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The sounds of success

Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical guitar-building student David Kriesel waits for local professional musician Mark Kreitzer to play his instrument Tuesday afternoon. Kriesel built his guitar this year for his brother and inlayed his brother's name on the fret board. (Republican Eagle photos by John R. Russett) 1 / 4
Mark Kreitzer plays David Kriesel's guitar during the annual Guitar Show at Southeast Technical Tuesday afternoon. 2 / 4
Guitars line tables Tuesday afternoon in the commons area at Southeast Technical. All the guitars on display were built by students. Professional musicians usually play all the instruments at the show, but since Curren Effinger is left handed, he had to play his instrument himself. 3 / 4
Curren Effinger stands next to his guitar and talks with people passing by, answering questions and explaining his work. 4 / 4

In a dimly lit bar on a sunny Wednesday afternoon David Kriesel leaned forward on his stool, a beer resting between both hands, and let out a sigh.

“Yeah, that’s it. It’s kind of a blue feeling,” Kriesel said.

Hours earlier, Curren Effinger’s voice flickered with excitement as he explained a feeling he’s never had before in his life – he wasn’t ready for school to end.

Tuesday, Kriesel and Effinger, who are both Guitar Repair and Building students at Minnesota State College–Southeast Technical, stood amongst friends and family with their newly finished guitars on display as part of the annual Guitar Show.

On Tuesday, Kriesel walked through the halls of Southeast Technical for the last time as a student — poking his head in to look at the shop one last time. He packed up some belongings on Wednesday and left town Thursday morning still not entirely certain what his future holds.

“I’ve got some things to ponder,” Kriesel said, who is heading to Nashville Monday to take a five-day bench test with Gruhn Guitars, which is one of a few potential landing spots for his first job out of school.

Nashville would be the farthest Kriesel has ever lived from his hometown of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which makes a potential job in his home state with McPherson Guitars something he said is also of interest.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Kriesel said if he gets offers from both companies he really couldn’t say which one he would pick.

One thing he said he has going for him is that he doesn’t have the time to sit down and pore over his choices – his decision needs to be made when he returns from Nashville.

Effinger, on the other hand, who just finished his first year in the two-year program and his first guitar, knows exactly what he’ll be doing over the summer and through next spring.

For the moment, however, Effinger said he is enjoying everything that comes with finishing his first instrument, from the feeling of accomplishment to actually playing a guitar he built with his own two hands.

“It’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced in my life so far,” he said.

Effinger plans to build a couple guitars for musicians he knows from Duluth, where he grew up, and if it was up to him, he’d just work on the guitars all summer long.

“Honestly, I’m going to miss being able to come in here and work every day,” he said.

Kriesel also will miss the classrooms of Southeast Technical and said Red Wing will always have a place in his heart, but he’s excited and ready for a new challenge.

“It’s not a lot of looking back, but that’s good,” he said of moving on with his life and career. “You look back too long and you start to second guess what you’re doing.”

The feeling of finality hit Kriesel when Mark Kreitzer, local musician and frequent performer at the Guitar Show, finished playing Kriesel’s guitar for the audience.

“When that song was over it was like, ‘Wow, that’s it,’” Kriesel said, adding the last few days were overwhelming, but he’s making a point of not getting ahead of himself and credited his wife as being instrumental on that front.

“(This decision) is very nerve-wracking,” Kriesel said. “But it’s important, so it should be.”

Kriesel said he’s very grateful for his time in Red Wing and would like to thank everyone he’s met along the way and everyone who has supported him throughout the years.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last two years,” he said.

But for now, Kriesel will simply focus on the next step – or half step – as it comes.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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