston, home to Northwestern University.
It's a stucco, hacienda-style building. The interior has white walls, graceful arches, beautiful lighting and case upon case of guitars. Despite the hot and humid weather outside, inside the studio it was a cool, relaxing haven, and while the music made in that room is full of energy, the overall feeling is one of divine calm.
All of his guitars are beautiful. Some are simply amazing. Those of you who have worked with paper know how demanding it can be. Look at the rosette on this guitar.
It's made from sheepskin parchment and the detail is so stunning I simply couldn't believe it.
Richard's son Marshall is also a luthier and I couldn't help but think what pleasure a father would feel for a son following in such footsteps and with such skill. He showed us one of his guitars and the workmanship and design was truly remarkable.
Well, while the guys were talking guitars and Rick was trying out some others, I took a few minutes to walk around the neighborhood. I'll show you what I found next time. But let me say, I returned to the studio to find them in the workshop.
Now, I'm a sucker for workshops or art rooms of any kind. But really captured me was "guitars in progress."
My brain knows they don't show up at the guitar store looking like those you've seen above. But to see things like this...
...really break it down to the basics.
I confess, I've developed a real love for classical guitar music since knowing Rick. But after visiting Richard, I have discovered a deep respect for the artistry that goes into creating the instrument.
Richard graciously gave Rick's guitar the love it needed and when we picked it up, well -- it sounded fabulous.
I can see why -- it's not just the guitarist or the instrument -- it's the craft, imagination, skill and grace that goes into creating that instrument in the first place. Not a duo. A trio.
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