Accompanying music album Hanging Tree Guitars to be released September 25

Rolling Stone hailed new book Hanging Tree Guitars, out last week by Freeman Vines with Zoe Buren and Timothy Duffy on Bitter Southerner and Music Maker Relief Foundation, as “haunting” as Smithsonian Magazine, Boing Boing, Variety, and others raved. The book chronicles the journey of the sculptor/guitarmaker, who was gifted wood from a tree used for lynchings and has made powerful sculptures and guitars from it, a process photographed by Duffy in a series of tintypes.

NPR Weekend Edition plans to run a profile of Vines, likely to air this weekend, and Smithsonian Magazine’s feature ran yesterday.

Meanwhile, an innovative online exhibition has launched. allows viewers to examine the sculptures and guitars up close, watch video of Vines at work, appreciate Timothy Duffy’s tintype photographs of Vines and his art, better understand the socio-political and cultural contexts in which Vines resides with essays by folklorist Will Boone and Lonnie Holley, experience Freeman’s own story as well the story of the interactions between Duffy and Vines.

Music Maker Relief Foundation will stream a conversation between Vines and Virginia Museum of Art Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Curator Valerie Cassel Olive on September 24. He previously spoke with the Francois Billion Richardson curator of African art at the New Orleans Museum of Art Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba.

September 25, Music Maker will release an accompanying compilation album also entitled ‘Hanging Tree Guitars’ of blues and gospel music about race, which features Guitar Gabriel, Johnny Ray Daniels (playing one of Vines’ guitars), and Freeman’s sisters in the Glorifying Vines Sisters.

Here’s what we’re reading about the book:

“Haunting new book.”
–David Browne, Rolling Stone, August 26, 2020

“[A] singular man… each of his creations seems to embody a dance between life and death… The book is packed with fascinating details about Vines’ idiosyncratic approach to guitar-making, and about his early life in Jim Crow North Carolina, where a legacy of racist violence shaped his view of the world, and continues to exert a deep influence over his guitar designs… [accompanied by] remarkable photographs.”
–Ted Scheinman, Smithsonian Magazine, September 1, 2020

“Gorgeously illustrated… poetic rumination… highlights the worst of endemic racism and ‘the art of resistance.’”
–Linda Laban, Variety, August 11, 2020

“A fabulous book – just profoundly beautiful, filled with extraordinary materials, and terrific photographs.”
–Carrie Mae Weems

“A heartfelt and beautifully-realized book. Freeman now has a legacy that extends longer, further and so elegantly.”
–Sally Mann

“His eyes on the art, his soul connected to the wood, are informed by his ancient ancestors, fired by the last 500 years of experience in this country.”
–Taj Mahal (GRAMMY Award-winning musician)

“Let me free your brain. This man is going to be a Free Man, but with sound. After his death is over, he’s going to be as important as Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass.”
–Lonnie Holley

“Deeply moving.”
–Boing Boing, August 3, 2020

“Hanging Tree Guitars is a haunting book that blends the eloquent voice of Freeman Vines with photographs of his guitars – some carved from a tree where a black man was lynched. The book is a grim reminder that race defines both Freeman Vines’ life and our own. Tim Duffy’s photographs bring a dreamlike quality to the book and underscore its timeless power.”
–Dr. William R. Ferris (Grammy award winner & former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities)

“Incredibly powerful… This multimedia project from Music Maker Relief Foundation is a harrowing look at the legacy of racial violence in America and a testament to the power of artistic creation.”
–Devon Leger, Folk Alley, August 7, 2020

Hanging Tree Guitars - Small - Credit Timothy Duffy