Geoff Groberg

Fireflies

This is another acoustic arrangement of a pop-song. Enjoy.

Arr. by Geoff Groberg (original song by Owl City)
Vocals: Geoff Groberg, Amanda Groberg, Lucy Groberg
Other instruments, mixing and stuff: Geoff

Olive Us

My super cool cousins, Ben and Gabby Blair, have been making a series of fun videos featuring their kids. They let me do some of the music including the music in this video. Check it out:

Watch more episodes here.

William Morris, craftsman – socialist

William Morris. Acanthus, 1874.

I just finished reading William Morris, craftsman – socialist. It’s a short book about the life of William Morris. I never knew who William Morris was before picking up this book almost by accident as I was strolling thru a folksy section of the library where I work.

The most interesting thing in this book for me was Morris’s ideas about work. He felt that all men should have the freedom to pursue meaningful work, work they could take pride in, work that made them feel like artists instead of assembly line workers. These are thoughts and ideas that resonate in today’s world. But he lived during the late 19th century. He despised the industrial revolution and felt that men’s lives, and the products they produced, were being degraded.

Morris was an artist himself. He loved medieval stuff, book-binding, writing, making tapestries (!), and anything hand-made and crafty. I’d like to invite him over for dinner.

There were a lot of thoughts that rang true in the book. I especially enjoyed quotations from Morris himself. Here’s a nice gem from one of Morris’s own novels, A Dream of John Ball:

“…fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is hell: fellowship is life, and lack of fellowship is death….”

As I read the book and his thoughts about work, freedom, equality, and art, I couldn’t help but think about my last 7 years of work. In December, I started a full-time regular job at the BYU library. For the previous 7 years I was totally self employed doing all kinds of random things. Some of them were artsy, some just helped pay the bills. There was freedom and solitude, but also lots of stress; definitely a mixed bag. I wonder how Morris would have seen this period of time in my life.

The Craftsman

William Morris

from the book “William Morris: Craftsman–Socialist” by Holbrook Jackson:

“….Instead of the artist, as we now understand him, living a pampered or neglected life according to the measure of success he has obtained in making things which are complete in themselves and bearing only the slightest relationship to the activities of life, we shall have the craftsman. He will make things for use, which shall be so beautiful that any ornaments apart from them will be unnecessary. But the craftsman will not be an exclusive person like the artist; he will be the common worker, no longer the slave of a machine, but taking a joy in the work of his hands into which he weaves his vision of the world, and by which he expresses and interprets the wonder and mystery of life.”

After reading this, I can see why William Morris loved folk music.

Resurrecting an Old Archtop Guitar – part deux

It’s finished. And it actually works. Here’s a little ditty so you can hear it:

Archtop Ditty

Mom, modeling my newly resurrected archtop guitar

I have it set up with a sliding banjo capo and a high E string in place of the low E. It’s strung with flatwound strings because roundwound strings sound way too bright.

I love it! I’ll definitely be doing more recordings with this. I can still hear the 1957ness in it. (the year it was originally built)

Resurrecting an Old Archtop Guitar – part 1

Some months ago, I purchased a cheap, old archtop guitar. It’s a 1957 Harmony. It wasn’t in great shape, but I knew that this particular guitar was made with all solid woods. I also knew that I couldn’t afford to buy a new expensive guitar. And I don’t really want one anyway. I want to restore (and customize) this old thing!

It’s not quite finished, but I’m getting excited. Here are some photos of the project so far:

Acoustic Bass, Sonic Therapy

When I was a younger film student, I made a short documentary titled “Il Contrabasso.” It’s about Brady Ward, an acoustic bass player, and his thoughts about the instrument. Here’s the film (about 4 minutes long):

As Brady mentions in the film, the acoustic bass, and really all acoustic instruments, have a quality that is soothing and natural, almost healing. For me, the acoustic bass is sort of the epitome of acoustic-ness. You add that acoustic bass sound, and the whole recording is suddenly four times bigger, organic and rich.

I suppose most musicians who specialize in a particular instrument have an irrational love for their instrument. I remember my piano teacher looking at me and, in a sober tone, explaining what to her was a simple, obvious fact. She said, “You know Geoff, the piano is actually the most beautiful instrument ever invented.” And that was that. It wasn’t an opinion. And it certainly wasn’t to be argued with. It was as if this fact had been proven by irrefutable scientific study. The earth is round, not flat. And it really doesn’t matter what other instruments you play. The piano is the most beautiful. Period. (By the way, I kind of agree with her.)

I’d love to hear about your favorite instruments and why you love them. Even if it’s totally irrational.

Lucy’s Harp

Broken Harp

My daughter Lucy is learning to play the harp. She is, after all, a princess. Unfortunately, harps are very expensive. So I found a broken one for $200 and decided to try and fix it.

The harp was broken at the neck and my first attempt to fix it only held up for a month or so. That was just a quick fix, and it’s not too surprising that it didn’t hold. A harp like this exerts more than 1000 pounds of pressure on the neck.

So now I’m on attempt #2. This time, I’m reinforcing the break in the neck with some laminated hardwood. I also noticed some problems in how the neck/pillar joint was done (I don’t think it was glued), so I’ve taken it apart and will be re-doing that joint. I’ll post the results when I’m finished, hopefully along with some music from the resurrected harp.

Dancing Queen

This is a remake of ABBA’s superhit from the 1970’s. It’s a lot of fun to take a pop song, and “acousticize” it.

I’m a bass player, and I wanted to see how a tuba would work instead of a bass. It was kind of experimental, but strangely satisfying. My friend Tim Porter played the tuba in the key of B, which is pretty much the worst key for a tuba (I found out after I gave him the music).

Geoff Groberg: lead vocal, guitars.
Jonathon Wood: harmony vocals.
Tim Porter: Tuba.
Arranged, Engineered, and Produced by Geoff Groberg.

Stars Were Gleaming

Merry Christmas. Here’s a recording of my sweet little girls singing Stars Were Gleaming.

Stars Were Gleaming

Geoff Groberg: Guitars and Banjo.
Jennifer Groberg, Amanda Groberg, Lucy Groberg, Eira Groberg: Vocals.

Lucy and Amanda

Eira