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One Guitar
Credit: One Guitar Project, courtesy

It was at an East End Songwriter’s workshop in 2013 when group leader Don Bracken had an idea.

It was near the end of the session when the songwriters had already played their music when he suggested that every body there play one more song before the night was over.

The catch? Each of the five members present at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Aquebogue that night had to play it on his 1961 Gibson J45.

“The natural reverb was great,” Bracken wrote in a mass email. “Everyone played and we all remarked we should record right here with this guitar sometime.”

Thus the One Guitar Project — a charitable two-disc compilation album featuring 29 singer/songwriters performing on that same guitar at the same time and place — was born.

The $20 CD is now available on the North Fork at Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue and all proceeds will benefit Maureen’s Haven, which provides shelter for the homeless during the colder months.

Unlike the instrument used, Bracken says, the album spans many genres.

“Because it is one acoustic guitar and a singer with no added effects or overdubs, people may think it’s a folk album,” Bracken told northforker. “But if you listen carefully we have rock, indie, Americana, blues, jazz, celtic and more.”

To fund the project, Bracken applied for a grant through Thrivent, a Lutheran affiliated insurance company. The organization gave him $250 in seed money with the caveat that it be spent by the end of 2014.

That was in early December of 2014.

Bracken admitted that gathering the group with just three weeks of notice and raising nearly $4,000 in that time for production cost was no easy task.

“Everyone made me look as if I know what I am doing,” he said. “So if anyone tells you they never witness miracles, tell them to look at this.”

During the recording session on Dec. 27, 2014, each musician was allotted a 20-minute slot to play up to two songs on the guitar which they had likely not seen or played before they arrived. The project was recorded by Lantern Sound Recording Rig at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, which hosts Maureen’s Haven once a week.

Marty Attridge, a participant of the One Guitar Project and a member of the band “Who Are Those Guys,” said the most challenging part of the experience was performing on a “strange” guitar.

“As a player you get used to the sound and feel of your own instrument,” he said. “None of us really had a chance to practice with the ‘one guitar.’ But, judging from the results, I’d say we did pretty good.”

Bracken hopes the project will inspire the East End community to recognize that there is a real musical scene happening here.

“I wanted this [album] to be something you could listen to over and over,” he said. “Not just a compilation disc to raise money that people would buy and throw on the shelf or worse, in the garbage because they wanted to help a cause.”

Members of the One Guitar Project will perform on May 21, 2015 7 p.m. at the Vail Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here. The CD is included in the ticket price.

Those who cannot make the concert Thursday night, but would still like to support the project can do so by visiting this page.

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