2017 Conference Schedule

Meet Our Speakers


"LAST MAN SANDING: My Journey from Indie LUTHIER to Taylor GUITARS"

As the master guitar designer at Taylor Guitars, Andy Powers serves as the chief architect of new Taylor guitar models and leads the ongoing refinement of Taylor’s existing product line. Powers’ depth of expertise as a craftsman blends a finely honed sense of aesthetics with nuanced woodworking skills, building upon the rich heritage of previous generations of instrument makers while advancing the art form into inspiring new territory. His decades of experience in musical instrument construction, along with his guitar-making philosophy, have found the perfect home at Taylor Guitars.

Powers joined the company in 2011 at the invitation of Bob Taylor, who had gotten to know and admire his work in the same greater San Diego area where Taylor Guitars is based. Impressed with his pure guitar-making talent and his abilities as a player, Bob Taylor has called Powers “the best guitar builder I’ve ever met.”

A native of Oceanside, California, Powers began his woodworking journey early in life. The son of a carpenter and his artist wife, Powers had his first workbench as a boy, and shortly thereafter began playing piano and guitar. In a house where musical instruments, tools and wood were always readily available, curiosity got the best of him: his first attempts at building guitars came before the age of 10. As Powers’ designs quickly improved, his hobby grew into a passion, and he began selling his instruments to customers while he was still a teenager. Encouraged by his parents to pursue the arts, he began to explore the world of traditional inlaid art, using his instruments as a canvas.

Prior to joining Taylor, Powers was the proprietor of Andy Powers Instruments in Oceanside, and his diverse instrument-making repertoire included flattop, archtop and electric guitars, along with ukuleles. His reputation for superb craftsmanship helped him build an impressive client list of local and international musicians, and his work is highly respected by fellow luthiers. 

Powers graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in music with a guitar performance emphasis.

"social media and e-commerce for luthiers"

Social Media is inspiring a new genre of discovery, sharing, peer-to-peer engagement and new monetization opportunities for luthiers, suppliers and dealers. This new reality will come to light in our keynote address where a social media leader will explore the opportunities for marketing instruments on a global scale, and reveal techniques for turning fans, followers and friends into paying customers.

Sandy Fleischer brings two decades of digital agency experience to Pound & Grain. Recognized as an industry leader, he's presented at high profile events such as SXSW, Adobe Max, and the Society of Digital Agencies' SoDA Speaks. Sandy contributes regularly to Strategy Magazine and is a former board member at DigiBC, the industry association for digital media in BC. 

At Pound & Grain, he’s led engagements with SAP, TELUS, Electronic Arts, The CFL, Arc'Teryx, MEC, and others. In his secret other life, Sandy is known as DJ Pescatore, and has played to crowds across Canada, the US and Italy.



Almost three decades ago, Dave Dunwoodie, Graph Tech's President, was mid-performance at a gig in his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.  Hitting the tremolo bar on his first Fender® Strat (he was a Gibson® man) during a guitar solo, he was immediately introduced to the problem of string binding on traditional guitar nuts.  "I went to do my first "wang" and went totally out of tune" Dave said.  "I couldn't use the guitar for stage work at all.

Spurred by the resurgence in popularity of tremolo guitars, the need for pencil lead in the nut slots, and his own frustration, Dave began experimenting with a variety of composite guitar nuts designed to eliminate string binding.  He engineered the world's first self-lubricating nut, a formula 500% more slippery than graphite.  Almost thirty years later Graph Tech Guitar Labs has become an institution, producing some of the industries most innovative and reliable nuts, saddles bridge pins, bridges and pickup systems. Through patented methods and proprietary techniques, Graph Tech has designed specific tone and performance enhancements that were once impossible to achieve.  

The result is an outstanding reputation for quality and rapid acceptance by guitar players.  Dave's commitment has never waned: "I envisioned a people-and service-orientated company that can turn on a dime and respond to our customers' needs."  The successful introduction of totally new concepts (as opposed to "copy cat" products) into the guitar market have led to Graph Tech's booming success. Graph Tech products are factory installed worldwide on Carvin®, Furch®, Gibson®, Godin®, Guild®,Larrivee®, Martin®, Raimundo®, Schecter®, Taylor®, Tom Anderson®, Warmoth®, Washburn®, Yamaha®, and many others. 



With tributes from Linda Manzer, David Iannone, Grit Laskin and Sergie De Yonge

VIGF is proud to present its inaugural Luthier Industry Builder Award to Jean-Claude Larrivée, in honour of his significant and lasting contribution to the evolution of the guitar building industry.

The award is presented on the 50th Anniversary of Larrivée Guitars. It’s fitting that the award ceremony take place in British Columbia, the province where Jean launched his company to the international market. Larrivée manufactured guitars in BC from 1977-2013. 

Jim Byrnes.jpg

Meet our Host: Jim Byrnes

Jim Byrnes was born in St. Louis, Missouri – that’s blues country. By age thirteen, Jim was singing and playing blues guitar. His first professional gig was in 1964. Over the years, he has had the great good fortune to appear with a virtual who’s who of the blues. From Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker to Taj Mahal and Robert Cray, Jim has been on the blues highway for 45 years.

Jim moved to Vancouver, BC in the mid-70s after years of drifting, working odd jobs and playing music. In 1981 he put together a band that became a staple of the local music scene. In 1986 the Jim Byrnes Band played 300 nights.

Jim’s fame as an actor has grown immeasurably from his too-numerous-to-mention TV and movie roles, highlights including television’s Wiseguy and Highlander series, and his national variety show, The Jim Byrnes Show.

Jim has produced five outstanding albums in the last 10 years since he hooked up with Steve Dawson, one of North America’s most critically acclaimed roots music producers. 2004’s Fresh Horses and 2006’s gospel tinged Juno Award winning House of Refuge set standards that aren’t often equaled. Jim plays 150 dates a year in North America and Europe, and will continue to bring his music to stages all over the world.  

Recent Accolades:

2014 Maple Blues Awards (Best Male Vocalist — I Hear The Wind in the Wires)
2011 Juno winner (Blues Album of the Year — Everywhere West)
2011 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee (Blues Album of the Year - Everywhere West)
2010 Western Canadian Music Awards Winner (Blues Album of the Year — My Walking Stick)
2006 Juno Award winner (Blues Album of the Year — House of Refuge)
2006 Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Best Contemporary Singer — House of Refuge)
2006 Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Producer / Steve Dawson — House of Refuge)
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner (Recording of the Year — House of Refuge)
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner (Best Male Vocalist — House of Refuge)




5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Once the conference ends, you're invited to head over to The Emerald for some libations, socializing, and perhaps even some impromptu jamming!

The restaurant will open for dinner at 7:30; for reservations, call (778) 788-6120 or complete the request form on the Emerald's website.