Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MINISTER OF GUITAR; His Customers Say He Always Sets Up Their Guitars "Wonderfully."

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MINISTER OF GUITAR; His Customers Say He Always Sets Up Their Guitars "Wonderfully."

Article excerpt


BRUNSWICK - Brian "Preacher" Chappell bends reverently over the cherry red Fender Telecaster as he restrings it.

He cradles the instrument lovingly, twisting a shiny chrome tuner to achieve the proper pitch. Around him on a cluttered counter are arrayed the tools he uses to keep fine guitars making sweet music.

He's Brunswick's only luthier - guitar maker and repairman - and the town's unofficial minister of guitars.

When customers walk through the double glass doors of City Music downtown, he's the first person they see. And he's an eyeful.

Preacher has cultivated an image over the years designed to set him apart from the rank-and-file. Straw fedora shoved down securely on his head, red goatee cascading from his chin, stretched earlobes encircling large silver rings, brilliant tattoos on his arms, each telling a story of its own.

He says his fashion sense is based on a need to be different.

"Most likely, I have succeeded," he chuckles. "When I was very young, a big part of me cried out to be different. As I got older - I'm 38 now - I didn't care so much to be different. I just was."

He got his nickname before he ever became one. He's now an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. As such, he eschews the use of drugs and alcohol.

Even though he was licensed through the Internet, his credentials are still legitimate. He has joined one couple in holy matrimony and has another wedding in the works.

"I was in a motorcycle club," he says, "and one of the brothers was going to get married. I'd had the nickname Preacher many years. Somebody suggested that I get ordained so I could marry them, so I did. Unfortunately, they decided to elope."

He got another chance later, and he's been tapped to perform the upcoming ceremony for fellow musician Crawford Perkins.

Chappell became Preacher when he showed up in a blues bar years ago ready for a nighttime gig after getting off of his day job as a video store manager. He didn't have time to change out of the coat and tie he wore at the store. He just slung on his guitar and started to play.

"An old blues musician said, 'Hey, you play like a preacher,' and somebody else said, 'Yeah, he looks like one, too! …

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