New website for Elliott Capos

Web DesignGreat product.

Great people.

When those things collide, the result is a business like Elliott Capos.

Elliott Capos are widely acclaimed as the best capo money can buy, and with good reason. They are designed by musicians for musicians. They are expertly crafted out of the best materials. They perform their function perfectly. And they look good doing it!

I’ve known Phil Elliott for years, and he always been the sort of person I could look up to. A genuinely nice guy, an accomplished musician, and a man of integrity.

When Phil contacted me about helping him with his website, I said yes without hesitation.

We started from the ground up, new domain and all. My friend Dave Carney took all the product photos and helped with organizing the entire project. Dave’s a pro and I always enjoy working with him.

The site includes product galleries displaying the beauty of the capos, detailed specs for each model, and a full featured online store for international ordering.

Check it out at


Sierra Hull: Mandolin DVD

Sierra Hull DVDSet to be released in March of 2010, the new Sierra Hull DVD, Secrets Songs & Tunes, is now available only through AcuTab Publications and directly from Sierra herself.

The project is a 2 disc instructional DVD set featuring instruction from one of bluegrass music’s brightest young stars. Sierra teaches the mandolin solos from her CD Secrets, as well as a few instrumental tunes she had previously recorded.

From the back cover of the DVD:

Sierra teaches these songs carefully and in great detail. She and John discuss each solo before it is demonstrated by an all-star band, and then she breaks it down, piece-by-piece. Even though a few of the solos are fairly difficult, the way she teaches puts them within the reach of most pickers.

Even at this relatively young age (we filmed 2 years ago and Sierra was only 16 at the time), Sierra proved to be a professional in the studio. Shooting this project was easy, due in large part to Sierra’s preparedness coming into the studio. She knew the material and went through it easily. Editing was made easy because, well…she just doesn’t make mistakes!

Here’s the trailer we put together for the finished product. Remember, the two disc set includes 4 hours of instruction!

Jim Van Cleve Fiddle DVD

Jim Van Cleve fiddle DVDRecently finished and just released, the new 2 disc fiddle instructional DVD from AcuTab Publications, Jim Van Cleve: become a more complete fiddler.

This two DVD set includes some great material on learning to find the melody in any key, transpose to another key, finding your place in the band, etc. And of course, Jim teaches several of his acrobatic tunes!


The product is available from AcuTab for $50.

New Site for Huber Banjos

In colaboration with John Lawless at AcuTab, we recently went live with a brand new website for banjo manufacturer, Steve Huber. We spent a lot of time in development, and we’re very pleased with the results of our labor. The site got a complete redesign from the ground up and now includes a fully functional online store.

Go give the site a look and if you’re a banjo player you just might find Steve has something you “need”!

The New

Live at Peaceful Bend

Pickin' At Peaceful BendRobin Kessinger, Robert Shafer & Mark Cosgrove: Live at Peaceful Bend was released back in the fall (of 2008), and I just never got around to blogging about it.

The DVD features a live performance by three guitarists who have all won the prestigious National Flatpicking Championship in Winfield, KS.

Robin Kessinger, Mark Cosgrove, and Robert Shafer combine their talents on 13 tunes, some traditional, some original. Here’s the press from the product page at

The National Flatpicking Guitar Championship, held each September since 1972 in Winfield, Kansas, is the most prestigious flatpicking event in the country. Every person who has won this event is a master guitarist of the highest order. In this concert performance DVD, filmed at the Peaceful Bend Americana Music Festival in Steelville, MO, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and SimpleFolk Productions present three of the National Flatpicking Guitar Championship’s most respected past champions: Robin Kessinger (1985 champ), Mark Cosgrove (1995 champ), and Robert Shafer (1983 and 2000 champ).

In this concert, these three masters of the acoustic guitar perform as a trio, and in different duo configurations. While the National Champions, in general, are known for their skills at flatpicking fiddle tunes, these three display their virtuosity and versatility in this concert by providing a variety of guitar instrumentals ranging from fast fiddle tunes, to slow waltzes, and tunes that highlight other various rhythms and styles from their vast repertoire. Guitar players will appreciate the left and right hand close-ups that are prevalent throughout this DVD.

There are a total of 13 tunes presented on this DVD:

Forked Deer
The Third Eyebrow
When You and I Were Young Maggie
Dorothy’s Waltz
Round Island
Angeline the Baker
Turkey in the Straw
Jerry in Jamaica
Good Morning Isaac
Sweet Bunch of Daisies
Sally Goodin’
Daley’s Reel
and Bill Cheathum

Included on the disc is a slideshow of photos taken over the course of the weekend, covering both the concert and the workshops and jams. You can purchase the DVD from Flatpicking Mercantile.

Here’s the trailer for the DVD.

Ron Block DVD

Ron Block - A Fresh Look At Bluegrass BanjoJust today we finished editing the new AcuTab DVD featuring Ron Block. The DVD is titled Ron Block – A Fresh Look At Bluegrass Banjo, and is available for purchase from AcuTab’s online store.

Shooting this DVD was a lot of fun. Ron is a great player, and a great person. He is very detail oriented and his DVD ended up being so long we had to decide between cutting out a bunch of stuff, or making it a two disc set. The discussion and material were so good we just couldn’t bring ourselves to cut much out, so we ended up with a two disc set that runs just over 3.5 hours in total length.

It includes nearly an hour of discussion between Ron and AcuTab’s John Lawless. Topics covered in the discussion include Ron’s background, influences, practice routine and tips, Ron’s unique take on positions and scales for banjo, dynamics, bends, tone and setup.

Following the discussion is 2.5 hours of Ron teaching, in detail, his breaks to seven songs from the Alison Krauss & Union Station repertoire.

To give you a taste of what it looks like, we put together this 5 minute trailer for the DVD set.

Adora Productions

Adora ProductionsLast year, my wife and I formed of a sister company to Clear Blue Productions. Adora Productions is a wedding movie production service. We’re based here in Pulaski of course, but we anticipate much of our work will be done in both Roanoke and the Christiansburg/Blacksburg areas of Virginia. We are willing to travel to further locations, but additional travel expenses will be applied beyond the normal pricing.

We plan to do only a limited number of wedding movies each year so as to not interfere with the production schedule here at the studio.

Our goal is produce wedding documentaries. This means we will focus on being unobtrusive and documenting what happens during the wedding day. This will include all the big things you expect to see in a wedding video, but might also include little moments we capture that the couple might never have seen otherwise.

We will be delivering the finished product on DVD of course, but also offering and iPod ready version for those that so desire.

We produced a number of wedding movies this summer and will soon begin booking for next year. You can view trailers of the completed wedding movies in our gallery.

We’re excited about working together on this new venture. Please visit Adora Productions and pass it along to anyone you know who might be interested.

New DVDs coming

We’ve been hard at work and have a number of new DVD releases in the works. Soon to be released is a new flatpicking DVD featuring three Winfield winners, a Ron Block banjo DVD from AcuTab, a Jim VanCleve fiddle DVD from AcuTab, a Sierra Hull mandolin DVD from AcuTab, and another Ron Stuart fiddle DVD from AcuTab.

We also have plans to film a couple more great things before the end of the year.

I’ll post about each of these projects as they are released in the coming couple of months.