One of the biggest guitarists in bluegrass – who also generates a giant sound – is Tony Wray, with Blue Mafia. A large man, who pulls a large tone, Tony is known to put the pick to the string with force and authority.
By chance he met Richie Crowder at at Bluegrass First Class in North Carolina earlier this year when the band was performing, and checked out some of his Crowder Guitars. The two hit it off right away, and before the festival was finished, Richie offered Tony an endorsement deal and a custom-built guitar.
Wray and Crowder share a passion for pre-war dreadnaughts, and since Richie models his on those old classics, it didn’t take Tony long to accept. It did, however, take another 5 months for the guitar to be built, made to his personal specifications with a wider neck, and a larger sound hole. Tony wants to call his signature model the Damascus Road, made with mahogany back and sides and a red spruce top.
They hit it off in more than just the world of guitars, as Tony described Crowder’s willingness to make him just what he wanted.
“Richie Crowder is the real deal. An incredibly talented luthier, and a good Christian man. When I told Richie that I wanted a guitar built with some crazy specs, he never once questioned me. He was on board with my desire to make this guitar a ‘Paul’ guitar, and what I mean by that is that the headstock and fingerboard make reference to Paul the Apostle. That’s why I call it Damascus Road, because that’s where Paul first met Christ. It’s a way for me to be ever-mindful of his path and to never forget that we all must put on that armor.”
Wray says the guitar will help him stay true to Blue Mafia’s slogan – we ain’t good but we’re loud!
Crowder has been building for a while, but has just opened his own shop in Burnsville, NC. He offers a number of different models but doesn’t yet have a detailed web site with pricing information. You can visit him on Facebook where there a good many photos of his work, and he can be contacted from there for more information.
If you don’t do Facebook, give him a call at (828) 675-9795.
To learn more about Blue Mafia, visit them online.