The inaugural Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational, sponsored in part by the Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of Commerce (BYCC), takes place at venues throughout Burnsville from Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26. World-class artisans of handmade acoustic stringed instruments will gather to share knowledge gained through years of experience crafting pieces for musicians across all genres. The weekend provides rare opportunities to engage with, and learn from, these luthiers as well as to hear music brought to life by their instruments.
“Southern Appalachia is heart and home to a diverse group of craftspeople of acoustic stringed instruments from guitars and banjos to mandolins, harps, cellos and dulcimers,” says BYCC director Ginger Johnson. “The nexus of art, music and craft was the inspiration behind this event.”
Jay Lichty, who builds one-of-a-kind custom handmade acoustic guitars, ukuleles and fiddles, will serve as host luthier for the Invitational, which kicks off Friday evening from 7–9 p.m. with the Homeplace Luthier Jam at Homeplace Beer Company. Participants can enjoy a special-release brew, listen to local musicians and mingle with artisans of all types of stringed instruments. “I’m really looking forward to meeting some fellow luthiers,” says Lichty. “We all work in a vacuum of sorts so it’s great to get out, see others’ work and just hang out and chat.”
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., a concert at Parkway Playhouse features acclaimed guitarist and composer Kaki King. King has recorded multiple albums and scored music for television and film. She was the sole woman and youngest artist named as one of “The New Guitar Gods” by Rolling Stone in 2006. A special guest local artist will open for King.
“‘Breathtaking’ is the word most often used to describe Kaki King’s acoustic guitar prowess,” says Mountain Acoustics director Chee Ammen. “We could not be more delighted that she will be headlining the inaugural Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational here in Burnsville.”
A variety of workshops conducted by leading luthiers and musicians will take place at Burnsville Town Center on Saturday and Sunday, with topics including Songwriting, Beginning Ukulele, The Mantra of Guitar and The Craft of the Luthier. Instructors include Nick Gonnering, Chris Rosser and 2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Christie Lenée. A showcase of luthiers from throughout the Southeast will also be held at Burnsville Town Center on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Homeplace Luthier Jam is free to attend. Tickets for the Kaki King concert are $35, with a limited number of front row seats available for $40. They can be purchased at ParkwayPlayhouse.com. Tickets for the Luthier Showcase can be purchased at Burnsville Town Center at the door. They are $10 for one day or $15 for a 2–day pass. Workshops will be limited in size and range from $10–$25 to attend. For more information about the event or to sign up for workshops, visit MountainAcoustics.com. Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational is a Parkway Playhouse event.