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Guitar heroine: Mamie Minch doesn’t just play guitars — she also repairs them

Brooklyn Daily
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If you have ever wondered why blues music remains constantly refreshed with new, young talent, Park Slope singer and guitarist Mamie Minch may have the answer.

“Don’t tell anyone, but it’s not terribly hard to play,” she said, with a laugh. “So, it’s pretty inclusive.”

That is not to say that Minch does not appreciate a guitar virtuoso — she is a lover of all things six-string. But she said she gravitates more toward the pre-war sound, one dominated by acoustic instrumentation and rough and ready vocalizing.

“I think that pretty isn’t always better,” Minch explained. “I prefer an emotive voice over a polished one.”

A similar spirit has driven this 32-year-old musician’s work since breaking out on her own in 2007. Prior to that, she concentrated her efforts on the Roulette Sisters, a band that specialized in 1940s and ’50s-era girl group harmonics a la the Andrews Sisters.

But for the past seven years, Minch — along with her band Mamie Minch and Her Business — has embraced both the sound of solo players such as Memphis Minnie and Charlie Patton, and the hot electric blues of ’60s pioneers such as Howlin’ Wolf.

Minch’s interest in the sound of acoustic guitars and dobros goes beyond playing them, as she also spends her days repairing string instruments. She recently opened Brooklyn Lutherie in Gowanus to help her fellow players keep their instruments in tiptop shape, in addition to restoring vintage guitars to working condition.

A love for the craft of music and instruments came at an early age for Minch, via her father. He introduced his daughter to blues music and had plenty of guitars around the house on which to practise. It also helped that she was given a very old-fashioned sounding name.

“I found a Muddy Waters song called ‘Mamie,’ ” she said, “and I thought, ‘Wow. Maybe these are my people.’ ”

During a residency at Barbes in Park Slope this month, Minch will be dabbling in many of her influences, including her March 8 performance, where she will be joined by Tamar Korn — a jazz vocalist whose reedy, chirpy tone would sound perfect coming from a scratchy 78 record. Minch expects the show to be quite the spectacle — if only because the 6-foot-1 singer towers over her co-star.

“She’s a full foot shorter than me,” Minch said. “We’re talking about putting her on a milk crate.”

Mamie Minch plays Barbes [376 Ninth St. at Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, (347) 422–0248, www.barbesbrooklyn.com] Saturdays in March at 6 pm. $10.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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