Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jimmy Page - 1957

Here is a treat. A video of Jimmy Page done in 1957, when he was in a skiffle band. During the interview at 2:40, he says he wants to work in biological research. This is an amazing video when you realize that 10 years later he was in the Yardbirds, and laying the groudword for Led Zepplin.

Jimmy Page was a huge influence on my early guitar playing days. I hate it when he gets ripped on in the guitar forums I frequent for being a sloppy guitarist. Who cares?! This is rock and roll, it is not meant to be perfect all the time. I love his guitar playing and still listen to Led Zepplin frequently.

I sold my Les Paul Standard years ago, but whenever I listen to Jimmy, I want one again! I was foolish to sell it, although I got a great Stratocaster out of it, plus the Les Paul had extensive modifications that sort of ruined its Les Paul tone. Still...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Allman Brothers Band "Statesboro Blues" through the years

Here is a great Flash animation by Brett Underhill that takes you through all the different lineups of the Allman Brothers Band. This is genius and a fantastic tribute. Enjoy.

Ok, the Allman Brothers Band.... from Brett Underhill on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tosin Abasi and the 8 string guitar

I just found this in - Tobin Abasi playing an 8-string guitar. This is all new to me, and I am glad I found it. Tobin plays in a band called "Animals As Leaders" , based in Washington, D.C. It appears the band is basically Tobin, who plays bass, guitar and vocals, with drums programmed by Misha Mansoor.  I love finding out about musicians like Tobin. This is really great music - different and exciting to watch someone at this level.

I would love to play a guitar like this. Rondo Music has quite a few 8 string guitars for sale. This style of guitar playing must be getting popular. I can barely handle 6 strings on a guitar. I can't imagine having 7 or 8!  There are very few to try in the local stores.

Tobin plays Ibanez guitars. Here is an interview with him from 2007.

Great music here. Check his work out.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mick Taylor

It is early Sunday morning. We have a fresh 5 plus inches of snow on the ground. Winter is here. On the turntable is an album that never really got the airplay it deserves.

This album dates back to 1979. It was the first solo album by Mick Taylor, former guitarist of the Rolling Stones. Mick left the Sones around 1974, due to the inability to work with Keith Richards.

From Wikipedia:

“In a 1997 interview with Mojo Magazine, Taylor said: "We used to fight and argue all the time. And one of the things I got angry about was that Mick had promised to give me some credit for some of the songs – and he didn't. I believed I'd contributed enough. Let's put it this way – without my contribution those songs would not have existed. There's not many but enough, things like "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile" on Sticky Fingers and a couple of others."

The album in question, that I am listening to as I type this, is simply called “Mick Taylor.” Mick plays in a style that he was not able to do with the Rolling Stones. Jazzy, spacey, full of Latin music influences, with a few pop-like songs to fill it out.

The standout and most well-known track is “Giddy Up.” His guitar work on this is stellar, playing a Stratocaster, probably straight into a Marshall amp. Mick knows where to put the notes and when to hang back and let others shine. I dare say that a guitarist today would probably play 20 notes to Mick’s one! His Strat tones cry out, mixed in with classical and steel string guitars.

The extended song “Spanish/A Minor” weaves in and out with tasteful guitar solos and heavy use of the Arp String Ensemble a (very popular sound in the day.)

Mick has never gotten the attention he deserves. Most of us have heard him on the classic Rolling Stones albums, Exile on Main Street, Let it Bleed and all of the other greats from the early 1970s. It is my opinion that the Rollings Stones best work had Mick on guitar and he was underused in the band and di not get the credit for to work he did and songs he had a hand in writing.
Mick did not release another solo album until “Stranger in This Town” in 1990. He did keep busy with session work and appearances since, but kept quiet throughout much of the 1980s.

We saw Mick in concert around 1990 at a small venue.  Unfortunately, it was so loud we had to leave after five songs. What we did see was excellent. We just valued our ears!

Mick has worked with  the Grateful Dead in 1988 He did session work and toured in Europe, America and Japan with a band including Max Middleton. He moved back to England in the mid 1990s. He released a new album in 2000, A Stone's Throw and played at clubs and theatres as well as appearing at festivals.

Mick also worked with Carla Olson on "Too Hot For Snakes."

In 2003, he reunited with John Mayall for his 70th Birthday Concert in Liverpool along with Eric Clapton. A year later, in autumn 2004, he also joined John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for a UK theatre tour. He toured the US East Coast with the Experience Hendrix group during October 2007.

Mick has had helath problems for the last few years, but has had a steady, but limited, touring schedule for the past few years.

Mick's music is well worth searching out, particularly the album that inspired me to write this.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Manic Slide Playing

I have not posted any of my guitar playing in quite some time. Here is a manic slide guitar piece I did while on my lunch break. I telecommute one day a week, and had the house to myself. Normally, I would drive my family nuts with this type of playing! Someday, I will get around to playing along with a backing track.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Interesting Links to Check Out

I feel like I should be writing something today, but am too tired to really do much. However, this past week I have found a few items around the world wide web that some of you may find fun to read.

From Fender's website: an article about 2112 and Moving Pictures by Rush. It is from the series of DVDs called Classic Albums. This was interesting article. I will have to put this DVD on my christmas wish list.  It will replace that cool Red Rider BB gun I have have had my eye on!

Jas Obrecht is (or was) a writer for Guitar Player magazine. He now has an excellent blog recounting his years as a writer. He recently had a few articles about one of my main music inspirations, Duane Allman.  He interviewed the people from Duane's early teenage years, when he was just starting to play guitar. This post was an interview with Jim Shepley, the boy who taught Duane how to play guitar. This was a great read. There are two other interviews with other friends, as well.

The one article I liked was about the Woodstock performance by Jimi Hendrix. One just assumes, when you watch the Woodstock movie, that the performance was great.  This article recalls the numerous difficulties Jimi had with the musicians and technical parts of the show. For instance, none of the guitars would stay in tune due to the cold weather. 

This blog is one of the best music blogs I have found.  Take time to read all the great articles. I must have spent a few hours going through them all.

Gibson Guitars has an interview with the family of Randy Rhoads.  Gibson has just released the Randy Rhoads Les Paul Custom tribute guitar.  A nice gesture but an incredibly expensive guitar.  Good article, though. Randy was a fan of George Lynch, who replaced Randy as guitar teacher at Musiona, at Randy's recommendation. Musonia is the music school that Randy's mom, Delores, still runs. I wanted to stop there when I was in LA years ago, but did not have the time. The family is receptive to fans visiting and it has been a pilgrimage for Randy fans for many years.

When I was youngster, I watched a late night movie called Blowup (1966), about a photographer witnessing a murder in London. There was a scene in the film of a rock band. The guitarist destroys his guitar in mid-song. I did not know it at the time, being just a little kid staying up way too late, that the band was the Yardbirds and that this is one of the rare clips that featured Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar. Jimi is playing his pre-painted Fender Telecaster here, and Jeff destroys his.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lisa Gerrard

I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. There are days when I can think of many things to write about, others where I just draw a blank. I let it go for a month or so, then get back into it when I do discover a topic that I want to share. I always look for new music and artists, ones that flew under my musical radar and were just waiting for me to find it. I found one last night.

I was looking around YouTube viewing videos of ambient (or new age) artists. We had The Band's" The Last Waltz" on the TV, so I had one ear on that and the other on YouTube.  YouTube is my main source for this, since stopped offering songs to preview. I was watching videos of a favorite band of mine, Bel Canto, featuring Anelli Drecker on vocals. I noticed that people were comparing them to Dead Can Dance. I had never heard of them so I looked them up and started watching to videos. The lead singer is Lisa Gerrard, who is famous for singing Now We Are Free, from the movie Gladiator. I have heard her name before but never really got around to listening to her.

She is just not of this earth. Her vocal style is beyond words.
Her vocals have been described as rich, jaw-dropping, deep, dark, mournful, and unique. She sings many of her songs, such as Now We Are Free and Sanvean in an idioglossia (an idiosyncratic language) that she has developed since the age of twelve.

Lisa was born in 1961 in Melbourne, growing up in a Greek-Turkish with Irish parents who loved Mediterranean music. This influenced her music, particularly on later Dead Can Dance albums and in her solo and collaborative works.

She was with Dead Can Dance until 1998, when she embarked on a solo career. She has worked on many films, with Gladiator being one of the most well-known.

She received a Golden Globe Award for the music score to the film Gladiator, on which she collaborated with Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt.

She has just released DEPARTUM, the new joint collaboration with Marcello De Francisci.

Here are few samples of her singing.

My favorite, The Sea Whisperer. I am not sure she actually sings on the soundtrack of this movie, City of Angels. It could be just what the maker of the video used.Regardless, I love this song.

From the movie, Henry Poole is Here, called "On An Ocean." This is a video made by a fan, which has nothing to do with the movie.

A collboration with Orbital, called One Perfect Sunrise

I could put a lot more up, but I will leave it up to you to explore. 

Lisa is an incredible singer and artist, and I look forward to discovering her music. I hope many of you agree. This is not  your traditional style of music. Listen to it with an open mind, and with headphones on! Close your eyes and just let the music take you to another place.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hank Marvin - Influential Guitarist

When I was just little kid, maybe about 6 or 7 a record came into my possession. The year would have been 1968 or so. It was a 45 rpm, on the Atlantic label. I am fairly certain it came to me by my uncle who was a DJ in the early 60s.

The record was by the Shadows, a band from England formed in the late 50s. They were one of the first bands to use the four-member rock-group format - lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums.

The songs on the 45 were “The Frightened City” and “FBI”. The song “FBI” caught my young ears, many years before I ever learned to play guitar. To this day, when I take out this record and play it, it brings back memories of me sitting in my room, with my old 45 rpm record player by my side, discovering the joy of rock guitar.

Hank Marvin was the lead guitarist and main soloist in the Shadows. He quickly became one of, if not the best, guitarists in England.

He played and owned the first Fender Stratocaster in the UK, serial number 34346, finished in Fiesta Red, with gold hardware. This guitar, with its vibrato arm, contributed to the Shadows' sound. The guitar was imported from America by Cliff Richard.

His tome was achieved using this Stratocaster, a Vox amplifier (AC15 and AC30 models) and a tape echo machine.

The story on the Stratocaster goes like this:
In 1959, Marvin and Richard searched through a Fender catalogue to find the model of guitar played by James Burton, Ricky Nelson's lead guitarist. They assumed that Burton's guitar was a Stratocaster, because the most expensive guitar in the brochure was a gold-plated example with a red body and a one-piece Maple neck. Burton, however, played the telecaster, and the Stratocaster was a relatively new model, available only to special order.

Richard made the arrangements and the chosen guitar was imported specially for Marvin, who used it between 1959 and 1961. It remained Richard's property and was returned to him when Jennings Musical Instruments outfitted the whole group with matching Fiesta Red Fender guitars, which featured necks with rosewood fingerboards.

Hank Marvin was VERY important to the world of rock guitar. He influenced countless young guitarists all over the world, including George Harrison, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and many more. He was not a star in America, as the Shadows never really made it big here. But in the U.K. and much of Europe, his impact was great.

His use of the Stratocaster was also important, as not many well known guitarists were using them, other than Buddy Holly. The Stratocast was not the top of the line guitar in the Fender catalog at that time, with the Jazzmaster and Jaguar being ahead of it.

Hank is still actively playing guitar, recording and performing all over the world.
Here are but a few of the many videos that are on YouTube.

FBI - Not sure how they managed to dance like that and play at the same time!

Apache - the first big hit

Sleepwalk - one the best instrumentals ever. Rockin' with tuxes on!

With another guitar great, Dick Dale

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What the Future Sounded Like

If you like electronic music (and I do!) here is a short film about the early days of synthisizers, going back to the advent of the EMS VCS-3, which dominated "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. Very interesting film that shows how the British music scene started using these back in the late 60's and into the 70's. This was all new to people back then.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More posts coming soon

To the few people who read this regularly - I will start posting again soon. Unable to do much writing at the moment. Thanks.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I will never play guitar as good as these kids...

despite years of practice!

This is making the rounds on the internet - a young girl in North Korea who is advanced way beyond her years!

Here is Haruka Kageyama, all of 12 years old, who does a perfect rendition of  a Joe Satriani song.

How do they play this good at such a young age?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Robert Holmes - Guitarist for "Til Tuesday

I am going to write about a relatively unknown guitarist today. I was looking around for video of his old band and came across some of his work in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was very impressed with his songs.

Robert Holmes, born in England in 1957, found some success as a founding member, songwriter and guitarist for one of my favorite 80’s-era bands, ‘Til Tuesday. The band formed in Boston in 1982, with members bassist/vocalist Aimee Mann, Robert on guitar and vocals, keyboardist Joey Pesce, and drummer Michael Hausman.

Robert’s guitar work was texture-driven, fairly simplistic and minimal but very effective for the type of music ‘Til Tuesday was playing. The first album, Voice Carry, was a hit on MTV and radio with the song, “Voices Carry.” Other songs on the album, “Love in a Vacuum” and “I Could Get Used to This” featured Robert’s tasteful, echo-laden guitar work.

“Til Tuesday were very popular then and toured all over the world. In 1986 the new LP Welcome Home, was critically received but failed to do much on the charts. Aimee Mann was moving away from the new wave sound of the first album.

The next LP, Everything's Different Now , released in 1988, was not a success. It peaked at #124, while the lead single "(Believed You Were) Lucky" barley made it into the top 100.

'Til Tuesday broke up after that.

Robert went on to form Ultra Blue, with his wife Glenda on vocals. I found some of their songs on YouTube last night and was very impressed with them. Ultra Blue won best new artist at the Boston Music Awards in 1989 and made many recordings. However, they never made it big.

Robert really shows his guitar skills on these songs. He never played like this with “Til Tuesday!

In 1996 he moved to Vermont and formed "Love Bomb" for which he was the leader and lead guitarist. They have built up a following in the Southern Vermont/ Western Massachusetts area, performing at numerous weddings and private parties. Robert is now a free lance guitar player for hire.

I wish Robert was more known in the music world. His guitar playing is excellent, and the songs by Ultra Blue are very good. Here are a few of them. Visit his website to hear more songs.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Johnny Hiland

Johnny Hiland is a guitarist originally from Woodland, Maine, and was born with a medical condition that left him legally blind. He joined his family's band, the Three Js and toured New England under the auspices of the Down East Country Music Association. At ten, Johnny won the Talent America contest, entitling him to a performance in New York City. He expanded his musical interests beyond bluegrass to the guitar rock of players like Joe Satriani and Eddie Van Halen. After high school, he attended the University of Southern Maine as a history major, but ultimately dropped out to become a professional musician.

Johnny eventually moved to Nashville where he worked as a guitarist for artists such as Toby Keith, Ricky Skaggs, Janie Fricke, and Hank Williams III. He has with Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label as a solo artist and to date has released two studio albums, the self-titled Johnny Hiland and Loud and Proud.

The Johnny Hiland Band has headlined concerts and clubs in the US and internationally in Italy, Japan, Canada, England, Italy and Germany. In addition to all of that, he also teaches Master Classes at vschools ranging from Berkley School of Music in Boston to Musicians Institute in California and the Academy of Contemporary Music in England.

Johnny has also released instructional DVDs which highlight his bluegrass and “chickin’ pickin’ style. If you play guitar, you probably know what that is.

Johnny career has really taken off the last few years, as evident by the fact that he has a signature guitar on the market. He played Fender Telecasters for years, then “shocked” the guitar world by switching to Paul Reed Smith guitars, eventually having a signature model named for him. (A few guitar forums went nuts about this!) He just joined the Ernie Ball/Music Man company as an endorsee, using a Music Man Silhouette guitar.

"I think Johnny Hiland is the most versatile guitar player I've ever heard. From Bill Monroe to Eddie Van Halen, he can play it all."

Ricky Skaggs

"I've jammed with the best the world has produced -- Johnny stands spirit to spirit with them all."

Ted Nugent
A few videos to enjoy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

John Denner - Guitarist

John Denner puts to rest the notion that a physical handicap can keep you from becoming a great guitarist.

I am very impressed by John's music.

Anything is possible if you have the determination to succeed. I bet there were plenty of people who told him when he was just starting out that "you could never play the guitar."  Guess he showed them a thing or two.

From his website:
"If you've heard anything about John Denner, you probably know he was born without a right hand.
And if you've had the privilege of hearing him play, you also know he's one of the most phenomenal guitar players in rock today.
These two facts alone are enough to amp up the guilt in your "I can't because . . ." file.

But you can't feel bad around him. There's something about John that makes you want to celebrate ... to marvel ... to wonder what it is about his playing that moves you so deeply."

I can agree with that.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brent Mason

I am just getting into the guitar wizardry of Brent Mason. I have heard about him for years, and am now just checking him out.

Brent Mason is one of the most recorded guitarists in history, performing on sessions with George Strait, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, Wade Hayes, Toby Keith, Randy Travis, Neil Diamond, and many others.

And you can add a large percentage of all the songs on top 40 country music stations today, top 40 pop stations, as well as many TV commercials.

He was in demand through much of the '90s, playing on albums by Alan Jackson, David Gates, Brooks Dunn, George Strait, Neil Diamond and Shania Twain, among many others.

Brent was signed to Mercury Records in 1997, and released an instrumental album entitled "Hot Wired" later that year. This was his only major-label album. He broke his contract with Mercury records  to remain in Nashville and work in the recording studio as an A-List session guitarist rather than spend most of his time on the road touring and away from his family. He and his brother Randy released a second album, entitled "Smokin' Section," in 2006.

Brent is also well-known in the guitar world for the wiring of his Telecaster. In his younger days, he could not afford three guitars. So he added a mini humbucking pickup to the neck and  added a stacked humbucker pickup in the middle with its own volume control, enabling him to blend that midde pickup in with the others. This beefed up the sound of the guitar, but still retained the Telecaster twang. Valley Arts guitar now has a signature guitar named for Brent which duplicates his original. 

I have just added a minihumbucker to my Telecaster and am interested in doing this mod to it later, or maybe just building a new Tele with this mod.

Check out Brent Mason if you can. I plan to. I love discovering new guitarists.  Even if they have been around forever, they are still new to me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mark Knopfler Concert

I was invited to go to the Mark Knopfler concert at the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis by a friend who had an extra ticket. I was not going to turn this down, as I have heard that Mark puts on a great show. This tour, lasting until July 31, is in support of his "Get Lucky" CD.

I was not disappointed.  I have never really listened much to his solo music, as I am most familiar with his work with Dire Straits. I was a teen when disco was big in the late 70s, and Dire Straits was a huge breath of fresh air for all of us who liked guitar-oriented music. He has an instantly recognizable guitar tone, using his fingers instead of a pick. I was amazed that it did not matter what guitar he played - Stratocasters, Les Pauls or a Telecaster - he still sounded like Mark Knopfler! Tone is indeed mostly in the hands.

He took to the stage for almost three hours playing this set list:

Border Reiver/ What It Is/ Sailing to Philadelphia/ Cleaning My Gun/ Prairie Wedding/ Hill Farmer’s Blues/ Romeo and Juliet/ Sultans of Swing/ Donegan’s Gone/ Get Lucky/ Marbletown/ Speedway at Nazareth/ Telegraph Road ENCORE 1 Brothers in Arms/ So Far Away ENCORE 2 Piper to the End

I was not familiar at all with most of these songs, so it great to hear it with a fresh ear.  I particularly liked "Prairie Wedding", "Sailing to Philadelphia" and the last song before the encores, "Telegraph Road."  His version of "Sultans of Swing" was not much like the version we all know. It was more restrained.  He is not as much rock and roll, as he is folk and Americana type of music. He was more into exploring his love of roots – country, folk, bluegrass and Irish folk.

His band was fantastic as well.  Featuring Guy Fletcher, Richard Bennett (who seems to have worked with every artist on the planet in his 30 year plus career), Tim O' Brien and others whose names I cannot find were, to me, flawless, and added much to the experience of the concert.

Opening act was Pieta Brown along with Bo Ramsey on guitar. They played folk, or roots, music, and were very enjoyable.

If you can see this tour, do so. It heads to the eastern US, then all over Europe.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Viv Campbell - Dio and Def Lepard

It was late 1983. I had just moved to another city, all alone in a small efficiency apartment. I was listening to a lot of heavy metal music. Randy Rhoads was gone, Quiet Riot was just getting to be big and metal was getting hot again.

I had just bought “Bark at the Moon”, the first release by Ozzy after Randy’s death. Jake E. Lee was his new guitarist, and was in great form on this debut release.

One night I turned on the radio and heard the distinctive voice of Ronnie James Dio. I was a big fan of his work with Blackmore’s Rainbow during the bands short life in the late 70’s.

The song was “Rainbow in the Dark.” I was amazed to hear the fantastic guitar solo by the young Vivian Campbell. Vivian, right alongside Jake E. Lee, were setting the standard for great guitar playing.

Randy’s death left a big gap in the metal music scene, and these two were poised to take over that spot.
Here is a live concert of Dio and Campbell playing “Rainbow in the Dark.”

Viv was only 21 years old when he cut this song (only two months younger than me!) . He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1962. He joined Dio after Jake E. Lee left the band.

Dio had three songs that he had written while Jake was in the band - Stand Up And Shout, Don't Talk To Strangers and Holy Diver. All of these songs appeared on the album and became radio hits. A concert video, called In Concert, from this tour was released. The band also played at The Monsters Of Rock festival in 1983.

Dio recorded the follow up to Holy Diver, called The Last in Line , which became as successful as Holy Diver and charted at #23. The Last in Line, We Rock and Mystery all became radio hits.
Viv left the band in 1986 to join Whitesnake, but was fired in 1988.

He joined Def Lepard in 1992, where he has fit in quite comfortably, as he has been with the band ever since.

Dio has continued to be one of the best voices in rock. He was great on Rainbow and kept Black Sabbath alive after Ozzy was fired.

From Wikipedia:

On 25 November 2009, his wife/manager announced that Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer:
"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans. Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio. Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up."
On 14 March 2010, Dio's wife and manager Wendy posted an online update on his condition:

"It has been Ronnie's 7th chemo, another cat scan and another endoscopy, and the results are good - the main tumour has shrunk considerably, and our visits to Houston (cancer clinic in Texas) are now every three weeks instead of every two weeks."

I do wish him well and hope he beats this cancer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

David Grissom - Virtuoso Blues Guitarist from Texas

I usually try to keep track of guitar players who are in the news or popular on the guitar forums I frequent. A few names keep popping up – Robben Ford, Johnny Hyland and David Grissom.

I went over to YouTube to see what the fuss was about on David Grissom, a well-known influential guitarist from Texas. I see his name all over the place, as a sideman for various musicians, or as a PRS-endorser with his own signature guitar. (I want one! $$$$)

I should have checked him out before as he is every bit as good as people say he is! I should know better by now to check out what other guitarists are saying.

David is from Austin, Texas – yet another in a long line of famous Texas guitarists. He is known for his early work with Joe Ely, and as guitarist in the John Mellencamp Band. He formed the critically-acclaimed Storyville with Malford Milligan (vocals), David Holt (guitar), and Double Trouble together with Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums) and has toured and recorded with the Allman Brothers, the Dixie Chicks, Ringo Starr, Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Robben Ford and many others.

His original songs have been recorded by Trisha Yearwood, John Mayall, LeeAnn Womack, Shannon Curfmann , among many others.

Grissom released his first solo album "Loud Music" in 2007. . In January 2009 he released his second CD "10,000 Feet." He has also written an educational “Guide To Blues/Rock Guitar Soloing” with an extra CD containing examples of his style, published by Cherry Lane Music.

This page on features many of his songs. Check him out if you like hard driving blues guitar! I certainly plan to catch up his music. I could learn a thing or two from him.

A few videos:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Toy Caldwell

Too tired to write much today. Here are a few links to websites that I found interesting:

Duane Allman's first Les Paul was a 1957 Goldtop. He used this guitar to learn slide, and it was used for the first few years of the Allman Brothers Band. This was the guitar that was used to record most of "Layla."

As the sessions for "Layla" ended, he traded this guitar for a 1958 cherryburst Les Paul. He took the pickups from the goldtop and put them in the sunburst. The 58 was the guitar used for the Fillmore shows, as he acquired the famous "tiger striped" 1959 Les Paul in mid 1971.

The Goldtop ended up in private hands and was sold in the late 1970's. The guitar, according to Vintage Guitar magazine, was repainted in gold and aged a bit and has been positively identified by the distinctive markings on the fret markers. 

The story of the guitar.

Here is a site dedicated to this guitar showing detailed pictures.

Here is amazing video of Duane playing the guitar at Love Valley. This was video footage that had no sound until someone took the time to sync it up with a bootlet tape of the concert. This is, to me, the best Duane footage out there today.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is famous for using a Fender Stratocaster. When he was just starting out, he used a 1951 Fender Telecaster givin to him by his brother, Jimmie.  This was the guitar that he learned on. He sold the guitar and later regretted it. The guitar has the word "Jimbo" carved into the back.

The guitar has surfaced. Here is a website that someone set up about it.

Toy Caldwell was one of my favorite guitarists when I was a youngster learning the guitar. He was the lead guitarist for the Marshall Tucker Band out of Spartansburg, South Carolina. They were one of the southern bands spawned by the popularity of the Allman Brothers Band.

Toy played Les Pauls, mostly 1970's models (his 52 and 58 were stolen in 1975) and played with his thumb. I can't say enough how good Toy was. Sadly, Toy died in 1993. He was only 45!

See for yourself how good he was.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Age and Electronic Artists That I Like

I may be a guitar player, but I do not limit myself to listening to guitar music. I have long enjoyed listening to what is “new age” or “space” music. The kind you may hear as the soundtrack for an i-max film, or being played as background music in a store. This is not the pop –leanings of Yanni or John Tesh kind of music.
(I don’t mean to pick on Yanni. I met him when he was still in a rock band in Minnesota. He was a nice guy to chat with. I just don’t care for what he has done musically ever since.)

This is the kind of music that can take your mind to other places and give you inspiration.

Many years ago, PBS radio had a program called “Music from the Hearts of Space.” I taped many of those shows. Some of the artists I like are:

Steve Roach – a long time favorite, who has collaborated with many artists and has an exstensive catalog of music. From his website: Recognized worldwide as one of the leading innovators of contemporary electronic music, his body of work is approaching 75 solo and collaborative releases since 1981, including the 1997 award-winning live-studio masterpiece ON THIS PLANET (Fathom), 1998's critically acclaimed THE MAGNIFICENT VOID (Fathom), the time-traveling EARLY MAN (Projekt) and a number of albums that are considered classics of the genre, most notably the ground-breaking double CD DREAMTIME RETURN (Fortuna, 1988). Many of Roach's early works have stood the test of time, drawing a new generation of fans who are only beginning to discover the vast territory of sonic innovation of this uncompromising artist. Roach's music often shape-shifts into many forms, from serene sound meditations to what is described by critic Dwight Loop as "techno-tribal music for the global village", blending the visceral sounds he designs on synthesizers and samplers with the primordial rhythms of ethnic percussion and other exotic instruments, including the Australian didgeridoo.

Jon Jenkins – a recent discovery on LastFM.  His "The Calling" is the number one spot on the LastFM site. All of the songs are there to enjoy. Wonderfully relaxing music.

Jonn Serrie - one of the more popular new-age artists. I have many of his CD’s, with Flightpath being my favorite.I would listen to this on my long bus ride to work and hear lyrics going through my head, which were forgotten soon after.

From his website: "Jonn Serrie's visionary compositional skills have revolutionized today's contemporary electronic music. He creates a unique approach by combining the timeless depths of space with spiritual musical vision, spanning the universe."

He does wander around with styles, from spacy to romantic jazz to religious-themed releases.

Brian Eno – been listening to since “Music for Films” came out in the 70’s. Put on “The Pearl” and find yourself in a whole different dimension. The Pearl is his collaboration with ambient/avant-garde composer Harold Budd.  “Music for Airports” was very well known as was “Apollo  (Atmospheres & Soundtracks)” which was used as a sound track for "For All Mankind.".

Lately, “An Ascent” was popular on the web when Maya Lin used it as a soundtrack for "Chopping a Tree", a short video that is part of her  "What is Missing" campaign.

Lastly, here is one of my favorite musicians in the world, Mark Isham. Mark has done many soundtracks for films, including “Crash”,  "The Cooler", "Majestic", "Little Man Tate", "Never Cry Wolf" and many more. In addition, his solo disc, Castalia, is still one of my favorites today. Mark is probably not in the new age category, but his music comes close and I felt like writing about him.

He is well-versed in many types of music, and has worked with David Torn, Michael Shrieve, Andy Summers, and many others. You have probably heard his soundtrack music and did not even realize it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Link Exchange Anyone?

I want to build up my link list. If anyone has a music-related or guitar site similar to this one, let me know! Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jim Marshall - Legendary Music Photographer Passes

Jim Marshall died today. What a sad loss to the music and photography world. Jim was responsible for many of the iconic photographs of musicians. He was the only photographer allowed to take pictures of the last Beatles concert.

His photographs of Duane Allman graced my walls for years. Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Jim Morrison...the list goes on and on.  You can view many of his photographs and his commentary at the above link under the "The Collection" tab .  RIP, Jim.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Guitarists Who Are Carrying On With The Jimi Hendrix Spirit

I was inspired by the Experience Hendrix concert and spent some time this weekend looking around the web for other guitarists who play in the spirit of Jimi. A few came up that are worth mentioning.

Randy Hansen has been around forever as the best Hendrix tribute. His guitar chops and Hendrix's Marshall-driven tone are amazingly close to the real thing. Randy has been critized for being too close to Hendrix. I am not sure why, as he has done much to keep the memory alive. Maybe people see it as a cliché-ridden performance. I look at it as just great music played in the spirit of its creator.

Randy Hansen Videos:

I just discovered Lance Lopez from Texas. He has taken his Hendrix and SRV influences seriously and has emerged as a guitar player to be reckoned with. He has worked with Buddy Miles, Tommy Shannon, eric Gales. toured the world opening for Steve Vai and Jeff Beck, won numerous awards, and released many CDs.

Lance Lopez Videos:

Eric Gales has been around for years, starting as a young teenage prodigy in the early 1990s. He played on the last Experience Tour, but sadly, is currently in prison on a probation violation. Eric is simply amazing, playing left handed but with the guitar strung right-handed. He was a standout on the last Experience tour, drawing rave reviews for his interpretations of Jimi's music. I am sure that once out of prison , he will tour and record again.

I would put Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush in this category, although he does not have the Hendrix tone, he writes and plays in the style of Jimi.

I was a huge Mahogany Rush fan when I was a teenager, and find that their music still holds up today. I plan to write about Frank later, as he was an influence on my guitar playing.

More later...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Experience Hendrix Concert - Billy Cox and Ernie Isley

I attended the Experience Hendrix concert at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis last night. All in all, it was a great show, although my age is showing in that I wish I had brought ear plugs.

Ernie Isley opened the show with Billy Cox on bass and Chris Layton on drums. BIlly Cox was with Jimi in the Band of Gypsies and was a friend of his going back to their Air Force days. Chris Layton was the drummer for Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Ernie Isley was 11 years old when his brothers hired Jimi to be the guitarist in their band, Jimi lived with the family for quite some time, giving Erine time to absorb Jimi's music. I own an old album by the Isley Brothers, released in the 1970's, where Ernie uses what he learned to breath fire into Machine Gun and Ohio.

I saved that LP just for that. Ernie was very impressive and nailed the Hendrix tone and style.

Ernie is not ever mentioned as one of the great guitarists of the 1970's. He should be. He is very underrated for a guy who was one of the fortunate few to spend time learning one-on-one with Jimi Hendrix.

Sadly, Ernie only played these three songs and did not come back on stage for any of the other performances.

It was great to see two of Jimi's friends playing tribute to him and his music. What I would have given to see JImi perform live. I did not really

discover his music until 1974, when I heard his version of "The Star Spangled Banner." That woke me up fast. I had just started to play guitar and quickly bought most of his LPs.

Fortunately, there are plenty of videos of Jimi on YouTube for all of us to enjoy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rediscovering Automatic Man and Pat Thrall

 am a child of the 1970's. I grew up listening to what is now called Classic Rock. I liked all the big bands of the day - Nugent, Styx, Yes, Rush, Santana, Heart, and so on. I was a musical sponge, absorbing all I could to try learn techniques I could apply on the guitar.  I also was a fan of music on the fringe. Groups that never made it big and maybe had a few albums before breaking up.

AUTOMAIC MAN was one of them.  From Amazon music site:

Automatic Man came out of nowhere in 1976. The front cover of their debut album had a simple yet eye-catching blue alien staring out from space. A close look at the four-man lineup on the back sleeve, however, shows highly-respected ex-Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. But the brains and chief songwriter behind Automatic Man was keyboardist Bayete, whose real name is Todd Cochrane.

Cochrane was a graduate of Oxford University and had recorded two unsuccessful albums on the Fantasy label in the early '70s. He teamed up with Shrieve soon after Shrieve had departed Steve Winwood and Stomu Yamashta's Go project. These two were joined by two other Bay Area musicians who had also played with Go, guitarist Pat Thrall and bassist Doni Harvey. The debut album by this assemblage reveals a strange and eclectic mixture of space rock, funk, and Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar, powered mainly by Bayete's dreamy keyboards and vocals. It was a promising debut, but after Shrieve quit (he later formed Novo Combo), the band lost its way. The second release had a pink alien on the front sleeve; unfortunately, the music revealed more funk but less imagination. Thrall later joined the Pat Travers Band and guested on a Narada Michael Walden album. Bayete and Harvey seemingly disappeared from view. ~ Peter Kurtz, All Music Guide.

I knew of their guitarist, Pat Thrall, from the Improvising Rock Guitar instructional book. He provided the music.  Micheal Shreive, probably my favorite drummer in the world, provided the drums. He was all of 17 when he perfomed with Santana at Woodstock.

Pat Thrall is just a monster on the guitar on the song "Automatic Man". A fan was kind enough to post it to YoutTube. Please listen and tell me if you think that Pat just takes the guitar to a new level.

See, I told you. He just is fantastic here.  Ok, here is the song "Theres a Way". Stick with to hear Pat solo in the middle.

Here is Pat with Stomu Yamashita's GO on a live album with Steve Winwood on vocals. Incredible!

I am going to try real hard to find these on CD.  I used to own the second LP, but its long gone and I don't remember much about it.

I have to say I love finding a group from the past that blows me away.  Please listen to these and comment if you think this is great stuff. I realize it is not everybodys type of music.

Pat Thrall went on to play for Pat Travers and formed The Hughes/Thrall band with Glen Hughes in the 1980s. He is still around.  In my opinion, he is one of the greats who doesn't get the attention he deserves.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bob Weir and His Telecaster

I read this story years ago, and wanted to share it. Some of you have probably heard this story but here it is anyways. You can click on this link to read it all.

Bob Weir was adopted. After the death of his parents, he went searching for his real parents. He found his biological mom, who gave him the name of his biological dad. After Bob got in touch with his father, they found they were very much alike and have become close. After a time, the father gives Bob a guitar that belonged to his late son (Bob's half brother). It was an old Telecaster. You can read the rest on the link.

This is a great story, that after all those years, this guitar was sitting in the closet after its owner passes on. It is now (or was at that time) Bob's number one guitar.

Quote from this website: "After no one wanting this guitar it fell out of the sky one me. All of the family, as opposed to feeling forsaken, are really overjoyed at seeing a piece of their older brother and eldest son make it on the big stage. The whole story is really a little bit of mysticism. The lesson I learned from my new dad is confirming for me that fate follows in your footsteps so you need to have faith in your path and live life with a sense of wonderment."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Luo Ann Barton and Stevie Ray Vaughan

I have just started reading "Soul to Soul", a book about Stevie Ray Vaughan. This book, written by Kerri Leigh, was to be Stevie's biography and was started before his death. I have been a SRV fan since 1984, since the first LP "Texas Flood" came out. I had also see LuAnn Barton on a music TV show at about the same time.

Lou Ann was and still is one of the great female blues singers. She worked with Stevie in an early incarnation of Double Trouble, back in the mid 1970's. She and Stevie shared the vocals, as Lou Ann could be undependable at times. She was battling substance abuse right along with Stevie, and their egos often clashed. In the late 70's, Stevie fired her from the band, took over the vocals and went off to become a music legend.

The reason for this post is that there are a few songs from those days on YouTube. After hearing them, one can realize just how good they were. The band was very popluar in Austin, Texas and the surrounding area. At one point, they traveled to San Francisco, where they stole the show at a festival with their sheer musical power.

Here are a few links. This is audio only. The SRV sound we all love is in full force back in 1978.

Here is Lou Ann with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, a band she was a member of in the early days of the band. This video shows why I like Stratocasters!

Her website has lots of videos as well. Lou Ann never got really famous, but is greatly admired and respected in the music business.
To quote her bio on her website:
"Barton has to be seen live to be fully appreciated. She belts out her lyrics in a twangy voice so full of Texas that you can smell the barbecue sauce. She swaggers confidently about the stage, casually tossing her cigarette to the floor as the band kicks in on its first number. The grace, poise and confidence she projects on stage is part of a long tradition for women blues singers. The blues world still needs more good female blues singers like Barton, to help to broaden the appeal of the music to diverse audiences and to further its evolution. "

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Max Air 2 Air and a Few Apollo-era Space Items

I am an aviation buff. Have been since I dreamed of becoming a pilot when I was a kid. Guitars and planes...that was me. I learned guitar, but never learned to fly. I have only flown a plane for about 5 minutes, when I got ride in a WWII Stearman trainer. I fly plenty these days, on my computer with Flight Simulator. Safer that way, and lots cheaper.

I found this great website from a fellow Minnesotan, air photographer Max Payne. The site is This site is full of fantastic pictures from all aspects of aviation. I wish I could to fly, but my time has passed. Max takes incredible pictures along with a story or short commentary. The site is worth a visit if you like airplanes. Some of the planes featured on the site have flown over my house, as I live near a very popular airport in the Twin Cities. Hard to miss these vintage planes in sky as they rumble overhead.

I just finished reading a book about the Apollo astronauts. The book is called Moondust, written by Andrew Smith. This is a non-technical book, written for the masses, mostly about the personal impact the moon landings had on them. He did not get interview from Neil Armstrong, but did exchange e-mails. I loved this book. These guys were my heros, willing to sacrifice everything. Did you know that they got paid only dollars a day when they were in space? Armstrong as a civilian, and got paid about $28,000 a year. The rest were military men, who had to expense report out the time in space. Another fun fact: an average cell phone or iPod has more computing power than the spacecraft.
I also watched an amazing film called In The Shadow of the Moon. This film interviews all but one (Armsrtong) of the 9 remaining moonwalkers. The astronauts do all the talking here, mixed in with lots of archival footage. This is probably the best documentary about Apollo that I have ever seen. Highly recommened.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chantel McGregor

I just discovered this fantastic young guitarist while doing a search on YouTube for Robin Trower. Chantel McGregor is from England, and plays in mostly blues, Jimi Hendrix, Trower, etc. She has it all - soulful, bluseyvoice, stellar guitar skills. and great stage presence.

She has quite a few videos on Youtube. Please check them out. She is just fantastic.

Here she is playing "Stormy Monday Blues."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Song of the Siren byThis Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins and The Lovely Bones

I have always liked the Cocteau Twins and the beautiful voice of Elizabeth Fraser. Many years ago, she contributed vocals to the group This Mortal Coil. One of the songs they recorded was "Song of the Siren", written by Tim Buckely back in the 1960's. She gave this song a whole new life back then, so I was very happy to see it used in the new Peter Jackson film, "The Lovely Bones." It comes in on a key scene near the end of the movie. Perfect fit for the scene. The Cocteau Twins song "Alice" is also used in the film in one of the first key scences, another perfect fit. I won't post the parts of The Lovely Bones - you can find them on Youtube.

Elizabeth Fraser has one of the most beautiful voices in music. The songs stand well on their own, but are even better in the film. Lovely Bones is a depressing movie. I have a 12 year old daughter, so parts of the film was disturbing. I did read the book, and enjoyed it. The movie was not as good as the book, as often happens.

Check out the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil.

Tim Buckley's version

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Video by Maya Lin - Chopping A Tree

This video by Maya Lin is making the rounds on the intenet. It is called "Chopping A Tree" and puts the effects of deforestaion on another perspective - how long, according to the current daily rate of deforestation, would it take to eliminate the great parks of the world? Music is by Brian Eno, from his Apollo soundtrack of the early 1980's.

Maya Lin - Unchopping a Tree from What is Missing? Foundation on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Last FM Favorites

I do not have much to write about these days - busy with work and trying to stay warm during this cold snap. However, I have been enjoying the website, for the last few days. If you are not familiar with the site, it features thousands of artists in all styles. There is a radio station for each artist and a feature that links to similar artists. A few of the bands I have found are:

Flunk - from Norway. I heard one of their songs, Play, in the PBS series, Carrier. Excellent band if you like female vocalists in the style of Bjork. I like the guitar work - simple and effective.

Hope Sandoval - one of the most low-key, shy singers around. I enjoyed Mazzy Star back in the day - still do - and found that she has a new band, Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions. She has one of the mose angelic voices around. Most of the new music is acoustic.

Steve Roach - Always a favorite ambient artist. Close your eyes, put on headphones and transport yourself to another place. Long time fan, although some of his music leaves me cold.

Utopia - a went back in time to visit one of my favorite bands of the late 1970s. This band was the brainchild of Todd Rundgren. It was great to hear "The Last of the New Way Riders'" again. I absolutley have to rebuy these releases. It makes me feel 15 years old again, when I did not wake up every morning with a sore back.

Purr Machine - longtime Betsy Martin fan going back to her first band, Caterwaul. Purr Machine is more electronica. Betsy has a very unusual voice that may annoy some, but I love it for that very reason. Caterwaul rocked in the day, but were not successful.

Shawn Lane - one of the most gifted, influential and unknown guitarists ever. Shawn died years ago, but his music lives on here, with much of his catalog on the website to enjoy. Shawn was a legend, who played in Black Oak Arkansas when he was all of 14. He was a music prodigy, who also played piano and drums. Shawn played ALL of the instruments on his Powers of Ten CD. Late in his life he was heavily into Indian music and was very popular in India. He died too soon.

Bjork - I love Bjork. Her listing on LastFM features recordings of her as a young girl and as a singer in 1982, before the SugarCubes. What a voice. I did not care for the Sugarcubes only because of the annoying guy who insisted on talking instead of singing on many of the songs. I was glad to see her go solo. She does things her own way, experiments in different styles of music and singing. Her song Birthday is fantastic. The video for All is Full of Love is very good, as well.