Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Janet Robin

Janet Robin is a Los Angeles-based guitarist-singer, who just happens to have had the late great Randy Rhoads as a guitar teacher when she was still in her teens.

Randy had lots of students, and I have always wondered if any of them went on to a music career. Janet has - touring with Lindsay Buckingham, Colin Hay, Meridith Brooks, and has written or recorded wtih Clumsy Lovers, Catie Curtis, Patty Larkin, Garrison Starr, Melissa Etheridge, Loudon Wainwright III, Melissa Ferrick, Maia Sharp, The Wild Colonials, and Ann & Nancy Wilson (Heart).

She also has TV and film credits, with her music being used on “Felicity” and Formosa Café that was on the soundtrack of the film “Free Enterprise”. The song Brownstone from her second album was used in the TV sitcom “Good Girls Don’t” and the song Around The Corner from that same album is being used in the DVD release of the TV series “Wonderfalls”.

Here is a link to her MySpace page, a Modern Guitar interview, a video on Girls with Guitars and on the Fleetwood Mac page.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Anneli Drecker of Bel Canto

I really enjoy all types of music. I started my musical journey on Beatles, then to Allman Brothers and southern rock. Later, as I "aged", I got into electronic music and so-called new aged "space music", like Steven Roach, or Micheal Stearns. Heavy metal has always been a favorite, too.

I am also a fan of female vocalists like Anneli Drecker.

I got into the music of Bel Canto back in the early 1990's, when the song "Shoulder to the Wheel" was being played on the radio. Bel Canto is a group of three - Anneli Drecker, Nils Johansen, and Geir Jenssen from Tromso, Norway.

Birds of Passage is the first disc I have. Their music is very electronic, and moody. Some of the songs on this disc are a bit gloomy, but the vocals of Anneli are out of this world. I still enjoy this disc even after all these years.

I have been reading up on Anneli these last few days, as I have lost track of the band. She has been a solo artist for a number of years now, and has enjoyed great success around the world. I really like her song, "You Don't Have to Change", which has a modern techno feel to it, along with her incredible vocals. She is very well known in Europe, but sadly, not as popular here in the USA. She does not tour often, as she has three kids and would imagine that a tour here would be out of the question. I wish she was more popular here. Now I have to get some her latest songs and rediscover her fantastic singing.

Look her up on YouTube. There are quite a few videos of her available.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rory Gallagher - 1978

I have always been a fan of Rory Gallagher, going back to 1978 when a friend loaned me the album, Against the Grain. Rory exemplified all-out guitar rock. He played his one Stratocaster throughout his career, which in today hyped-up world of electric guitars, almost seems impossible. He found his one guitar and stuck with it! That battered guitar gave the world some of the best Stratocaster-fueled music ever. This YouTube video, from 1978, shows Rory in all his power at a German concert.

I just loved the fact that this is the only Stratocaster he ever used. Today, most famous guitarists use multiple guitars, boutique amps and tons of pedals. Rory used his guitar and a vintage Fender amp turned up all the way. These were the days before an old, beat up used Stratocaster cost as much as a new one, before they were locked up in vaults, or treated like a fragile old violin. Some guitarists today spend big bucks on fake brand-new beat-up guitars, hand made amps and pedals, just to get a sound like this. I bet that Rory would have sounded great on a cheap strat copy, too! Do you think that sometimes, the tone you get comes from your hands and soul and not as much on gear?

Rory is sadly missed. He left the world a vast amount of music that I hope the young guitarists of the world listen to.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Johnny Winter's Gibson Firebird Up Close and Personal

Here is a link to a great post on TheGearPage.net

The posters friend is restoring Johnny's Firebird and took close up pictures of it.

This guitar is a true road warrior. Guitar companies try their best to replicate the look of old and used guitars. I don't think anyone could replicate the years of wear and tear on this.

I should give Johnny's music a listen more. He is a true legend in the business.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sonny Landreth Concert Review

WOW! That is the best description I can think of this early in the morning. On the 15th of November, we saw Sonny Landreth at the Cabooze Bar, a small bar in Minneapolis. The Cabooze is one of the best places to see a band up close, as we sat at the end of the bar, about 15 feet from the stage. We were able to watch Sonny and his incredible slide guitar technique close up. The crowd was great, too, and were going crazy from the first song, Port of Calling. The crowd was mostly baby boomer age, with as many women as men.

He played many of the songs from the Grant Street Live Cd, and a few new ones from his new release, From the Reach.

"Überesso" was one of the most amazing guitar songs I ever heard. To see him play in close up was great as well.

He played two Stratocasters, each in different tunings. The Strats were probably reissues of a 1957 and a 1962. The rosewood necked Strat looked like it had an ash body. His amp was the 75 watt Demeter that he mentions on his website. The Dumble amp was not there. Dumble amps are the so called "holy grail" of guitar amps. I do not know about that, though. Sonny would probably make my little Peavey Classic 30 sound great.

I would see Sonny play again in a heartbeat. He played up here twice this year. I can't imagine him coming back in 2009, as he has been on the road almost the whole year. But if he does, I will be first in line.

I have been trying to learn how to play in his style. Sonny plays notes behind the fret where the slide is. Very difficult for most of us, but he is able to play many chords even with the guitar in open tuning. I have set up a Strat with .13-.56 strings - piano wire to me! I raised the action higher than normal, added a bit of echo and am nowhere near getting this down! It is fun to try, though. After seeing Derek Trucks at the same bar, close up, I was able to improve my slide playing, just be watching what he did. Maybe I can do the same here...although I doubt it will sound anywhere near as good as Sonny! I will be annoying my family with it for months now!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sonny Landreth - Best Slide guitarist in the world

I just got a CD by Sonny Landreth called "Grant Street". This is a live recording, showing him in all his Dumble-amp powered glory!

I just cannot believe how good of a guitarist he is. I have known about him for years - he is not a newcomer on the music scene at all.

Sonny, born in 1951, is from Louisiana. His slide technique is extraordinary, as mentioned in his Wikipedia entry: "Landreth has developed a technique where he also frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments behind the slide while he plays. Landreth plays with the slide on his little finger, so that his other fingers have more room to fret behind the slide. He's also known for his unique right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand."

I have been watching his videos on YouTube, and can't even come close to getting his technique down, although I am trying, mostly in vain!

That is ok, I can just enjoy his music without trying to sound like him. He plays American Standard Stratocasters with special tuning hardware, which allows him to change the tunings with the flick of a switch. He uses many different open-chord tunings. I am awestruck on what he can do in open E, which is one of the most-used open tunings. His amps are all boutique, and he has been using a coveted Dumble amp, along with a Demeter. That would help explain his fantastic tone, although he would probably sound good on my cheap Classic 30, too.
Sonny has appeared on many other artists songs, such as Little Feat, Jimmy Buffett, John Hiatt, Waterline, John Mayall, Bobby Charles and The Goners. He has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Steve Conn, Gov't Mule, Mike Gordon, Bernie Worrell, and Buddy Guy, among others. Landreth was the opening act at Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, Illinois.
There are quite a few videos of Sonny on Youtube. If you are a fan of slide gutiar, and of great guitar playing, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
Luckily, I discovered Sonny at the right time, as he is in town at the Cabooze next weekend. I already have my tickets and am looking forward to seeing him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Concrete Blonde

I just got most of the releases by Concrete Blonde, the trio from Caifornia who became popular in the mid 1980's. I had forgotten just how good of a band they were. Singer and bassis Johnette Napolitano formed the band with guitarist James Mankey and drummer Harry Rushakoff. The first single was "Still in Hollywood" which got airplay on MTV. That is where I first heard them. Their most commercially successful album was Bloodletting (1990), with the top 40 radio hit "Joey". They broke up in 1993 then reformed in 2001. The band is now officially done.

Johnette has a very cool, smoky kind of singing voice. Her lyrics are often dark and foreboding. The guitar work of James Mankey is very unique, and in the crowded world of guitarists, he forged a style and tone all his own. Those of us who care about guitar style and tone would recognize him right away.

The band put out about six studio releases, a few live recordings and a best of... CD. I love their take on "Little Wing" written by Jimi Hendrix. They also did a killer rendition of "Beware of Darkness" written by George Harrision. "True", "Happy Birthday", the three chord acoustic "Make Me Cry", "I Don't Need a Hero", "Little Conversations" , and "Scene of a Perfect Crime"
are a few of my favorites. I am looking forward to listening to all of the other songs that I have not heard yet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Agile AL2000 guitar.

I have been home sick for the last few days. Since I have the house to myself, I thought it would be fun to tape myself playing my Agile AL2000 guitar along with a backing track. The magnets in the pickups were changed to alnico's (from StewMac), a cheaper alternative to getting all new pickups. They are ok, but I probably get a new pickup for the bridge. This clip is the neck pickup, which sounds great. The amp is a Peavey Classic 30, and I used a Boss DS-1 distortion pedal throught the clean channel. This works well with this guitar, but does not work with my Stratocasters very well. Enjoy - it is only a few minutes long.

I make a few mistakes here, as I a bit under the weather and tired. But what the heck...

The Agile AL2000 is a Korean-made guitar, sold only through RondoMusic.com. It has a multi-piece mahogany body, maple top with a thin maple veneer (no photo flame here). The neck is maple, with a rosewood fingerboard. This guitar has very few flaws. The finish, fretwork and binding are near perfect. The 21st fret needs a bit of work, so I have have to file that down a little. This guitar was $100 on a christmas sale about 3 years ago. They sell for $199 and is the cheapest of the AL product line. I have been "bonding" with this guitar lately, although I usually play a Stratocaster or Telecaster. It is heavy, which is one of the reasons I prefer Fenders. But still...for $100 how can you go wrong.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nori Bucci

I just discovered this fantastic guitarist while looking around the MySpace Music pages.

Nori Bucci, from Buffalo, New York, was, June of 2002, was selected as one of five finalists in the "North American Rock Guitar Competition." In November of 2003, she won best rock guitarist at the Buffalo music awards.

She started guitar at 10 years old, and at 16, was one her way to mastering classical and fingerstyle guitar.

She has two releases out, "Speak My Soul" and "Tales of a Dream", both recorded in her own studio.

The song "Recurring Nightmare" shows off her strong electric guitar playing.
Check out her MySpace page to hear a few of her songs, including Recurring Nightmare.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Eva Cassidy

How can I go from Bloodrock to Eva Cassidy in just a few days?

It was because I have Eva's version of Fields of Gold on my iPod and was listening to it yesterday. I was walking around the pond at my office park on a beautiful early fall afternoon, looking around at the changing leaves, while enjoying this heavenly voice.

Eva's story is sad. She died before she made a name for herself, outside of Washington D.C area. Her version of this song, and of Over the Rainbow, were played on a radio show in Enlgand, and moved many people to wonder who she was. It was with great sadness that it was announced that she had died a few years earlier.

She had the voice of an angel. I have never heard a voice more pure that Eva's. I find her voice and life inspiring. Eva had chances to sign to a major record label, but refused them, as she thought they would make her change her vision of her music. They sure would have. People like Eva do not come along very often.
Thankfully, she left the world a few albums and videos.

From Wikipdeia:
Four years later, Cassidy's music was brought to the attention of UK audiences when her versions of "Over the Rainbow" and "Fields of Gold" were played on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of "Over the Rainbow" taken at the Blues Alley was shown on BBC Two's Top of the Pops 2. Shortly after, the compilation album Songbird, climbed to the top of the UK Albums Charts, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom led to increased recognition worldwide; as of 2008, her posthumously released recordings, including three UK #1s, have sold around eight million copies.[1] Her music has also charted top 10 positions in Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

There are many videos on youTube of Eva, including the ABC News report on her, which is where I first heard of her. Please take the time to give her a listen. I can't tell you her story - it is already written on many websites. They do a much better job than a non-writer like me.

Eva's website.
Crosstown Arts

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was digging through an old box of cassettes yesterday. Remember those things? Cassettes were all the rage in the 1970's. I had many of them, mostly recorded from a friend of mine, who had an awesome record collection. He let me raid it, and take what I wanted to record. So I had them proudly displayed near my stereo. My stereo was a Sharp, with a "magic eye" that allowed you to fast forward on your cassette and it would automatically stop at the next song. I was proud of that, too, because it had huge speakers and, well, it looked cool.

I had a handful of tapes that made their way to me from my older sister. I got them when was all of 11 (my daughter is 11 now!). One of them was by Bloodrock, a band from Texas that was famous for the song, DOA, about the victim of an airplane crash . Which, by the way, freaked me out when I first heard it. This tape did not have DOA on it, fortunately. But it did contain some great songs with the underated guitar work of Lee Pickens.

The band, from Ft. Worth, consisted of Jim Rutledge (vocals), Lee Pickens (guitar),
Ed Grundy (bass), Stevie Hill (keyboards), Nick Taylor (guitar),Rick Cobb (drums). By 1972, a few of them left and were replaced and the band moved to a more progressive rock sound.

The cassette I still have, Bloodrock 3, had a few songs that were very influential to me. "Breach of Lease" features a haunting organ throughout, with a killer solo by Lee at the end. "You Gotta Roll" has Lee ripping it on a solo halfway through. He was a fast player, using a Les Paul Goldtop with P-90s. "Jessica" was the single released, not to be at all confused with the Allman Brothers song of the same name.

Bloodrock sounds somewhat dated today when I listened to the tape yesterday. However, when I hear "Breach of Lease", it takes me back to the days when I would set up my tent in the yard, grab a few comic books, and play music while reading. The tape got major play in the rotation of tapes, which containted Savoy Brown, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Steve Miller and Deep Purple. Not a bad selection to listen to.
This tape is one of the few survivors of my childhood possesions. Strange that it would be a band called Bloodrock that would still be around in my basement.
Bloorock reunited in 2005 for a benefit for Steve Hill.

Link to website, Myspace

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Animal Logic and Deborah Holland

In 1990, we went to see Animal Logic at the Fine Line Cafe in Minneapolis. We got there early, sat near the front, and ordered up lots of food to keep us busy for the two hours we would have to wait.

The wait was worth it, as we were able to see Stewart Copeland, Deborah Holland and Stanley Clarke close up. Rusty Anderson was the guitarist. Rusty had played on the album, and went on to fame as the guitarist for Paul McCartney many years later.

The band put on one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Animal Logic were not a guitar-based band. Clarke handled most of the solos on record, but Rusty cut loose and gave the songs a sonic punch that made it hard for me to listen to the CD. I wanted to hear him again!

Deborah Holland is a magnificent singer and songwriter. I can see why she was chosen. I had read that they had auditioned many singers, and were about to give up, when her demo tape made its way to them. She wrote almost all the material, which was quite an accomplishment when surrounded by such talent. She should have been a huge star, in my opinion.

Stewart Copeland is one of the best drummers in rock, and made my wife say that she never realized how much a drummer can add to the band. To see him up so close was a treat.

This concert was the last of the tour and may have been one of the last in America. Animal Logic released one more CD, Animal Logic II, then broke up. That CD had alot of great songs on it, including the minor hit, I Won't Be Sleeping Anymore. Stanley Clarke carries the song, Stone In My Shoe, which is one of my favorites. There is not much prominent guitar on this CD, but it does not matter.

Standout tunes from the first release, Animal Logic, are Firing Up My Sunset Gun, Elijah, and the hit, Spy in the House of Love.

The band has a MySpace page, which has most of the videos from YouTube. And they have a website from IRS Records. The Wikipedia page has links to interview with the band.

Deborah Holland , to my surprise, is in a group called The Refugees. The last time I read about her she was a music professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

The Refugees also have Wendy Waldman and Cindy Bullens as members.

I am glad to see her still writing and recording music. Her solo material is quite different than Animal Logic, but still nice to listen to her fantastic voice.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Few Musicians Worth Checking Out

I have been looking around for new music and came across these bands. Most I have heard of but never really listened to. Check them out.

Ross William Perry - A young guitar player from Minneapolis in the style of SRV, but with a more refined vocal style. His guitar playing is very good, and he tours quite a bit around the midwest. He has opened for a number of big name acts and has gotten quite well known locally.

Shannon Curfman - Shannon was another one of the young music prodigies to come out of Fargo years ago, after Johnny Lang. She was a teenager when she first came out into the music scene. Here is a quote from her website which sums it up: "At 14, Shannon was praised for her blues-driven songwriting, gritty, soulful voice and her scorching guitar. Now 20, Shannon 's back on the road honing a new set of songs featured on her new release, "Take It Like A Man". With age and experience, the music has evolved and the genre has moved slightly away from funky-blues towards rock & roll. "

She has a very mature voice - the road weary, smoky bar type - for being only 20. Her MySpace page features a few of her songs.

Jason Becker - Jason was very well known in the guitar world back in the late 1980's, when he was chosen to be in David Lee Roth's band and was featured on his album. He was an extreme shredder, in the Malmsteen-style. He was an incredible guitarist at such a young age. Jason's career was sidetracked by ALS, which has left him paralyzed for many years.

However, he is still around making important music and is an inspiration to anyone who faces adversity. Check out some of his soundclips and videos from before his illness. There is one of him playing "Blackstar" at a high school talent show. If only I could have played like that when I was 17!

Jim Weider - Jim was the guitarist for the second version of The Band, during the 1980's and 90's. He also appeared with Richard Manuel.

"Jim Weider is a master of classic telecaster and traditional blues slide guitar techniques. He is one of a select group of musicians to have an endorsement from Fender, and has build an international reputation among fellow musicians world wide."

Agreed. Jim is an incredible guitar player and well worth checking out.

A list of who he was worked with:
The Band, Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Robbie Dupree, Doctor John, Taj Majhal, Mavis Staples, Paul Butterfield, Scotty Moore, Keith Richards, Hot Tuna, Bob Weir/Rat Dog, Kim Wilson, Paul Burlison, Lee Rocker, Graham Parker.

That is quite a list. Check out his new release, PERCoLAToR. I plan to.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Remembering Luther Perkins

Forty years today, legendary Cash guitarist Luther Perkins (the man responsible for "The Sound") died after a house fire. Luther Monroe Perkins was a truly unique guitar picker and original musical stylist in every way. A man well worth remembering forty years later.

I have been listening to the old Johnny Cash tunes lately, and have been enjoying Luther's Fender Esquire tones. He was the guy who helped create the signature country "twang".

Do yourself a favor and pick up some old Johnny Cash. I grew up listening to him, as my dad was a fan back in the 1960's. Today, I can appreciate music and the huge impact that Luther had in creating Johnny's style.

"It didn't take us long to realize that Luther was really something special"- Johnny Cash, 1997

Here are a few links.

Rockbilly Hall of Fame

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The New Gibson Les Paul Standards

I have been reading about the new Gibson Les Paul Standards. It seems that a few years ago, Gibson decided to chamber out much of the mahogany underneath the maple cap, mainly to reduce weight.

Les Pauls have always been heavy. I always felt that the weight was part of the mystic built up around this guitar. However, there must have been thousands of complaints about the weight for Gibson to make the new models into what can be now perceived as a semi-hollow guitar.

When you read the forums on this issue, people are upset that Gibson tried to pull one over on the consumer. After all, the Les Paul that most people want have to be modeled after the 50's sunburst guitars from 1958-1960. These guitars are heavy pieces of wood, and set the standard for the guitar tone we all love.

But before all this happened, people were complaining that the guitars were too heavy. When I read about a Les Paul for sale, it is almost a requirement the you have to ask about the weight. It seems you can't satisfy anyone on this. The guitars are too heavy - people complain. Gibson starts to do something about it and people complain they are messing with a classic.

My opinion is that Gibson should have just continued to make the guitars solid, even without the swiss-cheese holes they have been using since the early 80's. None of the Les Pauls I ever owned, of which three were1970's models and one a 1980 model, were light weight, and I never expected them to be light. So I suppose you can put me down as one who thinks Gibson is ripping consumers off by cutting away a good portion of the wood that is somewhat responsible for the tone. If I wanted a semi-hollow, I would buy one.

I have played these new guitars. They were ok, but they did not feel like the real thing. I am sure there are Les Pauls out there that are chambered and sound fantastic. Good. Glad to hear it. But to keep charging over near $3,000 for a guitar chambered like this seems to be crazy.

Gibson has just released the new Les Paul Traditional, which apparently is a reaction to all this. This guitar is not chambered. The Historics aren't either.

It really shouldn't matter to me, though. I don't have the money for one, and I sold my last one to get a Stratocaster, which I am quite happy with. Nothing compares to a real Les Paul, and if you have the cash, go for it. My reason for writing this is I feel that Gibson is not running their business honestly at times.

Someday, when the kids are through college and the house is paid for, I may get one again. But I want it to be a solid body!

Here are a few links about it.

Les Paul Forum
Gibson's View
Birds and Moons Forum

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Appreciation of Buck Dharma

I have been giving old Blue Oyster Cult records a listen lately, particularly On Your Knees, On Your Feet. I have long since sold off most of my BOC records, with this one the only one remaining. So I went over to YouTube and found that people have posted the songs there. It was great to hear the songs of my teenage years again after so long, and it brought back my admiration of Buck Dharma (Donald Roeser). He was a huge influence on me back then and I wanted a white Gibson SG like his. I also wanted a Stratocaster like Hendrix, and a Les Paul like Duane Allman, none of which I ever got as a teen!

His playing on Bucks Boogie, Last Days of May, Don't Fear the Reaper, Vampire Voodoo. I Love the Night and many others was very distinctive. You knew who it was when you heard the first few notes, a feat that is difficult since so many guitarists sound alike (to me, anyway). It is great to see that BOC is still around and Buck is as good as ever.

Here is his website, and Blue Oyster Cult website. I have to reinvest in this old music. I have found that I have been going back to the 1970's to find "new" music that I never appreciated back then.

Monday, June 23, 2008

iPod Nano and Jimi Hendrix

As summer progresses, I have found it hard to find the time to write anything down here. However, I recently got with the modern times and got an iPod nano for my birthday. I never had a use for one, as I don't ride the bus to work anymore, have a radio at work, and really have not had much time to relax and listen to music.

I have to say that it was about darn time that I got one. I am getting used to mowing the lawn listening to "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" or laying on the hammock listening to Jimi Hendrix.

Which brings me to my rediscovery of Hendrix. You would think that as a guitar player, I would have already soaked all this up. I havn't. I lost most of my Hendrix music years ago, and only own a few live CD's and a beat up old copy of the soundtrack to the film, "Jimi Hendrix."

I now own most of his work, and have been listening to it all, with very open ears. I mean to say that I am hearing things I never noticed before. He was a master of the guitar, and using the studio as another instrument with early use of 8 and 16 track recording. His use of new effects, such as flanging and the octavia were groundbreaking. There was simply no one who could touch him at the time. It is no wonder that most of the big name guitarists were nervous and a bit intimidated by him. However, Clapton, Townsend, and others in England were very open to him and the country as a whole embraced his vision.

I can hear where Prince, Minnesota's own rock star (who used to live up the road from me), got his influence. It is very evident when I listen to Jimi that Prince has borrowed parts of his style, both with vocals and guitar. That is all right with me, as Prince has taken it a step further, and not just be a carbon copy.

I love Robin Trower's music, and have never considered him to be a Hendrix clone. He just took the style in another direction. Same with Stevie Ray Vaughn. SRV borrowed from his influences and went in a new direction. Thank god for him, as he had a BIG part in bringing back guitar rock. I have most of SRV's music on the nano, and have been spending time getting back into him.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Edge Puts His Gibson Explorer Up for Auction

The Edge has sold one of his iconic guitars - a 1976 Gibson Explorer. He bought it used in New York in the mid 70's, and it was supposedly the first in Ireland. This guitar was used on most of the early U2 albums and tours, and continued to be used throughout his career, even as he added different guitars to his arsenal.

I love Explorers, and wish I would have been able to see this guitar. It sold for $130,000, to benefit the Music Rising cause, which is to replace instruments that musicians lost in Hurriance Katrina.

Edge is a great guy to do this. I would think it is hard to give up an instrument that was so important to the U2 sound. He sold his white Les Paul Custom last year, which was another iconic guitar. I would think that the black 70's strat featured in the Gloria and Red Rocks video would be next.

Here is a link to the Gibson website, which talks about it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

1960's Surf Music

A prized possession of mine, when I was all of 5 or so, was a portable record player. At first, I played my collection of nursery rhymes and childrens music. I then discovered the box of 45’s that my sisters had. My uncle was a disc jockey in about 1963, first in the Air Force,and later, at a radio station in Worthington, Minnesota. Surf music was all the rage, and was being played by many a band all over America. I found this music and dived into it. A few of the bands I enjoyed were the Beach Boys, The Astronauts, The Trashmen (Surfin’ Bird was their hit and were Minnesota's most famous surf band), The Hondells and Dick Dale, with his "Watusi Jo." I also had a number of records by The Ventures and though they were really not surf music, I still enjoyed them, along with Duane Eddy and his many instrumentals.

I listened to this music quite a bit, until I found the Beatles and for a short time, played an album with the music from my favorite TV show, Batman, with "Robin the Boy Wonder" being my favorite, played often to annoy my older brother.

The Shadows (with Hank Marvin on guitar) and their great song "FBI" was another huge favorite, and who, by the way, are still around playing. Look up the Shadows on YouTube to view them playing FBI. Apache and others. Hank Marvin was the first person to use a Fender Stratocaster in England, and along with an echo machine and Vox amps, paved the way for guitar instrumentals.

Most surf music, guitar-wise, was played on Fender Stratocasters and Jazzmasters. Look at any old film or video that is around and you will see brand new Fender guitars and amps being used. Lots of reverb was required, too. Just listen to any Dick Dale song. He was the king of
surf guitar, and still tours and records today. He gained popularity when his music was used on the film "Pulp Fiction." Could it be that that movie brought back this music, or has it always been around and just not being heard? It is infectiously fun music to hear, and brings back a time when the Beatles were waiting in the wings to change the face of rock and roll. It was short-lived, and spawned lots of music and cheaply made films.

I still own many of these 45's and after finding the little adapter to allow me to play them on my vintage 1985 turntable, I found that I still liked some of this music. After exploring the internet, I found that surf music is still alive and well, with a few really good bands based here in Minneapolis. MySpace turned out to be a great resource for finding these bands.

I had read about Ronnie Lake in a local paper here in Minneapolis. She is an excellent purveyor of surf music and is a veteran of the music business, with years of experience to back it up. Her guitar tone and style really exemplifies the surf music spirit. I have to catch one of her shows someday. She is excellent. I like her song "Adventures in Paradox".

The Verb Tones from Portland, Oregon really get the vintage surf sound here. Check out their website to hear a few songs. I love their name, too. They look like a really fun band to see.

The Windows, from Nagoya City,Japan, have it going on, too. The heavy reverbs sound is here in abundance. I have read that surf music is very popular in Japan. Fender
guitars are well represented in this band.

Laika & The Cosmonauts, from Finland, show how universal this music is. Great use of the
vibrato arm happening here, too. The organ is featured here, too. "Melodic instrumental rockular music with furious and atmospheric visual vibes." says their website. Fun stuff

The WetTones, from Italy. They add a trumpet to the mix. All Fender gear, as well.

Surf music bands have the most creative names -- The Tremolos, The Aquasonics, The Surf Coasters,The Volcanics -- I am getting all these from MySpace. There is a huge amount of bands to explore here. I could spend hours here, but time to move on. Take a look for yourself. It is all there just waiting to be heard.

I will close by saying that today's surf music is being played in the same spirit that the original bands did, back in the time when it was new. The music seems to be universal, even if the people playing it have never been on a surf board or live anywhere near the ocean.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple

I just have not had much time these days to post anything here. It seems like I have not had much interest in music things as of late. Other things get in the way, and I put guitars and music on the back burner.

However, I have had fun exploring music gems on Youtube. Last week, I spent a hour or two going through all the Deep Purple I could find, mostly from the early days.

Deep Purple's Machine Head was, if I remember right, one of the first LP's I bought, way back in 1973. I think I had this before I even picked up a guitar. I also had the Made In Japan tape, which I played so much it wore out.

Ritchie Blackmore was a huge inspiration to me. I have never tried to play in his style - it would sound terrible if I did. I can just sit back and listen to him, with no interest in ever copying him.

I found this one, with the original line up, from 1973.

I love the fact that there is no light show or no fancy sets - just 5 guys, in their prime, doing a show at a college in New York. Pure 1970's music. And who says 1970's era Stratocasters were no good. Granted, he is using early 70's models. The quality problems did not show up until the mid 70's.

Compare this to their performance on Hugh Hefner's Playboy at night. This is the very first incarnation of Deep Purple, when Hush was a hit. I have to wonder if the outfits the dancers are wearing were planned, or if they really dressed this way. Maybe this was Hollywoods take on the hippie culture. Here we have Ritchie trying to teach Hugh how to play the guitar. Ritchie was using a Gibson 335 then.

My favorite era of Deep Purple is the 1972-1973, before Ian Gillan left. It is no secret that Ritchie and Ian do not get along. Burn, Strange Kind of Woman, Space Truckin, Highway Star and Lazy are probably my favorite songs of the time.

I became a huge fan of Rainbow, with Ronnie James Dio singing. I probably wore out the Live album they put out. I spent hours trying to play like this, and failed.

Ritchie is one of kind, and it was really interesting to see that he has aband with his wife playing a combination rock, folk and renaissance music in Blackmore's Night. I know there are many fans who are probably mad that he is not playing much of his electric guitar these days. But I think it is cool that he is doing what he wants to do, and moving into different types of music. Everyone has to evolve somewhat.

On an interview somewhere on youtube he is asked if he ever gets tired of playing Smoke on the Water. His answer was "no." He is very proud of that song, which is loosely based on a Beethoven progression played backwards. Like thousands of other young guitarists in the 70's, this song was one of the first I learned. I am sure that this continues today

Anyways, go out there and explore Ritchie's career. I plan to catch up on Deep Purple's music, as I do not have any left, having sold or lost many of my albums over the last 20 years.

Maybe I should start to learn his style of playing. I am getting bored with the guitar and need something new to do with it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

1970 -- Janis Joplin, The Beatles and The Doors

In 1970, I was 8 years old. I have an older sister who is 11 years older than me, and who graduated in 1969. She has good taste in music and often gave me her old albums to listen to. Up to that point, I had lots of 45's, as our uncle had been a disc jockey in the mid 60's, and had lots of for-promotion-only discs to share. Many of the 45's were surf music -- Dick Dale, The Astronauts, Beach Boys, The Hondells, The Ventures and so on. There were British groups, like The Shadows (with Hank Marvin) and of course, The Beatles. We had almost all of the original Capital Records Beatles 45's, all lost to time, with the lone survivor being an open-ended interview with the DJ inserting his voice into the spaces to make it appear he was doing the interview.

My sister gave me her Big Brother and the Holding Company LP, Cheap Thrills, with the late great Janis Joplin. For some reason, I just loved this record. I had no idea who Janis was, nor did I know anything about hippies, the summer of love, or who Jimi Hendrix was – you get the idea. I was only 8 years old and did not pay any attention to the news.

My head, like most boys my age, was wrapped up in the Apollo space program. But music like this got my attention. You had never heard any rock singer doing what Janis was doing. We were listening to light rock, like The Mamas and The Papas. Mama Cass didn't sing like Janis. She poured her soul into the songs, and all that pain of a troubled childhood came out in an explosion of song. I wished I remembered what drew me to this music. Unfortunately, one of
the things I remember is my sister telling me that Janis died.

At the same time, I got in to the Beatles big time. I wanted to be a drummer, so I spent a lot of time looking at Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs, wanting the silver swirl drum set that Ringo used. Guitars were not much of a thought, even though I tended to prefer guitar rock, like Duane Eddy and The Shadows. My most prized possession was a piano and guitar songbook of The Beatles music. I would make dioramas of a stage, with each member in his own spot. And if I behaved, my sisters would let me watch "Help", which we never did see, since the reception on the TV was so poor. I think I was tricked with that one.

Later, along with the Beatles, my sister gave The Doors to listen to. Jim Morrison must have made an impact on me, as I would go around the neighborhood yelling "We want the world and we want it now!" from When the Music's Over. That got some attention!

The whole point of this rambling goes back to Janis, though. I was watching her on YouTube, where at a concert in Germany, she invited members of the audience up on stage to sing and dance. They crowded around her, singing "Piece of My Heart", and the end, she took a bow and had a huge smile on her face. Janis was a household-name rock star, who led a very lonely life, but at that moment, she just seemed to be on top of the world.

I was lucky to have found this music early in life, as I was a fan -- a young one at that -- at a time when she was still alive. Now she is a music legend.

This music, along with many other songs to be discovered later, is the soundtrack of my life.
Thank you to my sister, who took the time to give me this music to discover and explore.
Also, thanks to my parents, who never paid any attention to what I was listening to!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Beware of Counterfeit Electric Guitars from China

Word is starting to get around the internet that there are many fake electric guitars, branded with Gibson and Fender logos, flooding the marketplace in America. These guitars are offered at ridiculously low prices, and to the uninformed, look like the real deal.

These guitars have been selling through e-bay for quite some time. Only recently has there been any kind of publicity about it. One hates to think of any young guitarist losing all their money, thinking they bought a real Les Paul, only to find out it was a plywood fake.

It is not always easy to tell by looking at a small picture if the guitar is fake. To me, the first thing I notice on a modern Gibson is that the fret ends are always covered with the neck binding. Not so on a fake one - the frets go right over the binding and to the edge of the neck. Also, Gibson uses two screws on the truss rod cover. The fakes use three. Most often, the control covers on the back of a real Gibson are brown. Fakes are white or cream.

The links below go into detail about spotting the fakes. I would imagine that the biggest problem is Americans who buy these in bulk, and sell through Craigslist or other classified ads to unsuspecting adults and kids who just want to own the real thing, be it a Fender, Gibson
or PRS. E-bay does not seem to be doing anything about it yet, although I suspect that will change in the near future.

Here are a few links to read about: Modern Guitars, Vintage Rock, Sonic State,
GuitarSite.com, and Free Republic.com

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Unknown Hinson: The King of Country Western Troubadours

I just discovered this guy and am not sure what to make of him. I just know that he is one heck of a great guitar player.

Unknown Hinson, whose real name is Stuart Daniel Baker, was a music teacher and studio musician from Charlotte, North Carolina. He created Unknown for a cable TV show that featured comedy sketches and concert footage.

He started touring and was "wowing audiences with his outrageous and campy, white-trash persona and freewheeling, sleazy tone. Hinson's most recent CD release, "Target Practice", melds weepy twang and searing guitar riffs and lyrics that speak of love-gone-bad and the dark side of the honky-tonk lifestyle. Raucous, theatrical and over-the-top, Unknown Hinson isn't just for the trailer park set anymore!" (Source: UnknownHinson.com)

I spent some time last night watching him on YouTube and found that his guitar tone is fantastic. He plays a Reverend with P-90 pickups through Vox amps. Twang tone for days here! Plus, the guy is funny as hell. Some of his fans include Billy Bob Thorton, Matt Groening (creator of the Simpsons), Tom Petty, and even the Rolling Stones.

A few links: Review in Illinois Entertainer; Wikipedia Entry, and an interesting interview at Steelbender.com

I would definently go see him in concert. I would love to have his guitar tone. That Reverend though the Vox is raunch rock and roll at its best. Check him out on YouTube!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paul Kossoff

I started playing guitar in 1974. I thought I knew all the great guitar players of the time, the ones who I would spend hours trying to learn from. Paul Kossoff flew under my radar, even though I knew of him and of Free, from the hit "All Right Now."

I never listened to much of anything that he did until today. I sit here listening to him pour tons of emotion out of his guitar on the song, "Time Away", which came from his Back Street Crawler band, the last before his death at age 25 on March 19, 1976. This song was apparently influenced from his brush with death.

I went on YouTube and watched as much Free and other videos that are out there and have come away with the opinion that he had the best vibrato in rock, and did more with a Les Paul and a Marshall than most of us dream of. Not many effects - just straight in to the amp, maybe a touch of a Leslie rotating speaker here and there.

I have to say that the music that Free did sounds like it was recorded in the present. These songs came out in 1971! How did I miss this guy?

Now listen to Angus Young of AC/DC. You can tell he spent hours listening to Paul Kossoff, as the use of vibrato and the Gibson/Marshall tones are very similar. I love Angus and Malcolm's playing for just keeping it simple.

So many of the great musicians I have liked haved die young and left behind a legacy of music that carries onto the 21st century. Paul, Randy Rhoads (who also died on March 19), Duane Allman, and Tommy Bolin accomplished so much in their short lives, and even years after their passing, here we are still talking about them.

I hope the aspiring guitarists of tomorrow give a listen to Paul Kossoff and learn a thing or two about the art of simple, plug-in and play rock.

RIP, Paul.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Review of U2's BOY, from July 1981 Guitar World

I was going through a few of my other old Guitar Player magazines when I came across this piece of paper stuck in one of them. It is a review of BOY, U2's first album, from the July 1981 issue.
I became a fan of u2 around this time, after hearing a live version of "The Electric Co." on the radio one late night. It is amazing that this piece of paper has survived all these years.
I am still a fan of U2, although I did not really like the Zooropa and Pop phase.
I find their music inspiring and I am glad to say our kids like them, too.
I have another early article on Edge written around this time. I will look around for it today, as I am home today. We now have about 6 inches of snow on the ground, just waiting for me to shovel it out of the driveway.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Randy Rhoads, 1956-1982

Randy Rhoads died on this day in 1982. It is hard to believe it has been that long. I actually remember that day - my brother told me about it. I was not really a fan at that time, although I had the first Blizzard of Oz record. I got into Randy when I heard Diary of a Madman later that year. I mourned his passing then and have ever since. Randy was known for being humble about his talent, and wanted to pursue a degree on classical guitar. He was taking lessons while on tour with Ozzy. Not many guitarists would think of doing that.
Somehwere on my past writings I posted a few pictures that a coworker took at his last show at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. I never got to see him in concert, unfortunetly, and there is precious little video of him playing. There is a documentary being made about him, according to Randy Rhoads Talk, a forum dedicated to all things Randy. Rumour has it there is newly discovered video.

RIP, Randy. Thanks for your music.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ads from Guitar Player, September 1979

I just found this old issue of Guitar Player, from my senior year in high school. I was playing a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in wine red, my first really good guitar. Funny, I just had a dream this morning that I got it back.

Anyways, here are a few ads from that issue. Click on the pictures to open up a bigger view.

The Gibson ad is cool, as I remember being very impressed by The Paul guitar, a no-frills version of a Les Paul. That guitar was the one I was going to buy in January of 1979, but the Deluxe came in and I got that instead. The Paul was made of walnut, if I recall correctly, with Dirty Fingers pickups. Just a few days ago, I came across a "The SG", selling for $999, in well-used condition. These guitars would be comparable to today's faded line of Les Pauls and SGs. If I had a grand to spend, I would have bought that SG. I have never run across a Maurader or S-1, although if a famous guitarist starting using one, they would probably become collectable.

This ad with Les Paul is interesting as he is holding the sought-after silverburst Les Paul Custom, which are going for high dollars today. The amp is the Lab Series L-5, a 100 watt solid state combo. This was my first good amp, and was very warm sounding. Allan Holdworth used these, as does B.B. King, and the amp is responsible for Ty Tabor (Kings X) much copied tone from the late 1980's. The L-5 can still be found at reasonable prices, as solid state amps are still not as respected as tube amps, althought this one is, depending on who you talk to.

The Guitar Trader ad has been around on the net for awhile. I subscribed to the newsletter of used guitars back in 1978 and remember the days when a pre-CBS Stratocaster or Telecaster went for under $1000. I wish I would have bought one.

I would lust after the guitars on that newsletter, and it seemed that they always had a few 50's Les Paul gold top or sunbursts in stock, going for anywhere fron $1,500 on up. Most other guitars, which were at that time only 10-15 years old, where well under $1,000, just as the ad states. Who knew you could finance your kid's college with one of these "well under a $1,oo0" guitars today? My copies of the newsletters are long gone, but I have seen them come up on guitar forums before.

The Epiphone Genesis was a Japanese guitar, which appears to be a sort-of copy of a Les Paul. I included this because I have noticed people talking about them on a few guitar forums this past year. It looks like a cool guitar.

The Pignose amp is a classic. The Pignose was a decent small portable amp that was very popular back in the day. My old band director played his Les Paul Deluxe through one, and I recall it sounding good.

I used to have many issues of Guitar Player and Guitar World, but threw most of them away in the 1980's. Most of them were cut up, with the pictures going on my bedroom wall. Everynow and then, I find a few a used book stores, which is where this one came from.

I will post more later. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jeff Healey Passes Away

I am very saddened to hear that Jeff Healey, the famed guitarist from Canada, died today of cancer. Jeff was an incredible guitarist who played a unique way, with the guitar on his lap, and with all five fingers on the fretboard.

I was fortunate to see Jeff play at the Guthire Theater in Minneapolis in 1989. I was fairly close, and could observe his style. He was on fire that night, and it remains one of the best concerts I have ever been to. He was very inspiring to watch and his guitar skills were formidable.
When I played in a blues-rock band years ago, one of my favorite songs to play was his "See the Light." I could never in a million years play it the way he did, but I sure tried to do my best on it.

RIP, Jeff.

Here are a few links of interest:

Canadian Bands

Official Website

Canadian Press

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday Night Live Season Two Music Guests

I was 13 years old when I watched these live on Saturday night, often with my Univox electric guitar in hand, ready to play along with the music. It was a blast from the past to purchase the first two seasons, with the third season set to be released this May.

I grew up on the flat fields of southern Minnesota, where we only got about four channels, so anytime I got to see a taped or live music concert was a treat. SNL, along with Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and The Midnight Special, were really the only games in town. Often, the guitarists would be playing a Stratocaster or Les Paul, the two guitars I wanted badly.

The Band made their last TV appearance on October 31, 1976.I was not a fan, but I remember watching this live that night. Robbie Robertson had recently been on the cover of Guitar Player, so I knew who they were. He was playing a vintage 50's Stratocaster with a humbucking pickup in the bridge spot, playing his distinctive sytle with pinch harmonics and that treblely tone. Levon was playing, as I learned many years later, his wooden drum kit bought in the 60's, that definded his drum tone. Now, of course, as I am older, my wife and I are huge fans of the Band and own many or most of their music and taped concerts. That was almost the end of an era, as the Band were true originals. Music changed later during the 70's, with disco taking over the airwaves and many of the older bands faded away.

Brian Wilson made a rare and unusual appearance on November 27, 1976. He was shaky at best, but it was good to see him out of his shell of anxiety and drepression. He was clearly nervous, but had the courage to appear in a sketch as a guard. He played Good Vibrations solo on piano while sitting in a sandbox.

The Kinks were on the show on the February 26, 1977 and played a quick medley of their hits. Dave Davies played a beautiful 50's goldtop Les Paul with P-90 pickups. This guitar was probably not a huge collectable at the time, but would be worth a fortune today. He sounded great, as did the rest of the band.

Levon Helm played on the March 19, 1977 show, along with Dr. John and Paul Butterfield, calling themselves Levon Helm and the All Stars. They played great on two songs, and one wonders why they did not continue with this line up. For us, this was worth the price of the boxed set. Leveon Helm is a true American musical treasure, who lives for the music and still plays today at his farm. He beat cancer and financial problems, and recently won a Grammy for Dirt Farmer.

Santana played on March 26, 1977, playing Europa, which was at the time, my favorite song, and did a short version of Black Magic Woman. I was a huge fan at that time and was learning his songs the best I could. He was playing a Yamaha SG-2000 through Mesa Boogie amps. It was a thrill for me seeing him play Europa. Also, he seemed to be on TV alot that year. You could not be an aspiring guitar player at that time and not be influenced by Santana. I would hold a microphone to the tv speaker and taped these performances to my cassette recorder so I could learn the songs. Somewhere, I have a tape of me from 1977, playing along with Europa. It was not a bad effort. Ieven hit a few of the same notes as he did.

Frank Zappa was on the December 11, 1976 show, with a young Terry Bozzio on drums. I liked Frank, but was not to familiar with his music at that time. John Belushi appears on Frank's last song on the show, as the Samuari saxaphone player. Frank was playing a SG copy given to him by a fan. Frank was a true orignal, and there has been no once since that is does his style of music. He did not care for guitar pyrotechnics and flash, and does not even play guitar on one of the songs.

Chuck Berry was on the January 22, 1977 show, playing his trademark Gibson ES-345. He played Johnny B. Goode and did his duck walk. It was easy to see why he scared the heck out of people in the 1950's and we own much to him for coming up with many of the guitar stylings and licks that we have all played at one time or another.

There are many more to write about, and I have focused mostly on the second season. I am looking forward to the third season, and will write more about others later when I have more time.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fender Unveils New American Standard Series

The original American Standard ran from 1987 to 2000, where it was replaced with the America Series. There was much controversy about the orignal AM Standards, from the swimming pool route underneath the pickguards on Strats, the the use of veneer tops and backs, covering the multiple pieces of wood use for the body. Plus, the type of wood was often unknown. Poplar and Basswood, perfectly fine woods, were thought to have been used at times. Regardless, the American Standard was a good guitar and was very popluar. I own a 1994 and 1997 Stratocaster and am very happy with them.

The American Series came out in 2001, I believe, and addressed the veneer issue. In Fender ads, they specifically mentioned the use of non-veneered bodies, and changed the much-maligned swimming pool route to be less severe. I own a 2001 Stratocaster, and consider it my main guitar.

The changes from the Fender website:
  • A new bridge with improved bent-steel saddles mounted to a stamped-brass bridge plate for increased resonance and sustain.

  • A new neck treatment—tinted for a richer presentation, with the maple or rosewood fingerboard buffed to a high gloss. The back of the neck still has that silky, comfortable satin finish.

  • A thinner finish undercoat that lets the body breathe and improves resonance.
  • A new Fender-exclusive SKB molded case.

I had a chance to play both the Tele and Strat unplugged. I did not notice much of a difference in the body, but the maple neck was darker. Lately, it seems that Fender is using white maple, almost a light green in some cases. They must have caught on to complaints about that. The new necks have that slippery feel common in vintage reissues and 1970's era guitars. The body has a thinner finish, too, supposedly helping the overall tone.

My impressions were that the guitars felt like my 2001 Strat, and I was not really crazy about a slippery fingerboard. However, none of that detracts from a finely made guitar. It is just my personal preference. The laquered neck is not near as bad as say the Eric Johnson signature Strat or a 52 reissue Telecaster, which I have a hard time with.

Small changes to the guitars have added to a just under $1000 pricetag, too.

I am planning on trying these out plugged in soon, so I can see how they sound. Word around the guitar forums is that they sound fantastic and all of the changes are good.

Whatever the changes, Fender always does a good job on moving forward with old designs. When you look back on the history of Stratocasters, you can see how they have evloved over time. And almost always for the better. Sure, CBS screwed things up during the 1970's. But having grown up during that time, my interest was in the new models, not the old ones. I did not know about all the crap that was going on. I just knew that I was looking at these guitars in awe.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

1986 Squier Stratocaster

This is my work-in-progress 1986 Squier Stratocaster, made in Japan. This is the oldest guitar I own and for years it was sitting in parts waiting for the body to be refinished. It used to be Lake Placid Blue, but in a fit of boredom, I stripped it and tried to bleach it to natural white. The body is poplar, and very lightweight. It was repainted as a matte pearl-like white, which is yellowing nicely.

The neck is very comparable to a Fender 1962 reissue, as the Squier was modeled after that guitar. In fact, I recently compared this neck to a new reissue. The Squier neck, being 22 years old, felt better to me. I just love the neck on this guitar.

This guitar now has Texas Special pickups on it. I hope to add better bridge assembly, as it currently has cheap saddles on it. The guitar still needs work, as I feel the Texas Specials are almost too hot for the guitar. As a slide guitar, it works great. The action is high, but I decided to leave it that way for slide and just get used to playing it with higher action that I would normally use. It needs a better rewiring, too, as the bridge pickup is not wired into a tone control. It is too shrill to use. This short clip uses the neck and middle pickup, and I am playing straight into my Peavy Classic 30.

Squiers from 1983 to mid 1987 are getting collectible, believe or not, as the quality was very high on them. The original pickups were weak, and I am not crazy about the bridge assembly. With a few modifications, these guitars are worth it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Early MTV: 1982 and Missing Persons

Flashback to the early 1980’s: I had just moved into the top floor of an old house. I had the place to myself for a few weeks until my roommates moved in. So I signed up for cable TV. I had heard of this channel called MTV but had not yet seen it. Didn’t matter – I couldn’t afford it. But…if I turned the TV tuner just right, it would come in. Thus began my few weeks of boredom watching MTV. Here is one.

Missing Persons - Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, vocalist Dale Bozzio, drummer Terry Bozzio, bassist Patrick O'Hearn and keyboardist Chuck Wild. I heard the song “Words” and immediately thought that this was something different. Most of the band members were former members of Frank Zappa’s touring band. Terry Bozzio is an incredible drummer and added the power behind the band. This was the day before drum machines took over. Warren’s guitar playing was different than anything I had heard. He did not take many solos, used effects to paint textures within the songs, and Dale Bozzio’s quirky voice rounded out the uniqueness of Missing Persons. You knew these were good musicians: anyone working with Zappa had to be great. He demanded alot from his band.
In 1980 the band made its first record, a 4-song EP entitled Missing Persons, in Zappa's brand-new UMRK studios; the recording was financed by Cuccurullo's father. The band toured, promoted the EP, appeared in the movie Lunch Wagon, and became a must-see band among the L.A. live music crowd. "Mental Hopscotch" was a #1 record on local radio station KROQ, and the self-promoted EP ended up selling 7,000 copies.

The first full length LP, with Spring Session M (an anagram of "Missing Persons") went gold. "Destination Unknown," "Words," and "Walking in L.A.," were a few of the singles of this LP, with Words being heavily played on the new MTV. (Source: Wikipedia)

I have this LP and rediscovered in last year. “Noticeable One” and “No More Tears” are my personal favorites. However, the whole LP is excellent and as said before, very different than the pop music being put at the time. Missing Persons was a visual band, with Dale Bozzio fronting it, often without many clothes on.
Missing Persons probably hit their peak while appearing at the three-day Southern California concert, the US Festival in May 1983.

Rhyme & Reason released in 1984. I had this LP for years and played it often over the speakers while employed at Musicland in that year. "The Closer that You Get," "Give," "Surrender Your Heart" and "Waiting for a Million Years" are standouts. A single, "Give," peaked at #67 in 1984.

Color In Your Life came out in June 1986. I liked this one. Still do. Stand-out songs include the "Go Against the Flow, and "I Can't Think About Dancing." The guitars are much heavier, and the songs less pop.
Terry and Dale Bozzio’s marriage difficulties led to the end of the band later that year.

Where are they now? For the last 20 years Warren Cuccurullo has found great success as guitarist for Duran Duran. Dale Bozzio had a top 40 hit on the Billboard Dance Chart, "Simon Simon", produced by Prince. Terry Bozzio has toured with Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck, has worked with several top level groups and artists as a session and tour drummer. He was particularly good on Jeff Becks Guitar Shop. Patrick O'Hearn is a composer of ambient instrumental music on his own albums and for television and movies.
Wild composes New Age and meditation music under the name Liquid Mind.

Dale still tours Missing Persons Featuring Dale Bozzio, but a full band reunion never really got going even after a few performances and lots of promotion.
Spring Session M (1982) #17 US
Rhyme & Reason (1984) #43 US
Color in Your Life (1986) #88 US

Next up later: More obscure MTV in Slow Children (President AmI) and The Producers (See Sheila).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Allman Brothers Band at Love Valley, 1970

I just discovered these clips on YouTube. This is Duane-era film footage, the best I have ever seen. There was a camera in front Duane for a long time so it was like getting a free lesson. The audio is not so good. I think they had a few problems syncing it all up. Otherwise - simply amazing stuff! There are at least 6 parts. The one below is the first and introductory clip.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Duane Allman’s Guitars at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

We traveled to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, as we made our way around the Great Lakes. We arrived there a few hours before closing on the 4th of July, so it was not crowded and we got a parking place right up front.

I did not know what to expect, other than Duane Allman’s famous 1959 flame top Les Paul was there. So naturally I was anxious to see it. But we took our time going through all the other items – a Beatles exhibit with lots of notes and original lyrics, a Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster (that has been sold since, I have read), making that my third Hendrix Strat I have seen (Hard Rock Café in New York and Experience Music in Seattle). There was a wall of items from various American bands, including a Lowell George Stratocaster, Kurt Cobain guitar, and others that I can’t remember. There was so much there that it is hard to remember everything!

I turned the corner and came to the 1970’s exhibit and there it was – the famous tiger-striped 1959 Les Paul, a goldtop Les Paul from Dickey Betts, a Hammond organ from Gregg Allman and … surprise…Duane’s 1962 Les Paul/SG. That was the guitar he used for slide. I was not expecting that. The SG was given to Gerry Groom after Duane’s death, per Duane’s own request made way before his passing. After Gerry’s death, the family sold it to Graham Nash’s wife, who gave it to Graham as a birthday present. He in turn has loaned it to the Hall of Fame for people like me to see. I stood there for at least 10 minutes soaking all of this in.

Photo by bkurth - Flickr
After that, we made our way to the second floor. On the wall, I saw two Les Paul sunbursts. Low and behold, it was Duane’s first 1958 sunburst – the one he used on the Fillmore East album. (On the photo right with the uncovered pickups.) Now the flametop 59 gets all the attention. There are tons of pictures of him with the flame top, and it was assumed that was the Fillmore guitar. No – it was not. He did not own that guitar until mid-1971, after the Fillmore East recording. In front of me, on the wall under glass, was the Fillmore guitar. The Fillmore East album is the reason I ever started playing guitar. I was able to examine this guitar in detail, wishing I could take it out and play it for a few minutes. However, these guitars will never be played much anymore.

Next Duane’s burst was Gary Rossington’s burst, although I do not know the year of it or if it was his main guitar he used all those years. It was great too see these two historic guitars side by side, and on the wall, where you could take a close look at them. No pictures are allowed so I have nothing to show.

photo copyright crazy jim wggns all rights  reserved
Duane traded his 1957 Goldtop Les Paul in Florida for this guitar, allegedly exchanging the pickups from the 57 into the 58. Layla was recorded on the 57, but shortly thereafter, he got the burst. And here it was. I do recall that Duane’s daughter owns these Les Paul’s and has loaned them for exhibit.

The 57 Goldtop stayed in a private collection in Florida for years, and if I recall correctly, it was sold not too long ago. Edit: The 57 goldtop is now on display at the Big House, Allman Brothers museum in Macon, where it is played often at local concerts. Vince Gill played this guitar at a concert in Macon. It is on Youtube and is simply amazing.

Duane’s other guitars are: a 1960 Les Paul Jr., his first electric that ended up in Delany Bramlett’s hands. Duane wanted it back but Delany wouldn’t sell it. That guitar is owned by a Japanese businessman, who apparently is quite a good guitarist and uses the Jr. on stage.

Duane’s 50’s 1956 sunburst Stratocaster is at the London Hard Rock Café vault. Another Stratocaster is at the Hard Rock in Florida, if I recall. He played Stratocasters while a session player at Muscle Shoals. If you listen to” Goin Down Slow” off of the Duane Allman Anthology album, you will hear his Stratocaster tones. Tone is in the fingers and the trademark licks are there in full force. He is mostly associated with the Les Paul, and these session recordings prove that he played and sounded remarkably the same on any guitar.

His Tele with the Strat neck from the Hourglass days was stolen, and the whereabouts of his Gibson ES-335 is unknown. He played this guitar before the Hourglass, probably in the Allman Joys.

He is pictured at Muscle Shoals on a post-CBS sunburst Stratocaster with a rosewood neck and black plastic, but I have never read anything about that guitar.

He gave a 1961 Sunburst Stratocaster to Delany Bramlett, which I recall is still owned by Delany.

Duane also played a Gibson ES-335 in his early days before The Hourglass. Here is a clip of a man supposedly playing this guitar. There is no story to tell where this guitar has been all these years.

Duane playing his Gibson ES-335

Derek Trucks now owns Duane's 50 watt Marshall amp used on the Fillmore East album.
Here is a quite from its former owner:

Regarding the '69 Duane Allman Marshall, I brought it to the sound check for a Derek Trucks Band - Eric Johnson show on 2/13/2001. I remember the date because Susan had flown in that day for Valentines Day, which was the following day. Derek tried it out backstage with his main SG, & it was undeniably, the Fillmore one. Very distinctive fullness & sustain. Derek used the amp for the encores when he, Susan, & Mike sat in with Eric's band. George McCorkle & I had several discussions about the appropriate thing to do with the amp when it was time to pass it along, & we both agreed that for a variety of reasons, it would go to Derek. Over 10 years later, we worked out a deal that puts the amp where it should stay. I am happy to hear that it was used on this album.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I do not have time to write much this week. So, thanks to a few of the folks on thegreatpage.net, where I found these links, here are two really great unknown artists currently on YouTube. I am constantly amazed at the talent this is on YouTube.

Lydia is a bassist and singer from Holland. I am really impressed with her and have enjoyed watching her. Check this and her other videos out. She plays in a Level 42 tribute band.

Second is Swedish guitarist Andrews Lewen and his group, Knockout Greg & Blue Weather. I would give anything to play like this. What a great guitar tone!