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Hoisted on its own guitar

In Sunday's Washington Post:

Washington's guitar tradition: rich, forgotten, reviving, by Anne Midgette.

Continue reading: Readers write in with their own stories about guitar in Washington.

Edited to add: Robert Mandel writes, in response to this article:
"I was a teenager in the early and mid-sixties and studied jazz guitar with the great, late Frank Mullen, who taught at the Guitar Shop for Papas for many years. Frank taught many of the finest professional guitar players still out there today, many of whom still play and work in the area.

"Between Papas and Frank Mullen, the Guitar Shop, originally in the 1800 block of M Street, became the mandatory stop for all guitarists who performed in DC. When I started lessons with Frank in the early 60's, Charlie Byrd would come in every Saturday afternoon for a classical lesson with Papas. Papas would leave the door to his office/studio open for the lesson and all of us young students would sit on the steps in the hallway outside and listen to an incredible lesson. In those days Charlie was a regular at the Showboat Lounge at 18th & Columbia Road and gaining a national reputation. His manager owned the club. When he recorded the "Jazz Samba" album with Stan Getz, he brought the charts in for all of us kids to copy. We would go to the Showboat to see Charlie as often as we could and he was always generous with is time and paid lots of attention to us, his aspiring fans. Charlie was one of the Guitar Shop family, but the family was quite extended and on any given Saturday afternoon, a jazz or classical guitar star who was in town would make a pilgrimage to the Guitar Shop to spend time with either Frank or Papas or both. The real treat for us as jazz students was jamming with all the famous jazz players that came upstairs to Frank's studio. We had the great thrill of learning from the likes of Herb Ellis, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, and even Les Paul. We also met all the great classical players of the day, like John Williams and the man himself, Segovia.

"It seemed to us that Washington was the center of the guitar universe. The town was filled with live music and fantastic players. It was a great time in this guitar player's life and a great time to be a player in DC."

Edited to add: Ron Goad writes with supplemental information about Glen McCarthy and his guitar program in the schools in Fairfax, Virginia:

McCarthy’s “radical educational concept began in the '70's at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax. I had been teaching English courses there since 1973 and had quit music until Glen, who was a bearded, long-haired biker (not the clean-cut gent he is now!), coaxed me back onstage in 1977... He'd been touring with his legendary band Hickory Wind (which still has a cult-like following for albums including Fresh Produce), heroes Doc & Merle Watson, John Hartford, and The Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band, among others.

"...In '77 we formed a rhythm section, he helped me immensely to become a more versatile performer, (even introduced me to John Hartford at the old Birchmere) and we began playing country-rock, joining wedding-tux band Nightmusic six years later. I'm still the new guy in the quintet, which rarely performs in public. I replaced Clai Richardson II, who gave up drums to go to law school. Now Clai is doing well with both endeavors, and sometimes we team up onstage. Nobody else has joined or left the band, in which Glen plays bass. Nightmusic also includes talented guitarist-songwriter Bill Cabrera, saxophonist and great singer John Oyhenart, and brilliant keyboardist-flutist Chris Johnston also a music leader, extraordinary teacher, and orchestra conductor. Glen and I have backed up such a diverse array of acts including The Ink Spots, Kathy Lee Gifford...the wacky list goes on and on over the years. Glen taught not only at Robinson but also at Twinbook Music for decades. Like a musical Johnny Appleseed, today Glen spreads the guitar-in-public-schools gospel nationwide with his seminars.

"Irony: when Glen started teaching guitar, he was not a guitarist. as I recall, he played trumpet, piano, and standup bass. He admits that during that first year, he "kept a day ahead of the students." Now he's quite excellent on the guitar, teaches at both GMU and Wolf Trap, still plays with Nightmusic, and also works with other bands, including Keltish, led by Chelle Fulk.

"At Robinson Glen created the Ram Jam, annual battle of the bands. Some of Glen's former students have gone on to exciting, respected professional careers and a few are well known rockers. I remember judging alongside Tom Carrico. I judged teen musicians who went on to form Brainfang, Rocknoceros, Nirvana, Train. We could tell they were good."

By Anne Midgette  | October 23, 2010; 2:38 PM ET
Categories:  Washington  
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