It’s no secret, sports fans, that Greater Jacksonvillagers™ are big music fans.
This weekend is the time to prove it.
Local luthier Paul Berger needs our help.
Before you ask
Regular readers will remember luthiers from the Florida Folk Festival.
Simply put, luthiers are master craftsmen who make stringed instruments – lutes, mandalins, viols and guitars.
We in Greater Jacksonville are privileged to have as one of our own one of the greatest luthiers to work in the 20th century – Mr. Paul Berger.
First, the mitzvah
On Sat., Dec. 2, the Shaker Rag Art & Culture Center is hosting a benefit to raise money to help Mr. Paul with his medical expenses.
A $30 donation gets you into the intimate concert setting at 67 Florida Ave. in St. Augustine starting at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2 p.m.
Buy your tickets in advance if you can. Here’s the link.
Headlining the benefit is Bill Monroe protégé Peter Rowan, international bluegrass legend who worked with Jerry Garcia before gaining fame as both a solo performer and bandleader.
Sharing the stage with Rowan is guitarist Todd Sheaffer of Railroad Earth.
Plus you’ll hear the Gatorbone Band and a whole host of St. Augustine musicians willing to come out to raise some money for Mr. Paul.
Rowan and Sheaffer have even agreed to waive their appearance fees.
And there’s more:
- Food – Burgers for Berger and some homemade authentic Mexican food (vegetarian as well), soda and water. SweetWater Brewery is donating beer.
- Gallery – We will display a number of Paul Berger guitars that the owners are generously providing for viewing.
- Silent Auction – We are offering a wide variety of items for sale in a silent auction format, including guitars, artwork, sailboat charter, memorabilia & much more. (Still accepting donations.)
Who Paul Berger is
All the hoopla seems to come out of left field unless you know who Paul Berger is.
Simply put, he was Martin® Guitars in the 1960s and 1970s.
A protégé of Mr. Martin, Sr., Mr. Paul is the only person to whom Martin® gave his permission and his blessing to build a private line of guitars to Martin specs as long as Berger doesn’t use the Martin® logo.
By all accounts, Mr. Paul is self-effacing and somewhat reticent about his most famous clients.
Hang on to your hats – Paul Berger has built, repaired or restored guitars for some of rock and folk’s biggest names ever:
- Elvis Presley
- Paul McCartney
- Paul Simon
- Peter Paul & Mary
- Johnny Cash
- Merle Haggard
- Charlie Pride
- Arlo Guthrie (Headlined the 60th Florida Folk Festival this year.)
- Waylon Jennings
- Hank Williams, Jr.
- Roy Clark
- Hank Snow
- New Christie Minstrels
- Gamble Rogers
Building great guitars for Martin® wasn’t enough, for Mr. Paul, however.
He also ran the repair shop and has restored most of the guitars from Martin’s® golden era, the 1930s and 1940s, as well as many instruments that date to the turn of the 20th century.
When Mr. Paul left Martin® to start his own line of guitars, and he resolved to build some of the best guitars anywhere.
And he builds them still.
Even more good news
No need to worry about bringing video cams, still cameras and the like to the benefit.
Benefit organizers have hired professional photographers and recordists.
The whole show will be available on YouTube as soon as possible.
And there are some things you need to know because the venue is very intimate and space is at a premium:
- Please no kids or pets.
- Parking is nearby, but you may have to walk a little. Carpool if you can.
- Dress for the weather. In case of rain, organizers are ready with tarps, etc.
- Please bring a cushion for your metal chair. If you bring your own chair, it has to be the same size as one of the metal chairs.
- Bathrooms and some emergency care available.
- Because of the tight space, please be considerate and keep conversation to a minimum so that everyone can hear the music.
- Drink responsibly and designate a designated driver.
The Paul Berger Benefit Concert
- Sun., Dec. 2, 3 p.m., Doors open at 2 p.m.
- Admission: $30 in advance in you can
- 67 Florida Ave.
- St. Augustine, Fla.
- Contact: Joseph or Zeke at the Shaker Rag Arts & Culture Center
- Phone: 352-281-7013
- Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years, most recently in Texas, is a successful grant writer, knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design and wants to work in the public sector. Contact: email@example.com