When a Great Guitar Brings Good People Together
Renato Bellucci plays: Steve Tatoul's 1881 Barrios Guitar
I will never stop being surprised at the amazing gifts and surprises this life has to offer! This time, a magnificent 1881 Guitar from San Jose, Spain, was the instrument Our Lord used to generate the bond between guitarist Steve Tatoul from St Augustine Florida and me. A series of providential events, well desguised as "coincidences", made it possible for me to visit Steve's stunning beach home in what I consider one of America's most beautiful towns: St Augustine in North Eastern Florida, USA. Steve is an enthusiastic entrepreneur and guitar lover that contacted me a few months ago when he ran across a stunning 1881 Spanish guitar from San Jose Spain. Steve got the guitar and contacted me after running across my website while googling information on his newly purchased antique instrument. My 1885 Marin Guitar, owned by the legendary Paraguayan guitarist Agustin Barrios', was among the search results. The two instruments are very similar in many aspects only the one Steve owns was built by a Spanish luthier from San Jose, by the name of Barrios. One more amazing coincidence ! Steve proceeded to contact me through mail and a few days lated by telephone. Little did he know that I was about to travel to Florida to attend my son Renato Graduation form the University of Florida. If this was not enough, Steve could not possibly have imagined that on our trip's to-do list was a visit to St Augustine. St Augustine is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen. I first visited St Augustine in August 2016. My wife Belén and I fell in love with this amazing town and we made it a commitment to return . St Augustine is the oldest town in America and she is crowned by the oldest and most beautiful Catholic Church in America: St Augustine Basilica. The coincidences could not have been more amazing. I mentioned it to Steve and he generously offered that we stay at his beach house. How could we possibly say no !? His fabulous home is located on a peninsula and is surrounded by the ocean. One of the most beautiful homes I ever had the chance to visit. The four of us (My wife Belén and I, my son Renato and wife Ana) arrived at around 5 PM. As soon as we arrived and deposited the luggage we went to Steve's music room and Steve proceeded to pass this beautifully ornate guitar to me in what you could define as a "ceremonial fashion". I was immediately struck by the beauty of the instrument and the masterful pearl and abalone work throughout her body. One of the most amazing inlay work I have ever seen. I brought her up to tune and found it very hard to put her down such is beauty of the sound she puts out. Although the action needs to be set up lower, I could still play her quite comfortably and the clarity and depth of her sound totally conquered me. I was also surprised considering she is a vihuela but with the presence of sound of a full-size concert guitar. I played Cavatina, Asturias, Malagueña, Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Una Limosna por el amor de Dios one after the other. What a treat ! Later the same evening, before dinner, I had the pleasure to listen to Steve's son Wyatt Tatoul play and sing his own compositions. What a treat ! We alternated between Wyatt's inspired compositions and thrilling musical talent and my interpretations on Steve's antique and unique musical jewel. I cannot but mention and praise Steve and his wife warm and heart-conquering hospitality. They know exactly what "to make you feel at home" means and we really felt as though we were with life long friends.
I cannot but mention Steve's "other great passion" besides music: Car design and construction. We spent over an hour contemplating a breathtaking Black Packard Speedster that Steve designed and constructed over a span of 5 years. To say that we were struck is to say the least. Steve has won first place in many prestigious car shows and being a car enthusiast myself, I could not but appreciate Steve's tour of his amazing black machine. Beauty only matched perhaps by his newly acquired 1881 Spanish guitar. It is also worth mentioning that right next to this amazing Packard, a stunning El Camino, perhaps one of the greatest car classics from the 60s. The amount of extremely precise and beautiful detailing is staggering. Many parts of this Packard had to be recreated and the conjunction of all the restored-to-new original parts with the exact replicas is simply put mind bobbling.