Grain for Good
Last issue, we shared news about our partnership with the watchmakers at San Diego-based Original Grain. With our shared passion for beautiful woods as a launchpad, we worked with Original Grain to supply materials for a range of wristwatches showcasing Urban Ash and West African ebony, responsibly sourced tonewoods that we use for backs, sides and fretboards in our guitars. The results were outstanding — not only did Original Grain produce a stunning collection of watches, but they sold out fast, and a second run was met with equal enthusiasm by customers. Even better, the project has raised over $58,000 to date for Guitars 4 Vets, a nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans use music to cope with PTSD, and Tree San Diego, which works to restore and protect San Diego’s urban canopy. Thanks to the popularity of the watches, Original Grain expects to sell enough to cross the $100,000-mark in money raised for charity before the end of this year.
Over the summer, our partnership with Original Grain culminated in a televised event hosted on the USS Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier and museum located at the San Diego Embarcadero. The event featured a graduation ceremony for eight veterans who recently completed the Guitars 4 Vets music program. The veterans were each awarded a Taylor acoustic guitar in honor of their achievements, and Bob Taylor himself was on hand to deliver a speech and share his appreciation for America’s military veterans. The event even received local media attention, with TV station CBS8 and the San Diego Union-Tribune both covering the event.
We’re proud to continue our relationship with Original Grain, and you can still find watches from the Original Grain + Taylor Guitars Collection at the Original Grain online store.
Lost and Found
Hopefully you haven’t experienced the unique heartbreak of a gigging musician whose guitar disappears. Whether stolen, broken or just plain misplaced, it’s a special type of agony, especially if the lost guitar is a personal favorite or a longtime traveling companion. Chloe Smith, a Taylor player and guitarist for the band Rising Appalachia, knows this particular pain all too well.
Roughly two years ago, Chloe’s Academy 12e-N was stolen. Efforts to locate it were fruitless, and she replaced the guitar, believing that she would never see the original again. Anyone who has toured with a musical instrument understands the bond a player can forge with their guitar, and though Rising Appalachia was able to continue its tour, the loss stung.
Fast-forward to June of 2021, when alt-folk band A Brother’s Fountain posted a video on Instagram sharing an incredible story: They’d found the guitar at a general store in Cisco, Utah, an Old-West railroad burg that Wikipedia labels a ghost town with a total of four residents.
The boys from A Brother’s Fountain had stopped in town to restock on essentials while camping in the area, and after chatting with the store’s owners, decided to play a couple of their songs for a small group of people inside the shop. After the impromptu gig, the store owner showed the guys a mysterious guitar for which she had been trying to find the original owner for nearly two years. A Brother’s Fountain agreed to try to help the guitar find its way home. After digging through the case, they found stickers featuring the Rising Appalachia name and logo. A quick search on Spotify revealed a perfect match between the lost guitar and the one in the band’s official photo — the lost guitar had been found at last.
Seeing the video with the story, Rising Appalachia commented, “OK, you guys win the Internet today. How is this possible?”
Gear Up for the Holidays
We’re fast approaching the holiday season, and you know what that means: the Taylor Guitars Holiday Gift Guide is here. Packed with recommendations for guitars and accessories that will make for truly memorable gifts this season, the guide features our favorite guitars from the Taylor line arranged by budget so that you know exactly what to look for at your price level when you head to the music shop.
As we were wrapping up this issue of Wood&Steel, we learned of the passing of singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith. The Texas-raised troubadour was truly an artist’s artist, widely admired by tunesmiths from Bob Dylan to Jason Isbell to Darius Rucker for her songwriting chops, especially her knack for using lyrical detail to pack an emotional punch. Griffith’s story-songs often drew from her Texas roots and chronicled the struggles of small-town characters (“Drive-in Movies and Dashboard Lights,” “Love at the Five and Dime”), fusing folk and country genres into a signature style she dubbed “folkabilly,” delivered with lilting vocals over her hybrid acoustic fingerpicking/flatpicking.
Griffith bought a Taylor 512c in a music store in New York in 1986, choosing it for its comfortably compact frame and its reliability on tour and in the studio, and later ordered a custom 512c with a Florentine cutaway and a sunburst top, which became a performance staple for many years.
In the mid-1980s, Griffith moved to Nashville but wondered if she’d be accepted by the “old-Nashville” music establishment. She needn’t have worried.
“I got two phone calls when I first came to Nashville,” she said in an interview in Wood&Steel in 1996. “The first was from Chet Atkins, welcoming me and telling me he had my earlier records. The second was from Harlan Howard [writer of Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” and other country classics] asking if we could get together because he had my albums and admired my writing. He said it had been a long time since Nashville had an honest female songwriter who wasn’t afraid to write songs about controversial subjects. I felt very welcome.”
Griffith deserves credit for turning other Nashville artists on to our guitars before Taylor was a widely known brand, from Suzy Bogguss and Kathy Mattea to the session guitarists she recorded with.
“Whenever we’d be in the studio, they’d be vying to borrow my guitar!” she shared.
Her sunburst 512c inspired a limited-edition signature model we released in 1996.
Though Bob Taylor didn’t know Griffith, he has a special connection with her music.
“I often say that Nanci taught me how to use MasterCam and Fadal back in the day,” he shares. “That’s because I listened to her album Storms on a loop several hours a night for weeks on end while I learned to draw, program and machine guitar parts. The mention of her name, or the sound of her voice, always takes me back. She kept me focused on absorbing this CAD/CAM world that eventually helped me make her signature guitar. To make guitars that she played was unplanned but meant a lot to me. I’ll miss her even though I never personally knew her.”
Growing the Family
This year has proved to be a big one for our artist relations team here at Taylor — we’ve been forging relationships with new artists from all corners of the musical world in an effort to broaden our musical horizons. In recent months, we’ve expanded our outreach to include more BIPOC artists (Black, Indigenous & people of color) from the United States and beyond. In nine months alone, we’ve brought more than 30 BIPOC artists into the Taylor fold. It’s a thrilling time that’s introduced a wealth of new sounds, styles and perspectives to everything we do here, inspiring us to share new stories.
If you perused the previous digital-only edition of Wood&Steel, you saw our feature on African-American Music Appreciation Month, which is celebrated in June in the United States to commemorate the formative influence Black artists have had on what we know as American music. That project, led by Taylor Artist Relations and Community Manager Lindsay Love-Bivens, included a visit to the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee, where songwriter Judith Hill joined us to add her insight to the story of Black music in America. You can watch the video report and explore our timeline of musical genres shaped by African American artists at woodandsteel.taylorguitars.com (click “See Past Issues” to select the previous edition). Meanwhile, in this issue’s story on how artists have adapted to pandemic life, Lindsay spent time with the rising pop-punk band Meet Me @ The Altar, an exciting all-female outfit featuring women of color.
Pop Goes Acoustic
Our artist team has also been hard at work supplying guitars to some of today’s hottest artists. Topping the list (and the charts) is pop singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo, whose debut album SOUR has garnered huge acclaim from both fans and critics alike. Olivia’s guitarist, Liv Slingerland, loves her Taylor GTe Urban Ash, playing it in a special live acoustic performance of “favorite crime” by Rodrigo for Vevo LIFT.
It seems the GT love was contagious in Rodrigo’s camp, as the singer herself also played one for a live acoustic performance of her song “enough for you.” If that wasn’t enough, she also played her GT Urban Ash in “SOUR Prom,” a stylized concert film that includes several songs from the chart-topping album.
These Taylor-in-the-wild sightings are in part the result of our relationship with multi-talented producer, guitarist and songwriter Aron Forbes. Aron is in high demand in the world of pop music, and his credits as a guitar player include projects with Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, BANKS and many others. He has also written and produced with pop heavyweights like Halsey, Billie Eilish and her brother, FINNEAS, and he was recently nominated for two Emmy awards for his sound and music work on the documentary film Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. Aron is a longtime Taylor player, and owns an older mahogany GS5 model that he considers his main guitar. Having played our new mahogany guitars from the 500 Series as well as the travel-friendly GT, Aron knew our guitars would be a perfect fit for an artist like Olivia Rodrigo. Who knows where they’ll end up next?
Have Taylor, Will Travel
Every day, our guitars find their way into hands all around the globe. Our international Taylor artist roster has grown substantially this year to include new musicians from a wide swath of genres and styles, supplying more proof that there’s a Taylor for every job.
Among the newcomers is innovative fingerstyle guitarist Natee Chaiwut, who’s been making waves in his home town of Bangkok, Thailand. Chaiwut’s dynamic style blends fretboard slaps, two-hand tapping and intricate arpeggios into a propulsive acoustic sound. He recently filmed a solo performance on his new GT 811e. You can scan the QR code and watch him flex his chops.
Originally hailing from Argentina, singer-songwriter Noel Schajris has long been a fan of travel-sized Taylor models, using a Baby Taylor for years when touring as part of the duo Sin Bandera in the early and mid-2000s. Now based in Los Angeles, the Latin GRAMMY-winning guitarist released a new album in 2020 titled Mi Presente, which showcases his rich voice and lyrical talent with a series of timeless ballads. He also recently recorded a single, “Tan Perfecto,” alongside singer Katie Angle. You can hear both on Spotify and Apple Music.
Elsewhere, Santo Domingo-born artist Techy Fatule took the limelight in Spotify’s Equal campaign for the month of June, which covered women artists from the Caribbean and Central America. We first met Techy at the Latin American Music Conference, and she recorded an episode of our Acoustic Sessions performance video series that was released in April of this year.
Siam, based in Cali, Colombia, is one of the most powerful duets in the Latin industry. The act started their career in one of the most famous reality show franchises (The X Factor Colombia) and won first place. Since then, they’ve earned three Latin Grammy nominations and amassed a huge following in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. They were preparing a media tour in Mexico City for September to promote their latest single.
In the UK, Taylor artist relations liaison Dan Boreham has been hard at work bringing more European artists into the Taylor fold. As part of a project with six other artists, we recently shot British alt-rockers Yonaka performing their song, “Raise Your Glass.”
Meanwhile, British artist James Arthur released two new videos featuring his custom black 614ce: “Train Wreck” and “September.” When we last checked, “Train Wreck” had over 343 million streams on Spotify.
Back on American soil, other members of our artist relations team recently spent time on the east coast with the folks from Rudy’s Music Soho in New York City and the Music Den in New Jersey. While there, we had the pleasure of seeing some of our favorite guitarists perform with their Taylors, including Gil Parris and Alex Skolnick. You can watch Skolnick’s performance at Rudy’s below.
Scranton, Pennsylvania punk-rockers Tigers Jaw have also joined the Taylor fold, just in time for their latest album, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me. The album carries on the band’s signature alt-punk sound, blending acoustic elements with driving rhythms and overdriven guitars to great effect. Founding member and lead guitarist Ben Walsh recently stopped by the new Russo’s Music location in Philadelphia to share acoustic versions of a couple tracks from the new album, performing on his 814ce.
News from Nashville
The Bluebird Café recently reopened for in-person concerts. It’s great to see this iconic venue back in action, and it’s incredible for the new winners of our co-sponsored Bluebird Golden Pick contest to once again take the stage and perform. The latest winner is Bella Garland, who also dropped by Taylor’s showroom in Nashville recently to perform her winning song.
Longtime Taylor player Tiera (416ce) also visited our showroom to try some new guitars. She fell in love with the GS Mini Koa and the AD17e Blacktop. Tiera started a radio tour in August, with her GS Mini in tow. She was named one of CMT’s women of 2020 and just signed to Big Machine imprint The Valory Music Co.
Here she is performing her song “Found it in You.”
Non-cutaway versions of our Grand Auditorium guitars are proving to be popular in Nashville. The guitar community tends to be consistent in their tastes, gravitating toward non-cutaway body shapes, classic tonewoods like mahogany and rosewood, simple appointments and darker tops, including sunburst, black or vintage amber-tinted spruce….Niko Moon’s guitarist, Jared Martin, is one of several players who have recently taken to the 514. He’s currently playing it out on the road as an opener on Lady A’s “What A Song Can Do” tour… Big Machine artist Conner Smith is busy on the road radio touring with his AD17e Blacktop.
The Summer NAMM Show, held in Nashville in July, certainly was different than previous years, but members of our artist relations team enjoyed lots of great visits with local musicians, including singer-songwriter Brock Gonyea, who fell in love with the new 818 and will be taking one on the road later this year when he’s out as the opening act on Dolly Parton’s stadium tour. Our team also met with some fantastic Taylor players like worship artist Jon Reddick and Florida-based YouTuber Dovydas.
The Wood&Steel Playlist
We love to share new work and older hits from our genre-spanning artist family. For this issue, the Wood&Steel playlist features an acoustic track from Olivia Rodrigo’s chart-topping album SOUR, a new FINNEAS single, songs from our international artists and much more. Follow Taylor Guitars on Spotify to add the playlist to your account.
Want to Win a GS Mini?
We’re happy to offer Wood&Steel readers the chance to win a new GS Mini. These solid-topped, ultra-portable guitars are among our most popular models and offer players of all levels a compact and fun-to-play option for practice, songwriting and performance. All you need to do is complete a short survey and tell us what you think of Wood&Steel.