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Author Topic: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)  (Read 2461 times)

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Offline Stefan Wirz

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Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« on: January 12, 2010, 05:43:09 AM »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 08:14:30 AM »
Thanks for posting this, Stefan.  Fred Gerlach was always sort of a mystery man to me.  Our family got his old Folkways album probably circa 1963--1964, and our copy of that record is the only one I've ever seen.  It gave no information on him.  On that record, he played 12-string guitar on everything, and he was really excellent.  He had a great version of "Gallis Pole" and had terrific time.  Many years later I saw an album he did on Takoma, but never heard it.  I never heard of him playing out.  I didn't realize he was old enough to be a W.W. II vet.  I wonder if there are more recordings of him out there somewhere.
All best,
Johnm

Offline ndlxs

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Re: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2010, 08:57:52 AM »
I will un-skulk briefly to describe my interaction with him.  In 1980, I decided I wanted to build a mountain dulcimer (kids, in those days, high schools had these things called "wood shops", and the then-generously funded CA school districts would allow adults in at night to use the tools!), so I headed off to McCabes Guitar Ship  in Santa Monica to see if they could sell me a kit.  (see kids, in those days, there was No Internet! So you just couldn't google for "dulcimer kit").  They didn't have any, but they told me to call Fred Gerlach, who lived then near the Santa Monica Municipal Airport.  He had a whole garage full of beautiful rosewood sets, all pre cut for dulcimers and guitars.  He took a whole hour of his time, pawing through the rosewood to find me the perfect set. "No, that's too thick! You'll have trouble thinning that without power tools!", and sold them to me for a song.  I did a so so job on the dulcimer, but the quality of the wood was such that despite my ineptitude with tools at the time, it still sounds great.

We didn't talk about music, but he was a generous, enthusiastic man, and if I hadn't moved away from the area right afterwards, I would have probably gone back for more wood.  I believe Leo Kottke had one of his guitars at one point. 

Andy Alexis
Sacramento, CA.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2010, 10:04:41 AM »
Seems to me that Fred Gerlach was sort of a  protoype of, well, all of us, predating Dave Van Ronk by a decade or more.
A Northern white guy obsessed pretty exclusively with the Blues (in his case meaning primarily Leadbelly)and learning to play it convincingly.
Bravo Fred!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2010, 02:14:17 PM »
I believe I saw him play one time at the Adams Avenue Roots Festival in San Diego maybe 10 years ago or so. I think I have that Folkways album, too -- I'll have to dig it out and give it a play.

Offline RB

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Re: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2010, 05:53:31 AM »
Thank you for the interesting discography page.  I remember hearing of Gerlach in the mid to late 1960's, I can't quite recall how at this point.

Offline Jeff H

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Re: Fred Gerlach RIP (12/31/09)
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 06:35:20 PM »
I met Fred Gerlach in the late 60's....

See my comments on Stefan Wirz's website.

For 2 years
I had been urging the Fretboard Journal to interview Fred....as recently as Nov/Dec last year.
Too bad.. too late

Fred was indeed a character and stories abound, full size airplanes built in the attic
Belt snapped on his sailboats one lunger off Venice .Ca...
Missing digits for band saws
Recording in the living room with John Fahey
Selling rosewood out of the trunk of his Caddilac,
Cigars and more cigars
Ivory ( legal)  gun grips

I owned one of his handmade 12 strings.. alas, sold it to fund buying a house...

He was a very fine 12 string player and I'll savor his playing tips, building tips  and time spent
around my breakfast nook swapping licks.. one helluva a guy
and perhaps you can chase down his stories of his time spent with Pete Seeger in London...
and his time not only with LeadBelly but also with Leadbelly's niece....

So long Fred..been good to know you.   
RIP

Jeff (Hildreth)

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