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SXSW First Look: ‘Really Good Rejects’ Showcases “Weird Magic” Of Premiere Guitar Maker Reuben Cox

Reuben Cox in his guitar shop in the Los Angeles area

EXCLUSIVE: Reuben Cox insists he isn’t musically inclined, yet he has become vital to some of rock n’ roll’s foremost recording artists.

The North Carolina native, a gifted artist and photographer, has become a leading luthier – a maker of stringed instruments. His extraordinary craftsmanship is explored in the documentary Really Good Rejects, directed by Alice Gu (The Donut King), which is making its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.

Jackson Browne, Carrie Brownstein, Andrew Bird, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Aaron Dessner of The National are among the luminaries who appear in the documentary, testifying to the “weird magic” Cox imbues into guitars, whether electric or acoustic. Working at a lathe, Cox can repurpose wood from a countertop or barn into an instrument “that really kind of writes songs for you in a way,” as Dessner has observed.

“Reuben’s guitars have been described as ‘Excalibur’ for unlocking musicians’ creativity,” the SXSW program notes, “enabling them to create music that connects with hearts and souls around the world.”

Really Good Rejects is premiering in the music-oriented SXSW vertical 24 Beats Per Second. Producers include Gu, Jose Nuñez, Robert Fyvolent, and David Dinerstein (the latter two noted for their work on the Oscar-nominated documentary Summer of Soul). Gu’s documentary is an acquisition title at SXSW.

In the exclusive clip above, the mild-mannered Cox describes launching his Old Style Guitar Shop in the Los Angeles area in 2009, and getting a boost from The National to do it. The huge crowd he anticipated didn’t quite materialize, but he still recalls the event as “incredible.”

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