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