Shop Class Philanthropists

Industrial-arts programs were important to Bob Taylor and Greg Deering when they were growing up in San Diego. It was during woodshop classes they made their first instruments: Taylor made his first guitar in his 11th grade woodshop class at San Diego High in 1972, and Deering made his first banjo while enrolled in a woodshop class at San Diego State.

After working together at Lemon Grove guitar manufacturer the American Dream Musical Instrument MFG in the mid-’70s, Deering and Taylor branched off and started their own companies, both in East County.

For the past 35 years, based on the skills they learned from taking woodshop class, Deering Banjos and Taylor Guitars have risen to the top of guitar and banjo manufacturing worldwide.

But the two found out that funding for industrial-arts programs was getting shaved from East County school budgets.

As a way to support the industrial-arts programs in East County schools, and to raise money and put funds back into local high school woodshops, Taylor and Deering, along with the East County Economic Development Council, are putting together a benefit concert for East County industrial-arts programs at Cuyamaca College on May 8.

The headlining acts at the “Build a Future Concert” are renowned folk and bluegrass legends the Kruger Brothers and country-style acoustic guitarist Doyle Dykes.

“There’s a mistake in thinking that slow kids take shop while smart kids take academics,” wrote taylor in an email. “I reject that notion. I’m smart, and I took shop. By removing industrial arts from school, we disallow those who are talented in such things the ability to discover that they are.”

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