Saturday, January 24, 2009

We saw The Beatles!!

Recently my wife and I attended a local concert. We went to see "1964 The Tribute". 1964 is a Beatles tribute band that has been together for 25 years. They perform as The Beatles in the early years from about 1962 to 1966. They wear the same clothes, boots and haircuts as The Beatles in the early days. They also play authentic instruments such as those played by The Beatles in that time frame. This goes right down to the Hofner bass for Paul, the Gretsch and 12 string Rickenbacker guitars for George, the Gibson E160J and 6 string Ric for John, and the same drum kit and heads used by Ringo. They also have authentic looking Vox amps although I found out those are just for show. They actually use newer Vox solid state boxes that they plug right into the PA system.

The idea is to recreate the exact sound of the Beatles. Amazingly they do this incredibly well. They all have the mannerisms of their character down perfectly right down to the George foot stomp to keep time and the fact that John often sang while chewing gum. The bass player even plays left handed.

This is the third time we have seen these gentleman perform and it is truly a great show. They remain in character for the entire show and truly, at times, make you forget they are not The Beatles. They have a website Check it out sometime. You can listen to some of their music and also see where they will be performing next. If they are in your area I highly recommend you see them. You will not be disappointed.

If any of you have experience with any other Beatles tribute bands or other tribute bands please feel free to share them. Until next time keep on rockin.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Guitar Heros

Who is the best guitar player in the world? We could argue this for days, weeks and probably even years. Your opinion may be based on your favorite style of music whether that be rock, country, jazz or whatever. Personally I appreciate good guitar players from all music genres. Some of the all time greats are Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, Glen Campbell (a noted session guitarist before hitting it big as a singer), Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, the Allman Brothers trio of Dickie Betts, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks, and a couple later day heroes Joe Satriani and Brad Paisley. I could go on and on. Feel free to contribute to the blog and add your own.

My friend Mike, referred to in an earlier blog and an incredible guitar player in his own right, has his favorite in Jeff Beck. Mike's style sort of mimics Beck's with use of the whammy bar and getting many "unusual" sounds from his guitar. I guess for my money I prefer Eric Clapton. I can't really tell you why I just like his sound and his phrasings. Another guitar playing friend, Eric, who also is an incredible guitarist and a string bending, bar chording, finger picking bastard like Mike (incidentally, they play in the same band Back on Earth) turned me on to Django Reinhardt. Django is a jazz guitarist from the 1920's, 30's, 40's and 50's. He was known as the "Gypsy Guitarist". The man is incredible. He was badly burned in a fire at about the age of 18 and lost the use of his ring and pinkie fingers. He had to relearn to play the guitar using mostly his index and middle fingers as his other fingers were curled in towards his palm. Go to You Tube and search for him. You will be amazed at his ability and the speed of his fingering. Check it out it is a real treat if you like good guitar playing.

If you would like to share your guitar hero or heroes please do so. Until next time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Forget all about that macho shit, learn how to play guitar.

As the title suggests, thank you John Mellencamp, at the age of 50 I decided to learn how to play guitar. I have always wanted to play and decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a try, that is nothing but my sanity and self confidence.

The torture began with a basic instruction book and has progressed to taking lessons from a good friend who has been playing for over 40 years. More on that later. My first attempts at forming chords were humbling and painful. Fretting a guitar places your hand and arm in positions that nature did not intend for them to be placed. Also pressing on steel guitar strings to form the chord is very hard on your fingertips. After a while you build up callouses but until then it is a painful experience. Along with the fretting you also need to get used to an 8 pound slab of wood hanging from your shoulder. Electric solid body guitars are heavy! It looks very easy to play when you are watching an accomplished guitarist, I assure you it is not. As I attempted to fret basic open chords like C and G my frustration would mount as I continued to touch strings not part of the chord or not press hard enough on the proper strings. You feel like you will never be able to make the chord. Finally after much pain and anguish I began to see progress.

I think that learning to play at 50 is more difficult than learning to play as a child. I think children learn easier and your hands and fingers are more flexible and easily trained. I hope this is true because when I go to Guitar Center and see all these little ten year old bastards playing so much better than me it really pisses me off! I guess the moral of that story is stay out of Guitar Center.

As I said earlier I began taking lessons from my friend Mike. Mike has been playing since the age of ten which means he has played for over 40 years now. He has the advantages of learning at a young age and experience. He also has something else I do not have...talent. Mike is an extremely accomplished guitar player who spent his early twenties playing on the road in a traveling band. I feel he could play in any big name band you can think of and more than hold his own. I would bet he is better than 75% of the guitar players currently playing and making a great living from it. Some people are lucky and get their break and others do not. Mike has been a great help with the mechanics of playing and he tells me I can become a decent guitar player in time with the proper mechanics and practice. I am not so sure about that but I do like playing for my own enjoyment.

The downside of taking lessons from Mike is he is so good that it is sometimes very frustrating trying to emulate what he is doing. He makes it look so damn easy. The other thing that sucks is what I play never quite sounds the same as what he plays. Then of course he has to throw in some impossible lick and then just sit there and grin at me knowing there is no way in hell I can possibly repeat it. He is a string bending, bar chording, finger picking bastard and I hate him!!! Okay, I don't really hate him but I would give a great deal to play anywhere near as well as he plays. I have seen slow but steady improvement and I will keep on plugging away.

Until next time take care and keep on rocking.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Uriah Heep - Easy Livin'