Thanks so much again to Bud Fulginiti, for sharing his great photos.
Archive for the ‘Trigger’ Category
Bigger Trigger, at Charlie’s, Pa’ai, Maui, Hawaii
“With my arrival here on Maui in 1980 I started making string instruments. Sometimes I have a rough idea of what instrument I am going to make while at other times I let the creative flow take me some place new. My belief is that every instrument takes a musician to a particular musical mental place. This place is important to me and I love finding new locations.
All my creations are hand made without power tools. This translates into weeks of sanding and gluing. As part of this journey I built the biggest guitar in the world for the famous person “Willie Nelson”. The guitar named; BIGGER TRIGGER; is 12 feet long and weighs 170pounds”
Moving Bigger Trigger
The idea of a guitar under a spotlight being photographed brought to mind a very special memory of mine. After a show in Easton, Pa., Willie Nelson was greeting friends back stage. There were the usual fans who had won the opportunity from a radio station, friends of friends, some relatives, Randall Tex Cobb, and the executives from the Martin Guitar Co. who were there trying to “recreate” or maybe even duplicate Willie’s Trigger.
Now, those of us who have been to many Willie concerts, and have been backstage and on the bus, know that the minute Willie finishes playing, Trigger is whisked off, put into a special case and guarded. Not this night.
I remember being backstage watching Willie so graciously signing everything from bandannas to old records that were handed to him by the adoring fans. He was off to the side, because, sitting in the center of the stage, on a little guitar stand (like the one in our music room holding my son’s guitar) was Trigger. The spotlights were on it. The men from Martin were busy photographing it. If anyone was guarding it, I couldn’t tell because I got really close to it and took pictures also. Finally, my turn with Willie came so we asked him what was going on.
He said that the guys from Martin were trying to duplicate Trigger and they were wondering how, after all these years, it managed to sound so good with that dang hole in it. I don’t remember if Martin tried to duplicate the guitar with the hole or not, and I don’t know if they ever did. I do know that Willie had one eye on Trigger and the other on the things he was signing. I think there was a grand photo session with Willie and the guitar etc. But sharpest in my memory was that of a lone guitar sitting there with the spotlight shining on it and me thinking of how Willie had just been entertaining us with it and how he can make that baby sing, especially 1/2 hour into the show and beyond. Anyone who has ever heard Willie live will know this fact. He is an awesome guitar picker!
June 21, 2012
Willie’s story hasn’t changed much of late; as long as Trigger, his totemic Martin model N-20 nylon-stringed guitar, makes the show, so will the man who has ridden it for the past 40-plus years. Nelson has long ruminated that he would close the book on his performing days once his beloved guitar becomes unplayable, and while his golden voice can still sing babies to sleep, the same can’t be said for Trigger’s tone.
One look at the gaping hole in the soundboard just below the sweet spot on the strings might lead one to believe that that day when Nelson will hang his hat up might come sooner rather than later. It’s no coincidence that the hole has appeared over the decades right where a pick guard would be on most guitars, but classical guitars are designed for fingerstyle. True to Nelson’s outlaw nature, his flat-picking has chipped away at Trigger over time.
At 79, Nelson’s playing is as fluid and precise as ever, but the best sound he can coax from Trigger remains clunky and muted. Those shortcomings were greatly obscured the last time Nelson came through the Triad as Asleep At the Wheel, arguably the finest band in all of country/western, backed him up. This time, however, every excruciating note was perceptible against the barebones arrangement of harmonica, piano, drums and upright bass (with Dan “Bee” Spears’ absence deeply felt).
It hurts a little at first to hear something to which Nelson has placed his faith in for so long start to fail him, but after a while it becomes clear how its damaged tone draws the fragile essence out of ballads like “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground” or “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain.” Nelson’s shuns the dull glow of the Nashville establishment as he rarely plays a song the same way twice, interjecting a string of chords where a verse should be or shifting tempos mid-song, all while frustrating the hell out of the most inebriated in the crowd who slurred away the words to “Jambalaya On the Bayou” a half step ahead of Nelson.
His interpretations are always adventurous, but the set list itself is guaranteed to be anything but. There’s no need to wager a guess at what he opened the 90-minute set with; “Whiskey River” has played that role for years now. His post-Toby Keith collaboration shows always include “Beer for My Horses” as a gesture to those still holding onto the distorted belief that Nelson is simply a country artist. A distinctly jazzy reading of “Georgia On a Fast Train,” along with a lounge-inspired take on “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” suggested that “songwriter,” or perhaps “badass” is a more appropriate genre for Nelson.
These days with Willie, you pretty much know what you’re going to get; it’s how you’re getting it that’s the surprise, and hopefully Nelson’s happy trails with his trusty Trigger are far from over.
Another amazing video by Andrew Shapter and his team.
“My painting of Willie Nelson’s guitar ‘Trigger’ from a photo by Andrew Shapter.
The photograph is fascinating; it seems as if Willie’s hand and guitar are carved from the same material, the man and the guitar become one instrument.”
– Michael David Peschka
Another amazing video by Andrew Shapter and his team.