Saturday, May 26, 2012

Doc Watson RIP

Grammy award winning Doc Watson has passed away after undergoing colon surgery this past week. A spokesperson in the Baptist Hospital, Winston Salem, North Carolina reported that Doc's condition remained critical until his passing today (05.29.2012). Doc has won 8 Grammy's including a lifetime achievement award, and a National Heritage Fellowship. He has also received the National Medal of the Arts. In addition, Doc has played at Carnegie Hall and the Lawn of the White house.

Arthel "Doc" Watson's mastery of flatpicking helped make the case for the guitar as a lead instrument in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was often considered a backup for the mandolin, fiddle or banjo. His fast playing could intimidate other musicians, even his own grandson, who performed with him.

He came from a musical family. His father was active in the church choir and played banjo and his mother sang secular and religious songs, according to a statement from Folklore Productions, his management company since 1964.

Doc Watson's father gave him a harmonica as a young child, and by 5 he was playing the banjo, according to the Merlefest website. He learned a few guitar chords while attending the North Carolina Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, and his father helped him buy a Stella guitar for $12.
"My real interest in music was the old 78 records and the sound of the music," Doc Watson is quoted as saying on the website. "I loved it and began to realize that one of the main sounds on those old records I loved was the guitar."
The wavy-haired Watson got his musical start in 1953, playing electric lead guitar in a country-and-western swing band. His road to fame began in 1960 when Ralph Rinzler, a musician who also managed Bill Monroe, discovered Watson in North Carolina. That led Watson to the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 and his first recording contract a year later. He went on to record 60 albums, and wowed fans ranging from `60s hippies to fans of traditional country and folk music.
According to the Encyclopedia of Country Music, Watson took his nickname at age 19 when someone couldn't pronounce his name and a girl in the audience shouted "Call him Doc!"
Seven of his albums won Grammy awards; his eighth Grammy was a lifetime achievement award in 2004. He also received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1997.
"There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn't at some point in his or her youth try to spend a few minutes at least trying to learn to pick a guitar like Doc Watson," Clinton said at the time.
Folklore described Watson as "a powerful singer and a tremendously influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar."
Countless guitarists have tried to emulate Watson's renditions of songs such as "Tennessee Stud," "Shady Grove," and "Deep River Blues."
Doc Watson's son Merle began recording and touring with him in 1964. But Merle Watson died at age 36 in a 1985 tractor accident, sending his father into deep grief and making him consider retirement. Instead, he kept playing and started Merlefest, an annual musical event in Wilkesboro, N.C., that raises money for a community college there and celebrates "traditional plus" music.
"When Merle and I started out we called our music `traditional plus,' meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play," Doc Watson is quoted as saying on the festival's website. "Since the beginning, the people of the college and I have agreed that the music of MerleFest is `traditional plus.'"
Doc Watson has said that when Merle died, he lost the best friend he would ever have.
He also relied on his wife, Rosa Lee, whom he married in 1947.
"She saw what little good there was in me, and there was little," Watson told the AP in 2000. "I'm awful glad she cared about me, and I'm awful glad she married me."
In a PBS NewsHour interview before a January appearance in Arlington, Va., Watson recalled his father teaching him how to play harmonica to a tune his parents had sung in church, as well as his first bus trip to New York City to perform in the early 1960s. He gave an early solo performance at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village, a hot spot for the folk music revival, and later played Carnegie Hall.
Telling the stories in a folksy manner, he broke into a quiet laugh at various points. He said he still enjoyed touring.
"I love music and love a good audience and still have to make a living," Watson said. "Why would I quit?"
Musician Sam Bush, who has performed at every Merlefest, began touring with Doc and Merle Watson in 1974, occasionally substituting for Merle when he couldn't travel.
"I would sit next to Doc, and I would be influenced by his incredible timing and taste," Bush said after Watson's recent surgery. "He seems to always know what notes to play. They're always the perfect notes. He helped me learn the space between the notes (are) as valuable as the ones you play."
Bush said he was also intimidated when he began playing with the man he calls "the godfather of all flatpickers."
"But Doc puts you at ease about that kind of stuff," Bush said. "I never met a more generous kind of musician. He is more about the musical communication than showing off with hot licks."
His blindness didn't hold him back musically or at home.
Joe Newberry, a musician and spokesman for the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, remembered once when his wife called the Watson home. Rosa Lee Watson said her husband was on the roof, replacing shingles. His daughter Nancy Watson said her father built the family's utility shed.
Guitarist Pete Huttlinger of Nashville, Tenn., said Doc Watson made every song his own, regardless of its age. "He's one of those lucky guys," said Huttlinger, who studied Watson's methods when he first picked up a guitar. "When he plays something, he puts his stamp on it – it's Doc Watson."
He changed folk music forever by adapting fiddle tunes to guitar at amazing tempos, Huttlinger said. "And people all over the place were trying to figure out how to do this," he said. "But Doc, he set the bar for everyone. He said, `This is how it goes.' And people have been trying for years to match that.
"He took it (the guitar) out of the background and brought it up front as a melody instrument. We're no longer at the back of the class. He gave the front to us."
Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council, said recently that Watson took southern Appalachian forms of music such as balladry, old-time string music and bluegrass, and made them accessible.
"He takes old music and puts his own creativity on it," Martin said. "It retained its core, yet it felt relevant to people today."
Said Bush: "I don't think anyone personifies what we call Americana more than Doc Watson."
North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a statement Tuesday evening that Watson will be missed.
"Over his long and brilliant career, Doc Watson traveled the world playing the music he loved, but his heart never strayed far from his home in Deep Gap, N.C.," Perdue said. "Our state was fortunate to have such a worldwide ambassador of North Carolina's culture and heritage."
In 2011, a life-size statue of Watson was dedicated in Boone, N.C., at the spot where Watson had played decades earlier for tips to support his family, according to the Folklore statement. At Watson's request the inscription read, "Just One of the People."
If you consider yourself a guitar player then you must know or learn about Doc Watson.
Watson, who was born in Deep Gap is blind, is known as a master Travis picking/flat picking style of guitar playing.

We send our prayers and best wishes to Doc and his family during this difficult time.
Where does Rockabilly come from? Listen to this concert from NPR!

Friday, May 25, 2012

What is your favorite brand of guitar?

The poll for your favorite brand of guitar is over and Gibson took 1st place and 40% of the votes; Fender taking second play with 33%. The more interesting results comes from the other category which consumed 26% off the results and a resounding 3rd place. This tells me there are some readers out there that weren't represented. Were those votes for Taylor, Martin, Guild, Breedlove, Collings or some other brand? I don't know because obviously my poll was flawed. The next poll asks, "What is for your favorite brand of strings ?" I have a wider array of samples for the strings pool, now let's hope the results do end up with a flat distribution due to the large number of choices.

Thank you to all that voted. If you have a suggestion for a future poll - Please make a suggestion in the comment section!

Right on, thanks for the participation! Now check out the newest poll before it closes!

...and please don't smoke cigarettes. "Smoke" on your guitar!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Greatest Guitar Booster Effect of all Time!

Some pedals offer you the sun, the moon and earth - All in one package. This pedal will boost your distortion, decrease noise, increase sustain, give shimmering highs, distinct mid range, dark thick lows while operating by battery, AC, and solar power. It's components are all Pre-CBS! Its better than thick or thin picks, vintage batteries, uni-directional guitar (leads) cords, new Tubes and it's hand wired to bolster this already robust unit. Buying this pedal will increase your talent a minimum of 10x. You can turn down the EGO knob in order to increase your TALENT, decreasing your TALENT knob will allow maximum CHOPS and all of these adjustments work independently. TALENT is adjustable from "garage to stadium," EGO settings range from "minimum to huge," CHOPS can be set from "wank to shred," Tone allows adjustment from "suck to scream," - No doubt the TALENT BOOSTER PEDAL rocks!

You can get this pedal by contacting this site comment section:
Accounts payable - Imelda Czechs
Staff Promotional Director - Anita Buttkiss
Official Spokesperson - Lou Scannon
Sales Director - Aziz Nowarrenty
Shop Foreman - Luke Bizzy
Repair Cost Consultant - Bill M. Moore
Staff Mediator - Sue First
Bolt Tightener - Tilda Plierslip
Staff Archivist - Bernadette File

Joe Bonamassa PAF Pickups

Answer: One can never have too many guitars!

In collaboration with Seymour Duncan, Joe Bonnamassa has endorsed some pretty hot new pickups. The pickups are modeled after Joe's 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard and are called Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Joe Bonamassa Signature pickups. I've tested these pickups on my Les Paul that utilizes vintage cloth wiring, CTS pots, and Bumble bee capacitors and I tell you they sound sweet. I used the following amplification: Marshall 2203, Mesa Boogie Mark I, Mesa Boogie Lone Star special and a VHT Special 6. Unfortunately, I don't have adequate audio equipment that could provide evidence of the miraculous change in tone. Besides tone, these pickups are signed by Seymour Duncan and Joe Bonamassa - nice addition!
These pickups are not cheap but neither are EVH Signature pickups but you get what you pay for these days. These are indeed well rounded pickups. I recommend using top quality parts for your entire guitar. Also, if you don't know what you are doing, have an experienced Luthier do this upgrade for you. I've seen far too many botched jobs where the pickups are ruined and the guitar is scratch during the installation process. You cannot return pickups that are broken unless you can prove it to be a factory defect. With pickups this expensive it is prudent to have a profession do the job rather than hack away your favorite guitar. Use well made proper ohm'd CTS pots, vintage wire, and Bumble bee capacitors. Use eye protection while soldering and work in a well ventilated area.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Warren Haynes

I have been listening to brother Haynes for a number of years. I've watched his meteoric rise among guitarists to the top of the heap. Warren Haynes played with David Allen Coe when he was 20 years old which helped him get his feet wet learning about the road and touring. Something must have clicked because where so many musicians bow to the excessive nature of the music industry, Warren stayed the course and constantly evolved.

Here he is with Derek Trucks playing "old friend," from The Allman Brothers Bank - Live at the Beacon theater.

While other musicians seem to loath the road, Warren is more often on the road than home. I don't know who is in charge of his traveling logistics but I think it would be safe to say that whoever books his travel must have the patience of an angel. If you hit Warren Haynes web page you can witness about a third of what he has going on in regards to events. Keep in mind, Warren plays in his own Warren Haynes band, Gov't Mule, The Allman Brothers Band, and Phil Lesh's - The Dead. However short that list is seen, he is also know to show up for The Great Southern Band, Dave Matthews, and David Allen Coe. Does this guy ever rest?

This song played by Joe Bonamassa was written by Warren Haynes - If heartache was nickels.....

Warren is a first rate picker. At home with an acoustic or electric guitar. Most often seen with one of three Gibson guitars - Les Paul (signature model and Standard 58 reissue), Fire-bird III, ES 335 (1967 & 1989 '59 reissue). He also uses a D'Angelico Vestax New Yorker and he's been seen using an occasional Fender here and there. With the versatility that Warren exudes; it would be safe to assume that any guitar Warren picks up will immediately sound like Warren Haynes.

Here is a link to Warren's biography - well worth reading if you like his music!

This is a link to Warren's gear - from the horses mouth to you!

I digress, why do people come to shows to talk? That is sort of a pet peeve of mine. Nobody I am with will talk unless there is a break. However, people pay good money to talk at shows which is a waste of their money and rude to others who aren't interested in hearing background noise during a public event. Off my soap box!

If you don't own a Gov't Mule album or at the very minimum Warren Haynes at Bonneroo - Live at Bonnaroo - Buy it here!!!!!!!!!!! 

You cannot learn about playing the guitar without learning who Warren Haynes is and what he is about! Check him out and you will not be sorry!!

Lastly, if you aren't an Allman Brothers fan - become one! Warren is epic!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guitar Playing Technique Snobbery

One can't be a musician without learning to play a particular instrument, subjecting one's fingers to the discipline of frets or keys. The power of expression is founded upon a prior obedience; her musical agency is build up from an ongoing submission. To what? To her teacher, perhaps, but this is incidental rather than primary - there is such a thing as the self-taught musician. Her obedience rather is to the mechanical realities of her instrument, which in turn answer to the certain natural necessities of music that can be expressed mathematically. For example, halving the length of a string a given tension raises it's pitch by an octave. These facts do not arise from the human will, and there is no altering them. I believe the example of the musician sheds light on the basic character of human agency, namely, that it arises only within the concrete limits that are not of our making.

These limits need not be physical; the important thing is rather they are external to the self.[1]

Stay home and practice or just stay home. Musical genius is born from a fundamental familiarity with her instrument.

GuitarPlayer: 10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Steve Morse

Hopefully you know of Steve Morse. Steve Morse is a former member of the Dixie Dregs, commercial airline pilot, monster guitar player and all around guitar hero. Steve also tours as the guitar slinger for a little band called DEEP PURPLE and they are in your town you might want to check them out. There's a song that they play, I think it's called, "Smoke on the water," that some people have heard and evidently the song appears to be somewhat timeless thus spanning at least two generations at this point.

Nevertheless; here is a link to and article on how to play like Steve Morse that is provided by one of the best and longest running guitar publications in the industry - Guitar Player Magazine. With no further adieu...

GuitarPlayer: 10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Steve Morse

Evertune Bridge as explained by Gary Brawer

As technology evolves so will the music. A nice little video where Gary Brawer explains the fundamental effect of the Evertune Bridge.

Click here for a link - if you cannot view this flash video

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Music related quotes

Stay at home and practice or just stay at home - Joe Davis

Next song, "Let's play the sheep herders lament, 'all the things you are,' by Jerome Kern." - Joe Davis

Composers shouldn't think too much - It interferes with their plagiarism - Howard Dietz

Don't fear mistakes - There are none - Miles Davis

Don't play what is there, play what is not there - Miles Davis

Sometimes you have to play for a long time to be able to play like yourself - Miles Davis

You can play a shoestring if you are sincere - John Coltrane

The more you know, the less you know, I feel like I don't know shit anymore but I love it - Mike Stern,

Learn all that you can and then forget it - Jack Conway