Dave’s Guitar Shop rings a lot of bells around the world. And plenty of bells if you’re in Wisconsin. And big, big bells if you are a guitar player in La Crosse, WI. Or Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois. Just about anywhere else on this planet. And in this particular Galaxy, The Milky Way, most of us call home.
I discovered this amazing store while playing Winona, Minnesota. It’s a 45-minute drive up the road from La Crosse. I think I was playing at The Acoustic Cafe or Ed’s No Name Bar. Either way, I was having serious guitar trouble. One of my guitars needed some repair – specifically on one of my little Jay Jr. parlor guitars. I had been beating the hell out of them and the tuning heads were starting to fall apart. One was already stripped out, so the need was immediate.
When I got to Dave’s Guitar Shop, the atmosphere was electric. So many guitars, so many wonderful guitar people. And on staff, on-call, on their game. I dropped off my guitars and a little 1937 National Shield amp.
The National amp I picked up the week before in Columbus, Georgia. And it had a few tubes lose, a very thin side-wall, too. In the blink of an eye, Todd took it apart and found just the right tubes. He put it all back together and it sounded fantastic for an 80-year-old amp!
The National amp I picked up the week before in Columbus, Georgia. And it had a few tubes lose, a very thin side-wall, too. In the blink of an eye, Todd Wolfgram took it apart and found just the right tubes. He put it all back together and it sounded fantastic for an 80-year-old amp!
Every now and then I get an opportunity to work on amps and electronics that are incredible, and some are almost ancient: 70 years old!
It is a careful, delicate process to identify the issue, see what parts are available and bring these treasures back to life! It is nerve-wracking, part detective work and part electronic wizardry, but I always try to be true to the original design, if possible, and at the very least, do no harm to the ancient wiring and original electronics.
But the other thing about Dave’s Guitar Shop, and Todd, in particular, is this: when it comes to electronics, Todd is the King! Todd makes his own pedals and has his own brand. And I think he has on called Layer Cake – it’s a beast!
A few years ago I had a really bad car accident. It made news in 251 papers across the Country. Judging from the coverage, it looked like I had lost everything! So about three months after the wreck, and after I spent 70 days recovering, I got a note from Dave’s. Carl had found a pair of Silvertone Guitars and had saved them for me. They were amazing! Just the look alone blew my hair back!
The thing about Dave’s Guitar Shop is the fact that whatever the guitar problem I had, they fixed it. I was in Texas and in Terlingua in Far West Texas, south of Marfa, and I had to keep on of the checker guitars in the car. Two days later I opened the case and put it on the stand. When it came time in the show to pick it up, the neck had peeled off the body in the heat and it was totally unplayable.
I packed it in a guitar box at the FedEx, and off it went to Carl Miene, Master Luthier, at Dave’s Guitar Shop. It came back to me three weeks later and perfectly fixed. Perfect! Now that is a real talent and an amazing luthier with the magic touch.
My favorite guitars to work on are the really nice old ones. Ones that most people would think of as being lost causes. Collecting old acoustic guitars and wood is something I am very interested in. You will find a couple of vintage Martins, Dobro’s, Mandolins, and some older tube gear at my house. The little old Brazilian Rosewood parlor size guitars are my favorites
One of the most enjoyable things about visiting Dave’s Guitar Shop is the people you run into at the front door. So many great deals, new guitars coming in all the time, and the sheer volume is impressive.
And there are a lot of things hidden away. For example, the amps that Creedence Clearwater Revival played through were all Kustom Tuck and Roll, and on the second floor, Dave has a remarkable collection of these fabulous beasts.
I guess that’s the real true essence of Dave’s Guitar Shop. Everyone is involved, engaged, and focused on being the best they can be. At the same time, everyone there seems to be the most helpful to the customer they can be.
It’s refreshing, it’s dynamic and if you’ve not visited Dave’s, all I can say is…
You’re in for a great afternoon!
“If there’s a place for musical perfection, it’s wherever you’ll find Eric Sommer – A blistering acoustic style plus a variety of slide and open tuning formats will knock you for a loop…” wrote Studdie Burns, New Melody Maker/UK in 2013. “How one guy can do this so well is remarkable, but if you look a little deeper there’s a batch of road miles around this lad… and it all makes sense.”
Eric started his musical career in the Boston area under the eye of legendary promoter Don Law and was onstage at The Paradise Theatre in Boston for a record 40 appearances. He has been a regular player on many national and international tours and showcases, and worked in Europe for two years with Nick Lowe and acts Bram Tchaikovsky and Wreckless Eric; during this period Eric worked on Danish, German and British rock stages, returned to Boston and formed The Atomic
As a founding member of Boston’s legendary pop/new wave cult trio “The Atomics”, who toured non-stop with Mission of Burma, Gang of Four and The Dead Kennedy’s and were on the leading edge of several musical transformations, Eric never lost sight of his acoustic roots, returning to his heroes and mentors often: David Bromberg, Steve Howe(YES), Duane Allman (Allman Bros.), Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, Robert Johnson. Mr. Sommer’s current project with power trio “The Solar Flares” shake up Chet Atkins and David Bromberg’s influences with those of Randy Travis and British Rocker Elvis Costello – a remarkable mix.
And to keep track of it all, Eric started keeping notes, which evolved from napkin scribbles to paper and pen efforts, writing stories, making poetry and capturing the roads and bridges as they went by, plus people, places and… more people which become his notes, then become characters for songs, stories, and prose.
Eric currently has four volumes of verse, 5 studio albums, a LIVE in AUSTIN DVD as well as an electronica project titled “The Smallest Particle” and more on the way… this blog is an attempt to keep track of it all…
You can reach Eric directly at ericATericsommer.com and see more of his projects here on this website. Red Chairs, Black Pancake and Blue Turtle are all available here, as well as all current releases. Please share and comment below.
Singer/songwriter Eric Sommer is an unbelievable intersection of improbable influences and experiences channeled into an amazingly diverse catalog and a résumé that reads more like a musical adventure novel than a series of career bullet points.