George & Anwyn Leverett
George Leverett started out as a business student at UNR (Reno, Nevada) with the intention of being an accountant, but given the uncertainties of that field, he decided to take a more assured career path and became a musician & luthier instead. George and Anwyn Leverett began crafting musical instruments in the early 1990's. It started with lap dulcimers, also known as Appalachian dulcimers. In those early days, they would display their work at local farmers' markets.
During that time, George and Anwyn also played with a Celtic folk group, and one of the other members of the group loaned George a harp to play. Within a short time, they had acquired plans and began building harps as well. Much of that time was spent traveling and performing or making harps & dulcimers during down time.
At a Renaissance fair, they heard the most unusual sound ever and followed it to the player, and had their first encounter with the hurdy-gurdy.
After that, Anwyn tracked down a hurdy-gurdy of her own, but it was such an economical instrument that it didn't play very well. George used it to make his first set of plans, correcting the obvious issues with the instrument and using that to build a replacement for her (around 1996). They used that first instrument during numerous live performances, occasionally making others as people would ask 'where can I get an instrument like that?'.
In 1999, the musical group disbanded and George & Anwyn continued performing as a duo. We also shifted to incorporate a greater focus on instrument making. During the 2000's, they crafted primarily harps and hurdy-gurdies, displaying instruments at craft fairs and art shows along the west coast. As the business grew, so did the woodshop and the tools with which they built. Hand tools gave way to power tools, which then transitioned into larger power tools.
In late 2007, they were so busy crafting instruments that they stopped traveling with art shows, spending more time at home in the woodshop. They noticed a difference between the harps they were crafting and the hurdy-gurdies. The artistry and decorative aspects that would take months of evolution for the harp came easily and intuitively with the hurdy-gurdy. It seemed like they were just naturally 'wired' for hurdy-gurdy making.
In late 2008, they shifted their entire focus to hurdy-gurdies, Over the years, the shop has grown has grown to include an apprentice named Josha Zacha, who is helping in her own way to evolve the craft. Josha is also a musician, and besides time spent in the woodshop, they perform pirate music together under the name 'Long Blond Silver'. Look for their music and their instruments to be front and center on both Saturday and Sunday at the Montana Folk Festival.