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Hi Everyone!

    As time permits, I'll be adding content to this site.  As a convenient way (I hope) to find out if the site has changed since the last time you've logged on, I have added this page, which will document updates and supply links to the new content.

 

Please note that I'll be updating this site on a monthly basis rather than daily.

 

 

 

 

Tom Thomson Guitar

 

What a great time we had at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg with another sold out "Acoustic Conversation" ... this time focusing on the Tom Thomson Guitar!

This instrument is part of the Group of Seven Guitar Project (Tom died before the original Group of Seven formed but was of course, a huge influence and unofficially the eighth member). The guitar was made collectively by the participants ... Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, Jean Larrivée, William "Grit" Laskin, Linda Manzer and myself.

I can't remember who came up with the "empty canoe" visual theme of the instrument, but it seems appropriate considering the life and mysterious death of this iconic Canadian artist. The wood burned canoe on the peghead along with the cedar strip back and sides, as well as Tom Thomson inspired inlay work and water colour renderings, all add up to create a unique musical instrument!

Getting back together and working with the old Larrivée crew from the '70s was the highlight of this entire project for us all ... what a blast we had making this guitar!

The afternoon was capped off by a wonderful concert on the Tom Thomson guitar by none other than Stephen Fearing! What a treat to hear this instrument put through its paces by such a gifted musician!

 

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Here's a quick 60 second time-lapse video of the work Linda and I did on the peghead
of the Tom Thomson Guitar.

 

 



 

Group of Seven DVD

 

I've just picked up my copy of the new long-version (104 minutes) of the Group of Seven Guitar Project DVD by Riddle Films and viewed it for the first time myself. Jason Charters, Liam Romalis and all of the talented folks at Riddle have outdone themselves, that's for sure. The production values are wonderful and their creativity is in full evidence with regards to content and editiing ... kudos to all concerned!

Anyone who would like a copy of this, complete with a very nifty booklet ... drop me an email and I'll get you hooked up.

This film will be shown nation-wide starting September 5th through Cineplex locations! For times and locations, click here

 

Group of Seven DVD

 

 

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I thought I'd post some shots of my contribution to the Group of Seven Guitar Project as our "Acoustic Conversation" approaches (see the McMichael Canadian Art Collection's site for more info). I started with a blank sheet on this one and designed it from the ground up as a tribute to the great artist Franklin Carmichael. The asymmetrical body was informed by a trip my son, daughter-in-law and myself made up to Grace Lake where Carmichael painted frequently ... a tip of the hat to the wind swept trees that he often depicted in his landscapes. The graphic elements are from his prints and sketches and are rendered on the guitar by wood burning. The top is a spectacular Sitka spruce set with dramatic bear-claw figure. The back and sides are Cocobolo with hints of sapwood. The fingerboard is inlaid with Amboyna burl that mirrors the shape of the back's sapwood ... with the famous "Twisted Pine" of Grace Lake depicted at the 5th fret.

 

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Wren Group of Seven Wren Group of Seven Wren Group of Seven Wren Guitar Works Wren Guitars Wren Group of Seven
      Wren Group of Seven      

 

When Riddle Films signed on to produce a documentary for the Group of Seven Guitar Project, they asked us all to document our build process as much as possible with both photos and whatever video we could manage. They couldn't be at all of our shops filming all seven instruments being constructed at once of course, so we were able to fill in a few blanks for them. Here's a short video with some of my documentation ... with a beautiful audio file of "Grace Lake", written and performed by Michael Francis!

 

 





 

 

Well, mark Sunday August 27th on your calendar folks ... this is going to be a blast! As part of the Group of Seven Guitar project, three of us will be participating in an "Acoustic Conversation" taking place at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg ... a moderated discussion about the project as a whole, the Franklin Carmichael Guitar that was my contribution, and talking points about guitars and the arts in general ... followed by a concert by Michael Francis!

Moderator Kerry Crawford is a musician and producer who has spent over thirty years in recording studios, working in a production capacity for advertising music, TV shows such as Second City Television, and producing records for noted Canadian artists such as Bruce Cockburn and Jane Siberry. Kerry has enjoyed working with a diverse group of musicians whose venues have ranged from the sidewalk to our finest concert halls. Being a guitarist himself, he has taken a special interest in the evolution of the instrument and is a great admirer of the remarkably talented luthiers participating in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s The Group of Seven Guitar Project.

Mike Francis is considered by many to be the most recorded guitar player in Canada. He has spent over 35 years working in the Toronto recording scene on literally thousands of jingles, numerous tv shows, films, and recording projects for variety artists and producers. The various styles he plays include Blues, R+B, Funk, Jazz, Pop, Folk and Country music.  He has recorded with Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden, Enrique Iglesias, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Nelly Furtado, Kim MItchell, Alannah Myles, Jesse Winchester, Smokey Robinson, and many others.

For my part, I'll be walking everyone through the creative process of my instrument and commenting on the past, present and future of handmade guitars in Canada, the universe and beyond!

For tickets and info go to mcmichael.com

 

 

 

 

CBC q Tom Power


Linda Manzer and I had a great time being interviewed on CBC's "q" by Tom Power about the Group of Seven Guitar Project! All the folks at CBC were super nice, including Tom himself. This program goes nation-wide and is heard by over 3 million people every day! Here's a link to the interview (click on "Listen" just below the first image)


Link to the interview

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitar
left to right: Tony Duggan-Smith, Linda Manzer, Grit Laskin, David Wren, George Gray and Sergei de Jonge


I have NO idea how we got talked into performing at the McMichael gallery's exclusive ($500.00 a plate) Moonlight Gala fundraiser ... but after one rehearsal at Linda's place, we performed Grit's song "I'm A Guitarmaker" in front of 700 well-heeled patrons of the arts. I guess the band reunion will be in twenty years?

 

 

 

 

Group of Seven Guitar Project

 

Well ... the Group of Seven Guitar Project was launched at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on May 6th and will run until October 31st. There were an estimated 500 people at the opening which is apparently a record for the gallery! This project was conceived and directed by Linda Manzer and included works by Jean Larrivée, Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, William Grit Laskin, Linda Manzer and myself ... each luthier creating an instrument that was a tribute to one of the original Group of Seven painters.

Leading up to the opening of the exhibit, we received a nice smattering of press, including two articles in the Globe and Mail (both online and in print), a nice piece in Acoustic Guitar Magazine (again online and print) and nice podcast by Fretboard Journal!

I was honoured to be asked to participate in this project and had a blast working with the old gang from back in the seventies ... I just wish it could have been the Group of 77 so that all of the other incredible luthiers could have participated. The first builder who comes to mind is G.W. Barry. Gordon apprenticed and worked with Jean Larrivee 35 years ago and since that time has created a body of work that is second to none!

 

Link to the Acoustic Guitar Magazine article

Link to the Globe and Mail article

Link to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on the Group of Seven Guitar Project (number 144)

 

Riddle Films

Two days after the opening of the Group of Seven Guitar Project at the McMichael, the documentary by Riddle Films was premiered at the TIFF/Bell Lightbox Theater in downtown Toronto. It was a bit bizarre seeing this project take shape on that large screen!

 

 

 


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I know that it's not to everyone's taste, but I think this is one of my favorite looks in a guitar ... a bit of a retro feel, with a touch of modern thrown in. Here's one of my Modern Slope MS-1 models with a stunning set of Cocobolo, checkered binding, rope-bound Taj Mahal peghead with cast metal logo badge, Manzer wedge and RFX raised fingerboard extension!


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Here's a quick-and-nasty audio file I recorded (with a slideshow of the build process) shortly after I strung up this guitar for the first time.



 

 

 

Mike Francis

 

I'd like to send a huge shout out to my buddy Mike Francis! Mike has taken time out from his busy performing and studio schedule to support my part in the Group of Seven Guitar Project. He was not only featured in the upcoming documentary, but composed and recorded two pieces specifically for the project. Check out "Grace Lake" and "Shadow and Light" if you want a real musical treat. I can't thank you enough Mike!!!

 

 

Grace Lake

Shadow and Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Thomson Guitar
Left to right: David Wren, George Gray, Sergei deJonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, Linda Manzer

 

Well, I figured it would be a blast, but I didn't count on it being quite that much fun!

As part of the upcoming "Group of Seven Guitar Project" that will be exhibited at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection starting May 6th 2017 ... all seven of us will be involved in group-building the Tom Thomson guitar. To kick things off, five of us got the woodworking started up in Chelsea Quebec at Sergei de Jonge's (wonderful) shop.

By the time this instrument is finished, Sergei deJonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, William "Grit" Laskin, Jean Larrivee, Linda Manzer and myself will all have been involved in this guitar.

I'll keep you posted regarding the progress of this very cool project!

 

Tom Thomson guitar Tom Thomson Guitar Tom Thomson guitar Tom Thomson Guitar Tom Thomson Guitar Tom Thomson Guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Wren Shop

 

Putting the new shop to bed after the first day of guitar work! Has anyone else underestimated how long it takes to move and re-setup a new shop? I'm loving the new setup and am looking forward to getting back to making wood dust!

Back in 2012 I closed my order book as I was getting booked up too far in advance. I've finally delivered all of those commissions and as of this morning have started taking orders again.

I'm now offering the cases with custom carbon fiber Hoffee flight cases.

Check out my Catalogue Page for the different models available and my Options Page for options.

 

Oct 15 Update

Well, that was fast ... I'm now booked until the end of 2018 and have closed my order book again! Please email me if you would like to be on my new waiting list. Thanks so much for your support everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitars

 

Thanks to the folks at Japan's prestigeous "Acoustic Guitar" magazine for the segment and photos highlighting my JB-0 model! It still amazes me how word spreads in the digital age!

 

 

 

 

American Lutherie

 

   Thanks to Steve Denvir for writing this article and interviewing us for "American Lutherie" magazine ... and to the folks at the Guild of American Luthiers for including us in their prestigeous publication! What a great look back at the early Larrivee years!

 

 

 

 

 

Northwoods Seminar

 

What an incredible honour it was to be asked to teach at this year's Northwoods Seminar in Big Rapids Michigan! With folks like Dan Erlewine, Linda Manzer, Tom Ribbecke and Michi Matsuda in the audience, it was a nerve wracking experience to say the least!

To be included with all of these seminal figures in my field was truly gratifying. Thanks so much to Bryan Galloup and all of his luthiers (special thanks to the amazing Sam Guidry)!!!

 

Link to the Northwoods Facebook Page

 

 

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