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Gibson

Derek Smith
Sarah Leeson / Michigan Radio

When you think of a mandolin, you may think of Europe during the Renaissance or bluegrass music from the South. But it turns out the mandolin actually has roots right here in Michigan.

This past weekend, mandolin enthusiasts descended on Marshall, Michigan for the Marshall Mandolin Summit. Visitors spent the weekend sharing their love for the instrument and learning under world-renowned mandolin players like Don Julin, author of Mandolin for Dummiesand Mike Marshall (no relation to the town).

Women guitar makers scratched from Gibson history

May 25, 2016
John Thomas

In the summer of 2013, we spoke with law professor and music journalist John Thomas about the Kalamazoo Gals on Stateside.

Thomas had uncovered the story of women who built some 9,000 guitars at the Gibson Guitar headquarters in Kalamazoo during World War II.

This discovery clashed with Gibson’s official assertion that they built no instruments during the war.

He tells the story in his book, Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII.

In the three years since we last spoke, the story has taken some interesting turns. Today Thomas and Kalamazoo Gal Irene Stearns joined us again on Stateside to talk about it.