Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews
Who's Your Favorite King of the Blues?
Every year at Christmas time, when I hear the carol "We Three Kings," I envision Albert, B.B., and Freddie playing the most amazing "Away in a Manger" blues. Each of these three Kings of the blues has had his own unique impact on the genre, and there's really no point in arguing who is "better." But there's nothing wrong with choosing a favorite.
Albert King guitar tabs and video lessons
B.B. King guitar tabs and video lessons
Freddie King guitar tabs and video lessons
Former Eric Johnson Drummer Dies in Home Invasion
Longtime Austin-based drummer Billy Maddox died Monday morning (12/27) after a violent home invasion. An institution on the Austin music scene since the '70s, Maddox was best known for playing with Eric Johnson in the Electromagnets.
Johnson released a short statement on his Facebook page early Tuesday morning: "With great sorrow we are announcing the death of Bill Maddox, the drummer [for the] Eric Johnson Group and Electromagnets. We will miss you so much Bill."
For more, here's the report from Austin's KVUE News site. You can hear Maddox's stellar stick work in this Electromagnets video.
Slash Hits the Road With Ozzy This January
Slash will join Ozzy Osbourne for a five-week U.S. arena tour beginning January 16 in Omaha, NE and wrapping February 22 in Jacksonville, FL (for list of dates, scroll to bottom of post). For the trek, Slash's set list will comprise a selection of Guns N' Roses tunes, a little Velvet Revolver, and some Snakepit gems, but will of course draw most heavily from his stellar 2010 self-titled solo album.
Slash's current single is "Beautiful Dangerous," featuring Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas. Here's what he had to say about working with her to create the steamy clip (view the video below):
"Fergie's style and demeanor is a raw and sexy kinda thing, and that is what I was looking for in the song," says Slash. "I thought of her automatically because I'd worked with her before and knew she had a certain rock element with a certain kind of easy charm that nobody was familiar with coming from her."
For all the latest updates, visit Slash's official web site.
Slash Tour Dates (Asterisk denotes Slash headlining shows without Ozzy):
1/16 Omaha, NE
1/18 Houston, TX
1/20 Dallas, TX
1/21* Wichita, KS
1/22 Kansas City, MO
1/24 San Antonio, TX
1/25* El Paso TX
1/26 Phoenix, AZ
1/28 Las Vegas, NV
1/29* Salt Lake City, UT
1/30 Reno, NV
2/1 Los Angeles, CA
2/3 San Jose, CA
2/4* Grand Ronde, OR
2/5 Tacoma, WA
2/8 Denver, CO
2/10 Tulsa, OK
2/12 Detroit, MI
2/13* Chicago, IL
2/14 Moline, IL
2/16 Nashville, TN
2/17* Charlotte, NC
2/18 Tampa, FL
2/20 Fort Lauderdale, FL
2/22 Jacksonville, FL
Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 12-21-2010
One of the books that has spent a lot of time on the music stand this past year is Mike Stern, from Hal Leonard's Signature Licks series and written by my colleague Joe Charupakorn. The book features step-by-step breakdowns of 14 tracks from the jazz fusion pioneer, as well as an in-depth intro and interview with Stern plus a special "Bop 'n' Roll" lesson.
The second song featured in the book is "Jigsaw," the title track from his 1989 album. The head and solos feature several key modulations and motivic devices as well as plenty of 16th-note syncopation, which make for one funky playing experience. I selected an F Dorian-blues (F-G-Ab-Bb-B-C-D-Eb) passage over Fm7 that features the syncopation in conjunction with a touch of rhythmic displacement. For example, while each bar starts with an Ab-G move, each begins on a different part of the beat. In bar 1, the Ab is struck on the downbeat; in bar 2, it's on the upbeat; and in bar 3, it comes in on the second 16th note. This sort of rhythmic displacement is an easy yet ear-catching improvisational tool, regardless of musical style.
With the intermingling of 16ths, 8ths, and dotted 8ths throughout, you'll need to keep a tight rein on the rhythm, so start slowly and work your way up to tempo. The third bar contains some of Stern's signature intervallic contours (3rds and 4ths) on adjacent strings that will require quick picking. Personally, I use the economy approach endorsed by Frank Gambale in these situations, but other super-pickers like Stern or Paul Gilbert opt for strict alternate picking. Use whichever feels more comfortable to you.
Happy Birthday Frank Zappa
Composer, guitarist, producer and creative genius Frank Zappa would have turned 70 today (12/21). In honor this musical titan, we're going to take his advice and just shut up and play our guitars. But for a little inspiration, check out his moving solo in this 1988 live version of "Watermelon in Easter Hay."
Frank Zappa guitar tabs:
All I Want For Christmas Is ...
With just five days left before the fat man squeezes through a billion chimneys, there's still a chance to get your final wish list to the big guy -- or your significant other/mom/dad/grandparent/rich uncle. What piece of gear do you most want to find under the tree this year?
Of course, you can always get the guitar player on your list a gift card for GuitarInstructor.com. They're available in any amount up to $500 and they never expire! Click here to learn more.
Avenged Sevenfold Parts Ways With Drummer Mike Portnoy
Almost one year ago, Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead in his California home, from a deadly mix of drugs and alcohol. Not long after, Dream Theater drummer—and idol of Sullivan—Mike Portnoy stepped in to finish recording the band's album Nightmare and to play on the subsequent tour dates. But that relationship has, as scheduled, come to an end. The band today (12/17) released a statement saying:
"When Mike agreed to tour with us, it was only through the end of 2010. We always knew we'd need to find another solution for 2011 and beyond. And it's time for us to take that next step."
At the time that Portnoy joined A7X, he and the band agreed that it would just be for 2010, giving the band some time to find a permanent replacement and allowing Portnoy to return to his full-time gig drumming in Dream Theater. But in a shocking move, Portnoy last month announced that he was leaving Dream Theater, which led to speculation that he was taking the AX7 gig on a permanent basis. Apparently that's not the case, either.
To further swirl the rumor mill, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci recently announced that the band has found their new drummer but is waiting for the appropriate time to make the selection public. With Portnoy's free agency status, you can't help but wonder if he and his longtime band mates have kissed and made up.
Like sands through the hourglass ...