While I was living in NYC, just as I had met the lovely Madeline Fendrick, I was given the opportunity to join a care team for an incredible elderly man named Kees Kooper. My position was that of an overnight care assistant, to essentially live with him. At the time, Kees was an 89 year old, retired concert violinist and he was full of fascinating stories. In fact, Dutch native Kees Kooper played Carnegie Hall several times in ensembles, 8 of those times as a solo violinist! He played all over the world, and performed often with his wife who was a pianist and painter.
For three months I worked with Kees and the care team, and since I was on the “night shift”, I was able to continue working my other odd jobs as a barista, church floor buffer, guitar teacher, and Sunday church service Musician/Psalm leader. This being the case, I was able to save money like I never had before in the high cost city of New York. This is what gave me the financial flexibility of entering into the mandolin market, which is a scary market to enter into. Those small instruments sure have a pricy tag on them!
There are two instrument shops that I frequented for the next month or so, one being Retrofret in Brooklyn, and the other being Mandolin Bros in Staten Island.
The first mandolins I was interested in sampling were the f models, those of which often have f sound holes and that fancy curly scroll on the body. I kept finding, however, that I was consistently unhappy with those within my budget. So I opened up to the A models, the pear shaped mandolins.
One of my favorite mandolin players, Peter Ostroushko, plays an A model mandolin. I checked into his mandolin, but unfortunately for me, the fellow who made his instrument was no longer in the business. It would have probably been out of my budget anyhow. This is when I began sampling the early Gibson models. Surprisingly, many of those old A models were in my budget!
After playing several mandolins and after many, many commutes on the NYC subway and the Staten Island Ferry, I finally settled on our 1921 Gibson A Model Mandolin. Since the ferry ride back home was somewhat unpopulated, I carefully removed it from it's case and joyfully played it on board!
Kees Kooper, being a concert violinist, was quite opinionated when it came to instruments. He actually called Madeline's violin "fire wood!" We still laugh about that. So I was quite pleased when he gave his subtle approval.
I’m still very happy with this instrument, and ever grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the extraordinary and greatly missed, Kees Kooper.
Madeline Fendrick and Brian Peck
We're happy to share with you stories from our journey as artists. Stories from the road, and stories from our home base in Stoughton, WI.
Logo Art by:
Robert Peck (Brian's Dad)
Cover Photos by: