Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tone Zone + clinic @ Hot Licks

Hey you musicians!

Been tinkering with your amp sound lately? I have. It's a great thing to do.
As your musical voice evolves, so will your tone. And here's an important thing to remember when setting up an amp:

Be sure to have it either tilted back, or set it on a chair, so you can really hear what's coming
out of the speaker(s.) High frequencies have a tendency to "beam" out of the speaker, and if it's not pointed at you, you're not hearing the true sound of the amp. You'll be missing the boat on hearing the real voice, and since you can't hear the highs well, you might add too much treble to the mix.

This isn't a big deal for jamming around the house, but as soon as you stick a mic up to the amp's grille, either to record, or for the sound engineer to mix through the pa, it will matter.

This also brings up a great trick for sounding good, and looking stupid. The next time you're
at a gig or jam with your small combo amp, try setting it on a chair. Not only will you hear it better, but so will everyone else.

Rock on!


Mr Doyle Dykes is coming to Hot Licks Guitar Shop.

He'll be giving a Taylor Guitars sponsored clinic. I'm so excited.

The date: August 2nd, 6pm.

The location: Hot Licks Guitar Shop
3250 Old Washington Road
Waldorf, MD 20602

Don't miss it.

Tickets are five bucks, and personally, I think this is a great deal
for an in depth look at his playing.

I'll see you there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The lesson of Stevie, Robin, and Darrell

I couldn't wait to gig. Man, I was so excited, and nervous, when I had my first "real show"
at Apehanger's. The venue: a biker bar. I was 18. But it was a cool show, the bikers were great, and I had a blast.

However, once I got a few gigs under my belt, I begain to develop an opinion about gigs. Some were cool, some were "beneath me", and some were just discouraging. It was hard to feel like a rockstar in some places, with three people watching NASCAR on the bar tv, and once in a while, you'd hear a car drive by on the lone country road outside the dive's doors.

But there's been some things changing in my head. Stevie Ray Vaughan once said that he played
every show like it was his last. And on August 27th, 1990, after a smokin' set with his band, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and his brother, Jimmie, he was right. He died in a helicopter crash later that night.

I never knew him, but I still feel sad every August 27th. And somewhere, in the back of my mind, I wanted to play every show like it was my last.

While playing guitar on the Waterfront in Alexandria, VA, this past Friday...I almost forgot about Stevie's lesson. Grumbling because the flow of people wasn't as good as it could be, moving around and getting stressed out to find the perfect pitch for busking...Towards the end of the night, the crowds had thinned out, and I finally let go, and just played. The Woodrow Wilson bridge is visible from the docks where I play, and when the planned upgrades are completed on it, it will be the widest bridge in the world. I drive over it to go home. So I decided that I'd play as if I was going to crash on the bridge later that night on my journey homeward. I sat down, and just played. Just relaxed, and played. I gave up trying to attract folks to listen, or to drop a dollar in the bowl. Just played.

Some lady came up after I had finished a solo, and she dropped a five in my bowl. "I really enjoyed that." she said.

Later that night, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a lady by the name of Robin Munis was singing a Toby Keith song in a bar. Suddenly, a sniper's bullet crashed through the window, and struck her in the head, killing her. The police suspect her estranged husband, a member of the Army National Guard, who had received sniper training from the military.

Dimebag Darrell was gigging in Columbus, Ohio, on December 8th, 2004, when he was shot and killed, along with a security guard, a club employee, and a 23 year old fan. How terribly sad...

We all die, sometimes peacefully, sometimes in a flash and a bang.

All of this has me thinking. And the next time I'm playing a gig, I'm not going to discount it, and I'm not going to take it for granted.

It very well could be my last show.

Are ya with me?