Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Aces high!


Woooooeeehooooooo! I totally want to get my pilot's license now! My brother Noah just went for a flight in a little Piper, and all the brothers are enthused now. I have grand visions of a fighter squadron, flying across the country, with Iron Maiden blaring through the speakers, but they are being boring, and say only one brother plane in the sky at once. Lame. I mean, sure I ran that go kart OFF the road and IN to the telephone pole, but that was an isolated incident, I assure you. A MiG 15 is much different. I wonder if it has subwoofers or not...."Flaps...Check...Mega machine guns...check...subwoofers...check."

I've been having some fun conversations with people over the past few days about the magic of writing things down. Have you tried it? We all have goals in life, and music. Writing them down allows us to really specify what it is that we're after. If we know what we're trying to go, we can figure out how to get there.

I know it sounds pretty stupid, but the writing is a powerful way to achieve. Even more than helping with specifying our goals (getting the sweep picking to 4 bajillion beats per minute so our rivals' faces melt, for example), it seems to send a signal that "hey, we mean business."

Try it! I was cleaning recently (believe it or not), and I found a paper that I had written of what I'd like my life to look like a few years prior, down to having a corvette. Well, I don't have the vette yet, but I DO have a loud, red Z28 Camaro! And a lot of the other goals on the paper had either hit their mark, or were darn close.

How can we get what we don't ask for?

Write it down. Mean business. Then go out and achieve.

I'm going to set aside five dollars today for my pilot's license. And I'll write it down as soon as I get home.

Rock on!

- Josh

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Local news!

Hey hey!

OK, no philosophy today - just some announcements. Your brain will appreciate the break!

STUDENTS! Or anyone in the DC Area! I'm hosting a rock 'n roll recital on July 23rd! It's called The ZakkFest, in honor of an especially cool student of mine. You don't have to take lessons from me to play in it. Drop me a note for details, and I'll sign you up!

Shady businessmen! And Students!

I've got a few open spaces in the summer schedule, and I'm looking for a few more students. Refer your friends, and get $20 per friend! Sell 'em out! Lie, tell 'em lessons are fun, and send 'em this way. You'll be paid for your efforts and sales pitch. (I once gave a student a $100 bill for commission. That could be you!)

For Everyone

I'm thrilled to announce my new single, Workaholic Blues, will be due out within two weeks! Yeah! Stay tuned for further details!

Well, that was a pretty lame blog post, so I ask you this:

Why have you not set off an air horn in Good Fortune's ear?

That'll wake it up.


Rock on!

- Josh

Monday, June 21, 2010

The point, bro


I hope everyone has been stayin' cool in this muggy warm weather we're havin' near DC. I've been doing the lizard thing - wearing lizardy sunglasses and staying in the cool of my studio. And my CD is benefiting from it, let me tell you! I finally got some decent solo tracks down.

But the other day, I was just lunchin'. It was horrendous. I had every local guitar player sitting on my shoulder, metaphorically speaking, and my artistic vision was obscured, to say the least. "Josh, we're gonna pick on your chops if it's not fast enough, your tone if it is, and your hair if everything's perfect."

I was trying wayyy too hard to play a particular arpeggio in at a particular time stamp, and have a certain note value at a certain place, and it was just a mess. I stopped by Mom's for lunch, and she gave me a great bit of advice.

"Josh, you're a good guitar player. You're just having a bad day. Put it up, and try it again tomorrow."

So I did, and it worked. You'll most likely hear the tracks I'm referring to, as I think they're keepers. The jury's still out, but they should make the cut.

The thing that really, really struck me after recording the bad tracks was a mental picture a photographer. This shutterbug has obtained a spiffy new camera, and he's gonna show his buddies what it can do. He sees a picture that is worth a million bucks - but instead of capturing the very soul of the view, he starts fiddling with settings, changing lenses, adding filters, and trying to be technically perfect. In the process, he so misses the essence of the shot, and the light fades away from the day, and leaves him standing in the dark, fit for a National Geographic safari, his camera a crutch instead of a jar to capture the fireflies of inspiration.

An old point and shoot camera would have been way better. Sorta like how old clunky blues riffs can somehow express the depth of the pain we feel every day, as well as the joy.

So shred, rockers. Shred well. Practice, get that ideal tone...But don't let technique get in your way. Transcend it, forget about it, ignore it, I don't care. Just don't let it get in your way! Of course, this applies to any artist, or person for that matter.

Sometimes ya gotta ask yourself: What's the point, bro?


Rock on!

- Josh

Thursday, June 10, 2010

About twenty cents


It's been a little while since I've thrown my two cents into the vast swirling void that is I'm overdue!

I hope everyone's been good and is progressing nicely on their path toward world domination!

Dealing with a negative Ned?

My brother Noah calls them...

The Most Essential People

They always say the critics are our best friends, but sometimes that's hard to see, so caustic can these critics be sometimes. I'll run with the chemistry example, because success can be viewed as a process, a reaction if you will, with many agents causing ignition.

I'm sure we've all had the experience of a naysayer beautifully illustrating the path we're on if we don't change our ways. My favorite cosmic 2x4 in the face is when the party matter-of-factly states that we'd better start measuring the drapes for our house of failure, and they don't even realize it. They're dead on right, because, sometimes, the rest of the world isn't as blind as we are, and if we keep on the same path, we will need to order some extra-mediocre shades, indeed.

It's usually said like "Well, so when are you gonna go into sales? Wouldn't it be nice not to play dive bars?"


Thank you, thank you, thank you.

These are some of the most essential people - the arsonists who light that fire under us, and burn us into action. The acid that eats through the blinders, and gets us to wake up, smell the chemicals, and say "Hey man, I'm gonna get some better gigs, and make this happen!"

They're usually about as strong as the chemicals used to bleach my hair, and Jimi bless 'em for that, because you know that's some darn good stuff! The faster the blinders come off, the faster we can strike a ready pose, and say, "eat my dust, suckas!"

Jeff Beck...

Was the most amazing guitarist I've ever seen. I caught his show at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, and promptly had a reason to buy a new mind. Mine is in tatters. I've been on a new tone quest...that doesn't involve gear. He got so many tones out of his strat without even stepping on a pedal. He used the volume and tone controls, whammy bar, and hit the guitar occasionally to make it sing alien.

Very inspired, I've been having my students jam through a Fender Blues Jr. (15 watt tube amp) and pay super close attention to details like vibrato, slides, picking attack and intensity, and the like. Jeff showed me, as he filled the concert grounds with the magnificent sound of his soul, that...if you think it sounds good, it can sound even better.

I made the grevious mistake in the past of saying to myself "I'll concentrate on tone when I can play fast." This makes about as much sense as a chef saying "I'll make the soup taste good when I can chop the food really fast."

Play fast! But make it sound like a million bucks. A student jokingly asked me yesterday if sounding like $999,999 was good enough. And my answer?


Rock on! And start paying attention to your tone TODAY. It's just awareness.

- Josh