(Bath, UK). — Emmy nominee and master harp guitarist John Doan with family roots to Bath and Burton, will perform at the Chapel Arts Centre, St James’s Memorial Hall as part of his European Tour 2013. Chapel Arts Centre is located at Lower Borough Walls, Bath, BA1 1QR. The show is scheduled for 8pm on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Tickets are advance: £8.00, Door: £10.00. For more information, call the Chapel Arts Centre at 01225 461700.
Master harp guitarist and storyteller John Doan is a Bard for the 21st Century bringing back soulful and provocative musical sketches from a pilgrimage to the most sacred sites of the British Isles. “Thin Places,” as they were once called, were believed to be where the space between heaven and earth, and past and future, were thinly divided. John shares what he found there inspired by breathtaking landscapes, historic ruins, and dynamic stories underlying the faith and vision of a people who shaped the world we have come to call our own. He now leads his audiences back down ancient paths to locations made famous by St. Patrick and the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland” along winding roads to secluded sanctuaries and by boat to remote island retreats. Adventurous, thoughtful, and renewing, this is a journey memorable for its achingly beautiful moments and encouraging spirit. Continue reading →
Following is an interview published after my visit and concert in Rigomagno – a thousand year old hilltop village in Tuscany, Italy. Used with permission.
We are curious to know how it all began: it’s such a peculiar instrument, how did you get interested in the harp-guitar?
In a world increasingly filled with machine made things that are all made the same I have found it refreshing to celebrate the unusual. I grew up in Venice, California in the United States – a place inspired by Venezia in Italy. I guess beauty and the unusual seemed to go together in my youth and while in my teens I played the 12 string guitar and a double neck electric in a rock band. Later, while studying music at a university I was introduced to classical guitar. I really enjoyed the music for the lute and was amazed at the sound of its many strings. When I later found a century old harp guitar on the back wall of a music store it called to me with its beautiful shape and unusual collection of extra strings. I was achingly curious and wanted to transform its silence and neglect into something alive and vibrant. It was and continues to be an adventure to play music on the harp guitar.
What’s the origin of the harp-guitar? And what about your instrument? Did you have it built especially for you? In this case, where did you find the model? Is it an original model you designed?
The harp guitar in America was first popular from the 1890’s through the 1920’s. People played them in mandolin orchestras, vaudeville shows, and in their parlors. In Europe the harp guitar was becoming popular as early as the 1840’s and grew in popularity up through the early 1900’s especially in Germany and in Italy. Pasquale Taraffo is one of the great Italian masters of the instrument in the early 20th century. To learn more about this amazing player from your own history check out the information on Taraffo on the Harp Guitars site.
Regarding my instrument, I commissioned it in 1986 from John Sullivan with oversight and design by Jeffrey Elliott of Portland, Oregon. Jeffrey had made guitars for Julian Bream, Ralph Towner, etc. and I was excited to see how he would approach the challenges of so many strings and meet my requirements of evenness of tone using steel strings. Although based on the Knutsen, Dyer, and Gibson harp guitars from a century earlier it was completely redesigned to be a master instrument that would sound evenly across all its range (like the piano). It is considered the “first modern harp guitar” of our times. Scores of copies have been made and it was recently on the cover of the magazine “American Lutherie.” Continue reading →