The Current's Guitar Collection: Valerie June, Martin dreadnought

Valerie June performs a special acoustic version of "You Can't Be Told" live on 89.3 The Current. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
Valerie June, 'Workin' Woman Blues' performed at The Current
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Valerie June visited The Current's studio on August 10, 2013, to play a few songs and to chat with Mac Wilson. After the session, the Memphis singer-songwriter took some time to talk about her then-new acoustic guitar and the mystical connection — prompted by a coincidence involving her phone number — she felt with it.

Valerie June plays Rock the Garden on Sunday, June 22. Here's what Valerie told us about her guitar last August:

What kind of guitar is it?

It's a Martin dreadnought guitar.

Do you recall when you got it?

It was two years ago, now, and I got it in Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, Tennessee. It's a really cool place, full of good guitars.

The guitar was very green. It was my first brand-new guitar. The other one that I had, I bought off eBay, so somebody else had had it before. But this one? Only me.

And the cool thing about it is, the guy brought out three of 'em, and I said, 'No, just give me the one I just played.' And he said, 'I'm not letting you walk out without making a bond with the instrument.'

And so I played all of them, and the third one that he brought down was the one that I needed to have. And it's got the same digits in the serial number as my phone number! So that's a sign. After I had chosen it, he asked me what the serial number was because he was making out the ticket, and I told him the numbers, and it had [the same numbers] and I was like, 'Oh my God — that's my phone number!'

I just thought, 'Oh my goodness, this is so my green baby.' Because it smelled green, it smelled like a new, fresh-cut tree.

I wish it still smelled like that; now it smells like the dirty clothes that I keep in the guitar case!

What do you like about the sound of the guitar?

It's really, really warm. I got the guitar because my other guitar was modeled after Robert Johnson's, the L-1 Gibson. But I was coming back from the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and it got destroyed. And so the airline sent me a check, but they didn't send me enough to buy another small-bodied, parlour-room-style Gibson.

And so I was sitting with Dan [Auerbach] and I told him, 'Man! I'm out of business, and I've got some shows coming up this week and the rest of the month, but I don't have another guitar.'

He has a candy store full of guitars, and he said, 'Well, why don't you go and take the check and get a Martin.' Because [the airline was] kind enough to send me enough to get a Martin. Dan said, 'They're the best acoustic guitars anyway. Use Gibsons more for your electric purposes.'

So I went and I got a Martin, and I love it! He knew what he was talking about. He's a great guitar player for a reason!

External Links

Valerie June - official site

Gruhn Guitars, Nashville, Tenn.

Martin Guitar

Related Stories

  • Valerie June performs live in The Current studios The Tennessee singer-songwriter feels a deep connection — if not responsibility — to the great musical traditions of Memphis. She describes this and more during her in-studio chat with The Current's Mac Wilson.
  • Valerie June On Learning To Love 'Perfectly Imperfect' Voices On the new album Pushin' Against a Stone, the Tennessean surveys a spectrum of her home state's signature sounds. She tells NPR's Audie Cornish that she got over old anxieties about her singing voice by embracing it as a storytelling tool.
  • Rock the Garden 2014 Why Rock the Garden for one day when you can rock it for two? The Twin Cities' favorite annual summer concert returns with the first two-day format in the event's history. The weekend festival blowout will showcase some of the best music from our backyards and from around the world.

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