Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Beauty to brokenness
I'd never heard of McPherson guitars before I went to see Trace Bundy play at the Old Town School of Folk Music last October. There's no reason why I should; I'm not keeping careful track of music in general or guitars in particular. I wouldn't have noticed these were any different but for their distinctive bean-shaped, off-center sound holes.
Bundy played an easygoing, virtuosic set, which had him keeping time to himself by beating on the body of the guitar, and deploying, then tossing away, a variety of capos, which otherwise were perched on the head of the guitar like splayed fingers, making the guitars look a little like Struwwelpeter's hands. He mentioned that the black guitar was made of carbon composite, which seemed something new.
Before introducing his last song, "Joy & Sorrow," he said something along the lines of "There is a deep beauty to brokenness."
At which point, his guitar somehow failed—I wasn't sure if it was the microphone pick-up, or what, but he tried to shift to the second one, and that failed too. The audience couldn't hear.
So he shifted to a different song and played it acoustically, without amplification. And he was right, there was a deep beauty to it, though not the one intended. I don't blame the guitars, which can run up to $20,000 a throw. Sometimes things go right by going wrong. Assuming it wasn't all part of the act. If it was, we fell for it.