What can you buy for ten bucks?


My wife is Scottish. I know, I know, in fact we all know the stories about the Scots ability to hang onto a dollar. But my wife is not like that. Because she has expensive tastes I don’t mean to imply that she is a spendthrift. But she is what I call “high expense – low maintenance” and she always has an eye for “a wee bargain”. Now my friend Doug Crawley, I don’t know if he is also “high expense – low maintenance”, you would have to ask his wife Beth about that. But I do know he has an eye for “a wee bargain” and he seems to have some incredible luck when it comes to musical instruments. There is the story of the e-bay bidding war for a Larrivee guitar. Then there is that beautiful mandolin, fully re-furbished, that he picked up for an unbelievably low price. Last, but not least, there is also the tale of the $10 purchase of a D09 Larrivee Dreadnought.

On a recent summer’s day he was on his way downtown to take in a concert in Rotary Park. It was a beautiful day so he had decided to walk rather than drive. On the way he passed one of those traditional yard sales. It didn’t particularly attract his attention until he spotted a guy walking out of the yard with a guitar. So just on the off chance he wandered into the yard just to check on what inventory maybe left. There it was. A Larrivee guitar that looked like it had been in a train wreck. It was broken, battered, and bruised with lots of major splits in the top and sides. It looked like it was beyond redemption. Also, on the off chance, he offered the owner $10 and, lo’ and behold he became the new owner of a piece of what he thought was un-redeemable junk. Doug and his wife Beth already owned a number of Larrivees and he thought that perhaps there might be something worth redeeming in the mess.

106. Bass Side before    108. Treble side - before 110. Neck block - before   100. Top - before  112. Bracing - before    102. Back - before 104. Serial NumberWhen he got back home he did an internet search on the serial number and discovered it was a D09 Dreadnought guitar, rosewood back and sides with a solid spruce top, probably built in Vancouver around 1994. The current list price of that same model today is over $3,000. What to do? It may have been worth that amount when it was new but in its present condition it was far cry from anything like that value. Or so he thought. He took it to the local Luthier Jamie Wiens to determine what were the possibilities. Given the make and model of the instrument Jamie felt that he could restore the instrument. It would not be one of his top priorities but he could fit it in with his bread and butter custom work. The project presented a substantial technical challenge that intrigued him. It was somewhat akin to putting humpty dumpty back together again. It would require a lot of custom improvisation to get the job done. Just getting the neck off the fractured instrument would require some ingenious tinkering that required building a device to generate steam and direct it to neck joint to loosen the glue.

At the end of the day Jamie rehabilitated the instrument and here is the list of what was required……..

  • Steam off the neck.
  • Glue neck, block and clamp.
  • Align and glue the large crack in the treble side.
  • Align and glue the large crack in the bass side.
  • Glue, clamp and splint the X brace.
  • Glue and clamp the cracks in the top.
  • Two rosewood re-enforcement patches and glue to the bass side.
  • Clean up the glue residue.
  • Buff and clean the body.
  • Fix the crack in the finger board.
  • Scrape and clean the binding.
  • Level and dress the frets.
  • Supply and install a Taylor end-plug, pin, and strap pin.
  • Install new light gauge strings.
  • Remove old pick-guard.
  • Install a new faux tortoise shell pick guard.
  • Install new saddle.
  • Supply old ebony bridge pins.

So here we have Humpty Dumpty back together again sounding beautiful, looking stunning and very comfortable to play. I defy anybody to be able to find the original cracks in the rosewood back and sides.

304. Refurbished D09   306. Refurbished D09  312. Refurbished D09 316. Refurbished D09

So this is what ten bucks (plus rehabilitation costs) can buy you in this day and age – a beautiful D09 Larrivee Dreadnought Guitar, as new, with a current value somewhere around $3,000. Only Doug Crawley could be that lucky.

300. Refurbished D09


A Steal of a Deal – TAFELMUSIK


Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra: The Complete Sony Recordings. Originally released between 1989 and 1998, the recordings of the famed orchestra’s Baroque and Classical repertoire are all being issued together for the first time in a single Sony Classical box set of 47 CDs. The price of the set varied depending when and where it can be purchased. My purchase was through http://www.arkivmusic.com for $65 + exchange rate, shipping etc. It is also available from Amazon.ca for around $85+ taxes – shipping is free. That’s less than $2 a disc – a steal of a deal.

Tafelmusik? Who are they? As described in the liner notes of their recent Sony Boxed Set of recordings they are Canada’s award-winning period instrument orchestra that has become an internationally recognized ensemble. Lauded by Gramophone magazine “as one of the world’s top baroque orchestra’s.” Founded in 1979 by Kenneth Jeanne_group_2011Solway and Susan Graves, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has flourished under the inspired leadership of Jeanne Lamon, who was the Music Director from 1981 to 2014. With its artist-focused mandate and commitment to excellence and innovation , Tafelmusik actively creates new context for the performance of baroque and classical music . The vitality of Tafelmusik’s vision clearly resonates with its audiences : the orchestra performs more than 50 concerts a year in Toronto for a passionate and dedicated following.

At the heart of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is a group of remarkably talented , enthusiastic and dynamic permanent members , each of whom is a specialist in historical practice. Their collaboration results in a delightful transparency , vitality and richness of sound , which has gathered acclaim around the world. The musicians participate on many levels , whether as core members, soloists, or contributors to exceptionally creative programming ideas that bring Tafelmusik concerts to life and make them fully relevent in a 21st-century context. Tafelmusik has become a major force on the international scene, with a rigorous touring schedule that sees the orchestra on the road for seven to twelve weeks each year. Regular tours in Canada the United States and Europe are complemented by ambitious tours to more distant destinations such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

An integral part of Tafelmusik’s success has been its critically acclaimed discography of over 80 baroque and classical albums, which have garnered many national and international awards. Tafelmusik’s long and celebrated collaboration with Opera Atelier has helped establish Toronto as an important North American centre for baroque and classical opera performance. Tafelmusik has also invested much energy in supporting the next generation of period performers though its artist training programming.


Track List
DISC 1-2: Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046-1051
DISC 3: Bach:  Concertos for Violin
DISC 4: W. F. Bach:  Sinfonias, Suite and  Concerto
DISC 5: Beethoven:  Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.2 in B-flat major, Op.19 and No.1 in C major, Op.15
DISC 6: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3 & 4
DISC 7: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, Op. 73 “Emperor” & Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
DISC 8: Biber: Harmonia Artificioso – Ariosa
DISC 9: Boccherini: Cellokonzerte / Sinfonien
DISC 10:  Boccherini: Cello Concertos
DISC 11: Corelli: Concerti Grossi Op.6
DISC 12: Gazzaniga: Don Giovanni
DISC 13: Geminiani: Concerti Grossi
DISC 14-15: Gluck: Orfeo E  Euridice
DISC 16: Gluck: Don Juan; Semiramis
DISC 17: Handel: Six Concerti Grossi
DISC 18: Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks; Concerti a due cori
DISC 19: Handel: Water Music, Suite from Il Pastor Fido
DISC 20: Haydn: Symphonies Nos.41, 42 & 43
DISC 21: Haydn: Symphonies Nos.44, 51 & 52
DISC 22: Haydn: Symphonies Hob. I: 45, 46 & 47
DISC 23: Haydn: Symphonies Hob. I: 50, 64 & 65
DISC 24: Haydn: Paris Symphonies Hob. I: 82, 83 & 84
DISC 25: Haydn: Paris Symphonies Hob. I: 85, 86 & 87
DISC 26: Haydn:  Symphonies Hob. I: 88, 89 & 90
DISC 27: Haydn:  Paukenmesse; Salve Regina; Motetto “O coelitum beati”
DISC 28: Haydn: Missa Sancti Bernardi de Offida; Motets
DISC 29: Haydn: Theresa and Nelson Masses
DISC 30: Haydn: Missa “Sunt bona mixta malis”; Salve Regina; Ave Regina
DISC 31-32: Haydn: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)
DISC 33: Haydn/Kraft: Cellokonzerte
DISC 34-35: Mozart: 6 Symphonies after Serenades
DISC 36: Mozart: Overtures; Eine kleine Nachtmusik
DISC 37: Mozart: German Dances, K. 509; K. 536/567; K. 571; K. 586
DISC 38: Mozart: Rondo and Horn Concertos
DISC 39: Mozart: Requiem, K. 626
DISC 40: Purcell: Ayres for the Theatre
DISC 41: Schmelzer: Sonatas; Balletti Francesi; Ciaccona
DISC 42: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons; Sinfonia “Al Santo Sepolcro”; Concerto Op.3, No.10
DISC 43: Vivaldi: Concertos for Strings
DISC 44: Vivaldi Concerti
DISC 45: Zelenka: Missa Dei Filii/Litaniae Lauretanae
DISC 46: Stamitz, Richter, Haydn, Gluck: Flute Concertos

That is a lot of music. An even though I have had the collection for over six months I am still digesting its riches. Significant number of pieces are familiar (Bach’s Brandenberg Concertos, Haydn’s Symphonies and Cello Concertos, etc) but there is a significant number that are new to me. For instance, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) Harmonia artificioso-ariosa is a wonderfully “wheezy piece” of baroque music that I really enjoy. If his name is unfamiliar to you check out his entry in Wikipedia. Because there is so much material in the collection it is a little unfair to pick out any particular recording for special mention. I am sure every listener will come to his or her own conclusion about their special choices. I can promise you that if the music of the baroque and classical eras are your special interest then this collection will not disappoint. The only down side is that at this price the collection undercuts even the most reasonably priced “live” concert.


PS. For a lucky few, Jeanne Lamond performed with a small chamber group in Christ the Servant Church in Cranbrook some 10+ years ago.