Ronna Colilla / Lantern photographer
How often does a store that sells handmade guitars offer free food around a campfire?
Once in a blue moon.
The Guitar House Workshop is hosting the Blue Moon Open House Jam Friday at 6:30 p.m. The event is free to the public, but voluntary donations go toward the store. Musicians of all skill levels can bring an instrument to join in.
On the first Friday of every month The Guitar House hosts a traditional bluegrass jam session, but this one’s a little different, said John Bolzenius, the store’s owner.
Aside from the campfire and food to be provided, the differences include moving the event outdoors, weather permitting, and having multiple jam circles where musicians can play any style of music.
Linda Langhorst, the store’s artist in residence, meaning she paints in the store and her paintings are available for purchase there, said the jam sessions help define the Guitar House Workshop’s purpose.
“It’s an interesting store because we sell stuff but we’re really not about selling stuff,” Langhorst said. “We’re about everybody making music.”
Referencing one of the world’s largest musical instrument retailers, she added, “We’re not Guitar Center, and we never will be.”
Located just off the corner of Chambers Road and Northwest Boulevard, at 1423 Chambers Road, in a home that Bolzenius remodeled, the Guitar House sells and repairs instruments and offers an array of musical accessories. Private and group lessons are offered and there is a recording studio upstairs. Guitars, some made by hand, cover the walls. A counter separates the main room of the store from the workshop, where you can find guitars in various stages of creation and repair.
Steve Fout, who works as a musician, writer and artist, owns a guitar made by Bolzenius, and said he was satisfied enough with it that he might buy another.
Fout, who has been playing the guitar for 50 years, collaborated with Bolzenius in the creation of his instrument, which he described as “stunning.”
His guitar took about nine months to design and create, and cost several thousand dollars. For those not yet ready to make that kind of commitment, the store offers less expensive instruments as well as other ways to get involved in the music.
But for Bolzenius, money is not as important to him as the people he serves.
“(Linda and I) are kind of running things, but there are a lot of other people that make this store run,” he said. “We’ve just decided to incorporate the people that want to play.”
In the end, Bolzenius said the sense of community is part of the fun.
“Life is good,” he said. “You might as well enjoy it.”