2019 Federico Sheppard "Camino" SP/CSAR
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This instrument was built in Sheppard's workshop in Carrion de los Condes, Spain which is about midway between Burgos and Leon, and situated right on the "Camino de Santiago" - the 500 mile trail to Santiago de Compestela that pilgrims have been walking since the Middle Ages. The area of Carrion de los Condes is littered with Medeival churches and castles built largely in the austere and breathtaking Romanesque style. Sheppard has walked the trail in its entirety 3 times, and has become enamored with the rich artistic history, Catholic mystical tradition and pilgrim culture that is associated with the area. Not surprisingly, he infuses these elements into a series of instruments that he calls the "Camino" guitars.
The decorative themes for this instrument come from the village of of Carrion de los Condes along el Camino de Santiago located between Burgos and Leon. The checkerboard theme is found on the borders around the church doors in the village, and the image of Christ is referred to as the "Pantocrator", or ruler of the Universe depicted on the stone carving above the doorway of the church of Santiago, which has been turned into the historical museum of the city. This work by the sculptor Mateo is regarded as the finest stone carving between Saint Jean Pied du Port and the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The shells, walking sticks and drinking gourds in the rosette, tuning machines and bridge are the symbols used to mark the route of the Camino de Santiago since ancient times. The colors are derived from the plants of the meseta during the summer season, wheat, rye and sunflowers, along with red from the Spanish poppy.
The instrument sounds as fantastic as it looks. Federico Sheppard is a veteran of the craft, having built for many years from his storage of high-grade wood that he has amassed over several decades. His deep love of traditional guitars, pre-modern repertoire and old-world craftsmanship firmly places this instrument in the early 20th century Spanish schools of Madrid (Manuel Ramirez/Santos Hernandez/Domingo Esteso) and Barcelona (Garcia/Simplicio) in its style of sound production, quality of tone and playability. It has a beautiful, singing and dark, mysterious sound that is perfect for late 19th-century and early 20th-century Spanish music. Overall this is a very inspired maker with an incredibly unique (yet traditional) approach to guitar making that harkens back to what many would call the golden era of Spanish guitar making.