Tag: cat thomas

The Resurrection of Uncle

westyreflector.medium mirror


That Old Guitar on That Old Guitar

Uncle, a 1934 Gibson L-1 flat-top acoustic, came to me via my wife Cat’s father, Steve, a stellar pianist and big band leader in Chicago. Cat’s great Uncle Ernest, Uncle’s original owner, bequeathed the guitar to Steve.

Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021
Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021

Cat & I found Uncle (in his original case) in Steve’s basement on a trip to her Chicago home. I tuned him up best he would, and strummed an open G major (the strings were a dozen years old, at least). He rang for less than a second before the bridge popped off. The sound of the chord was brilliant, however, and I took him back to New York, where the luthier of legend Paul Schwartz of Peekamoose Custom Guitars worked his magic (he is “The Moose” in the lyrics).

Paul has modded all my guitars, and also built me Fabien, an extraterrestrial Peekamoose M2 that’s the only electric guitar I’ll ever need if I ever need to have only 1. Definitely the one I’m grabbing, running from a house fire.

Fabien et moi
Fabien et moi

Uncle’s restoration process at Peekamoose involved a lot of micro-movements, acclimation periods, and clamps. And took almost 2 years.

The original bridge and half of the top’s bracing were not salvageable, and got replaced. Everything else is a time capsule, a literal message in box. The fretboard is still worn where Ernest spent most of his time playing (lower frets in open G tuning from what I can trace), and the flat-top’s 87-year-old finish reveals the most gorgeous cracks when the light hits it just right.

echoes of ernest on the fretboard
echoes of ernest on the fretboard
uncle's crack top
uncle's crack top

Uncle plays with the flawless ease you’d expect (and demand) of an instrument that was designed to be slung over the back of a blues traveller.…

continued...

beautiful blurs

My wife, Cat, is an xclnt, award-winning film & tv costume designer, and my front row seat to her work is electrifying and teeming with inspiration. That said, her job takes her away from me, sometimes quite distant, for very long stretches.

When she filmed Kill Bill in 2002, she shuttled between Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beijing for 8 months, came home to NYC for 1 week and then went to Mexico and LA for 3 more months. During that production, including the 7 days she was home, we saw each other a grand total of 23 days. Most of her jobs aren’t that far-flung, but even when she works close by for a few months, as she did in Boston on last year’s The Heat, seeing her often, or at all, is always difficult. Now, Cat is again away – this time in New Orleans until July on a film called Untitled Texas Buddy Comedy.

Longing is as much a process as an emotion. You can miss something, or someone, without longing for it, or her, or him. Once the longing sets in, though, that’s where the heartbreak starts. Collected here are tracks I’ve written over the last 10 years to deal with various states of longing. In these songs, I see evolution, but also constant threads, in my perspective on Cat’s absences. If you’ve ever longed for someone – or some time or place or thing – you’ll relate.

You and I never get enough
Time to make
More than a beautiful blur

#lightwalkers

sayulita-mosaic1

Late one late December day in the late ’00s, on a new-mooned new-years evenight in the Mexican-not-Mayan Riviera, a small vacation coven gathered under soft starlight, poolside on a bluff overlooking an inking Pacific Ocean. As the group’s just-like-grandma’s cake started to kick in, Orion turned away from Earth for a few moments and a twinge of lawlessness neuroscaped through them one by one, in a cascade.

more