Musicians came from all over Maine to Westbrook Saturday for CBG Madness, a cigar box guitar festival pairing blues and rock musicians with homemade guitars.

The show at American Legion Post 197 on Conant Street sold out, and the hall was packed wall to wall with cigar box guitar builders selling their instruments, spectators and performers, including Eastwood Station, the File-5’s, Steve Arvey and Memphis Lightning.

The handmade guitars with a distinctive electric twang are a throwback to Americana blues of the past, says festival organizer and Mainely CBG owner Steve Richard of Westbrook. Made from cigar boxes and other recycled materials, the guitars often produce a metallic sound similar to Memphis blues of the mid-1900s.

Richards designed all the cigar box guitars played at Saturday’s show, and some musicians also played traditional guitars between CBG songs. Richards’ guitars were raffled off after each set. Audience members who spoke with the American Journal said they came for the unique blend of arts, craftwork and music.

“I really enjoy this, it’s something you don’t really get to see around or in Maine,” said Alison Lindquist of South Paris. “The guitars are cool, I really want to play one, I never have before.”

“It’s something unique but at the same time like musical tradition,” Portland resident Ryan Giroux said.


Musicia and Portlander Fat Knuckle Freddy performed with his band the File-5’s, performing classic southern rock and blues, switching between his own guitar and the cigar box guitar Richard designed for the show.

He said he prefers the sound of the cigar box guitars, noting each builder has their own style.

“This festival is always a great time, I love to see the builders, people come out. These guitars are special, it is very Americana, and they are fun to play, even the three stringed ones,” he said.

Builder and festival vendor Burt Philbrook of Norway, owner of Burt’s Blues Boxes, said as a metal head, he likes to give his cigar box guitars more of a heavy metal sound.

“The homemade instrument thing is really neat, seeing what builders bring to the table. We try and go to events like this whenever we can and making the trip to Westbrook was worth it,” Philbrook said.

The variety makes CBG Madness special, Richard said.

“It’s cool, the music rocks, the people are good, you can’t beat it,” Richard said.



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