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She’s inviting music friends to come play with her; Busler is waiting for beloved Taylor guitar to be repaired by the man who made it in 1979

When Lisa Busler performs Saturday at Sinclair’s East, she’ll bring decades of talent and experience to a rare 2020 appearance. 

“That’s the first time I’ll have played in a long time since after the shutdown,” said Busler, who’ll perform from 7-10 p.m. 

She won’t be alone. The Montgomery singer/songwriter is inviting all her music friends to come out and join her for a sit in. 

“Not a jam, per se, but come up and play on a couple,” Busler said. 

This will be a chance to hear a different side of Busler, who has been enjoying getting back to some of her favorite softer finger-picking style songs from the ’70s and ’80s. 

“I’m trying to go back and revisit my roots a little bit. I don’t know what you would call my style of late, but it’s sort of a bluesy, rocky kind of feel to a lot of the stuff I have done of late,” Busler said. “I’ve been rediscovering some of my earlier folky kind of ties. I found an old songbook that I hadn’t played anything out of probably since college. It was full of Joan Baez and Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young and all this stuff that I had not done in years. Boy, I have really been enjoying playing through some of that.”

Taylor terror

While Busler will have a new music focus going in to Saturday’s appearance, what she won’t have is her beloved 1979 solid Brazilian rosewood Taylor acoustic guitar. 

She’s a longtime Taylor guitar fan, and said she’s probably one of the first to play that kind of guitar in gigs around Montgomery. 

“Oh, my God, it’s like someone cut the head off my favorite child,” Busler said. 

Here’s what happened. Busler was filling in at a gig, a show her normal roadie couldn’t be there for. After the performance, she had guys assisting her pack up. The guitar was in the case, but it wasn’t secured. When it got picked up, the Taylor fell out and broke its handcrafted neck. It snapped in half just below the headstock, were the tuning posts are. 

“I had a nervous breakdown,” Busler said. “It just killed me.” 

She had several experts look at the beautiful splintered rosewood. While it could be repaired, she was told it would never be the quite the same, and that the repair might not even hold. 

“Brian Hinton at Bailey Brothers sent it back to Taylor for me,” Busler said. 

At first, the only option she was given was to replace the entire neck at a cost of $1,000. They couldn’t see another way to guarantee the guitar’s structural stability. 

“I just was crushed, but had sort of unwillingly went along with it,” Busler said. 

After some emails and pleas from Busler, she got a powerful assist from a friend of a friend. Mike Moody got the man Busler’s guitar is named after to step in.  

“Mike knows Bob Taylor, who handmade my guitar,” Busler said. “He actually made my guitar.” 

At Moody’s request, Busler said that Taylor left his office, went across the parking lot two buildings over to the workshop to look at it. 

“He said, ‘No, we’re going to repair this guitar. I did this exact same repair last year on Neil Young’s 1976 Taylor,’” Busler said. 

What Taylor told Moody, who then passed it on to Busler, is this: “I can tell that she’s got an awful lot of stories worn into this guitar, and we need to preserve it.”

“That just made me cry,” Busler said. 

So, yes, THE Bob Tayor is fixing Busler’s guitar, and has been sending Moody and Busler photos of the work as it proceeds. She’s enjoying watching as it gets pieced back together.

“It’s pretty cool that he built it, and I’m actually getting his hands to repair it,” Busler said. 

She’s hoping to have her Taylor back by Sept. 1.

In the meanwhile, she’s leaning on a different love, her ebony 1979 Gibson Dove. That’s what she’ll bring Saturday to Sinclair’s East. 

“This guitar has a totally different sound to it,” Busler said. “I may actually get to where I play it more. I hear it on certain songs. It’s like, yeah, I’m going to have to start taking both guitars again.” 

You can bet she’ll make sure the cases for both are secure when they go out on gigs. 

Music and mending

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In a way, Busler can very much identify with her broken Taylor. 

Over the years, She’s had several surgeries related to myelomalacia, a painful condition that causes her spinal cord to soften. She’s also dealt with damage caused by an implanted pain medication pump that malfunctioned, causing the medicine to crystalize. 

Just a year ago, Busler had another spinal surgery. After that, she lost feeling and sensation in her legs. 

While still recovering from that surgery, she had the opportunity to record her original song “Baltimore Wind” with producer Doc Holiday at Sony Tree Studios on Nashville’s Music Row. 

Since its release, Busler said “Baltimore Wind” did good overseas. 

“I had a lot more response apparently in Belgium,” she said. “I’m still getting airplay.”

Last year, the song also earned a win for folk at the Global Music Awards. 

“I’m very proud of that,” she said. 

Enter 2020, which was supposed to be Busler’s big year of promoting her new song. We all know what happened next with the coronavirus shutdown. 

“I didn’t get the press I wanted to get. I couldn’t do the traveling that I needed to do to try to push it,” Busler said. 

There’s more to do with the Nashville project, which Busler said had to wait because of another health setback requiring another surgery. 

“That kind of slammed me again backwards,” Busler said. 

Accepting, but not giving up

Busler’s personal motto is that while she’s above ground she’ll be grateful and won’t complain, because it could always be worse.

“It’s the small, little blessings that come your way that make life doable,” Busler said. 

There was a period of time where Busler said she could see improvements in her health. That only went so far, though. 

“I really did hit a plateau where it just isn’t going to get any better,” she said. “I’ve had some decline with the function of my legs.” 

These days, Bustler said she’s settled into a new existence. It’s one she accepts, including having to use a wheelchair. 

“I am limited, and it has been an adjustment,” said Busler. “But, you know, life is all about adjustment. It’s just another thing you have to adapt to.” 

She lives on her own as independently as she can, though she relies on help with transportation from place to place. 

“I don’t have a vehicle that’s accommodating for me to drive it,” she said. “I’m going to have to try to work on that.” 

She does have an electric scooter given to her by a friend, which has been a blessing in allowing her to get up and down the ramp to her house. It lets her get out in the yard and enjoy some outdoors time. 

“Life is about changes,” Busler said. “You adapt and move on, or you get run over. And I’m not going to get run over. I have much faster wheels to roll right on over whatever challenges are in my way.” 

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Shannon Heupel at sheupel@gannett.com.

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