I had no sooner arrived than I was called over to view (and play) an f-style mandolin, a prototype made by luthier Steve Barkman (who made my own guitar and indeed, most of the guitars you'll see at the folk club on any given night; Steve also does the sound engineering most nights). This was a truly beautiful instrument with the characteristic bluegrass "sound like running water" and felt so lovely under the fingers. It was as light as a feather.
Shortly afterward, a 5 string violin, a spec eBay purchase that required a good deal of work to make it even playable, was returned to me by Peter Madill, another spectacular luthier in the fold. The instrument had been pulled apart and reassembled with a care and precision I can only guess at, for it didn't look as though the thing had been touched. It played exquisitely. (I can only report to within the scale of my ability, as testified to in a previous post.)
Then, to settle back with a glass of Emerson's 1812 Pale Ale (another local product, the astounding quality of which is beyond the scope of this blog) and listen to our guests for the evening, Brenda Liddiard and Mark Laurent. This fantastic Auckland duo never ceases to amaze me with the diversity of their songs, musicianship and poetry. The hour flew by graced with sublime guitar and mandolin textures and soulful harmonies. As is often the case at the end of a warm summer's day, there were too few people to give them their due but those that were there were well rewarded for their investment.
It's good to be reminded from time to time what a rare and privileged society we live in and the fine and talented people we're surrounded by.
Steve Barkman's instruments can be viewed here and Peter Madill's instruments here. I commend them both to you.