Cajun accordion genius Nathan Abshire recording Pine Grove Blues, 1949.
Attribution: The Louisiana Endowment. Pine Grove Press.
The year is 1962. The Beatles release their first single for Parlophone, "Love Me Do". The Rolling Stones are still honing their craft in a cold & dirty flat, complete unknowns outside of the specialist blues clubs around London. Meanwhile, in a coastal town just 25 miles north of The Beatles home city of Liverpool, Rod Boyes of Pinegrove Leather enters this world. His first endurance test comes that winter, the coldest in England since 1740. Thankfully he made it through.
Fast forward 15 years, and Rod is already writing his own songs in his typical teenage bedroom. Like most kids, he started off strumming his way through the Beatles Songbook. The rest is a sequence of bands playing (vaguely in order) punk rock, bluegrass, Cajun, and western swing. Rod's current band, The 309s, plays a range of styles that became the roots of rock 'n' roll: Jump blues (the original R&B), swing jazz, country, boogie, honky-tonk, early rockabilly and a load of other stuff that can hardly be pigeonholed. The band's name comes from the Johnny Cash song "With The 309".
Rod Boyes (guitar) with his band The 309s
Since 2012, Rod has run Pinegrove Leather with his wife Lou. The Pinegrove name is taken from a favourite song Rod used to play whilst in a Cajun band, "Pine Grove Blues" by Nathan Abshire. The company's true beginnings start with a case for Rod’s harmonicas, made on the kitchen table using a vintage Zephyr sewing machine. It was rough, but attracted a lot of attention. From that, the idea of making more leather gear for musicians and instruments grew and grew.
The original harmonica case that seeded the creation of Pinegrove Leather
All the products in the Pinegrove collection are design originals. As a guitar and harmonica player himself, Pinegrove's designer Rod understands what other players need. Of course he has a whole bunch of music friends who want to try out his new designs. By the time a new case or strap has complete its design journey, there will be a good-sized box filled with rejected iterations. That's just the way it is.
The design process in action