Ken Lelen

Ken Lelen
Ken Lelen sings great American ragtime, jazz & swing and performs with vintage acoustic guitars for an authentic, back-in-the day sound.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2018  Concert  Schedule
Date        Community / Venue   —   Location            Concert Theme
Mar    3     Greenwood Lake Public Library             Tin Pan Alley Cats
                       Greenwood Lake NY — 845-477-8377
Apr   14     Rodgers Memorial Library                     Big Band Idols
                       Hudson NH — 603-886-6030
Apr   24     Shannondell-Ashcroft, Audubon PA        Torch Song Embers
May  19      Cross Keys Village, New Oxford PA         He Did It His Way
June   6      Oaks, Orangeburg SC                              T B A
June   8      Lake Prince Woods, Suffolk VA               He Did It His Way
June  12      Widows & Widowers Club, Monroe NJ    Big Band Idols
July     9     Havenwood, Concord NH                        In The Mood
July   12     Arbors, Manchester CT                            She Did It Her Way
Sep   26     Greendale Men's Club, Worcester MA      T B A
Oct   29      Shannondell-Bradford, Audubon PA        Tin Pan Alley Cats
Nov  10      Oaks, Orangeburg SC                               T B A
Nov   28      Heath Village, Hackettstown NJ                   Torch Song Embers

                                          ©  2018 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 30, 2017

2017     Concert Schedule           —         FINAL
Date           Community / Venue   —   Location              Concert Theme
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Feb       23         Pine Run, Doylestown PA                                            When Love Was Nifty
         Mar        2          Friends Village, Woodstown NJ                                   Juke Joint Jive
         Mar       11         Old Bridge Library, Old Bridge NJ                               Juke Joint Jive
         Mar       24         Luther Crest, Allentown PA                                         Vintage Guitars + Songs
         Mar       28         Jeffersons Ferry, South Setauket NY                          Big Band Idols
         Mar       30         Bronxville Library, Bronxville NY                       —         She Did It Her Way
         Apr          8         Chesterfield Cnty Library, Chester VA                       Tin Pan Alley Cats
         Apr        10         Cypress Club, Raleigh NC                                          Sunny Side of the Street
         Apr        15         Denville Public Library, Denville NJ                           Big Band Idols
         Apr        18         Bergenfield Library, Bergenfield NJ                           Juke Joint Jive
         Apr        25         Shannondell - Bradford, Audubon PA               —         He Did It His Way
         Apr        26         Springhill, Erie PA                                            —         She Did It Her Way
         May      18          Arbors, Manchester CT                                               Sunny Side of the Street
         Jun         8          Monroe Senior Center, Monroe Twp NJ                       Tin Pan Alley Cats
         Jun         9          Lake Prince Woods, Suffolk VA                                  Great American Cabaret
         Jun       13         The Oaks, Orangeburg SC                                  —         He Did It His Way
         Aug          7         West Milford Library, West Milford NJ                —         She Did It Her Way
         Aug       17         Bristol Public Library, Bristol CT                                Love Builds Better World
         Sep       21         Friends Village, Woodstown NJ                                   Sunny Side of the Street
         Sep       22         Luther Crest, Allentown PA                                         Sunny Side of the Street
         Oct        15         Reed Memorial Library, Carmel NY                            Juke Joint Jive
         Oct        16         Friends of Enfield Library, Enfield CT                        Folksong Boomers
         Oct        17         Plymouth Library, Plymouth MA                                 Great American Cabaret
         Oct        18         Greendale Mens Club, Worcester MA                 —         She Did It Her Way
         Oct        19         Wilmington Library, Wilmington MA                           Tin Pan Alley Cats
         Oct        20         Halifax Council on Aging, Halifax MA                         Spooky Side of the Street
         Oct        23         Jeffersons Ferry, South Setauket NY                          Juke Joint Jive
         Oct        30         Shannondell - Ashcroft, Audubon PA                                                   Great American Cabaret
         Nov         1         Springhill, Erie PA                                                      Radio Ramblers
         Nov         8         Cypress Club, Raleigh NC                                           Great American Cabaret
         Nov         9         Bermuda Village, Advance NC                                    Great American Cabaret
         Nov       11         The Oaks, Orangeburg SC                                           Great American Cabaret
         Nov       15         Meadowood, Lansdale PA                                            Great American Cabaret
         Nov       29         Heath Village, Hackettstown NJ                                   Broadway Song Mementos
         Dec         1         Monroe Senior Center, Monroe Twp NJ               —         Juke Joint Jive

                                          ©  2017 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mississippi John Hurt’s Emory Reappears
                  © 2017  — Kenneth Lelen - All Rights Reserved

                        Luthier Darrell Guinn and c. 1910 Emory guitar played by
                        Mississippi John Hurt at Newport Folk Festival, July 1963.
The long-lost Emory acoustic guitar, played by Mississippi John Hurt for two legendary sets at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1963, has been found alive and well in Upcountry South Carolina.

Its whereabouts unknown since 2001, the guitar is now owned by Darrell Guinn, a 62-year-old luthier in Greer SC. In May he found the rosewood-bodied, grand concert-sized instrument among a stash of guitars stored in his shop.

“The guitar is in the same condition that it was when I received it around 17 or 18 years ago from a gentleman in his 70s,” Guinn said. “He was from up north and had moved to North Carolina to retire. When he left it with me he said, ‘See what you can do with it.’

“When I tried to contact him to give him some options on what to do, the [telephone] number didn't work, and he never contacted me since,” Guinn said. “It's been stored in its case in my shop all these years.”

After he inspected the guitar, Guinn began an internet search for info on Emory guitar. That led him to an article, “Mississippi John Hurt and the Emory guitar,” in a March 13, 2015 posting at Vintage Music Concerts 

                                                                                                               Photo: © John Byrne Cooke
  Mississippi John Hurt and c. 1910 Emory guitar at  Newport Folk Festival in July 1963.
In the article he found photos of the very same Emory that he discovered in his shop — a black and white photo of Hurt playing the guitar in 1963 as well as a color photo made in the late 1990s of an artist's model with the guitar.

“I noticed the lines and cracks on the top are identical to mine,” Guinn said. “I believe I have the guitar that was loaned to John to play at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 and thought you would want to know it is still around.”

After Newport, the Emory guitar disappeared
John Hurt borrowed the deep-bodied rosewood and spruce guitar for his 1963 Newport gig from its owner, musicologist Tom Hoskins. For the next 35 years its whereabouts were unknown. In the 1990s Hoskins left it with a friend, Neal Harpe, an artist and guitar dealer in Annapolis MD.

"Hoskins led a life very close to the edge, especially during the last years of his life," Harpe said. "I had it for a couple years in the 1990s, then one day Hoskins came by the house and retrieved it. It was unplayable at the time I had it, but I remember playing it quite a few times back in the mid-sixties. It was a really great sounding guitar."

                                                                                                                                           Photo: Neil Harpe
                                     A late 1990s photo shows an artist's model holding the Emory guitar played by John Hurt in July 1963.
While safeguarding the Emory, Harpe took photos. In one, a model held it so Harpe could paint a portrait of a guitar player. The Emory in this photo (above) has the same top cracks, edge binding and ivory block at the 16th fret as the guitar Guinn found in his shop (below).

                                                                                                                                                    Photo: Darrell Guinn
                             Front body of the Emory guitar luthier Darrell Guinn found in his shop in May 2017. To raise the
                             set up, the original bridge received a second piece of ebony between the pyramids, Guinn said.

After Hoskins died in 2001, the guitar disappeared. Some thought it went to Hoskins' sister in Georgia. Others said it went to Hurt's granddaughter, Mary Frances Hurt Wright, who called her grandfather "Daddy John."

However, according to blues aficionado and author Philip Ratcliffe, the Emory guitar was stolen. "[Hoskins’] Emory guitar was stolen from his trailer in Tallahassee FL after he died there, along with his TV and some other stuff," said Ratcliffe, author of "Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues" (2011, Univ. Press of MS).

Today, John Hurt’s Emory guitar has loud, deep sound
While John Hurt’s Emory guitar has seen better days, today it possesses a loud, deep sound, very good tone and projects well, according to Guinn.

“There are moisture cracks everywhere, but they’re not open,” he said. “They all were cleated and repaired a long, long time ago.”

Considering its age, the guitar is structurally sound, he said. The neck was reset some time ago and a shim placed under the fingerboard tongue. The action is low and the neck straight, though it has a pronounced V profile.

“It has its original machines with brass plate and ivory button tuners and its original case with decals,” he said. “It probably has an original bridge, though a piece was added to raise it up.”

Original tuning machines with brass plate and ivory buttons on Hurt's Emory guitar.
Guinn said he found 1166 stamped across the top edge of this guitar's headstock.
The John Hurt Emory owned by Guinn is stamped 1166 on the top edge of the headstock. Also visible are the letters EMORY inlaid in an ivory block across the fingerboard's 16th fret.

The only other Emory guitar known to exist is owned by Belgium artist and craftsman Dick Stallaert. This instrument was fully described in the March 13, 2015 article at Vintage Music Concerts.

Stallaert's Emory guitar is stamped 1210 on the top edge of the headstock and also has an ivory hexagonal block on the fingerboard. However, the letters EMORY are inlaid at the 17th fret of Stallaert’s guitar.

Guinn said years ago he wrote a letter to vintage guitar expert George Gruhn asking for info on the Emory guitar. “He said he never heard of it.”


John Hurt's Emory Guitar — Measurements & Materials
SOURCE: Darrell Guinn

                 Upper bout                             —      10-3/8 in.
                 Waist Width                                    8-3/8 in.
                 Lower Bout Width                    —      14-1/2 in.
                 Body length                                  19-1/2 in.
                 Scale length                            —      25 inches
                 Body depth @ neck heel                  3-7/8 in.
                 Body depth @ end block                  4-9/16 in.
                 Sound hole diameter                       3-1/2 in.

                 Neck Wood              —     mahogany
                 Back and sides         —     rosewood
                 Top wood                —      spruce
                 Top bracing             —      lateral bracing and wide V brace
                                                       that straddles the bridge plate
                                                       and terminates at the end block
                 Fingerboard             —      ebony
                 Frets                            refretted with small banjo frets
                 Tuners                           3+3 on brass plate and ivory buttons
                 Bridge                          two-piece ebony—original + addition
                 Hard shell case         —     original to guitar

                Serial Number          —     1166 on headstock's top edge
                Inlaid ivory block      —     16th fret of ebony fingerboard

© 2017  — Kenneth Lelen - All Rights Reserved