Carmine Street Guitars
MAD | Music/Art/Design
Nestled in Greenwich Village, Carmine Street Guitars is a showcase for Rick Kelly’s custom instruments—and heaven on earth for music fans.
Repurposing wood from storied New York establishments that have now been demolished, Kelly crafts stunning Telecasters that double as lightning rods for musical luminaries. Ron Mann’s documentary invites us into this singular establishment where the esteemed likes of Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Eleanor Friedberger, Jim Jarmusch, The Sadies and Charlie Sexton stop by to sample the wares and share some songs.
And while a benefit show’s worth of luminaries certainly offer Carmine Street Guitars some high-voltage star power, the exceedingly humble Kelly is undeniably its heart and soul. An ideal subject for Mann’s laid back approach, Kelly is as comfortable bantering with the legendary likes of Lenny Kay or Marc Ribot as he is with his young apprentice or 93-year-old mother (who still serves as the store’s bookkeeper).
Given the upscale eateries and boutiques that now bracket Kelly’s shop, it’s unsurprising that real estate developers are circling like sharks. By illustrating the craftsmanship and community that flourishes within its walls, Mann makes an overwhelmingly compelling case for its preservation and the perpetuation of the values it embodies.