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I am Bob Lewis, Robert Turner Lewis to be precise, and am the proprietor of Autoharp Works, autoharp player of over 30 years, diatonic specialist, autoharp champion (Mountain Laurel 1992, Winfield International 1996) and the guy who likes to write about autoharps.

The best way to encapsulate my perspective is to state that I have essentially the same view of the autoharp as Bryan Bowers, a principal early inspiration for me. I believe that making any difference in how people in general regard what I do with my choice of instruments depends upon quality. Having a good instrument, being in precise tuning, playing well and being carefully prepared with thoughtful musicianship, selecting well suited material, and doing ones very best to entertain and make a good impression is what it means to be an autoharp ambassador. None of that matters to anyone else if one plays alone, but I will share ideas to consider for enhancing ones enjoyment of their autoharp. When you sound good and play well, an audience of one (you) is also more entertained.

My info

I am located in upstate South Carolina near Clemson and Greenville, about midway between Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA.

I have played autoharp since 1975 and have had an autoharp business since 1998. My Autoharp Works was the first online store featuring autoharps as a specialty. Thus I may on occasion reflect a certain "attitude" about copycats, wannabees, and those who pretended to be friends in need of assistance until they realized they could make money copying what I do while falsely claiming expertise, ignoring any agreements we might clearly have had.

I despise commercial hyperbole or exploitation of ones family situation or religion just to sell stuff. A customer should pick a vendor for the right reasons...product, product knowledge, quality, professional service, and value.

I am a long time dog lover and am very attached to my buddy, Rufus. Many years ago I owned a dog grooming business, bred and showed Basenjis, and was a professional handler for others' Basenjis. Rufus looks quite a lot like a Basenji but is a mixed breed and came to me totally by chance. He is a real blessing and the best dog I ever had...a little short on manners, but that's my fault. He pays attention and learns quickly. I have the luxury of working in my own shop, so I have the constant company of my dog. We both have it pretty good.

I am in my 60s and semi-retired. My professional background is in manufacturing, production and inventory control specifically, mostly in defense contracting. I am certified in production and inventory control by APICS and with additional schooling progressed into the software side, completing any real career as an application designer, manager, and project consultant for a couple of software companies. While that was industrial strength computing, I also became quite proficient with PCs, involved with them as tools since 1983.

A great deal of that work was technical writing and a technical orientation, so this blog will reflect some of that background. There is nothing florid about my writing as a result. Straightforward, structured, intended to clearly convey ideas, and free of indulgence in language that only I would really understand. It's not poetry.

Another symptom of being as much engineer as artist is that I rarely read fiction. I read mostly nonfiction. I also bridle at nonsense, BS if you will, and will probably comment if I think someone is full of it, didn't do their homework, or got the wrong impression from something they encountered elsewhere.

I am a real friendly guy. I just react to nonsense, sometimes gracefully and sometimes not. I mean well and keep trying.

I am not arrogant and am not elitist but will not back off when I encounter nonsense. Having the autoharp become more highly regarded requires some tough love on occasion. I keep searching for the best ways to convey ideas but am kind of stuck with being myself at the same time. I can be candid to a fault. Just know that what I write is what I believe. What I may advise is for the other party's benefit, not just a sales pitch.

My training as a Boy Scout sticks with me. I value the virtues of that oath:

Trustworthy
Loyal
Helpful
Friendly
Courteous
Kind
Obedient
Cheerful
Thrifty
Brave
Clean
Reverent

About this blog

The purpose of this blog is to provide a place to present my writing about autoharps, allow others to respond, and to be able to control the appropriateness of what others choose to offer. The intent is to discuss ideas, not personalities. Any unpleasantness will be summarily deleted and the writer will be escorted to the door along with anything he or she may have written. With that in mind, any contributors have my pledge that their material will be treated well, protected from abuse by me or anyone else. The site is fully, and actively moderated and will deal only with autoharps and directly related subjects. It is not a chat room, a place for socializing, a stage for goofy humor, a place to promote products, a prayer list, or a place to obtain illegal copies of written or recorded music. It is not a place to discuss anything except autoharps and the application of that instrument.

boblewis_bestpicture.jpg

This shot is from about 1998. I no longer own most of those instruments but it is a pretty good collage of what luthiers offered at that time, including my Orthey Winfield prize harp, the black Fladmark from Winfield '95, a custom Zephyr Hill in the background, a custom Goose Acres in my lap, and my old faithful FC Centurion in front of my leg.
Recreational music making in groups (having fun, socializing) does not define the scope of using the autoharp. Some like to play alone, perhaps with special tunings, and some want to excel and be credible solo or band performers. Using the autoharp at whatever level just to sooth your soul is fine too, call it "fun" if you will, but advancement of the autoharp is not in having autoharps owned in greater numbers, more folks "just like me". It is in making an impressive public presentation and in providing instruments of a quality that inspires people to spend time with the autoharp and to be better players.