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.