The Budrows
Gig Seeker Pro

The Budrows

Aliso Viejo, California, United States | SELF

Aliso Viejo, California, United States | SELF
Band Blues Americana




"Smokin’ Lil’ Cigar Box Guitars"


An unsuspecting listener of three-piece Orange County-based blues band The Budrows might believe 40-year-old Jason Farthing’s riffs are merely thoughtful impersonations and interpretations of blues musicians the likes of R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. Granted Farthing says he has adopted his heroes’ “seemingly-simple-guitar-riff” techniques, he does so with a relatively unexpected tool that offers something unique to his own style and sound: Farthing – who cannot tolerate the taste of a cigar – crafts and plays his own cigar-box guitars.

By its nature, the cigar-box guitar is historically – and for lack of a better term – a “poor man’s” instrument, with its roots dating back to the mid-1840s. Although individuals who crafted cigar-box guitars, fiddles, banjos and other chordophone instruments may have lacked money to buy the “proper” versions, they were not lacking in their thriftiness, resourcefulness or ingenuity – traits that Farthing seems to possess.

“You don’t need something fancy here besides a bolt,” says Farthing as he points to the top of a cigar-box guitar’s neck, a region where a piece of ebony or plastic would sit on a guitar or violin to guide the strings to their tuning pegs.

True to tradition, minus electric pickups on a few models and the aide of modern tools, Farthing fashions his cigar-box guitars from everyday household items. A closer inspection of one of Farthing’s “Smokin’ lil’ Sound Box” guitars reveals a small door hinge securing three guitar strings to the base of the instrument, while a four-inch bolt acts as a makeshift bridge that suspends the strings above a cigar-box body. The strings run along a fretless length of sanded lumber, ending with modern tuning pegs for the sake of simplicity and playability.

For Farthing, it is personally important that he keeps his guitars as simple as possible. Although he often admires the craftsmanship his peers put into their work, he says he sometimes feels as if some go too far with the complexity of their cigar-box guitars.

“In my opinion, some of these guys that are doing bigger, better and awesome builds are taking away from what the instrument is – which is supposed to be simple, raw and sloppy,” says Farthing. “They’re making it in the style of any old guitar – and they’re beautiful pieces – but if you make it look like a guitar, I think that takes away from why it’s special, sounds special or plays differently from a regular guitar.”

However, it is not only his adherence to tradition and simplicity that separates Farthing’s cigar-box guitars from the herd. For the Colorado State University alumnus with a degree in graphic design and drawing, it should not come as a surprise that Farthing will sometimes enliven the top of a cigar box – destined to be or not to be a guitar – with an oil painting. Whether that painting is of a blues legend, Mexican folk art, a butcher’s diagram or an old Victorian key – like the one from a set a friend has tattooed on his arm – is usually subject to Farthing’s musings or commissions.

“When I started incorporating some of my paintings on the front of the guitars, I thought doing some stuff like that would be something to differentiate what I do,” says Farthing, acknowledging that his decision was a conscious one.

An explanation of Farthing’s workspace, located in the garage of his Aliso Viejo townhouse, is a testimony to his thriftiness. Farthing repurposed and reworked workbenches and cabinets acquired by chance from friends and acquaintances to fit his craftsman needs. The decorative outer layer of an old set of kitchen cabinets – which are now a new workbench – was stripped and rebuilt as an additional set of cabinets that are now filled with stacks of nearly 40 individual cigar boxes.

Although a friend gave Farthing his initial set of cigar boxes, Farthing says he now buys them from a man he found in the PennySaver who supplies cigars to golf resorts. By Farthing’s account, it is a better and more practical option than the cigar shops he has tried in the past.

“These guys at the cigar shops sometimes think they’re holding on to gold or something,” says Farthing. “They have stacks and stacks of boxes that they’re trying to get rid of, but they want to sell them for $10, so I’ll try to work a deal or something.”

Inspired by a picture he saw in a magazine, Farthing built his first cigar-box guitar in February of 2008, an inexact but close enough date that he etched into his creation.

“There were no instructions around on how to make this thing,” says Farthing, who sacrificed a ukulele that he has yet to replace to build his first cigar-box guitar, which hangs proudly on the wall of his garage among his later creations and a driftwood diddley bow.

During that year, Farthing began holding art shows in venues located in Irvine and Santa Ana to showcase his merit as a painter and a craftsman. While the cigar-box guitars hung on the walls of such venues, Farthing began to wonder if viewers realized they were playable instruments. As his shows progressed, Farthing began performing for viewers on the very instruments they saw hung beside the more conventional works of art.

Realizing he might be on to something, Farthing asked his now 18-year-old stepdaughter Macarena Rivera to sing along to some of his songs. In December of 2008, The Budrows was born with the stepfather-stepdaughter duo. The third member of the band, Jesse Boden, would not begin playing harmonica and flute for the band until two years later.

Whether or not the music Farthing would eventually write for The Budrows was inspired by his blues heroes or the cigar-box guitar itself is unclear even to him. “It’s kind of like which came first: The chicken or the egg?” says Farthing, “You know, listening to those dudes and wanting to make that music, or wanting to make some kind of twangy, slidey and swampy blues and getting more into that music.”

After being laid off from a legal document delivery job in the spring of 2011, Farthing remains unemployed. He emphasizes that whatever money a cigar-box guitar he sells makes, it is never enough to get by.

“This is not supporting our life here,” says Farthing, whose wife teaches Spanish and provides income while he searches for a more steady job. “I wish it could [support us] and I hope it does someday, but I’ve always been into art and the life of an artist is [rough].”

Added Farthing: “I hope it turns from a hobby to a business at some point without taking away the passion for it, but at the same time, it’d be cool to be paid to do some of that stuff.”

For more information about Farthing’s cigar-box guitars, visit

For more information about the Budrows’ music, visit - ten57 magazine

"A Handmade Sound From a Down-Home Band"

Jason Farthing is carrying a torch. He has become part of a more than 150 year-old tradition, albeit transplanted from America’s Deep South. An artist and a musician, Farthing creates and plays cigar box guitars.

His band, The Budrows, will be taking their 100% foot stompin’ cigar box rock ‘n’ roll to the stage today at the OC Fair and on Sunday, Aug. 12 at Fullerton’s Commonwealth Lounge.

For the uninitiated, cigar box guitars, which hail from an old folk tradition in the South, are homemade guitars assembled from a variety of local materials, the body being a discarded cigar box. “It’s a found object style,” Farthing says. In the composition of his instruments, the only parts that are intrinsically intended for a guitar are the tuning knobs and the pickup/jack. Screws and bolts, metal pieces recovered from sinks and found wood comprise the rest. “You don’t need that much to make music. You can have a string and a couple of bolts and you can make music,” marvels Farthing, 40, an Aliso Viejo resident. Working out of his garage, Farthing is autodidactic in his craft as a professional guitar builder, who does painting and graphic design on the side.
3 budrows MG 1158 300x200 A Handmade Sound From a Down Home Band

The Budrows performing at Laguna’s Fete de la Musique street festival in June.

The simple instruments he devises resonate with their own unique tone. “Each instrument brings its own flavor and there are so many ways of making unique sounds. It’s rootsy-blues but it’s also got a swampy sound, right from the Delta.”

Farthing began making these guitars five years ago, intending to show them around the Santa Ana art scene as what he dubbed “Southern outsider art,” doing paintings on the body of the guitars inspired by La tierra cards, a Mexican card game. From the onset, Farthing was concerned that viewers of his art would take for granted the functionality of his work; the pieces are sound makers first and foremost, “otherwise they’re just paintings on the wall.”

Farthing decided his art would be best represented by performing music alongside a showing of his work. Thus, the germination of his band, The Budrows, took shape.

After performing shows as a one-man band (simultaneously playing bass drum, tambourine, and guitar), Farthing recruited his stepdaughter Macarena Rivera to sing lead. “We had a unique sound, so we tried to build on it,” says Farthing, whose slide guitar style echoes those of Delta blues players.
3.3 budrow photo 3 225x300 A Handmade Sound From a Down Home Band

A cigar box portrait of Miles Davis

“I was really shy at first,” says Rivera, who relocated to Laguna Beach from Argentina nine years ago with her mother. She had experience in musical theatre, taking voice and dance classes, and singing in the Laguna Beach High School chorus. “I hated the chorus,” she explains on account of being told exactly what and how to sing. “The blues and rock, we do just fit a lot better. It clicked more than musical theatre; it was just a lot more natural.”

Rivera, a recent LBHS graduate, plans to attend Saddleback and Orange Coast College, making use of a three-part scholarship from the Festival of Arts for music, dancing, and writing. Though she intends to focus on music, she explains, dancing will polish her stage presence as a musical performer as well.

Farthing knew from the get-go that they were on to something. Initially calling themselves Rusty Wooden Pistol before settling on The Budrows (a friend of Farthing’s personal slang for buddy), Farthing and Rivera honed their craft, wrote songs together, and played shows around Orange County for two years, over which time they began to build a fan base. A particular fan, multi-instrumentalist Jesse Boden was instantly enamored with the group’s sound.

After breaking out the harmonica in a casual jam session with Farthing, Boden was recruited to join the band. “A light bulb went off,” Farthing recalls, explaining he had always heard accompanying harmonica in his head.

Boden, who also plays flute, was the missing ingredient that made The Budrows’ sound gel. Their signature sound draws on obvious blues elements thanks to the cigar box guitar, but also rock and punk intonations that add an edge. But the band’s power comes from its driving rhythm. “There’s just constant foot stomping so I call it 100% foot stompin’ cigar-box rock ‘n’ roll,’” says Farthing.

Since 2010, the three-member band has twice toured Northern California and in March played in Austin, Tex., at the renowned South By Southwest Festival, performing six shows in four days.

Farthing continues to make custom cigar box guitars as art pieces, as he is routinely contracted for guitars and the portraitures he paints on them.

For info: visit and - Laguna Beach Independent

"Cigar box blues to stomp Santa Ana"

CIGAR Box blues STOMP Santa Ana

For Immediate Release: 11-11-11

The Art and Music of the Cigar Box Guitar

Santa Ana – Southern California’s premiere cigar box guitar blues band, The Budrows, is set to kick it up a notch on December 3, from 6 pm to 11 pm, when the trio hosts a CD release party and art show where fans can win a custom made cigar box guitar.

The Budrows feature the father/daughter combo of Jason Farthing and the young Argentine vocal phenom Macarena Rivera, accompanied by veteran flute and harpman Jesse Boden. Three other artists including Bob Hoard, Cris Portillo and Josh Gayou will join Farthing in displaying their cigar box guitars and artwork at the event. A drawing for the cigar box guitar and other prizes will be held at 9pm to celebrate the release of The Budrows NEW record entitled, 100% Foot Stompin’ Cigar Box Rock N’ Roll.

The Budrows have been steadily expanding their southland following with an infectious foot-stompin’ (Farthing doubles on rhythm) brand of hill country blues. Vocalist Rivera lures audiences with her deep, exotic range, soulful instinct and stunning grace and presence well beyond her 18 years. The veteran chops of harpman Jesse Boden bring experience and the unexpected woodwind element to form a powerful and unique blues experience in the tradition of the American masters of the genre. Sure as molasses is slow, this band has the ability to transform any venue into a bonafide deep south juke joint, complete with a foot-stompin’, testifyin’ audience full of revelers having themselves a modern good time in an old fashioned style.

What: The Art and Music of the Cigar Box Guitar featuring the music of The Budrows

When: December 3rd, 2011

Where: 220-104 4th Street, Downtown Santa Ana, on the Yost Theater Promenade. (4th and Spurgeon St.)

Who: Everyone

Price: Free

Contact: Jason Farthing @ 949-280-5722 - New Santa Ana

"CD Review – The Budrows"

The Budrows – self titled RATING – UNEXPECTED PUNK BLUES

I’ve been following the music of the Budrows since they first contacted me thru What I originally heard was a fun mix of punk blues combo (distorted cigar box guitar, drums, harmonica) mated with a young and sassy female singer, Macarena Rivera.

Let’s be honest here, this setup has been done a lot by the cigar box guys and any other blues band emulating Fat Possum’s heyday: Sloppy guitar, pounding drums, RL Burnside reference… (I can talk like this because I do the same crap myself.) I expected to listen once or twice and be done with it. Well, it was a simple and unexpected ingredient that totally sold me on the Budrows… a flute. Yep, it seems that harmonica player, Jesse Boden musta accidentally brought his flute to practice one day and created a sauce using Grandma’s secret ingredient.

That’s it. That’s why you need this album. It’s a friggin’ cigar box guitar band with a sassy chick singer and a dude that pulls out a flute ever y once in a while. IT’S REFRESHING. Imagine Ian Anderson sitting in with the Burnsides and having a young hip girl singing. I love it.

One request I’d have for the Budrows: I’d love to hear Macarena try some songs in a more seductive voice, a’la Mazzy Star or Cowboy Junkies. But that’s me…


"Sweet home Laguna"

By Ashley Breeding,

September 9, 2010 | 8:43 p.m.

Laguna Beach High School junior Macarena Rivera began playing "homemade music" with her stepdad, Jason Farthing, in the family's living room about two years ago, in order to promote his cigar box art and guitar business and to help the performing arts student step outside of her comfort zone.

"After a while, I got less shy and we started singing cover songs together," she said. "Eventually, I started writing my own lyrics and it turned into this really cool thing."

That really cool thing, now a band called The Budrows (slang for "buds" or buddies), recently started spreading their Jefferson Airplane-meets-Janis Joplin bluesy sound around Orange County. Now returning from a gig in Fort Collins, Colo., the duo will perform at 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Marine Room as part of Beth Fitchet Wood's singer-songwriter night.

The blend of Farthing's handmade cigar box guitar, kick drum and tambourine and Rivera's powerful voice, captures the sound of that "down home, front porch delta blues."

"We try to pick songs that lend themselves to our stripped down, sparse instrument sounds we play," Farthing said. "What you get is feel-good music."

Rivera, whose lyrics are inspired by anything from nature to deep introspection and just "living in the moment," said she'll deliver her latest originals including "Out in Space," a song about the anomaly of pushing away the people and things in life that we love, as well some of her favorite covers like the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith's, "Blue Spirit Blues."

While Rivera does most of the writing, the pair also like to play some of Farthing's storytelling lyrics, like the story of "Johnny Goldheart," a kid with a hard shell who grows up to realize that life is more rewarding when you embrace feelings.

"When I first saw how much people really enjoyed our music, it just clicked that this is what I want to do," Rivera said. "Looking out into a crowd and seeing even just one person who really digs the sound and is feeling it, that makes it all worth it. That's what music is."

Aspiring to learn to play the harmonica and cigar box guitar, Rivera admits her dream would be to make music a career.

"I know it's a big dream and I don't think I've even admitted it until now," she said. "So until it happens, I'll plan to study nursing and continue to make music as a hobby.

"But that would be awesome."

To check out The Budrows music, visit To learn more about Farthing's cigar box guitars, visit
- Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot


"100% Foot Stompin' Cigar Box Rock n' Roll"
12 track CD, self released - 2011

"Whatcha' hear is whatcha' get"
Demo CD - 8 tracks, self released - 2009



The Budrows first started when Jason began building cigarbox guitars. He sold (and still sells) the guitars as playable art, but during his art shows people never understood that the guitars were actually playable, so he became a one man band with a cigar box guitar, a kickdrum, and a tambourine to show the blusey sound of the home made instrument.
A few weeks later he and his step-daughter, Macarena, started to write songs together. They played many shows throughout California for two years as a two piece and it was after one of their shows of summer 0f 2010 that they met Jesse.
It turned out that Jesse was one of Macarena's mom's Spanish students and wanted to check out their music because he was a musician himself. Then, Jesse threw in some growly harmonica licks to solidify the sound and joined The Budrows.
The Budrows have been jammin'100% foot stompin'cigar box rock n'roll since 2008.

Band Members