A master’s touch

It’s amazing what wonders lurk behind the doors of ordinary homes in ordinary subdivisions.

Such is the case with Larry Shannon.

Larry’s house is nestled in among a bevy of former cottages and newer homes all jumbled with each other near the water in the new town of Innisfil. In former years, Larry’s area of Innisfil (off the ninth line, near the lake) was the summer home for simple cottages belonging to families who knew each other for generations. Quiet roads and short walks to the lake made this a summer mecca.

But the word got out, as it were, and Larry’s subdivision is now chock-a-block with homeowners wanting a taste of semi rural living near wonderful Lake Simcoe.

Larry is one of these people who has pursued his passion in addition to maintaining his full time job. A residential counsellor in group homes for “wayward” youth, young offenders, clients of special needs organizations, Larry’s day job has demanded that he relate to people and care about the incidental details of people’s lives.

But Larry’s real love is quite different. Alone in a workshop that’s anchoring the inside back corner of his home, Larry is an artisan. Using rare, exotic curled grains of specialized woods, he crafts guitars. He sculpts different shapes, double cutaways, single cutaways, smaller guitars for smaller musicians, exquisite necks. His equipment deals with the tiniest details… inlays of ivory, or carefully manufactured ribbons of wood are painstakingly applied to fronts and backs of Larry’s guitars.

Recently Larry abandoned his “day” job and decided to move his hobby of love into his full time work. He’s working hard to build the Shannon Guitars name among musicians across the country. He talks enthusiastically of watching Susan Aglukark run her hands in appreciation over one of his latest instruments. And then her fingers plied the strings and her incredible voice added resonance to the power of one of Larry’s guitars. “She and that guitar seemed like they should be together… I wanted to give it to her,” he remembers.

While Larry would love to spend his days just creating from scratch his meticulous instruments, he is in business. And so he’s busy repairing instruments as well. He certainly brought a smile to the face of a woman who backed her own car over her own guitar recently and arrived with the crushed instrument in hand and desolation in her heart. Musicians’ relationships with their instruments are indeed intimate and Larry understands that relationship.

He plies his talents to mandolins, banjos, and specialty stringed instruments.

But, it’s safe to say that it’s the guitar that has captured his heart.

He’s gearing up to present his instruments and his talents to the folk music world as he prepares his booth for music conventions and folk festivals across Canada and in Nashville.

I can’t help thinking what it must feel like for a new musician to stand before a crowd, to prepare him or herself to share their talent, in the hopes that there’s appreciation for what they do. It takes courage to stand before the public, courage to present yourself and hope that indeed, you are good… great, even.

Larry must feel the same way. When a musician seizes a musical instrument that’s come from Larry’s own hands, head, and heart… when that musician tightens a grip around the neck and looks down at the face that Larry created… Well, let’s just say I think it takes great courage. And skill. Larry Shannon has lots of both.

Thanks, Larry!