Jim Stanlaw, professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University, will present a workshop titled “An Early Gibson Show and Tell: The Central Illinois Roots of Lloyd Loar,” as part of the national convention of the Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA), held at the Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, October 9-13, 2019.

The convention, which brings together players of mandolin family instruments (mandolin, mandola, mandocello) and guitars for three days of workshops, rehearsals, and master classes, will also feature public performances by the ISU Guitar Ensemble, the conference host Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra (of which Stanlaw is a member, playing mandocello), and three international soloists (from The Netherlands, Italy, and Iran). The convention concludes with a performance by the 100+ members of the “En Masse Orchestra,” playing works specifically written for mandolin orchestra. A complete listing of events is available on the Facebook page of the Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra.

Stanlaw’s presentation will examine instrument innovator Lloyd Loar’s Illinois connections. Loar, who was born in Cropsey and grew up in Lewiston, is famous as the engineer/developer of the celebrated Gibson F-5 Master Series mandolin, the iconic bluegrass instrument of Bill Monroe, and the L-5 Gibson Guitar, played by country music pioneer (and mother-in-law of Johnny Cash) Mother Maybelle Carter. The Loar F-5 is sometimes referred to as “the Stradivarius of the mandolin,” and instruments he signed during his tenure at Gibson Guitars and Mandolins are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Stanlaw will show some vintage Gibson instruments, including a detailed replica of Bill Monroe’s famous Loar F-5 (the original now in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, along with Mother Maybelle’s guitar). His research for the CMSA workshop was funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. The presentation is on Friday, October 11, from 1:45-3 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Uptown Normal. One-day admission to the convention is available for $35. Stanlaw will also be presenting his workshop in 2020 at the McLean County Museum of History, local high schools, and the annual Lloyd Loar Music Fest held in Dickson Mounds.