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Noel Paul Stookey on Apollo guitars

kendall 19 Oct 10 - 09:21 AM
Little Hawk 19 Oct 10 - 09:28 AM
kendall 19 Oct 10 - 02:20 PM
Jeri 19 Oct 10 - 02:39 PM
Dan Schatz 19 Oct 10 - 02:44 PM
John MacKenzie 19 Oct 10 - 03:11 PM
Amos 19 Oct 10 - 04:07 PM
kendall 19 Oct 10 - 05:25 PM
John MacKenzie 19 Oct 10 - 05:32 PM
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Subject: More on Apollo guitars
From: kendall
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 09:21 AM

This is fairly long, but well worth the reading.
NICK APOLLONIO and SEBASTIAN

a word or two about
a 12-string guitar named SEBASTIAN
and the man who built him

SEBASTIAN ARRIVED IN A CARDBOARD SUITCASE;
SEALED WITH A KISS FROM HIS MOM
WITH A NEWSPAPER UNDER HIS ARM AND UNDER HIS HEAD.
ALONE IN THE HALL WITH HIS BACK TO THE WALL
YOU COULD SEE HE WAS ONE OF A FEW
HE SPOKE ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO...
AND SOMETIMES ALONE IN HIS BED

1967 marked the year of my first contact with the soft-spoken master luthier nick apollonio. my wife betty and i were in camden, maine attending our first 'rinctum' (a term which contrary to it's sound, has nothing whatsoever to do with anatomy) and were seated in a circle listening to gordon bok sing stories of the sea and playing a magical 12 string instrument that was conjuring up a misty weave of sea smoke, lanyards, fog horns and the low-throated pulse of a single stroke fishing boat engine!

gordon was playing his variations on a well-tempered jig. there was a salt breeze blowing, the middle strings flapping like petulant sails in a sloppy tack. it could be covered in barnacles or dripping in seaweed or plucked from a leather satchel by alan adair in sherwood forest...and say, "where DID this guitar come from?" i ask the fellow next to me.

"i made it for him", he replies.

"you MADE it?!" i respond in surprise to this modest unassuming fellow in a checkered shirt with whom we've been sharing the circle for the last twenty minutes or so.

"is it a one-of-a-kind instrument?" i asked.

"what do you mean by that?" he cocked his head and smiled slightly.

"well, uh..." i stammered, "did you make it as a gift for gordon?"

"no", he said his smile widening, "i make them for a living".

"you mean", i began awkwardly, "you'd consider making one for someone else?" and meanwhile my mind is tumbling over itself with questions; i mean you can't just go to a 'magic concert' and 'order' a mystical guitar?! can you? c'mon get serious.

"sure", he replied.

"just like that one?", i asked still disbelieving.

"if you want", he allowed.

"well, uh" i began tounge-tied, "uh...that's great... do you want a deposit or should i write my address down or i mean how long would it take...wow this is terrific...uh...oh, i'm noel stookey", i say finally realizing that i've been babbling away and haven't introduced myself.
"oh, i know who you are", he says, "i'm nick apollonio." and he nods in gordon's direction, "gordon's got your address...and..." he pauses for just a moment to consider something, "it'll take me a couple of months".

"oh, that's fine" i assured him, "i do a lot of traveling anyway..."

"yes," he replies almost conspiratorily, "i know".


SEBASTIAN IS LED TO A BLACK-WALLED ROOM
RED CARPETING COVERS THE FLOOR
SOMEONE IS CLOSING THE DOOR AND RAISING THE BLIND
HIDING HIS EYES SO THEY WON'T BE SURPRISED
WHEN THE HAND REACHES DOWN FOR THE NOTE;
THE ONE THAT HIS MOTHER WROTE
AND TIED BY A STRING TO HIS NECK

i had been home for more than a week now; and though peter, i and mary were doing far fewer concerts than the almost 200 per year of the mid sixties, it was still unusual to find myself around the house with 10 uninterrupted days.

i stop my day dreaming and walk to the front door where, scattered on the slate floor is the mail of the day and, of course that package that came for betty over the weekend. 'hmmm, that's odd', i think'...betty usually opens her department store items right away'. i bend over and check the mailing label again.

"hey! this package isn't for betty; it's for me! from maine...hey...this must be my guitar! hey, wow!" the mail forgotten, i pick up the large cardboard box and head for the basement studio.

in the still of the black-walled, red-rugged room, i cut the twine holding the package together and gently lift off the top. there are crumpled newspapers on top and, oh my gosh...'there's no case here!?'...just the guitar...fortunately it appears as though the box was handled by the carrier with kid gloves.

i lift the casket shaped instrument out of the box. it's fully strung and there's a note threaded between the strings that says 'read before playing'.

"this is sebastian." reads the note, "treat him with love and care for that is how he came to be built."

i pick up the instrument and laying my fingers at random somewhere in the middle of the neck i strum sebastian for the first time.

now any musician, from serious composer to jazz virtuoso, knows the extent to which coincidence often creates a new set of melodic options...i could be wrong but it seems to me that most musical 'accidents' just challenge the status quo; the 'established' way of presenting the inversion of a chord.

the twelve string has so many overtones and particularly because of the third string's octave tuning, the combination of high notes with the non-fretted open strings produce a tonal range that more resembles a harpischord than a guitar. and so it was with astonishment that i discovered the opening chord for the chorus of a song that later became 'sebastian'. equally astonishing was the fact that the entire guitar arrived in tune! it's hard enough to keep a 12 string in tune from song to song, but this box had managed to travel from maine to westchester county intact and in tune!

over the next 40 years i turned to nick to provide rescue, restoration, rebuilding and even replacement of SEBASTIAN (“ah...” he said to me sometime in the mid 70's following a second or third repair, “that casket-style was not made for the kind of travelling you do. let me keep him safe at home and i'll give you one of my new bell models.” and so SEBASTIAN became SEBASTIAN II and, following the loss (or theft " i never did quite know for sure which) of that 12 string, my wife presented me in the late 80's with BENJAMIN, another exquisite apollonio bell-shape she had commissioned for my birthday.

finally, just a year ago, nick must have decided that i was mature enough to accept responsibility and, after making some structural changes, returned the original SEBASTIAN...just in time to participate with me in the creation of my newest musical adventure ONE AND MANY, due for release in november of 2011.

WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE
AND THE REST OF HIS LIFE TO BEGIN
SEBASTIAN IS WEARING A GRIN UNDER HIS NOSE
AND OUT ON THE GRASS
HE CAN HEAR IT AT LAST;
THE RUSH OF A BIRD TO ITS HOME
AND THEN WHILE UNPACKING A COMB
HE THINKS OF A SONG THAT HE KNOWS...
SING SWEET SEBASTIAN; SING THE SWEETEST SONG
SING SO SWEET THAT WHILE YOU SLEEP YOUR MELODY LINGERS ON...



a postscript:

in the early 70's SEBASTIAN's sound became a pop music anomaly: in the midst of the rock&roll era, nick apollonio's unique 12 string tonality" with no accompanying instruments - served as the entire musical bed for the 'top 30' hit, the WEDDING SONG heard on many national television shows (the most recent 30-ROCK) and raising nearly $2 million dollars for charitable organizations world wide.

in fond memory and enthusiastic anticipation,

noel paul stookey
PETER, PAUL and MARY

Noel Paul Stookey with "Benjamin"
Comm


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Subject: RE: More on Apollo guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 09:28 AM

Wow. What a great story!


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Subject: RE: More on Apollo guitars
From: kendall
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:20 PM

Apparently, folks are tired of this kind of thread so I'll start another. I believe it is important.
Changed the name of this thread to the name (mostly) of the new thread. -mod


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Subject: RE: Noel P Stookey on Apollo guitars
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:39 PM

It IS a great story, Kendall --thanks for sharing it.


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Subject: RE: Noel P Stookey on Apollo guitars
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:44 PM

I was and am very grateful to Noel for updating this piece and allowing us to post it on Nick's Facebook Page.


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Subject: RE: Noel P Stookey on Apollo guitars
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 03:11 PM

Yup that's where I read it originally, as others have said, it's a great story.
All instrumentalists will empathise with the 'personalisation' of one's guitar/flute/lute, whatever.
I am parting with my D28, bought it on April Fool's Day 1999, and it never let me down.
Don't play her any more, so time she went to someone who will be as thrilled to get her, as I was over 11 years ago.


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Subject: RE: Noel P Stookey on Apollo guitars
From: Amos
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 04:07 PM

Aw, what a fine story.

Jock, I'll trade you some good sipping bourbon for her!!!!


A


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Subject: RE: Noel P Stookey on Apollo guitars
From: kendall
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:25 PM

Just for kicks, John, what are you asking for it?


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Subject: RE: Noel P Stookey on Apollo guitars
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:32 PM

Too much for the US, where they are cheaper.
However she's available at 1250, in the UK, where the cheapest I have seen them new is about 1700, from Thomann's


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