Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project--A Marriage of Music and Beauty for a Great Cause

TriofixedThe Chesapeake Bay's nautical and watermen's cultures have long been an inspiration for local musicians. Now they are inspiring a few other members of the music business. Soon, thanks to the vision of three talented men and their Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project, you won't just be able to sing about the Bay, you'll be able to make music with it.

(Photo, left to right: Craig Lavin, Emory Knode, and David MacCubbin.)

Here's their story.

David MacCubbin is a Maryland native with a lifelong love of woodworking, music, and the Chesapeake Bay. A singer and guitarist, David built his first guitar in 2001, learning the craft from renowned luthiers (guitar makers) William Cumpiano and Ervin Somogyi. Early this year he switched his career path from software engineering to building guitars full time, and has completed a number of commissioned instruments.

Born in Pennsylva, Craig Lavin's love of sea life and music took him to Florida and to a degree in marine biology and a side-job as a guitarist in a South Florida band. He and his marine biologist and musician wife Emily Schmitt, PhD (who participated in CBF's skipjack summer programs as a youngster) are both involved in marine ecology and education. When Craig wanted a coral reef inlay for the neck of his guitar he became so enthralled with the art that he started doing his own inlays. Today, he is a full-time inlay artist with a special emphasis on marine life. His inlays have been commissioned by individual art collectors, guitarists, and luthiers around the world.

Emory Knode's father opened Nelson Knode's Music Centre in Catonsville, MD when Emory was two years old. Emory assumed full control of the business in 1981. Today, the store is the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe, reflecting the acoustic and bluegrass music Emory enjoys most. He has also spent countless hours on the Chesapeake Bay boating, fishing, diving, and exploring wetlands.

"For a long time, I envisioned some sort of project that would showcase the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed," Emory says. "It was not until I shared my vision with David and Craig that the idea of bringing the beauty of the acoustic guitar and its voice together to raise awareness of the  stewardship we all have responsibility for came together."

The three men have teamed up to form the Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project. "Our mission is to offer a very limited number of hand-made and hand-inlayed guitars that showcase the splendor of our bay and how we can help to preserve it," Emory says.

Proceeds from the sale of these unique guitars will go to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

"I am very humbled by this opportunity to be able to share my talents in helping the Chesapeake Bay Foundation preserve the beauty and goodness of the Bay," says David.

Craig and his wife have been on the lookout for an environmental cause to support. "When Dave called me, I immediately knew supporting the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was invaluable. Saving biodiversity through high-end guitar building is wholly unique, I believe," says Craig. "There's way too much riding on this body of water for it to be ignored. I am honored to be part of a project along with Dave and Emory, two other very committed individuals who have so much passion and hope for the Bay's future."

But the story doesn't end there. David MacCubbin will be a guest blogger here on CBF's blog over the coming months and will chronicle the project as it, and its guitars, come together.

(Photo below: an example of Craig Lavin's inlay work on the neck of a guitar from a previous project.)


Kim Ethridge

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