Skip to main content
film review

Rick Kelly is the owner of Carmine Street Guitars.Sphinx Productions

  • Carmine Street Guitars
  • Directed by: Ron Mann
  • Written by: Len Blum
  • Classification: PG; 80 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

There are worse gigs than being a documentary filmmaker. Just look at Canada’s Ron Mann, who went down to Carmine Street Guitars in Greenwich Village and hung out while virtuosos the ilk of Charlie Sexton, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Christine Bougie came in and not only played the dickens out of some gorgeous handmade instruments, but interviewed guitar-shop owner Rick Kelly, too. Kelly is a quiet craftsman who lives without smartphones and computers, and who uses repurposed wood from New York landmarks to build his unique electric guitars. Nothing much happens in this pleasantly casual 80-minute conversation of a documentary. It doesn’t come to you; you must come to it – like a Jim Jarmusch film, particularly his Coffee and Cigarettes from 2003. (Not coincidentally, Jarmusch, a guitarist himself, is in this film.) Mann’s simple ode to Kelly and Carmine Street Guitars makes a case for creativity, community and the magic of old ways. We see Kelly carve out a guitar from historic wood and place the instrument in his shop window. Come on in, play it – maybe take it home. No pressure. Same goes with this unassuming and melodious film from Mann.

Carmine Street Guitars opens April 5 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal