The Sound

Caleb Smith

Guitar Builder Angling for a Vintage Sound Balsam Range’s Caleb Smith brings an intensity to the stage that’s hard to miss in a live show. The guitarist usually provides a bookend to Grammy-winning banjo player Marc Pruett, who is usually grinning and swaying while picking. Smith is on the task at hand, hitting the notes with…

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Bishline Banjos

Filling the Gap Between the Traditional and the Progressive Photos by Mark Torrence Although Tulsa, Oklahoma native Rob Bishline did not grow up listening to bluegrass music, the acoustic music of early 1970s performers like Jim Croce and Gordon Lightfoot did grab his ear.  It wasn’t until about 1974, when he was 13 years old…

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Lynn Dudenbostel

Overcoming the Pandemic Year Photos by Matthew Dudenbostel Next year will mark the 25th year since Lynn Dudenbostel starting building world-class mandolins and guitars full-time (it’s been 32 years since his first guitar build and 25 since his first mandolin). But even in this pandemic year, Lynn has been exploring new avenues for instrument production,…

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Jonathan Mclanahan Embraces the Loar of the Luthier

McClanahan Trinity Model F-5 Mandolin Photos by Jonathan McClanahan In a relatively short time, Jonathan McClanahan has earned a place amongst the highest reaches in modern bluegrass mandolin building. His Trinity and Loretto F-5 models aspire to the loftiest standards of tone, projection, playability, and build quality. Played by C.J. Lewandowski, Danny Roberts, Wayne Benson,…

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Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Improvisation Course   

Photo By John Malinowski If  you travel to a foreign country, you can buy a travel guide, a map and a phrase book and head out on your own, or you can find someone who knows the language, geography, history, and customs and ask them for help.  The second option is usually the easiest, most…

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Mike Smith with Rodney Dillard at the Ozarks Public Television station. Mike is holding a freshly autographed Bluegrass Unlimited issue featuring Rodney's cover story. Photo by Steven Spencer.

Mike Smith

A Music Seldom Heard Written By Dale McCurry with Bambi Grinder “Make it about the music,” Mike Smith implores. “Don’t make it about me. It’s about the music.” Mike said this in preparation for a story I was to write about him a decade or so ago. I remember he followed me to the parking…

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