Monthly Archives: April 2008

Where we went, what we saw

Courtesy of John Holbo, here’s an amazing piece of art from an 1857 book. The thumbnail doesn’t do it justice — better to click through to the full size image and toggle to the zoomed-in view:

Where we went, what we saw

My Last cruise

Where we went, what we saw

Being an account of visits to the Malay and Loo-Choo Islands, the coasts of China, Formosa, Japan, Kamtschatka, Siberia, and the mouth of the Amoor River.

By A. W. Habersham of the U.S. Navy.

You can also read or print out the book online at at Google Publisher. The high-res scan here is by John, and it’s a lot sweeter.

swashbuckling interview on

Kevin Casper of LoveToKnow has posted an interview with me in the guitar section there:

Just when you thought you had heard everything the guitar had to say, a modern swashbuckler uncovers a plan for reviving historical guitar music. Los Angeles-based guitarist and folk music historian Lucas Gonze uses the internet to travel back in time to the pre-recording era of American popular music. Gonze visits the dusty corners of virtual libraries to rediscover the compositions of the19th century on a mission to both subvert stifling internet copyright laws and to bring life to forgotten musical artifacts that have been silenced for over 100 years. LTK Guitar sat down with Gonze to discuss the origins of his unique project and to learn how he adeptly brings this compelling music to life on the guitar.

This came about because he saw me play a gig and thought it would make a good article for guitar players.

Link: (PDF).

Alvin and Lucille *new and improved*

I have hooked up a page on this site for my Alvin and Lucille jazz act. I wanted to give the music a home outside of the Myspace page, which never really got traction.

The best new features are:

  1. The MP3 player works.
  2. Better support for remixers via lossless (AIFF) versions of the parts in isolation.
  3. FLAC and Vorbis versions of the songs.
  4. Flickr slideshow.

To listen you’ll have to click over to the page.

“Must I, Then” -> “Muss I Denn”

In a comment on Must I, Then, Jim N posted that:

From a folksong book my grandfather gave me, I know that this is based on a German song, “Muss I Den”.

Here’s the german tune:

That’s definitely the same song. Good shot, Jim.

But what about the title? Google translate tells me that “Muss I denn” means “I have since” in English, not “Must I, then.” “Must I, then” must have become the title because it sounds the same. Maybe it was misheard by an English speaker who thought it was English.

And actually my favorite part of this song is the title. “Must I, Then” is a great name for a song.

byrondolin double neck

I ran across a 190? flyer for The Byron Troubadours : novelty musical entertainers that included a cool Led Zeppelin-esque instrument — a double-neck combo of a guitar and a mandolin — which was called the “byrondolin.”

The Byron Troubadours, who were also known as the Magnolia Quintette, doing a multi-jam:


Jimmy Page doing a mega-jam:

Jimmy Page with double-neck Gibson

So how about that byrondolin?

about the byrondolin

For more boss historical instruments, check out

Ella Waltz

MP3: Lucas Gonze with Gibson L3Lucas Gonze — Ella Waltz

This post is a recording of the composition Ella Waltz by D.E. Jannon, which was published in 1854.

It is the third of a set of three waltzes by D.E. Jannon. I have also blogged recordings of Amy Waltz and Carrie Waltz. I don’t consider the series finished because I want to redo the Amy one, but who knows whether I’ll really come up with a better version in the end. It takes a ton of practice and a lot of trial and error with the arrangement to make one of these recordings, and I have other tunes that I want to move on to.

As I was learning the 3 waltzes I made up a back story for them. In my imagination they are named after D.E. Jannon’s three daughters. They are ordered from oldest to youngest. Amy is a teenager, Ella is a little kid, Carrie is in-between. Amy is going through a phase where she is hustling all the time and in a hurry to get away from her parents. Ella has been falling down, dropping things, running into stuff, and generally being accident prone. Carrie is moderate in all things.

The original writing on this tune had dead spots, places where the writing was thin or weak and needed fixing, so I rewrote many of the parts. My version isn’t as simple as the original, which is a loss, but it sounds better.

By the way, I got the name of this tune slightly wrong while I was working, and even though I corrected it in the end some of the metadata and file names are wrong. Right: Ella. Wrong: Emma.

These recordings are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license per my boilerplate licensing statement.

This blog entry is a repost from my tech blog, where I was putting music before I created this blog.

Ogg Vorbis: Lucas Gonze — Ella Waltz

spirit rappings

Lucas Gonze – Spirit Rappings (mp3)

Spirit Rappings (title page)

August 20, 1852, Wednesday

Page 2 of the New York Times

Mr. ORVILLE HATCH, of Franklin, Conn., has become insane, he having devoted considerable attention to the subject of Spirit Rappings. Mr. HATCH is a farmer, and has been instrumental in introducing many important improvements in agriculture into the town in which he resides.

Madame Pamita, whose performances involve both spiritualism and really old American music, sent me a pointer to sheet music for an 1854 tune called “Spirit Rappings”, presumably because it’s a great number for Halloween. This post is my version of it.

Since I did a vocal part for once, the mix has the guitar and vocal parts hard panned to left and right so you can pull out the singing and do karaoke.

This recording is under a Creative Commons ShareAlike-Attribution 2.0 license. See also my boilerplate copyright statement.

Ogg Vorbis version: Lucas Gonze – Spirit Rappings (vorbis)

This blog entry is a repost from my tech blog, where I was putting music before I created this blog.


I needed a pair of shoes aside from sneakers or work boots for the musical act, which is old-time to an extreme, so I went out looking for 19th century clothes on the net. After digging around for a while I ended up in the civil war reenanctment scene, which is oriented towards people dressing up in oldy clothes like Confederate army outfits.

I decided that I liked a style called a brogan, which is antique looking but not pansy, and after surfing a bunch of sites ended up buying a pair of brogans from a site called Fall Creek Sutler. The site seemed a bit dicey, just not very organized or slick, and designed in the style of the early web, so I was a little leery about sending them money. All the sites in this vein are like that, though — small operations with roots in the old mail-order business, no credit cards accepted — and the shoes were priced decently at $100, so I printed out the order form and mailed it in with a check.

The order took a while to arrive, but this was in line with the site’s promise of 4-6 weeks to delivery. And all the other stuff I ordered was there and in good shape.

Out of the box the shoes were way cool. Brutally simple, no ornamentation at all. Straight up leather with nothing synthetic in any way. Soles stuck on with small wooden pegs. Ultra soft on your feet. Big and roomy. The best thing is that they don’t have the reverse left/right symmetry of modern shoes. They’re perfectly straight instead, so that they look almost like I have my shoes on backwards.

Here’s what they look like:

One thing I didn’t like about them was that I ordered them with metal heel plates to make the leather soles last longer and the heel plates turned out to be insanely loud. I walked the dog in my quiet residential neighborhood and the clicking sound really bugged me.

So I took them to a shoe repair place in my neighborhood. The place I went to is called Maya Shoe Repair. It’s a tiny storefront with an award on the wall from a shoe repair convention in 1972. I asked the guy to take off the heel plates and put on rubber soles. $38. Coulda been worse. Buying another pair would have been more expensive, and ordering the heel plates was my own fault.

When I picked them up the shoe guy was blown away. The style is obviously very unique. The shoes are crazy wide — officially EEE and in practice more like EEEEE. And he was in awe of the workmanship. Completely handmade. Good quality leather. Solid stitching.

Even though I had to get some insoles to make them fit, the store threw them in for free, and the guy cut them to fit. Nice guy.

Anyhow, the whole experience was a little over the top as far as buying a new pair of shoes goes, I could have spent 20 minutes in any mall and still gotten something decent, but these are badass and feel great. Plus they’ll give the stage act a bit more style.