Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Month In Europe

I leave Friday for a month-long tour of Europe, mostly the Scandinavian countries with a stop in France and Germany. I have been to France before - Lyon, for a festival - and spent a few days in Italy when I was the product manager for Oberheim keyboards. The other countries on the itinerary: Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark are all new to me.

I am thankful for the Euro, and will probably be even more so a few weeks into the trip. New languages and currency are confusing enough, but to deal with both on an almost-daily basis will be interesting. I trust the music fans that I will be in contact with will be helpful, as all reports from friends of mine who have travelled in Europe have been positive.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Acoustic Guitar

L to R: 1998 Gibson J-45, Mid'90's Gibson J-200,
'04 Taylor 510, '70's Epiphone El Dorado (MIJ).

I've been tracking acoustic guitars on my fiancee's record this past week and realized how much I love the sound of a good acoustic guitar. I never really owned a professional acoustic before I bought the J-45. It was the loudest guitar on the wall of Dave's Guitar Shop in LaCrosse, WI....I hit an open G chord and all of the other guitars on the wall started to ring in sympathy. It has the typical Gibson mid-range toughness that is so familiar from Beatle albums in their Perfect Pop period. They used J-180s - sometimes plugged in - on much of their mid-1960's work.

The J-200 is deep, fat and wide and great for solo/duo gigs where there is only one or two instruments. It takes up a lot of tonal range, and is both warm and sparkly at the same time. Awesome.

The Taylor belongs to my intended since the Dave's Guitar Shop savvy Santa dropped it off last December. It has a very balanced tone and sounds amazing. It will only improve with age. The Epiphone is a pawn shop special I bought for $150. Nice guitar for beating around on - I would not mourn it's demise or ransom it for more than the gas money necessary to meet at the drop off - but it sounds perfectly fine if none of it's brethren are in the room.

I started out playing my older brother's Teisco Del Ray into a Danelectro amplifier. I eventually got a cheap Aspen 12-string guitar, which was perfect for "Hotel California" and not much else. I later inheirited an Ensenada acoustic from that same brother and used that through college. I picked up an Aspen Luthier (no relation - reportedly made by Landola in Finland) at a music store in Madison and used that until it was stolen. I got it back, and now it is my "high strung/Nashville Tuning" guitar.

Lately I have taken to practicing with the acoustic instead of an unplugged electric. The subtleties of drawing a tone out of a guitar instead of just bashing away is something I have become more and more aware of. I had the good fortune to see and hear Vince Gill up close for several weeks this past winter, and he is expert at getting a good, strong, clean tone from an acoustic. He demonstrated the difference between using the pointed end of a standard flatpick and the rounded end. The rounded end is fatter and more centered. He thought it was because of the increased mass on the string - I suppose someone has studied this. but the audio demo was enough to convince me. That left me with learning to use a new pick - from the grip-grooved nylon I used to favor- to a standard Fender Heavy turned around backwards with the point towards my palm. It's slow going, but the tonal improvement is undeniable. I still like a thin nylon for strumming, and in fact have broadened my selection of picks to better suit the situation instead of making do with the plastic at hand.

Posted by Hello.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Power of Music

Where would I be without it? What would I be doing for a living? It's the reason I survived my turbulent teenage years. It's the reason I dropped out of college. It's the reason I met half of my old girlfriends. It's the reason I took a job in a music store...and then another..and then a position at Gibson Guitar in Nashville, and then started to play and tech for a living...and start a recording studio and meet and work with many talented and famous people.

It's the reason I was sitting in the engineer's chair when my fiancee walked into my studio 12 months ago on February 15th. It has saved my life. It has altered my life. It has defined my life. It has been my life. I cannot imagine my existance without it.

John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" puts together "ultimate music lists" to benchmark the turning points in his life. With the iPod and it's brood, you can carry your music - the soundtrack to your life - in the palm of your hand.

I am leaving for a month of work in Europe, so I am loading the DJ with essential stuff like Elvis, The Beatles, Hank Williams and the Everly Brothers...and not just the hits, but full albums. There has to be so much classic music that I don't know about or have yet to hear that I am looking forward to an 8-hour plane ride. I am raiding my finacees collection and my roomates collection for stuff i never bought but am curious about. That should make the "random playlist" setting be more interesting

(Obviously I am enthralled with my Dell DJ.... those of you who don't have one yet need to get one immediately. You only think you can do without it...!)

The End of Winter

Finally getting some sunlight here in Nashville. It feels like Spring is trying to make a move on Winter..lots of birds rooting around in the backyard. I have a mini aviary that is home to bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, robins and various other wren-type birds, as well as a healthy squirrel population that feasts on the walnuts from the gigantic tree right outside the dining room window.

It's cold this morning, but sunny enough to make it feel pretty nice out. Tomorrow is going to have a high of 60 degrees - shorts weather for me.

I started making a playlist on the Dell DJ for "summer" tunes. Jay Ferguson's "Thunder Island", Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town", Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now", "Baker Street", lots of AM radio hit singles. I loved growing up in that era. Check out the production values of a song like "Year of the Cat". There was a time when Pop was important enough to spend time and money on, maybe at times to excess, but there is no doubt the Pop of the '70's and '80's had more substance to it's fluff...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Kelly Clarkson Posted by Hello

Jillian Barberie Posted by Hello

Super Bowl XXXIX Stage Setup Posted by Hello

Jaguar Cheerleaders Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005


One of the nice things about getting older in the current times is the rate of technological advances. I remember the Apollo moon landing (and my Billy Blastoff and Major Matt Mason toys) pretty clearly. Computers were huge, tube-driven cabinets with rapidly winding/rewinding tape. I remember seeing punchcards.

My first CompSci classes (are they still called that?) taught CoBal and Fortran and Boolean thinking, and this was in 1981. Computers were what you learned to use at work, actually owning one was not an option.

Now I sit here on my couch, writing and posting photos to a web log on the WiFi connection to my desktop. I am listening to my 20gig Dell DJ music player. I just ordered the FM radio/microphone/remote control for it for $50.00 which allows me to record directy into it, thereby never forgetting a songwriting idea again.

I recently downloaded Picasa and Hello - these are truly amazing times when such brilliant products are available for FREE. Truly.

Me on the PCH Near Monterrey Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Super Bowl

A die-hard Packers fan like me can't seem to transfer team loyalty to the Conference level - I really don't care who wins, NFC or AFC - but if I had to pick one, I'd like to see the Patriots win. They seem to have as good a "team" as any I can remember - no over-hyped superstars, just strength in numbers and faith in each other. Well, that and I hate the Eagles for the "fourth and 26" or whatever conversion last year....ugghh.



Greetings to all visitors. This will be a blog about my opinions...and yours, if you care to share them.