Everyone A Gibsonite

Promotional photo for 1921 Gibson Mandolin Company "Catalog M". Ivers Mandolin Orchestra/Adams Plectrum Society, Adams, Massechusetts.

Members I can identify: Center Middle Row: Joseph Ivers, Orchestra leader, Gibson Mandolin Company Agent,and my Great Grandfather, Center Left Holding a Gibson F-4 Mary Ivers-Bassette, my Great Grandmother, Back Row from left: Leonore Ivers-Carmel, my Great Aunt, George Ivers, my Grandfather, Sitting in front, white dress, Doris Ivers-Hueston, my Great Aunt.

Page 21 Gibson Mandolin Catalog M: See right side second photo from bottom

Page 21 Gibson Mandolin Catalog M: See right side second photo from bottom
I recently discovered that this photo of my Great grandfather's Mandolin Orchestra appears on page 21 of the Gibson "M" catalog, published in 1921, confirming my theory that he (Joseph L. Ivers) was a Gibson "teacher-agent" or dealer, and that this photo was part of the "Everyone a Gibsonite" marketing campaign. Some of these instruments are still owned and played by Ivers family members. For example, my father Robert Ivers still plays the 1914 F4 in the center played by my Great Grandmother Mary Ivers in this photo. He also owns a 1921 H2 Mandola, no doubt pictured brand spanking new somewhere in this photo. I would love to try to contact other family members to see where some of these other instruments ended up.

Water Color "Grandfather's Mandolin" by Robert Ivers of Gibson F-4 #24532

Water Color "Grandfather's Mandolin" by Robert Ivers of Gibson F-4 #24532
Water Color Of My Great Grand Father's F4 painted by my Father, Robert Ivers. Look !!!!!!! Notice unintended ghost image of my Great Grandfather Joseph Ivers in upper left !

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Got To Play a Bit With My Father a Few Weeks Ago

I did my annual August visit with my parents and my sister at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, New York, where they have been spending their summers for years. I always enjoy some mandolin playing time with my father on these visits. This year I flew with the 1914 F4 Mandolin and the 1921 H2 Mandola. (both instruments well documented on this BLOG)  I thought it might be cool to play some stuff together with me on the mandola, and dad on the mandolin.

I guess I was taking a bit of a chance with TSA. I've heard the stories. But I decided to go for it, and I checked both instruments in their cases inside a sturdy flight case that began it's life as a keyboard case but now has worked well for me as a flight worthy guitar case and now a great flight case that fits both the F4 and the H2 in their respective cases. No problems in either direction with direct Jet Blue flights to and from Buffalo from Ft Lauderdale.

It was worth the effort just to see my dad's smile when he picked up and played the F4 for the first time in more than 6 or 7 years since he gave me the mandolin to look after. It was like being reunited with a long lost friend.

We played mostly fiddle tunes; Whisky Before Breakfast, Saddle the Pony, and The Irish Washerwomen were the best, with my dad reading the mandolin notation, and me interpreting or transposing mandolin tablature of the same songs. What seemed to work best after some trial and mostly error, was using a capo on the second fret of the mandola, to get some great harmony between the 2 instruments.

So, historically it was pretty cool because it was probably the first time in many years (since the 1920's?)  members of the Ivers family played these two instruments together. It was an awesome experience I will cherish forever!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mini Art Festival: Robert Ivers One Man Show

My dad, Robert Ivers, (grandson of JL Ivers mandolin teacher, orchestra leader, and Gibson Mandolin Sales agent) is always evolving as a mandolin player. I recently got word that he presented what he called a "Mini Art Festival" to a group of Elmira, New York area artists he meets with regularly on Friday mornings. It was a one man show, and he presented a new painting, read some poetry, and of course, played Mandolin.. "Mini Art Festival" Awesome.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tour of Elmira Continues: Dr. “Chic”, The 2 Bobs and a Gal

The tour of Elmira, New York continues
This photo just in from my father who played this morning with his Elmira based group, "Dr. “Chick”, The 2 Bobs and a Gal" a name given to them by the activities director at the Skilled Nursing Unit at St. Josephs Hospital in Elmira, New York. They presented an Italian themed program. Columbus day is coming up!
From left to right: Bob Melnick on accordion, Tony Ciccariello on accordion, (who indecently was my dentist when I was a kid) Carrie Hopper on vocals, She has been blind from birth and is an accomplished musician and linguist. She has performed at many venues throughout the Southern Tier, and teaches Italian and German at Elmira College. And of course my father Bob Ivers on Mandolin. They've been performing for the patients and residents at this facility for 10 years, They return several times a year to entertain at this facility with seasonal themed shows.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Whiskey Before Breakfast With My Father

Visited my parents recently at Lake Chautauqua, Chautauqua , NY and played some mandolin with my father on the front porch on a rainy afternoon. You can hear the thunder in the background. Whisky Before Breakfast. I'm still struggling a bit to learn the tune, but my father had no problem sight reading it right away. We played nice and slow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mandolin Orchestra Festival in San Francisco

Click this Link for the Story from San Francisco Classical Voice

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists

An announcement about the formation of a new organization from a 1902 issue of  The Music Trade Review trade publication:
The American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists, (AGBMG) is an organization whose membership is intended to include music publishers, manufacturers and teachers of these three instruments, was formally launched at a meeting held at Hotel Marliave, Boston, on Jan. 23. A number of the men well known in these departments were present.
The organization, which has been in process of incubation for the past two years, has been persistently agitated by C. L. Partee through columns of his interesting paper, The Cadenza. It was only last week, however, that the plans, so long formulated, were put into effect.
The objects of the guild as set forth are to further advance the interests of the instruments named, in their literature, music and manufacture; to set the standard of competence and establish a higher average of ability among those desiring to teach; to provide a bureau of acknowledged authority on instruments and their study and to conduct examinations and grant diplomas throughout the United States.
The organization went on to publish both The Cadenza and The Crescendo. Boston publisher Walter Jacobs founded The Cadenza, and Philadelphia teacher and publisher Herbert Forrest Odell started The Crescendo as the official organ of the Guild of Mandolinists, Banjoists and Guitarists. Both magazines included group arrangements, columns by leading musicians, news and advertisements for sheet music and instruments. Odell also published a 90 page manual in 1913 called “The Mandolin Orchestra, A Book for Directors Managers, Teachers, and Players” 
(I’m still searching for a copy of this publication)

From its humble beginnings in 1902, the AGBMG grew into an organization of thousands of members, and hundreds of local chapters in the United States and Canada. During their 1923 annual convention held in Washington, DC, members were invited to perform at the Whitehouse.

Here’s a news clip from the Adams Transcript (1921) announcing the formation of the Adams Mass. Chapter of  
The American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists. My great grandfather J L Ivers is the founding chapter secretary and musical director. Also mentioned are my great grandmother as a founding “executive board member”, and  my grandfather George Ivers as the organization's first treasurer. You might say my great grandfather took control of the chapter from the start, appointing himself as Chapter Secretary, his son, in charge of the money, and his wife on the “executive board.” The purpose of the society is, “to advance the art of music and to encourage the cultivation of musical talent, particularly among players of the various fretted instruments, and to furnish means whereby the people interested may meet in a spirit of co-operation and promote good fellowship.” A lofty goal, but also, I’m sure, as with any of my great grandfather’s efforts in this arena, JL Ivers was strongly motivated by the prospect of moving more Gibson product, and developing and marketing financially successful musical groups. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Another Ivers Gibson Mandolin Orchestra Photo Turns Up at Montreal Quebec Antique Market

Update on the above mentioned photo: Ward Meeker, Vintage Guitar Magazine editor was nice enough to put me touch with the gentleman who sent the photo to George Gruhn for the Q&A column.  Turns out the photo was purchased at an antique market near Montreal, Quebec /Canada. So the photo made it's way from Lawrence, Mass. to Montreal. Not at all surprising, as my great grandmother's family moved to Lawrence from Montreal. (she's pictured here holding the A Model next to my great grandfather holding the F Model)  Also, the young lad holding the A Model in the front row is more than likely my grandfather George Ivers who later married a French Canadian woman. Small world. And a real fluke for me to learn of this existence of this photo. Thanks to Roland Lafrance for finding the photo, and sending the picture to Vintage Guitar Magazine. Also, thanks to Ward Meeker VG editor, and Greorge Gruhn for their follow up. It's and honor and privilege to have these esteemed giants of the vintage fretted instrument industry take the time to help with this.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Newly Discovered Photo of a JL Ivers Mandolin Orchestra From 1916

This morning, a Co-worker gave me copy of the latest Vintage Guitar Magazine (July 2015) . In the Q&A with George Gruhn column, a reader asks about the origin of a picture he found at an antique market with the caption "The Gibson Mandolin Orchestra Lawrence, Mass 1916".

George Gruhn explains "From the early 1900's through early '20s, mandolin orchestras were extremely popular, in part because Gibson instruments were sold primarily through music teacher/Gibson agents, rather than music stores. Gibson established a network of agents who organized mandolin orchestras, recruited students, and sold Gibson instruments on payment plans, which greatly increased sales and meant instruments could be sold at higher prices. The company even sent posters to agents so they could hang them around their town promoting concerts and other events where they could recruit students. (and potential Gibson instrument buyers) In addition to publishing instruction methods for students and manuals for teachers, Gibson catalogs from the 1910s and '20s are filled with photos of mandolin groups from all over the US. Though we don't believe your photo (see below) is such an example, a photo showing the same instructor/Gibson agent- Joseph Ivers appeared in Gibson's 1921 catalog.

Here's the picture. (I'm working on acquiring a higher resolution copy)
This is a really cool discovery for a lot of reasons. Through research I've done, I knew my great grandfather was a Gibson agent while he lived in Adams (now North Adams) Mass, from around 1920 and later, but only guessed or wondered about his relationship with Gibson prior to 1920. I knew we had a 1914 F-4 that was his (well documented in the blog, maybe pictured here, and definitively pictured in the arms of my great grandmother Mary Ivers in the 1921 "Everyone A Gibsonite" catalog photo at the beginning of this blog) but wasn't aware of any professional relationship he may have had with Gibson in the years he lived in Lawrence before he moved to Adams in 1919. With the discovery of this picture I know for sure he was a Gibson agent as early as 1916. My great grandfather is pictured here in the center with an F model, probably my great grandmother with an A model next to him, and I'm guessing my grandfather or maybe one of my great uncles with an A model in front of him. My father believe the boy pictured is his father/my grandfather George Ivers.

Thanks to the Vintage Guitar Magazine reader who found the picture and sent it to the magazine. Thanks also to George Gruhn for taking the time to answer the reader's question. Special thanks to Vintage Guitar Magazine editor Ward Meeker for sending me the picture.

Here's a cropped high resolution version.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

More Clips From Adams Transcript referencing The Ivers- Gibson Mandolin Club. January 1921

Here are some clips from the Adams Transcript Jan.8. 1921, Adams, Massachusetts.
First is an advertisement announcing a concert to take place on Jan. 9, 1921 at the the Renfrew Community House. My great grandfather J L Ivers was a manger at the Renfrew Mill, and I'm sure made good use of the Renfrew "community house." as a venue for concerts, and to showcase Gibson mandolin family instruments.

Then another clip on the same newspaper page, announces some of the program details for the Jan. 9 1921 concert, including of some of pieces to be performed, the instrumentation, and the performers, including my great grandfather JL Ivers mandolin orchestra leader, music teacher, and Gibson mandolin sales agent. The clip also includes a reference to my grandfather George Ivers, and one of his sisters, my great aunt Leanore Ivers. Interesting to me that the Gibson name is used to describe one of ensembles; Ivers-Gibson Mandolin Club. The program had an interesting mix of both group and individual performances including a mandolin solo by my great grandfather, and a trio of my great grand father, grand father and great aunt , and even a Mando-cello solo!

A little research I dug up on some of the above mentioned songs from this Jan 9 1921 program:

"The Flying Wedge" This I found on the Montana Mandolin Society website:
The Flying Wedge-
Kate Dolby Along with the waltz, quadrille, and polka, a dance called the galop (spelled with one L) was one of the most popular ballroom dances of the seventeenth century. The rapid 2/4 tempo and physical demands of dancing the galop meant that the music lasted no more than two or three minutes. Kate Dolby composed this in about 1916 based on the new game called football and the successful offensive play pattern which drove the linesmen downfield in a V shape.

"Alice Where art Thou" Mando-Cello solo arrangement it turns out was copy written by the Gibson Mandolin Company. I found this link to the copy write info in the Library of Congress: Reference to copywrite info for "Alice Where art thou" Mando-cello solo arrangement.

And here's a link to a vocal arrangement from the Library of Congress of the same song:
Alice Where Art Thou

Seems that these concerts became a recurring Sunday night series, as referenced in yet another clipping from the early 1920's in the Adams Transcript promoting these concerts:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two Bobs,Tony, and Kerry: St. Patrick's Day Gig

This just in from my father Robert Ivers, grandson of Joseph L. Ivers of the The Ivers Mandolin Orchestra which is the original focus of this blog. My father is still carrying on the tradition of Irish themed music and the mandolin. Here's what my dad sent today:

Not a great photo but I thought you would like to see the group. We played
yesterday at St. Joseph's Hospital nursing facility.
The young lady (Kerry) sometimes sings with us. She has been blind since
birth and and teaches languages at Elmira College as well as voice.
She is a remarkable women having traveled throughout the world. The other
Bob,with the green hat, has played the accordion for 60 years and is really
terrific. He is also a national champion bowler! The patients really
appreciate our performances and always ask when we
will return.

No doubt the Ivers Mandolin Orchestra and connected groups played a number of  St. Patrick's day events back in the teens and early twenties.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adams Plectral Society Concert Announcement Mid 1920's

This ones' a bit hard to read, but references "The Adams Plectral Society"  an orchestra with 43 members...That's a large group, and potentially a lot of Mandolin family instruments, all under the direction of my great grandfather JL Ivers. Also interesting to note that this was a ticketed event. Tickets sold by "members of the Plectral society" and at The Berkshire News company. Not sure of the exact year, of this clip probably mid 1920's.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Here's another reference to the effort to recruit both new students, and anyone who may have once played "guitar, banjo, mandolin, mandolin-banjo, mandocello, harp, harp guitar, guitar-banjo....knock the dust off them and get busy"!  "Under the direction of J L Ivers." Again, I'm sure the idea here was to recruit students or existing amateur musicians who would become potential buyers of Gibson Mandolin family instruments.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Archival References To J L Ivers' Mandolin Orchestra activities from The North Adams Transcript

I came across a few old newspaper stories from the North Adams Transcript that provide interesting details about my great grandfather JL Ivers, in general, and specifically about his mandolin orchestra activities. It's my firm belief, that J L Ivers was above all a business man, and much of his mandolin orchestra leadership, and music teaching efforts were motivated by his desire to move or sell Gibson Mandolin and Guitar Company Instruments. Its pretty clear that Gibson saw music teachers and orchestra leaders as an important part of their marketing and sales strategy in the teens and into the early 20's. The articles I'm posting here are all from the late teens into the late 1920s from the North Adams Transcript, which was the paper of record in Adams Massachusetts where my great grandfather was a plant supervisor at the Renfrew Textile Manufacturing Company.

He seems to have been very active in the community, organizing baseball and bowling leagues, in addition to all of his music teaching, performing, and orchestra leadership.

This first clip is a reference to my great grandfather's appointment to a new position at the Renfrew Manufacturing company. The clip is from 1919, and he had just moved from Lawrence, Mass. where he also had been a mill supervisor.

There are Gibson mandolins that we know were owned by J L Ivers dating as far back as 1914, so it's possible he had a relationship with Gibson and may have organized orchestras in Lawrence too, before he moved to Adams and took this position in 1919.  

The next clip is a reference to joint venture if you will, between my great grandfather and the YMCA to promote a "musical organization" Most likely a teaching effort, to build a student base, and of course sell more instruments! 

I'll post more of these in the future, 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Must read story on the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

Good story here about the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra, and nice YouTube clip

Link to Story from Oregonmusicnews.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sound Clips From 100 Year Old F4

Here's a couple of sound clips from 100 year old Gibson F-4 # 24532
Indirect recording from internal mic in a Samsung digital camera, pick: home made; punched out of a hotel room key card, D'addario J-74 strings.

Here's another. Sorry about the low light, but it's about the sound not the look!

Monday, June 30, 2014

F4 Mandolin and H2 Mandola Appraised at Antiques Roadshow Austin,TX Tour Stop

My wife and I got away last weekend and visited Austin, TX. We had a great time walking around 6th street and downtown, and enjoyed poking around the funky shops and restaurants in the South Congress neighborhood. The main reason we chose Austin for a weekend get away was a pair of  tickets we won in a lottery to a PBS taping of The Antiques Roadshow at the Austin Convention Center.
I took with me, my Great Grandfather's 1914 F4 Mandolin, and the 1921 H2 Mandola.
The appraisers at the musical instrument table were very generous with their time, and I really enjoyed their expert opinions and insight on the instruments. The appraisers I spoke with were: James Baggett from Mass Street Music, in Lawrence KS. http://massstreetmusic.com/
and Frederick Oster from Vintage Instruments Inc. In Philladelphia, PS, http://vintage-instruments.com/

It was a thrill for me to show them these instruments, and I shared with them the J.L Ivers "Everyone a Gibsonite" Mandolin Orchestra photo taken for and published in the 1921 Gibson catalog, where both of these instruments are pictured being played by my ancestors. I also brought along some newspaper clips I recently dug up related to my Great Grandfather's mandolin marketing activities in the teens and twenties. (I'll post some of these clips soon.)

I've had a pretty good idea of the monetary value of these instruments watching similar items over the years on Ebay, and plenty of time logged on to the Mandolin Cafe website classifieds, and Vintage Instrument forum.  http://www.mandolincafe.com/

However, this was the first time any professional vintage instrument dealer has ever looked over and played these family heirlooms. The appraisal values were higher than I would have thought, so that was nice. Of course, as these are family heirlooms, and as long as I am looking after them, they will never be sold. I'm just the current caretaker, and get to enjoy playing them and sharing them with others, until eventually my sister's kids will end up with them.

Here's a few things I learned: The adjustable bridge, on the 1914 F4, while not original to this instrument, is in fact an early Gibson adjustable bridge. The 1914 F4 would have shipped with a fixed bridge, since the patent and introduction of the adjustable bridge wasn't until after 1921. Sometime after 1921 a fixed bridge on the F4 was replaced with the adjustable bridge on the instrument today.  On the other hand, the bridge on the 1921 H2 Mandola is fixed, and does appear to be original, even though right around the manufacture date for this instrument, Gibson was making and shipping instruments with adjustable bridges. This particular instrument may well have been made with and shipped with older parts stock including the fixed bridge. It was also pointed out  that The 1914 F4 sports the decorative "Handel" tuners, and I learned, that not long after this one was made they stopped using these awesome looking tuners.

I also learned that the original case for the H2 Mandola has some value, and will I continue to wonder what ever happened to the original case for the F4.  Of course I will also always wonder about all the other instruments pictured in the 1921 catalog photo, and where they may have ended up. Sold by my Great Grandfather I would assume!

It was cool to share these instruments with true industry experts, and hear what they had to say about their condition and value. Overall, very cool experience.

Friday, May 30, 2014

More on the New York Mandolin Orchestra

Click this link for great sound cloud clips of the New York Mandolin Orchestra.


Try this link for the New York Times Article:


Must Must Read: Great Story About The New York Mandolin Orchestra

Notice the standard "Everyone a Gibsonite" photo set up: All instruments & headstocks visible, men in dark suits, women in all white dresses. Nice mix of A and F Models in his one.




Monday, April 14, 2014

Cool Old Photo of My Dad, Me, and My Great Grandfather's 1914 Gibson F4

I was visiting my parents recently, and came across this cool old photo. The photo was probably taken by my mom in 1963, so I was maybe around 2 years old?  Here's me on my favorite horse, rocking out to my dad playing the Gibson F4 !!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

1921 H2 Still Looks and Sounds Great

My Dad recently gave me a family owned 1921 Gibson H2 model mandola. This is the same mandola that's well documented on this blog, purchased from Gibson by my great grandfather. Once an important part of the rich mandolin orchestra sound in the early 1920's, this mandola, 93 years later, still has strong low end tone, clear highs and mids, and really great sustain. Very comfortable to play with a thick v shaped neck, it's both a challenge and a nice change of pace from playing a mandolin. Here's sound clip sample.This clip is an indirect recording from the internal mic on a Samsung digital camera , using a Tortex heavy pick with medium to heavy D'addario mandola strings.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Special Memory Captured In a Painting

My wife recently commissioned a painting with a talented friend and accomplished painter Roger Sherman. She wanted a painting inspired by a picture she took a few years back on the day my father gave me my great grandfather's 1914 Gibson F4. It was a special moment in time, and is now captured perfectly in this beautiful painting by Roger.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Trade Publication Reference To My Great Grandfather As Orchestra Leader


Many New Organizations of That Type Being
Formed in Various Localities
Banjo and mandolin clubs and orchestras are
on the boom, judging from the number of new
organizations reported. Thomas J. Shuter, who
is a member of the faculty of the Institute of
Musical Art, London, Ont., has organized a
mandolin orchestra of fifty players. C. H. Merritt
has organized a mandolin orchestra of fourteen
members in Pateros, Wash. W. K. Bauer,
mandolin teacher in Hartford and Willimantic,
Conn., is making progress in organizing a 100-
piece mandolin club in Hartford, Conn R. Holloway
reports live interest in mandolin music in
Michigan City and La Porte, Ind., where he is
organizing mandolin orchestras. J. L. Ivers, of
Adams, Mass., writes of a big mandolin orchestra
in the process of organization.

Scanned copies of The Music Trade Review available for viewing and download at : Arcade-Museum .com

Got To Touch A Piece of Gibson History

I've been fortunate to have had work a few weeks ago as a backline tech on an IBM corporate show in Grand Cayman, and enjoyed working with among others, The Steep Canyon Rangers and Stave Martin for several performances. I had some nice conversations with the band and crew in general, and specifically with SCR mandolin player, Mike Guggino. So before their last performance, Mike walked back stage and handed me his July 9, 1923 Lloyd Loar signed f5. (owned by Steve Martin, on loan to Mike)
Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for everyone else standing there) I couldn't really play it because there was an IBM executive presenting a talk on stage about 10 feet away. Not to mention I was really self conscious about my novice playing ability especially with Mike, Steve Martin, and the the rest of the Steep Canyon Rangers and their engineers all standing there in a space about the size of an elevator. Anyway I did get to strum a few quiet chords, and pick a scale or two, so I can truly say I've played a Lloyd Loar signed f5. Mike and the rest of the band and crew were all really cool and Mike was especially gracious with his time for my questions about the mandolin. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rest in Peace. Ed Harmon.

Last week Ed Harmon passed away. Ed was a long time member of The Summer Strummers, Chautauqua Institute's favorite sing along string band. Ed played Mandolin, Ukulele, The Saw, and sang in the Summer Strummers. Ed Harmon also entertained as an accomplished ventriloquist, and was a talented cartoonist who's work was published in the Chautauqua Daily. 

When remembering Ed, my father Robert Ivers said, "He took great pride in his collection of string instruments and his knowledge of the lyrics of folk tunes from decades past. Although we always kidded about who was the "First Mandolin" in the Summer Strummers, Ed will always be first. We had great fun playing together. I will miss him." 

Here's the copy from the obituary printed in the Tampa Bay Times:

HARMON, Edward Of Tampa and Chautauqua, NY. Beloved husband of Ellen; devoted father of Jon (Cindy), Amy Snodgrass (Jeff) and Jill Fairman (Frank), and loving grandfather to his nine grandchildren, died on Nov. 3, at age 86. Originally from New York City, Ed was a WWIIveteran, a graduate of New York University and a Principal of P.S. 79 in Queens, NY. A renaissance man, Ed had a multitude of interests. An educational innovator, he also had a lifelong involvement in music both as a performer and aficionado. His keen sense of humor was clearly illustrated in his decades long work as a cartoonist. Ed published four books and his editorial cartoons were regularly featured in The Chautauqua Daily. All who knew Ed will miss him, each in a different and special way, for he touched all who were lucky enough to be his friend. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association: FSH Society, Inc. BBRI R353, 64 Grove Street, Watertown, MA 02472 A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 12:30 pm; Aston Gardens, 11741 Lake Aston Ct., Tampa

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The 2012 Summer Strummers The Chautauqua Institute's favorite sing along string band, The Summer Strummers had another successful run of summer performances. As always any proceeds went to help Chautauqua Institute Music School Scholarships. Pretty much the same line up as last year.
 One change this year is Ed Harmon switching from mandolin to ukulele.
This left my father Robert Ivers as the lone mandolin player in the group.My dad mentioned that he felt a little pressure carrying the melody as the only mandolin player, but that there was melody help from horn and violin players that were able to sit in.

I should be able to post some video of some performance from the 2012 Summer Strummers soon. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

H2 Mandola #66429 Still Looks and Sounds Beautiful.

I visited my parents recently, and my father got out one of the Ivers family heirloom's: The Gibson H2 Mandola # 66429. It dates from probably 1921, and is most likely pictured in the 1921 Ivers Mandolin Orchestra Gibson promotional photo at the top of this Blog. There's more about this instrument below, in the side bar of the Blog.  My dad played it for while, sight reading from some American Songbook material, and it really sounded great. Lots of sustain, and quite a bit different than what I'm used to hearing from a mandolin. I also payed it on and off for the few days I was there visiting. It's a real workout, when compared to playing a smaller neck, narrower space between frets, and lighter gauge strings of a mandolin. It takes some getting used to, but what a great  tone, and nice change of pace from a mandolin.  Really nice deep woody tone.

Here's my dad playing it. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remarkable Collection of Gibson Mandolin Family Instruments

I spotted this great photo on the Mandolin Central website. What an incredible collection, including the original cases. A complete  "Everyone A Gibsonite" set of instruments ready to go. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

RIP My Great Aunt Doris Hueston- Ivers

My Great Aunt Doris Hueston- Ivers passed away last week. She was 101 years old. She is survived by her son Larry Hueston. She was, as far as I know, the last remaining living member pictured in the "Adams Plectral Society" Gibson Promotional photo at the top of this blog. In the picture of the "Ivers Mandolin Orchestra" above she is wearing a white dress seated front and center, with an angelic gaze, directly in front of my Great Grandfather Joseph Ivers who was a Gibson Mandolin Company sales agent, a Mandolin Orchestra leader, and music teacher. My great Aunt Doris was probably around 10 or 11 years old when this photo appeared in the 1921 Gibson Mandolin Company Catalog. She's holding what looks like probably a H2 Mandola. Many years ago my Great Aunt Doris gave my father Robert Ivers a 1915 F4 mandolin which he played up until two years ago, when he gave it to me to play and take care of.  More recently she also gave my father a 1921 H2 Mandola, which he still has and plays today. Both of these instruments are pictured in the 1921 Gibson Promotional photo above, and are well documented on this blog, and listed on the Mandolin Archive website. Rest in peace my Great Aunt Doris.

Here's some information my father sent me in an email a year or two ago, before my great Aunt Doris passed away in which he talks about a phone conversation he had with her regarding what she remembered about my Great Grandather Joseph Ivers, and the Mandolin Orchestra:

I just got off the phone with Doris. She is 97 and rambled about the family as follows:
My granddad, her father, lived in Adams, Mass. when the picture was taken of the mandolin band. The picture was taken sometime between 1922 and 1923 in the Adams, Mass. High School auditorium where the band performed. (The recollection of this date is inaccurate as the photo appeared in a 1921 Gibson Catalog)  The band was called the "Gibsonians". He purchased all of the mandolins directly from Kalamzoo where the Gibson company manufactured the mandolins. At the same time, my grandfather, ran the cotton mill owned by the "Renfrew Manufacturing Company", one of two mills in Adams. He and Nana, my grandmother, played bridge with the other plant manager every Saturday night. The cotton was shipped from the south and made into cloth at his mill.  He had the first automobile in Adams. Granddad was from a musical family. (one of 13 children). Doris said that the family was an association with a slate of officers, held meetings etc. (This may have been like a corporation) He was one of five brothers who sang "in public" he was a tenor. His father was Welch. The Welch have been known for their good voices.His mother was Irish and was born in County Cork, Ireland.
Doris said "grandad was a wonderful organizer" - witness his twi-light baseball league founding, his political organizing, and the Adams "Old Home Week" which he chaired for many years.
Nana's (my Great Grand Mother; also pictured holding the F-4 in the orchestra photo) family was from Montreal. Doris said that they were musical also. "opera singers and lawyers."
I hope this answers some of your questions. Doris is the only source I have about my father's side of the family.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Summer Strummers Video Clips

Here are some video clips from The Summer Strummers: The Chautauqua Institute's Favorite Sing Along String Band. These clips are from an outdoor date they did at the Chautauqua Institute during the 2011 summer season. The 2011 Summer Strummers are:  Joe Prezio- banjo, (Not present at this gig) Ray Defendorf- guitar, Ed Paul- bass, Ed Harmon mandolin and saw, and Robert Ivers-mandolin. (Robert Ivers; is my father, and grandson of Joseph L. Ivers, Mandolin Orchestra leader and Gibson Mandolin Company Teacher/Agent mentioned above.) Special thanks to my sister Beth Munro for taking the time to record and send me the video footage.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Old Dawg Bleugrass Band

While my wife Kathy and I were visiting Chautauqua a few weeks back, we caught a great bluegrass band, "Old Dawg Bluegrass" at the Apple Cider Festival in Busti, NY, pictured here, and again later that week at the Hurlbut Community Church Wednesday Vespers on the Chautauqua Institute Grounds. Really great group, all great singers, and awesome players. It's clear they love to play, and are well versed in traditional bluegrass. I also really liked a very cool interpretation of a Lou Reed's, Time is No Friend of Mine, they did at the Vespers. Check them out at olddawgbg.ucoz.com    or     www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Dawg-Bluegrass

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Strummers 2011 Official Photo

Here they are, everyone in their signature Red Vest show attire. I just spent last weekend at the Chautauqua Institute, and while I didn't get a chance to see them perform, the word from my father Robert Ivers is that 2011 was another successful season for the Summer Strummers. The now legendary group is accepting bookings for the 2012 season, and is enjoying official "Amateur Group" status and production support from the Chautauqua Institution Music Department.   

Joe Prezio- Banjo, Ed Harmon-Mandolin and Saw, Ed Paul- Bass, Robert Ivers-Mandolin, Kelsie Shea- Violin, Ray Defendorf-Guitar

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Strummers 2011 Line Up

The Red Vests Are Back!

Here they are on the front porch of the Methodist House at the Chautauqua Institution. First gig of the 2011 Season! More gigs and pictures comming up.

The 2011 Summer Strummers: Left to Right:  Joe Prezio- banjo, Ray Defendorf- guitar, Ed Paul- bass, Ed Harmon mandolin and saw, (Tim Shea- Violin Not Pictured), and Robert Ivers-mandolin. (Robert Ivers; is my father, and grandson of Joseph L. Ivers, Mandolin Orchestra leader and Gibson Mandolin Company Teacher/Agent mentioned above.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Everyone a Gibsonite Print Ad From The Teens

Everyone a Gibsonite program print ad from the mid teens designed to attract "Teacher Agents" with the prospect of making $1800-$5000 or more a year "teaching and selling the Gibson."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902- 1941

Book Review: Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902- 1941, by Joe Spann, Centerstream Publishing

I preordered at Amazon, and I've had a chance to read through it, and have found it to be very interesting, and detailed in a lot of uncharted areas, particularly with respect to serial number and factory order number records during the years in the title. The most interesting revelation for me and maybe others, who read the book, is a new perspective on dating Gibson Instruments. I've always relied on serial numbers and more specifically, information based on serial numbers listed in the Mandolin Archive Website to date family owned and other Gibson Instruments. (See link to the Mandolin Archive on the right sidebar below) From new research presented in the Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941, it turns out that serial numbers are really only reliable indicators of shipping date and not manufacture date. According to Spann, the Serial Number was only assigned to an instrument when the label was applied just prior to shipping. It turns out, according to the information in this book, the Factory Order Number, which evidently all instruments were stamped with at the inception of the manufacturing process, is a more accurate indicator of manufacture date. Since Serial Numbers were only applied just prior to shipping, it's possible that instruments could have been manufactured but not shipped in the same year. It seems well documented in the book that a number of instruments may have been stored sometimes for several years before they had a Serial Number/Label applied and shipped. Therefore, using Serial Number records to determine the year an instrument was “from” might have been incorrect, prior to this new Factory Order Number dating system.

I was however disappointed a bit by the lack of focus and information about Gibson mandolin family instrument sales and marketing from the teens and twenties. The research included in this book regarding teacher-agents and dealers, or the sales channel in general, is focused primarily on the period from the late twenties, through the late thirties. I would go, as far as to say that title of the book; Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941 is a bit misleading. While there is detailed Serial Number and Factory Order Number and a lot of other historical information for the whole period covered in the title, other chapters and topics are very light on information or data from the early years, teens, and early twenties. Most, if not all, the sales and marketing data presented in the book dates from the late twenties to the Second World War.

My primary interest in this stuff is biased of course towards my family history, and the Mandolin Orchestra Era, which peaked for Gibson during the teens and early twenties. It is during the teens and early twenties that my Great Grandfather Joseph L. Ivers was a teacher, mandolin orchestra leader and a Gibson Agent. It's my understanding, that during this period (teens and early twenties) dealership networks, and retail store sales were still small, and the "Everyone a Gibson-ite" marketing strategy used as it's primary sales channel, teacher-agents, and their promotion of Mandolin Orchestras and Mandolin Clubs. The only profile of a "teacher -agent" in this book focuses on someone from the thirties, well past the late twenties when Mandolin Orchestra's were fading from popularity, and Gibson was phasing out the "Everyone a Gibson-ite" teacher-agent sales channel. 

I had very high expectations for this book when I learned of its publication on the Mandolin CafĂ© Website. And for the most part I was very happy with the purchase, as it’s full of information that is new and of great interest to me.  I would say that it’s a must have for anyone with an interest in Gibson Company history, vintage instruments or specifically Gibson Mandolin family instruments. I only wish there had been more data or information regarding catalog publication, advertising, and sales and marketing strategies particularly from the earliest years, teens and early twenties. After all, the focus of this Web Log is the Golden Era of the Mandolin Orchestra, and most of the antidotal information in this book is based on data from the late twenties and beyond, well after the heyday of the Gibson Mandolin Orchestra or Mandolin Club. 

All in all, the book offers a lot of new and fascinating, historical information about the manufacturing process, materials used, factory staff, suppliers, product lines, and Gibson Company management. I look forward to re-reading and continuing to use the book as a research tool, particularly with respect to dating instruments. 
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Gibson Mandolin Guitar Company Logo From 1906 Stationary

Here is an early Gibson Company Logo from a 1906  letter I recently came across.  Also check out a new slide show of Gibson Mandolin Orchestra pictures and other photos scanned from the 1920 Catalog L.  Look in the right side bar.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sounding Board Salesman Magazine

I found this publication very interesting. It's from 1920, and a was published by The Gibson Mandolin Company as a sales tool for Gibson agents like Joseph Ivers, my Great Grandfather. Evidently The Sounding Board Salesman came out a few times a year to keep Gibson Agents motivated and in the loop. Reading this provides some pretty interesting insight into how the Gibson Mandolin Company sold and distributed instruments through "agents" and the Mandolin Orchestras they formed throughout the world. Here's two of several goofy cartoon's that appear in this issue of the Magazine, Illustrating the company's difficulty in 1919 in keeping up with demand from the sales agents for product. Note the F-Style Male head and A-Style Female head:

Special Thanks to the Mandolin Archive for posting very readable scans of this interesting publication in their Documents section. http://www.mandolinarchive.com/documents/1920_sounding_board_salesman/cover.html

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Turn To Take Care Of a Family Heirloom

Well, it’s official. I'm now the 4th generation  “Ivers” to own the 1914 Gibson F4 Master Model Serial # 24532 pictured and documented all over this web-log.  All I can say is that it's truly an honor and a privilege to take my turn as the caretaker of this beautiful instrument.
My wife and I spent last weekend celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in Chautauqua, NY (I'd marry you all over again my love!) On our second day there, we drove to Big Flats, NY for the day to have lunch with my parents.
After a delicious home cooked meal, my wife spent some time helping my Mother with a computer issue, and my Dad, said to me "Come on let’s go look at that F4, I want you to take it back to Florida with you."   Wow!  I guess I knew I would end up with it eventually, but it's really a thrill to be able to enjoy it sooner than I thought. When my dad handed it to me, I didn’t really know what to say or do, so I tuned it, and gave it back to him to take one last ride on it. He sight read a few tunes from an American Song Book collection, and then it was my turn.