On The Maker’s Mark, Scottish guitarist Tony McManus melds two of his great passions, Celtic music and a series of some of the finest acoustic guitars being crafted today. It is an unparalleled mix as McManus’ playing, which has been called “faultless... atmospheric and evocative...” (BBC, Radio 2) with “ferocious technique” (The Herald, Scotland), meets its match in the form of fifteen expertly paired instruments, courtesy of North Carolina’s Dream Guitars shop.
Paul Heumiller, who brought his expertise to The Maker’s Mark, started Dream Guitars along with fingerstyle guitarist extraordinaire Martin Simpson, who is no longer involved with the operation. Their goal was to gather the finest guitars made by the top builders worldwide and offer them all in one place.
McManus takes this concept one step further by pairing these hand-made instruments with tracks ranging from much-loved and well-known Irish tunes (such as “The Maids of Michelstown” made famous by The Bothy Band), to Scottish airs and reels, and to the Spanish influenced piece “Chalaneru”.
An example of a musical/instrumental pairing is in the tenth track “Doïna/Parov’s Daichevo”. The first tune, written by Beton Fiddler Jacky Molard, was composed in a style of Romanian music most often compared to Blues, while the latter tune is a traditional Bulgarian piece.
The guitar chosen by McManus and Heumiller on this set is an Indian Rosewood Sitar Guitar made by Linda Manzer. A Canadian luther, Manzer has been making guitars for Pat Metheny for the past 25 years. Six flat bone saddle blocks allow the strings to vibrate individually, resulting in a sitar-like sound, earning it a nickname from McManus of “The Dehlicaster”.
"Few guitarists can present Celtic music with the gusto and nuance they possess when played on fiddles or bagpipes. Tony McManus is one of those few." - Acoustic Guitar Magazine
"The best Celtic guitarist in the world." - John Renbourn