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GARY CLARK JR. | JEWEL

WOODY PINES | JOHN RENBOURN

3 SONGS

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN Pride & Joy HANK WILLIAMS Jambalaya TOM WAITS Ol’ 55

JANUARY 2016 | ACOUSTICGUITAR.COM

GLEN HANSARD ‘ONCE’ CREATOR RETURNS TO HIS BUSKING STYLE

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CONTENTS

‘Some people rely on their lyrics. And some rely on their voice. I rely on my guitar playing as the vehicle.’ CHRISTOPHER PAUL STELLING, p. 20

Features

Miscellany

18 Music from the Melting Pot Rustic folk artist Woody Pines steps from the street to the stage

10 The Front Porch 48 Holiday Gift Guide 80 Marketplace 81 Ad Index

By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

20 Hard Labor The heartfelt fierceness of Christopher Paul Stelling’s Labor Against Waste By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

26 Ramblin’ Man Irish troubadour and Once creator Glen Hansard returns to his busking style By Kenny Berkowitz

30 Made to Order Custom-built guitars can provide a personal touch at (almost) any budget

January 2016 Volume 26, No. 7, Issue 277 On the Cover Glen Hansard Photographer Manfred Pollert

By Adam Perlmutter

AcousticGuitar.com 5

CONTENTS RainSong’s carbon-fiber SMCX guitar, p. 66

NEWS 13 The Beat Jewel returns to her folk roots; Dylan ’65–’66 boxes; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band turns 50 16 Five Minutes With . . . Gary Clark Jr. on his acoustic side PLAY 37 The Basics Everyday Rhythm: 3 ways to lock in solid time 38 Weekly Workout How to build unconventional jazz voicings from open strings Songs to Play 44 Jambalaya Hank Williams’ country-Cajun classic 46 Ol’ 55 A sentimental ballad by Tom Waits 54 Pride and Joy Stevie Ray Vaughan’s blues powerhouse AG TRADE 61 Shoptalk Inside the Woodstock Invitational; Tascam 4X4 production studio; new Radial Acoustic DI 6 January 2016

64 Guitar Guru Stiff vs. active backs 66 Review: RainSong SMCX Thoughtfully designed carbon guitar sounds clear and robust 68 Review: Faith FMSB45-BNC A parlor guitar with rich, woody tones 70 Review: Henriksen’s ‘The Bud’ A powerful, portable acoustic-friendly amp 82 Great Acoustics The buzz about the Bee Guitar MIXED MEDIA 73 Playlist The Legendary Shack Shakers’ The Southern Surreal exposes their weird Americana roots; also, Jon Stickley Trio’s Lost at Last, the compilation Legends of OldTime Music: 50 Years of County Records, Kinky Friedman’s The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, the Oh Hellos’ Dear Wormwood, and The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard. Also: John Renbourn’s The Attic Tapes unearthed

JOEY LUSTERMAN

AG ONLINE

Psyched: Ben Chasny

Ben Chasny In the Studio

Enjoy a recent Acoustic Guitar Session episode with psych-folk guitarist Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance. Visit acousticguitar.com/sessions to check out interviews with and performances by Richard Thompson, Ani DiFranco, Seth Avett, Peter Rowan, Della Mae, Bruce Cockburn, Valerie June, Julian Lage, Eliza Gilkyson, Preston Reed, Laurie Lewis, and many others. NEW ACOUSTIC GUITAR LESSON AVAILABLE: ‘DIMINISHED SCALES & ARPEGGIOS’ A new lesson, ‘Diminished Scales & Arpeggios,’ is now being offered to assist you in learning how to play and solo using diminished-seventh arpeggios and scales. Discover how to master the techniques and strengthen your playing along the way. For more information and to start shopping, visit store.acousticguitar.com GET ‘ACOUSTIC GUITAR’ IN YOUR INBOX Your daily piece of acoustic guitar is waiting. Enjoy reviews and demos of the latest guitars and gear, instructional video, guitar technique tips, acoustic guitar news, special offers, and so much more. Sign up for Acoustic Guitar Notes and we’ll email you articles and videos that will help you improve your playing as well as keeping you connected to the acoustic guitar world. acousticguitar.com/acoustic-guitar-notes 8 January 2016

LUXURIOUS,

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Available exclusively at: ©2016 Acoustic

THE FRONT PORCH AcousticGuitar.com • AcousticGuitarU.com

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT Editorial Director & Editor Greg Cahill Editor at Large Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers Managing Editor Blair Jackson Associate Editor Whitney Phaneuf Copy Editor Anna Pulley Production Manager Hugh O’Connor Contributing Editors Kenny Berkowitz, David Hamburger, Steve James, Orville Johnson, Richard Johnston, Mark Kemp, Sean McGowan, Jane Miller, Greg Olwell, Adam Perlmutter, Rick Turner, Doug Young

CREATIVE SERVICES Creative Director Joey Lusterman Senior Designer Brad Amorosino

INTERACTIVE SERVICES Taylor Guitars master luthier Andy Powers

here are times when it looks like the AG editors are just goofing around on the job. When I’m not planning coverage, editing copy, checking facts, chasing sources, tracking down gear, answering emails, fielding subscriber inquiries, or policing Internet trolls, there are intermittent moments of, well, fun. Recently, those have included trading stories with Robert Earl Keen, who dropped by our studio for AG Sessions (you can watch it on acousticguitar.com/ sessions), chatting at length via phone with Martin historian Dick Boak (always an education), and testing a pair of interesting new Fender acoustic amps with a co-worker (you can read about those in the February issue). Last week, Taylor Guitars master luthier Andy Powers dropped by to share a few instruments he’s been working on. I can’t go into details—some of those guitars will be previewed at the 2016 Winter NAMM and AG soon will be presenting video demos of them—but his visit underscored one of the things that is so great about this job: You get to meet exceptional people in this business. Some are really smart, others really industrious. Andy is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s also smart and industrious and a talented guitarist and a gifted luthier with a creative mind always reaching for innovation. But, beyond that, he’s also warm, optimistic,

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attentive, considerate, humble, and imbued with a seemingly boundless curiosity. He reminds me of a younger version of Richard Hoover, the founder of Santa Cruz Guitars, who has an almost saintly aura. There may be people who know Richard better than I do who might cringe at that assessment, but I doubt it—even amid the controlled chaos of the NAMM showroom floor, Richard displays a level of calm and caring that is most refreshing in this mechanical world. During his visit, Andy and I passed his guitars back and forth, and talked about the ways in which guitars reflect the personalities of their makers: The almost zenlike presence of Richard Hoover, the sharp intelligence of luthier and AG contributor Dana Bourgeois, for example. I asked Andy how his own personality is reflected in his guitars. He hesitated and humbly said that he’s probably not the best person to evaluate that. I will say that from the innovative instruments he brought along from the Taylor shop, the remarkable improv he shared on camera, and his unflagging enthusiasm, this former surfer-turned-guitar builder, whose fingerstyle playing is gentle and joyous, appears to be on the verge of gamechanging things. And that’s darned nice. Play on! —Greg Cahill

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Stringletter.com Publisher David A. Lusterman

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10 January 2016

Except where otherwise noted, all contents ©2015 Stringletter, David A. Lusterman, Publisher.

M ay 1– Ju ne 30 ,2 5 01

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14

14

The Beat Dirt Band marks 50th Anniversary

16

NEWS

5 Minutes With . . . Gary Clark Jr. reveals his acoustic side

MATTHEW ROLSTON

The Beat New Dylan ’65 & ’66 bootlegs in a box

‘NEVER BROKEN’

THE BEAT

Pieces de Resistance

Jewel returns to her folk roots on ‘Picking Up the Pieces’ BY ANNA PULLEY

n Picking Up the Pieces (Sugar Hill), folk singer Jewel decided to return to her roots, both thematically and in the raw, strippeddown, emotional intensity she’s honed in her 20-plus years as a singer-songwriter. The album—her first collection of new material since 2010 and a companion to her multi-platinum debut Pieces of You—finds Jewel harking back to the marrow that launched her career— her voice and her guitar. “When it came to producing and putting this record together, shutting the fear out was really just having to unlearn or at least be willing to ignore what I know about the business,” says Jewel, over the phone from Nashville. “There’s just too many things that, over 20 years, you get taught that don’t necessarily make honest music. I had to learn to shut all that out and just say, ‘I know this isn’t an uptempo record.’ “I know it doesn’t really have a genre. It’s somewhere between folk and Americana. I don’t know what to call this. This doesn’t sound

I

like anything on the radio right now. I had to let all of that go and just make a record that was very uniquely me and very honest and my style of songwriting and poetry.” The self-referential bookend to her 1995 debut includes new songs like “Love Used to Be” and “Mercy”—both driven by a plaintive acoustic-guitar melody—longtime live show favorites like “Nicotine Love,” “Everything Breaks,” and “A Boy Needs a Bike,” plus collaborations with Rodney Crowell and Dolly Parton. Helping Jewel strip away the veneer on the 14-song collection was an A-list session band. “I tried to surround myself with people who had a real sensibility for rawness and grittiness,” she says. Those folks included Neil Young collaborators such as drummer Chad Cromwell, as well as award-winning pedal-steel guitar player Dan Dugmore. It’s a sort of ode to Ben Keith, Young’s sideman who died in 2010, and who produced Pieces of You.

“I should probably not be here today. I should probably not even be alive,” begins the foreword of Jewel’s new memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story (Penguin Random House) released September 15, the same week as her new album Picking Up the Pieces. The book, which takes its name from a lyric in her hit song “Hands,” is a blend of candid stories (she once felt up Bob Dylan’s nose with the aim of sculpting it one day), poetry (her first poetry collection, A Night Without Armor, came out in 1998), and personal philosophies. “I wrote a lot about pivotal shifts in my thinking,” Jewel told AG. “These sort of paradigm shifts that helped me be less of a victim [and] be the architect of my life instead of just reacting to life. I go into a lot of detail about how I really believe that what you perceive and how you respond, that’s what builds your life. It starts in your mind and then your mind goes to actions and then your actions build a life. So if you’re not aware of what you’re thinking or conscious of what you filter, you’re really going to be reacting to a life instead of creating one. When I was homeless, where you’re stripped of everything but your mind, you really start focusing on your mind. It’s really all you have left.” —Whitney Phaneuf

CONT. ON PG. 16

AcousticGuitar.com 13

THE BEAT

The album was recorded live in Nashville to help her “get back to what my bones have to say about songs and words and feeling and meaning.” It evokes the stark storytelling she’s known for onstage. “We did the very old-school style of recording where we put a microphone in the middle of the room and pushed record, and it’s one live performance,” she says, “so it’s very honest.” Jewel credits part of the unvarnished feel to her decision to produce the album herself. “I feel like you can’t help but be interpreted through somebody’s filter as a producer, no matter how transparent they try to be,” she says. “And I do think me producing this left things undone enough and raw enough and imperfect enough that the emotion and the heart was able to shine through, because it wasn’t about the craft, the perfection, and the gadgets and the gizmos that you’re using. I couldn’t have made a different record. If you gave me all the money in the world and said, ‘Make a different record,’ I couldn’t.” Jewel dedicated Picking Up the Pieces to her grandmother Ruth, a poet and opera singer who moved from Switzerland to escape the war and start a new life in America. “[She] took me aside with tears in her eyes and told me it was worth it for her to give up her dreams to see them come true for me,” Jewel explains. “She made such an amazing sacrifice, and my dad sacrificed. I wrote ‘My Father’s Daughter’ for both of them.”

DYLAN FOR THE CURIOUS & COMPLETISTS

NITTY GRITTY KICK OFF 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR

You have to love these official bootlegs. There are Bob Dylan fans who would argue that he reached his career apex with three masterpieces released in quick succession in 1965 and ’66: Bringing It All Back Home, the record where he famously “went electric” for the first time (though half of the album is acoustic guitar-based), and the fully electric Highway ’61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. Those hardcore Dylan acolytes are sure to love The Cutting Edge 1965 & 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12, a new box set packed with rarities, including unreleased demos, alternate takes, and rehearsals of songs from those three albums. There are three versions of Vol. 12 to choose from: The two-disc The Best of the Cutting Edge, offers multiple takes of such classics as “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” “She Belongs to Me,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and others (many of them acoustic); the six-disc edition features multiple takes of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” “Desolation Row,” and “Visions of Johanna,” to name just a few; and the massive 18-disc set includes “every note recorded during the 1965–66 sessions, every alternate take, and alternate lyric.” The Cutting Edge 1965 & 1966 is available on bobdylan.com, Amazon, . —Blair Jackson

To commemorate its 50th year as a leading voice in American roots music, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will hit the road this spring and release a PBS-TV special scheduled to air during the national pledge drive, March 5–20. The PBS special, which was filmed at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on September 14, featured all-star guests, including John Prine, Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker, former Dirt Band members Jackson Browne and Jimmy Ibbotson, plus Jerry Douglas on resonator guitar, Sam Bush on mandolin, and Byron House on bass. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founding member Jeff Hanna tells Billboard: “We’ve got a lot of plans that we are really excited about doing— some big-event shows. I doubt that we’ll be able to bring everyone from the Ryman out on the road with us, but we’ve got a lot of music to celebrate and stories to tell.” In a cultural watershed, the band helped nurture the then-burgeoning Americana movement: With the release of 1972’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken—featuring bluegrass, country, and old-timey notables—the Dirt Band bridged the generational gap between young and old by introducing traditional music to a mainstream pop audience. For tour updates, visit nittygritty.com. —W.P.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

14 January 2016

PRS Acoustics A Culture of Quality

© 2014 PRS Guitars / Photos by Marc Quigley

Born in our Maryland shop, PRS acoustics are heirloom instruments with remarkable tone and exquisite playability. A small team of experienced luthiers handcraft all of our Maryland-made acoustic instruments with passion and attention to detail.

The PRS Guitars’ Acoustic Team.

JAY BLAKESBERG

5 MINUTES WITH GARY CLARK JR.

Gary Clark Jr. performs at the Bridge School benefit concert in October.

Making It Count Powerhouse blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. reveals his acoustic side BY KENNY BERKOWITZ

Since winning a Grammy for his 2012 debut Blak and Blu (Warner), 31-year-old Texas bluesman Gary Clark Jr. has opened for the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, sat in with the Foo Fighters on Austin City Limits, and won back-toback Blues Music Awards for Best Contemporary Blues Male Artist. Now, on The Story of Sonny Boy Slim (Warner), he’s returned with an album that’s even stronger, showing a tighter focus on soul influences like Curtis Mayfield and Pops Staples, and two songs—the gospel-tinged “Church” and the gutbucket “Shake”—that reaffirm his roots in acoustic blues. 16 January 2016

Which would you rather write on: acoustic or electric guitar? Most of my songs start on acoustic, because I really can feel it that way. If I take the time to just wander around the house, try out different rooms, and really zone out, I can hear the way a song sounds bouncing off the walls. Then I plug in later, dial some things in, and turn it up a bit. Why is it better to begin on acoustic? When I’m playing acoustic, I’m just trying to figure out the chord progression, the structure, come up with a melody. As I become more comfortable, the song grows in my head, and I get to a place where I start playing within the chords, dancing around a little more. But the acoustic is really the rock in all of this. The root. There’s something special about fingerpicking an acoustic guitar, the way it resonates in your lap, and I just feel grounded. To me, there’s nothing more raw and stripped-down than playing acoustic guitar, sitting out in the middle of a field somewhere. It makes me think about the musicians that inspired me to pick up the guitar, my teachers in a sense, and play with them in mind. Like who? Elizabeth Cotten. Lead Belly. Son House. Skip James. Robert Johnson. Charley Patton.

I hear an echo of Charley Patton in ‘Shake.’ Was that a conscious decision? There was a Quaker Oats can turned into some sort of three-string guitar that was hanging around the studio. I was admiring it, then miked it up, and “Shake” just happened. I didn’t even check the tuning. And the song ‘Church’ seems rather impromptu. Was it? I was wandering around the studio with a ’47 Martin 00-18, and the song came to me in a onetake situation. I sat down in front of the microphone, the guys pushed the record button, and “Church” came out. It was one of those inspired, in-the-moment things. What was the inspiration? Oh, man, just thinking about being out on the road and ending up in a hotel room in some foreign place. Spending a lot of time out on the road, being gone, being away from family. Has becoming a father changed the way you think about guitar? It definitely has. I went through a whole transition when I was in the studio, focusing on every note. You know, trying to lead by example, pushing myself to be better. If I’m gonna play it, I’ve got to make it count. AG

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FROM THE MELTING POT By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Rustic folk artist Woody Pines steps from the street to the stage

L to R Skip Frontz Jr., Woody Pines, Brad Tucker

18 January 2016

or three years in the early 2000s, Woody Pines spent nearly every day busking in New Orleans’ French Quarter with his band at the time, the Kitchen Syncopators. With Pines playing a cheese grater, measuring cups, kazoo, fiddle, and other colorful instrumentation, and Gill Landry (future member of Old Crow Medicine Show) on a National guitar, the band knocked out blues, jug-band, and hillbilly songs—and got an education in performance. “You learn when you need an upbeat song, and then you learn actually you can suck in [audiences] by playing a slow song,” says Pines, in a conversation before a show in upstate New York. “You learn to project and play with a little bit more energy that gets that nice, authentic sound with strings buzzing on frets—really trying to get your instrument out there, competing with a garbage truck and a parade that goes by, the blues band on the other block. You don’t necessarily need to scream and shout, but then, a few hollers don’t hurt.” Pines carried those lessons over to the solo act he launched after the Kitchen Syncopators disbanded. Now based in Nashville, Pines tours all over, playing a beat-up National along with Skip Frontz Jr. on rockabilly-style slapped upright bass and Brad Tucker on electric lead guitar. The rollicking sound of that trio is featured on Woody Pines’ new self-titled album on the Muddy Roots label; the collection spans Hot Club-style swing (Irving Berlin’s “My Walking Stick”), honky-tonk (“New Nashville Boogie”), folk fingerpicking (the Elizabeth Cotten-esque “Little Stella Blue”), and blues (“Make It to the Woods,” from the Mississippi Sheiks, mashed up with some lyrics from “Keep Your Skillet Good and Greasy”). A big influence on Pines’ repertoire is Northwest fingerpicker, record collector, and resonator-guitar aficionado Baby Gramps. Pines grew up in the remote hollows of northern New Hampshire, but headed west after high school. He tracked down one of his other heroes, U. Utah Phillips, but found that the legendary folk singer, rambler, and rabble-rouser “didn’t really

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WHAT WOODY PINES PLAYS

have interest in hanging out with us dirty hobos.” By contrast, Gramps took Pines and his friends under his wing. “Gramps seemed to stay up all night and loved showing us how to play ‘Ragtime Millionaire’ or saying, ‘This is how Riley Puckett did it,’” Pines says. All along, Pines was not only learning old songs but writing his own. With the Kitchen Syncopators, he says, “We were forced to write upbeat songs that kind of sounded like these blues juke-joint songs. Back then a lot of the stuff was slower and wasn’t really designed for the street.” Pines wrote several songs on his new solo album with his old friend Felix Hatfield, who was also a member of the Kitchen Syncopators and now lives in Portland, Oregon. “We get together every once in a while and lock ourselves in a kitchen and get a bottle of whiskey and say we have to come up with ten songs, 20 songs,” Pines says. “He’s really prolific, so he drives me to write.” Pines’ touring circuit these days—at festivals and on real stages as opposed to sidewalks— allows for a different type of songwriting. “When we started indoors,” he says, “and even the venues changed from honky-tonks to [music halls] where they’ll be silent, you can really take people deeper.”

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fter our conversation, Pines and his trio take the stage at the Nelson Odeon, a century-old grange hall in the tiny town of Nelson, New York, and quickly win over the crowd with high-energy, joyous grooves, and ripping solos by Tucker. The performers and the audience are clearly having far too much fun with this music to think about what to call it. “I don’t really pick apart the styles of Americana,” Pines says. “I come from the Harry Smith school, where you’ll put a Cajun tune back-toback with a gospel tune, and then a white hillbilly tune next to a sea shanty. They’re all forms of American music. It’s still a very new, lively, fermenting melting pot.” AG

When people ask Pines how old his well-worn National is, he likes to say “turn of the century,” by which he means, turn of this century. It’s a 1998 wood-bodied National Estralita, amplified with an external mic and a K&K Pure Resonator pickup (left) through an L.R. Baggs Venue DI.

He uses D’Addario phosphor bronze strings (swapping in an Ernie Ball nickel G string that he says lasts longer), a Shubb capo, and the heaviest Dunlop fingerpicks he can find (two fingers and a thumb). He switches between Mississippi John Hurt-style fingerpicking and using the thumbpick like a flatpick. AcousticGuitar.com 19

HARD WORK

Christopher Paul Stelling shows his fierce chops on ‘Labor Against Waste’

20 January 2016

By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

JENN SWEENEY

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hen he was 24, Christopher Paul Stelling lived in Asheville, North Carolina, in a friend’s closet, spending his nights creating guitar instrumentals with looping pedals. But one day, he recalls, “I just decided, this is not my direction, and I took all of my pedals to a pawnshop to get rid of them.” At the shop, a guitar caught his eye: a 1964 Gibson C-1 nylon-string with a $200 price tag. After an hour of playing it, he resolved to go home with the guitar rather than the much-needed cash. “My plan to pay rent that month was foiled,” Stelling says, “but my fate was sealed.” In the ten years since then, the C-1 has been the 33-year-old Stelling’s constant companion, as he’s forged a singular style that blends folkand blues-rooted songwriting with agile fingerstyle guitar. (Think blues guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps with a classical guitar, and you’re in the ballpark.) Last summer, Stelling took a big step into the spotlight: He released his third album, Labor Against Waste, on the Anti- label; taped a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music; and made his debut at the Newport Folk Festival—a dramatic set that ended with a standing ovation and an onstage proposal to his girlfriend, singer Julia Christgau. A few weeks after Newport, in the midst of a breakneck tour that had taken Stelling to nine countries since the beginning of the year, he stops by my home studio in upstate New York, accompanied by Christgau, for an interview and performance that was webcast live on Concert Window. In jeans and a black t-shirt, with a tangle of bracelets on his right wrist, he opened his case and pulled out his guitar. The C-1 is quite a sight. It has a hole scraped through the top by his hard-driving right hand, and an array of other cracks, gouges, and carved decorations, including “CPS” in block letters above the fingerboard. Held together—barely, it seems—with applications of superglue, tape, and wood screws, Stelling’s Gibson has become the most memorably battered guitar since Willie Nelson’s Trigger. “My story as a songwriter and as a performer and the guitar’s story are synonymous,” Stelling says, warming up with speedy classicalstyle arpeggios up the neck. In conversation, he comes across much like his music—soft-spoken, serious, and deeply thoughtful, with a sometimes startling intensity. AcousticGuitar.com 21

CHRISTOPHER PAUL STELLING

JOSH WOOL

WHAT CHRISTOPHER PAUL STELLING PLAYS

EXPLORING FINGERSTYLE Stelling grew up in Florida, drawn early on to the stripped-down sounds of folk. He remembers listening to collections of ’60s songs as a teenager and was particularly taken with Dave Van Ronk’s Folksinger and the way the gruffvoiced guitarist roamed over the landscape of American roots music. “One second he sounds like Winnie the Pooh,” Stelling says with a smile, “and in another he sounds like a fire truck.” Stelling discovered he had an aptitude for fingerstyle guitar, and eventually a fellow player recommended he check out the Takoma and Windham Hill guitar scenes. That led to an 22 January 2016

immersion into the music of such pioneering acoustic-guitar instrumentalists as John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Leo Kottke, and Alex de Grassi. A pivotal point came in 2006, when Stelling attended de Grassi’s guitar camp in Northern California. De Grassi asked Stelling if he ever sang or wrote songs. “I wanted to be an instrumental guitar player, but there’s been so much done with it and they’re all so good,” Stelling says. “I got the vibe that he saw a path for me.” Though Stelling started off playing steelstring, he has found that a nylon-string guitar has a lot of advantages for his style. “Nylon strings are very comfortable, and I think you get a lot more dynamics out of them. You can

Christopher Paul Stelling plays a 1964 Gibson C-1. In his early 20s, he worked for a luthier in Boulder, Colorado. It was an experience that encouraged Stelling to make a number of unorthodox repairs to his guitar while on tour, such as using tiny screws to secure a loose brace and sealing raw areas of the top with a coat of superglue. Stelling amplifies the C-1 with an L.R. Baggs iBeam Active Pickup for classical guitar and a Baggs Para Acoustic DI box. At the time of the interview, he’d just started using a Shure wireless guitar pedal, which doubles as a tuner and allows him to roam into the audience during a show. The guitarist uses Savarez Red Card strings and a Shubb capo. Following advice from Alex de Grassi, Stelling has acrylic nails on three fingers and his thumb; he has them applied once a month at a nail salon. At larger shows, Stelling uses a boot board he made with a piece of plywood, lifted up on one side by a wooden dowel, and a contact mic in the corner. The signal goes into an EQ pedal that cuts all but the bass frequencies to get a kick-drum thump in the house PA.

really pop them,” he says, giving the high E string a quick free stroke with his acrylic fingernail, “and there’s a natural compression that happens. Especially for going into different tunings, they are much more durable. I always found with steel strings, it’s not really the playing that breaks the strings; it’s the changing of the tunings.” Stelling has become more restrained in his use of tunings over the years. “They’re a slippery slope, because you can get kind of lost in them, and you can’t really find your way out,” he says, tuning to open E for the song “Warm Enemy.” “But using them in conjunction with standard tuning is fine.” In addition to “Warm

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Enemy,” two other songs on Labor Against Waste are in alternate tunings: “Castle” is also in open E (E B E G B E), and “Dear Beast” is in open –E minor (E B E G B E). Open tunings were crucial for Stelling in developing his picking hand. With help from de Grassi, Stelling learned to play polyrhythms while maintaining a steady alternating bass. “I feel like open tunings taught me how to fingerpick, because I could stop worrying about

my left hand and just focus,” he says. “There was a long time when I would just tune to an open chord, capo it up, and sit on the couch and maybe watch a movie or stare out the window and let the fingers roll and find their place.” While Stelling’s guitar style has clear roots in folk-blues fingerpicking, he also draws from the vocabulary of Spanish guitar, with touches of flamenco-style rasgueado strumming,

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classical tremolo, and the like. His use of these demanding techniques suggests some kind of formal study, but Stelling says he picked them up mostly by woodshedding. “If I had a method, it would be to help teach people how to find their own method, because everybody has their own unique rhythm,” he says. “It has to do with the way your brain neurons fire and the way your heart beats. I just think making that time available to sit and find it is key. It’s what worked for me.” BUILDING SONGS Seated in my home studio in front of a photo gallery of maverick musicians—Tom Waits, Ani DiFranco, Utah Phillips, Chris Whitley—Stelling kicks off his online set with “Warm Enemy” and describes writing it. Like many of his songs, this one began as a guitar improvisation that he captured on a portable recorder. While driving, he listened back to his improv and took note of some ideas he liked, and later he recorded another take. Again behind the wheel, he started singing along with the second improv, gradually finding a melody and some words. The result is a song with a guitar part that could stand on its own as an instrumental, with a vocal overlaid—sometimes in unison with the guitar melody, sometimes in counterpoint. “I rely on my guitar playing as the vehicle,” Stelling says. “Some people rely on their lyrics as the vehicle, and some people rely on their voice. For me, because I’m interested in the lyrics and I’m interested in the guitar, the actual quality of the voice is less interesting. Some of my favorite singers have some of the most unorthodox or untrained voices—everybody from Ethel Merman to Tom Waits. It’s all about the delivery.” When it comes to finding lyrics, Stelling uses a journal and free writing to help generate ideas. “Free writing is great,” he says. “The key to writing is just always write more than you need, because it’s way easier to edit it down than it is to add after the fact.” As Stelling’s songwriting and guitar craft evolve, he finds himself looking to the past for inspiration—following the trail of influence back to artists like the early blues guitarist Geeshie Wiley, whose eerie 1930 recording “Last Kind Words Blues” he obsessed over for years. “I’m not very interested in what’s going on now,” Stelling says. “Maybe I will be in 20 years—I’ll be looking at what’s happening in 2015. But with every passing generation there’s so much history that I feel like is required listening, required reading. “There’s a lot to take in. We’re blessed and overwhelmed with that.” AG

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RAMBLIN’ MAN By Kenny Berkowitz

‘Once’ creator Glen Hansard returns to his busking style on his second solo effort

26 January 2016

I

t’s a sunny summer day in County Kildare, just outside Dublin, and with a month to go before the release of Didn’t He Ramble (Anti-) Glen Hansard is writing a new song. Back in January, when his car broke down in Jamaica, a woman passed by and asked, “Are you getting through?” He’s been thinking about those four words ever since. “What a beautiful sentence,” Hansard says. “Are you getting through? Are you getting through to someone? Are you getting through to yourself? So I’ve been sitting with that line for the past few days, and that’s the song that’s coming to me right now.” He picks up his Takamine and begins to sing: Are you getting through? Are you breathing? Is there someone looking out for you? Do you need it? Are you getting on? Are you drinking? Are you feeling strong? Are you sinking?

I

MANFRED POLLERT

Less than an hour old, the song already has a melody, though the one Hansard sings is different from the one he tried a few minutes earlier, and it will keep changing as he keeps writing. It has a key, although that’s shifted, too. At this point, the song is just a sketch, but it has a clear emotional center—what Hansard calls “a genuine empathy,” where he’s checking on a friend in need—and a set of lyrics that grows in intensity as he finds his way into the story. “The thing is, you write these lines down, but they’re just lines, they don’t matter at all,” Hansard says. “You throw them down, get them on paper, but what matters is the intention. And then what you do, what I did, is reverse them, make the song about yourself. And suddenly, the song is: I’m getting through I’m breathing Looking out for someone new Still believing (or self-deceiving) I’ve been staying home, I’ve been drinking Sleeping in too long Over-thinking.

“Two different ways, and whichever one resonates, whichever one feels the most uncomfortable to sing, is probably the right one,” says Hansard. “So much of the time, we’d like to create an image of ourselves as strong. But a song is an opportunity to be vulnerable in a way that’s different from regular conversation. It’s putting yourself on the line.”

H

ansard has been putting himself on the line since he quit school at 13, determined to find his way as a busker on the streets of Dublin. At 19, he and some busking mates founded the Frames, a rock band that’s been phenomenally successful in Ireland and is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new compilation, Longitude (Anti-). At 20, he appeared as Outspan Foster in director Alan Parker’s 1991 film about a struggling Irish band, The Commitments, At the time, wanted to be performing his own music, but now looks back at the project fondly. At 26, he did a more personal film, Once, in which he played a version of himself as a Dublin busker. In that 2006 movie, he falls in love with a street vendor, played by Markéta Irglová, his real-life singing partner in the Swell Season. Filmed on a shoestring budget, and directed by former Frames bassist John Carney, Once went on to become a multimillion-dollar international hit, leading to an Academy Award (Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song, for “Falling Slowly,” recorded by both the Swell Season and the Frames). It spawned a chart-topping soundtrack, a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, a Grammy Award-winning score, a tour with Bob Dylan, a second album by the Swell Season, and a third film for Hansard, the 2011 documentary The Swell Season. Once brought Hansard worldwide fame, launching his solo career with the stunning 2012 album Rhythm and Repose (Anti-). After four attempts in late 2015, he released Didn’t He Ramble, which is even better than the previous set. “It was a tough record to put down,” says Hansard, who spent two years trying to find the right settings for the album’s ten tracks. “Songs aren’t difficult to start. If I was to play you that song I just sang, to play a full first verse, second verse, chorus, middle AcousticGuitar.com 27

GLEN HANSARD

eight, and an ending, then I’d be impressed, because I would have written a song in under an hour. But all I have now is a bit of a shape, a sketch, and that’s frequently where the song is at its best, before all the changes and movements and rethinks and rewrites. Because it’s at its most free in that moment; its most untethered, its most undefined.” Didn’t He Ramble’s first video, the Dylanesque “Winning Streak,” started as “You Are My Friend,” which became “May Your Losing Streak Find an End.” After a few more iterations, Hansard transformed the piece into the more affirming “May Your Winning Streak Never End.” The soulful “Her Mercy,” which features the Commitments’ horn section, was one of the easiest songs he’s written, coming in a flash after reading a biography of Leonard Cohen, the song’s unnamed subject. The folktrad “McCormack’s Wall” came on the morning after a night of carousing at the birthplace of tenor John McCormack and the grave of Irish Republican rebel Wolfe Tone. The album’s opening cut, “Grace Beneath the Pines,” arrived while Hansard was waiting at a baggage claim in New Zealand. “This line was just going around my head: ‘There’ll be no more running around for me, no more backing down,’” he says. “And oftentimes, that’s when music comes to you, when you’re at your least conscious, when you’re doing something really banal, like waiting for your bag to come out. In my head, I was enjoying the fact that it sounded like a prayer. It sounded like something old. It felt natural and easy. But when I took out my guitar, because my knowledge of the instrument is so limited, I applied these really bog standards, average chords for this ethereal melody, and I ended up going, ‘God, this is a dreadful song.’” Then Hansard decided it wasn’t a dreadful song, just a dreadful guitar part. He was touring at the time, so he tried a punched-up version of the song with horns, which he sings into the telephone, punctuating the rhythm with shouts of, “Buh! Buh! Buh!” But to Hansard, it felt like a pose, and no matter how many different arrangements he tried, it sounded dishonest until he reached the final sessions, which has him singing over a droning C chord, the barest piano accompaniment, and a couple of muted horns at the end as he chants, “I’ll get through this, I’ll get through this, I’ll get through this, I’ll get through this.” It’s the kind of performance only Hansard can deliver, filled with hope and despair, strength and vulnerability, and after all this time and all those different attempts, he’s happy with the final version. 28 January 2016

F

or Hansard, happiness has come in a cluster. He’s also happy to be celebrating 25 years with the Frames, whose new album includes a song that didn’t seem right for Didn’t He Ramble, though it’s hard for him to describe the difference between Glen Hansard with the band and Glen Hansard without the band. He’s at peace with his role in The Commitments, thrilled to have reunited with his mates for the film’s 20th-anniversary celebrations, and pleased he’s still touring with part of the horn section. He misses “the Horse,” the battered Takamine NP15 he’d played for years, and he’s angry that when he plays it now, all he hears is the sound of glue and varnish stabilizing the body. He’s replaced it with four newer NP15s, including one that’s almost as battered as the Horse was in its prime, about five years ago. Hansard says he’s not getting much better as a guitarist, but he doesn’t seem to mind; as rough as it can be sometimes, he has all the technique he needs to deliver his songs in his best busking style. “I never really wanted to be good at guitar playing,” Hansard confesses. “I love being a guitarist, of course I do, but I often felt that if I ever got too caught up in what my fingers were doing, then something in my soul would be restricted. So I don’t want to know how to do the fancy chords, because then I’m going to go onstage and concentrate on the fancy chords, and not on what is going on inside me. “It would be great if I could do both, like Mark Knopfler, play amazingly and sing amazingly and mean it and own it. But, for me, the instrument has one job, and that job is to present the song. After that, if I happen to pull a fancy riff, or do something good on the guitar, then great. But the job of the guitar is to say the song and nothing else.” And what about the song he started this morning? “Well, if I’m diligent and I stay with it, it’ll become a song that I’ll play at these upcoming gigs,” Hansard says. “If I play it at these gigs, it’ll become a song on my next record—well, maybe. There are songs you write when you’re just about to release a record, that were too late to make the last record and too early to make the next one. They tend to go through the cracks, but I’d like to think this song has something. We’ll see. It’ll either start running around my head and haunting me or I’ll just forget it. But if the song is good enough, it’ll haunt you. “At the end of the day, what should dictate whether a song is worth singing or not is whether you can mean it,” he adds. “Can you own this? Can you sing this? Can you sing this with the right intention? If you can, then it’s right!” AG

WHAT GLEN HANSARD PLAYS GUITARS “The Horse [Hansard’s old Takamine NP15] is out to pasture. I haven’t used it for a while. It stopped sounding good because I beat it too hard. Like any tool, like any person, it just got old. That’s where the Horse is right now: It just sounds spent. And I feel really sad about it, but that’s just the way it is. So I got another Takamine [NP15] that’s beginning to look almost exactly the same as the Horse, and it sounds great. To me, Takamine is the best guitar, because when I hit it hard, it doesn’t choke. I don’t know quite what it does do, but it doesn’t choke. It’s a workhorse, a working guitar, and I’ve really gotten used to it.” STRINGS “Lately, I’ve been using the Elixir Nanowebs, which last about five times longer than the strings I used to use. The way my hands sweat, the old strings used to go completely dead after half a gig.” PICKS Jim Dunlop orange tortex plectrums, .60mm EFFECTS 1994 Sovtek “Green Russian” Big Muff, Line 6 DL4—Green (for looping only) DI Radial JDI-passive CAPO Shubb C1 original brass finish

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MADE TO ORDER

Custom-built guitars can provide a personal touch at (almost) any budget By Adam Perlmutter

30 January 2016

I

n the summer of 2012, Brooklynbased guitarist Ben Wood, a Gypsy jazz aficionado, made a pilgrimage to the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival in Samoissur-Seine, France. Wandering the tents populated by instrument makers displaying their latest creations, Wood happened upon the finest guitar he’d ever encountered, both sonically and aesthetically. It was a Manouche-style guitar built by the luthier Vladimir Muzic. Wood decided to commission one for himself. “I wasn’t even in the market for a new guitar,” he says. “But I ordered one on the spot.” When Wood returned to the tent in 2013, he discovered that Muzic not only had built him a doppelgänger, but the luthier also reserved the original guitar. After spending a weekend visiting and revisiting the tent, playing both instruments and agonizing over which guitar to take home, Wood settled on the older one. Two years later, the instrument remains Wood’s workhorse, inspiring him in ways that a production guitar never could. “I can play better because of the guitar. Everything is so clear—I can really push it, dynamically and otherwise, and it allows for complex chords that haven’t been available to me on lesser guitars,” says Wood, who now lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where he plays in the ensemble Franglais. Wood is among a growing number of guitarists who have found handmade instruments that meet their specialized needs. In the late 1960s and ’70s, when luthiers like Michael Gurian and William Cumpiano set up shop, there were few artisan alternatives to factory-made steel-string acoustics. But today, thanks to informational resources widely available on the Internet, thousands of independent luthiers around the world make superfine guitars in every style imaginable. They can provide everything from customized combinations of tonewoods to bass-bout bevels to decorative inlays.

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EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITIES Most guitarists are happy with stock instruments, but many choose to seek custom-made guitars. Paul Heumiller, who owns the boutique shop Dream Guitars in Weaverville, North Carolina, says the latter typically fit into two camps. “Some experienced players know exactly what they need and have not been able to find it in an existing instrument,” Heumiller says. “This could be [a set of] physical dimensions to custom-fit a player’s hands or body, a custom voicing to suit your particular music, or a combination of the two. Other players just want something unique—it’s great fun for them to be able to choose their own woods and design elements for a highly personalized guitar.”

Whatever your reasons for wanting a custom-made guitar, there’s no shortage of enticing photographs and demonstrations of fresh offerings on luthiers’ websites, in online shops, or on discussion boards. But to really get a sense of what instrument type, size, tonewood combination, or individual luthier are right for you, it’s best to audition guitars in person. An excellent way to do that is to visit a shop like North Carolina’s Dream Guitars or Mighty Fine Guitars, in Lafayette, California, both always stocked with nice representations of artisan-made instruments and expert staffers. “Someone who has extensive experience with a wide variety of luthiers, who has heard all the wood combinations and compared many guitars to one another can definitely help guide you,” Heumiller says. Another great way to learn about custom options and luthiers is to visit a guitar show such as the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, held each October in Upstate New York, or the Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival, launched last June. At either show you’ll find hundreds of independent guitar makers exhibiting flattops, archtops, and everything in between. You can get a good sense of a luthier’s work and even start a conversation about a custom order, with the added benefit of the guitar maker getting the opportunity to assess your playing style to determine what specifications would be best for you. Harvey Leach, a Northern California luthier known for his detailed inlay work and for inventing the Voyage Air travel guitar, says getting to know his customers is hugely helpful. “Whenever possible I like to see and hear a customer play one of my guitars,” Leach says. “Because then there is a basis for [knowing] exactly what things like ‘loud’ and ‘balanced’ and ‘rich’ really mean [to individual guitarists]. I find a lot of times customers will say something like, ‘I have a mahogany-and-spruce guitar and I want something fuller and richer.’ I get that, but it can be hard to find out what kind of spruce they have or how the guitar was braced or what kind of finish it has. If it’s my guitar I know exactly what I did to get where their observations are coming from.” HANDMADE OPTIONS AT ALL PRICES Many factors go into pricing custom-built guitars, including the luthier’s level of experience, overhead, demand for the instruments, and costs of the materials (which can be pricey in the case of precious tonewoods like Brazilian rosewood). “Custom guitars from builders with adequate experience start at about $3,000, with some of the top makers selling guitars for $20,000 to $50,000,” Heumiller says. AcousticGuitar.com 31

CUSTOM MAKERS

Stevie Coyle, owner of Mighty Fine Guitars, which specializes in handmade instruments

At the higher end of the price spectrum are luthiers like William “Grit” Laskin, who will design a guitar complete with your personal narrative inlaid across the fretboard in a photorealistic way. Then there’s John Monteleone, who makes ultra-luxurious archtops. On the other end are handmade guitars that fall in about same price range as good production-model instruments. Todd Cambio, the Madison, Wisconsin-based luthier behind Fraulini Guitars, makes modern reproductions of early 20th-century guitars, with period-correct materials like hide-glue and varnish finishes, starting at $3,300. In Montreal, Mike Kennedy of Indian Hill Guitars builds elegant steel-string, nylon-string, and tenor guitars starting at $5,000. 32 January 2016

“I build about five or six guitars per year,” says Kennedy, a protégé of the Canadian luthier Sergei de Jonge. “I customize each instrument to suit an individual player by adjusting the top thickness and deflection, and tuning based on the desired string gauge and the tension those strings are going to impart. The real tricky part comes with wood selection and voicing the top. I’m not a huge believer in ‘this wood sounds like that,’ but there are certainly some broad generalizations that seem to be valid, particularly with the top wood.” At a time when many high-quality, factorymade guitars are available at modest prices, numbers like $5,000, let alone $50,000, some customers are wary of. But it’s not exactly fair

to compare an instrument made on an assembly line to one crafted by hand, from start to finish, by a single artisan. And compared to orchestral concert-level stringed instruments, luthiermade guitars are relatively affordable. “Even the most expensive guitars are very cheap compared to custom-built violins, violas, and cellos, which commonly go for $100,000 to $300,000,” Heumiller says. FROM TRADITIONAL TO RADICAL The typical luthier works with a handful of basic designs, offering many options and variations in terms of wood selection and detailing. For instance, in his Oakland, California workshop, Ervin Somogyi makes six main types of

a Model E for a client who desires a 426 tuning, his variation on the 432Hz tuning, which some people find to be more restful. I used a different scale length, moved the soundhole dramatically, and built it with a 12-fret neck. I believe he will be pleased,” she says. Leach has accommodated similarly unconventional requests, and in one case, it led to the development of his patented line of travel guitars. “Interestingly enough,” he says, “the inspiration for Voyage Air came from a customer’s request for a guitar with a removable neck. I built him the guitar and that got me thinking.” Even if you’ve got a wacky design in mind, it’s possible you’ll find a luthier who can realize your instrument. This was certainly the case with the strange four-necked instrument, dubbed Pikasso, that the Canadian luthier Linda Manzer made for the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny in 1984. (It was the first instrument to feature the Manzer wedge, in which the body is thinner on the bass side, in the interest of player comfort.) “I love a challenge. It’s an adventure for both of us,” Manzer says. “After a client tells me their overall concept, I ask a lot of questions and try to get a total sense of the design in my head. Then I put on my engineer’s hat and try to figure out if it can even be made; it has to be sturdy enough to withstand string tension but playable and ergonomic. Once I determine it’s possible, I start to design the guitar. That’s where it gets tricky and fun, balancing stability with sensitivity.”

steel-string guitars, from large to small, jumbo, dreadnought, modified dreadnought, OM, 00, and 000, each available as a 14- or 12-fret version, with or without cutaway, and with a solid or slotted headstock. But his decorative work, in which he more often carves wood rather than uses shell inlays to create elaborate motifs and pictorial representations, makes each instrument unique. Some luthiers are open to realizing clients’ visions—subtle or radical—even if they depart from the makers’ ordinary templates. Recently, Kathy Wingert, a luthier based in Southern California, was working on an instrument tweaked to match her customer’s nonstandard intonational preferences. “On my bench now is

FROM CONVERSATION TO COMPLETED INSTRUMENT The process for commissioning a custom guitar usually starts with a deposit and a dialogue between luthier and musician—a conversation in which the builder gathers the data needed to build and fine-tune the instrument, discussing different constructional aspects and tonewood options and, in many cases, sending photographs of wood sets for a client to choose. The discussion can be terse or protracted. “One of the interesting things about customguitar orders is that the process of exchanging all the information required to build a guitar can sometimes be more time-consuming than actually building the guitar!” Leach says. “I had one customer with whom I exchanged over 60 e-mails and several phone calls—probably over two weeks’ worth. On the other hand, I once had a client buy a very expensive guitar and our total correspondence was only three emails.” The highly anticipated wait for the arrival of a custom guitar can be as little as several months

Over 50 handmade American guitars in stock in the UK

Manzer Somogyi Matsuda Traugott Borges Circa Laskin Baranik Fay Wren Tippin Claxton Kraut Doerr Kinnaird Brondel Jang Ogino Strahm Luthier made guitars from £3000 “I have never met anyone like Trevor, his passion and dedication to North American guitars is unique in the world.” Grit Laskin “TAMCO has one of the best collections of handmade guitars on the planet”. Ervin Somogyi. “Its like attending your own private acoustic guitar festival. Trevor offers the world’s best Guitars.” Linda Manzer 01273671841 theacousticmusicco.co.uk 11.00 - 6.00 Tues to Sat AcousticGuitar.com 33

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34 January 2016

or as long as a few years. Some luthiers keep clients apprised of their instruments’ progress through emails and photos of build progress, while others prefer to work without the distractions that these updates create. Players who’ve done their homework, like Ben Wood or Al Petteway, the Grammy-winning fingerstylist, tend to fall in love with their luthier-built guitars.But there are exceptions. Guitarists sometimes get fixed ideas about what their completed guitar will sound and feel like, and experience disappointment when the finished creation doesn’t conform exactly to their vision. “It’s important to have some degree of flexible expectations when ordering a luthier-made guitar,” says Erich Solomon, an archtop maker in New Hampshire. “After all, instrument making is an organic process, and of course even two identical handmade instruments made from all the same woods won’t sound and perform exactly alike.” Not all luthiers have failsafe systems when it comes to documenting orders, so it’s not a bad idea to make sure to get all of the specifications for your custom guitar in writing. That way you can avoid any unwanted surprises when the instrument is completed. “I once ordered a custom guitar and specified the wood for the, top, back, and sides, as well as the basic body size and shape. When the guitar was almost finished, the builder called to tell me and described the guitar. The body size and shape were correct, but the wood for the back and sides was wrong, as was the wood for the fingerboard,” says Petteway, adding that he ended up bonding closely with the botched guitar. Luckily, most builders will provide a refund to a dissatisfied customer, so long as the guitar can be sold to someone else. Leach, for instance, once built a figured mahogany and bear-claw Sitka spruce guitar for a customer who ended up finding these woods too fancy and asked for something simpler—a guitar made of the plainest mahogany and streaky Adirondack spruce, along with an inlay of his name. The customer rejected this second guitar as being too homely for the price he paid. “Long story short, I ended up taking the guitar back and refunded his money minus the cost of replacing the inlay work,” Leach says. “I then resold both guitars to new customers and they are both convinced they have the best guitar I’ve ever built. I always say, no guitar is for everybody but every guitar is for somebody.”  Then there are the magical custom guitars that everybody seems to like. “At every gig, I invariably get asked about my guitar,” says Ben Wood. “And any musician who picks it up usually says what a great-sounding guitar it is—and that it plays like butter.” AG

THE CUSTOMSHOP OPTION Custom-made guitars aren’t just in the domain of individual builders. Within their factories, some of the major guitar companies have custom shops in which small teams of luthiers make built-to-order variations on their standard designs. Martin was the first major manufacturer to start a custom shop, formally opened in 1979 with the order of an employee guitar—essentially a D-41 with a D-45 neck, gold Schaller tuners, aging top toner, and a Barcus Berry under-saddle pickup. “It was Martin’s first official custom guitar—a detail for which I am most proud,” writes the guitar’s owner, Martin’s Dick Boak, in his autobiography, Dot to Dot: The Creative, Comical, and Covert Adventures of Dick Boak. “Many more guitars followed through the Martin Custom Shop. Each was an attempt to stretch the boundaries of what a guitar could or should be. The process of conceptualizing instruments on paper and commissioning the experts to do the work set the stage for what would become my real value and contribution to Martin”—and, by extension, the rest of the guitar industry. Martin’s Custom Shop currently employs craftsmen and craftswomen who build guitars using the same processes as Martin employees of the 1930s and ’40s. The guitars are priced from $1,999 list and incorporate options and materials from every standard line—and far beyond.

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Top A neck being shaped at the Martin Custom Shop

Bottom Inspector Chris Eckhart does the final setup on a Martin Custom Shop 000.

LOOPING MASTER CLASS WITH AARON DOUGLAS

This video demonstrates how to build a loop using beatbox vocals, rhythm guitar and soloing.

Looping is the buzz technique on today’s playing scene, and acoustic ace/loop master Aaron Douglas can get you started. In this Looping Master Class, Aaron walks us through the creation of a one-man symphony, comprising beatbox vocals, acoustic rhythm and guitar solo.

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Classic

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THE BASICS

38 Weekly Workout Learning from a jazz giantays

44 Acoustic Classic

A Texas blues classic—unplugged

54 Acoustic Classic

PLAY

Tom Waits’ ode to the road

Walking in Rhythm 3 ways to lock in solid time

BY OCTOBER CRIFASI

tapping eighth-notes in sync with the downbeat of your feet. Don’t overthink this. Just walk and see if you can keep the two going simultaneously. Using your rhythm hand provides the same physical motion of strumming, which will provide a direct physical recall of the experience when you’re actually playing the guitar. Go ahead and start trying out other rhythms like triplets or 16th notes. If your hand falls out of time with your steps, stop tapping and just walk until you feel ready to try it again. If actual counting throws you out of sync, forget about the numbers and think of it as the strum pattern “down-up, down-up, down-up, down-up.” If mobility is an issue, the same work can be done with just the hands tapping your legs. The fretting hand keeps the down beat or quarter note and the rhythm hand taps eighth notes, and so on. hythm is inherent in every facet of day-today life, though you may not be conscious of it. Take a minute and pay attention to the sounds and movement around you—the hum of an air conditioner, the whir of a lawnmower. Bring that same attention to your own body and place a hand over your heart so you can feel it beat. You are, in fact, a living and breathing metronome, something important to remember when finding and keeping the downbeat becomes a struggle. Before you decide to throw in the rhythmic towel or stomp the metronome into bits, take a moment to put down the guitar and pick up a pair of sneakers. Finding your natural sense of groove is as easy and accessible as going for a stroll.

R

WALK THE LINE It is impossible to walk consistently out of time. Try it and see how long you can keep it up.

After a few steps you will find yourself wanting desperately to resume a normal pace or tempo. And there’s the key: You, by nature of being human, walk in perfect time, each step perfectly matched to the next. You are walking the downbeat to any rhythm you choose; if you count in groups of four as you step, you are now a walking example of four-four time. Pay attention to what it feels like so you can call it up in your mind and body when playing. Now count in groups of three and note the difference in feel from four. IT’S ALL MIXED UP With the downbeat in place it’s time to add a different rhythm over it with your rhythm hand. You can either tap on the side of your leg or use something portable like a set of keys for this work. Either tap or shake the keys in your hand twice for each step you take, making sure each tap is equal to its partner. You are now

SAY IT TO PLAY IT Talking rhythm is an excellent tool as well, especially if paired with the physical activity of walking or clapping. If counting out loud is a challenge, turn the rhythm you need into words, names, or phrases that share the same feel. For example, the words “peanut butter” provide the equivalent of “one-and two-and” or two beats of eighth notes. Say it twice and you have a full measure in four-four time. Add the words “I like” to it and you have “one, two, three-and four-and.” You can also use strum or finger-picking patterns (“down, down, downup, down-up”). The nice thing about these techniques is that you can use them anywhere and incorporate them into just about any activity. Get creative. The point is to get connected to the rhythm you already have. By getting rhythm physically into your entire body, it will eventually find its way onto your guitar. AG AcousticGuitar.com 37

WEEKLY WORKOUT

Lessons from Monk

BY ADAM LEVY

Learn to build unconventional jazz voicings from open strings

helonious Sphere Monk was a brilliant jazz pianist and composer, active from the 1940s through the early ’70s. You are, presumably, an acoustic guitarist, playing music in the 21st century. As such, you may or may not be interested in classic jazz. But whatever your

predilections are, there’s plenty to be learned from Monk’s unique approach to music, and much of it can be adapted for your instrument. For example, Monk favored unconventional chord voicings, often including clusters of notes that neighbored the actual chord tones. You can

T

Week 1 Ex. 1 q = 80 Week 1 Ex. 1 A

do this on the guitar by using open strings in novel ways. Another common Monk tactic was to alter major or dominant chords to include a flatted fifth. If altered chords are new to you, don’t worry. There’s a little method to the madness, as you’ll see. Like a new favorite hot

WEEK 1

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sauce, you may use these tangy sounds as generously or as sparingly as you like. Another idiosyncratic aspect of Monk’s music was his approach to motivic development. He could develop any small musical idea could be developed into a much bigger, bolder statement. This is apparent in his improvisations and in many of his compositions. Since motivic development is a great musical tool— regardless of style or era—that’s where this Monk-inspired Weekly Workout course begins.

BEGINNERS’

TIP 1

Then write your own 12-bar blues—in any key—using just one motif throughout. WEEK TWO Another signature sound in much of Monk’s music is the whole-tone scale—a six-note scale constructed symmetrically, using consecutive whole steps (as shown in Ex. 2a, which starts on the note B). Monk frequently peppered his compositions and improvisations with wholetone flourishes as well as chord clusters built from the scale. Play the scale here ascending and descending a few times, doing your best to get some momentum going in both directions. Monk could—and often did—play through

fragments of this scale quite briskly. Ex. 2b–d illustrates some of the Monk-esque chordal sounds that can be created from the wholetone scale in this key. Because of the symmetrical nature of the whole-tone scale, chords built from it can be harder to name than the chords you find in conventional major-scale harmony. For instance, Ex. 2b might be considered a C#7 with an augmented 5, or A(add9) with an augmented 5, or something else altogether. Ex. 2c and 2d are equally mercurial. Generally speaking, assume that the lowest pitch is the root when naming these chords, but don’t overthink such sonorities. A little bit of mystery is fine in the whole-tone universe.

Learn to play a couple of Monk’s easier, blues-based tunes— “Misterioso” and “Blue Monk,” for example.

The Capo Company BEGINNERS’

TIP 2

Make a guitar happy this Christmas

Get to know Monk’s signature tune “Round Midnight” by listening to as many different recordings as you can find.

WEEK ONE Play Ex. 1, a 12-bar blues based on Monk’s composition “Misterioso.” One interesting quirk here (as in Monk’s original) is that the melody played over the I chord (bars 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, and 11) contains the note G #. This note implies an Amaj7 chord, whereas dominant chords are by far the most typical chords used in blues. This unusual quality is one of the things that makes “Misterioso” sound like no other blues tune in the jazz canon. Notice how the simple motif—a sixth interval, stair-stepping up and back—is used over and over through the entire piece. Some other composers may have been tempted to use more variety when writing a tune such as this, but Monk apparently found something compelling about tenacious repetition. Think about this when composing your own music. Instead of forcing something new into every measure, see how much music you can make out of one simple idea. Your twofold assignment this week: Practice Ex. 1 until you can play it smoothly at the prescribed tempo (80 bpm).

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AcousticGuitar.com 39

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3 4 WEEKLY WORKOUT 4 2

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40 January 2016

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Monk’s music often featured major and dominant chords that he tweaked by flatting the fifth degree Ex. 3a–d illustrate the same scale starting from C, as well as some chord clusters built from these scale tones. There are only two different whole-tone scales—one starting on B, and one starting on C. This is because the B whole-tone scale contains the exact same notes as the whole-tone scales starting on C, D, F, G, and A, while the C whole-tone scale contains the exact same notes as the whole-tone scales starting on D, E , F, G, and A. Lots of other chord shapes can be made from the whole-tone scale, of course, and you should search for some that sound especially sweet or piquant to your ears. Since you’ll want to include one open string within each of your voicings to maximize their clustery, Monk-like character, be sure to use your open E or D strings for C whole-tone chords and your open G, A, or B for B wholetone chords.

WEEK THREE Monk’s music often featured major and dominant chords that he tweaked by flatting the fifth degree. (Yes, such alterations are sometimes related to whole-tone scales, but not always. Try to think of this week’s examples simply as altered chords and not as products of whole-tone harmony.) Ex. 4a is a simple chord progression with no alterations, played with basic, open-position chords. Ex. 4b shows how much more interesting this chord progression can sound when 5 alterations are made. Try applying some 5 sounds to one of your own tunes, or to your arrangement of a cover song you enjoy playing. While the triadic chords are fairly straightforward, such alterations may be applied to jazzier chord progressions as well, as shown in Ex. 5. Note that in each case here, the altered tone (5) is a note from the key you’re in (C major). Hiding such colorful harmonies beneath diatonic melodies helps these chords sound more naturally integrated. Again, try applying this concept to one of your own compositions or an arrangement of a jazz standard. Ex. 6 shows how the concepts used in Ex. 5 can be utilized in minor harmony as well. Once

TIP 3 BEGINNERS’

Monk rarely wrote in guitar-friendly keys, like G or D, but you can always transpose his music to suit your own level or style.

BEGINNERS’

TIP 4

Monk’s musical advice (collected by a band member) is sharp and insightful. Google Thelonious Monk advice.

WEEK 3

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AcousticGuitar.com 41

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42 January 2016

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䴀䤀䐀匀

吀栀攀 瘀椀戀爀愀渀琀 氀漀渀最攀瘀椀琀礀 漀昀 愀氀甀洀椀渀甀洀

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䠀䤀䜀䠀匀

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䨀漀椀渀 琀栀攀 氀攀最愀挀礀 䨀漀栀渀 䴀愀礀攀爀Ⰰ 倀愀甀氀 䴀挀䌀愀爀琀渀攀礀Ⰰ 吀栀攀 䔀愀最氀攀猀Ⰰ 匀氀愀猀栀Ⰰ 䨀椀洀洀礀 倀愀最攀Ⰰ 䨀漀攀 䈀漀渀愀洀愀猀猀愀Ⰰ 䔀氀瘀椀猀 䌀漀猀琀攀氀氀漀Ⰰ 䌀栀爀椀猀 䌀漀爀渀攀氀氀Ⰰ 吀栀攀 圀栀椀琀攀 䈀甀û愀氀漀Ⰰ 䘀爀愀渀欀 吀甀爀渀攀爀Ⰰ 䈀爀愀搀 倀愀椀猀氀攀礀Ⰰ 䨀 䴀愀猀挀椀猀Ⰰ  䴀椀欀攀 一攀猀猀Ⰰ 䄀渀搀礀 䴀挀䬀攀攀Ⰰ 倀栀椀氀氀椀瀀 倀栀椀氀氀椀瀀猀Ⰰ 䈀椀氀氀椀攀 䨀漀攀 䄀爀洀猀琀爀漀渀最Ⰰ 䴀愀琀琀 䈀攀氀氀愀洀礀Ⰰ 䄀氀氀 吀椀洀攀 䰀漀眀Ⰰ 愀渀搀 琀栀漀甀猀愀渀搀猀 漀昀 漀琀栀攀爀猀 挀栀漀漀猀攀 䔀爀渀椀攀 䈀愀氀氀 䄀挀漀甀猀琀椀挀 匀琀爀椀渀最猀⸀

攀爀渀椀攀戀愀氀氀⸀挀漀洀

COURTESY OF MGM

ACOUSTIC CLASSIC

Cajun Spice Hank Williams’ ‘Jambalaya’ is a satisfying treat BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

the age of 29—he recorded 35 singles, each a gem of songcraft delivered in a haunting, plainspoken style. The tunes tend to be structurally and harmonically straightforward, and “Jambalaya” is no exception, meaning that it should be easy but satisfying for you to learn. In the key of C major, “Jambalaya” is built from just two chords: the tonic and dominant, or C and G (or G7). Aside from the four-bar intro, all of the sections share the same 16-bar harmonic structure: two bars of C, followed by four bars of G7,

f you don’t already know and love the music of Hank Williams, the subject of a forthcoming biopic, then you’re in for a treat with “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” the country pioneer’s 1952 ode to the joyous Cajun lifestyle and its cuisine. “Jambalaya” is a durable song that has been covered by everyone from Fats Domino to Creedence Clearwater Revival and probably every zydeco band since. It has transcended its genre of origin. In Williams’ short recording career—which ended in 1955, when he died of heart failure at

I

JAMBALAYA (ON THE BAYOU)

then four of C, four of G7, and two of C. All you need to play the entire song is shown here in an arrangement of the intro, where roots and fifths on beats 1 and 3 evoke the bass heard on the original recording, while chordal strums fall on 2 and 4. Fret the C chord’s fifth, G, with your third finger. As for your pick hand, play this part all in downstrokes and once you’ve nailed it—which shouldn’t take very long—just plug the patterns into the larger structure to play the entire song. AG

WORDS AND MUSIC BY HANK WILLIAMS

Intro/Accompaniment Pattern Pattern Intro/Accompaniment

Intro/Accompaniment Pattern

Intro/Accompaniment Pattern Chords

G7

G G œ œ 77 œ 4 œœ œœ G 7 œ œœ &Chords 4 œ4 4 œ œ œœ CC G 7 xœC Chords G7 œ œ œœ xx32 32001100x & 4 œ & 4 œ œ œ œ 4fifth œœ œ root œœ fifth œ G 7 x C root x etc. *Strum: ≥ & ≥ 4 ≥ ≥œ œ œ 1 root 1 fifth œ 1 G7

Chords Chords

C G77 G

3 x000 1

x 32 0 1 0

00011 33xx000

3 000 1

3 000 1

32 0 1 0

32 0 1 0

B

B

G7

44 January 2016

Intro

œœ œ œ œœœ œCœ œœœœœ C œ œœ œ œ œ œ rootœ œ œ fifthœ œœœ œ rootœœ œœ œ œœ œ œ 0œ root œ œ 1 root 0 fifth

œœ œ

œœœ œœ œœ

C œœ C œ

œœ œœ œœ œœ œ fifth œœ œœ œ œœœœ œ œ œ œ œ œ 0 rootœ fifth 0 fifth

*Strum: ≥ 0 ≥ ≥ 0 etc. 0 0 ≥ 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 root root root 0 fifth 0root fifth root 0 root fifth rootfifth 1 0 fifth fifth rootroot1 0 fifth root fifth 1 1 0 0 0 0etc. *Strum: 0 ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 3 3 *Strum: *Strum: 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 3 0 1 3 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 * ≥ = down 1 03 110 110 3 11 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 00 3 0 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 * ≥ = down 3 3 0 00 00 3the place 0 00 3 3 3 2. The0 Thibodaux the Fontaineaux is0buzzin’ * ≥ = down C 00 00

B

Intro

œ œœ

Intro/Accompaniment Pattern C

Intro G7

B

C

≥≥

33

≥≥

≥≥

≥≥

etc. etc.

œœ œ

fifth fifth

0 1 0

Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen 3 place is buzzin’ 2. The Thibodaux the Fontaineaux 3 the Dress in style and hog wild me oh my oh 33 go Kinfolk 33 come to see Yvonne by the dozen

00 11 00

©1952 SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC. COPYRIGHT RENEWED ALL RIGHTS ADMINISTERED BY SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, 424 CHURCH STREET, SUITE 1200, NASHVILLE, TN 37219 INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF HAL LEONARD CORPORATION

rootroot *Strum: *Strum:≥ ≥ ≥

1.

≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ ≥ fifthfifth

Son of a gun we’ll have bigfifth fun bayou fifthfifth rootroot fifthon theroot root

rootroot etc.etc.

Intro/Accompaniment 1 1 1 1 Pattern 1 1 1 1 Intro/Accompaniment 0 0 0 Pattern 0 0 Chorus 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

BGB 7 3 3 G * ≥7*=≥down œ = down &4 44 œœ œœ œ & 4 œœ œ œ

Chords Chords

G 7 x32C0 1 0 x000 1 C 37 G 3 x000 1 x 32 0 1 0

1.

Intro Intro G7G7

1.

C C root root ≥ *Strum: *Strum: ≥ ≥

≥

fifth fifth ≥

≥

0 0

œ œœ œœ œ ≥

≥

0

0

C

root rootetc. etc.

3 3

C C

G7

C Joe me gotta go me G Goodbye oh7 my oh Goodbye Joe me gotta go me oh my oh Chorus Chorus

C

2.

2.

root comefifth rootby the dozen Kinfolk to see Yvonne Kinfolk come to Yvonne by fifth thefifth dozen fifth root Pickroot guitar fill fruit jar andsee be gay-o Dress in0 style andand go hoghog wildwild me oh oh mymy oh0 oh Dress in style me 1 0 go 0C 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 Son of awe’ll gun we’ll have bigon fun thethe bayou a gun big fun on 0Son of 0 0onbayou 0 aSon gun have bighave fun 1 0of 1we’ll 1the 1 bayou 3

3

0

0

3

3

3

0

0

3

Repeat 3 Repeat Chorus Fiddle Solo (use3Chorus verse/chorus progression)

Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression) Fiddle (use verse/chorus The Thibodaux theSolo Fontaineaux the place isprogression) buzzin’ The Thibodaux the Fontaineaux the place is buzzin’ Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen Kinfolk come to seeChorus Yvonne by the dozen Repeat Chorus Dress inRepeat style and go hog wild me oh my oh Dress in style and go hog wild me oh my oh Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou

C C C bayou G7G7 Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the Me gotta goJambalaya pole the pirogue down the andand a crawfish piebayou andand a filé gumbo Jambalaya a crawfish pie a filé gumbo

Repeat Chorus Repeat Chorus

G7my oh C C My Yvonne the sweetest one me oh My Yvonne Cause theCause sweetest one me oh see mysee oh tonight I’mI’m gonna mymy mesmes chers amis-o tonight gonna chers amis-o

Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression) Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression)

C Gbayou 7G7 Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the Son of a gun we’ll have the Pick guitar fillbig fruitfun jaron and bebayou gay-o Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o

Repeat Chorus Repeat Chorus

G7

C

3

G7

fifth fifth

SonSon of aofgun we’ll have bigbig funfun on on thethe bayou a gun we’ll have bayou C

3 3

0 0 1 1 0 0

œ œ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ C œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œtonight œ œ œ œ I’m gonna see myœ mes chers amis-o œ œ œ œ œ Cause œ œ œ 2. 2.œTheThe Thibodaux Fontaineaux theœthe place is buzzin’ Thibodaux Fontaineaux place is buzzin’ œ œ thethe

Intro Yvonne thethe sweetest oneone meme oh oh mymy oh oh Yvonne sweetest Intro MyMy G7

C

0 0 1 1 0 0 G7

C

B B

C

0 0

0 0 1 1 0 0

C and a crawfish 3 3pie and a filé gumbo 3 Jambalaya

3 3

1 G7 1 C C G71 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 JoeJoe meme gotta go go me oh oh mymy oh0 oh 0 me 0 0 0 1.Goodbye Goodbye gotta 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 C C 3 3 MeMe gotta go go pole down thethe bayou 3pirogue 3 gotta the pirogue down bayou *pole ≥the = down * ≥ = down G7G7

G7

0 0 1 1 0 0

0

fifthfifth

C C

Chorus of aofgun we’ll have bigbig funfun on on thethe bayou a gun we’ll have bayou Chorus SonSon C

G7

C G7gumbo Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and a filé Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and a filé gumbo Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression) Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression) C

Cause tonight I’m gonna see my mes chersCamis-o Cause tonight I’m gonna see my mes chers amis-o G7

Pick guitar fill fruit jar and G be7 gay-o Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o

C

C bayou Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression) Fiddle Solo (use verse/chorus progression)

AcousticGuitar.com 45

Repeat Ch

ACOUSTIC CLASSIC

Ridin’ with Lady Luck

Tom Waits’ ‘Ol’ 55’ is a poignant love song BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

Tom Waits

46 January 2016

om Waits is celebrated for his off-center persona and his equally eccentric musical arrangements. That’s why it’s so interesting to hear the straightforward demos he recorded in 1971, collected in The Early Years, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. On the second volume, “Ol’ 55”—a piano-driven song that would be the lead single on Waits’ 1973 debut album, Closing Time—is heard with just voice and guitar. It later appeared on the Eagles’ hit 1974 album, On the Border. The demo is in the key of A major, capoed at the first fret, causing it to sound in Bb, while the original studio recording sounds in F#, courtesy of a guitar that’s apparently been tuned down a half step. Listen to both recordings to appreciate the difference in feel that these keys impart to the proceedings. On the demo, the acoustic guitar incorporates R&B-style flourishes like those shown in the notation here, a transcription of the intro. Such patterns occur throughout the song, so be sure to take the time to really get this part under your fingers.

T

A couple of fret-hand pointers for the basic pattern: If wrapping your thumb around the neck to fret the A chord’s fifth-fret root feels awkward, just play that note on the open fifth string instead. The C#m chord is often played as C#m7; you can access the latter harmony simply by removing your fourth finger from the C#m grip. As for your pick hand, try fingerpicking: assign your thumb to the notes on strings 6 and 4, while your index and middle fingers handle the notes on the higher strings. Strive for a smooth attack throughout, letting all the notes ring together. And be sure to heed the swing feel: Don’t play the eighth notes evenly as written, but instead render the notes on the beats long and those on the “ands” short, roughly at a ratio of 2:1. By the way, it’s possible for you to easily transpose the chords in this arrangement so that you can play along with the studio recording. Simply move all of the chord shapes down by a minor third, or three frets. The first three chords in the piece will then be the F# with a root on fret 2, the A#m chord at fret 1, and the B chord at fret 2. AG

OL’ 55

WORDS AND MUSIC BY TOM WAITS

Intro/Basic Picking Pattern

Intro/Basic Picking Pattern

Swing

3

A

T x 321 x

5 fr.

C #m

C #m

3

(q q =D q e ) D sus4

nDœœsus4 #m & ##D# 44 .. œœA DœIntro/Basic œœsus4 œœ œœ œœ œœ œ œ#œm.. C #mœœ œ Picking Dœ œœA Aœ œœ œ œ œ C D CD sus4 A Pattern œ œ œ œ œ x 1342 1 x 1333 xIntro/Basic x 1334 Picking x T x 321 x œ œ œ Patternœ œ œ D

x 1342 1

x 1333 x

4 fr. Chords

A

Swing

(q q = q e ) Picking Pattern Intro/Basic

Chords

C #m

5 fr.

Chords D sus4 x 1334 x 5 fr.

5 fr. F #5mfr. B /D#

Swing

3

A

(q q = q e )

A

# # # 4 5 .œfr.œœ Swing œœœ œœ5 œfr.Swingœœ3 œœ œ œ œœ n œœ œœ œ œœ œ œ œ3 œ . œ œ 3 œ œ œ œœ œ œœ œ. 9 fr. 7 fr. 7 fr. (qœq = 4 .let ring œ œ q e) œ Chords 4 fr. & throughout (q œq = q e ) œ œ œ œ Chords # œ œ œ œ # E sus4 # E F m# B /D A œ D D sus4 A 3 D sus4 3 C m x Ax x C m x x Dx x x x x x x 7 5 5 7 5 7 8 7 5 5 . . 56 let ring 9 fr. 4 fr. 7x 5fr.fr. x 7 fr. 4 fr. 5 fr. 5 fr. 6 throughout 6 64 4 4 7 7 7 6 6 7 Intro/Basic Picking Pattern C 7m 7 7 7 7 m D D1334 sus4. # 7# 4 #œ7 œ 6 œ 6 A œ œ7 œ 7 A ExC1342 sus4 E mx # B47/D .. 5œ 0œ œ4 œ 5œ 4 7 5œ4 œ0 œ œ5 œ œ 7 5 8 7œ 5œœ œ5n œœ œœ 5œ 5 œ œœ5 .œ .œ œ œ3œ œ .. x 1333 x BxF 1 T x 321 x & 5 5 5 . x3 1 1 4 x 5 fr. x 1334 x 4 fr. x 1333 x 5 fr. x 13421 5 fr.Swing œ 7 7œ 7œ 7œ7 7 œ 7 6 7œ 7 œ6 7 7 .œ #m 7 fr.B /D# 9 .fr.6 7 6 3 6œ47 fr. œ 6 6 4œ6 4œ 4 fr. E sus4 7 E F 3 let ring throughout 3 4 4 4 0 5 5 5 Chordsx x 7 fr. x x 7 fr. x 9 fr. xB x 4 fr. (5q q = q5 elet) ring 0 throughout 5 5

# # # 4 . œœ œœ œœ œ œœœ œ . œ & œ 4 # # œ œ# œ œ # # # 4 . œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œ œ œ œ Pattern . œ Picking & œ œ 4 Intro/Basic # # Intro/Basic Picking Pattern . œ œD 56œ4 œ.D 5 7 5 A C m C m D D sus4 . œ x sus4 x E x xF #mx Swing œ6 E 6 6 B /D# . œ 7 3 6 6. 5 fr.Swing 5 fr. x x 5 fr. x x xB x4 fr. x 7 . 9 fr. 4 fr. 7 fr. (q qring 7 fr. ) = q ethroughout Chords let œ (q q = q e )# # 4 œ œ œœ œ 5 œœ œœ 0 4 œœ B ords œ œ # œ . 5 œ APattern #mœ œ œ #m & œ œ 4sus4. œ Picking C C D D A Intro/Basic # œD 5œ œ D7 sus4 C5 m 7 œ5 x x x A x x œ D D x sus4 x 5 5 fr. 5 fr.Swing .œ x E x xF #mx5 fr. B /D# 4 fr. 6 6 6 6 4 4 4 œ 4 fr. x 5 fr. x 3 x 5 fr. x x # 7 7 6 6 . # œ 9 fr. 4 fr.# 7 fr. 7 fr. œ œ 4n œœœœœœ4œ In0 ) # 4œ . œ q = q ethroughout # # 4 . œœIntroBœœ let(œœq ring œ Chords œ œ 4œ œ œ œ . & 5 œD4œ œ 5œA œ œ 0 # œ œ œ œœA . & 4 A œ C #m Dœ Dsus4 # œ œ Intro/Basic Picking Pattern A C mœ C m D D sus4 # A œ œ œ œ œ # E sus4 E F m B /D 5 œ7 5 œ 7 x x x x x œ x# x #m5 D D7sus45 D 37 A F m 5 fr. xB /Dx# 4 fr. x Ax Cx.œ A x 5 fr. x 5 fr.Swing 6 6 6 6 4 4 4 œ 3 9 fr. 4 fr. x x x7 fr. 7 fr. 7 7 œ let6ring throughout 6 7 7 . # 9 fr. 4 fr. 7 fr. # œ let (q qring Intro A ) # 4 . œ = q ethroughout Interlude 4œ 4 œ 4 0 5œ Chords œ œ œ œ œ œ œ B # & 5 4 .5 œ 0 œ œ œA 5C#m A A C m AD Dsus4 D A # # 5 7 5 œ . A5 C m xD D sus4 Intro/Basic Pattern # œ 5 Cœ67m 5 6œ 6 7 œD8 67œ4# œD 5 Time7went #.#Picking E E B /D1. x sus4 x xF mx so quickly 6 4. 4 74 7 m6A Ax Cx m6 D D6sus46 D A 5 fr.Swing 5 fr. x x 5 fr. x x4 fr. x 7 37 A 67 C 9 fr. 4 fr. 7 7 fr. 7 fr. 7 6 6 7 7 7 . 4 let ring throughout œ # #m # œ œ # B Intro œ œ œ œ C D D sus4 D A Interlude 4 4 4 0 5 5 ( ) A C m 4 œ = ords œoutœ to my5 old œFifty-five ..lickety-splitly B # q q&q e 5# I went œ5œ œ œ 0# 5œ œ œ 0 œsus4 œ œ 4 # A C m AD Dsus4 D A A C m D D œ # A C m œD 5œ œD7 sus4 5 .Cœ56#m 76 œ56 A D D sus4 # AB /D1.C# #m Time œ No 6 4 4 42. x E x xF mx # #m D Dwent sus4 so D quickly A C m7 œ 3 A C m D D sus4 x 5 fr. x x A C 4 fr. x 5 fr. x . feeling so holy 7 4 6 # 6 4n œ 4 In0Ga 9 fr. 4 fr. 7 fr. 7 fr. Intro let ring throughout # Pulled away slowly Intro œ œ 0 A C œœm DœDœœsus4 # # 4 C. #œœm Bœœ # œœD œ D5Interlude A 5Dsus4 œ œ A C m Dœ Dsus4 œD Aœ œ # œsus4 œLigA œ #m œ DœDsus4 toDsus4 my oldEsus4 Fifty-five A C #m AD& Dsus4I went D4 .lickety-splitly A œ D out AE C m ADœ DC A œ56 D A œ 56œ4# œ 74 542. Now it’s six 7 #m5 D D7sus4 #m AB /D1.C# #m Time A C.œ œ A went so quickly 6 6 7EI’m F God knows I was feeling alive # # D D sus4 D A œ A C m D D sus4 D s A C m D sus4 3 C m x x x 7 6 6 7 7 . 7 9 fr. 4 fr. 7 fr. A Intro Interlude Gave me no # 4 4 4 0 5 let ring throughout # soDholy A C m D Dsus4 D C mPulled Dslowly feeling D sus4 A Baway 5 5 0 #m AD Dsus4 A A C D A A D passin C #mRe Lights # I went lickety-splitly out to my old Fifty-five A A C m D D sus4 Chorus D D sus4 E sus4 E 1. soD quickly 5 7 in the 7 52. Now it’s six 8 7mor 7went #m5 Time . C D D sus45 A A C #m 1. Time went so quicklyA I’m on my waA # # 6 4 7 6 4 4 7 7 6 6 # God knows I was feeling alive A C m D D sus4 E sus4 Cm A C m D D sus4 7 no7 warning 6 Dsus4 DGave 7 C #m 7 7I . feeling #m D6 A5 me Intro Interlude A C # Pulled away slowly so holy 4 4 4 0 5 5 And now the sun’s coming up Cm B D Dsus4 D A 5 5 0 I went lickety-splitly out to my old Fifty-five # # Lights passing and truck A C #m AD Dsus4 D A T x 321 x

E sus4 x 1334 x

1334

5 fr.

x 1342 1

E

4 fr.

x 1333 x

x 1333 x

x 1334 x

x 13421

1333 T 321

1334

5 fr.

4 fr.

x3 1 1 4 x

13421 1342 1

3

3114 1333

1333

1334

13421

3114

Intro

1342 1 1334

A C #m D Dsus4 D IntroC #m D Dsus4 D A1334 13421 3 1 1 4D A C #m D Dsus4

1333 1333

C #m D Dsus4 D 3

AA

1.

©1972 SIX PALMS MUSIC CORPORATION AND FIFTH FLOOR MUSIC INC. COPYRIGHT RENEWED. ALL RIGHTS ADMINISTERED BY BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT (US) LLC. INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED ALL RIGHTS RESERVED REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF HAL LEONARD CORPORATION

1333 1333

T 321 1334 13421

1342 1 1334

1333 1333

13421

5 6

A

A

7

7 6

5

5 6

5

A

Cm

A C #m Dsus4 E Time wentEsus4 so quickly

#m D CD Dsus4 Dsus4

AC #m

7 7

5

6 7

5

7

5

3

Chorus I’m riding Lady Luck Freeway carswith and trucks

E A

C #m

D

A C #m Dsus4

Repeat Chorus (end on A chord)

D Dsus4

A up And A nowEthe sun’s coming Freeway cars and trucks Stars beginning to fade and I lead the parade C #m D Dsus4 #A A E E3 1 1 4 mA E I’mFriding with Lady Luck Stars beginning to fadeaand Just a-wishing I’d stayed littleI lead longerthe parade BE /D #

Tom Waits The Early Years, Vol. 1 Manifesto

A C #m D Dsus4 F #m E Freeway Esus4 E cars and trucks

a-wishing I’d stayed a little longer OhJust Lord that feeling’s getting stronger

3114

7

5 6

2. Lights Nowpassing it’s six in morning Athe C #mareDflashing Dsus4 D and trucks # Gave me no warning I had to be onEmy way E A from C myourDplace Dsus4 sus4 I’m on my way home Pulled away slowly feeling God knows I was feeling alive so holy 1333 1334 # Lights passing and trucks are flashing Cm D Dsus4 D A 1333 D D13421 sus4 Esus4 E 3 1 1 4 I went lickety-splitly out to 3my old Fifty-five I’m on my way home from your place God knows I was feeling alive Repeat Chorus (end Chorus 2. Now it’sonsixAinchord) the morning C #m # APulledCaway m D D sus4 Gave me no warning I had to be on my way slowly feeling so holy Repeat Chorus (end on A chord) And now the sun’s coming up Chorus Lights passing and trucks are flashing Dsus4 Esus4 E #mDDC #mDsus4 A D D sus4 A C I’m on my way home from your place 1334 God knows I was feeling alive And nowwith theLady sun’s3Luck I’m riding 13421 1coming 1 4 up A

1334 13421

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Not sure what to get the guitar players on your shopping list? These guitars and accessories are sure to keep them playing all year long.

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The Pinnacle of Protection and Display Handcrafted in the USA by Amish craftsmen, each case is constructed from your choice of domestic/exotic hardwoods and is designed to keep guitars properly humidified and exquisitely displayed. Our cases are the perfect addition to your home, office, or studio. Available in floor standing, wall mounted, and fully customizable models.

American Music Furniture offers solid hardwood humidity controlled display cabinets for guitars, mandolins, ukulele’s, fiddles and other stringed instruments. Artisan crafted to your specifications in our Pennsylvania workshop with the latest active humidity control technology. Features include LED lighting, locking doors, and tempered glass.

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The Christmas Songbook

Give the Gift of Guitar!

This beautiful keepsake book contains over 100 holiday classics, a color insert, histories of select tunes, and 12 solo guitar arrangements. The CD contains performances of the guitar solos and printable lyrics for every song! The Christmas Family Songbook features piano/vocal/guitar arrangements and a CD with MP3s, lyrics, and software.

Encourage a love of music with guitar lessons from ArtistWorks! From classical guitar with renowned soloist Jason Vieaux, to fingerstyle with the award-winning Martin Taylor, to bluegrass with Grammy winner Bryan Sutton. There’s something for every aspiring musician in your life! For a limited time: take 25% of ALL lessons with code “ARTISTWORKS25”

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[email protected] artistworks.com | artistworks.com

48 January 2016

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Cole Clark Australian Eco Series

D’Addario NYXL 3-Packs

Cole Clark’s Australian Eco Series guitars are built from 100% sustainable or non-endangered timbers including Bunya, Californian Redwood, and Blackwood, all grown in Australia and responsibly harvested from private land. They feature Black Bean fretboards, Blackwood bridges, the company’s trademark integral neck design, and its patented 3-way pickup system - the most natural sounding pickup in the world.

Now available in 3-Packs, D’Addario NYXL guitar strings are the gift that keeps on giving. Envisioned, perfected, and manufactured by D’Addario in New York, these newly engineered strings will bend further, sing louder, and stay in tune better than any string you’ve ever played before.

[email protected] coleclarkguitars.com | musiquip.com

D’Addario & Co., Inc. 1 (800) DADARIO | nyxlstory.com

SpiderCapo: The Everything Capo.

D’Addario’s EXP with NY Steel

SpiderCapo makes possible hundreds of open string tunings without retuning your guitar. Enjoy the inspiration of open tunings, while still playing your hardlearned licks, chords, etc. As a full capo you can fine tune each string to get the guitar exactly in tune. It fits all standard 6 string guitars, Leather pads protect the neck. NAMM Winner, “Best in Show”. Street: $29.95. Creative Tunings Inc.

D’Addario’s proprietary EXP coated strings now feature plain strings and hexagonal cores made of our revolutionary NY Steel. Meticulously engineered to be more consistent than any other standard musical wire, the strings’ superior strength and pitch stability can play anything from Jingle Bells to Hells Bells.

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D’Addario & Co., Inc. 1 (800) DADARIO | daddario.com

D’Addario Clip-On Headstock Tuner

New Deering Goodtime Banjo Ukulele

Before playing those holiday songs, tune up your guitar with the D’Addario Clip-On Headstock Tuner. Featuring a large display and sleek, discrete design, it automatically turns on when opened and off when closed. Put one on and spend less time tuning and more time playing.

After years of customer requests, Deering Banjo Company is proud to offer the new Goodtime banjo ukulele! Whether you are a seasoned ukulele or banjo player or simply looking for something new and exciting to learn, the Goodtime banjo ukulele is a stunning instrument that everyone will love. Made in U.S.A.

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DIY Solderless Pedalboard Cable Kit

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DIY Stocking Stuffer: Zero Glide

When you’re done building a snowman, build your own custom pedalboard kit. D’Addario’s DIY Solderless Pedalboard Cable Kit is the ultimate solution for custom wiring your pedalboard. Simply cut the provided cable to length, place it into the plug end, and secure the set screw for a flawless, performance-ready sound.

The Zero Glide® Replacement Nut System borrows the “zero fret” concept to reduce string friction; increasing tuning stability, playability, and open string tone. With a simple DIY installation and no permanent changes to the instrument, Zero Glide is the perfect $30 upgrade to gift your musician with this holiday.

D’Addario & Co., Inc. 1 (800) DADARIO | planetwaves.com

Zero Glide by Gold Tone (800) 826-5482 | [email protected] zeroglide.com

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AcousticGuitar.com 49

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Fur Peace Ranch Musical Oasis

The T-Shirt Club for Guitarists!

Rest your soul and feel the Peace at Fur Peace Ranch. Take Guitar, Bass, Vocal, Mandolin or Songwriting classes in Ohio or California. Gift certificates make a great gift. Shop our Company Store or visit the Psylodelic Gallery. We’re waiting to rock your world.

Wear your passion for all things guitar with a subscription to Guitar Shop Tees. Each month subscribers receive a limited edition T-shirt from one of the world’s very best guitar shops along with special offers and amazing extras! Perfect for every guitar player, collector and fan!

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FELiX 2 Channel Instrument Preamplifier For acoustic musicians plugging in, FELiX is a game changer. Studio quality audio performance, powerful EQ and unmatched reliability combine to make the finest instrument Preamplifier/ DI available. MSRP $1,095

New! ToneWoodAmp for Acoustic Guitars Unplug! ToneWoodAmp is a revolutionary device that adds effects to your acoustic guitar without any external amp! Visit our website to see it in action.

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tonewoodamp.com/agm | facebook.com/tonewoodamp

Guitar Humidor

Indian Hill Guitars

Handcrafted, beautifully finished in walnut, maple or cherry; fully lined, lighted, and humidified. Wonderfully displays your instrument while protecting your guitar from damaging dry air. Hygrometer visible from outside lets you know your humidity at a glance. Keep your guitar within reach, protected, and visible. Floor standing or wall mounted.

Visually stunning, superb craftsmanship, and a powerful and nuanced tone are just a few of the comments about Indian Hill Guitars. Multiple sizes from OO to Grand Concert plus optional features available. Let luthier Michael Kennedy work with you to create the guitar of your dreams!

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Mike Kennedy, Luthier (514) 942-4902 [email protected]

Guitar Inspiration in Your E-Mail Inbox

JamPlay.com Live and On-Demand Lessons

Sign up for Acoustic Guitar Notes and we’ll e-mail you articles and videos that will help you improve your playing and stay connected to the acoustic guitar world. Sign up for free today.

JamPlay features the largest library of HD video guitar lessons on the internet, with daily, live workshops with awesome acoustic instructors. Great for any skill, age, or playing style. Get discounts off any membership during the holiday season, with our massive Christmas Sale starting in late December.

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1-877-999-4JAM | [email protected] | jamplay.com

50 January 2016

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Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps

Carbon, Collapsible, Carry-onable, Colorful, & Cool! The OVERHEAD™ OF660 is the friggin’ awesomest travel guitar on the planet! The patented OF660 collapses into a custom travel case at overhead dimensions of 22*14*9”! Carbon construction, wedged, beveled & scooped, full 24.5” scale, truss rod, pickup, and killer tone make this guitar the ultimate for your musical journey! Journey Instruments | (512) 689-9007 [email protected]| journeyinstruments.com

Voted gold and number one for over a decade. Held at Maryville College just 17 miles south of Knoxville, Tennessee. Old Time and Traditional Week: June 12-18, 2016 Bluegrass Week: June 19-25, 2016 (865) 982-3808 | [email protected] | flatpik.com

Session DI: Studio Tools for the Stage

Timber Tones Luxury Guitar Picks

Inspired by the LR Baggs Handcrafted Video Sessions and our experience in some of Nashville’s great studios, the Session Acoustic DI brings our signature studio sound to your live rig. The Session DI enhances your acoustic pickup and imparts the rich sonic character that you’d expect from an experienced audio engineer using some of the world’s finest studio gear. MSRP: $359.00

Timber Tones offers the world’s largest collection of natural material picks, using carefully selected materials to help musicians fine-tune the tone of their instrument. Proud to be an eco-friendly brand, our components are sustainably sourced, often off-cuts and bi-products of other industries. A Timber Tones mixed tin is a unique gift idea for the guitarist on your list!

(805) 929-3545 | [email protected] | lrbaggs.com

[email protected] | timber-tones.com | musiquip.com

All Mahogany, Solid Mahogany Top

Guitar Appointments from Purflex®

A member of our Woodline series, the WLO12SE is an orchestra sized guitar with built in Fishman electronics and tuner. It features a solid mahogany top and mahogany back and sides, NuBone nut and saddle and diecast tuners. A satin mahogany neck provides a comfortable playing experience.

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Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension Strings

Mérida Guitars Receive Rave Reviews

When it comes to strings, it’s all about tension. Santa Cruz Guitar Company’s new Parabolic Tension Strings are engineered to do what others cannot, to put the exact tension on each individual string to create the appropriate download pressure. Hear and feel the difference that will bring out the best in your guitar. Available in low and mid tension.

Mérida guitars are built with extreme care. Our Norwalk, Connecticut facility takes incredible pride to expertly setup each and every guitar. Put one in your hands and you’ll instantly feel and hear why so many of the world’s top professional players have begun to play and endorse our brand.

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Mérida Guitars, USA c/o Vision Musical Instruments (203) 295-3606 | meridaguitars.com

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AcousticGuitar.com 51

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Greg Brandt Guitars

Traveler Guitar Escape Mark III

Building fine classical guitars in the Los Angeles area for over 35 years. Using only the finest, aged tone woods from around the world. YELLOW Custom design work and repairs accepted. (818) 980-9348 [email protected] gregbrandtguitars.com

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ACOUSTIC CLASSIC

A Texas Twister

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Pride & Joy’ is a blues powerhouse BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

he late guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan established a reputation as a master of the Stratocaster, but his powerhouse blues also held up well on the acoustic guitar. This is particularly evident in a 1990 MTV Unplugged appearance, where Vaughan, Guild 12-string in hand, played an unaccompanied acoustic version of his signature electric number “Pride and Joy.” The song is a 12-bar blues in the key of E major, tuned down a half step, so everything in the transcription sounds a minor second lower than written. In the intro, beginning in bar 5, Vaughan ran a classic, single-note shuffle pattern on the low strings, punctuated with quick open-string strums on the “ands” of the beats. To cop this part, use your first, second, and third fingers on frets 2, 3, and 4, respectively. If it gives you

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trouble, learn the single-note line on its own before playing the music as written. The strums continue into the verse, their percussiveness emphasized by an audience clap-along. Here, use vigorous upstrokes on the “ands” and deaden the strings with your pick or fret hand right after you play them. This is critical for giving the accompaniment a driving feel. Vaughan covered a lot of territory in his two-chorus (24-bar) solo: jazzy block chords (bars 33–34), classic shuffle patterns (35–36, etc.), open-position blues licks (37–38, etc.), and more. To get the most from this section, learn it slowly, focusing on one measure at a time before stringing it all together. Then, appropriate any phrases that catch your ear for use in your own solos. AG

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56 January 2016

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PRIDE AND JOY

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2. Yeah I love my baby my heart and soul Love like ours won't never grow old She’s my sweet little thing she’s my pride and joy She’s my sweet little baby I’m her little lover boy 3. Well I love my baby she's long and lean You mess with her you'll see a man gettin' mean She’s my sweet little thing she’s my pride and joy She’s my sweet little baby I’m her little lover boy 5. Yeah I love my baby my heart and soul Love like ours will never never never grow old She’s my pride and joy She’s my sweet little baby I’m her little lover boy 58 January 2016

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Guitar Guru It’s all about those backs

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The Candy Store Is Open Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase draws crowds to upstate New York BY JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS

he scene on a crisp October weekend at the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase in upstate New York was right out of an acoustic guitarist’s dream. Inside the woodsy Bearsville Theater compound were two halls loaded with gorgeous stringed instruments of every variety— archtops, flattops, nylon-strings, seven-strings, 12-strings, harp guitars, sympitars, resonators, basses, mandolins, ukuleles, ouds. Each day, legendary players such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Doug Wamble, and Vicki Genfan took the stage to demonstrate the musical possibilities of these instruments, and also led workshops to shed light on their own craft. Over the course of three days, the show drew more than 1,500 attendees, most of whom are obsessed with acoustic guitars.

T

“There’s the kid-in-the-candy-shop aspect of it,” said fingerstyle guitarist Kinloch Nelson, a festival performer and workshop teacher. “But, more to the point, this is a place to find out just how good a guitar can sound and feel. Once you’ve had that experience, your understanding of the guitar’s possibilities changes.” Unlike other guitar shows, the Woodstock Invitational spotlights the work of individual luthiers. Around every corner was an acoustic guitar or other stringed instrument to stop you in your tracks: John Monteleone’s spectacular New Yorker archtop, built with materials from the D’Angelico and D’Aquisto shops; Alan Carruth’s folding travel harp guitar, also known as Thumbelina, created for Ken Bonfield; Dale

Tascam has introduced a complete production studio for creating dynamic acoustic recordings. The US-4X4 is a 4-in/4-out USB interface with four Ultra-HDDA mic preamps for up to 96kHz/24-bit recording. It supports both Windows and Macintosh. Also included with the interface are choices of two digital-audio workstation applications. Both Steinberg Cubase LE and Cakewalk SONAR LE are included, as well as gigabytes of loops, instruments, and effect plug-ins to start a production studio. The pack also includes a pair of TM-80 condenser microphones (ideal for balanced recording of guitar and vocal tracks) and two sets of TH-02 headphones. $349.99 street

RADIAL ACOUSTIC DI Radial Engineering has released the JDV MK5 active direct box, a 100-percent discrete class-A device loaded with an array of features. “The new design begins with two inputs, each with a volume control signal presence and overload LEDs, plus a fully variable high-pass filter to tame excessive bottomend resonance,” Radial notes in its press release. “Although capable of handling any type of signal, the JDV MK5 is primarily intended for use with bass and acoustic instruments. This means that the two inputs have been optimized to handle any type of instrument, be it electric or acoustic.” $449.99 MAP AcousticGuitar.com 61

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Fairbanks’ vintage-inspired 12-fret slope-shouldered jumbo, with mahogany back and sides from his in-laws’ former dining room table; Raymond Kraut’s modified dreadnought with a luminous bear-claw Sitka top; Paul Beard’s A model round-neck resonator, with an oval soundhole above its stylish Solar coverplate; Kent Everett’s E5 mandolin, with a stunning torrefied maple back; and the rustic burl-inlaid dreadnoughts by Eric Bright (BassRock Guitars), with red spruce tops salvaged from 150-year-old logs at the bottom of an Adirondack lake. Also on exhibit was Mike Franks’ Bee Guitar, seen in Great Acoustics on page 82. Though exhibitors came from all around North America and a few from overseas, the music legacy of Woodstock was visible, too. Hometown luthiers included Bruce Ackerman, Harvey Citron, and Joe Veillette, who performed on his unique 12-string instruments at the end of the festival with singer-songwriter John Sebastian, a local resident, sitting in on harmonica. In the closing jam, the locals Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, Mike Merenda, Ruthy Ungar (Jay’s daughter), Happy Traum, Cindy Cashdollar, and others traded off old-time, folk, blues, and western-swing tunes—a reminder that, for all the eye-candy appeal of these showcase instruments, they are made for making music. AG

GUITAR GURU

1956 Gibson J-185

My Back Pages

The tonewoods and thickness of a guitar’s back can have a profound impact on sound BY DANA BOURGEOIS

Q

I noticed that some guitars have very stiff backs and there is no difference to the sound whether the back is held against your body or away from it. What are the advantages of stiff vs. active backs? Seth Brockman Tulsa, Oklahoma

GOT A QUESTION? Uncertain about guitar care and maintenance? The ins-and-outs of guitar building? Or a topic related to your gear?

64 January 2016

A

To understand how backs function, look first at how an acoustic guitar produces sound. In the simplest terms, a stringed instrument is a series of coupled oscillators. Oscillation, or vibration, begins at the strings, which are coupled by a bridge to a diaphragm, otherwise known as a top. A vibrating diaphragm “shakes” air molecules inside a partly enclosed body, sending sound pressure waves through air outside the instrument. Strings produce an array of frequencies. Frequency strength is selectively modified at each coupling stage. So, one top favors frequencies according to algorithms determined by the weight and stiffness of an individual piece of spruce, it’s thickness, and how it’s braced, while another top, made from different materials, employs different algorithms. The same can be said of bridges, which employ algorithms defined by size and material, and of air enclosures, whose algorithms are determined by volume, shape, port size, and so on.

Ask Acoustic Guitar’s resident Guitar Guru. Send an email titled “Guitar Guru” to editor Blair Jackson at [email protected], and he’ll forward it to the expert luthier.

So far, this model consists of algorithmically coupled strings, top, and enclosed air, all linked to create sound pressure waves outside the instrument. Complicating this picture, vibrations from the top, enclosed air, and the neck excite the back to vibrate according to its own algorithms. Like the top, a vibrating back influences air oscillations inside the enclosure, adding color to the overall sound. The back of an acoustic guitar therefore functions both as a member of an enclosure and also as a secondary soundboard. In general, stiff-backed guitars “rob” less vibrational energy from the sources that excite it, allowing more direct and efficient couplings between the top/bridge/air cavity and resulting in enhanced volume and projection. A stiffer back functions minimally as a secondary soundboard, contributing less tonal coloration to the instrument’s overall voice. While differences between mahogany and rosewood might be readily discernible, subtle distinctions between similar woods, such as varieties of rosewood, may be less pronounced. Some makers of classical guitars, whose braced backs are stiffer than those of most steel-strings, play down differences between Brazilian and East Indian rosewoods, occasionally inciting accusations of heresy from the steel-string crowd. Lighter backs can add vibrancy, complexity, and coloration to a guitar’s sound, though at the expense of power and volume. Tonal advantage, however, may depend somewhat on playing technique: If held too tightly against the body, a lightly braced back will not oscillate freely. Nevertheless, pre- and post-WWII Gibson acoustics, whose backs are built much more lightly than their Martin counterparts, are currently enjoying a spike of popularity among some of my favorite guitarists. That is due, in part, to the tonal contributions of their backs. The best of these guitars can be more harmonically saturated, though quieter, than characteristically dryer, but more powerful Martins from the same period. Happily, players can afford to be less concerned with volume and power in this age of high-fidelity sound reinforcement. Dana Bourgeois is a master luthier and the founder of Bourgeois Guitars in Lewiston, Maine.

If AG selects your question for publication, you’ll receive a complimentary copy of AG’s The Acoustic Guitar Owner’s Manual. Dana Bourgeois

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NEW GEAR

Tusq saddle and bridge pins

L.R. Baggs Anthem StagePro electronics

Learning to Love Carbon The thoughtfully designed RainSong SMCX is almost too perfect BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

s a stickler for wooden guitars, I usually have the same two-part response when checking out a new RainSong guitar—first, a dissonant reaction to its space-age construction, then marveling at its playability and sound. Auditioning the SMCX, the flagship model from the new Smokey series, proved no exception. Though the carbon used in the guitar’s manufacture might be more commonly found in spaceships and cars, it once again proves supremely musical.

A

LOVELY, VERSATILE VOICE The SMCX has a lovely voice. Probably owing to its 12-fret neck-to-body junction, it’s quite warm-sounding, and it has an impressive 66 January 2016

sustain and projection. The bass is firm and confident; the mids fully present, and the trebles crystal clear. All of the notes on the 18 frets ring true and clear, free from buzzing or other unwanted effects, and with precise intonation. It’s almost too perfect. Jazzy chord melodies sound excellent on the SMCX, which is conducive to closely voiced and altered harmonies, offering excellent note separation and clarity. Ditto for aggressive rock strumming and gentle folk fingerpicking. The guitar’s purity of tone, though, proves a slight handicap when playing styles like fingerstyle blues, where a little raggedness and buzzing are part of the appeal.

The SMCX sounds consistently good in all tunings. Whether in standard, DADGAD, or open-C, fingerpicked or flatpicked, the guitar comes across as clear and robust. What’s more, it’s easy to transition from one tuning to the next as the machine heads have a silky action. Outfitted with L.R. Baggs Anthem StagePro electronics—a system that includes an internal microphone, under-saddle pickup, preamp, and tuner—the guitar has a richly detailed, natural s o u n d w h e n p l u g g e d i n t o a Fe n d e r Acoustasonic. The SMCX’s sound is matched by its playability. The neck has the perfect modern-C profile and an agreeably slinky action, and the

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RAINSONG SMCX BODY All-carbon

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combination of a short scale and a wide nut make it easy to zip around the fretboard while fingerpicking. The instrument’s stock strings— DR Black Beauty—have a slick coating that takes some getting used to, but it’s easy enough to swap them out for any other set. The guitar’s body—RainSong’s WS size— feels great, too. It’s got a relatively narrow waist but a deep sound chamber. Well balanced between its neck and its body, the instrument is lightweight and equally comfortable to play in seated or standing positions. The deep Venetian cutaway makes it easy to reach the highest notes despite the 12-fret neck. And the SMCX sports a new finish,

sanded and waxed by hand, that feels smooth and comfortable under the forearm. A STABLE PERFORMER Some guitarists take great pleasure in the care and feeding of their wooden guitars, but the majority of us see excessive dryness or humidity as nothing but headaches when it comes to instrument maintenance. Carbon pretty much removes the need for such worries; unlike wood, it’s not prone to swelling and contracting—or the attendant changes in playability and tonality, or even structural damage. Regardless, the SMCX has a traditional truss rod, not so much to

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correct problems as to set the neck’s relief to preference. With the RainSong’s atypical build comes an idiosyncratic look, particularly in the Smokey series. The SMCX calls to mind those Goth kids you knew in college—always with the black clothes. Everything on the guitar save for the frets and headstock emblem—from the tuners to the bridge pins to the string coating—is solid black. Whether this look is subdued or severe is a matter of perspective, but what’s clear is that the SMCX is a thoughtfully designed winner of a guitar. Adam Perlmutter transcribes, arranges, and engraves music. Visit adamperlmutter.com. AcousticGuitar.com 67

NEW GEAR

AT A GLANCE

FAITH FMSB45-BNC CLASSIC BURST MERCURY BODY Parlor size Solid red-cedar top Solid mahogany back and sides Figured Macassan ebony bridge Gloss finish NECK Mahogany neck with figured Macassan ebony fretboard 610mm scale length

Have a Little Faith

A parlor guitar with rich, woody tones BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

45mm nut (as reviewed) Grover Rotomatic tuners Satin finish EXTRAS D’Addario EXP11 strings (.012–.053) Hardshell case PRICE $1,349 MSRP, $1,099 street (available on amazon.com) Made in Indonesia faithguitars.com 68 January 2015

fter he made a name for himself in the electric-guitar market of the 1990s, British luthier Patrick James Eggle moved to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and immersed himself in U.S. music culture and guitar making. Upon returning to his native country, in 2005, he devoted his energy to hand-making bespoke steel-string acoustic guitars using golden-era designs as points of departure. A guitar produced in Eggle’s shop requires no small investment. But thanks to his association with Faith Guitars, which produces imported examples of his trademark designs, his instruments are within reach of a much wider selection of musicians. I checked out Faith’s FMSB45-BNC, also known as the Classic Burst Mercury, a lovely, modern parlor with boutique-like flourishes.

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SLENDER BEAUTY Like all Faith guitars, the Classic Burst Mercury is made from solid, eco-friendly FSC-certified woods at the company’s workshop in West Java, Indonesia. It does have that importedguitar vibe, thanks to its polyurethane lacquer finish and its chemical-rich aroma. But unlike the typical budget guitar, it’s very well-built. The frets are cleanly dressed and the sunburst finish is perfectly graduated—inside the box things are relatively neat and tidy. This Mercury cuts a nice figure with its narrow waist—just over 13 inches wide—and its minimal appointments. The guitar’s design nicely splits the difference between the traditional and the modern. Its dark reddish-brown burst, along with the deep stain on the sides, back, and neck, calls to mind the finish on early

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Bevelled cutaway creates easy access

1900s Gibsons. Instead of the traditional joint, the neck has got a bolt-on assembly, for ease of repair, and in the place of a Venetian or Florentine cutaway is a scoop that minimizes the loss of space inside the body. WARMLY VOICED The short-scale, 12-fret Mercury initially feels diminutive to a player accustomed to 14-fret OMs. But it hardly takes any time to grow accustomed to this lightweight specimen. It’s a joy to play, its slightly high action not withstanding. A slender, C-shaped neck, 16-inch radius fretboard, and jumbo frets give the guitar a sleek modern feel. The neck’s short scale makes it easy to play stretchy chords, but our review model’s wide nut (about 1.77 inches) gives both the fret- and pick-hand fingers plenty of space to do their work. Probably owing to the guitar’s cedar-andmahogany construction, not to mention its 12th-fret neck junction, the Mercury has a lovely voice—it sounds warm and lush, with a beautifully reverberant effect when the notes are played with emphasis. The guitar is highly responsive to the most delicate fingerpicking, and it also performs winningly when strummed at a moderate volume. Single-note lines on the instrument take on a vocal-like quality. The Mercury really recommends itself to old-timey styles like the country blues and ragtime, as do most guitars of its stripe. Though the overall sound is pretty, it does have a nice midrange bark when you dig into the strings. That’s not to say that the guitar is a one-trick pony: It works terrifically well, for instance, in giving a pianistic treatment to the jazz standard “A Child Is Born,” the complex harmonies ringing with clarity. Parlor guitars being so popular these days, the FMSB45-BNC is an excellent choice for anyone looking to explore the sonic possibilities inherent in this old-school body type—without a huge outlay of cash. AG

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External speaker out Headphone jack OEM 6.5-inch Eminence Beta speaker with special fluid-cooled, high-yield neodymium tweeter EXTRAS Optional gig bag and extension cabinet PRICE $999 direct Made in the USA jazzamp.com 70 January 2015

hen the late Bud Henriksen, a computer engineer, retired and turned his focus to playing jazz guitar, he scoured the market but couldn’t find an amp he liked. So he made one himself, and then founded an equipment manufacturing company. Introduced in 2006, Henriksen’s JazzAmp was designed to address the shortcomings he found in other amps, by avoiding circuitry that influences a guitar’s tone. The jazz-guitar community quickly embraced this smart new tool. Henriksen’s son Peter now presides over the company, which recently introduced an acoustic-guitar-friendly amp know as the Bud. Unlike its predecessors, this little amp is intended for anything with a pickup or microphone. The company’s website demos the amp with everything from vocals to upright bass to banjo (on

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the site, AG contributing editor Sean McGowan also gives a full demo with a handful of different guitars). I checked out the Bud using a Martin OM-28E and a Gibson ES-335 and was taken with the tiny amp’s hearty tone and adaptability. SOLIDLY BUILT & USER-FRIENDLY The test model shipped with Henriksen’s optional gig bag ($109), which, with its thick padding and comfy shoulder strap, is highly recommended. The amp is a nine-inch cube and weighs only 17 pounds, making it easy to transport to a gig. That’s especially handy for a musician who travels frequently by subway or air. Its cabinet, made from Baltic birch, feels rugged and durable, as does the amp’s handle.

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A top-mounted control panel is easy to navigate. There are two channels, each with a combination quarter-inch/XLR jack, gain, and volume controls, a five-control EQ section, and a reverb control. The channels are fully independent, making the Bud flexible. Here are a couple of the possibilities: Plug an electricacoustic guitar into one channel and a vocal microphone into the other, or a guitar into one and a backing track on an iPhone into the other. A RICH RANGE OF SOUNDS I plug in the Martin with the Bud’s volume knob just below a quarter of the way up and the EQ knobs set flat and am impressed by the loudness and fullness that emerge from the amp’s 6.5-inch Eminence Beta speaker. The 135-watt amp is powerful enough for many ensemble situations, though its optional extension cabinet ($499) might come in handy for playing with a heavy-handed drummer. The Bud delivers the Martin’s natural sound without any tubbiness. Its bass response is surprising, considering the amp’s size. And the EQ section, with controls for low (80Hz), low-mid (420Hz), hi-mid (1.6 KHz), high (3.5 KHz), and presence (7.2 KHz), has an unusually wide sweep, making it easy to tailor the sound to the context—the presence control is particularly musical, adding a brilliant shimmer to the highest frequencies. With the ES-335 set on the neck pickup, its tone knob rolled down, it’s easy to get a warm and woody jazz sound on the Bud, with great clarity on both single-note lines and clustervoiced chords. Though the Bud is hardly a rock amp, it pairs nicely with an Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal, providing an appealingly gritty sound for blues-rock riffing and soloing. The amp’s built-in Accutronics reverb is a nice touch. Below its noon setting, it adds lushness and depth to both guitars. But I find myself disinclined to use it, given how rich and detailed and big the Bud—a winner of an amp—sounds without it. AG

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GIVEAWAY RULES: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Each entry must be individually submitted using the Official Entry Form at AcousticGuitar.com/Win/Rainsong-Smokey and received by January 30, 2016; facsimiles may not be substituted. Prize drawing will be made on or around February 15th, 2016. The prize will be fulfilled by Rainsong within 60 days of receipt of winner’s written acceptance. Employees of Acoustic Guitar magazine, and Rainsong Guitars are not eligible to win. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. Limit one entry per person. Acoustic Guitar magazine reserves the right to notify the winner by mail or by e-mail and to identify the winner in the magazine as well as the Acoustic Guitar website and Facebook page. International entrants, please note: If the winner is resident outside the United States and Canada, he or she is responsible for all shipping, customs, and tax costs. In the event that an international winner is unwilling or unable to cover these costs, he or she will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entrants may receive information from Acoustic Guitar, and Rainsong Guitars. For the name of the prize winner, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to TC-Helicon 2015 Giveaway, c/o Acoustic Guitar magazine, 510 Canal Blvd, Suite J, Richmond, CA 94804. This offer ends on January 30, 2016. Taxes are the responsibility of the winner. No prize substitutions are permitted

74

Playlist Duke Robillard goes acoustic

75

Playlist Jon Stickley Trio’s newgrass plus

78

Playlist The attic yields a John Renbourn rarity

MIXED MEDIA

PLAYLIST

A Sonic Sideshow

The Legendary Shack Shakers shake it up with roadhouse rave-ups BY PAT MORAN

PLAYLIST

Legendary Shack Shakers

n the course of its on-again, off-again 20-year career, the Legendary Shack Shakers have earned a reputation as literate shit-kickers—a Southern-rock wrecking crew that fondly curates heirloom music and backcountry lore. Frontman JD Wilkes, who affects a snakehandling preacher persona onstage, in the past has penned his own exhaustive work on Kentucky barn dances, and has recorded an unvarnished collection of mountain music that also features Appalachian fiddler Charlie Stamper. Wilkes hasn’t strayed far afield: On The Southern Surreal, the Shack Shakers’ first album in five years, the band balances firebreathing roadhouse rave-ups with unsettling glimpses of what lies beyond the mortal veil. Throughout the album, Wilkes’ scholarly bent guides the songwriting and instrumentation. Guitarist Rod Hamdallah’s 1940s Stella parlor guitar forms the backbone of many tunes—plunking and bedraggled on the guttural barstool blues “Demon Rum,” chugging like a

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locomotive on the rail-jumping “Mud,” and ratchety and rattling on a swampy version of “Born Under a Bad Sign.” Wilkes’s enthusiasm for homespun dance fare comes to the fore on the Tex-Mex honkytonk of “The One That Got Away”—all pumping bass, cantina fiddle, and clattering cowpunk guitar. Tarantella dance rhythms and barrelhouse piano drive the distortion-heavy two-step, “Dead Bury the Dead.” An inexpensive Recording King acoustic provides the album’s strangest effect. Wilkes sings through the guitar’s soundhole, giving his voice a sepulchral echo on “The Buzzard and the Bell,” an ominous stomp about a scavenging bird foretelling a family’s doom. There’s a serious undercurrent to The Southern Surreal’s whiff of sideshow brimstone. Tales of hardscrabble life and dire folklore are reminders that the old-weird hill country of cursed bloodlines, hoodoo witches, and grinning spectres is just a short jaunt off the main highway. AcousticGuitar.com 73

PLAYLIST

Various Artists

Duke Robillard

Kinky Friedman

Legends of Old-Time Music: 50 Years of County Records County Records

The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard Stony Plain Records

The Loneliest Man I Ever Met Avenue A/Thirty Tigers

The old-time music bug bit Dave Freeman as a kid during a family road trip through the Deep South during which the youngster listened to bluegrass and country music emanating through the dashboard of his dad’s sedan. In 1968, Freeman, along with business partners Richard Nevins and Charles Faurot, set up the Virginia-based County Records to tape old-time artists throughout the South.

Credit guitarist Duke Robillard with truth in advertising. The title of his latest collection hits the bull’s-eye describing this all-acoustic set, a homecoming to the heirloom blues, country, and folk that’s fueled the guitarist’s 50-year career. In his liner notes, Robillard writes he drew tunes from 1920 through 1950, the dawning decades of roots music, when emerging blues, jazz, and country were as nakedly honest as they’ll ever be. Never a staid archivist, Robillard also adds a brace of originals that can pass for vintage gems. Robillard plays a battery of early guitars, ranging from a 1900s B&J Parlor on Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” to a 1930s L-00 Gibson on a live recording of Robert Lockwood Jr.’s “Take a Little Walk with Me.” On Jimmie Rodgers’ “Jimmie’s Texas Blues,” Robillard’s Dobro slide spins fine silk around his bell-toned 1930s Gibson, and on “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” Robillard plays all instruments save for bass fiddle. Despite a mass orchestra of 20-plus mandolins, mandocellos, mandolas, and a mandobass on W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues,” duets dominate, as on the crackling original “I Miss My Baby in My Arms,” where Billy Novick’s clarinet floats lazily like a fat bumblebee over Robillard’s brushy strumming, and “Nashville Blues,” where Robillard trades call-and-response licks with Mary Flower playing fingerstyle on a 1930s Gibson. Robillard’s career apogee may be as hired gun for the Fabulous Thunderbirds (he also cofounded Roomful of Blues), but his legacy lies in his fluid, uncluttered playing and his deeply personal fusion of blues, jazz, and rock ’n’ roll. The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard invites you to revisit the spark that set him on his path. —P.M.

For those who think of Kinky Friedman as a major figure in country music, The Loneliest Man I Ever Met is a big deal, his first album of new material in 39 years. This is a much more serious Friedman than we’ve heard in the past. At 70, he’s feeling his age, and though he’s the same wisecracking, larger-than-Texas character he’s always been, he’s also made this the soberest album of his career. There’s a special poignancy to Warren Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up,” as he faces the inevitability of dying; Merle Haggard’s “Hungry Eyes,” in which a father dreams of giving his family a better life; and the duet on Willie Nelson’s “Bloody Mary Morning,” on which Friedman and Willie can’t seem to agree whether they’re trying to speed up or slow down. That poignancy is heard on two new originals, too— the wistful “Lady Yesterday,” about reliving one of many old mistakes, and the title track, a wearied tribute to outlaw Tompall Glaser, who out-crazied Friedman way back in the day, which is saying a lot. The instrumentation is justifiably lonely, usually just Friedman (or Joe Cirotti) playing acoustic guitar, with occasional help from Mickey Raphael (harmonica) and Little Jewford (piano). Whether or not this turns out to be Friedman’s final album, it definitely feels like it, summoning the past to cover his father’s favorite Johnny Cash song, “Picking Time” (1958), Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” (1963), Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “Wand’rin’ Star” (1951), and unlikeliest of all, the standard “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (1939). If this truly is Friedman’s last, he’ll be going out on a high note. —Kenny Berkowitz

A remarkable, and often jaw-dropping, musical document This four-CD reissue gathers 113 tracks recorded between the late-’60s and mid-’70s. It’s a feast of guitar, banjo, and fiddle music—and banjos and fiddles dominate these recordings. Still, there are plenty of guitars from the likes of Joe and Janette Carter (son and daughter of music icons A.P. and Sara Carter), and guitarist E.C. Ball, a Virginia native who recorded in a trio that featured his guitarist wife Orna. These County recordings eschew the big names, and in doing so capture the depth and breadth of bluegrass and old-time country found in the hills and hollers of a region of rural America that at the time remained largely unsullied from the homogenizing effects of TV and radio. Nevins recalled the Summer of ’69 as “a helluva great adventure.” Over the years, he and his cohorts created a vast reserve of field recordings, preserving an important part of America’s heritage and giving the rest of us a remarkable, and often jaw-dropping musical document. —Greg Cahill 74 January 2015

TOP 5 BLUEGRASS SONGS Chris Jones & the Night Drivers “Laurie,” Run Away Tonight Mountain Home Steep Canyon Rangers “Long Summer,” Radio Rounder Flatt Lonesome “You’ll Pay,” Runaway Train Mountain Home

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out “I’m Leaving You and Fort Worth Too,” It’s About Tyme Break-a-String Songs from the Road Band “Token of Love,” Traveling Show Lucks Dumpy Toad Source: Bluegrass Today, week of 10/24/15

Jon Stickley Trio Lost at Last Self-released

Flatpicking a 1956 Martin D-18, Jon Stickley has one foot firmly planted in the world of bluegrass and the other roaming just about everywhere else, from Celtic to classic rock, dubstep, Gypsy jazz, hip-hop, and jam. He’s based in Asheville, North Carolina, where he’s been part of the acoustic scene for years, playing mandolin with the Biscuit Burners, guitar with Shannon Whitworth, and upright bass with Town Mountain before forming this genre-bending trio with Lyndsay Pruett (violin), and Patrick Armitage (drums), formerly with Atmosphere. With Lost at Last, JST has arrived. The album was produced by Dave King, a drummer, so it has a strong foundation in rhythm and a surprisingly full sound for an acoustic trio. Armitage anchors the beat, keeping time on a kit with a bass drum, floor tom, two snares, two cymbals, and a high hat. But rhythm is equally important for Stickley and Pruett, who alternate between leads and basslines. Each has an impressive range of techniques, especially on the low strings, which is what makes JST so striking: the way these two lead instruments fit so closely together, and the way they keep propelling the music forward. The covers—of tunes by the Bad Plus, Bela Fleck, and Leftover Salmon—are smartly chosen and played for maximum impact, with all the speed the trio can muster. The originals, with punny titles like “Darth Radar,” “Pamlico Sound,” and “Rice Dream,” are even better, cramming as many ideas as possible into a single song. JST is best when going full-tilt, when Pruett and Stickley are at their most dynamic, and the trio comes together to play something that sounds completely new. —K.B.

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PLAYLIST

TOP 5 AMERICANA ALBUMS Jason Isbell Something More Than Free Southeastern/ Thirty Tigers Patty Griffin Servant of Love PGM/Thirty Tigers

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Lost Time Yep Roc

Joe Ely Panhandle Rambler Rack ’Em

Josh Ritter Sermon on the Rocks Pytheas/ Thirty Tigers

Source: americanaradio.org, week of 10/24/15

The Oh Hellos Dear Wormwood Elektra

Oh Hellos’ Dear Wormwood opens with hushed voices, then swells into a multi-tracked chorus. That’s followed by two repeating notes on electric guitar, another hush, a guitar and banjo, a crash of drums, a full band playing four short measures, and Maggie Heath singing, “Oh fair and flighty love/my aerolite above,” while her brother Tyler harmonizes on “I still taste you on my lips/lovely bitter water.” Then the full band enters; there’s another verse, a steadily rising crescendo, an epic sing-along on the chorus, a few more notes on guitar, and the faintest sound of fiddle before all goes silent again. That’s a lot for one song, especially a folk song that’s simple enough for one voice and one guitar. And it’s only the first track—another dozen are still to come, each one beautiful, and each one given the full, lovingly multi-tracked treatment. The album unfolds as a sequence of love letters, most of them tormented, written in the archaic poetry of lyres, timbrels, plagues, ghosts, dancing bones, and pale white horses. Dear Wormwood was inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, a Christian allegory about a demon and his minions. It’s a sequel to the band’s 2012 album Through the Deep, Dark Valley, which yielded an unlikely hit in “Hello My Old Heart.” But ultimately, the narrative is less important than the exuberance that fills these performances, the grace of the melodies, the epic confidence of the arrangements, the stripped-down simplicity of Tyler Heath’s fingerpicking, and the impossible sweetness of the brother-and-sister harmonies. That’s what makes this album so unlikely, so inspired, so irresistible, as if folk music really matters, as if it could be made to feel fresh again. Brilliant. —K.B.

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PLAYLIST

John Renbourn The Attic Tapes World Music Network

Treasures from the Attic Newly discovered John Renbourn rarities capture guitar great’s early genius BY MARK KEMP

e wasn’t just a titan of 1960s British folk. John Renbourn was one of the chief architects of modern acoustic-guitar playing— a master fingerstylist who brought technical precision and experimentation together with a deeply soulful touch. His classical training put him on an unlikely path to the blues, a variety of traditional folk styles, and excursions into jazz and ragtime—a combination that would come to be known as Baroque folk. From the mid-’60s to 2011, Renbourn issued a string of influential and adventurous solo albums and collaborations with singers, including the sadly underappreciated Dorris Henderson, fellow guitar greats such as Bert Jansch, Stefan Grossman, and Wizz Jones, and with Pentangle, the progressive folk-rock group Renbourn and Jansch formed in 1968. When Renbourn died last March at age 70, a tour with Jones and this compilation of recently unearthed early recordings turned out to be his final projects. The Attic Tapes brings Renbourn full circle, beginning with a version of the Baroque-folk classic “Anji” recorded in 1962—the year Davey Graham wrote the song that Simon & Garfunkel would later introduce to mainstream audiences on their 1966 Sounds

H

78 January 2016

of Silence album. “It’s conceivable that this [recording of “Anj”] is an example of a loose version before Davey’s official recording standardized things,” Renbourn writes in the liner notes, and then jokes, “It’s certainly unstable enough.” That instability is largely what makes this collection of early rarities interesting. It’s a window onto a massive talent just beginning to develop his voice. A rowdy, lo-fi recording of the blues standard “It Hurts Me Too” has Renbourn jamming with Mac MacLeod, the inspiration for Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (and the guy who found these old recordings in his attic). There’s also a crackling take of “The Wildest Pig in Captivity” that’s slightly slower than the official version on his 1965 self-titled album. (“The guitar is tuned to DADDAD,” Renbourn writes in the liners, “which I figure I came up with for the purpose—experimental tunings didn’t begin with DADGAD.”) Also included from that solo LP are live performances of “Train Tune,” “Judy,” “Beth’s Blues,” and “Plainsong.” Some of the tracks are songs that were shared among the small tribe of musicians who made up the heady late-’50s and early-’60s

beatnik folk scene. Renbourn learned “Candyman” from a young woman in Paris (the Beth of “Beth’s Blues”); got “Cocaine Blues” from a Ramblin’ Jack Elliott LP before many of the young folkies knew who the Reverend Gary Davis was; and worked up a version of Jansch’s “Courting Blues” before Renbourn had even met his future Pentangle band mate. And then there’s the live take of “National Seven,” a song Alan Turnbridge originally wrote for Wizz Jones. The final track is a later performance (the exact date is unknown) of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” that features Renbourn jamming with Davey Graham on a warm, swinging, cocktail-lounge version of the blues standard that’s been covered by artists ranging from Bessie Smith to Eric Clapton. Renbourn would go on to blaze new trails for the acoustic guitar and inspire new generations of young players with his workshops, instructional books, and university courses. But this set of remastered, highly listenable lo-fi recordings from his earliest days brings it all back home, as another famous folkie once put it. “ “What’s here is representative of what was happening to me at the time,” Renbourn writes, “and a reflection on the general scene.” AG

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ALEX DE GRASSI FINGERSTYLE GUITAR METHOD THE COMPLETE EDITION

Learn to position the picking hand for efficient Honeproperly your technique and and comfortable playing. deepen yourfingerstyle understanding contemporary fingerstyle nofHow to grow and shape guitar this full method your with fingernails taught by a master of the n Where to place your picking genre. With notation and tab the best tone forhand 200for musical examples, excerpts from many nplus Detailed instruction on of deplaying Grassi’s arrangements rest and free and compositions.

Includes 6 hours of video strokes with the thumb and the fingers

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ACOUSTIC ROCK ESSENTIALS

Add ten popular rock rhythms (and their variations) to your strumming vocabulary. n

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Strumming patterns based on music by the Beatles, Coldplay, the Strokes, Buddy Holly, and more Tips for finding the right rhythm patterns for your own songs

By Andrew DuBrock Includes 16 minutes of video

Acoustic Rock Essentials

HAR RIS

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M HAPPY TRAU Blues Careless Love SAM COOKE Good Times STRI PES THE WHITEtunate Rake The Unfor WIN A 50TH RY ANNIVERSA MARTIN D-35

| ACOUSTICGU AUGUST 2015

| JOS H ROU SE

TALLE ST MAN ON EARTH | SARAH MCQUAID | JD SOUT HER | ED HELM S

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ALL THE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES TO UNPLUG YOUR ROCK AND ROLL store.AcousticGuitar.com.

ALICE IN CHAIN S Nutshell BOB DYLAN House of the Rising Sun EARL BELL Travelin’ Blues OCTOBER 2015 | ACOUSTIC GUITAR.CO

PAYINGVI L THE DE E S HIS BLU

3 SONGS

Ten Great Rock Strumming Patterns

EM MYLOU

3 SONG S

Rock Out.

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IDA HAS A FLOR N BUS INES SMA OVER ED REALLY UNC SON’S ROB ERT JOHN ON L-1? LOST GIBS

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JAMES TAYLOR BACK IN THE DRIVER ’S SEAT AFTER 13 YEARS

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A COUCH POTATO’S GUIDE TO GUITAR PLAYIN G

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AcousticGuitar.com 81

GREAT ACOUSTICS

Bee Here Now A sweet bluegrass-ready dreadnought pollinated with charm BY GREG CAHILL

he idea for the inlay originated from my lifelong love of bee keeping,” says Mike Frank, a guitar maker based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “I have a good friend who also keeps bees and who commissioned me to build several guitars for him. I suggested the honey-bee theme and he enthusiastically agreed. Having worked in the past with David Nichols at Custom Pearl Inlay

in Malone, New York, I gave him my ideas and let him run with it. The design and inlay was done by David and Kief Sloate-Dowden. As a finishing touch, I used the elegant shell herringbone purfling for the top border and rosette.” The Bee Guitar is one of Frank’s Bluegrass Legacy series dreadnoughts patterned from the traditional Martin 14-fret models with a 25.4-inch

scale length. The back and sides are old-growth Brazilian rosewood that’s been quartersawn from an old salvaged beam and flitch-matched. The top is Bearclaw-figured Alaskan Sitka and the neck is high-flame Honduran mahogany. Braces are red spruce. Other features include flamed koa bindings, Waverly tuners, and fossil-mammoth ivory nut, saddle, and pins. AG

MARK ADRIAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK WRIGHT

“T

Acoustic Guitar (ISSN 1049-9261) is published monthly by String Letter Publishing, Inc., 501 Canal Blvd, Suite J, Richmond, CA 94840. Periodical postage paid at Richmond, CA 94804 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send changes of address to Acoustic Guitar, String Letter Publishing, Inc., PO Box 3500, Big Sandy, TX 75755. Changes of address may also be made on line at AcousticGuitar.com. Printed in the USA. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Imex Global Solutions, PO Box 32229, Hartford, CT 06150-2229.

82 January 2016

THE ALL-NEW ACOUSTIC PRO SERIES AMPS

FILL THE ROOM.

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ACOUSTIC SFX®

© 2015 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Fender® and SFX® are registered trademarks of FMIC. All rights reserved.

#FILLTHEROOM FENDER.COM/FILLTHEROOM

Solid wood. No compromise. The Dreadnought Junior is everything you’ve come to expect from Martin Guitar...and more. Discover your new favorite guitar.

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