Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Guitar Rack Is Full

The Tuesday Night Blues Jam presented by Sherman House at Lynagh's has been doing pretty well: good turnouts of musicians (8-12), and some turnout of listeners. I have enjoyed being 1 of the house band guitarists/vocalists, with Brent Carter also on guitar and vocals, Matt Noell on bass and vocals, and Roger Barber on drums. We probably tried out 10 or so new songs since we resumed in early September, that has been fun.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Blues and Groove Jam at Squire's has also been doing well. This past Sunday, I had my 3 venue day: Backstretch Bar & Grill jam from 3-7, Listen Locally Open Mic at Twisted Cork from 5:30-9 with Steve on harp, and Squire's from 7:30-10:30. I played my latest guitar at all 3.

This guitar is the St. Vincent Signature from Sterling by Music Man. Music Man is Ernie Ball's guitar company, Sterling is their Epiphone cheaper version - $600 vs $2200 - made in Indonesia. I watched St. Vincent (Annie Clark)'s most excellent show on Austin City Limits and was struck by the guitar she was playing. She played red, matte black, and (vincent) blue versions. I checked it out and found that it was her signature guitar. So I got one - my 1st signature guitar and it is from a female guitarist?!?!?

The guitar is such a thing of beauty. The design is very geometrical: a triangle, a parallelogram, and a trapezoid. The difference of size in the 2 quadrilaterals is set by the width of the neck. I tried to draw it, the proportions are not quite right (the trapezoid that runs from top right to bottom left is off), but you get the idea.

It's light, fits the body well. It has the thickest neck of any of my guitars, but it still plays well, and the intonation up the neck is excellent. The whammy bar is like a Strat. I had to adjust it to whammy up as well as down, after which I had to adjust the string lengths and heights - I think I have got it set up pretty well now.

It took me 2 tries to get this guitar. The guitar has 3 pickups with a 5 position switch like a Strat. But it's not wired like a Strat. Pickup switch position 1 is the neck and bridge pickups; position 2 is all 3 pickups; position 3 is neck only; position 4 is middle only; and position 5 is bridge only. The 1st one I got came in with position 5 wired as bridge and middle. This is no good, you definitely want a bridge only setting for having the treble to cut through on solos when needed. I returned the 1st 1, the 2nd 1 came in wired correctly, yay!

As stated in the title, my 7-guitar rack is full - it actually has 8 guitars on it.

Not shown is the Flying V, which would not fit in the rack. Additionally, I have loaned it on a semi-permanent basis to the most excellent young guitarist Harlan Cecil of Fresh Cream Band. With the classical electric I added ~6 months ago, I think I'm good for a while.

Music In goes back to early August.

  • Spud Cannon, "Next Time Read the Fine Print", 2017, 12 tracks. Recommended by my son, who compared it to The Cure. They're out of Vassar College. Very nice peppy alternative tunes, 4 stars. Here's "Thrum a Dum".

  • Van Halen, "Fair Warning", 1981, 9 tracks. I read an interview with my friend, internationally renowned guitarist, the inimitable Ben Lacy, where he named this as his 1 album for a desert island. Great guitar work by Eddie Van Halen, one of Ben's seminal influences, but not particularly in my sweet spot. 3 stars.
  • Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, "One Size Fits All", 1975, 9 tracks. Ben also mentioned this as his 2nd desert island pick. I really far prefer the earlier Zappa, from the beginning up through maybe "Apostrophe". 3 stars.
  • Aretha Franklin, "Spirit In The Dark", 1970, 12 tracks. After the death of the Queen of Soul, I realized I had no Aretha in my collection. One article about her referenced this album as a high point so I got it. 4 stars. Here's "Don't Play That Song", a catchy Ben E. King tune. Wow, she really has long fingers!

  • Death Cab For Cutie, "Thank You for Today", 2018, 10 tracks. The 1st I have heard of them in a while. Nice tunes but no real standouts. 3 stars.
  • Interpol, "Marauder", 2018, 13 tracks. Interpol was 1 of the 1st alternative bands I started listening to when I restarted music ingestion around the turn of the century. A distinctive sound, but this album, like the other 5 of their albums I have, gets 3 stars.
  • Tash Sultana, "Flow State", 2018, 13 tracks. I think my weekly Amazon music email recommended this. Very catchy stuff. Australian, they sound like a woman, but their Wikipedia page consistently uses the gender-neutral pronoun "they" in referring to Sultana. At some point the article got edited and now under Personal Life says "Sultana identifies as nonbinary and prefers the pronoun "they"". Quite a variety of music, 1 track reminds me of a Kaki King guitar special. Here's track 1, "Seed (Intro)". I'm such a sucker for these major and minor 7th chords.

  • Iron & Wine, "Weed Garden", 2018, 6 tracks. This guy continues to put out great tunes, 4 stars. Here's "Last of Your Rock'n Roll Heroes".

  • Paul McCartney, "Egypt Station", 2018, 16 tracks. At this point I feel I'm committed to buy the works of the old guys like Paul. A decent album. Some of his lyrics may be a bit inappropriate for someone in their 70's, but I guess he's entitled. 4 stars (just barely). Here's "Happy With You".

  • Muddy Waters, "Hard Again", 1977, 10. Last year my friend from Ottawa harp player Owen Evans wanted to do the song "Crosseyed Cat", which had a unique lick and was fun to do. This year he wanted to do "Deep Down In Florida", which may be the slowest song I have ever heard - I clocked it at 62 bpm. Turns out it was the song before last year's on this album - so I decided to get the album. It was produced by Johnny Winter. A lot of times I'm tired of the blues after listening to a whole album, but this one has a really good variety of styles and tempos. An enthusiastic 4 stars. Here's "Deep Down In Florida".

  • Willie Nelson, "My Way", 2018, 11 tracks. Well, I almost didn't follow my rule of getting old guy albums, but, when I saw that there was a duet with Norah Jones, I had to buy it. I loved their duet of the now politically incorrect "Baby It's Cold Outside" - but their version here of "What Is This Thing Called Love" didn't do much for me. 3 stars.
  • CAN'T HOLD WAFFLES, "SPARE CHANGE CHICKEN INCIDENT", subtitled "Studies for Piano and Burning Kitchen Appliances", 2018, 9 30 second tracks, 1 2:31 track. This came from "The Weirdest Band in the World" website - I follow their blog. 30 second tone poems? I found it remarkably interesting to listen to.

  • Jim & Marie Howard, "Dreaming Of A Little Cabin", 2014, 10 tracks. Our bug guy plays mandolin and his wife sings. He gave me this album of old-timey country songs, recorded with some very good local musicians. 3 stars.
  • Eric Gales, "Middle Of The Road", 2018, 11 tracks. My harp player Steve Konopka and his wife took me and my wife to the Ribberfest Blues Festival in Madison, IN in August. 3 acts on Friday and 5 acts on Saturday for $30, with $10 in food tickets if you ordered in advance. We stayed at a Super 8 ~10 minutes away. Parking was no problem, and if you got tired of a band, it was a short walk to the downtown area that had restaurants, shops, and an excellent music store, Crawdaddy Music. Ha ha, the owner of Crawdaddy had been a judge at the BBQ contest - 8 entrants each pulled pork, ribs, pulled chicken, chicken, brisket, variety (rabbit, venison, other) - he said it was like being waterboarded.

    Eric Gales was the penultimate act on Saturday. He absolutely blew me away - like Jimi Hendrix had a cousin in another dimension. Incredibly fast and fluid, and beautiful, bright chords. In addition to bluesy stuff, he did variations on "Don't Fear The Reaper", and then went from "Voodoo Child" to Beethoven to "Kashmir" to "Back In Black". Just incredible. He had a really hard-working band too: his wife on vocals and percussion; drums; and bass (who also played some keys).

    The headliner was Ronnie Baker Brooks, an excellent bluesman, but we left after 1 song - Eric Gales was so unique and inventive we all wanted to keep him in our head. My wife bought this CD there. We also saw him in October in Lexington at Willie's Locally Known (now defunct as of last week) and had seats right below the stage FTW!

    I normally prefer studio to live albums, but I don't think a studio album can do him justice - the man really knows how to get a crowd worked up. 4 stars for the album, here's "Boogie Man", featuring Gary Clark, Jr.

  • Madeline Kenney, "Perfect Shapes", 2018, 10 tracks. I discovered Ms. Kenney by accident at The Burl. I really liked her Strat playing, emphasizing the low strings. On this, her 2nd album, she opens up the orchestration quite a bit, and I really like the results. I read an article where she said she was afraid her fans wouldn't like the new direction - this fan thinks it is great. 4 stars, here's "Cut Me Off".

  • Jimi Hendrix, "Both Sides of the Sky", 2018, 13 tracks. The last of 3 posthumous albums released over the last 5 years or so. The 1st was OK, the last 2 were fairly unremarkable. 3 stars.
  • Amanda Shires, "To the Sunset", 2018, 10 tracks. Not a bad album - I read a review which commented how non-countryish it was - but, I don't enjoy Ms. Shires voice all that much. I prefer her as a harmony singer, and, of course, fiddle player. 3 stars.
  • Jason Isbell, "Southeastern", 2013, 12 tracks. I think this was Isbell's 1st solo album after Drive-By Truckers. He is definitely a great songwriter. 4 stars. Here is a moving track about death, "Elephant".

That makes us current through mid-October. The _unrated playlist currently has 111 songs. Had a bit of a drought of new music for a while, but it has picked up recently, ysy!

1 comment:

Chris Heinz said...

Most excellent professional musician Ricky Howard played the St. Vincent. His findings: whammy bar way too unresponsive, and action a bit too high. So, I removed 1 of the whammy bar strings, now 2 instead of 3. Great improvement, whammy bar is now most excellently responsive. Plus I lowered the action some. Plays much better now. Thanks Ricky!