BONNERS FERRY — The Tonedevil Brothers performed at the Pearl Theater on April 21, bringing a unique blend of western swing, bluegrass, blues, and Americana. Brothers Anthony and David Powell, and accompanist Arvid Lundin, captivated the audience with their music.
As a fourth-generation fiddler and a 40-year veteran violinist and violin maker, Lundin brought his Celtic and Scandinavian musical styles to the stage with the Tonedevil Brothers.
Anthony Powell plays the mandolin and vocals while David Powell showcases the harp guitar.
A harp guitar is, by definition, a guitar with at least one string independently suspended from the fingerboard, which is intended to be plucked. Basically, it is a regular guitar with a unique twist, which is that it not only functions as a classic guitar does, but it has the likes of a bass guitar attached.
Attached to the traditional guitar is an extra arm containing six additional bass strings with the lowest string being an E. The chords for the harp guitar fall in the range of D,C,B,A,G,E, bringing a solid starting point to a guitar player of any style and knowledge. From there, the guitar is capable of changing tune and pitch in order to play in any key. With ample practice and an innate knowledge of the instrument, the player can perform an infinite array of sounds.
“A lot of people ask what to tune the harp strings to, so the lowest string on the guitar is an E, so the first harp string starts just below that at a D,” said David Powell. “Any guitar player can play a harp guitar.”
“Harp guitar was something I wanted to play back in 1999 or so, and got to play one at the old ‘vintage guitars’ store that used to be in Post Falls,” said Dave Powell. “I knew I wanted one for sure after that, so my brother and I collaborated on putting one together in my dad’s garage/wood shop in 2002.”
After making the guitar, the proud pair posted it on social media, which gained unprecedented attraction.
Gregg Miner, who is a curator/historian for harpguitars.net, contacted the brothers and invited them to the Harp Guitar Convention, as well as adding them to his list of builders and players of the instrument.
“We attended our first gathering in 2005 which was the third annual, and have been to almost every event but two. In 2014 we hosted the 12th annual harp guitar gathering at Schuler Auditorium at North Idaho College,” said Dave Powell.
The brothers have played music together since about 1996, and have since started putting the harp guitar into the mix after the first guitar was completed in 2002.
The brothers kicked off their musical experiences playing the piano and working into playing other instruments.
“I really started taking guitar more seriously in college when I took lessons from Paul Grove at NIC, and was learning pieces by Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke,” said Dave Powell. “It was seeing Michael Hedges play a harp guitar on an internet video clip that really inspired me to want to try one out.”
With a various amount of accompaniment with every song on their album, and the unique harp guitar paired with the melodic sound of the mandolin and violin, the Tonedevil Brothers brought class and melodies to Bonners Ferry at the Pearl Theater.
Find our more about them at www.tonedevilharpguitars.com