Castlebay: Fred Gosbee and Julia Lane in Library Park, Bath, Maine. Credit: Martin Kummer. (Photo permission and courtesy of Castlebay.)
“I was majoring in indecision. I was an art major taking civil engineering courses,” he explained to me.
It was also done with great precision and finesse, two traits of solid workmanship that he has demonstrated throughout his life to date.
“As a supervisor, I couldn’t touch the tools. So I got a shopsmith as a sanity device. I started making guitars and got reintroduced to music.”
“For a joke, we did some country tunes: people went wild over them.”
Lurtsema, known to his adoring fans as “Robert J”, or “Lurtz”, opened the recording while on air. He played one track and sonorously commented that the music wasn’t bad and interesting enough to have him play another one, which he proceeded to do. This exposure helped launch Castlebay to a far wider audience. They began performing at festivals and concerts throughout New England, venturing to upstate New York and Washington, DC.
“‘I don’t play the harp’, she told him.
“‘Yes, you do’, Gordon said.’
She went home and mastered it. She has an uncanny memory,” Fred told me.
Since 1992, Castlebay has continued to excel in their composing, storytelling and performing. In the fall of that year, Julia won her third harp competition at the Stonehill College International Harp Competition. The prize was a trip to Scotland.
Fred and Julia have, as their web site states, “toured the Eastern U.S., Ireland, England and Scotland playing at festivals and arts centers, as well as on radio and television. The duo maintains a commitment to cultural education, exchanging music and lore with colleagues. They provide folklore and music programs for schools, museums, libraries and Elderhostels exploring Celtic lore and tradition throughout the eastern US and the British Isles.”
Twelve string guitar, which is made by Nick Appollonio. It has a wider neck and customized to Fred’s “gorilla hands”;
Genius, talent, passion for music, a can–do spirit and an infectious love of performing all have contributed to Fred and Julia’s success. I always knew, long ago in the 60s, that my friend was going to be an astonishing talent no matter where his gifts took him. He has seen and experienced terrible adversity, but he used it as fuel to achieve a dream of performing music for others.
In answering my last question about what insight he has acquired in looking over all of his years of performance, he left me with two statements to consider later on.
The first: “Julia and I have made a practice of saying, ‘Yes’. It’s been scary at times, but we have gone places we never would have with a more cautious approach.”
The second: “Learning to leave more space in playing.”
Sloane, Irving. Classic Guitar Construction: Diagrams, Photographs, and Step-by-Step Instructions. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1966. Print.
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