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Brooks & Dunn “Last Rodeo” tour

On Friday April 30, 2010, Brooks & Dunn “Last Rodeo” tour made its way to the Inland Northwest – Spokane, WA.  New artist Tyler Dickerson opened followed by the great play of Jason Aldean.  Brooks & Dunn then took the stage and had the crowd on their feet for most of the night.  A loud roar got even louder during the song “Only In American” when local military were honored on stage and large confetti cannons went off, spraying Red, White and Blue confetti into the crowd.

Another key part of the evening was the the opportunity to get several guitars to Kix and Ronnie prior to the show.  In the picture shown below each received a new custom guitar.  The artwork on Kix’ guitar was desinged by his daughter and hand painted on the guitar by the great guitar folks here in MT.  The guitars really were great and so was the performance by Brooks and Dunn and Jason Aldean.


Posted: 5/4/2010 3:39:20 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

John Oates Visits Montana

Gibson Montana received a special treat recently with a visit from John Oates, of the band Hall and Oates.

Flying in from his home in Colorado, John came to Bozeman to work with Ren Ferguson and Don Ruffatto hoping to create the guitar of his dreams. Having played many brands and styles of acoustic guitars over the years, he was looking for that “one” guitar to use both in the studio, and for his other solo, duo and band gigs that he regularly performs.

Don guided John through a factory tour, giving him a chance to not only see the hand work that goes into each Gibson, but also to let him look at the many different models in production and getideas for his own guitar. After the tour, they settled into the conference room with Ren Ferguson, and along with the visual aid of a few choice models, slowly put together the spec sheets on what was to become John’s newest favorite instrument.

After much deliberation, John chose to have a variation on a historic B-25 built. As he already owns a couple of vintage J-45s, John was looking for something that would compliment his other Gibsons (and non Gibsons).

The end of the day brought a special treat, as John found out that his good friend Lyle Lovett was performing in Bozeman. After getting to see a wonderful show, John, along with Don and Dale Ruffatto, were able to spend a little time visiting with Lyle and the band.

John recently received his new Gibson, and was ecstatic. This is what he had to say:

“Having a hand in creating this guitar was one of the hi-lights of my musically life... I mean it. Trying to envision what it would look and sound like and then having the reality far exceed my expectations was amazing. The workmanship is superb and it has the warm and "worn in" sound of a 40 year old vintage instrument. The finish is unique and at the same time very traditional in the classic Gibson style. It was so much fun meeting and hanging out with all the great folks up in Montana and knowing that I now have a one-of-a-kind instrument all my own.”

Posted: 12/9/2009 12:56:44 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Springfield Music (Springfield, MO) - Saturday, July 11

Springfield, Missouri has a musical history as rich as the Ozark Mountains that surround it. On Saturday, July 11th, more than 100 customers braved the rain and showed up at 8am for the closed door portion of Springfield Music’s big summer sale. They allowed their best customers access to special pricing before the general public arrived!

Gibson Product Specialist Ken McMahan was there to lend a hand with the customers as well as talk with people who saw the “Meet Your DPS” (Dealer Product Specialist) poster and came to show off their vintage Gibsons. Don Crawford and the Gibson tour bus was a great attraction and generated loads of excitement with those in attendance.

At one point during the day, Ken walked over and saw their drum department manager Chris Ewing talking to a gentleman who was having trouble deciding between the Gibson Blues King, a small body Martin and a small body Taylor. Chris is a good salesman and used to manage their sister store in Joplin so a sale was going to be made. The customer was asking about this and that and just needed something extra to help him decide. When he handed the Gibson to Ken, he played some Robert Johnson style blues. The gentleman just smiled and said "That one plays better; it’s the one for me."

Everyone, including Springfield Music’s excellent staff, enjoyed a busy and successful day!

Posted: 8/31/2009 8:24:53 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Tesla Plays At “Rockin the Rivers” Festival

By Jason Jones, Custom Shop luthier

About 40 miles west of Bozeman, MT, home of the Gibson Acoustic plant lays a beautiful little valley between some scenic mountains and a river where an annual outdoor rock music festival is held called “Rockin the Rivers”. This year, our friends from the popular rock group, “Tesla”, was the headliner. When Dave Rude, guitar player for Tesla as well as his own band, The Dave Rude Band, gave me a call to attend, I immediately grabbed a buddy of mine and headed right over. 

Coming off a recent European tour, Tesla was still in fine form, rocking thousands under the big sky. In true rock and roll fashion, about half way through their set, thick black clouds filled the night sky and gave the audience a fantastic light show as the lightning flashed all around the area as the band belted out their hits such as “Little Suzie” and “Edison’s Medicine”. Frank Hannon’s and Dave Rude’s Gibsons, both electric and acoustic, were on fire as they shredded through their various solos to the delight of the music loving masses who crowded in what is normally a vacant parcel of land inhabited by gophers and the occasional rattlesnake.

The rock and roll gods were must had been watching the concert as well, because immediately following their last encore, the clouds opened up and a heavy down pour washed over everyone. I must admit, I’ve personally seen some great acts come to the festival such as Sammy Hagar and Alice Cooper, but I do believe this was my favorite experience at the Rockin the Rivers festival to date. Thanks Dave, Frank, and the rest of Tesla for giving me a night I won’t soon forget!

Here is a photo of Dave and Frank doing what they do best. 

Posted: 8/26/2009 11:54:18 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Chris Isaak at Best Buy in Madison, Tenn.

On Tuesday, July 21, the Gibson tour bus delivered Chris Isaak to the Best Buy location north of Nashville in Madison, Tenn. Chris was there to promote his new CD Mr. Lucky.

Gibson Product Specialist Ken McMahan and Joey Osisek from Gibson Entertainment Relations were on hand for the event which featured an acoustic performance by Chris and members of his band Silvertone, guitarist Hershel Yatovitz and drummer Kenny Dale Johnson . Chris was also available to sign his CD and any Gibson or Epiphone guitar purchased during the event.

One customer, Sharon Palmer, bought a Gibson Songwriter Deluxe for Chris to sign!  Way to go Sharon!!!

Posted: 8/4/2009 11:49:08 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink


Gibson Acoustic was able to reach lots of great customers in Nashville for Summer NAMM 2009 – with an excellent display of Gibson Acoustics at the Gibson Custom Shop July 16-18. Teaming up with the other GMI divisions, and supported by the fabulous Gibson Custom Shop, Gibson Acoustic used this opportunity to meet with customers from all over the world and discuss guitars and the industry in general.

Customers from Canada, Australia, Japan, as well as domestic dealers were all present. This allowed for new opportunities to show some new and limited Gibson Acoustic guitars and renew friendships with key Gibson customers.  Some of the pictures from this event follow:

Gibson Acoustic Master Luthier Ren Ferguson with Musician’s Friend’s Dave Carpenter reviewing a 20th Anniversary L-00. Among other things, Ren and Dave are discussing the fine qualities of hide-glue construction.

Gibson Acoustic Master Luthier Ren Ferguson discusses guitars with Douglas B. Green (aka Ranger Doug of Riders In The Sky). Below Ren and Ranger Doug are looking at a vintage Gibson guitar.

Gibson Montana guitars on display at the Custom Shop

Posted: 7/28/2009 7:19:03 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

A Visit From Keb' Mo'

Keb’ Mo’ (aka Kevin Moore), born in South Central Los Angeles, California in October of 1951. Winner of not 1, not 2, but 3 Grammy awards. A blues singer and songwriter, as well as an actor playing roles in “Touched By An Angel”, “Shallow Water” and the last episode of “The West Wing”, AS WELL as starring in the 2007 John Sayles movie “Honeydripper” and playing the role of one of his idols, Robert Johnson, in the 1998 documentary, “Can’t You Hear The Wind Howl?”. 

It’s amazing what information the internet can provide you at a moment’s notice.

I was asked Monday afternoon by my General Manager, Doug Koffinke, if I was available the 21st to give a special plant tour to Keb’ Mo’. Shamefully, I have to admit, although I’ve heard the name before, I had no idea who he was. Judging by his credentials that I obtained by googling “Keb’ Mo’”, however, I was impressed. A Gibson fan since the Kalamazoo, Michigan days, Keb’ was here to look at a guitar we were building him and to discuss with us a planned signature series of guitars as well. Upon meeting the man for the first time, I was taken aback. A long, lanky gentleman, dressed in a ball cap, t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, with a big grin from ear to ear, he looked much younger than his actual age. His rather large hand absorbed my hand as he gave me an enthusiastic hand shake and expressed his pleasure to meet me. I could tell by his demeanor that he was indeed excited about checking out our facility and seeing how a Gibson acoustic guitar gets build, but most of all, he wanted to meet the people BEHIND the guitar. 

The tour was like none I’ve ever given before. With our Master Luthier Ren Ferguson giving Keb’ a crash course on the particular properties of tone woods and our director of marketing, Robi Johns, shooting photos of the event for this article, it appeared that Keb’ was having the time of his life. He was very hands-on, picking up various parts and studying them and thumping them with his fingers to hear their tonal qualities as we made our way through the different departments. The thing that really hit home for me, however, was his direct interaction with all the workers on the floor, shaking their hands, thanking them for doing the jobs that they do, signing autographs, and joking around with them, he really made them feel important. Often times, the term “hand built” in today’s society seem like only a catch phrase, but Keb’ realized that at Gibson, it means everything, and he truly, sincerely appreciated it. At one point during the tour, he actually asked an employee, Jerry Sommerfield, if he could trade places with him and actually glue in side dot markers on some fret boards. After doing several fret boards, jokes were being made in reference to perhaps doing other jobs around the plant to help with the day’s production. Funny as it seemed, I think he would have actually loved it if he had a chance. 

The tour wound down at the Master Inspector’s bench, where Patrick Hanson demonstrated to Keb’ the particular things he looked for while inspecting the final product before the guitar got cased and eventually shipped off. We stood around the bench, as Keb’ talked about a variety of subjects including his first guitar as a child, about Compton, California and the wide diversity of people who lived there (including cowboys as we found out), and even played us a hilarious improv old style country/western song from the top of his head. More hands were shaken, more autographs were signed, and more thank you’s were given out. 

Later, Keb’ remarked to Ren, Doug, and I on how impressed he was with the flow of the production line, on how so much craftsmanship goes into every guitar but done on such a large scale as to be profitable. He also talked extensively on how there was a “small town” vibe in the air, where everyone knew everyone and it wasn’t simply a soul-less line of production drones pumping out parts one after another, but that everyone puts their soul into it. One employee, Val Bolitho, a member of the custom shop, introduced herself and admitted that she too had never heard of his music, but knew he was a blues man. Modestly, Keb replied that he didn’t know if he was a “blues man” but that he was just a songwriter. I guess that’s what kept it real for me, that a man of Keb’ Mo’s reputation and critical acclaim was a lot like us folks behind the scenes in a lot of ways; he is a man doing what he loves to do, nothing more, nothing less, and that he is great at what he does. Keb’ made a lot of friends today and truly impressed a lot of people, including myself, with his wit, charisma, humor, and charm. 

I immediately ran out after the tour and picked up two of his cds, “Keep It Simple” and “Suitcase”. If you’ve never heard his music before, you are doing yourself a tragic injustice. It’s not only blues, but it is a modern blues, mixed with a slight flavor of reggae, some calypso, some pop, as well as some good ol’ Delta mixed in for good measure. I personally think that if the great Robert Johnson was alive today, he would tip his hat at this talented individual. These are going directly to my Ipod, guaranteed. Thank you, Keb’ Mo’, from all of us here at Gibson Acoustic way out in the middle of nowhere in beautiful Bozeman, Montana. You are now part of the family and we look forward to seeing you again.

Posted: 7/22/2009 3:11:53 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Targhee Fest 2009, Grand Targhee Resort, Alta, WY - July 17-19

Gibson had a great showing to start off the 5th Annual Targhee Fest on Friday. From Jackie Greene and his band to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to Warren Haynes and Government Mule, it was a grand evening at Targhee. Warren closed out his two sets with an encore starting at 12:00 am with appropriately named After Midnight, with Jackie joining him for Sugaree. He had Sonny Landreth and Grace Potter join him on stage earlier.

Tift Merritt, with her vintage Gibson B 25, started off Saturday and many Gibson electrics graced the stage throughout the afternoon. The festival ended on an incredible high with a double encore performance by Keb Mo, playing his new Montana Custom Shop acoustic.

Posted: 7/22/2009 2:57:09 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Encounter at Dietze Music in Omaha

My last visit at Dietze Music in Omaha had an interesting Montana acoustic encounter. As I was changing strings two guys walked in, obviously white collar businessmen, entry level players, wanting to hammer away on some acoustics.

They tried out several guitars and kept going back to a mid priced, roughly $1400.00 guitar. I engaged the two professionals from the medical industry, introduced myself and I started asking them what they liked about the chosen guitar. They chimed in that the price was right and the feel (IE) playability was comfortable. I proceeded to explain to them that the builder in question does build a fine guitar and went into their construction and building process.

I then pulled a Songwriter Deluxe cutaway off the wall and asked them if they would try it out. We compared the two side by side in a taste test of tonal characteristics, comfort and playability. As the two were strumming away I was explaining how we cut the wood and the process that goes with our construction appointments. I talked about the human touch and passion that goes into our guitars. I went through my typical sales pitch and explained all the characteristics of the building process.

Obviously money was no concern and long story short. They thanked me for taking the time to explain the tonal qualities and characteristics of wood and what all goes into building a world class guitar.

They said hands down without a doubt that the Songwriter Deluxe better of the two. They also noticed that the harder they played the Gibson the louder it got, as opposed to the other guitar, which the harder they strummed it the less articulate it was.

I thanked them for their patronage and another Songwriter Deluxe has left the building…

Cheers to Montana

Posted: 7/22/2009 8:32:50 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Gibson Day at Sam Ash

Dates: April 17th and April 24th    
Places: Gibson Day at Sam Ash Cherry Hill, NJ and Brooklyn, NY

Over the past few weeks the Gibson Tour Bus hit the road on a tour of Sam Ash stores. I had the honor of being a part of the festivities along with Tom Meyers and DPS Nick Kane. At each event we had featured artists and offered customers free re-strings of their favorite axe. Many brought in their acoustics, new and old. We had a great time servicing the guitars and talking up Montana with the enthusiastic Gibson lovers.

These events were a great success in showcasing some of Montana’s most famous guitars. The first that comes to mind was Peter Hayes of The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club performing at the Cherry Hill, NJ location. He came prepared with a 1942 J-45 Legend. Peter started of playing a sort of finger-style folk and then showed a different side of the guitar with some more rock/ blues songs. The guitar sounded so good it caused a customer to yell out after the first song “Hey, what are you playing”. Peter let him know and told him it was the best guitar he’s ever played. The crowd was impressed with the performance and afterwards we talked to a few of them and let them check out the guitar.

Another great event was at the Brooklyn location. Steve Conte from the New York Dolls performed using a modern Hummingbird. He went direct into a PA system set up outside on the sidewalk in front of the store. Through his playing style Steve showed the great dynamics and exceptional playability of the guitar. He let the crowd know he loves how the Hummingbird “accompanies his voice”. I always thought of it as a great singer/ songwriter guitar too!

After each performance we talked to customers about the guitars used and showed them what the store had in stock. It was a perfect opportunity to let customers see and hear the Gibson acoustics being used by artists and then see, hear and play them themselves. Getting the word out!

Posted: 6/3/2009 2:05:01 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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