Well, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a new mandolin. It's a Weber Bitterroot F-Style mandolin and I bought it at the Denver Folklore Center...my favorite acoustic instrument shop, and a Denver institution since 1962.
In 1998, when I moved to Alaska, I recognized the need for some new hobbies to keep me busy during the long, dark Alaskan winters. I started knitting, and, inspired by the multitude of bluegrass pickers in Fairbanks, decided that I wanted to start playing an acoustic instrument. I decided that a mandolin was just my size, and nice and portable to match my roving lifestyle at the time.
My dad bought me a great little Epiphone mandolin that I have been very happy with for over ten years. That mandolin served me well....and has been all over the country with me. One of my favorite memories with it was my last night in Alaska, just before crossing the Alaska/Canada border. Rachel, Alan, and I camped out in a beautiful, remote spot. We sat around a campfire in the cool fall air, and I played that mandolin as some of the most amazing northern lights I'd ever seen danced overhead, bidding us goodbye.
My mandolin playing has always been sporadic, at best. The problem for me is that mandolin playing is not the only hobby I love. So, when I have some spare time, it's hard for me to decide between picking, reading, and/or knitting. And I'll be honest, for most of the past decade, reading and knitting usually win.
This mandolin was an investment (ie: it wasn't cheap), but it's something I will have for the rest of my life, and will be able to pass down to Sadie. And in my opinion, there aren't many better things in life to spend money on than beautiful, handmade acoustic instruments.
But lately, things have changed a bit. Brian is a dedicated banjo picker and is always encouraging me to play more often. We've tried off and on to make music together, but until recently we just couldn't make it happen.
And then....we found what we've always needed...a guitar player!!! Right across the street! And we've known him all along, but he just didn't know he was a guitar player until about 9 months ago.
And now...the neighborhood band is in full swing!Since Brian, Ryan and I have started playing together, I've found a renewed sense of excitement about my musical ambitions. I've been having so much fun making music in my living room with our good friends. I love that Sadie is growing up, just like I did, surrounded by live acoustic music in her home.
And then a little voice inside me told me that I might be ready to upgrade my instrument. Well, once that voice spoke up, there was no ignoring it.
Over the past few months, I've visited every acoustic instrument dealer along the Front Range, and one in Durango, CO. I narrowed down the sound I was looking for in a new mandolin. And then I found the one. It all came down to look, and feel, and emotions. As Harry Tuft at the Folklore Center told me...it's usually the one you find yourself thinking about. And boy, have I been thinking about this instrument.
Now I just have to name it....