I am very proud to now be sponsored by Lakota Leathers fine music instrument straps. My relationship with them is in the category of small dealer/artist relations. I will explain what that means but first I thought I’d tell you how it happened.
Last year I had an official vendor booth at the IBMA World Bluegrass convention to introduce my first novel, “The Mandolin Case.” Many of the best products in the industry are represented there that week. This is where I met the fine folks at TKL Cedar Creek Custom Case Division. They became my first sponsor.
Lakota had a booth near mine and I stopped in to check out their mandolin straps. It was love at first sight. It was the softest most comfortable one I’d ever touched, I bought one for my ’97 Bruce Weber signed F5 and it has been on there ever since.
There was more to it than that though. I realized these were the same Lakota Indians who are so well-known by Marty Stuart. (listen to his Badlands CD) I am sad to report the Lakotas are the poorest community in the nation. I figured if craftmanship of this quality was from them and it was part of their livelihood I wanted to help preserve some ancient Native Americans ways that do not need to be lost.
So after Cedar Creek became an official sponsor of the Tommy Bibey tour I approached Lakota. I told them my philosophy on sponsors. “Look, I’m no big thing and my gig ain’t like NASCAR, but I do like to associate my name with products I have all faith in and actually use. I’d like to work out some tour relationship with you guys, I do have a brain cancer right now, and will be in intensive treatment until August 1, but plan to be back on the road once a once a month basis after that, with some limited outings (1 hour at a stretch) while in treatment. Also I plan a limited part-time doctor comeback in late summer and I will need to devote most of my energy to that. The exact doctor format will be announced around Aug 1 by my company; my doctors will not allow me to return to my old full tilt status ’doctor of record’ status at this time; my vision and balance have to improve before that could occur)
So, after some discussion, here is my relationship with them. It falls under small dealer/artist relations. It means as a dealer I’ll have a small sampling of their straps in mandolin, guitar and banjo. And of course I am happy to sell these although the original one I bought will never be for sale; I am emotionally attached to it. By my choice I will not sell these at a discount for deveral reasons. My reason for no discounts is first of all, this project is part of the livelihood of the Lakota Indians. Their plight is well documented by Marty Stuart and on the Lakota website. Second, Lakota as a small business, and like all small biz, they struggle to stay afloat. I know how it is. There was many years I wondered if I could hold my old Mom and Pop biz in the road. I was a good doc but no one could accuse me of being a businessman although things worked out in the end. So with those thoughts, the price I can offer is the same as the website, except I would be able to save you shipping as that has already been handled.
In artist relations though here is what I plan. If you are a touring bluegrass artist who does not have a strap deal at this time I would like for you to use one out of my stock for a month and try it out. All I ask in return in that you tell people about Lakota straps (let ‘em feel these things) and offer a breif statement at the end of the month as to how you liked it. And folks no fear if you buy a “used one” that was on tour for a month. These things are made from bufflo hide, a subject the Native Americans are long-term experts on.The straps feel like butter but wear like iron. They will be no worse for the wear and maybe we can get the artists to sign a little certificate of authenticity which would be a cool touch.
I’ll also list Lakota on my artist sponsor page. I am proud to be associated with them. Here’s their website: www.lakotaleathers.com