July 2008

A couple of months ago I blogged about Rasputins – a folkie institution in Ottawa, Canada. It was a great session friendly and welcoming to a visiting musician from Downunder.

Rasputins cafe, Ottawa

It seems I was fortunate indeed to get to experience a celtic folk session there, as the folk restaurant suffered an arson attack and $300,000 damage on 6 July. And now it has closed its doors.

Owner Dean Verger opened the restaurant on 1 May 1981 after completing a business degree, and as a musician himself, it wasn’t long before there were regular music sessions and shows. The 40 seat restaurant has been an institution ever since. After initially stating that he would reopen the restaurant within a couple of months, it now appears that the final blow has been dealt for this business as Verger has since announced his retirement. This is indeed a sad end to a 25 year folk landmark.

Thanks to the Ottawa Citizen for the report.


I like to think of Don Rickert’s Adventurer pochette as the one I inspired 🙂 But hear what they’ve done with it. The internal construction is way different from mine, and the sound is huge for such a small instrument. I would like to hear a comparison side by side of this instrument with a decent violin, so you can hear both the volume and sweetness of tone that comes through from the pochette.

And if you want a bargain – try the Travelmaster fiddle – another pochette of their design. They’ve just announced that they will stay in production – for the time being, but really unless more people get bitten by the pochette bug, this will be a limited opportunity – so get in there and buy one while you can!

Many of you will have followed my own adventures with making a pochette fiddle from scratch, so you know I can tell you that a well made pochette puts out plenty of sound for sessions, while being small enough to fit in a backpack or in your carry-on baggage on the plane.

Rickert and Ringholz make the best sounding pochettes of the lot – which makes them great value as instruments for the travelling fiddler


Toone Guitars has a great website – go check it out. Well laid out with really great photos of really great looking guitars.

And I like the fact that Rick Toone the luthier

…won’t denigrate assembly lines – they build instruments for the masses. I don’t. This is something very different

And it is 🙂

Not that I play guitar… yet!


Yes, I’m back in the Melody Lane Studio in Sydney (Coogee) to record more tracks for our forthcoming album 🙂 Yesterday’s session went really well and I’m looking forward to hearing the initial rough mix before we start going through the process of selecting the final ones and begin overlays and post-production.

Jerry at the recording studio


Dutch researchers applied modern medical scanning techniques to determine that the wood used in Stradivarius and Guarnerius violins has remarkably consistent density with close growth rings and little variation – possibly the product of the mini ice-age that occurred in the early 17th century.

Many have suggested it was athe special varnish – but on most of the surviving strads much of teh original varnish has worn off or has been replaced – so it’s down to the timber.

The researchers used a CT scanning machine using software developed to measure lung density in people suffering form lung conditions to measure the violins’ density in a non-destructive way. The tests were performed blind with the instruments annonymised – and a viola thrown in for scale.

This news came from the Science Daily