Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Joy of Music

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Joy of Music

Article excerpt

Nick Panken of the string band Spirit Family Reunion has a confession. "I'm a really bad guitar owner," he says with a laugh, during a phone call from his home in Brooklyn, New York. The conversation has turned to the effect his hard-driving rhythm work has on his acoustic guitars. "I once got a really nice old Martin 000, from the '60s," he recalls. "It was the first really nice guitar 1 ever bought. I just completely destroyed it, though it turned out that it was in crummy shape when I bought it. I ended up swapping it out for a Gibson LG-1, which I still have and use a lot-you can see it in our videos. It's kind of boxy sounding.

"Then, a couple of years ago, I bought a really nice Martin 000-18 Golden Era, based off of 1937 specs. It sounded really nice. I used it on tour for a couple of years until I realized that 1 just beat up guitars too much. These days, on the road, I don't want to play an expensive guitar that might end up breaking. That's led me to the red label Yamaha [made in Japan], which is really durable. It sounds just great with my old DeArmond pickup."

Panken puts his strumming to good effect on the string band's new album. Hands Together, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2013 CD, No Separation.

The band's uplifting songs, which have all the earmarks of a Sunday prayer revival meeting, can be heard right from the album's life-affirming opener, "Wake Up, Rounder," an upbeat hymnal that celebrates the rising sun and the sheer joy of creation.

"Musically it came from a very banjofriendly riff I found on my guitar," Panken says of the song. …

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