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.