A local woodworker and a guitar aficionado had a hand, literally, in the powerful music emanating from the stage during the headline performance by the band The National at the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival July 7.

The guitar one of the band’s members, Bryce Dessner, played during one of the festival’s highlight shows was built by Gordy Bischoff and Tim Brudnicki, who combined their talents to form Eau Claire Guitar Works. 

Another band member, Bryce’s brother Aaron Dessner, previously bought a guitar from Bischoff and Brudnicki. Aaron Dessner co-founded Eaux Claires with Bon Iver frontman and Eau Claire native Justin Vernon three years ago.  

Bischoff has been making guitars for the past four decades under the Bischoff Guitars name. He has crafted instruments for many acclaimed regional musicians, including Vernon. 

The owner of Eau Claire Woodworks and Tree Purpose of Eau Claire, Brudnicki is known for his distinctive style that melds function and art. He has created a wide variety of artistic wood products, some of which are featured in such locations as The Lismore and Oxbow hotels in downtown Eau Claire.

The guitars the duo make are comprised of reclaimed urban wood, much of it ash trees the city of Eau Claire has cut to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer.

Bischoff and Brudnicki had two guitars they created on display in the artists’ village at Eaux Claires. I stopped by their tent to chat and to see other products Brudnicki had set up for sale at the event. The duo discussed their latest guitar-making ventures and mentioned that Bryce Dessner planned to use one of their guitars in the band’s performance that night. 

Later, during The National’s set list, Bischoff and Brudnicki enjoyed the vibrant guitar sounds reverberating through festival grounds from the stage bathed in multi-hued, moving lights, taking a bit of personal pride in that performance.  

  Contact: 715-830-5911, julian.emerson@ecpc.com