Acoustic Guitar 255.pdf

July 17, 2017 | Author: 2rnt | Category: Scale (Music), Chord (Music), Interval (Music), Double Bass, Elements Of Music
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MARTIN SIMPSON | JOHN FOGERTY | DAVID CROSBY | ACOUSTIC GUITAR PROJECT

NEW GUITAR DAY!

Martin CEO-7 GEAR Taylor 814ce R E V I E WS Peavey DW-3 Red-Eye Twin Preamp p 7 2

MARCH 2014

DEVIL MAKES THREE — ELEPHANT REVIVAL — THE BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS

PLAYING

IN THE

BAND

5 Guitarists Discuss the Art of Collaboration

25

TH

A N N IV E R S

A RY

YE AR

ACOUSTICGUITAR.COM

TAYLOR GUITARS ©2014©2014 TAYLOR GUITARS

the man who went to hell, and came out sin g in g.

JAKE WAS A GUITAR PLAYER. BUT THE DAY A CHEMICAL EXPLOSION TOOK HIS RIGHT ARM, PEOPLE STOPPED SEEING JAKE, THE GUITAR PLAYER, AND STARTED SEEING JAKE, THE GUY WHO LOST HIS ARM. THE PROBLEM WAS, THAT WASN’T THE JAKE HE WANTED TO BE. SO, HE MADE THE DECISION TO FIGHT FOR HIS IDENTITY — A BATTLE AGAINST STEREOTYPES, PREJUDICE AND WORST OF ALL, PITY. IT WAS AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK, BUT SOMEHOW, HE LEARNED TO PLAY ALL OVER AGAIN IN A WAY THAT COULD ONLY BE DONE WITH A SPECIAL PROSTHESIS — AND HE DIDN’T STOP THERE. EVENTUALLY HE GOT ENOUGH COURAGE TO GET BACK ON STAGE, WHERE AUDIENCES SAW SOMETHING JAKE WASN’T SURE THEY’D EVER SEE AGAIN. JAKE, THE GUITAR PLAYER. SO, WHETHER YOU’RE A GUITAR PLAYER, OR A GUITAR BUILDER, ONE THING IS CLEAR, THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PEOPLE LIKE JAKE. FOR MORE ABOUT JAKE AND OTHER STORIES THAT INSPIRE US, visit taylorguitars.com

FEATURES 36

Just Be Croz Folk-rock icon David Crosby releases his first solo album in 20 years BY DAVID KNOWLES

38

John Fogerty: The AG Interview Guitarist talks about God, swamp rock & songcraft BY JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS

46

The Write Stuff Ad copy writer Dave Adams is using ‘creative restriction’ to challenge and inspire songwriters through the global Acoustic Guitar Project BY JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS

51

Flying Solo British folk master Martin Simpson spotlights chops—and his songwriting—on a stripped-down solo album

51

BY TEJA GERKEN

Martin Simpson

SPECIAL FOCUS: PLAYING IN THE BAND

58

Punk Unplugged

The Devil Makes Three’s Pete Bernhard brings a punk attitude to roots music BY KENNY BERKOWITZ

60

Occupy Colorado Elephant Revival axe slingers tap into mile-high chemistry on ‘These Changing Skies’ BY KENNY BERKOWITZ

62

Goth-Grass Heroes The Builders & the Butchers guitarists blend Goth, Americana & folk for a sound that’s all their own BY DAVID TEMPLETON ON THE COVER: DEVIL MAKES THREE PHOTOGRAPHER: COURTESY NEW WEST

CROZ—DJANGO CROSBY, DEVIL MAKES THREE—ANTHONY PIDGEON

ACOUSTIC GUITAR MARCH 2014, ISSUE 255 VOL. 24, NO. 9 9

58

FROM THE HOME OFFICE

10

OPENING ACT

93

EVENTS

94

MARKETPLACE

97

AD INDEX

98

GREAT ACOUSTICS

Devil Makes Three AcousticGuitar.com 5

DEPARTMENTS

Martin CEO-7 72

NEWS 13 The Beat Parker Millsap taps his years in the Pentecostal church; John Prine undergoes cancer surgery; and more 17 Letter from Saint Ouen A day in the life of a Gypsy-jazz Mecca

PLAY

76

20 Acoustic Classic Remembering the father of American music, Stephen Foster; with ‘Hard Times’ arranged by Steve Baughman 24 The Basics Let your fingers do the walking on your favorite ballads, blues & acoustic-rock tunes 29 Take It Easy Songwriting inspiration is as close as your inner juke box 31 Weekly Workout Learn to play chords built from pentatonic scales 35 Here’s How 7 ways to improve the way you hold a guitar

AG TRADE

6 March 2014

Taylor 814ce

71 Kitbag You wouldn’t let your lips get cracked and chapped. Don’t let your instrument 72 Review: Martin CEO-7 Modeled after a vintage Gibson smallbody, this guitar is a no-frills stunner 76 Review: Taylor 814ce Taylor’s popular 814ce grand auditorium gets a makeover & a brilliant new pickup 80 Review: Peavey DW-3 A solid budget guitar for the beginner, the frugal professional, or the player who normally jams electric

64 Shoptalk In the new documentary ‘Musicwood,’ Greenpeace & the big-three acoustic guitar makers face off with Native American loggers

82 Review: Red-Eye Twin Two-channel preamp is optimized for multiple instruments

66 Makers & Shakers Larrivee Guitars closes up shop in Canada (sort of). Jean Larrivee explains

87 Playlist Neil Young’s fourth live acoustic set from his early solo years; and other recordings

69 Guitar Guru Dana Bourgeois on how build affects the lifespan of soft top wood

91 Books Buck ‘Em: The Autobiography of Buck Owens

MIXED MEDIA

ACOUSTIC GUITAR ONLINE

‘ACOUSTIC GUITAR’ ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Did you know that Acoustic Guitar magazine is taking off on Facebook and Twitter? With daily news posts, artist videos, gear reviews, lessons, and blogs, from places like the annual National Association of Music Merchants convention, our social media sites will help keep you up to date on what’s new in the acoustic realm. We can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AcousticGuitarMagazine and on Twitter at twitter.com/AcousticGuitar_. And there’s also much more digital content available at AcousticGuitar.com.

THE LESSON PLACE

Your potential as a guitarist is unlimited. And our online classroom at AcousticGuitarU.com is chock full of lessons and songs. New this month: The Acoustic Guitar Fingerstyle Method by David Hamburger. Acoustic Guitar U—it’s all about you!

DEAL ALERT | FRIDAY FLASH SALE From $1 back issues to $3 method books, the Acoustic Guitar “Friday Flash Sale” gives you the chance to get our best products at our lowest ever prices. Visit acousticguitar.com/ Newsletter-Sign-Up today and check the Acoustic Guitar Notes box to get these exclusive offers delivered direct to your inbox. PLA P Y T PLAY NGS TO 5 SONGS

Lady Lay” BOB DYLAN “Lay Fallin’” TOM PETTY “Free

JOHN PRINE “Souvenirs” RICHARD THOMPSON “Waltzing’s for Dreamers”

SARAH JAROSZ “Run Away”

NY STYLE PLAYER IN A FOR EVERY

SONGWRITING SPECIAL

Richard Thompson on Using the Guitar to Find New Songs

Sarah Jarosz

Multi-Instrumentalist and Rising Star

HOW TO WRITE Like the Beatles

2011

PLAYER’S CHOICE AWARDS

Winning Guitars and Gear in 36 Categories

LESSONS Standard Tuning Fingerstyle Simple Blues Lead Licks Essential Jazz Chords

GEAR REVIEWS

Taylor 416ce Martin DRS1

OCTOBER 2011 AcousticGuitar.com

AcousticGuitar.com 7

100

For over years, three generations of Rodríguez master luthiers have brought their storied family history and instrument-making expertise into every guitar they build. For rich, multi-layered tone and stunning looks, hand selected premium woods are used throughout each instrument and topped with hand-inlaid, multi-wood rosettes and binding. Gorgeous accents and exquisite marquetry are matched with premium hardware and traditional, hand-built Spanish Heel construction, creating instruments that capture the sound only old-world craftsmanship can produce. Rodríguez classical guitars are available at these select preferred retailers.

©2013 Manuel Rodriguez Guitars

Hand-Inlaid Binding

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FROM THE HOME OFFICE AcousticGuitar.com • AcousticGuitarU.com

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT Editorial Director & Interim Editor Greg Cahill Editor at Large Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers Managing Editor Megan Westberg Senior Editor Mark Segal Kemp Senior Editor David Knowles Assistant Editor Amber von Nagel Production Designer Brad Amorosino Production Manager Hugh O’Connor Contributing Editors Kenny Berkowitz, Andrew DuBrock, Teja Gerken, David Hamburger, Steve James, Orville Johnson, Richard Johnston, Sean McGowan, Scott Nygaard, Greg Olwell, Adam Perlmutter, Rick Turner, Doug Young

INTERACTIVE SERVICES Interactive Services Director Lyzy Lusterman Copywriter Maura McElhone Marketing Designer Joey Lusterman Digital Developer Breeze Kinsey Community Relations Coordinator Courtnee Rhone Single Copy Sales Consultant Tom Ferruggia

MARKETING SERVICES Marketing Services Director Desiree Forsyth Marketing Services Managers Cindi Kazarian, Claudia Campazzo Marketing Services Associates Jessica Martin, Tanya Gonzalez

Stringletter.com Publisher David A. Lusterman

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NAMM veteran John Jorgenson

L

arry Thomas, the CEO of Fender Musical Instrument Corp. and a 35-year veteran of the music trade, last year likened the annual Orange County, California, gathering of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the largest event of its kind in the States, to “Disneyland for musicians.” Indeed, the Anaheim Convention Center, where NAMM is held, is, literally, right across the street from Disneyland, and navigating the packed aisles of vendors and convention goers, previewing the latest musical gear (ear plugs advised), is like a trip through Tomorrowland. Where else can you try out the complete product line of every major acoustic-guitar manufacturer? Or check out the latest amps and pickups? Or catch Gypsy-jazz great John Jorgenson performing at an exhibitor’s booth? Or, for that matter, bump into Jermaine and Tito Jackson of the Jackson 5 strolling casually through the Yamaha exhibit? By the time you read this, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, the Acoustic Guitar staff will have just returned from this 112-year-old event, which was scheduled for January 23–26. And we will have posted blogs and videos from the convention floor on Facebook, YouTube, and AcousticGuitar.com. More coverage will appear throughout the coming months.

But it’s important to put all that gear in perspective. Ultimately, NAMM represents not shiny objects, but the life’s work of some of the most creative, dedicated, and just plain interesting people you’ll ever meet, including the people who design and engineer the world’s musical instruments. And while this is the business side of the music business—retail sales of instruments and related products is a $7.6 billion growth industry—it’s also important to remember that all that gear mirrors a growing audience of musicians, both casual and professional, that is embracing the acoustic guitar in unprecedented numbers. According to the Music Business Journal of the Berklee College of Music, “Acoustic guitars accounted for 52.5 percent of the total guitar market in 2011 as trends in popular music shifted from contemporary rock to a more acoustic-focused country style.” You can see—and hear—that emerging interest in acoustic music in the three string bands featured in this issue’s Playing in the Band special section. They represent the crest of a mighty wave of musicians, of every skill level, drawn to the simple pleasures of acoustic instruments. Sure, the newly minted music products splayed out across the cavernous convention floor at NAMM prove seductive. But without you, the tide of acoustic guitars and all that related gear fall silent. Play on! —Greg Cahill, editorial director

Corrections & Clarifications The “Take Flight” article in the January 2014 issue inferred that only part of the Calton guitar cases company had been sold. In fact, the entire company was sold to the current owner Jon Green of Austin, Texas. Keith Calton maintains hands-on involvement with the company for the foreseeable future. Also, the images of the Calton and Hiscox cases inadvertently were substituted for one another.

GOT A QUESTION or comment for Acoustic Guitar’s editors? Please send e-mail to [email protected] or snail-mail to Acoustic Guitar Editorial, 501 Canal Blvd., Suite J, Richmond, CA 94804.

Add $15 per year for Canada/Pan Am, $30 elsewhere, payable in US funds on US bank, or by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

TO SUBSCRIBE to Acoustic Guitar magazine, call (800) 827 6837 or visit us online at AcousticGuitar.com. As a subscriber, you enjoy the convenience of home delivery and you never miss an issue. You can take care of all your subscription needs at our online Subscriber Services page (AcousticGuitar.com/ Subscriber-Services): pay your bill, renew, give a gift, change your address, and get answers to any questions you may have about your subscription. A single issue costs $6.99; an individual subscription is $39.95 per year; institutional subscriptions are also available. International subscribers must order airmail delivery.

TO ADVERTISE in Acoustic Guitar, the only publication of its kind read by 150,000 guitar players and makers every month, call Cindi Kazarian at (510) 215-0025, or e-mail her at [email protected] RETAILERS To find out how you can carry Acoustic Guitar magazine in your store, contact Alfred Publishing at (800) 292-6122. Except where otherwise noted, all contents © 2014 Stringletter, David A. Lusterman, Publisher.

AcousticGuitar.com 9

OPENING ACT

10 February 2014

THE AVETT BROTHERS AMERICA’S CUP PAVILION

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA OCTOBER 13, 2013 JAY BLAKESBERG PHOTO

AcousticGuitar.com 11

The J-35 Every Gibson Acoustic is built by hand, giving each guitar a personality as unique as each player. Play one and discover the difference between a g guitar and a Legend. The

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NEWS

John Prine 14

Guitars for Swaziland 14

Letter From Saint Ouen 17

THE BEAT

SAMANTHA LAMB

Using His Religion

Parker Millsap taps his years in the Pentecostal church for inspiration BY DAVID KNOWLES

A

fter spending the first 18 years of his life attending an Oklahoma Pentecostal church, Parker Millsap has finally found his calling. On his selftitled album, released on Okrahoma Records, Millsap growls about the church he’s left behind on such songs as “Old Time Religion” in a voice that owes as much to the preachers he watched in the pulpit as it

does to Tom Waits or Howlin’ Wolf. “A lot of Pentecostal preachers, they yell a lot, and they’re pretty active onstage, and, as far as the voice, I think that’s where a lot of it comes from,” Millsap says. Given that he grew up singing in church, the fact that much of his new record is infused with religious themes should come as no surprise. “Any time you

grow up in something it’s bound to come out in your work,” he says. “When you spend 18 or 19 years going to church three times a week, it’s bound to come out [in song]. “Lately my writing hasn’t been maybe as influenced by that, at least the songs that I’ve recorded since the album. It’s definitely important, but I’m trying to make it AcousticGuitar.com 13

The Beat | News not the only thing that I’m capable of writing about.” Growing up in the tiny town of Purcell, Oklahoma, Millsap says he convinced his parents to buy him a $70 nylon-string guitar when he was seven. “I messed with it for a week and then put it away, and when I was nine I started taking lessons. After a year or two of that, I thought, OK, I think this is what I want to do.” These days he’s upgraded to a 2005 Martin OM-21 and a 1952 Gibson LG-1, which he tunes to an

open E. His guitars in tow, he’ll soon be hitting the road with a stand-up bass and fiddle player to promote the new album, but he hasn’t traded in religion for music altogether. “I still love all the people that I grew up with in the church,” he says, “but at a certain point I just got tired of feeling guilty for everything. You have to weigh how can you live and feel good about yourself and still be following a set of rules that maybe is a little bit unrealistic.”

‘When you spend 18 or 19 years going to church three times a week, it’s bound to come out [in song].’

DONOVAN DUE AT BEATLES FEST

—PARKER MILLSAP

Sixties icon Donovan will headline this year’s New York edition of the Fest, a convention dedicated to all things Beatles. The three-day event, which will be held February 7–9 at the Grand Hyatt hotel, also will feature the Smithereens, Chad & Jeremy, and a host of authors who have penned books on the Fab Four. Visit thefest.com for tickets.

Guitars for Swaziland

JAVIER LIMON’S WORLD VIEW

John Prine Undergoes Cancer Surgery

Pants for Parkinson’s

Singer-songwriter John Prine was forced to reschedule a series of December shows due to his ongoing battle with cancer. “There’s nothing I hate more than canceling shows,” Prine said in a statement posted to his website. “I’ve been diagnosed with non-small cell carcinoma of the lung. Doctors here in Nashville have caught it early, and it is operable. They see no reason why I won’t fully recover.” In 1998, Prine underwent radiation therapy after being diagnosed with squamous cancer cells in his right cheek. The treatments caused his voice to sound deeper and more gravelly. Prine rescheduled two Louisville, Kentucky, shows on February 28 and March 1. Dates in Madison, Wisconsin, originally slated for November, have not yet been booked for 2014.

They’re pants for a good cause. Retro-rocker Willie Nile has teamed up with Stitch’s Jeans to create a pair of custom black-denim pants, the proceeds of which will go to the Light of Day Foundation, which funds research for Parkinson’s disease. “I want to give people who can’t come to the shows an opportunity to support a great cause and get involved,” Nile notes. “To be able to offer fans a unique, stylized pair of pants I designed with Stitch’s and have all the purchase money, not just the net proceeds, go to the cause is extraordinary.” The pants can be purchased online for a $200 donation at www.Lightofday.org/stitchs.

14 March 2014

Spanish guitar legend Javier Limon, who is the artistic director at Berklee College of Music’s Mediterranean Music Institute in Boston, teamed up on his new album, Promesas de Tierra, with young composers from Israel and Palestine who study at the esteemed music school. In the liner notes, Limon writes the collaboration represents “a new trend towards cultural diversity in contemporary roots music.” Within days of its release in November, the album hit No. 1 on iTunes in Spain.

PRINE—JIM SHEA

A partnership between the U.S. State Department’s Arts Envoy Program, Fender Guitars, and Austin, Texas, musicians is putting acoustic guitars in the hands of orphaned children in the Kingdom of Swaziland. In a trial run in November, 20 Fender guitars were delivered to the kids in the tiny South African nation, many of whose parents have died in the country’s AIDS epidemic. “The U.S. is really doing some good things over there,” says Stephen Doster, the founder of the program. This year, Doster adds, the program hopes to ship hundreds more guitars to the country. Donations to the program can be made at guitarsforswaziland.com.

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LETTER FROM SAINT OUEN

Chasing Django’s Ghost A day in the life of a Gypsy-jazz Mecca BY JASON GLASSER

F

or many Parisians, the northern suburb of Saint Ouen is best known for its sprawling, 18-acre flea market. Museum-quality artifacts, furniture, vintage clothes, records, and books share space with every kind of junk imaginable. But the town is also the place where Django Reinhardt, the guitar genius and inventor of the music called jazz manouche, or Gypsy jazz, lived in his family’s trailer, and, in 1928, burned his left hand so badly that he was forced to play his legendary solos with just two fingers. On a Sunday afternoon in November, I stopped by Saint Ouen’s bustling flea market to check out the place that has become a temple of jazz manouche, a little bar called La Chope des Puces (it’s part of complex that upstairs houses a Gypsy-jazz music school, recording studio, and concert hall). Tucked into the corner by the door, two guitarists were holding forth, one whacking out a staccato rhythm with downward strokes known as la pompe, the other playing sweetly swinging melodies punctuated by vertiginous runs and

flourishes. The bar was full of regulars, tourists, antique dealers, couples, and attentive young musicians, and when a set of songs was over, the two guitars were set down on chairs and two more musicians picked them up and took their places. The new guys bristled with fresh energy, and the people standing over the guitarists in the corner ordered whiskey by the bottle and made sounds of approval while scrutinizing the players’ flying fingers. Looking around at the decades-old photos on the walls, I realized that those two chairs set out on the black-and-white tile floor had been in that same spot used for many decades by guitarists. Not so long ago, the owners at La Chope did make a few changes. There are now video monitors on the walls along with display cases containing the style of vintage guitars now linked with Reinhardt and jazz manouche—large bodied acoustics with small O-shaped soundholes (dubbed “le petite bouche”) and long bridges that produce a trademark vocal sound that cuts through like a fiddle. They are mostly

French guitars, made by the famous woodwind company Selmer from a design by the Italian luthier Mario Maccaferri. The cases also contain several examples of acoustics with a giant D-shaped soundhole, which are favored by rhythm guitar players. The guitarists performing on the Sunday I stopped by the club were playing hollowbody electrics—a Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis model and an Ibanez 2355—that were “easier on the fingers when you play all day long” one of them told me. Still, my favorite models of those I’ve spotted at La Chope have been old acoustic Selmers fitted with bulky silver magnetic Stimer pickups.

I

f you don’t know this music, take a listen to “Minor Swing” or just about anything by Django Reinhardt and his most famous group the Quintette du Hot Club de France. It is a style of jazz music that came out of France in the 1930s and is special for its arrangement of mostly strings: guitars, violin, and bass. Later recordings added drums and horns—hence the need for pickups. Unlike American jazz from the AcousticGuitar.com 17

The new guys bristled with fresh energy, and the people standing over the guitarists in the corner ordered whiskey by the bottle and made sounds of approval while scrutinizing the players’ flying fingers.

same period, Django’s music is distinguished by its European influences, such as flamenco, klezmer, musette, and Gypsy music. At La Chope des Puces, one guitarist above all the rest stood out as being the real deal. He looked like the guys in the blackand-white pictures on the walls and he played with absolute fluidi t y a n d a u t h o r i t y. W h e n I approached him during a break, I learned that Ninine Garcia has been playing jazz manouche at the bar for 38 years and gives lessons in an apartment upstairs from the bar. “No sheet music, all listening,” Garcia said. Having learned Django-style from his father, Garcia was one of the four people featured in the 2012 documentary Les Fils du Vent by Bruno le Jean. I asked Ninine what he thought about the term “manouche.” He said it was like the word “Indian” for the Native Americans, a made-up word that is a cover-all term for a people without specifically stating Apache, Seneca, Navajo, or Crow. Ninine and Django are from a culture of nomadic people who have travelled through Europe and Northern Africa for centuries. Their culture is still very much alive today in France and throughout Europe. In general, these musicians don’t mind the jazz manouche label, but when people ask what style they play, they say “du Django.” The politically correct term is “les gens du voyage,” the travelling people, Ninine said. As we spoke, two other journalists with a camera and a microphone asked Ninine about the current situation of “les gens du voyage” in France. These players live an alternative lifestyle, moving in nomadic groups across Europe in trailers, setting up makeshift villages wherever there is a spot—empty fields, construction sites, under bridges, between highways—and refuse to conform to any societal norms, like paying taxes or sending their kids to school. Their public image is that they are thieves and misfits whose only profession is stealing. “They stole the nails when Jesus was taken down from the cross, it is their place in society” a French woman once told me. Now that the European Union has opened its borders to member states, a wave of concern has 18 March 2014

Django Reinhardt

swept over France about a rising tide of nomads coming from Romania and Eastern Europe. The French government had destroyed their camps and kicked some people out of the country. “The French manouche have enough trouble being recognized in France, so I imagine that it will be impossible for the Rom (people from Romania) to be accepted,” Ninine told the reporters. “These people have been travelling all over Europe for centuries, and now the borders are open, so I do not see why the French government would expect it to stop now.” Then Ninine politely excused himself and went back to the corner by the door where he would soon pick up his guitar again, much to the delight of the packed room. AG

Take It Easy 29

Weekly Workout 31

ISTOCK

PLAY

The Basics 24

AcousticGuitar.com 19

ACOUSTIC CLASSIC

Remembering the ‘Father of American Music’

150 years after his death, Stephen Foster’s songs live on in the popular culture BY STEVE BAUGHMAN

O

ne of the best-known American composers of the 19th century, Stephen Foster (1826–64) penned hundreds of popular songs during his brief career, including “Beautiful Dreamer,” published after his death. Many of them combined styles common to popular parlor tunes and blackface-minstrel songs, and reflected nostalgia for the South, which Foster visited just once. Raised in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, Foster attended various private academies and taught himself to play flute, guitar, violin, clarinet, and piano. Though he had no formal training in composition, he started writing music at 14 (“Tioga Waltz”) and at 24 had his first published work, “Open thy lattice love.” One of his first hits was “Oh! Susanna,” written while Foster worked as the bookkeeper of an Ohio steamship company. It was first published in 1848 and adopted as the unofficial anthem of the California gold rush. It later became known nationwide and gave Foster the requisite recognition to take up songwriting as his full-time profession. Due in part to limited legal protections for composers, Foster struggled to keep his finances in order throughout the 1850s. After accruing insurmountable debts and resorting to alcohol, he died in January 1864 at 37, sick and poor, from a head wound incurred by falling against a washbasin placed next to his sick bed. “Hard Times (Come Again No More)” is one of Foster’s most enduring songs—it’s been recorded and performed by Bruce Springsteen, Iron and Wine, and many others. And the Great Recession of 2009 renewed interest in it. There are two technical features of this arrangement that I hope will entice you to learn to play it. First, it’s performed in clawhammer style, an old-time banjo picking technique with African origins. Clawhammer requires you to unlearn everything you know about fingerpicking and do it backward. That is not as daunting

20 March 2014

as it may sound, and the payoff is huge. It involves two simple motions. You’ll notice from the directional arrows in the tab that there is no up picking. You’re contacting the string with a downward motion using the back of your first fingernail. That is our first motion. You’ll also notice that the thumb does not play on the downbeat, but on the pick-up to the downbeat. This is the second motion, and it’s not a normal pluck, but more of a push and release. Once you have the basic pattern, the music really flows (for

‘Hard Times’ is one of Foster’s most enduring songs, and the Great Recession of 2009 renewed interest in it.

more on the basic pattern, check out my clawhammer guitar lesson at YouTube). Another unusual feature of this arrangement is that the guitar is in a “high five” tuning. I have taken my fifth string off and replaced it with a high first string. I tune that string to a high G. On the guitar I used to record this piece, I actually had a “railroad spike” hammered into the fifth fret of my fifth string, so that I could simply tuck the first string under it, thereby using

it as a mini capo. But a G string from a 12-string guitar set works also. If you don’t want to mess with tuning up so high, just tune your high fifth string to a C, or you can even try a D. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and tune it up to a G. Any of these methods will get you a nice high-five effect. The results are worth the effort. Highfive tuning produces an exciting sound and is something everyone should experiment

SONG TO PLAY

with. (You’ll probably want to dedicate one of your guitars as a high-five guitar.) Highfive tuning opens up a new sonic realm: you can tune to DADGAD and have the high fifth string up to an F sharp, or down to a D. Or you can tune to some kind of C tuning and have your fifth string down to an E flat for a haunting C minor texture. The possibilities are endless. AG Mitchell Drury contributed to this article.

Hard Times (Come Again No More)

BY STEPHEN FOSTER

Arranged by Steve Baughman

**

Tuning: C G C G C D

ˇˆˇMelody ˆ ˇ (high) A

C

F 6(9)

C

F

C



*

(continue downstrokes with fingers simile) 0 2 2 2 2 5 5 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 5 * All upstemmed notes played with back of fingers; all downstemmed notes plucked with thumb. Arrows show downward motion of fingers (first system only; continue simile) ** Fifth string tuned up two octaves to high G (restrung with high G from 12-string set.). 0 0

2

7 0

B



B

0 2 2



0

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0 0 2 2

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5 2 4 4 0

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0

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45

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Acoustic Classic | Play B

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22 March 2014

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AcousticGuitar.com 23

SONGpTO27PLAY

THE BASICS

Finger-pickin’ Good Rock Let your fingers do the walking on your favorite ballads, blues & acoustic-rock tunes BY PETE MADSEN

E

ver wonder how Lindsay Buckingham brings the emotion to the guitar parts of classic Fleetwood Mac ballads like “Landslide,” or how Jimmy Page builds the dark tension in acoustic-based Led Zeppelin songs such as the folk standard “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”? Both of those rock guitarists use a time-honored style of playing: fingerpicking, a technique that goes back to the earliest folk and blues standards. Many well-known guitarists have used fingerpicking in their songs, from early masters like Merle Travis and Mississippi John Hurt to ’60s folkies Bob Dylan and Joan Baez on up to more contemporary artists such as Ani DiFranco, Michael Kiwanuka, and Iron & Wine. Here are some tips on how to apply fingerpicking to some of your favorite tunes. If you know how to strum a few chords, you’re in the right class. The playing will be mostly chordbased—that is, you’ll be fingering common chords with your left hand and using your right hand to arpeggiate, which means to play the notes one at a time.

First, try playing each chord separately (see “What Goes Where?” on page 26)

Ex. 1

G

320004

j j j œ j j j œ 4 . œ œ œ ‰ ‰ œ œ œ œ . & 4 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ p

. .3

B

i

p

m

p

1

0 3

a 0

3

p

i

p

i

1

Am

p

m

p

a 3

0

0

3

3

3

p

i

0

3

3

E

x 0231 0

0231 00

j j œ j j j j œ œ œ ‰ ‰ #œ œ œ œ œ .. œ & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

3

p

Put Your Right Hand Here There are a few ways to position your right (or picking) hand. If possible, watch your favorite players and note how they hold their right hand. Many classically trained players hold their hand above the strings with the wrist bent, not touching the surface of the guitar. Some players use the pinky fingers to “post” on the top of the guitar—this adds some stability to the hand. Blues-oriented players plant the palm of their right hand on the bass strings, next to the bridge. This allows them to damp the bass strings, which adds a percussive aspect to the bass notes.

C

x 3201 0

i

p

0

p

1

2

B

m

0

0

a 0

p

i

p

1 0

i

p

p

0

1 0

m

0

0

a 0

p

i

0 0

. .

LISTEN TO THIS

Fleetwood Mac Landslide

Mississippi John Hurt 24

March 2014

Apply the same technique to the D and F chords

Ex. 2 D

F

x x 0132

x x 3211

j j j j œ œ ‰ œ j j œ 4 ‰ #œ œ œ œ œ œ & 4œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ p

a

p

i

p

m

2 0

B

0

2

p

a

p

a

2

3 0

0

p

i

p

a

1 3

p

m

1 3

2

1

3

3

Merle Travis

Different styles of music lend themselves to different techniques. Try all of the above to see what fits your style best. In the beginning, probably none of those techniques will feel perfectly natural. Again, think about which player’s style you want to emulate and strive for that hand position.

Voicing Your Bass & Treble In terms of fingerpicking, think of the guitar as having two voices, bass and treble. The bass strings are the rhythmic foundation of what you will be playing with your thumb. The thumb/ bass sequences have more “regularity” than the other strings. The treble strings, more often than not, carry the melody, which can be somewhat more irregular in its rhythmic make-up. In blues, the bass often plays a steady “groove,” and that’s why you want to add a percussive “thump” using your right-palm muting. Folk ballads, on the other hand, have less sharp percussion and more “flow”—the bass notes become more entwined with the treble notes, creating a melding of the two voices.

Fingerpicking Patterns

This technique requires playing two strings simultaneously, pinching them together

Ex. 3 E m

G

023 000

œ & 44 œ a p 0

B

0

320004

œ œ

m p

i p

0

a p 3

0

0

œ œ

œ

m p

0

0

œ

œ œ

œ œ

0

m p

i p

0

3

œ œ

œ œ

m p

0

0

3

3

3

Use the pinching technique while playing the melody notes in between bass notes

Ex. 4 E

0231 00

4 œ. & 4 œ 0

B

œ

j œ

j œ #œ. œ œ

0

0

0

Count: 1

2

3

&

j j œ. #œ œ œ œ œ 0

0

1 0

&

œ. œ

1

0

0

0

0

0

4

1

2

3

4

With these fingerpicking patterns, what you play for one chord will work for the next chord, and so on. The chords in Ex. 1 should be familiar: C, G, Am, and E. The pattern for each chord is the same: bass note/third string/bass note/second string/bass note/first string/bass note/second string. Try playing each chord separately. The goal is to bounce between the bass notes, which are played with your thumb, and the high three strings, which are played with the index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers. Once you are comfortable playing the chords separately, play them in sequence: C to G to Am to E. In Ex. 2, apply the same technique to D and F chords. Notice that you will “skip” strings, bouncing from the bass notes to the first and then the third strings. The goal is to gain finger independence, so that you can automatically play any string you want. The next technique you will work on is a “pinch,” which, as its name implies, requires you to play two strings at the same time, thus pinching the strings. In Ex. 3, play the sixth string of an Em and G chord while simultaneously playing one of the high three strings. In Ex. 4, use both the “pinching” technique while playing the treble, or melody, notes in between the bass notes. The goal is to keep a steady bass pattern. If you can play this pattern without any trouble, great! But if the pattern is giving you some difficulty, try counting your way through. At first, tap your foot as you play only the bass notes, and count: 1, 2, 3, 4. When you add the treble notes, the count will be: “1, 2, and 3, and 4.” You can tap this rhythm on your leg or with your hands. AcousticGuitar.com 25

Basics | Play So far, you have been playing only a single string for your bass pattern. But you can also bounce between two or more strings. Look at Ex. 5. Here, you play Am7 and C chords. The thumb will rock back and forth between the fifth and fourth strings. Keep in mind that, rhythmically, you are playing the same pattern as you did in Ex. 4, but now the bass is a little busier. In Ex. 6, take the two-string bass pattern and match it with the rhythmic pattern from Ex. 4. Now, the music appears to have more movement, even though you are playing only two chords!

‘Drifting by the Wayside’ I have written a song to demonstrate how you can put together all that you just learned. The song, “Drifting by the Wayside” (page 27) has two parts: an eight-bar verse with one eight-bar variation and an eight-bar bridge. The verse consists of the chords C, Am, Dm, and G, which all should be familiar. Notice that with both the C and Am chords we play a G note on the first string at the third fret. While this does not change the chordal makeup of the C, it does turn the Am into an Am7. The G note will turn up again in the eightbar variation, but with the Am it occurs earlier, giving it more emphasis. At the end of the first eight-bar section, notice that there is a “walk-up” that leads from the Am chord back to the C. This is a simple device used to navigate between chords and different sections of songs. In the variation, we also turn the Dm chord into a Dsus2 for a slightly different flavor. At the end of the second eight-bar verse is a “walk-down” instead of a “walk-up,” which leads you to the bridge. The first section of the bridge should be familiar: G to Am. The last two chords are a barred F chord and a barred G chord. I normally don’t barre all six strings. Instead, I use my thumb over the top of the fretboard to play the sixth string and then use my first, second and third fingers to fret the top four strings. This leaves my pinky available to finger the G note “pull-off” in the second-bar measure of the F chord. AG

26

March 2014

Here, your thumb will rock back and forth between the fifth and sixth strings

Ex. 5

A m7

C

x 0201 0

& 44

B

œ 0

x 3201 0



œ 2

œ

œ

2

0

œ 3



œ 2

œ

œ

2

3

Take the two-string bass pattern (Ex. 5) and match it with the rhythm from Ex. 4

Ex. 6 A m7

C

x 0201 0

& 44 œ . œ

x 3201 0

j j œ. œ œ œ œ œ 0

1

B

0

2

0 0

œ. œ

j j œ. œ œ œ œ œ 0

1 2

3

2

0 3

2

WHAT GOES WHERE? In this exercise, your thumb will play the low three strings (6/E, 5/A, 4/D), and your index, middle, and ring fingers the third (G), second (B), and first (E) strings, respectively. You will not be using your pinky.

The standard abbreviations for right-hand picking are:

Now that you have learned some fingerpicking patterns, try exploring all the chords you know, with the idea of creating complimentary bass and treble parts. The possibilities are limitless. For example, you can try creating walking bass lines and add different melody notes. See what fingers in your left hand are available

to embellish the chords. For example, I use my pinky a lot to finger notes beyond simple triads and seventh chords. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t be afraid of your mistakes. After all, you can’t learn to pick yourself up if you don’t fall down! —P.M.

p = thumb i = index m = middle a = ring

SONG TO PLAY

Drifting by the Wayside

BY PETE MADSEN

Verse

C

Am

x 32 0 1 0

1

B

2

3

D m/A

x0 231 0

3

1

0 3

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0 3

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1 2

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x00 231

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F

x0 231 0

© 2014 PETE MADSEN. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

0

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G

T x3 2 1 1

T x 3211

 

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AcousticGuitar.com 27

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an electric guitar maker’s acoustic;

this is one of the best acoustic guitars ever.



- Martin Simpson

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TAKE I T EASY

Listen to the Music Playing in Your Head Songwriting inspiration is as close as your inner juke box BY JANE MILLER

BRAD AMOROSINO

W

hat song is in your head right now? Every now and then, try playing a variation on musical chairs with yourself. Stop in your tracks and listen to the music in your mind’s ear. Do you recognize it? It might be something that you just heard in the car. It might be something you’ve been practicing. It might be something brand new that is just coming through to get your attention. Whatever it is, grab a guitar. Play the melody. How do you want to harmonize the melody? Try some chords, starting with diatonic and then moving into more adventurous territory. If it’s a familiar song, you might be in the beginning stage of a new arrangement. Or, it might have been a familiar song at first, but has since changed into something else altogether. In that case, you’re writing something new, triggered by something that got stuck in your head and started dancing around in a spontaneous and naturally improvised variation on a theme. If it’s all brand new, tune in. Stay with it.

If you’re not near a guitar, hum it into your phone recorder or voicemail, do solfege, grab a cocktail napkin, or use the side of your Starbucks cup. Write down whatever will help you recall the music later. I once wrote note names on a scrap paper as soon as I got off of a tour boat in Ogunquit, Maine. I had to walk to my car to get a pen and find an old envelope to write on. I saved it and made a new song when I got home. Another time, I had a strong melody come to me—complete with appropriate chords and rhythm—while taking a walk along the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I wrote down note names and sang it to myself all the way home until I could get a handle on it with my guitar and some music paper. Rather than feeling plagued by earworms, tune in and start creating something with the ongoing tracks that scroll by in your mind all day. When you’re feeling stuck or you’re looking for something new to practice, there it will be, right in your head. AG

Jane Miller is an associate professor of

guitar at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

714 ce Sunburst

629 Forest Ave. ‡ Staten Island, NY 10310 718-981-8585 ‡ [email protected]

mandoweb. com

AcousticGuitar.com 29

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WEEKLY WORKOUT

Shapeshifting

Play chords built from pentatonic scales BY SEAN McGOWAN

M

ost guitarists, regardless of ability or genre, are familiar with playing pentatonic scales. Countless songs, melodies, solos, and classic riffs are based on the sound and structure of the pentatonic scale, which is literally any scale with five notes. However, most musicians refer to the majorpentatonic scale, which is built from scale degrees 1-2-3-5-6; or, a major scale without the fourth and seventh degrees. The minor-pentatonic scale (1-b3-4-5-b7) is an inversion of the major pentatonic (from the fifth note, or scale degree 6), and is often the first scale that guitarists learn on the fretboard. The pentatonic scale is popular in musical cultures throughout the world for a number of reasons. By omitting the fourth and seventh, the inherent dissonance created by half steps and the tritone interval (between the fourth and seventh) are removed. As a result, every note in a major-pentatonic scale sounds consonant. For this reason, wind chimes are often tuned to pentatonic scales. This scale is popular for beginning improvisers for the same reason— every note sounds great! Here are some exercises to help you play chords that are built from pentatonic scales. Pentatonic chord structures are relatively uncommon compared to their scalar counterparts. But they offer unique and beautiful sounds that will create interesting textures, whether you’re writing a song, playing rhythmic chord fills in a tune, looking to add colorful textures to fill out your lead lines, or simply looking for a good physical workout and way to reinforce your knowledge of the fretboard.

Week One Ex. 1 C

B Ex. 3

B Ex. 5

3 5 7



5 7

5 7

5

5

8

5 8 10 5 7 5 7 9 2 5 7 5 7 3 5 7

C

Am

8 3 5 7

5



C

5 8 5 8 5 8 5 8 5 10 8 7 5 9 7

B

Ex. 2

5 5 8 5 7 5 7 5 7 5 7 7 3 5 7 5

8 10 12

8 10 12 15 12 10 8 5 13 9 12 14 14 12 9 7

Ex. 6

C

7 5

8 10

Am

Am

8

9

Ex. 4

8 10 12 8 10 13

9 7

5 7

5 7

5

5 7 2 5 7 5

12 10 8 5 13 10 8 5 8 5 7 5

Gm

6 7

8 5

6 8 10 7

8

8

WEEK ONE Start by reacquainting yourself with the majorpentatonic scale. Ex. 1 shows a common fingering for a C major pentatonic. In the same way that an Am chord is the relative minor to C major, so is the Am pentatonic scale shown in Ex. 2; it is the exact same scale as C major pentatonic, starting on the sixth degree, or note (A). With this in mind, you can now use pentatonic scales and chords for both major chords

and minor chords down a minor third interval. For example, C and Am have this relationship, as well as G and Em, D and Bm, Bb and Gm, etc. Before you start applying three- and fournote chord structures, work through doublestops using the pentatonic. Ex. 3 and 4 offer fingerings for the C major—or A minor— pentatonic scale in double-stops starting on two different intervals. Again, notice that every note

sounds consonant and sweet. Also, they create unique intervals due to the large skip in the scale (between the third and fifth degrees); as a result, the intervals change between thirds and fourths [Ex. 3] and fifths and sixths [Ex. 4]. Ex. 5 shows a possible lead line or fill using double-stops from the C major pentatonic scale, which works over C and Am chords. Play through this example slowly and hone in on the AcousticGuitar.com 31

Weekly Workout | Play

different sounds created by some of these twonote structures. There is an element of familiarity, yet it yields some interesting chords and shapes such as the last chord in the example. Ex. 6 illustrates the same type of lead idea using double-stops. However, this time the chord progression moves from C to Gm. To fit our lines over these changes, use C/Am pentatonic for the first bar, and Bb/Gm pentatonic for the second bar over the Gm chord. All of these patterns are movable; therefore, Before tackling you can take our C/ the double-stops in Am shapes and Ex. 3-6, try playing simply move them each of the two lines down two frets to independently at first, access the Bb/Gm and focus on the pentatonic shapes. shape and sound Try playing these of each line. examples fingerstyle and hybrid using the pick and fingers.

BEGINNERS’ TIP 1

Week Two Ex. 7

0 2 3

B

32 March 2014

2 5 5

1 2 2

3 5 5

3 5 5

5 7 7

5 8 8 10 7 9

Ex. 9

2 2 3

5 5 5

5 5 5

7 7 7

0 0 3

B

2 2 5

5 5 7

3 2 5

5 5 7

3 3 5

5 5 7

Ex. 11b

8 8 9

3 0 2 3



3 3 2

0 1 0

5 5 5

0





3 1 2 2 0

5 3 5 5

8 5 7 7 0

10 8 9 10

8 10 12 10 8 10 13 8 7 9 12 9 10 0

3 3 2

0 1 0

0

5 5 5

12 13 12

Ex. 11a

12 10 12 12 0

5 8 10 12 10 8 5 5 8 10 13 8 7 5 5 7 9 12 9 7 5 10

Ex. 11d





Week Three Ex. 12

8 10 12 10 8 10 13 8 7 9 12 9 10 0

3 3 2 0

0 1 0

5 5 5

8 10 12 10 8 10 13 8 7 9 12 9 10 0 3

Ex. 13

8 5 3 5 3 0 0 5 3 1 3 7 5 2 2 5

B

5 2 5 5

8 10 8 10 7 9

  

Ex. 11c

 B

5 5 5

8 7 7

Ex. 10



WEEK TWO Now you’re ready to explore some three- and four-note structures, thereby creating chords built from the pentatonic scale. The first three examples this week (Ex. 7–Ex. 9) illustrate chords using only notes from the C/Am pentatonic scale, starting with a unique intervallic structure. The first example starts with a basic C major triad. Yet, because there are only five notes in the scale, the chords shift from common triads to unique voicings comprised of second and fourth intervals. These sound more like little chord structures a keyboardist might use, and will fit the bill perfectly if you’re looking for new, compact chord voicings in a tune. Ex. 10 also moves through the C/Am pentatonic scale, this time with four notes. These are a little more difficult to play than the three-note versions, but they provide a great workout for the fretting hand. Remember, you don’t have to always play scales for a workout–getting in and out of complex chords is also a workout! Ex. 11a shows a chordal line built on the previous patterns. The subsequent examples illustrate how this same line will work over C, Am, and also related chords that would commonly be associated with these tonalities. For example, 11c uses Em and Am chords, while 11d the line over Dm, Am, and finally, C chords. Try using a looper or recording device to play these types of chordal ideas over different notes and chords; there are lots of great sounds to explore and discover in these structures.

Ex. 8

1 0 2 3

7

5

5

5 10

7

8

7

7

5

5

5

5

2

3

Ex. 14

 

B

3

2

2 3

0

0

2

0

1 5

2

3

0 0

Gm

6 6 5

3

3 6

3

6 5 5

3

5 3

0 3 3

WEEK THREE Take some of these pentatonic chord ideas and apply them to songwriting, arranging, and lead situations. Remember, the idea is to create new yet familiar-sounding lines and chord structures from only the five notes of the scale. Ex. 12 shows a simple melody or lead line from the C/ Am pentatonic scale, supported with little threenote chord structures. Try playing the example with and without the accompanying chords, and notice the difference. Some of these structures—based on their design using second and fourth intervals—almost sound like an altered/ modal tuning such as DADGAD, but you can easily resolve the music with a common C chord, as in this example. Ex. 13 uses the same scale, but in the context of a fingerstyle pattern and progression. This example could work as an excerpt from an instrumental piece or as a foundation for a song with lyrics. Singer-songwriters might find this concept especially attractive if they are looking for alternative chord voicings in standard tuning, without straying too far from the sound of the chord itself. The next two examples show possibilities in a lead setting. Ex. 14 features a little melodic break in G minor using structures from the B/ Gm pentatonic. Ex. 15 is the same idea, with a little hybrid picking counterpoint line in Play each example the last two bars. slowly, one measure These will work great at a time, and make in any kind of setting, sure to play each offering a familiar complete chord blues-oriented sound, voicing with the with unique chordal fretting hand. support.

Ex. 15

3 1 3

6 3 5

8 6 7

10 8

6

B

Now, look at how to use different scales over one chord, employing a common substitution technique. Here’s the essential concept: over any minor chord, you can use a minor pentatonic scale based on the root and/or the fifth of the chord. For example, if you are playing over an Am chord, you can use both Am and Em pentatonic scales as the basis for lead and rhythm lines. If you want to add a little more modal complexity (think Allman Bros. vamps) you also can use the minor pentatonic on the second degree. That would be a Bm pentatonic if you’re still in Am. The Bm pentatonic (B-D-EF#-A) creates a Dorian type of modal sound, due to the F# on top of the Am. If you’re playing a song that has long sections of just one chord, this is a great way to add some interest without going too far outside of the tonality.

6 5 5

5 5 8

3 3 5

3 5 3

6 3 5

653 0 0 5 3

Week Four Ex. 16 A m

x 0231 0

Bm pentatonic

Am pentatonic

B

3 5 3 5 7 5 2 5 7 5 5 7

5 8 5 5 8 5 8 5 7 5 7 7

10 7 10 7 10 7 9 7 9 7 9 7

Em pentatonic

5 4 7 4 2 4 7 4 2 7 5 2

5 8 4 7 4 7 5 7 5 7 5 7

5 7 10 12 5 8 10 12 4 7 9 12

Ex. 17 C

x 3201 0

BEGINNERS’ TIP 2

WEEK FOUR

6

8 6 8

 

Ex. 18

B

10 7 5 9 75 9 75

8 7 7

3 0 3 3 1 2 2 0 5

3

3 5 3 5 3 5 2 4 2 4 2 5

Yo u c a n e a s i l y apply this lead substitution concept to Hybrid picking rhythm using pentatonic chords. Ex. 16 (using the pick and illustrates pentatonic fingers) works best chord patterns for for blending little Am, Bm, and Em, all chord structures of which work beautiand lead lines. fully over an Am chord. If you’re playing in another key, simply transpose the formula of root, second, and fifth of that key. For instance, if you’re playing in Gm, use Gm, Am, and Dm. Use these substitutions over major chords, too. They will work just fine over the relative major of the minor key you’re in. For example, your Am chords (as well as Bm and Em) will

BEGINNERS’ TIP 3

  7 10 12 8 10 12 7 9 12

10 7 10 7 10 7 9 7 9 7 9 7

5 4 4

5

  

2 3 2 2 0

work great over C, which is the relative major of Am as shown in Ex. 17. Ex. 18 shows structures built from the G/Em pentatonic (first two bars) and D/Bm pentatonic (second two bars), all of which work over G or Em chords. In this example, think of Em as the root, and Bm as the fifth. G major is the relative major of Em, just like C is the relative major of Am.

EXTRA CREDIT There are many other pentatonic scales besides the major (and minor) explored in this lesson. For extra credit, work through two additional pentatonic scales, the Dorian pentatonic (aka “3 pentatonic”) and Dominant pentatonic, both based on and named after modes of the major scale.

AcousticGuitar.com 33

Weekly Workout | Play



Ex. 19 (Dorian Pentatonic)

Cm

B

3 5 6

Ex. 21

5

Cm

2 5

3 4

3

5

2 1 3

2

1

3 2 1

3 3 2

4 5 5

C7

2 5

3 5

3 5

3

6

Please visit

to learn more and check out GITC's first publication: The Green Songbook Available now from Alfred Music Publishing at www.GreenSongBook.com.

34 March 2014

3 3 2

5 4 5

8 8 7

3 2 3

1 0 0

3 3 3 3 2 2

0 1 0

3 2 3

3 3 3

6 6 5 5 5 5

Ex. 19 and 20 show fingerings for the scale and threeIn your practice note chord structures journals, record of the Dorian pentadifferent pentatonic tonic (1-2-b3-5-6). ideas within the This scale really framework of a tune should be called the you already know. minor pentatonic, as it is almost identical to the major pentatonic, with the lowered third degree. Because of the natural sixth degree, it works great over minor, minor6, and minor7 chords, and anything with a

10 10 8

  10 10 8

10 10 8

1 0 0

3 3 2

0 1 0

3 3 3

6 5 5

8 8 7

 

BEGINNERS’ TIP 4

Thanks to Martin Guitars and the C.F. Martin Foundation, Oriolo Guitars, the Bill Graham Foundation, and D'Addario & Co. for helping us launch the latest round of GITC programs!

4 5 5

Ex. 23

8

Ex. 24

B

3 2 1

5 4 3 3 5 5 5



Ex. 22 (Dominant Pentatonic)

Guitars in the Classroom trains, inspires, and equips classroom teachers to make and lead music that transforms learning into a creative, effective, and joyful experience for k-12 students from coast to coast and beyond.

1 0 0



B

3 5

8



4 3 1

B

Ex. 20

8 8 7

10 11 9

 10 10 11 11 9 9

8 10 8 8 10 8 8 8 9 10 8 9 9 10 8

Dorian type of sound. It is equally at home in rock, blues, and jazz tunes. Ex. 21 shows an example of a swing/blues type of line, using a “question and answer” approach alternating between lead and chord breaks. Ex. 22 and 23 illustrate the Dominant pentatonic (1-2-3-5-b7), which implies the Mixolydian mode and fits like a glove on dominant-seventh chords. Ex. 24 is an R&B chord riff using structures from this scale before finishing with a common triple-stop blues lick in the last measure.

Sean McGowan (seanmcgowanguitar.com) is a jazz guitarist based in Denver, where he directs the guitar program at the University of Colorado.

HERE’S HOW

Of Thumbs and Necks 7 ways to improve the way you hold a guitar BY JANE MILLER

The Problem Grabbing the guitar neck so that your thumb comes over the top of the neck and onto the string side makes for a handy fifthfinger way to grab a bass note. But it is an inefficient hand position for playing chord changes and melody lines—and it can lead to cramping and more serious injury.

The Solution Chet Atkins. George Harrison. Richie Havens. Wes Montgomery. All great players—all held the guitar wrong. Well, wrong according to some. Guitar players with large enough hands may well be able to pull off the trick of thumbing a bass note while fingering the rest of the chord, but it requires putting your hand in an awkward position, which can inhibit movement and possibly cause muscle strain. Pick up any object and notice how your hand naturally grasps. Hold a glass of water. The heel of your hand is likely touching the glass and your fingers are slanting on the opposite side of your thumb. That’s a good grip on the glass, but that position does not work well when it comes to playing the guitar. Your first three fingers can probably play a simple melody comfortably in that position, but when you need your fourth finger—and you will need your pinky—you will be putting undue strain on the muscle that runs right along the pinky side of your hand; that’s if you can reach anything at all.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make things easier on yourself.

1

To get some perspective on reaching the low E string with your fretting fingers, try this: • Visualize a spot on the back of the neck directly behind the third fret between the D and the G strings. • Bring your fingers around the neck as you would normally play, keeping them parallel to the frets. • Touch the spot on the back of the neck so it is right between your second and third fingers. • Look at your hand position.

2

Notice that your wrist has dropped down, and your thumb is well below the midpoint of the back of the neck. Notice that your fingers are curved, and you’re having no trouble reaching far beyond any bass note you’ll ever need.

3

Now play a chromatic scale that moves across all six strings. If your fingers are parallel to the frets, they will drop right down on the needed notes: a finger for every fret.

4

Play a C chord in the first position. Grab a pen with your free hand and run it

right alongside the back of the neck through the tunnel created by your thumb. There should be plenty of space for this.

5

Play a barre chord. Make sure that your thumb and wrist are down in the back so that you can reach your first finger across with room to spare. Your remaining fingers ought to be curved and standing on their own without strain.

6

Flexibility is key here. Rather than going for absolutes, try for commonsense hand positions that fit the chord or melody of the moment. Play in front of a mirror, or use a photo or video program while you practice at your computer. You’ll see that if you play a D chord on the first three strings, your thumb will indeed be peeking up over the top of the neck. That’s fine. Now reach around and play a G chord (use your second, third, and fourth fingers on the fifth, sixth, and first strings respectively). Your thumb should now be hiding behind the neck.

7

Putting your awareness on keeping your thumb and wrist down is for the higher purpose of keeping your fingers up and parallel to the frets, clearing open strings, and increasing your reach without cramping your hand. AG

Jane Miller is an associate professor of guitar at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. AcousticGuitar.com 35

JUST BE

CROZ Folk-rock icon David Crosby releases his first solo album in 20 years

BY DAVID KNOWLES

avid Crosby is not resting on his laurels. The 72-yearold two-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame closed out a busy 2013 by performing a Bridge School Concert with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (the first CSN&Y reunion in seven years), putting the finishing touches on a new solo album titled Croz, and preparing for his first solo tour in years. Recorded at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters studio in Santa Monica, California, Croz is a family affair—Crosby wrote much of the album with his son, James Raymond, who

D

36 March 2014

also produced it along with Daniel Garcia. The album’s cover, meanwhile, was shot by son Django Crosby. At the same time that the now cleanand-sober co-founder of two of rock’s most influential groups—the Byrds and CSN—is looking ahead and composing new songs, Crosby’s legendary past exploits continue to generate interest from fans. Some of the more salacious passages from Graham Nash’s recent autobiography Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life come courtesy of Crosby, like the time Nash walked in on him receiving oral sex from two groupies as he was placing an order with his coke dealer.

In May, the first Crosby, Stills & Nash record will celebrate its 45th anniversary, but while Crosby’s decadent rock ’n’ roll lifestyle may be a thing of the past, he has largely remained true to himself throughout his career. If anything, Croz—released January 27 on Blue Castle Records, the label he cofounded with Nash—finds him reconnecting with his muse, and his return to the recording studio and the concert stage shows that the icon is far from ready to pack it in. Congratulations on the new record! I am a very happy guy right now. I’ve spent a long time holding my breath, hoping

‘CSN has a natural chemistry and then adding Neil Young is like adding nitroglycerine. He’s never satisfied with being just good, and I love him for that. He just keeps pushing you.’

people were going to like this record, and it seems like a lot of them do, in fact, like it. I’m hearing from musicians I respect who are digging it. It’s a tremendous relief, to be honest. This is your first solo record in 20 years. How does it feel? I’m not counting. Really, I have no idea if it’s been 15 or 20 years. What I do know is that this record has been completely different than anything I’ve done before. A record is about creating chemistry, and I’ve been lucky to write with my son, James Raymond, who is about an eight times better musician than I am, and a great engineer. You also just reunited for CSN&Y at the Bridge School Concert. Was that easy to do after taking six years off? It comes naturally. CSN has a natural chemistry and then adding Neil Young is like adding nitroglycerine. He’s never satisfied with being just good, and I love him for that. He just keeps pushing you. Speaking of your band mates, did you happen to read Graham Nash’s recent autobiography? I did read it, and it seemed to me that any time he was writing about sex and drugs in the book he was writing about my sex and drugs, not his, which was kind of weird. But that’s all ancient history, really. I wrote two books about those times myself, and in much more detail. On your new record, as well as on some of your earlier work, I hear what sound like Brazilian influences. Is that conscious? It is. I’m strongly affected by Brazilian music because so much of it is so damn beautiful. Also Afro-Cuban, American jazz, and newer flamenco, but particularly Brazilian music. Given those influences, when you write songs, are you using a nylon-string acoustic guitar?

I compose on a McAlister steel string guitar. In fact, I’ve got it hanging on the wall next to me, and I’m in the middle of writing a new song on it. Roy McAlister gave it to me back when I was broke. Normally, I’d been a dreadnought player, but I love this guitar. It’s my favorite. Two things help me to write new songs—I use new tunings, either ones I make up or ones I learn from other people, and those help lead me to different chord patterns. The second is sparking off of other people. I listen to a lot of Shawn Colvin, Mark Cohen, Randy Newman, Neil, Stephen and Graham—they all influence me. What motivated you to write the songs for ‘Croz’? I don’t understand why I’m having such a good writing time right now. This album uses a wide palette of colors, and has some of the most positive stuff I’ve ever written. Then again, there is also a song about hookers, about how they have to hide themselves to be with fat German and American tourists. I don’t know why that one came to me. I was sitting in my hotel

room in Belgium watching them try to convince these guys to fuck them, and it really left a sad impression on me. You’re heading out on tour to promote the album. Is that something you’re looking forward to? It is, actually. I’m trying to get attention again. I want this to sell. We’re doing multiple nights—four or five—in select cities. The idea is to work in fine brush strokes and doing multiple nights will allow us to fine tune what we’re doing. Aside from selling records, what is it about playing live that you like best? It’s a joy to do. It’s still really fun connecting with an audience. Having not gone out and played solo for a long time, I’m excited to go and do it again. Later this year, I plan to go out just me and a guitar. The good thing is I have grown since the last time. And there have been times in my career when I was lagging being a drug addict. In the last 15–20 years I’ve learned a lot, but it’s still me, just further along in the story. AG

‘It’s still really fun connecting with an audience. Having not gone out and played solo for a long time, I’m excited to go and do it again.’ DAVID CROSBY

CROZ

Blue Castle Records

AcousticGuitar.com 37

JOHN FOGERTY

BY J E F F R EY P E P P E R R O D G E R S

IMAGE—MARK SULLIVAN/WIREIMAGE; TEXT © 2014 JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

T H E AG I N TE R V I E W

CCR: Tom Fogerty, left, John Fogerty, Stu Cook, Doug Clifford

orking on a new song, there’s a point where nothing is there and then, as most of us say, the gift is given to you—the exact right description, the right choice of words that describes what it was you were trying to give a picture of to the audience,” John Fogerty says during an interview at his home in Los Angeles. “When that happens, there’s not a soul anywhere around. I’m all alone, except for God. But I have to say, that moment when you know you got it right is more rewarding and more happy and maybe even more spooky than any of the other parts of music—being in front of 10,000 people getting a standing ovation or somebody giving you a gold record or whatever.”

AcousticGuitar.com 39

JOHN FOGERTY | THE AG INTERVIEW

rom “Bad Moon Rising” and “Born on the Bayou” to “Fortunate Son” and “Proud Mary,” the songs Fogerty penned with Credence Clearwater Revival are so deeply embedded in American music, and covered so often by musicians of every stripe, that it’s hard to imagine anyone wrote them. For decades Fogerty’s songs have been a part of our cultural vocabulary, which explains why artists as diverse as the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Miranda Lambert, My Morning Jacket, and Brad Paisley all sound so at home reinterpreting his catalog on Fogerty’s latest album, Wrote a Song for Everyone. Paisley, who first covered one of Fogerty’s songs onstage when he was 12 or 13, can’t even trace where the influence began. “I don’t remember my first encounter the same way that I don’t remember my first drink of milk either,” Paisley says. “You’re born in the United States of America, especially when I was born in 1972, and you’re just surrounded by John’s music.” The ubiquity of Fogerty’s songs, not just the Creedence classics of the late ’60s and early ’70s, but such solo hits as “Centerfield,” makes it a little startling to meet the songwriter himself. When he greets me, he’s looking just as John Fogerty is supposed to look, wearing a blue plaid flannel shirt, jeans, his face strikingly youthful even at the age of 68. On record and in concert these days, Fogerty sounds just as he’s supposed to sound, too, from the searing vocals to the swampy guitar riffs. Now fully embracing his past (in recent years he’s even worked with his longtime nemesis, Fantasy Records, now owned by Concord, on several releases of solo and Creedence material, including a new box set), Fogerty is far from coasting on it. He starts each day with intensive woodshedding on guitar and works hard on new songs, two of which, “Mystic Highway” and “Train of Fools,” appear on Wrote a Song for Everyone. My visit with Fogerty came before he hit the road for a lengthy fall tour that included onstage jams with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Zac Brown Band, and Widespread Panic. No longer consumed by the bitter legal battles over his Creedence royalties and copyrights

40 March 2014

‘“Mystic Highway” was a work in progress so long I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. But that’s the crazy process that we go through as songwriters.’

(which he still does not own), Fogerty seems relaxed and content and very chatty—particularly on the topic of songwriting and guitars. We tour his home studio suite, where one room is piled with boxes of scrapbooks, photos, recordings, notebooks, and other mementos from more than 50 years in music. And he cracks open an old Anvil case to show me a 3/4-size, sunburst Rickenbacker—the John Lennon model—that he played with Creedence. As we talk in his family room, near a wall of gold records, Fogerty cradles a favorite new acoustic: a Santa Cruz Vintage Southerner inspired by his beloved Gibson Southern Jumbos from the 1950s.

Many of your songs begin with a title phrase written in a notebook. How did you get started collecting titles? Well, there’s one notebook in particular I started in 1969. What happened was, I had written a song while I was on active duty [in the army], a song called “Porterville,” although I didn’t quite have a title yet. It was a narrative, kind of about my personal life as a kid, but in a lot of ways it was also made up. Remember, I’d been writing songs since I was probably five or six years old, but they were always kind of moon/June, Tin Pan Alley. I was trying to write a song like I saw on TV. When I was in the army, I began to write a song that meant some-

CELEBRATING A

VINTAGE GIBSON John Fogerty’s longstanding favorite

VS) and Italian (rather than Sitka)

acoustic guitars are two Gibson

spruce for the top. “One of the real

Southern Jumbos: one from 1952,

secrets about old instruments and why

which has a P-90 pickup and is tuned

they sound better,” Hoover says, “is the

down to D, and the other from 1954,

wood sounds better with age. The

which stays in standard tuning. These

resins polymerize, which is a chemical

SJs are all over his latest album, and he

change that hardens the woods, as

considers them the holy grail—and irre-

opposed to the common belief that

placeable, so he won’t tour with them.

they dry. So the woods that we used

At the suggestion of his guitar buddy

for this guitar were really old.”

Brad Paisley, who owns a Santa Cruz Guitar Co. interpretation of the prewar

Around the time Santa Cruz was build-

dreadnought, Fogerty contacted Santa

ing Fogerty’s guitar, Hoover adds, the

Cruz about building a guitar modeled

company was using mahogany that

after his Gibson SJs.

came from the door of a rural church in Brazil, and also a Chicago mill dating

Santa Cruz offers the short-scale

from the 1920s.

Vintage Southerner (VS) as one if its regular models, so company founder

Fogerty received his Santa Cruz in 2013,

Richard Hoover sent Fogerty a Santa

and says it’s the closest he’s heard to his

Cruz VS to compare to the vintage

vintage Gibsons. “I’m sure after years of

Gibsons. Fogerty made a recording

me hammering on it, it’ll start to sound

test of the Santa Cruz and his ’54

more like those guys,” he adds.

Gibson to help Hoover and company

SANTA CRUZ

VINTAGE SOUTHERNER

thing to me, and I began to go someplace. I had stumbled upon the idea of a completely blank sheet of paper or completely blank mindset that could go anywhere or be in any time. I could be anything or anyone I wanted to. I had just discovered poetic license. So while I’m marching around, I’m creating this song that’s a little bit autobiographical and a little bit not. I got out of the army and was struggling with all that and realized, I need to get organized. So I went down to the local drugstore, and I got a little plastic book and called it Song Titles. I put blank paper in the little binder, and somewhere along the way the very first thing I wrote in it was the words

dial in the tone. For Fogerty’s guitar,

In a modern touch, Fogerty’s Santa

Santa Cruz used mahogany for the

Cruz is equipped with a K&K Pure Mini

back and sides (as on the standard

pickup for stage use.

“Proud Mary.” I had no idea what that meant. After that, every time I had an idea, I’d write it in that book. What I discovered was if I had a title that sounded cool, then I’d try to write a cool song that fit the cool title.

“The Lonely One.” The titles took you somewhere. So I at a very young age learned or at least formed the opinion that the title is really important. I was talking about that with Duane, because he was the guy that inspired that in me, and he says, “Well, yeah, when you have a title, you kind of know where you’re going to go then, don’t you?” This is a guy who never wrote lyrics. Man—he should have been writing lyrics if he was that clever about how it works.

Where did you get the idea of using a title book? Of all people, I was talking with Duane Eddy once about this subject. Remember, Duane Eddy is an instrumentalist. He writes songs with no words, right? But one of the things I learned specifically from Duane Eddy was his song titles were really cool, like “Rebel Rouser,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Ramrod,” “Commotion,” “Cannonball,”

So many of your songs have these great, simple guitar riffs. When you’re writing, do the riffs help to lead you into the song?

AcousticGuitar.com 41

JOHN FOGERTY | THE AG INTERVIEW I have a guitar in my hands every day, usually electric. I do a lot of practicing. I’m working on my technique, you know, trying to get better. So most of the riffs that I write are intended for electric guitar, leading a band. I can’t really tell you how that comes about. You just have the guitar in your hands. You’re noodling. You get into a certain sort of mood [plays E7 blues riffs]. Sometimes your fingers will go a new way by accident.

‘I had stumbled upon the idea of a completely blank sheet of paper or completely blank mindset that could go anywhere or be in any time. I could be anything or anyone I wanted to. I had just discovered poetic license.’

Wrote a Song for Everyone, 2013 Featuring Bob Seger, Brad Paisley, Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, Jennifer Hudson, Miranda Lambert, Tom Morello, Kid Rock, and others. Vanguard Records

JOHN FOGERTY, SURF GUITARIST? Believe it.

“Green River,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,”

One disc of this new six-CD box set includes 25

and “Fortunate Son,” to name a few. It includes

pre-CCR tracks, including eight previously unis-

two CDs of rare studio sessions and live concert

sued, that chronicle the band’s evolution between

recordings from 1970–72.

1961–67, from the ’50s-style doo wop of their

The set also has a 76-page book of essays

earliest band, Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets,

by Ben Fong-Torres, Stanley Booth, Alec Palao,

to the El Cerrito High School–era Golliwogs,

and Dave Marsh, among others, and rare photos,

which morphed rapidly from surf to Yardbirds-

including images of such obscure memorabilia as

style rock to Jimmy Reed–inspired blues to

Golliwog concert posters.

garage rock. By the time the band signed with Fantasy

Of course, most of CCR’s recordings featured electric guitars, but Fogerty and his brother Tom

Records, in John Fogerty’s birthplace in nearby

often went unplugged. The intro and outro to

Berkeley, California, Creedence had brewed a

“Who’ll Stop the Rain,” for instance, were built

swampy blend of blues, Stax R&B, and roots rock.

around a simple three-note acoustic lick, and

It was party-friendly music tempered with Fogerty’s

powerful acoustic-guitar strumming propelled the

raspy blued-eyed-soul vocals, his seemingly bot-

rhythm on such hits as “Have You Ever Seen the

tomless bag of seductive guitar riffs, and a trance-

Rain” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

inducing Louisiana bayou vibe that led many to

The acoustics seen on two of the band’s album

assume, mistakenly, that Fogerty and his band

covers have even achieved iconic status: the dobro

mates had deep Southern roots.

that John Fogerty posed with on the cover of

This box set gathers 121 remastered tracks, everything released by the band, including such hits as “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,”

Green River was featured in a recent CCR exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. —GREG CAHILL

Creedence Creedence Clearwater Revival Fantasy/Concord 6-CD box set 121 remastered tracks 76-page book of essays Rare studio sessions Live concert recordings

42 March 2014

What you’re playing sounds similar to the ‘Born on the Bayou’ riff, from the early days of Creedence. That was certainly one of those accidents. It’s funny. We were going to play at the Avalon Ballroom [in San Francisco], and there were a whole bunch of other people on the bill. My band was the last to soundcheck just before they opened the doors. I think this was our first chance to play at one of the big places in San Francisco. “Susie Q” was out. It wasn’t a real album yet—it was a tape I had given to the radio station KMPX. For some reason, I was inspired. I think it was just a young person in the environment—oh, man, we’re in the Avalon Ballroom! Cool! My amp was sounding good, we’ve got everything plugged in. . . . So I started doing that [riff] on the guitar, and I turned to the drummer, Doug [Clifford], and I said, “Just play along with this,” and I kind of gave him a feel. I looked at Tom [Fogerty] and Stu [Cook] and said, “Just play an E—follow me.” And I just started screaming out vowels, because that’s how I write songs—consonants and vowels, just nonsense. I was standing on the stage, basically doing what I did in my own little room, except it was much louder. I was making these noises and coming up with a sound. That’s how probably 90 percent of my songs get written, usually with a guitar in hand and usually at a point of, I’ve set up the opportunity, but I don’t know what I’m going to do. That is very important for songwriting: you have to construct the opportunity. You have to have the intention, I guess, yet you have to have a completely open mind. You also have to be able to capture your ideas somehow. If I’m traveling in a car and I get an idea for something, unless I write it down in my little book, it’s gone. All of us have had a zillion of those—oh, man, it was such a great idea! What was that idea? You never feel exactly as you felt when you had that idea. I’ve noticed that I’ll be sitting somewhere and not have a pencil and paper or even have a guitar, and I’ll think, “I’ll remember this— it’s obvious.” It’s kind of like the movie is playing in your head. It’s perfect. You’re feeling all the emotions, and there’s a certain way you’re thinking about a topic. But then the next day or even two hours later, whenever you go to try and re-create it, it evaporated. It’s just gone.

For me at least, I do better [holding onto the idea] if I have an actual phrase that sounds good to me, like “Bad Moon Rising.” Didn’t you originally write that in your title book? Yeah. I have a lot of phrases in there. Somebody asked me recently, is there a song you haven’t written yet? I looked at them: “I’m not going to give you that. If I give you that, you’ll write the song!” [laughs] But I know, for instance, “Mystic Highway” was in that book for maybe 30 years. I knew what it was when I wrote it; I just didn’t know how I’d ever tackle the subject and make a song out of it. I could see a group of travelers, probably a family, and they’re weary but they’re not broken. That’s what I saw, and I would hear a little bit every once in a while over the years. It’s like it’s behind a veil and you can’t make it come out— what does that really sound like? “Mystic Highway” was a work in progress so long I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. But that’s the crazy process that we go through as songwriters. I’d be opening a door, walking into a room, and, “Oh, man, there’s that song again. How is that going to be?” Without realizing it over the years, I kept filling in just a little bit more of what that refrain was going to be, until finally, for this album, I guess I was ready to do something really tough. The thing had been floating around so long it was almost sacred. You know, it’s got to be good after 30 years! But I wasn’t afraid of it. When it finally occurred to me what to do, it was just right.

Your songs are so lean, both the words and the music. You get in there, get the feeling, and get out. Does that quality reflect your roots in ’50s rock ’n’ roll or country? Yeah, you know I had grown up through the whole rock ’n’ roll era. Songs were short— they were two minutes and 30 seconds on average, so that’s what I learned from. Arranging a record, you knew that you didn’t have a long time for a solo, you didn’t have a long time for an intro, and I was very conscious of trying to say what I was going to say with as few words as possible—but have them be really good words. If I could find one

word that took the place of five words, that was way better to me. Were you aware of the writers behind songs you grew up with? I had read a little bit about other songwriters. I certainly admired the craft of songwriting. I had learned especially, mostly from my mom, about people who were earlier than my day, meaning Irving Berlin and Harold Arlen and Hoagy Carmichael, and Stephen Foster actually. This is probably a well-known tale from me now, but for some reason when I was about three and a half in preschool, my mom gave

You’ve got to meet some kind of internal standard, right, no matter how long it takes? Yeah, and it’s a really imperfect process, at least for me. Like I say, I’ll have the guitar in my hands ’cause I always have the guitar in my hands. A lot of riffs occur to me. Over the years, I’ve had special little recorders and a little Dictaphone kind of thing, but now I just turn on the phone and record them. I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff in my iTunes—that goes back probably eight years. I go back and listen to them sometimes. I seem to come up with enough riffs automatically that I don’t go searching for riffs—I probably should. But I do go searching for song ideas. The lyrics are far and away the hardest part to me. In fact, one of my own truisms is I have to have a really strong melody; it has to sound really like a song or I’m not even going to bother working on the lyrics, because they’re so hard. In the old days, I would get one verse or two verses, half finished songs. I used to tell people, for every song you hear I’m writing ten other songs that I don’t finish. Somewhere you get into it, you just realize this is a dead end. It’s not going to work. This is stupid. You turn the page and try to get onto something better. AcousticGuitar.com 43

JOHN FOGERTY | THE AG INTERVIEW me a record and explained to me that was Stephen Foster, and he was the songwriter— one side was “Oh! Susannah” and the other was “Camptown Races,” doo-dah, doo-dah. I mean that’s remarkable to be telling a kid about a songwriter. I don’t know if she had an intent, but she gave me the record, which I loved. Of course I thought Stephen Foster was on the record. Then as rock ’n’ roll and the folk tradition came along, I went to the library a couple of times and got books about songwriters. It was in one of those books that I saw this instruction—I always thought it was from Johnny Mercer but it’s probably someone else. Anyway, [the idea] was when you’re working on a song

and it’s not right, it’s just not resolved, a bell will ring in your head. The little bell is telling you that you need to fix this—you can’t leave it that way. But if you ignore the bell, pretty soon it won’t ring for you anymore. If you’re going to be lazy—“Oh yeah, that’s good enough”—well, then, you’re never going to develop. I think the act of searching for the right thing is what improves you as a writer— the very act of digging and then the knowledge of the reward. AG

THE ANATOMY OF A SONG JOHN FOGERTY DESCRIBES HIS EUREKA MOMENT IN WRITING THE NEW SONG “TRAIN OF FOOLS” As told to Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Actually, when I got the idea [for “Train of Fools”], first I wrote another song. It was still called “Train of Fools,” and it was kind of fat Elvis, [sings] “hoo-a hoo-a train of fools.” I was under the gun to make a song in the next 24 hours, because in 48 hours I was

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (jeffreypepperrodgers.com), Editor-at-Large for ‘Acoustic Guitar’, is author of ‘The Complete Singer-Songwriter’ and the Homespun video series ‘Learn Seven Grateful Dead Classics for Acoustic Guitar.’

going to be in the studio with my band. I finished this dreadful thing, but it wasn’t good enough. So I backed up, and miraculously I was able to do it with the same song [title]. Usually that’s so tainted you’ve got to put it away for a while. But what is this train of fools? I knew it was a really solid concept. And so I started coming up with the idea of these characters and their backgrounds. It was kind of a morality play, I guess. The way I described it later, long after the record was made, it was almost like an episode of Twilight Zone. I could just hear Rod Serling, “Here’s the gambler and here’s the loser and here’s the pretty maiden who’s deceitful.” Anyway, the song was basically done, and I actually went into the studio and recorded it with the band, but I just felt that the song was incomplete. It had a narrative, it took you on a little description of the journey, but it didn’t have a conclusion. And so I said, it’s got to be more. Even though the song was already recorded, I was willing to throw it out. So I was working on “Train of Fools” and there was the line, “One will be addicted / Chained to the devil’s cross / That one’s going to die before he’s old.” That was really where the song ended, and it went into the chorus. I started thinking in terms of a child. I finally got the lines, “This one is a victim / A lost and broken child / Soon enough he’ll be a man to hate.” I thought, all right, pretty good. And then I had to have rhyming words that filled in. I had the idea that people stand around, they’re holier than thou, they think they can do no wrong, and so the [next] line was, “Those that point their finger / Will also share the blame.” Pretty good. Then—this is probably over a period of a few days— there was this little space and suddenly the line was, “Those that point their finger / Will also share the blame / No one leaves this train to judgment day.” I went, what? That was a gift. It surprised me. It’s one of those moments, you’re all alone, and you go, “God, that’s so good.” I mean, who am I going to tell? Even my wife, who loves my music, doesn’t quite struggle with me over words. I can’t go in and [shout], “Judgment day! Judgment day!” She’ll be stirring the spaghetti and she’ll go, “Right, John, judgment day.” I was literally alone, but it’s like the whole Olympic stadium had gone, “Rah!” The writer knows it. The writer is almost basking in it. Now I take no credit—I give all the credit to the Almighty, whoever or whatever he or she is. That’s when you know someone’s saying, “OK, you worked really hard, my son: here.” I don’t know how to say it . . . It was just beyond what I expected to do.

44 March 2014

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A film crew documents the work of Haitian singer-songwriter and Acoustic Guitar Project participant Chaby (pronounced Shay-bee).

WRITE STUFF

Ad copy writer Dave Adams is using ‘creative restriction’ to challenge & inspire songwriters through the global Acoustic Guitar Project

BY JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS

46 March 2014

Dave Adams

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local musician approaches you with a guitar, a portable recorder, and a challenge: write a song on that guitar and record it within a week, and then sign the guitar and pass it along to another musician with the same instructions. This is the simple concept behind the Acoustic Guitar Project, a songwriting experiment that began in New York City in 2012 and has since spread around the United States and as far as Haiti, Colombia, and Finland. Interestingly, the guy behind the project, Dave Adams, is not a musician, but a music fan who worked for years as an advertising copywriter and wanted to be involved in a less commercial, more artistic pursuit. “I have friends who can just pick up a guitar and write a song,” Adams says from his home in New York. “That to me is magic. That’s power. That’s a gift. But then that same musician would spend two years on a computer producing it. And I thought, you know, I come from a creative background as well, but I have deadlines and

restrictions. When someone says, ‘I need this by two o’clock,’ I know I can do it. So I knew about the power of creative restriction, but I think most artists and musicians haven’t been placed in that type of environment. I just put my advertising mind to work and figured out what’s the best way to help musicians be more prolific.” One of the keys to the Acoustic Guitar Project is limiting not only the time, but the tools for creating the song: artists can use only the equipment supplied, and no edits of the recording are allowed. To Adams, these rules remove a lot of pressure. “Everybody’s using the same guitar, everybody’s using the same mic,” he says. “It’s not a competition, except with yourself, and you can sit down and create something that’s not going on your album. “It’s just a moment for you to reconnect with the instrument.”

W

hen Adams was preparing to launch the Acoustic Guitar Project in the spring of 2012, an instrument-savvy friend helped him find a good, inexpensive guitar on

‘I just put my advertising mind to work and figured out what’s the best way to help musicians be more prolific.’

—DAVE ADAMS

Craigslist—they ended up with a Takamine GS330S. He got a Zoom H2 digital recorder to accompany the guitar, wrote up and laminated instructions that went into the case, and handed it all to his friend Brandon Wilde, who inaugurated the project with the song “Deep Blue Secret.” “The initial melody and inspiration for the song came quickly,” Wilde says, “but then I had to craft a fully functioning song, which took some time and editing. I somehow made AcousticGuitar.com 47

ACOUSTIC GUITAR PROJECT

Winter took away a lesson that all songwriters need to learn and relearn: ‘Just get out of your way and write. Have fun!’

Lucio Feuillet

109 Oak Park Drive Boerne, Texas 78006

my way through. Since I was the first, I didn’t have any other songs to compare mine to. Deadlines are scary, but can be great for scattered musicians like myself.” Wilde passed the guitar to Briana Winter, a Brooklyn musician he was dating at the time and who hadn’t written a song in several years. “Whenever I go through a writing drought I wonder, ‘Wow, maybe this is it, maybe I’m never going to write another song again,’” Winter recalls. “I’ve been through enough droughts by now to know they end, but the questions still get asked. Am I going to be able to come up with

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48 March 2014

something that is good? Does it really matter if it’s good? Or does it matter more to go through the process of finishing a song?” In her week with the Acoustic Guitar Project, Winter wrote a reflective song called “Slumber” and took away a lesson that all songwriters need to learn and relearn: “Just get out of your way and write. Have fun!” The New York guitar is still circulating—it has inspired (as of this writing) 34 songs, all of which can be heard at theacousticguitarproject. com (at press time, the Takamine was in Detroit). Along the way, the instrument has passed through the hands of some well-established artists, including former Norah Jones sideman (and regular Acoustic Guitar contributor) Adam Levy, guitarist/composer Doug Wamble, and singer-songwriter and selfdescribed “professional smart aleck” Carla Ulbrich. But the point of the project has always been about stirring creativity wherever or however it can—not about reaching big-name artists or generating any particular type of songs.

HeartsHomeAcoustics.com (830) 331-9840

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ddly, at the same time Adams’ Takamine was making its rounds among New York musicians, the $100 Guitar Project also was underway. That’s a similar experiment cooked up by guitarists Nick Didkovsky and Chuck O’Meara for which more than 60 players around the world ultimately recorded tracks on a no-name electric guitar. Adams says he was unaware of that counterpart when he launched the Acoustic Guitar Project, and in the meantime his own idea was taking on a life of its own. With the help of a friend living in Finland, Adams launched a second project with a Martin D-15 in Helsinki, and then decided to expand to South America, where guitarist Joel Waldman in Bogotá, Colombia, found a Yamaha C80 classical for Adams and kicked off a third project with the lilting song “Como Una Llama.” In both of the most recent cases, Adams decided to cap the number of musicians, so the projects had an endpoint, and he has organized a closing concert with as many of the participants as possible.

Adams has also launched a project with another Takamine GS330S in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and started a project in Detroit—with a guitar donated by Maryland luthier Victor Long (minorbird.com) and built with wood salvaged from demolished local buildings. The songs coming out of the international projects are, naturally, branching out in languages other than English, including Finnish, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. In Helsinki, the first recipient of the guitar was Axel Ehnström (aka Paradise Oskar), a young musician who’d represented Finland at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. “The process was hard in the beginning, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Ehnström says. “I ended up writing one song in Finnish and one in Swedish before I was ready to write the final, English one. After writing the first two songs, all the pressure was gone, and I think that’s why it was so effortless to write the third song, which turned out to be the most simple and honest one.”

Eva Louhivoura

AcousticGuitar.com 49

ACOUSTIC GUITAR PROJECT

‘The stories are the dinner and the song is the dessert.’

—DAVE ADAMS

A Christian Velez

50 March 2014

true believer in the potential of the Acoustic Guitar Project to stir creativity, Adams eventually quit his day job to devote himself full time to the project. Along the way he has been interviewing the musicians as often as possible, and he loves the stories they have told about not only the creative process, but their lives as musicians. The experience of videotaping these interviews, many of which can be seen on the project’s website, led Adams to the realization that “the stories are the dinner and the song is the dessert.” Which, in turn, has sparked the idea of bringing the Acoustic Guitar Project to television. In early 2013, Adams ran a Kickstarter campaign to support the creation of a TV pilot and surpassed his $20,000 goal. After filming musicians in Haiti and Detroit, and even documenting Victor Long building the Detroit guitar, Adams is putting together a pilot episode that he will shop to networks. At the time I last spoke with Adams, 75 musicians had participated in the various projects, and that number will soon grow significantly larger—Adams plans to launch new guitars simultaneously in 20 cities around the world. The project website (acousticguitarproject.com) includes a form for nominating a musician to participate. Adams does hope to kick-start his own guitar playing eventually—he dabbles on the instrument from time to time. But in the meantime, he draws great satisfaction from playing a role in the creation of a song like “The Last Time,” by Helsinki musician Eva Luohivuori, who recalls her writing process: “I came home after receiving the guitar, opened the case, stared at the beautiful piece of wood, tried some chords, and started the song. It wasn’t difficult at all, I felt the whole process was so natural, and I felt like the guitar has so much story to it.” Adams was in his office when he received “The Last Time” by email from Luohivuori, “It was absolutely one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard,” he says. “I started crying at work—I couldn’t believe that somebody had written something so incredible for this.” Thinking back on how the Acoustic Guitar Project started, and where it may be going, he adds, “If every guitar player wrote a song, only good can come out of that. If I can facilitate a lot of different musicians doing that, I think it’s a real honor.” AG

BRITISH FOLK MASTER MARTIN SIMPSON

S P OTLI G HTS C H O P S—AN D H I S S O N GWR ITI N G—O N A STR I P P E D-D OWN S O LO ALB U M

BY Y TE JA G E R K E N

MARTIN SIMPSON

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s anyone who has ever witnessed a Martin Simpson show can attest, the spellbinding British guitarist is capable of solo performances that leave fellow pickers’ jaws on the floor. Simpson’s extraordinary range—from his lyrical fingerstyle arrangements of traditional songs to his gritty blues and red-hot slide playing—has made him an icon of traditional folk, and has earned him nominations for 26 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, more than any other musician. But until his latest release, Vagrant Stanzas, Simpson hadn’t displayed his solo style on a full studio album since his debut LP, 1976’s Golden Vanity. A stripped-down affair in which his acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, and vocals take center stage, Vagrant Stanzas is, to put it mildly, worth the wait. The album contains Simpson’s strongest set of self-penned lyrics yet. On “Jackie and Murphy,” for instance, he tells the story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, a British-born stretcher bearer serving in the Australian army in the Gallipoli campaign during World War I, who saved hundreds of wounded soldiers with the help of a donkey before being killed by sniper fire. “Delta Dreams,” meanwhile, chronicles Simpson’s experience driving through the American South in a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. I caught up with Simpson by phone while he was in Maryland to perform at Paul Reed Smith’s Experience PRS event. Your last couple of albums were larger productions with bands. What made you go back to a solo format for ‘Vagrant Stanzas?’ There were a number of things, but the most persuasive element in doing a completely solo record was hanging out with my friend Richard Hawley. Richard is a massive star in England—he’s quite ubiquitous. We get on, and I played on his last record. We both just love music, and we love a lot of different music. We sit and play a lot and hang out, throw ideas around. Usually it’s around my kitchen table, quite literally. We were doing that one night, and we said, “Let’s go into the studio.” I really felt like working on this next record, so into the studio we went, and I started just playing stuff. We did a fairly long day, and in the end, he said, “You just completely proved to me

52 March 2014

‘I really despair the lack of melody in most modern guitar playing, so I avoid it, to be honest.’ —MARTIN SIMPSON

what I thought was the case—that this next record should be nobody but you. You don’t need me. You don’t need a producer. All you need is a really good engineer and really good microphones, and then bear in mind you’re playing to me over the kitchen table.” It was so time for me to do that, because I’ve been doing hundreds and hundreds of gigs on my own, doing what I do and honing it. So I came over here [to PRS], and went into the studio with Peter Danenberg, who is a fantastic engineer. He surrounded me with brilliant microphones, and off we went. On the first day, I did 12 tracks, and I think ten of those ended up on the record. Do you have a set approach or method to arranging a traditional song? No. It varies. I think one of the most important aspects of learning anything is making sure that you really know the melody you’re working with. If there’s a fault with modern music, it’s that people aren’t really very good at tunes—I don’t hear great melodies very often. I really despair the lack of melody in most modern guitar playing, so I avoid it, to be honest. But if you work with traditional music, or the work of the best songwriters, the bottom line is you have this beautiful tune, and you’d better try and do it justice. I’m quite traditional in my approach, and sometimes I’ll just play the tune along with the vocal, and add little bits of harmonization. An example of that would be “Lord Jamie Douglas/Waly, Waly.” I recorded that years ago as an instrumental, playing [the melody] with my fingers. Like most of the pieces I’ve recorded as instrumentals, it was because, at the time, I didn’t feel like I could sing them well enough. Over time, I’ve worked on that a lot. So when it came to this one, I started to play it with the slide and sing along with it, and immediately got really excited by the way it worked. You have

one instrument stating the melody, and you have your voice stating the melody; but you move them in and out of each other and add little harmonizations, and it creates an irresistible tension. Do you usually start with the guitar? Not necessarily. One tune that really put me about learning it was Leonard Cohen’s “The Stranger’s Song.” I knew it from being a kid, and I heard a cover version of it that was so awful, but even though it was bad, it reminded me what a staggering song it was. So I thought, “I’m going to start singing it to myself in the car.” And I couldn’t! I couldn’t sing it, and I thought, “Wait a minute, that’s a really hard tune!” So I kept battling away at it until finally I could sing it. And only when I could sing it did I go to the guitar and start to accompany it. You recorded Bob Dylan’s ‘North Country Blues.’ Is it harder to find your own voice on a song that is so familiar to people? I’ve been singing that song since I was about 15. But I think part of the strength of it is the emotional content, not just of the song but

MARTI N SI M PSON

Vagrant Stanzas Topic Records

AcousticGuitar.com 53

MARTIN SIMPSON

because of my feelings toward my hometown. When I was a kid, I used to listen to that song and thank God that what was happening in that song was not happening in my hometown, which is around iron mines and became a steel town. And now, that’s exactly what it’s like. I wanted to sing that song out of empathy for all those northern [England] towns that are being destroyed by the greed and worthlessness of capitalism.

Richard Smith the master’s master…

photo: Bob Singer

richardsmithmusic.com

One of the world’s greatest guitarists, Richard Smith first met his hero, Chet Atkins, when he was only eleven and was invited by Chet to play with him on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed referred to Richard as their hero. My Favorite Guitars is proud to celebrate Richard with a special Martin Custom Shop guitar – the Richard Smith Signature Edition 000-12 fret deep-body cutaway. Crafted from Madagascar rosewood and Adirondack spruce, this guitar represents the finest C.F. Martin & Company has to offer – and in Richard’s hands, it’s nothing less than a masterpiece.

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You also play a lot of banjo on the record. Yeah. I only have one regret, in terms of my general direction of [banjo] playing. When I lived in the States, I wasn’t always terribly well off, to put it mildly. So I ended up selling my banjo, which meant that I really didn’t play for quite a few years. And that knocked a real hole in my clawhammer technique. When I came back to it, I couldn’t do it the way I used to. With regards to clawhammer, I have to warm up massively before I can relax. But I’ve been playing quite a bit of double thumbing, sort of two- and three-finger banjo, which is what I play on this record—it’s all fingerpicked. “Diamond Joe,” for instance, uses some very untraditional techniques—there’s actually a four-finger roll in there, because it just made sense to do it that way. In a sense, I’m liking the freedom that having to relearn the banjo has given me. So I’m using a bunch of not particularly traditional techniques to play it. I’m still completely enamored of, for instance, Buell Kazee, Hobart Smith, Wade Ward, and all those fantastic players, and I get a massive amount out of listening to them and playing with bits of their technique. But I really feel that it’s time to push the instrument for me. You learned ‘Palaces of Gold’ from your father-in-law, Roy Bailey. Were you influenced by Martin Carthy’s version as well? Oh yeah, Carthy’s version is fantastic! That is a monster piece of music. It’s Leon Rosselson’s song. He doesn’t write at all like English traditional music. He writes like a French or Belgian chansonnier—the chord sequence is absolutely mad. Roy gave me the chords so I could accompany him, and I looked at them and went, “What is this?” I played it with my fingers to start, but then I thought, “Wait a minute, this is just made for slide.” I’m very proud of that arrangement. ‘Jackie and Murphy’ tells a remarkable story. How did you learn about it? June Tabor called me up and basically said, “I saw you on television singing your songs, I love the way you’re writing, and I want you to write this song.” She just said, “This song needs to be written.” She told me the story of John Simpson

Kirkpatrick and sent me a bunch of articles about him. The more I read about him, the more moved I was by the story. This boy and his relationship with the donkey is an extraordinary thing. This very poor Victorian workingclass kid grew up working with donkeys on the beach, and he ended up dying with the donkeys on the beach. It’s such a complicated story. It’s very obvious that he should have had the Victoria Cross (the Commonwealth countries’ highest military decoration), but it was equally obvious that he never set out to be a hero. He wasn’t interested in being a hero; he was interested in getting back to England! But being down there on the beach, with carnage all around him—it was the most shocking slaughter. They landed on a beach which was completely pinned down by the Turkish army, and they just blew them to bits. The fact that Jack lasted four weeks and rescued 300 men under fire is absolutely miraculous. In England, it’s not known. I haven’t met a single English person who knew about it. In Australia, he’s a national hero. It was very interesting to write it, because you have to set the background, which the first

three verses do. I felt it was massively important for the relationship between Jackie and Murphy to be central to the song, and so the second half of the song is basically the man talking to his donkey and really making you feel that you’re there. Are you a disciplined writer who can sit down and knock something out, or do you have to wait for inspiration to come? Both. On the bonus disc there is a song called “The Bell,” which is about the bell at the [1936] Berlin Olympics. I was commissioned to write that song. It was really good for me to have that, because it proved to me that I can sit down and write if I have to. But I also spend a lot of time just living with ideas in my head. I’ll write down salient points, but then I’ll let stuff stew and rattle around for a long time before I finish things. In the album’s liner notes, you talk about discovering footage of Buell Kazee on YouTube. How do you think that access to historic performances like that is changing the way traditional music is interpreted?

That’s a really interesting question. Years ago, I used to listen to Mississippi Fred McDowell, those really repetitive riffs that he would play. And when he was playing in D-major tuning, he would vamp in between the riffs, and I used to be completely and utterly frustrated because I could never get it to sound right—I just couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He’d be playing a minor-pentatonic blues, and then there would be this vamp, and it really confused me. Then I saw a film of him, and I went, “Oh, of course.” What he was doing was playing the second fret on the second string, so he was vamping on a major sixth. It was so utterly counterintuitive. I probably would have worked it out by now, but this was 20 years ago! When I was a kid in the folk clubs, I would learn from sitting and watching people. And because of the technology of the Internet, you can now see the best players that have ever been, whether it’s historical footage or some of the stuff you can get through Stefan Grossman and Happy Traum. But if you’re going to be good, it doesn’t matter how much access to YouTube or anything else you have. You still have to work hard to get there. AG

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SPECIAL FOCUS:

PLAYING IN THE BAND Flying solo’s good for the ego, but there’s nothing quite like working in service of a grander collective vision. ‘Acoustic Guitar’ talks to five guitarists about what it means to be a player in the band 58

PETE BERNHARD Devil Makes Three

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62

SAGE COOK DANIEL RODRIGUEZ

RYAN SOLEE HARVEY TUMBLESON

Elephant Revival

The Builders & the Butchers

AcousticGuitar.com 57

SPECIAL FOCUS: PLAYING IN THE BAND

Devil may care: Lucia Turino, left, Cooper McBean, Pete Bernhard

Punk Unplugged The Devil Makes Three’s Pete Bernhard brings a punk attitude to roots music BY KENNY BERKOWITZ

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n his 2009 song “For Good Again,” the Devil Makes Three guitarist and singer Pete Bernhard offers a nostalgic look back at his first punk band, a group called the Shakes. “We drank and we threw up,” Bernhard sings, “sometimes we practiced and played.” Suffice it to say, the Vermont native has grown a lot more disciplined since the Shakes crashed and burned—he has focused his efforts instead on the country,

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March 2014

blues, and rockabilly trio he now leads with childhood friends Cooper McBean (guitar, banjo) and Lucia Turino (upright bass). Though he’s still writing about some of the same things—smoking, drinking, and getting wasted—Bernhard has taken a serious turn on I’m a Stranger Here (New West), the band’s sixth album since forming a dozen years ago in Santa Cruz, California. It’s the first time the group has worked with a producer, and the new songs touch on

heavier subject matter, like addiction (“Mr. Midnight”), loss (“Goodbye Old Friend”), and mortality (“Dead Body Moving”). “Working with [producer] Buddy Miller was a blast,” Bernhard says. “Buddy lent us some instruments, which was great, and made a lot of interesting choices in picking songs. It was the first time we’ve had a budget, so it was the first time we’d gone into a studio without having to watch the clock. It was just an awesome way to do it,

‘I love old music, but I want to keep the themes relevant to now, as opposed to becoming a historical reenactment.’ —PETE BERNHARD

Devil Makes Three I’m a Stranger Here New West

What don’t you like about the tag ‘punk-folk’? If you listen to us, at least on record, you won’t hear a whole lot of punk. I mean, if you see us live, you might get some of that feeling, because that’s the sort of shows we grew up going to. But I think it would be misleading, because other bands are closer to punk, whereas we’re a lot more traditional than that. But you used to play punk. I played bass in a punk band, and Cooper played guitar in a punk band. That’s what we were doing before we started this. At the time, I was playing solo and Cooper would come and sit in on guitar. Then Lucia joined and we became a band. How did you find your way to this music? I grew up in a family with a lot of musicians and a lot of folk music. My father, my

Guitars 1945 Stella parlor guitar with a Lace pickup. 1954 Gibson Recording King with a Silvertone single-coil pickup. 2005 Martin 0015 with a Sunrise pickup. Strings Ernie Ball mediums (guitar). Banjos 1928 Gibson tenor banjo with a Fishman Rare Earth pickup and Ernie Ball tenor banjo strings. Recent Fielding Rooster with a Schatten pickup and Ernie Ball banjo strings. Amplification Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue or a 65 Fender Deluxe, depending on the show.

ANTHONY PIDGEON

the best experience we’ve ever had in a recording studio.” I caught up with Bernhard at his home in Brattleboro, Vermont, a town that, back in his punk-rock days, he had once been in a rush to leave.

WHAT PETE BERNHARD PLAYS

Accessories Shubb capos. Dunlop medium picks.

brother, my aunt, and my uncle were all musicians. Cooper’s mom was a musician, his dad was a musician. So we took to it naturally, trying to do what our families were doing. The other part was just through listening to recorded music, old music, and learning it as best we could. My brother was my doorway into a lot of this, doing the big brother thing of throwing music my way— Willie Dixon, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf—all that, I got from my brother. What’s the key to keeping your sound raw? I don’t really know, to be honest. I’ve always just done what I felt like doing, and this is how it comes out. We try to make our live shows really fun, really high energy, and to tell the truth in our songwriting, which is where the rawness comes from. And we’ve always steered clear of doing songs about old-timey things. Like what? You know, mining. Cotton picking. Trains. Basically, all the things we don’t know anything about. I wasn’t alive back then, and that’s not what’s happening to me, so I try to stay away from that in an attempt to give the music new life. I love old music,

but I want to keep the themes relevant to now, as opposed to becoming a historical reenactment. What song on this album are you proudest of writing? “Goodbye Old Friend,” the last one. It’s also the slowest one on the record. Well, I write a lot of slow songs, and when I play solo, I do the slower stuff. It’s the nature of the band that we gravitate toward upbeat material, but Buddy wanted a couple of slower songs to balance out the album. And I think we took to it pretty naturally, even if it’s not what we typically do onstage. What do you love about playing live? Everything. Really, our band is a live band. We love playing, and love touring. But this is the first time we’ve ever enjoyed making an album. We got that live feeling and energy inside the studio, which is a first for us. We all love playing live, just because of the energy of the crowd. You know, if you play a good show and the crowd is there with you, there’s no better feeling. And at this point, I think we’re all pretty addicted to it. AG

AcousticGuitar.com 59

JAY BLAKESBERG

SPECIAL FOCUS: PLAYING IN THE BAND

Sage Cook, left, Daniel Rodriguez, second from right

Occupy Colorado Elephant Revival tap into mile-high chemistry on ‘These Changing Skies’ BY KENNY BERKOWITZ

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he five songwriters of Elephant Revival come from all over: Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon. But as a group they sound like Colorado. “We’ve been a lot of different things, with everybody coming from different influences, different backgrounds,” says guitarist/ banjoist Daniel Rodriguez, talking on the road outside Durango. “We started out in

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March 2014

Oklahoma, trying to legitimately alchemize all those influences into one sound. And then we landed in Colorado.” Arriving in Nederland, all their far-flung musical influences—including newgrass, bluegrass, Celtic, old-timey, country, and folk—began swirling together. It took a couple of albums—Elephant Revival (2006) and Break in the Clouds (2010)—for the band to find its footing, but with the new

These Changing Skies (Itz Evolving), they’re officially on solid ground. For all their differences, the new album is surprisingly consistent, and the quintet— Rodriguez, Sage Cook (electric banjo, guitar, mandolin, viola), Bridget Law (fiddle), Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, saw), and Dango Rose (double-bass, mandolin, banjo)—swings as one, beautifully blending music and message.

WHAT ELEPHANT REVIVAL PLAYS

‘We’ve learned that space is another bandmate— you can’t see it, but it’s certainly there.’ —DANIEL RODRIGUEZ

SAGE COOK

DANIEL RODRIGUEZ

Guitar Bowerman Claro walnut/Adirondack

Guitar Larrivee LO3 SP with D’Addario phosphor

parlor with any brand phosphor bronze medium/

bronze medium gauge strings.

light strings Banjo Nechvillle custom with Heli-Mount pot, Banjo Nechville Moonshine open back with

interchangeable acoustic and electric heads,

turbo module and D’Addario light gauge nickel

and D’Addario nickel light strings.

wound strings Amplification LR Baggs M1in the guitar, run Amplification LR Baggs M1 pickup in the guitar.

through a Grace M101 preamp; EMG telecaster

Audio-Technica Pro 70 condenser and Seymour

pickup and Rare Earth pickup in the banjo, run

Duncan SSL-1 single coil in the banjo. Both are

through a Radial DI split to a Fluxtone tune amp.

played through a Denver Amp Works tube amp with a prototype model 14 lightweight Fluxtone

Accessories Wegen picks. Kyser capo.

speaker. Accessories Wegen TF120 and Dunlop picks. Shub and Paige capos.

At one end of the spectrum, there’s the ecstasy of Rodriguez’s “Birds and Stars,” a song about transcending human consciousness. At the other, there’s the insistence of Cook’s “The Obvious,” which was written after a night with the Occupy movement in Zuccotti Park. In between, there are songs by Law, Paine, and Rose that capture a band coming together in a whirl of moods and sounds that defy limitation. If I twisted your arm and asked you to describe your music, what would you say? RODRIGUEZ I’d say twist a little harder. No. I’d say, well, everybody outside the band calls it Americana or folk rock. We call it necessity. How did the band form? RODRIGUEZ Bonnie and I were the first to

meet. I was running an open mic in New London, Connecticut, and she’d traveled from Oklahoma to visit a mutual friend. The moment I heard her sing, I was like, “I have to play music with this woman.” That night, we went to the rooftop of the venue and played until the sun came up. Then, when I went to see her in Oklahoma, I met Dango at a club—we threw horseshoes together. I met Sage at a festival, heard his sensitivities, and knew I wanted to play with him. That’s how I felt when I met Bridget, too, and it just so happened that

everybody felt the same way about everybody. Dango started booking shows under the name Elephant Revival, and we started showing up. Was there a point when you realized that you were a band? R OD R I G U E Z It developed over time, through the commitment of traveling, but it really began on the banks of Spring Creek [Paine’s Oklahoma hometown], which was the perfect setting for us to play music all night and all day. Right on the water, cooking meals and writing songs together. It was a great spot to nurture a band. What does each member bring to Elephant Revival? COOK Lots of different things. Bonnie, she’s an amazing percussionist, with impeccable timing and an amazing voice. Bridget’s got a great violin tone, her intonation is incredible. Dan is a great songwriter and instrumentalist, and Dango is a solid bassist with a really great approach to writing. As far as influences, we’re all over the board, and that’s the beauty of it. What do you have in common? COOK A love for the music is the first thing that comes to mind. But also a love for the natural world, a love for this beautiful planet, and a love for lifting spirits. The

common thread is that we’re coming from a place of love and thankfulness—and we’re all humans. As a group, what does Elephant Revival do really well? RODRIGUEZ Listen. That’s why we ended up forming the band, because everybody realized we were listening to what the songs needed, not what the individuals wanted to play. That’s what we do best, listen and play off the space. Fit into the pocket. Don’t overplay. We’ve learned that space is another bandmate—you can’t see it, but it’s certainly there. What are Sage’s strengths as a guitarist? RODRIGUEZ He’s on an endless search for the perfect tone. I’ve found myself really admiring what he’s doing, and well, not copying but, yeah, I guess it is copying. Why not? And your strengths? LAW Because Daniel hasn’t learned from anybody in particular, and hasn’t really had any direct influences, he just comes to the guitar with his own approach, playing the music the way he hears it. It’s very genuine, very authentic. Daniel, what do you think of that? RODRIGUEZ I’ll take it.

AG

AcousticGuitar.com 61

SPECIAL FOCUS: PLAYING IN THE BAND

Butchering music (in a good way): Harvey Tumbleson, far left, Ryan Solee, second from right

Goth-Grass Heroes The Builders and the Butchers blend Goth, Americana & folk for a sound that’s all their own BY DAVID TEMPLETON

A

s their name suggests, the Builders and the Butchers are something of a curious mix. The self-described GothicAmericana-folk band from Portland, Oregon, has built a singular reputation with high-energy tunes propelled by decidedly dark lyrics about graveyards, massacres, funerals, hangings, Spanish influenza, and all manner of death and despair. The group blends guitar, banjo, mandolin, and a splitdrum kit into something that is part punkrock party group, part funeral marching band, and part old-time medicine show.

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“To some degree,” says lead singer and guitarist Ryan Solee, “our style, our sound, carries a bit of the perspective of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life. It’s not mournful. That’s the vibe we try to exude in our music. We do sing about death a lot, but death is part of life. Instead of being bummed that we all die, we just want to celebrate that we’re even here at all.” Having honed its sound by playing on Portland’s streets and sidewalks, the Builders and the Butchers now have five albums

under their collective belt and have amassed a rapidly growing fan-base. Their distinctive songs are written by Solee, who is backed by Harvey Tumbleson (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals and percussion), Willy Kunkle (bass and percussion), Justin Baier (drums), and Ray Rude (drums, piano, and clarinet). A strong audience connection stems from the group’s notoriously wild live street shows (in the early days the band’s members passed out toys and musical instruments to encourage fans to play along), but as their

‘We just try to have as much fun as a band can have with songs about death and despair.’

The Original Guitar Chair

the details make the difference

—HARVEY TUMBLESON

popularity grew they have strived to maintain a level of intimacy onstage. I spoke up with Solee and Tumbleson via phone over the Thanksgiving holiday. You describe your sound as ‘Gothic Americana.’ That’s an interesting blend of styles. SOLEE (laughing) Well, when we say Americana, we don’t mean that we are in any way traditional. Our sound is not some typical banjomandolin thing, though we do have banjos and mandolins. We play traditional instruments, but we don’t really know what we’re doing—so that keeps us sounding, um, different. How did you all get together, and how did you develop your sound? TU M B LE SON We all had bands that were coming to a close, and I was kind of over being in a band. I just wanted to get together with other musicians and have fun. Then Ryan, who was my roommate, suggested the idea of creating a New Orleans–style funeral band, and that sounded exactly like something I’d be into. SOLEE As for the sound, and the kinds of songs

we play, I would say most of the guys in the band aren’t that into love songs. We’re not into the kind of acoustic folk music that most people think of when they say ‘acoustic folk music.’ And—I don’t know if you’ve noticed—but personally, I’m not terribly accomplished as a guitar player. (Laughs again) So the two main cruxes of the music I write are the words and the melody. Our sound is really all about the way we tell a story. The lyrics are what make us Gothic. If the band was just instrumental, I don’t know how interesting we would be. TUMBLESON The whole band loves Ryan’s

writing, and we like helping him tell those stories and sing those songs . . . (laughs) . . . songs about death and alcoholism and heroin and graveyards! How hard was it moving your shows from out in front of clubs to inside the clubs?

Was adapting to larger and larger audiences as big a challenge as it sounds? SOLEE It wasn’t easy. After an audience grows to about 80 people or so, if you are playing unamplified, nobody can hear what you’re doing anymore. We’d play a show without amplification, and I’d blow out my voice and break ten strings just trying to play loud enough for the audience to hear me. Eventually, begrudgingly, we plugged in. TUMBLESON Early on, I remember going into a

local music store and saying, ‘What are the chances of me getting a case of mandolin strings?’ The owner was going, ‘Why would anyone need a case of mandolin strings?’ But the guy who worked behind the counter, who’d seen us in some of our shows, who’d seen me breaking strings all the time, he told his boss, ‘Yeah. He’s going to need a case.’ Eventually, we just tried to make the indoor, plugged-in shows as authentic as we possibly could. But let’s face it—playing amplified acoustic music can be a giant pain in the butt.

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SOLEE One way we keep a sense of those original shows is that, in 90 percent of our shows now, we end by going down into the audience and playing a couple of songs without electricity. We had a talk, and we decided that as long as we could continue to do that, then we’d be cool. That was our compromise.

You’ve worked hard to create a strong relationship with the audience in your live shows. What’s your recipe for doing that? TUMBLESON What we’re trying to do, really, is just give the audience a good time. I love that people come to our shows, and they’re out there drinking and dancing and smiling to songs about the Great Depression, about suicide, about the end of the world. It’s actually a kind of spiritual thing, I think, to have a good time in the face of bleak, dark, sad reality. So, we just try to have as much fun as a band can have with songs about death and despair. It’s like, ‘We’re all gonna die, people! Let’s have a party!’ AG

AcousticGuitar.com 63

Makers & Shakers 66

Guitar Guru 69

Gear Reviews 72

AG

TRADE

Director Maxine Trump and producer Josh Granger in the Tongass

SHOPTALK

A Screaming Comes Across the Forest

In the new documentary ‘Musicwood,’ Greenpeace & the big three acoustic-guitar makers face off with Native American loggers

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he hum of the native Alaskan’s voice is as warm and sonorous as a plucked A string. “People say that forests are quiet,” Tom Abel intones, as a camera pans up, down, over, and across a lush sea of giant Sitka spruce trees. “Forests are not quiet. Forests are alive.” The majestic trees in the Tongass National Forest near Juneau, Alaska, certainly are not quiet—in fact, they’re screaming, according to a new film that

64 March 2014

documents how and where we get the golden Sitka spruce wood that makes so many Martins, Gibsons, Taylors, and other top-quality guitars sing. Musicwood tells the tale of a thorny and complex culture clash—three different groups with three different perspectives on trees that are fast becoming endangered. First, there’s Sealaska, a Native American-owned logging company that has been clear-cutting the trees at an accelerated

pace. The company cites cultural entitlement to the forest based on past maltreatment by the U.S. government, though some in the documentary claim the company doesn’t support the Native community. Then, there’s Greenpeace, the environmentalists who are worried that clear-cutting will permanently alter the forest’s ecosystem, resulting in the loss of the great Sitkas as well as turmoil for the area’s wildlife. Finally, there are the guitar makers—Chris

COURTESY OF HELPMAN PRODUCTIONS

BY MARK SEGAL KEMP

Martin, Bob Taylor and Gibson’s Dave Berryman—who agreed to put competition aside in an effort to persuade Sealaska to slow down the clear-cutting, lest the wood for great guitars becomes extinct. The film’s director, Maxine Trump, was in Alaska making a short film about Eskimos in the Bearing Sea when she heard about Greenpeace’s efforts to bring the three guitar makers to the negotiating table with Sealaska. “I’ve always loved acoustic-guitar music,” Trump says, “so when I heard that these three CEOs would be coming together, it just seemed really interesting and unusual. We asked if we could go along and film it.” Taylor agreed to take part in the negotiations because he thought it was important for the big three guitar companies to work in solidarity on issues of sustainability. “If we cut it all now, we will never see these old trees again,” Bob Taylor says. “So we met the folks from Sealaska, who own these lands,

‘If we cut it all now, we will never see these old trees again.’ —BOB TAYLOR

and we became friends, even if we did not agree at every point. They were gracious hosts and spent a fortune in time and resources to accommodate our intrusion, which in the end, is what it was. After all, it’s private land that belongs to them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a say.” In an interview with AG last month, Chris Martin talked about the guitar industry’s environmental responsibilities. “Now that we’ve all realized that there’s a reason they’re called rare, exotic timbers, there’s also the understanding that, oh

man, these trees take 50 years to 100 years to grow.” Trump has called Musicwood “an adventure-filled journey, a political thriller with music at its heart,” but it’s more than that. The film is a multilayered piece of cinematic art that follows the fiveyear negotiations through cinematography worthy of a National Geographic travel film, painstaking guitar craftsmanship, and clips of acoustic guitar-loving artists ranging from fretboard virtuoso Kaki King and alt-country icon Steve Earle to eclectic experimental musicians Ira Kaplan and James McNew of the influential indie-rock trio Yo La Tengo. “They’re like living things. They make noise. They have some kind of living quality to them,” Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner says of acoustic guitars about halfway into the film. “The notion of looking for sustainable woods for guitars is a good idea. If the resource is threatened, then let’s think about that.”

MILESTONES

Musician’s Friend Guitar Center has named Gene Joly president of Musician’s Friend, the company’s online music retail division. Joly previously served as executive vice president of stores for GC, and he will be replaced by Kevin Kazubowski, a longtime operations executive with the company.

The Guitar Foundation of America’s 2014 convention—to be held June 20 to June 25—has been moved from Cal State University’s Dominguez Hills campus to its Fullerton campus. Organizers relocated because of a shortage of housing at Dominguez Hills. On tap for this year’s convention is a full schedule of lectures and performances by artists including the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Ana Vidovic, Paul O’Dette, Tilman Hoppstock, and Jorge Caballero. The GFA also holds its International Concert Artist and International Youth competitions during the convention week. “We’re excited to hold the convention at CSU-Fullerton,” says GFA executive director Galen Wixson. “The campus has a concert hall with excellent acoustics and there are great amenities that will create an atmosphere of community for our attendees.”

NATALIE FIOL

Guitar Confab Comes to Fullerton

Two Old Hippies Ana Vidvodic

Tony Rice Gets Signature Strings When C. F. Martin & Co. discontinued its Monel strings in the 1970s, it saddened more than a few fans of the earthy sound the strings—made from a nickel-based alloy, rather than copper-based—created. One of those sad fans was ace flatpicker Tony Rice, who recently partnered with Martin to revive Monels as Tony Rice Signature Strings. The strings, which returned to the marketplace in November, come in Rice’s preferred medium gauge. “I never liked the way the newer alloys, like phosphor bronze, changed the tone of my guitar. They create a false brightness that doesn’t suit my playing style,” Rice says. “When I put Martin’s Monel strings back on my D-28, it sounded just like it did in the ’60s, the way it should.”

Breedlove and Bedell have named Justin Morris sound engineer for the Oregon-based handcrafted guitar companies operating together as Two Old Hippies. Morris is charged with identifying ways to increase wood yield. In his 10 years as a design engineer—at one point he even served as the “virtual luthier” for Metalocalypse, the Adult Swim TV show featuring “virtual band” Dethklok—Morris “has mastered the use of technology in ways that preserve organic-handmade qualities while providing a more consistent product,” according to a press release.

AcousticGuitar.com 65

MAKERS & SHAKERS

Jean Larrivee, a lumberjack at heart. His guitar company will continue milling at its Vancouver, British Columbia, facility.

Larrivee Guitars Closes Up Shop in Canada (Sort Of)

Canadian company relocates last guitar-making operation to California BY GREG CAHILL

A

fter a dozen years of splitting its operations between two factories—one in Vancouver, Canada, the other in Oxnard, California—the Larrivee Guitar Co. has decided the time has come to close up shop north of the border and move all of its manufacturing to the Golden State. While Larrivee opened its Oxnard facility in 2001, and had relocated most of its

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high-end production to the United States, the company continued to make its 02 and 03 models in Canada. Jean Larrivee, the 69-year-old owner and CEO of the guitar maker that carries his last name, says that while leaving the country in which he founded his company in 1967 was a tough choice, it boiled down to a business decision in a tough economic climate. Acoustic Guitar recently spoke via phone with Larrivee, who

was in the midst of a European sales trip, about the impact that the move will have on his family business. What brought about the initial decision to relocate to the United States? There are two stories here. One I can tell you and one I can’t. I’ll tell you the one I can. Basically, 70 percent of our sales are in America, so in the end it was just a good

‘I’m the next best thing to a lumberjack. I was born with a chainsaw in my hand.’ –JEAN LARRIVEE

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All of it Rocks idea to move south, and I had a choice to move to North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee even. But, you know, because of my age I thought I’d rather live in California, to work in a place that is warm, and the climate is ideal for guitar making. Fender is there, Taylor is there, many of the companies are there simply because it’s a good climate to work with guitars. It’s drier, there’s the sun, all those things put together. I guess the bottom line is when you get up in the morning and it’s not freezing cold and snowing, you know all those things are really important to a lifestyle. It’s just a good place to work.

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Accentuate

Was it a difficult decision to relocate the last of the company’s production to California? Yeah, you know, this is something that’s been in the works for about ten years. Once I relocated and California became the main designing place, it was inevitable and only a matter of time before the Canadian plant would have to be shifted to America. It was a tough decision because we had a lot of employees, some who had been with us for a long time. But now that we’ve been here for 12 years, we also have a lot of old employees who are now used to making high-end guitars. Also, the main factor in the whole thing was the company transportation that had to go back and forth and back and forth. For example, you had to have two of everything, two secretaries, two this, two that, two receptionists, two shippers—it just became kind of obsolete. In terms of brand identity, will customers notice any difference now that the guitars are all made in California? They’re going to be a little bit different, and probably for the better, because here in California we’re only used to doing high end. Basically the big deal here is going to be savings and that means we won’t have a price increase for at least another year because by amalgamating the two companies we avoid so many different charges. At the end what this is going to mean is that we can save money for our clients.

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AcousticGuitar.com 67

The Aged Tone™ Series

I’m always the guy in the front row, enjoying performances of the great acoustic guitarists of our time. I’ve devoted a career to exploring nuances of guitar design, the intricacies of voicing, infinite colorations of tonewoods, and the way a guitar sounds in the hands of a gifted player. Aged Tone guitars combine what’s in my ear and heart to recreate a sound that’s in my head. In a very real sense, they’ve been in the making for nearly 40 years.” - Dana Bourgeois Aged Tone Sound upgrade package now available on most Bourgeois guitars.

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This Larrivee plant in Canada has closed its doors.

So this will allow Larrivee to be more competitive? It’ll make us more competitive and it’ll be just easier in general, easier and faster delivery. But Larrivee will continue its milling operations in Canada, is that correct? Yes, we’re doing it right now. The important part about milling is that the spruce and the cedar and the maple that we cut comes out of Canada. I’m the next best thing to a lumberjack. I was born with a chainsaw in my hand. I know a lot about that. Some guitarists online are saying that all the good Larrivee guitars have come from Canada and they’re suspicious of the American-made models. What do you say to that? That’s not true at all. The recipe is the recipe. Remember, I’m the guy who created this whole thing. So, consequently, when I moved south all the engineering and all the high-tech stuff came with me. What stayed in Canada was the production that I had set up and it just complied with what I did. All the innovations, all the new stuff, anything that’s happened over the last 12 years, that all came out of California. Making guitars is a lot like making soup, you know? You have a recipe and if you stick to it then you get the same thing over and over again, right? California is a little bit different. We looked back on the history, and we just kind of moved forward. Now, we have some new models that we’ve been moving forward with like the G-40 and the OM-40 and we’ve made some incredible improvements in bracing and also in sound. We’re really proud of the new models that we’ve done, and they’re selling really, really well, especially in America. AG

Acoustic Guitar senior editor David Knowles contributed to this article. 68

March 2014

REILANDER CUSTOM GUITAR

“I love the sound of vintage guitars.

GUITAR GURU

CAN A SOFT TOP WOOD LAST AS LONG AS SPRUCE

Q: A: GOT A QUESTION? Uncertain about guitar care and maintenance? The ins-and-outs of guitar building? Or a topic related to your gear? Ask Acoustic Guitar’s resident Guitar Guru. Send an email titled “Guitar Guru” to senior editor Mark Kemp at [email protected], and he’ll forward it to the expert luthier. If AG selects your question for publication, you’ll receive a complimentary five-pack of Elixir HD Light guitar strings.

I am interested in Dana’s take on soft top woods, such as Western red cedar or redwood, both in terms of longevity and ‘opening up’ over time. Can he address this?” —CHRISTIAN MESSERSCHMIDT

While cedar and redwood can be as stiff or stiffer across the grain as spruces, they are almost always less stiff along the grain. Cross-grain stiffness plays a significant role in determining treble response; long-grain stiffness greatly affects bass response. It’s no surprise, then, that cedar and DANA BOURGEOIS redwood guitars have a reputation for sparkly treble voices and boomy, less-defined bottoms. X-braced steel-string guitars are entirely reinforced with bracing that runs diagonal to the grain, offering relatively little long-grain support. When used in conjunction with traditional X-bracing, cedar and redwood tops must be made thicker than spruce to achieve equivalent long-grain stiffness. At heavier dimensions, cedar and redwood become much too stiff across the grain, resulting in a thinner, less complex high-end response. Fortunately, cross-grain stiffness can easily be reduced by thinning at the edges of the lower bouts and/or by lightening the outermost “finger” braces. So, what does this have to do with your question? Perhaps because of their lighter weight, cedar and redwood tops tend to “open up,” or break in, relatively quickly. However, unless the builder pays adequate attention to longitudinal stability, cedar and redwood tops sometimes open up beyond a point that many players consider optimal, losing low-end definition as the guitar continues to be played. In addition to tonal issues, insufficient long-grain stiffness can lead to top-bellying, which, if significant, can cause the bridge to lift. Softer fibers, especially cedar, can easily get lost in the bridge-regluing process—after several regluings, a viable glue joint may become impossible to maintain. Well-constructed cedar and redwood guitars can have exceptionally full tonal signatures as well as the balance, responsiveness, and punch of spruce guitars. I have found that redwood, somewhat heavier and stiffer along the grain than cedar, is the better match for my building style, often exhibiting headroom approaching that of spruce. But that’s just me. Other builders, such as Lowden and Olson, make cedar guitars that put smiles on many players’ faces, and will also last as long as their spruce cousins. AG

Dana Bourgeois is a master luthier and the founder of Bourgeois Guitars in Lewiston, Maine.

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Righteousness & Humidity

You wouldn’t let your lips get cracked and chapped. Don’t let your instrument BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

I

f you live in a region where the winters are cold and the heaters old, you’re familiar with dry, cracked skin. But low humidity also takes a toll on the sensitive woods in your acoustic guitar collection. Unless your guitar is made from a nontraditional material, such as carbon fiber, it’s susceptible to warping of the top and back, or even cracks, that can devalue it, at best, and maybe even ruin it. Fortunately, you can minimize or avoid the damage to your instrument by controlling the humidity in its environment. In a home whose heating system includes a built-in humidifier, this is obviously easy to do. But without such a luxury, you’ll have a harder time maintaining a constant acceptable moisture level. After all, you are literally “in heated competition with a radiator that drains moisture [from] the environment,” says Manny Salvador, a master luthier and repairman based in New York City. Salvador has a few tips on how you can measure and maintain the right level of humidity on a budget. You don’t necessarily need a $200 certified hygrometer, such as those made by Abbeon, although they are generally more accurate than cheaper digital models, such as the $25 model available through Radio Shack. “As long as the unit is reasonably accurate, you should be just fine,” says Salvador, who swears by the inexpensive AcuRite he uses at home. The optimal relative humidity level for guitars is between 45 and 55 percent. But don’t worry if this seems impossible—many guitars can thrive in conditions that are a bit less moist. “In my heated shop in the winter, I maintain a humidity level of 40 percent, if I’m lucky,” Salvador says. “In a typical building of apartment dwellers with an old-fashioned heating system, I’d be happy with a level of 35 to 45 percent.”

Get a Humidifier One method of humidification for guitars involves using an inexpensive electric humidifier that is small but powerful enough to control the environment in an entire

‘In the dead of winter, you’ll be surprised how quickly that thing dries out.’ —MANNY SALVADOR room. Those are widely available in homesupply stores. Because the water receptacles on the units require constant refilling, it’s best to keep all your guitars in the same room, Salvador says; that way, “you don’t have to deal with the hassle of maintaining multiple humidifiers.” If you have only one guitar, a number of companies—Dampit, Planet Waves, and Oasis, to name a few—offer good humidifiers

that fit inside an instrument’s case (be sure to follow directions). But Salvador says you can also make your own humidifier from common household items. “Just put a wet sponge, one that’s roughly three-by-five [inches], in a plastic baggie with holes in it,” and put it in your case, he says. “In the dead of winter, you’ll be surprised how quickly that thing dries out and needs to be re-soaked.” Whether you use an electric humidifier or a sponge, you probably won’t be able to go for more than a couple of days without replenishing the water. This presents a challenge to vacationers or professionals whose work takes them away from home. “It would be a good idea to have a friend check in on the humidity situation,” Salvador suggests. “Remember that your guitars are just like plants craving water.” AG

AcousticGuitar.com 71

NEW GEAR

MARTIN CEO-7

From the Top

Modeled after a vintage Gibson small-body, the CEO-7 is a no-frills stunner BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

72 March 2014

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or the seven limited-edition models of the CEO series, which debuted in 1997, Martin’s chief executive officer, C.F. Martin IV, has designed new guitars that merge the company’s time-honored construction and materials with notable departures from tradition. The dreadnought-size CEO-2 (1998) featured a solidspruce top, but laminated Macassar-ebony back and sides, while the CEO-3 (1999), also a dreadnought, had a laminated Brazilian-rosewood body and the type of gold-top finish usually reserved for electric guitars. With its Adirondackspruce top and mahogany back and sides, the

VIDEO REVIEW AT ACOUSTICGUITAR.COM

With its Adirondack-spruce top and mahogany back and sides, the new CEO-7 is a bit more traditional.

The guitar’s distinctly sloped shoulders are inspired by the mid-1930s Gibson L-00.

The tuners are Golden Age Relic Nickel 2517.

The bridge and fingerboard are made from the traditional Martin choice of ebony, not the rosewood Gibson used.

BODY 14-fret 00 body. Solid Adirondack spruce top with scalloped bracing. Solid-mahogany back and sides. NECK Select-hardwood neck. Black-ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24.9-inch scale.

new CEO-7 is a bit more traditional than its predecessors. And the short-scale, smallbody guitar is winner in all regards.

Golden-Era Design In a sense, all of Gibson’s flattop guitars are indebted to Martin designs, but with the CEO-7, Martin tips its hat to Gibson. Inspired by a mid-1930s L-00, this CEO is a no-frills flattop with distinctively sloped shoulders, a 14th-fret neck-to-body junction, and a sunburst soundboard finish. It’s built from a traditional selection of all-

SADDLE 2 5/16-inch string spacing at saddle. TUNERS Golden Age Relic Nickel 2517 tuners.

NUT 1 ¾-inch width.

PRICE $2,999 list/$2,299 street. Available left-handed. Made in the USA. martinguitar.com.

solid tonewoods—tightly grained Adirondack spruce for the soundboard and mahogany for the back, sides, and neck. (The Martin literature specifies the neck wood as “select hardwood.” In the event it becomes too difficult to source mahogany, an appropriate substitute, such as Spanish cedar, will be used.) The bridge and fingerboard are made from the traditional Martin choice of ebony, as opposed to the rosewood Gibson used on the L-00. Other traditional details on the CEO-7 include a dovetail neck joint, which

requires a great deal more handwork than the mortise-and-tenon joint found on some contemporary Martins. A peek inside the CEO-7 reveals 1/4-inch, scalloped X-bracing made from solid Adirondack spruce and cloth reinforcement strips on the sides— period-correct specs also found on models in Martin’s Golden Era and Vintage series. Like its vintage counterparts, the CEO-7 has a handsomely Spartan appearance with a minimum of embellishments. The instrument lacks back and end strips—ornamentation is limited to ivoroid binding on the body and an AcousticGuitar.com 73

New Gear | AG Trade

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While the guitar might look like a Gibson, it most definitely sounds like a Martin—and a fine one at that. ivoroid heel cap, plus a simple black-and-white rosette. On the fingerboard, the “old-style 18” inlays start at the fifth fret and get progressively smaller as the frets ascend. The headstock’s ebony cap sports the old-fashioned script Martin logo, and off-white plastic buttons on the open-geared tuning machines lend a nice vintage effect, though it’s slightly goofy that the metal aspects are aged, while the rest of the guitar looks so shiny and new. As expected of a new Martin, the craftsmanship on the CEO-7 that I reviewed was tip-top. The 20 frets were smoothly crowned and polished, without any roughness, and the bone nut and saddle were precisely notched. The body’s nitrocellulose lacquer finish has been rubbed to a faultlessly even gloss, and the soundboard’s sunburst pattern is perfectly shaped, though perhaps wanting for a greater range of variation in color as it progresses from dark brown to warm orange.

Light & Loud When I first removed the CEO-7 from its hardshell case, I was wowed by its lightness—a mere three pounds, 11 ounces—and its perfect balance between neck and body. The neck has a modified-V profile and feels substantial, but not

cumbersome. Its short scale, at 24.9 inches, makes it easy to play stretchy chords and travel swiftly up and down the neck, while the relatively wide nut, 1 3/4 inches, allows plenty of room for the fretting fingers and fingerpicking. The neck was comfortable in all regions and somehow felt broken-in. The CEO-7 has a sound to match its fine playability. It is loud with great projection for such a small, light guitar, perhaps owing to the Adirondack top. The bass is uncommonly tight and robust, while the overall sound is lush, with crisp fundamentals and rich overtones as well as excellent sustain and natural reverb. While the guitar might look like a Gibson, it most definitely sounds like a Martin—and a fine one at that. Because small-body guitars, especially the old Gibsons the CEO-7 is modeled on, are often used for fingerstyle blues, I played through some Robert Johnson and Blind Blake transcriptions. The CEO-7 fared well in this context—the sound was well balanced between the registers, and the guitar was responsive to fretting- and pickinghand nuances. It sounded just as good in standard as it did in open-E and open-A tunings, which Johnson used. Fingerpicked improvisations in slackened tunings like open-C also benefited from the guitar’s rich resonance and impressive bass.

Back in standard tuning, I scared up a plectrum to see how the CEO-7 performed as a strummer. Playing a tune in heavy rotation with my children, Cat Steven’s “Moonshadow,” with its open-position cowboy chords, the guitar had a commanding, rhythmic voice. It is also harmonically rich, making it satisfying to strum even the most basic material. It also sounded excellent for a little jazz comping and chord-melody playing.

Martin’s Gibson The CEO-7 is a cleverly conceived guitar that uses a golden-era Gibson design as the inspiration for a vintage Martin that never existed. It is a highly playable and excellent-sounding little guitar whose voice is suitable for a range of applications. At $2,999 list, the CEO-7 is not cheap, but it is a bargain relative to other small-body Martins with vintage features, like the $3,599 00-18V or the $4,499 000-18 Golden-Era 1937. A peach of a guitar, the CEO-7 begs for inclusion as part of Martin’s standard line. AG Adam Perlmutter is an Acoustic Guitar contributing editor who writes, transcribes, engraves, and arranges music for numerous publications.

AcousticGuitar.com 75

NEW GEAR

TAYLOR 814CE

3 piezo sensors embedded in the saddle

Introducing the Expression System 2 & a Lively Guitar Taylor’s popular 814ce grand auditorium gets a makeover & a brilliant new pickup BY TEJA GERKEN

76 March 2014

S

trum an open G on the latest edition of Taylor’s 814ce and you’ll feel the back vibrate against your chest. The instrument—which comes in the familiar grand-auditorium body shape—has a low-end depth and looseness that makes it sound like a larger guitar. What’s more, with its super-low action and relatively shallow, half-rounded neck, it’s virtually effortless to play. Once you hit the strings, it’s immediately evident that you’re handling a very “alive” guitar. AG got an exclusive look at the 814ce, which not only features new construction ideas, but also introduces a brand-new

VIDEO REVIEW AT ACOUSTICGUITAR.COM

The 814CE grand auditorium has the familiar 16-inch wide body with Indian rosewood back and sides.

The mother-of-pearl fingerboard inlay features new shapes, but the headstock remains the same.

To promote environmental consciousness, Taylor uses ebony with non-black color characteristics.

A super-tight grained sitka spruce top with standard x-bracing on the inside

BODY Grand auditorium body with 14-fret neck. Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. X-bracing. Gloss finish. NECK Bolt-on NT mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1 3/4-inch nut width. 2 3/16-inch string spacing at saddle. Enclosed nickel tuners.

Taylor pickup that’s been designed from the ground up.

Background First introduced to celebrate Taylor’s 20th anniversary in 1994, the grand auditorium has become the company’s most popular guitar style. Although it’s available at almost every level within Taylor’s model hierarchy, the acoustic-electric, rosewoodand-spruce 814ce in particular has become a runaway success. Taylor’s 800-series has received the occasional facelift over the years, and the company constantly refines its construction techniques. But two

decades after the grand auditorium’s introduction, Bob Taylor and his company’s master luthier, Andy Powers, decided to completely revamp the line, introducing an updated version of Taylor’s patented Expression Pickup System.

New Pickup System The 814ce’s pickup system is big news for Taylor, as it uses an entirely different approach from the company’s previous Expression System, and it eventually will be installed on other steel-string models in the Taylor line. (The company will continue to offer its original ES by special order).

ELECTRONICS Expression System 2 uses 3 piezo sensors embedded in the saddle STRINGS Elixir HD Light phosphor bronze strings (gauged .013, .017, .025, .032, .042, .053). PRICE $4,378 list street. Made in USA. taylorguitars.com.

Developed by long-time Taylor engineer David Hosler, the Expression System 2 leaves behind the previous combination of a magnetic pickup and a soundboard transducer, relying instead on an original approach to placing piezo crystals in the bridge. The basic concept is as simple as it is clever: Instead of placing the pickup under the saddle, the Expression System 2 uses three piezo sensors that are embedded in the bridge behind the saddle, touching it between each of the three pairs of strings. This fundamentally changes the information the pickup reads, as it senses the backand-forth rocking motion of the saddle, AcousticGuitar.com 77

New Gear | AG Trade

The newly designed piezo sensors can be seen behind the bridge.

rather than its up-and-down movement. The pickup’s elements are mounted in inserts that are adjustable from the top of the bridge with a small hex-key, and which extend through the bridge to the inside of the guitar. The Expression System 2 uses the same three-knob control unit (bass, treble, and volume) in the upper bout as its predecessor and the same combination endpin-jack/battery access panel in the endblock, though the preamp has been redesigned. “This system is more dynamic, and its ability to accurately translate what is happening with the guitar is definitely better,” Hosler says.

All New, but Familiar

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78 March 2014

In terms of construction, the latest 814ce successfully fuses the old with the new. The guitar has the familiar 16-inches-wide body of the older versions, with Indian rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, a tropical mahogany NT neck, and ebony fingerboard and bridge. The high-quality rosewood shows deep, three-dimensional grain patterns and a rich chocolate color, and the spruce top is supertightly grained. To promote a more ecological use of ebony resources, Bob Taylor has begun using ebony with non-black color characteristics, so the new 814ce’s fingerboard has several light-brown areas, details that bring a beautiful and individual quality to the guitar. What’s different about the latest incarnation? Besides some cosmetic touches, including

maple binding, new shapes for the motherof-pearl fingerboard inlay, and a rosewood pickguard, there are also some interesting things going on inside the instrument. A peek inside the soundhole reveals that the 814ce’s four back braces are glued at an angle instead of being perpendicular to the guitar’s centerline, and this leads to a significantly slanted appearance. “By angling the bracing, I’m changing the stiffness of the back, and how it interacts with the top,” Powers says. The top bracing follows a standard X-configuration, with two tone bars, but it’s parabolically tapered, rather than scalloped, as on earlier Taylor grand auditoriums. “The top bracing is a bit lighter than before, but it’s just as strong,” Powers adds. Taylor is also using hide glue and fish glue in areas where they make a tonal difference. What’s more, the company has applied the finish at about half the thickness of its standard, which should result in less dampening of the vibrating surfaces.

A Versatile Player Saying a guitar has great versatility can mean that it’s good at a lot of things but doesn’t excel at anything in particular. Not so with the 814ce. This instrument is just as suitable to strumming chords as it is to playing jazz voicings in standard tuning or fingerpicking in alternate tunings. There’s a reason why the Taylor 814ce has been a popular choice for players who want

    

realchords

JOIN THE DOTS    

'''''&"  ''''''''''#'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' ''"!#' % !% '%"! Unique Features include: ''''''''''' ''''''' %'" '&!''" ' ''''''' "!#'%  '''%"!'$ '%#" #''#'!  ''''% !%

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one guitar to do everything, and this latest version just raises the bar. The fretwork is perfect, and I appreciate that Taylor chose non-flamed maple for the fingerboard binding, as highly figured wood binding often makes the position markers hard to see. The only thing I would criticize for my personal playing style is that the rough surface of the rosewood pickguard caused some unwanted sounds as I rested my pinky while flatpicking. Plugged into an AER Compact 60 amp, the new Expression System 2 offers the immediacy and presence of a typical saddle pickup, but it has a warmer attack than most, and a complex tone, overall. The feedback threshold is high—I was able to get the AER up to ear-splitting volumes while directly facing the speaker—and the system is able to sense sound from the entire guitar body. I’m not crazy about the location of the phase-reversal switch—it requires reaching through the soundhole to a small switch mounted to the preamp’s circuit board—but I find it effective in dialing in an optimal sound. There’s no question the 814ce is a modern classic. And while updates to anything familiar sometimes leave you longing for the previous version, it’s hard to imagine that players would argue that Taylor’s latest changes haven’t made a great guitar even better. AG Teja Gerken is a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and a performing musician.

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On The Campus of Maryville College in Maryville, TN - 17 mi. So. of Knoxville, TN. Old Time and Traditional Week - June 8-14: Flatpicking: Dan Crary, Roy Curry, Jim Hurst, Roberto Della Veccia and Steve Kaufman, Fingerpicking: Clive Carrol, Pat Kirtley, Todd Hallawell; Old Time Fiddle: Brad Leftwich and Stacy Phillips; Old Time Singing: Evie Laden; Mt. Dulcimer: Joe Collins; Old Time Banjo: Jim Pankey; Hammer Dulcimer: Linda Thomas Bluegrass Week - June 15-21: Flatpicking: Mitch Corbin, Mark Cosgrove, Chris Jones, Mike Dowling, David Keenan, Chris Newman, Wayne Taylor, Doug Yeomans; Mandolin: Carlo Aonzo, Steve Smith, Bruce Graybill, Barry Mitterhoff, Roland White, Radim Zenkl; Bluegrass Banjo: Eddie Collins, Gary Davis, Murphy Henry, Ned Luberecki; Dobro ™: Stacy Phillips, Jimmy Heffernan; Bass: Rusty Holloway, Missy Raines, and Steve Roy; Songwriting: Kate Campbell; Bluegrass Fiddle: Becky Buller, Josh Goforth, Annie Staninec; Bluegrass Singing Class: Sally Jones and Don Rigsby; Jam Instructors On Staff

Your $850.00 Paid Registration Includes: All Classes, Housing and Meals plus ~ Organized Morning and Afternoon “All Level” Jams Highly Focused Afternoon Instructor Sessions Ensemble Work, Band Scrambles, Admission to All The Nightly Concerts Open Mic Time and Nightly Jams Voted "Best Camps" Airport Shuttle Service from Knoxville Airport (TYS) Plus much, much more. Call for info. Each Year Since 2002

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AcousticGuitar.com 79

NEW GEAR

An Acoustic for All Seasons

The Peavey DW-3 is a budget guitar for the beginner, frugal professional, or player who normally jams electric BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

R

ight out of the box, Peavey’s new DW-3 is a fantastic player, with a medium-sized, C-shaped neck that’s comfortable to grip in all regions, even for extended periods. What’s more, the sleek low action allows you to play both barre chords and swift single notes with ease. Any type of guitarist would be happy with this instrument, but it’s an especially good choice for those who primarily play the electric. For example, when I plugged the instrument into a Fender Acoustasonic amp, I got some nice acoustic-electric tones. With a 50/50 blend of the DW-3’s pickup and built-in mic, and the equalizer set flat, the electronics did a fair job of reproducing the instrument’s natural acoustic sound, and tweaking the EQ allowed for a satisfying range of tones, from dark jazz timbres to shimmering, ethereal textures.

Pioneered Use of Computers in Guitar Design In 1965, Mississippi-based Peavey Electronics began offering its trademark roadworthy guitar and bass amplifiers at modest prices. But by the 1970s, sales of Peavey amps were threatened when such companies as Gibson and Fender began giving dealers harsh incentives to sell their exclusive amplifiers. Peavey fought back, and later that decade was making its own guitars and basses. In doing so, the company pioneered the use of computers — specifically, CNC equipment — to produce guitars of remarkably consistent build and quality at much lower prices than its competitors. Peavey’s guitar line now includes Composite Acoustics carbon-fiber instruments, the Composer series of modern parlor guitars, and the DW series of dreadnought acoustic-electrics—most, save for the Composite Acoustics instruments, sell for well under a grand.

Smart Dreadnought Design The DW-3 is built on the traditional dreadnought platform. The soundboard is solid Sitka spruce; the back and sides, rosewood; the three-piece neck, mahogany; and the fretboard and bridge, rosewood. Our review model is built from a selection of attractive tonewoods. The rosewood’s wavy striations range from a deep purple to a warm brown, and the spruce is finely and evenly grained. On the neck, though, the three pieces could have been better matched in terms of grain pattern and coloring. The DW-3 is a handsome guitar, without an overabundance of ornamentation. The binding on the body, fingerboard, and headstock is not cellulose but wooden—a classy touch that is echoed in the material of the heel cap and truss-rod cover. The laser-etched rosette has a lovely wooden-looking motif, encircled by fine brown lines; the bridge, a cool, idiosyncratic shape that calls to mind the back pocket on a pair of Levi’s. And gold tuners with ebony-like buttons add a subtle touch of elegance. Craftsmanship on the DW-3 is good for a guitar in its price range.

80 March 2014

VIDEO REVIEW AT ACOUSTICGUITAR.COM

The frets are nicely crowned and polished, though just a hint jagged at the edges of the fingerboard. The glossy natural finish is smoothly buffed and polished, without any apparent orange-peel effect. There’s a smidgen of excess glue where the edge of the fingerboard meets the soundhole—a small flaw mitigated by the tidy construction on the guitar’s interior and hardly a deal-breaking detail.

PROMOTE YOUR GUITAR EVENT FOR FREE

Notes Ring Clear & True When you strum an open-E chord forcefully on the DW-3, it doesn’t necessarily sound like a cannon—the hallmark of the finest dreadnoughts. It does have a decent amount of volume, though, and is nicely balanced between the registers, from a sturdy bass to a clear treble. The guitar has adequate sustain and a hint of natural reverb. When played moderately loud, all of the notes, from those on the open string to those at the 20th fret, ring clear and true, with perfect intonation. There is, however, a hint of buzzing on certain fourth-string notes when they are accented. Strummed with a pick, the DW-3 is responsive and full-sounding, whether you’re playing in a traditional mode, like Carter strumming, or in a newer manner, with 16th-note syncopations and percussive muting. Cowboy chords and fully fretted jazz chords sound equally attractive, and single-note lines have a robust presence. And the guitar doesn’t muddy up

AT A GLANCE

PEAVEY DW-3 BODY Dreadnought body. Solid Sitka spruce top. Mahogany back and sides. NECK Mahogany neck. Black ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1.625-inch nut width. 2 1/8inch string spacing at saddle. Natural gloss finish. Chrome die-cast tuners. STRINGS Light-gauge phosphorbronze strings (.012–.053). EXTRAS Onboard microphone and undersaddle piezo pickup with blend knob. Preamp with chromatic tuner. Hardshell case. PRICE $549.99 list/$399.99 street. epiphone.com

when played in slackened tunings like open-G and DADGAD, though the tone does start to get a tad murky in open C—an effect that may be avoided with a heavier set of strings Though fingerstyle guitarists tend to prefer 1.75-inch nuts, the relatively narrow (1.625inch) nut on the DW-3 is friendly to this technique, with ample room for the picking fingers to do their work. For everything from basic Travis picking to Bach arrangements, the guitar’s fingerpicked voice is pretty. In standard and a variety of open tunings, the notes blend together smoothly.

The Electronics The DW-3 comes with Peavey’s onboard microphone and under-saddle piezo pickup. A preamp interface mounted on the guitar’s bass side includes controls for blending the mic and pickup; mini dials for bass, middle, and treble, all plus or minus 12dB; notch and phase controls; a low-battery-check LED; and a built-in digital tuner with a display that illuminates in green when a note is in tune. A 1/4-inch output jack is on the lower right bout, along with an XLR out and a pop-out compartment for the nine-volt battery that controls the electronics.

The Price is Right Peavey’s DW-3 might not be the finest handcrafted dreadnought, but at a $400 street price, this solid-topped instrument is a great value in a highly playable, nice-sounding, and good-looking package. What’s more, it comes recommended for club work and for home or studio recording. As such, the DW-3 makes an excellent choice for either a beginner or frugal professional. AG

Contributing editor Adam Perlmutter transcribes, arranges, and engraves music for numerous publications.

Want to attract more players to an event you’re hosting? AcousticGuitar.com is your platform for spreading the word. Simply enter the relevant details and hit “submit” to share your event with thousands on the official ACOUSTIC GUITAR website. It’s fast, easy, and free.

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NEW GEAR

A True Road Warrior

Red-Eye Twin two-channel preamp is optimized for multiple instruments BY TEJA GERKEN

O

ne look at the Red-Eye Twin preamp is enough to confirm that this machine was built with serious road-warrior abuse in mind. It comes in a sturdy metal box and its layout is about as minimal as an early Mustang engine. Guitarists who perform in public night after night need a preamp that can withstand punishment, and this model fits the bill, albeit for a certain kind of guitarist. Do you need one? If you’re amplifying your guitar with a pickup, you’re already using a preamp at some point in the signal chain. Many pickup systems include a preamp that’s built right into the guitar, and there’s also a preamp stage in the actual amp or PA that you’re plugged into. However, using a dedicated external preamp as part of your setup can lead to better tone and more control over your sound. Virtually all makers of acoustic-guitar pickups offer their own takes on an external preamp, with the most common being a combination of preamp, equalizer, and direct-

AT A GLANCE

RED-EYE TWIN SPECS Two-channel preamp. 1/4-inch inputs (high-impedance, one million ohms, maximum one-volt peak-to-peak level), gain, and treble control for each channel. Foot switches for channel selection and gain boost. Selector switch for A/B or simultaneous use of both channels. Effects loop. Lowimpedance (600 ohms) XLR output. Phantom power or nine-volt battery operation. 4.5 x 3.5 x 1.25 inches. PRICE $325 list; $295 street. Made in USA. fire-eye.com

82 March 2014

input box. But while some guitarists wouldn’t step on stage without plugging into one of these multi-function units, others feel that having too many functions can get in the way of providing a pristine tone. There are also guitarists who feel that having myriad buttons and controls on a preamp makes it hard to dial in a good sound quickly. All this inspired the Austin, Texas, electronics engineer Daren Appelt to design a line of simple preamps with interesting features for his FireEye Development Inc.

control, a low-profile toggle switch, an effect loop (using two 1/4-inch mono jacks), and an XLR output. Take off the back panel (where the batteries live) and you’ll find more bulletproof workmanship on the inside: All of the jacks, pots, and switches are mounted directly to the chassis, neatly connected to the lone circuit board via wires, making it impossible to damage the circuit with external pressure.

Bulletproof Workmanship

From the first strum, it was evident this preamp added a dose of richness, with the trebles sounding fatter and rounder.

Fire-Eye’s Red-Eye Twin preamp is a dualchannel unit designed for players who switch between two instruments onstage. Its twochannel nature essentially results in a mirror-image duplication of its sparse primary features: two 1/4-inch mono inputs, two sturdy foot switches, and two sets of controls for gain and treble (mounted to the left and right sides of the unit, where they can’t be stepped on). There’s also a boost gain

VIDEO REVIEW AT ACOUSTICGUITAR.COM

Separate Gain Units To get acquainted with the Red-Eye Twin, I grabbed a custom Martin OM guitar with an L.R. Baggs Dual Source pickup system and plugged it into my Mackie 1202 mixer, which fed a pair of M-Audio BX5 studio monitors. From the first strum, it was evident this preamp added a dose of richness, with the trebles sounding fatter and rounder. Next, I used the same guitar, but plugged into an AER Compact 60 amp. Again, the tone was rich, full, and more harmonically complex. The Red-Eye’s treble control is useful for limited tone adjustments, and it was effective for dialing out the high-end brittleness in this setup’s sound. Players who perform with two instruments will appreciate being able to set separate gain levels (to achieve matching volume), and to alternate between the two using a foot switch. The Red-Eye’s toggle allows you to select between channel A and B, or to have both inputs active at once. In either setting, one of the foot switches can be used to engage a boost function (which you can set using a central dial) for solos or musically quieter passages. One limitation is that the Red-Eye Twin doesn’t have a dedicated 1/4-inch output. The “effects send” jack can be used for this purpose, but you end up in an either-or scenario. For example, I like to use a preamp’s 1/4-inch output to feed my onstage amp, while sending the XLR signal to the PA, but with the Red-Eye Twin, this is only possible if I’m not using the effects loop. A workaround to this would be to use a Y-cable to split the signal from the “effect send” jack, though this is hardly an elegant solution.

Professional Grade There’s no question the Red-Eye Twin is a professional-quality piece of gear. With its lack of sophisticated onboard tone controls, it is best suited for players who rely on a sound engineer to make final tweaks in the PA. The unit’s dualinstrument approach and crystal clear, signalenriching sound is sure to deliver great tone on stage, and its foolproof operation is welcome news for players who prefer plug-and-play to lots of knob-twisting. AG

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84 March 2014

Neil Young 87

Growling Old Men 89

Doc Watson 90

MIXED

MEDIA

Shelby Lynne p 88 AcousticGuitar.com 85

DICK BARNATT/REDFERNS

PLAYLIST

All Mined Out

Is the fourth live acoustic set from Neil Young’s early solo years too much of a good thing?

I Neil Young Live at the Cellar Door Reprise

n many ways, Live at the Cellar Door, the latest solo-acoustic edition of Neil Young’s Archives Performance Series, is the flip side of Live at Massey Hall, released as a single disc six years ago. The shows were recorded within two months of each other. But while Massey Hall found Young playing to an audience of nearly 3,000 at the majestic Toronto venue in early 1971, Cellar Door was cobbled together from six nights in late 1970 at the legendary Washington, D.C., club that seated fewer than 200. The difference in the venues is evident on the first track, “Tell Me Why,” whose familiar opening licks draw scattered applause rather than the roar that greeted the song in Toronto. Still, the intimate setting is nice. In between tracks, you hear table chatter, coughs, laughs, and random comments from audience members, such as the guy who yells “Far out” when Young eerily runs his fingers across the strings inside his nine-foot Steinway grand piano before introducing his lovely Buffalo Springfield–era drug ballad “Flying on the Ground is Wrong.” But for casual Neil Young fans—or even not-so-casual ones—are those details worth plunking down more cash for yet another live set from the early days? After all, Cellar Door arrives little more than four years after the release of Young’s massive Archives Vol. 1: 1963–1972 box set, which not only

included the previously released Massey Hall show but also a 1968 acoustic performance, Live at Canterbury House, and a 1969 acoustic performance recorded at the Riverboat in Toronto. What’s more, seven of the 13 tracks on Cellar Door—including such popular and enduring guitar-based songs as “Old Man,” “Don’t Let it Bring You Down,” and “Down by the River”—are repeats from the superior Massey Hall show. Not that there aren’t special moments here; one is the aforementioned Springfield song, and another is a piano reinterpretation of “Cinnamon Girl”—a song we’re used to hearing jumped up with fuzzy power chords—that works in such a small room.

‘Cellar Door’ is the flip side of ‘Massey Hall.’ Still, the release of more live acoustic solo material from this period begs at least two questions: Why wasn’t Live at the Cellar Door included in the box set, and what other live acoustic performances will those who already own the box set be asked to spring for next? —MARK SEGAL KEMP AcousticGuitar.com 87

Playlist | Mixed Media

Nathan Bell

Shelby Lynne

Reinier Voet & Pigalle 44

Blood Like a River Stone Barn

Thanks Everso

My Room Pigalle

Country-folk documents life on the hardscrabble margin

Folk, rock, country & gospel swaggers with gratitude

Musical alchemist mixes modern jazz with Django Reinhardt

“My hands are hard and my poetry plain,” rasps Nathan Bell on “Fade Out,” one of 12 thumbnail sketches, each pared down to the sharpness and subtlety of a haiku on Blood Like a River. Bell’s rustic voice, which couples the grain of the Band’s Levon Helm with the gruff troubadour’s lilt of Kris Kristofferson, lays bare lives on the hardscrabble margin: The perpetual motion of a jittery everyman in “Turn Out the Lights,” young service men and women reduced to a handful of ruins in “Names,” the ordinary heroism of choosing to love in “Really Truly,” and Bell’s own encounter with a desperate gunman in the autobiographical “Trigger.” On this rock-tinged country-folk set, Bell’s guitars (both steel and conventional) entwine in a Gordian knot of dual fretwork, with mandolin and tenor ukulele occasionally subbing for one of the guitars. His playing—and it’s a one-man show here—encompasses delicate rhythm, mountain drones and surging melodic fills. Bell’s rhythm work is closely miked, so you hear his fingers hitting every string. His fingerpicking marries thumb blues to his guitar’s mimicry of frailing banjo, uncoiling with percussive impact on the choruses. This contrast, with a harsh buzz snapping back to spiraling filigree, mirrors the tension in Bell’s storytelling. With his crisp, handcrafted playing and intimate, incisive lyrics, Bell documents an America teetering on the edge. Yet he leavens this view with wonder, gratitude and compassion. —PAT MORAN

Major labels never knew what to do with Shelby Lynne. In the 1980s, Epic Nashville tried to turn the Alabama ingénue into a bighaired, video-friendly firecracker. In the ’90s, Island tried to turn her into an alt-country/ pop/R&B hipster. Lynne was all of that and none of it—at least not a major label’s view of it. So, it wasn’t suprising that her music began to make more sense when she started putting it out on her own. She played and produced everything on 2011’s Revelation Road, and penned some of her best songs, including one in which she finally addressed the murder-suicide of her parents by her father. Heavy, heavy stuff. And now this: a simple, five-song EP that finds Lynne testifying to some higher power in a living-room jam session of vigorously strummed acoustic guitars, mandolins, a little dobro and pedal steel, and some fuzzy, David Lindley–like lead work that sounds straight off Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty. Lynne puts her best Bonnie Raitt bravado to opener “Call Me Up,” as a quartet of gospel backup singers, including veteran Maxine Waters, harmonizes behind her. She brings her pop/R&B sensibility to “Forevermore,” but it’s homemade, acoustic pop. The gospel “Walkin’” finds Lynne praying “on bended knees”; the slow, contemplative folk-jazz of “Road I’m On” puts her at a fork; and the title track has her expressing gratitude to either the Good Lord or some eminently patient lover. She’s a rascally country singer, to be sure, but you won’t find Lynne fitting in with Taylor Swift or even Miranda Lambert. And she’s definitely not a hipster, although when her fingers are fluttering over the strings of her 1920s Stella acoustic guitar, Lynne is hipper than God. —MARK SEGAL KEMP

Gypsy jazz can be a stodgy, hidebound genre tethered hand-and-foot to the style laid down in Paris in the 1930s by founders Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Then, along comes a guitarist of the caliber of Reiner Voet, who injects more modern jazz sensibilities into the grand old lady, bending without breaking the traditional mold. He makes a tune as tired and overplayed as “Minor Swing” sound fresh and alive again. A musical alchemist, Voet demonstrates a thorough grounding in classic Gypsy jazz, but infuses his lines with the alerted scale mentality of the bebop Django had started to pursue before his death. Great originals emerge, like the lush title track that sounds instantly familiar, and Voet and friends reimagine the classic sounds of unheralded Reinhardt originals like “Vamp” and Babik Reinhardt’s “Abandon” with fresh instrumentation and arrangements. Hardcore fans of the Quintette du Hot Club de France will dismiss the occasional electric guitar and 21st Century arrangements here, but much like how bluegrass has evolved since the days of Big Mon and Flatt & Scruggs, Reinier Voet and Pigalle 44 are pioneering a new course for authentic Gypsy jazz. —DAVID MCCARTY

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She’s a rascally country singer, to be sure, but you won’t find Lynne fitting in with Taylor Swift or even Miranda Lambert.

Growling Old Men

Steve Baughman

Steep Canyon Rangers

Chicken Feed & Baling Twine Snake River

Farewell to Orkney celticguitar.com

Tell the Ones I Love Rounder

Full bluegrass sound with guitars & mandolin but no fiddles or banjo

A master of dynamics, color & timing offers a game changer

Steve Martin’s NC picking buddies reach for a wider audience

Growling Old Men do just about anything but growl—they purr, they harmonize, and they play impeccably classy string-band music. The duo—singer and guitarist John Lowell, singer and mandolin player Ben Winship, with help from bassist David Thompson—plays an upbeat, flawlessly executed mix of traditionals (“Lazy John”), catchy originals, and inspired takes on other artists’ songs (Jeffrey Foucault’s “Doubletrees,” Dirk Powell’s “Waterbound”). The group manages to create a full bluegrass sound without the benefit of traditional instruments like fiddles or banjo. Instrumental “Elzik’s Farewell” showcases stylish picking and the contrasting textures of Winship’s spikey mandolin and the deep, rich tone of Lowell’s guitar. The originals seem just as classic as the classics: Winship’s lyrics are humorous (“monkeybars on an old dirt bike, monkey wrench keeps the wheels on tight, come on baby let’s monkey around,” on “Toolshed”) while Lowell’s tend toward the poetic (“It’s up the draw and through the sage and to an old lime shack,” on “Wild Jack”). Winship also plays with the trio Brother Mule, while Lowell put out a highly regarded solo album, I’m Going to the West, in 2012. But with this commanding duo performance, the only growling to be heard will likely come from listeners— wanting more. —CELINE KEATING

Once in a while an album comes along that can alter your thinking about guitar music— Farewell to Orkney is one of those. On his fourth solo release, Baughman (an AG contributor) extends the essence of Celtic beyond traditional tunes to hymns, a classical piece, and originals. Baughman is a virtuoso player of both fingerpicking and a technique he calls “clawhammer guitar” (“Wasilla Weed”), based on banjo playing. He works in exotic tunings as well. Then there’s his unparalleled ability to mimic the sound of a fiddle roll (“Trip to Ballyshannon”). These innovations and techniques are only part of what makes Baughman’s playing so special. He’s a master of dynamics, color, and timing. Witness the way he lingers on notes in “Leitrim Queen,” the resonance he achieves on “Fretless Guitar Piece,” with its dronelike bodhran effects, and the contrasting bright and dark tones he brings to “Coilsfield House.” Throughout, the lush, ringing tones of his guitar saturate the music with emotion. Especially on the title track, he captures the deep sadness of all farewells and the brooding landscape of Orkney, an island on the northern coast of Scotland. “Andantino/Planxty Bongwater III” is an astonishing tour de force with intensity sustained for over six minutes. A must for all lovers of guitar and especially Celtic music, Farewell to Orkney will bring Baughman’s music to a broader audience. —C.K.

Since teaming up with actor, comic, and sometime banjo player Steve Martin four years ago, the Steep Canyon Rangers have been steadily evolving toward a sound that owes as much to country and singer-songwriter folk as it does to trad bluegrass. The original quintet of Mike Guggino (mandolin), Charles Humphrey III (bass), Woody Platt (lead vocals and guitar), Nicky Sanders (fiddle), and Graham Sharp (banjo) is still going strong. But they’ve added drums (on eight of these 12 tracks), shifted away from three-part bluegrass harmonies, and increasingly focused their songs on reaching a wider audience. In the process of playing to millions of people, in person and on television, they’ve become first-rate entertainers, and the best tunes on Tell the Ones I Love— like “Camellia,” “Bluer Words Were Never Spoken,” and “Stand and Deliver”—are as catchy as anything you’ll hear on mainstream-country radio. Primary songwriter Sharp, who generally takes a backseat to Martin on banjo, re-emerges as the driving force on the band’s own albums. Platt and Guggino take advantage of the new percussion to push well beyond rhythm. Sanders, always the virtuoso, sounds better than ever. And along with writing some of this set’s strongest tunes, Humphrey provides the foundation for all this change, pushing their music toward an even bigger future.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY Look for these other notable releases:

Tony Trischka Great Big World Rounder

Various From Another World: A Tribute to Bob Dylan Buda Musique

Drive-By Truckers English Oceans ATO

Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs All Her Fault Transdreamer

—KENNY BERKOWITZ

Dean Wareham Dean Wareham Double Feature

Johnny Cash Out Among the Stars Legacy

AcousticGuitar.com 89

Playlist | Mixed Media

5 ESSENTIAL

DOC WATSON ALBUMS Doc Watson Self-Titled 1964 Doc Watson Southbound 1966

A Portrait of an American Bluegrass-Guitar Icon Doc Watson’s daughter pays tribute to the flatpicking genius she called dad BY DAN GABEL

W Doc & Merle Watson Milestones: Legends of the Doc Watson Clan 4-CD collection gives listeners a remarkable seat in the Watson music circle docwatsonmilestones.com

90 March 2014

ith Milestones: Legends of the Doc Watson Clan, the late flatpicker’s daughter Nancy Watson has created a vast, intimate portrait of one of the great families in American roots music. Combining Watson-family stories with 92 previously unreleased musical recordings spanning from the mid1950s to 2006, the four-disc set holds countless treasures for fans of Doc and Merle Watson. This set weaves remembrances and stories from five generations of Watsons with tracks played and recorded by members of the family during informal gatherings and picking sessions. Mixed alongside Doc’s private home recording sessions, the collection gives listeners a remarkable seat in the Watson music circle. Decades in the making, Nancy started compiling these recordings in 1969 as part of a folklore project at East Tennessee State University. By 1999, she had hundreds of hours of reel-to-reel tapes, as well as her cousin Kermit’s own recordings. “I had all this material—64 CDs and several cassettes, because I wore out the CD copier—and I thought, how am I going to do this?” she says. “But I looked for guidance and the first piece came into my mind, so I wrote that down. Then the second piece came to me. “It was more like it came through me than it came to me.” Slowly, she pieced Milestones together, often sharing the results with her father. By 2009, Nancy had completed the project’s timeline, and while the audio was being mastered, she

Doc & Merle Watson Doc & Merle 1998 Doc Watson Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues 2004

turned her hands to creating the 50 collages included in the box set’s 74-page package. Made up of more than 500 family photos and Watson’s hand-written notes, these collages form a touching visual backdrop for the audio. “I love all of the collages,” she says, “but I think my favorite is the last one, a fall scene in the woods and Frosty Morn is onstage at MerleFest with Merle’s son, Richard, sitting in for Merle. In the background, you see Merle leading Daddy away. I did that before Daddy passed. I had no idea how symbolic it was going to be.” Before they died in 2012, both Doc and Nancy’s mother, Rosa Lee Watson, got to hear the completed project, making the release of Milestones bittersweet for Nancy. Aside from Doc’s jaw-dropping flatpicking and harmonic work, the most remarkable cuts unearthed by Nancy, are those from the early 1950s of Doc playing his Gibson Les Paul electric guitar on popular songs from that time. His plugged-in recording of “Stardust” evokes jazzguitar pioneer Eddie Lang, and sticks mostly to gentle, swinging backup with a few lively singlenote phrases as punctuation. With Doc’s tender singing, many of these tunes would have been completely at home on ’50s popular radio. Also particularly poignant is son Merle’s strong and steady strum on “Merle’s and Vaughan’s Tune,” recorded the day after his mother, Rosa Lee, taught him his first chords. Merle’s stellar slide-guitar playing on such tracks as “Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia” further demonstrates his quick development as an artist. With Watson’s father-in-law, Gaither Carlton, on fiddle, and brother Arthur Watson on banjo, Milestones is an intimate anthology of one of the most influential families in American-roots music. AG

TEXT © 2014 DAN GABEL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

DAVID GAHR/GETTY IMAGES

Doc Watson & David Grisman Doc & Dawg 1997

BOOKS

Buck ‘Em: The Autobiography of Buck Owens Buck Owens (with Randy Poe) Backbeat Books

More Than Just ‘Pickin’ & Grinnin’ Buck Owens recalls a life at the center of country music BY GREG CAHILL

T

he Beatles scored a major hit with the tender 1964 ballad “Yesterday,” but few recall that this acoustic classic was the B-side to a cover of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos’ spirited country chart-topper “Act Naturally,” which became a vocal vehicle for drummer Ringo Starr on the Help soundtrack. That the Fab Four, during the heyday of Beatlemania, would pay homage to Owens underscores the lofty status of this Texas-born California country star, who would hit the top of the country charts 21 times. During his long career, Owens shaped the famous Bakersfield Sound—he vaguely describes it in the preface, but staunchly refuses to analyze it. That vibrant music scene was centered in the then-dusty Central Valley truck-and-farm center of Bakersfield, California, the freewheelin’ counterpart to the slicker Nashville country-music machine. Owens, of course, had a foot in both camps, appearing regularly on the hit music-andcomedy TV show Hee Haw, where he recalls standing in a mock cornfield and trading “pickin’ and grinnin’” jokes with guitarist and show regular Roy Clark. Owens, who also hosted The Buck Owens Ranch Show, addresses the negative impact Hee Haw had on his image and record sales: “To tell you the truth, I had a pretty good idea of what I was walking into at the time, but I did Hee Haw anyway, hoping to be the one guy who wouldn’t be affected by it.” A decade in the works—Owens, who died in 2006, taped his memoir between

1990 and 2000—this engaging book benefits from Owens’ photographic memory and keen powers of observation. It’s filled with behind-the-scenes tales of the Grand Ole Opry, musicians and movie stars (from Elizabeth Taylor to Social Distortion), recollections of Bob Wills and other key Westernswing figures, his revival after singing on Dwight Yoakam’s cover of Owen’s “Streets of Bakersfield,” and the evolution of country music in the mid-20th century.

Owens was bright and inventive and blessed with a razor-sharp wit. And he led a red-hot band that blended the best of country and rock ’n’ roll and came to personify country twang. It also captures what Yoakam, a Buck Owens’ acolyte, in the introduction calls Owens’ “enormously charismatic directness. “Buck’s genius lay in his stellar gift for succinctness and simplicity,” Yoakam opines. The simplicity of that message—and his association with Hee Haw—has left some to dismiss Owens as a country bumpkin.

Big mistake. Owens was bright and inventive and blessed with a razor-sharp wit. And he led a red-hot band that blended the best of country and rock ’n’ roll and came to personify country twang. The Buckaroo talent pool ran deep: it featured fiddler and Telecaster player Don Rich, guitarist Doyle Holly; steel players Tom Brumley, Jay Dee Maness, and Buddy Emmons; and pianoman Earle Poole Ball; to name a few. It’s clear from the book that Owens never recovered from the 1974 motorcycle accident that led to the death of Rich, who provided key elements to the Buckaroos’ signature sound. “I couldn’t accept the fact that he was gone,” Owens writes. “I was in such bad shape [after the funeral] that I was convinced he’d show up one day like nothing had happened.” As for “Act Naturally,” it pops up again toward the end of the book. In 1989, after his duet with Yoakam helped to revive his career, Owens and Starr traveled to Abbey Road Studio to re-record “Act Naturally.” The single garnered Grammy and CMA nominations, losing both times to a duet of “Tears in My Beer” by Hank Williams Sr. and Hank Jr. “Hey, nobody wants to lose, but it’s really hard to beat the guy who’s probably the most revered figure in the history of country music,” Owens concludes, “especially when he makes a record after he’s been dead for 36 years.” AG AcousticGuitar.com 91

JONI MITCHELL SO FAR …

THIS COLLECTIBLE, HARDCOVER SONGBOOK INCLUDES: • Over 500 pages with 167 songs from 18 landmark albums • Accurate transcriptions • Guitar tunings and chord fingerings approved by Joni • An easy-to-use, cross-referenced tuning index • Full-color historic photos of Joni and friends throughout her career

SCAN HERE FOR MORE Visit alfred.com/jonicomplete

EVENTS

Steep Canyon Rangers Tell the Ones I Love

March SXSW 2014 Austin, Texas

MARCH 11–16 sxsw.com/music/shows/2014 The 2010 compilation album We Are All One, In the Sun: A Tribute to Robbie Basho, produced by Buck Curran (one half of the husband-and-wife singer-songwriter team Arborea), made just about every Top 10 list around, including Acoustic Guitar’s. Hot on the heels of their fifth album, 2013’s Fortress of the Sun (Esp-Disk), Arborea has joined the lineup at the legendary SXSW arts festival in Austin, Texas, which is back for its 27th year. The music lineup promises something for everyone, including the Devil Makes Three, Shakey Graves, Whiskey Shivers, and many others.

Suwannee Springfest Live Oak, Florida MARCH 20—23 suwanneespringfest.com The Steep Canyon Rangers— Woody Platt (guitar), Mike Guggino (mandolin), Charles Humphrey III (bass), Nicky Sanders (fiddle) and Graham Sharp (banjo)—gained notoriety as the backup

band for Steve Martin, but this North Carolina bluegrass band already had a firm grasp on that high, lonesome sound long before the comedian-cum-banjo player came along. Their Nobody Knows You (Rounder) picked up a Grammy Award last year for Best Bluegrass Album. Catch them at the Suwanee Springfest, when the event celebrates its 18th year with a lineup of incredible Americana and bluegrass acts that also includes the Avett Brothers, Del McCoury Band, Punch Brothers, Jason Isbell, Aoife O’Donovan, and Southern Soul Assembly, among others. The site of the festival is surrounded by miles of hiking, biking, and horseback-riding trails, so you can enjoy the great outdoors as well as great acoustic music.

Savannah Music Festival Savannah, Georgia MARCH 20–APRIL 5 savannahmusicfestival.org This acoustic-heavy, two-week festival in downtown Savannah is so huge, it spans a half-dozen separate venues during its lateMarch/early-April dates. It features Aoife O’Donovan, the Lone Bellow, the Avett Brothers, and Chris Thile and Mike

Arborea

Marshall, to name a few. The festival also offers a five-day Acoustic Music Seminar under the direction of Mike Marshall, with such instructors as Martin Taylor, Julian Lage, Bruce Molsky, and Jerry Douglas.

Kacey Musgraves U.S. / Canada MARCH 1–28 www.kaceymusgraves.com Rising country star Kacey Musgraves continues to “follow her arrow” through March with her North American tour. With dates throughout the West Coast, Midwest, and South, as well as appearances in Canada, March will be a busy month for the young artist, who recently won New Artist of the Year at the 2013 CMAs. AcousticGuitar.com 93

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ACOUSTIC CONNECTIONS.

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M A R K E T P L AC E LUTHERIE INSTRUCTION

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with ‘Irish Songs for Guitar’ Learn to play 15 of the best loved Irish songs including: s Black Velvet Band s Whiskey in the Jar s Star of the County Down

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Hill Guitar Company, hillguitar.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

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Levy’s Leathers, levysleathers.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

California Coast Music Camp, musiccamp.org . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

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Mark Campellone Guitars, mcampellone.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Luthier Music Corp., luthiermusic.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

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Luthiers Mercantile, lmii.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

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C.F. Martin & Co., Inc., martinguitar.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100

The Swannanoa Gathering, swangathering.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

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Tanglewood Guitar Co., tanglewoodguitars.co.uk . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

G7th, Ltd., g7th.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

The Music Emporium, themusicemporium.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Taylor-Listug, Inc., taylorguitars.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Pimentel & Sons, pimentelguitars.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 The Podium, guitarrodeo.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 RainSong Graphite Guitars, rainsong.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 RealChords, realchords.com.au . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Robert Aumann Band, robertaumannband.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Saga Musical Instruments, sagamusic.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

96 March 2014

Seagull Guitars, seagullguitars.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Sheppard Guitars, sheppardguitars.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Shubb Capos, shubb.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Soloette, soloette.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Stewart-MacDonald’s Guitar Supply, stewmac.com . . . . . . . . . 34

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GREAT ACOUSTICS

You Might Know This Luthier Before He Was L.R. Baggs Singer & songwriter Janis Ian’s 1978 Baggs is chock-full of design surprises BY TEJA GERKEN

W

hen singer-songwriter Janis Ian wanted a new guitar in 1978, she looked to Lloyd Baggs. Known today as an innovative designer of acoustic-guitar pickups and electronics—most guitarists are familiar with his L.R. Baggs brand—he was, at the time, a successful luthier whose forward-thinking guitar designs had caught the fancy of such players as Jackson Browne, Ry Cooder, and Graham Nash. Ian, best known for her 1967 ballad of interracial love, “Society’s Child,” and the 1975 megahit “At Seventeen” was looking for a small-bodied instrument with a scalloped fingerboard. The resulting guitar, pictured here, ended up being No. 19 of the 32 guitars Baggs built between the mid-’70s and 1982. “I started using it as soon as I got it,” Ian remembers. “It’s the main acoustic single-line guitar throughout the [1979] Night Rains album, especially at the end of ‘Have Mercy, Love.’ It has great vibrato!” Even though the guitar looks like your standard 12-fret 00, it is actually chock-full of design elements and ideas that were radical in the late ’70s and that would even be unusual today. Among these is a neck with a fully scalloped fingerboard and composite construction. Baggs hollowed out the rosewood neck (“like a canoe,” he says) until all that was left was a 1/8-inch thick skin. Into this channel, he laminated alternating pieces of 1/8-inch thick spruce and .015-inch sheets of carbon graphite. “This makes for an extremely stiff and stable neck with a resonant frequency above the highest fundamental,” Baggs says. “Consequently, there are no dead notes on the neck.” The guitar has a spruce top and South American rosewood back and sides. Baggs attached the top to the rim using the traditional Spanish method of individual blocks, rather than kerfing; he says the Spanish method leads to less stress. The guitar’s top is braced with a modified fan pattern, with a crossbrace sharply angled toward the treble side. “This gave enough stiffness to support the trebles, and allowed the bass side some extra flexibility for good low-end response,” Baggs says. The instrument’s headstock inlay was inspired by Chinese artist Chang Dai-chien and executed in abalone. French polished, and outfitted with an L.R. Baggs LB6 pickup and Micro Drive preamp, it was a frequent partner for Ian’s performances, both live and in the studio. “I also used it on the next two albums, Restless Eyes [in 1981] and Uncle Wonderful [1983], and on the road through that period,” she says. AG

Janis Ian

Teja Gerken is a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and a performing musician. Acoustic Guitar (ISSN 1049-9261) is published monthly by String Letter Publishing, Inc., 501 Canal Blvd., Suite J, Richmond, CA 94804. Periodical postage paid at Richmond, CA 94804 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Pitney Bowes International Mail Services, P.O. Box 32229, Hartford, CT 06150-2229. Postmaster: Please make changes online at AcousticGuitar.com or send to Acoustic Guitar, String Letter Publishing, Inc., PO Box 3500, Big Sandy, TX 75755.

98 March 2014

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