Edris House-Palm Springs

TK Smith

This past weekend was the opening of Palm Springs Modernism Week. When we first moved to the desert, this event was a little weekend show based around modernist vendors selling their wares at the convention center over one weekend. Now its turned into two weeks consisting of the show the first weekend, plus hundreds of lectures, house and building tours, fashion shows, music events and parties celebrating and educating on the mid century architects and architecture that have made Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley famous worldwide. TK and I always try to attend at least one event. If you don’t choose early, everything sells out.

By the time we thought of it this year, we were thrilled that the tour of the Edris House by architect E. Stewart Williams still had openings. We have driven by and photographed the outside of the house many times. Its one of our favorite mid-century homes in Palm Springs. E. Stewart Williams, his father and brother made up the firm of William’s, William’s & William’s, and were responsible for many of the architectually significant buildings in Palm Springs and the surrounding area, most notably, Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate in 1947.

The Edris House, designed in 1953 for Marjorie and William Edris from Seattle, appears to rise from the rocky landscape. Its a great example of William’s philosophy that architecture should appear that it comes from the earth rather than being placed on it. Everything in the house is original with the exception of the carpeting and furniture. With the materials used in construction, including knotless Doug Fir, glass and local stone, it suits the lot perfectly. Fortunately, the current owners have done a great job of preserving the original condition and in 2004, the Edris house was designated a “Historic Building” by the Palm Springs City Council so it will always be protected from alteration.

New tours have been added if you can get to the desert. Check the Modernism Week website to see whats still available. There are many photos of this amazing home out there, but its always fun to take our own. Here’s a few that TK took during the tour.

Al Willis-Sixty Minute Man

It’s amazing that for someone like me who originally never wanted a cell phone and just started using email a few years ago, that we can ship a guitar to France and a few short days later get back a video of it’s new owner playing a great version of Sixty Minute Man. I really like Al’s picking style. There’s a lot of drive, I can almost hear an upright bass player and a snare drum with brushes in the background. Technology has made my world much smaller in a good way and introduced me to some pickers that I would have otherwise never known. Thanks Al for sharing!

Dan Nosovich-Sheik of Araby

A few weeks ago we sent a box down to Brisbane Australia that included two C.A.R. pickups, a custom pickguard, a chopped B-16 and one of my bridge bases. I got this great clip back in the mail this morning. Looks like Dan and his Dad did a nice tidy job of putting everything together.


TK Smith

If you’ve visited our site before, you may have noticed some changes around here. TK’s focus has shifted in the past four years from general fabrication to almost exclusively focusing on custom guitars, guitar parts and all that goes with the design and manufacturing process of these products. Therefore, we wanted our website to better reflect what our business is about today. With the help of our friend Ryan over at Atomic Industry and of course The Jalopy Journal, we’ve been able to do that. (Thanks Ryan!)

A few things that won’t change:

TK and team will continue using our vintage American made tools to fabricate the highest quality guitars and accessories, at times in our somewhat hillbilly methods, because we feel that made in America does matter and new is not always better. There are faster and cheaper ways to do things but that’s not who we are.

We will continue to share music from, and stories about some of the best players from today and yesterday, from all over the world, who continue to inspire us to be better at what we do and to keep practicing every day.

We will continue to share photos, stories and videos about architecture, art, cars, tools, other interests and the crazy and beautiful desert we live in because these are the things that make life interesting to us, and hope that you may find something interesting in these stories too. There really is no separation in our work/life so we share it all.

When you love what you do as much as TK does, it’s a gift to be able to go to a space everyday and create something with your hands that another guitar player gets to eventually enjoy for many years to come. You know the difference when you hold and play an instrument that has the soul of the maker in it. Thanks so much to everyone who stops by from time to time and for your comments and conversation!

The California Playboys

I saw this short film recently and really got a kick out of it. It’s great seeing all the old Fender guitars and amps. Thought some of you might like it too if you haven’t already seen it.

Monthly Motivation-Art Tatum Trio

Art Tatum

Of all the bands I wish I could have seen live, the Art Tatum Trio with Tiny Grimes and Slam Stewart is at the top of my list. They were only around for a couple of years, ’43 to ’45. I really like the contrast of Tiny’s playing against Art Tatum’s insanely fast and accurate improvisations. It wouldn’t have been an easy job for any guitar player and I think what Tiny plays fits perfectly.

Here’s one from the  EP above that I found years ago.

Art Tatum Trio Topsy

And here’s some great footage of them playing 52nd street at the Three Deuces Club, N.Y.C. Hope you dig it as much as I do.

My friend Tommy Harkenrider has some great instructional videos on youtube including this one on Tiny Grimes chording.

Monthly Motivation-Johnny Smith

TK Smith

I thought Johnny Smith would be appropriate for this month’s motivation.  His 1953 LP Moonlight in Vermont gets a lot of play around here.

 Johnny’s playing is so far over my head I rarely attempt to work any of it out, but years back I did work out his chord melody to Moonlight in Vermont. Of all the chops/licks I’ve stolen from my musical heroes, I’ve probably gotten the most mileage out of the seven bars below.

His chord voicing’s are a bit of a stretch at first but after doing them for a while they’ll start to feel natural. So if you want to sound like a jazzer, take the time to work this out, you’ll be glad you did. RIP Mr. Smith

TK Smith

Alexander Construction Co. Palm Springs, CA

TK Smith

We never get tired of driving around Palm Springs looking at mid-century architecture. Last week I was feeling un-inspired so once again, TK suggested we go take some photos of both the Twin Palms and Las Palmas neighborhoods. I don’t know if it’s the timeless beauty of the clean, simple architecture against the beautiful desert backdrop, or the thrill of standing in a strangers front yard taking photos of their house like a stalker, but  as always, it was a mood changer.

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