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A permanent quest to find a better sounding, better playing guitar – meet Jason McGillivray, player and luthier

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At Todayville, some of us have a guitar addiction.  And so, when we can profile an Alberta guitar maker, we’re very happy to do so.  Oh, we also like video and filmmaking, so this video by ilia Photo and Cinema of Calgary’s Jason McGillivray building a beautiful McGillivray “Parlour Guitar” is an added bonus.  Learn about Jason’s journey from player and enthusiast to luthier.

“…Having played guitar since the early 80’s, I was on a permanent quest, as most musicians are, to find a better sounding, better playing, instrument than the one I had…”

By Jason McGillivray:

I am often asked “how did you get into guitar building?” For me, the appeal lies in the way lutherie combines art and science, drawing upon and exercising the left and right sides of the brain. Satisfaction is gained as the process unfolds and I combine and work down natural materials such as spruce or rosewood. The culmination is an heirloom-quality instrument that enhances the human experience of both player and listener and, as the instrument is passed on, for future generations.

Having played guitar since the early 80’s, I was on a permanent quest, as most musicians are, to find a better sounding, better playing, instrument than the one I had. Frequenting guitar shops whenever I could, I discovered factory offerings could only attain a certain level, and still maintain desired prices and production targets. I began to research guitar building, thinking in the future it would be something I’d like to pursue.

I spent ten years studying the craft, collecting tone wood, and acquiring tools, before actually building my first guitar. I learned that factory guitars and handmade guitars have fundamental differences. In the factory setting, guitar parts are mass produced in batches with speed and efficiency driving construction methods and design decisions. As the guitar moves down the line, the next piece is pulled from the bin and added to the assembly. All the components in the pile are of uniform dimensions; however wood is not a uniform material, even from the same tree. Each piece of wood needs to be evaluated and then worked to its optimum dimensions, based on its stiffness and density.

In the factory, randomly selecting components from the bin occasionally results in a combination of excellent parts, producing an exceptional guitar. This is why you can play ten factory guitars of the same model, made at the same time, and a few will excel, a few will underperform, and the rest will be average. A good hand builder, in a one-person shop, takes the mystery out of how the final product will perform. He or she has invested years collecting superb tone woods, studying the properties of wood and adhesives, and incorporating the successes, and knowledge gained from failures, of luthiers, past and present. Only the best wood is selected, and then worked to its fullest potential as it is combined with other woods, bone, and steel, to work synergistically as a unit.

While I was doing my research and collecting tone wood, I ordered an expensive, handmade guitar with an inheritance from my grandfather. This, I reasoned, would give me a benchmark to study and compare my own building progress against in the future, plus I would get that handmade tone and playability I’d been searching for. The guitar arrived six months later, and although it was nice, it just didn’t have the tone that my ear was searching for. This was the nudge I needed to kick-start my building career. Perhaps it would take many tries, but redirecting my energy from searching for my perfect guitar, to creating it, sat well with me, and so it began.

I learned from a tutor who is an experienced builder, and by self-study and experimentation.  While completing my BSc in Forest Science I had the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge on the structural properties of wood, at a cellular level; this has served me well in understanding how to select and optimize tone wood.  Twenty years in the sawmilling and forest products industry, as a professional forester, further tempered my understanding of wood, the growing conditions required for premium tone wood, and how to break down a tree for the highest quality yield.  Attending the American School of Lutherie, in Portland Oregon, and studying the methods and approach of Charles Fox, gave me a strong foundation and I have continued to refine my sound and style.

Initially based in British Columbia, McGillivray Guitars now operates out of Calgary, Alberta, producing several commissioned instruments per year, with occasional speculative builds, the progress of which can be viewed on the website, in “On the Bench”.

Commissioned instruments are fully customizable in all aspects, including model, size, shape, scale length, string spacing, neck profile, body depth, and wood selection. If desired, an individual’s playing style, hand size, and physical conditions will be evaluated to select and guide the player to their optimum personalized instrument design.

Click to learn more about McGillivray Guitars including a full price list.

 

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Arts

A celebration of writing styles and cultures, Poetry Party brings writers from around the world together in Red Deer

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Left to right: Raymond Byiers (feature reader) with wife Rochelle Byiers, and Elena Rousseau (feature reader)

Submitted by Sabrina Samuel

Poetry Party Showcases Diverse Voices in Growing Literary Arts Community

There’s an undeniable surge in arts and culture in the city of Red Deer that will carry on long after we say goodbye to Culture Days. From mural art adorning nearly every street in downtown, extensive musical programming, to theatre arts and new festivals exploding, Red Deer is flourishing and becoming a choice destination for working artists and arts purveyors.

Local poets and writers see more opportunities to gather and showcase their potential. Red Deer Writer’s Ink celebrated thirty years as an organization this month, and now poets, curated by activist, advocate and community builder Jan Underwood from Care for Newcomers are committing to gathering regularly to share and celebrate their artform, after a successful inaugural Poetry Party.

Asdolah Khierandish, a global citizen who called Afghanistan home, also lived in Syria, before finding safety in Canada. He hesitated to share his poetry in Farsi. The lyrical language sounds like a song. Influenced by Sufi mystics such as Rumi and Hafiz, Khierandish explains the profound philosophical nature of their work, “A single poem can explain an entire book. The meaning is so deep.”

While he was the only Farsi speaker of the group, the poem shared in his mother tongue about the Taliban overtaking his city moved others to tears. Asdolah’s work penetrates the subconscious mind of the listener.

The honours English student from University of Alberta and multi-disciplinary artist, Elena Rousseau, brought levity and polish to the gathering, with poems playing into stereotypes of her Eastern European roots, “People think of vampires and Transylvania. I also love the culture of gypsies. That’s something else people think of when I say I’m from Romania.”

Her animated reading style drew in the audience.

All of art is a reaction to something. Beverly Beckley, known online as @beverleypithypoet takes her social media handle from her concise signature style of short and impactful poems. Her timeless work about Canadian Truth and Reconciliation from her chapbook The Little Bones, a fundraiser for The Remembering the Children Society, fit the season of Orange Shirts and Canadian historical awareness. The poet presented questions and posited opinions about the death of the queen, collective shame, and is a self confessed, “lover of personal darkness”. She alluded to genius minds of mentally unwell writers including Sylvia Plath. The evening’s discourse born from the poetry seemed equally interesting.

Another current event covered in my own reading was the death of Masah Amini from Iran while in custody of the morality police. A healthy twenty two year old, Masah’s arrest came from not wearing a head covering (hijab) properly. The reported cause of death was a heart attack. Much of the poems I produce are to advance women and create equity. Social reality is often stark and hard to hear. The format of inclusion in the poetry circle asked all to share, though it was not required. The Poetry Party called on others to share their work in an open format as time permits after the featured readers were finished.

The most approached topic with mass appeal for poets is still love. Raymond Byiers rhyming works heaved with sentiment and personal homage to family. His first poem affirmed that the universality of grief can be captured. It lives in words, not always going beyond them. His final poem, a personal testament of deep love to his wife who was present from Didsbury renewed hope, “I wrote this just before my heart surgery. You can hear the Irish in me coming out when I read my poems aloud.”

Since the Poetry Party was successful, another gathering will be held October 28, 6:00pm – 8:30 pm in the Maple Room of CARE for Newcomers (5000 Gaetz Avenue, Red Deer). All are welcome and this time, artists from all disciplines are welcome to bring their creations.

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CFR Rodeo, live music, street dancing, art, theatre and more downtown celebrations..

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Live Music at The Velvet Olive

Mike Szabo at The Velvet Olive

October 26th @7:30

Join Mike Szabo on a journey of stories and songs he wrote and the covers that inspired him. Mike is promoting the release of his debut vinyl LP, Take My Heart 2020. Cover for the show is by donation and guests will be seated first come, first served.

Fish in a Birdcage at The Velvet Olive

October 28th @8:30

Dustan Townsend AKA “Fish in a Birdcage” is a young and passionate musical virtuoso. Townsend is originally from Red Deer, Alberta and is now on a two year long busking/street performing adventure around Europe with Spain being his next destination.

(2) The Velvet Olive Lounge | Facebook

Family Street Dance October 29th

(2) CFR Family Street Dance | Facebook

Grand Opening Celebration

October 29th

Yep, you heard that right! We’re hosting a Grand Opening celebration for Red Deer’s largest music store! When Long and McQuade bought the business in February of 2020, plans to renovate the store were made but had to be postponed. Fast forward to 2022, renovations are now finished and we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the occasion with YOU, our amazing customers!

Come to the store on Oct. 29 for some awesome giveaway prizes, live music, and free food. Our BBQ will be fired up from 12 to 2 and we have live music scheduled from some excellent local musicians!

(2) Long & McQuade (Red Deer) | Facebook

Trick or Treat Downtown Red Deer

October 31st

Trick or Treat October 31st-

12-4 pm

Trick or Treat with your little one at your favorite businesses and stop by the Ross Street Pation for a photobooth!

Contact Carbon + Oak for location information.

Carbon + Oak | Facebook

Rodeo on Ross

November 2nd, 3rd ,4th

(2) CFR live Screening | Facebook

Celebration 6 Years Arts & Culture

November 4th

A + Art Gallery & unique collections

Celebration 6 Years Exhibition

Details:

Opening Reception

Date: Friday, November 4th

Time: Noon to 4 pm

FREE Event

(1) Celebration 6 Years Arts & Culture | Facebook

The Games of Love and Chance

November 10th to 27th

Prime stock Theater

@ Scott block theatre

November 10th to 27th.

Thursdays – Sundays 7 pm

PLUS 2 pm Matinees on Saturdays

Love must conquer clever disguises in this delightful comic masterpiece.

The Games of Love and Chance was originally written by Pierre de Marivaux at the height of opulence and extravagance during the reign of Louis XV in France. This playful and witty comedy has been newly translated and adapted by Artistic Director, Richard Beaune and this is it’s world premiere! Indulge in an evening (or afternoon) of love, laughter and decadent silliness as Red Deer’s only professional theatre company brings this sumptuous story of love and deception to life on stage.

(2) The Games of Love and Chance | Facebook

Starpainter w/ Curtis Phagoo at The Velvet Olive

The Velvet olive

Starpainter is a folk rock band from Lethbridge, Alberta. They wear their influences on their sleeves, showcasing strong songwriting and an affinity for gently psychedelic alt-country tones. The band has been growing a following on the strength of their debut full-length titled Bury Me By My Family (2020). Their imaginative, guitar-heavy live show is built on a foundation of prairie-born craftsmanship with a pop sensibility that defies their youth.

(2) The Velvet Olive Lounge | Facebook

Follow along with our NEW mural map, to enjoy the amazing murals that Downtown Red Deer has to offer!

Looking for a paper copy? Head to the Downtown Business Association office.

120, 5009 50 Ave.

 

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