The Larry (Poppie) and Gabriel Connection
It was back in June, 2006, somewhere within the week before June 29th. This guy enters my store, and introduced himself as a guitar instructor whose students told him about this new music store on Oracle named Poppies. His sole purpose for stopping in was to check it out and see what this store had to offer. After chatting for a while, and not knowing any better, I invited Gabriel to come and play or observe at one of our open mic sessions. He said he would come in and see what it was all about. Well low and behold in he comes on the following Thursday night (June 29th) to observe. I asked him if he was going to play, and he said he did not bring a guitar with him, that he was just there to observe. In calm fashion I told him he could use mine and I put his name on the list.
To make this story straight, I have to let you know that my guitar was hanging on the wall of my store to be sold as a used instrument. I always wondered why I had such a problem learning to play the music I love on it, and I figured if I got rid of it and got a new guitar that I would be a better player.
Gabriel did two things that night for me. 1. He accepted my offer, and he played my guitar. He picked an easy song by his standards, “Romance” but a song that I had struggled with for a couple of years, and he made my guitar sound like the voices of the angels. I could not believe my ears, I closed my eyes and I drifted while listening to this music coming from MY guitar. You know, the one that I considered junk because I couldn’t play it correctly. 2. I took my guitar off the wall, and returned it home, where I continue to play my small songs and enjoy it more knowing it is not my guitar, but my level of expertise. I vowed at that time to do better and never blame my instrument for my own short comings. Gabriel has a presence about him, and you know that he is destined to be a great person and influence many lives with his.
Over the next month Gabriel came to the store more often, and got to know us a bit better. I had sent away for some classical guitar plans because I wanted to see if I could build one. I have built mountain dulcimers prior to this in anticipation of one day having the ability to build a guitar. Then the day came, and I received two sets of plans in the mail, one was the Antonio De Torres plan for the classical guitar – circa 1867, with a scale length of 647.7mm Since Torres designed the fan bracing that is widely used today, the plans were well known. The other was the 1A Especial (RIO) – Concert Model Classical Guitar by Manuel Contreras II. With a scale length of 652mm. It did not have a date on it, but the plans are very unique, and I had planned to build one for myself.
I remember it was a Saturday, and I had the plans in the backroom of the store showing them to Bobby Joe, our luthier repair person, when Gabriel came in and looked at the plans with us. It has a strange fan bracing configuration, some extra bracing at the heel, and a really strange brace that seems to be suspended, but supports only the center fan brace and is anchored on the inside of the sides of the guitar.
Gabriel liked these plans and was very curious about how it would sound. He asked Bobby Joe if he would build it for him and Bobby said he was not building anymore guitars. I chimed in and said I bought the plans so I could build it. (Meaning at the time that I was building it for myself). Gabriel turned around and said if I built it, he would play it in his concerts for one year. I said, Yes, I am building it. (Again not thinking of building it for Gabriel, because I have never built a guitar before.) Gabriel said he was not joking and that if I built it he would play it in his concerts for one year. I agreed to build it for that purpose, then some customers came in the store, and I needed to go up front to tend to them.
After the customers left, I told Cathy, my wife, that I just told Gabriel I would build him a guitar for his concerts. She was excited, and I said slow down, I never built a guitar before, much less a concert guitar. Gabriel came to the front of the store and was heading home, and as he approached the door, I told him he didn’t have to commit to playing the guitar if I built it, as I never built a guitar before and I didn’t know how it was going to sound. His response was “You build the guitar and I will play it, I don’t care if you make it out of a shoebox, I said I would play it and I will”.
“I consider Gabriel a very close friend and love him like my brother. I will make him a guitar that he will be proud to display and bring to life with his God given talent”.
- Larry (Poppie)
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