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A little over one year ago, Carrie and I went to Joshua Tree to stay at the Joshua Tree Inn and see the place that Gram Parsons found so inspirational. While visiting Pioneertown, we met Eric Bevel, who, as it turns out, does some amazing woodworking. Somehow we started talking about musical instruments, and he showed me a really nice bass he had made. I casually talked to him about having him make me an instrument and got a business card, but it took me awhile to email him about making me something.

I’d been wanting to start playing octave mandolin; I’ve always enjoyed the sound, and I often found myself wishing my mandolin had a lower range. Having a fairly uncommon instrument I’d never played custom-made seemed like a great fit, so I contacted Eric about the project. He was excited and willing to take it on, even never having built an octave mandolin before. Since I’d been impressed by his work, I wanted to give him as much freedom with the design as possible. I gave him my feedback on body style, color, some of those things, and even those elements came out strikingly original.

We were in communication throughout the whole project (I got to see a lot of neat in-progress pictures, and since then have seen a bunch more), and we met at Kelso Depot in California for the exchange, in the middle of the desert, old time Vegas style. It was so exciting to play this instrument for the first time. Even being outside it sounded amazing (better than the fancy acoustic rooms in certain bigtime music retailers), and even after seeing all of the pictures I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of the instrument, and I’m still marvelling over all of the unique handmade touches. I just can’t believe people can do such amazing things with their hands. Most of my other instruments are factory made, and they still sound nice, but meeting the person who made this instrument, seeing all of this hand-crafted detail, hearing the difference in the sound of the wood, and knowing where pretty much every piece of it came from is something entirely different.

I plan on incorporating a good amount of octave mandolin into my new songs, so stay tuned! (Pun definitely intended.) For now, here is a little song I wrote on the octave mandolin. At different points, this song includes guitar and regular mandolin; I wanted to play around and see how it sounded with these instruments. Expect some more elaborate arrangements in the future. It’s going to be like a hootenanny up in here.

Also, if you think Eric Bevel’s work is absolutely amazing, unique, and beautifully crafted (which you should) and you want to talk to him about making you something, I bet he’d love it if you email him.

Two happy campers.

It’s time to get all excited! bee a bear is now available for download and streaming at the rushmore beekeepers bandcamp! The digital version includes a PDF of the awesome lyric booklet designed by Amanda of Ahhh-Design, and the Compact Disc comes in a unique hand-made booklet and also includes an immediate digital download to tide you over. Either way, you get twelve rb songs full of joy, sadness, silliness, animals, and other things.

bee a bear, the upcoming rushmore beekeepers album, will be available for the first time at the next show, Bröötal Sun Fest. (RB is playing the South By Meow West stage on Sunday, March 11, around 12:30PM.)

You’ll definitely want to get it in vintage compact disc format, if only for the album design by the ever-amazing Amanda Hawkins of Ahhh-Design.

For now, you can preview three of the songs from bee a bear right here (new song just added!):

Hey, rushmore beekeepers will have a new album in time for Bröötal Sun Fest! A good chunk of it is already recorded, and we’ll be in the home studio this month to finish up. The soon-to-be-named CD/digital album will include studio versions of some songs you’ve heard live, as well as some you have definitely never heard. (Unless you stand outside my window all the time. Congratulations, super fan!) It was mostly written and recorded prior to 52 of 28, but that doesn’t make it any less special.

Of course, this album will be available for digital purchase and mail-order at the fabulous rushmore beekeepers bandcamp, so don’t fret if you’re not going to be there. (If you are going, though, be sure to get your Bröötal Sun Fest tickets early!)

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