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Top 10 Summer Jams For Fun in the Sun

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 30, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start of summer, so it's time to get those summer party playlists ready to go. Here are 10 of our favorites. What are yours?

10. "Beautiful Day" U2
Though Bono's intent was this be an anthem for any day, any season (or every day, every season), my fondest memories are of this playing about four times on a Memorial Day weekend road trip from New York to Boston, so it screams summer to me.

9.  "Alcohol" Brad Paisley
From Milwaukee to Lynchburg to Bordeaux France, that glass/can/bottle of "happy juice" is as much a part of summer as suntan bikinis and barbecues.

8. "Summer of '69" Bryan Adams
Nostalgia for youthful dalliance during summer break never goes away, does it?

7. "Summer Song" Joe Satriani
First of all, it's Satch, so it's always good listening. Second, this is top-down, radio-crankin' music at its best.

6. "One Love" Bob Marley
Blame this one on those ads for Jamaica, where's it's summer 365 days a year!

5. "Born to Be Wild" Steppenwolf 
Ever tried ridin' your heavy metal thunder in the snow? Summer is riding season, and if this isn't the perfect biker theme, I'm not sure what is.

4. "Summer Nights" Van Halen 
OK, before I hear from the "Van Hagar" critics, 1) this is a great summer anthem, and 2) Sammy screams summer! But truth be told, any Van Halen cranked up in the convertible, or on the beach, or at your pool party, is tough to beat for summer fun.

3. Anything by the Beach Boys 
From "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Surfin' Safari" to "California Girls" and "Surfin' U.S.A.," has anyone written a better summer soundtrack?

2. "School's Out" Alice Cooper 
While many view Memorial Day Weekend as the start of summer, for the millions of students from kindergarten through college, it's the day they can sing this anthem that officially marks the start of summer fun!

1. "Margaritaville" Jimmy Buffett 
Close call here between the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett, but since cheeseburgers and tequila are far more accessible than surf-worthy beaches, Buffett gets the nod. I'll have mine regular, on the rocks, and no salt, please!

Legendary Flatpicker Doc Watson Dead at 89

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Doc Watson, whose flatpicking technique single-handedly elevated the acoustic guitar to a lead instrument in bluegrass and traditional Americana music, died on Tuesday (5/29) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was 89.

Watson had been hospitalized since May 21, initially for observation after a fall. On May 23, he was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem where he underwent emergency abdominal surgery.

An eight-time Grammy winner, Watson is recognized as one of if not the most influential acoustic flatpickers of all time. In 1998, Flatpicking Guitar said Doc was "the man who had the deepest, most enduring and most profound influence on the way the acoustic flat-top guitar is played as a lead instrument in folk, old-time, and bluegrass music today."

Doc Watson video lessons and guitar tab 

Born Arthel Lane Watson in 1923 in Stoney Fork, North Carolina, an infection left Doc blind before his first birthday. He began playing the harmonica at age 6, and at 11 his father built him a fretless banjo, which featured a head made from the skin of his grandmother's cat, which had just died. At about age 13, Doc had borrowed a guitar from a neighbor and was playing a few chords. His father told him that if he could learn to play a song by the time he got home from work that day, he'd buy him his own guitar. Doc set to work and learned the Carter Family's "When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland," and true to his word, Doc's dad took him to town that Saturday and bought a $12 Stella guitar.

As his skills developed, Doc wished to upgrade his instrument, eventually purchasing a Martin D-28 on an installment payment. To help pay the monthly bill, Doc took to busking in the streets, where he was invited to play at contests and other events. One event was a radio show being broadcast from the nearby town of Lenoir. When the radio announcer decided that "Arthel" was an awkward name for radio, a young woman in the audience shouted out, "Call him 'Doc.'" The nickname stuck, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Watson would go on to play with such bluegrass legends as Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs, among others, but is most famous for his albums and performances with his son, Merle. Doc played with Merle from 1964 until 1985, when he was killed in a tractor accident. Three years later, Doc organized a tribute concert for his son, and the event turned into the now annual MerleFest in North-Wilkesboro, N.C.

Doc is survived by his wife; his daughter, Nancy Ellen; a brother, David; two grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.


New Steve Vai Album Due 8/14; Hear "Gravity Storm" Now

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 23, 2012:  Virtuoso guitarist and visionary composer Steve Vai will release The Story of Light, a new solo album of original material, on August 14. The title comes out on Favored Nations Entertainment, the label Vai founded in 1999. Its sprawling and expressive 12-song set continues a conceptual and cosmic narrative arc begun on the artist's acclaimed 2005 album Real Illusions: Reflections (also Vai's most recent solo studio release).

Official Steve Vai guitar tab and video lessons  

Although The Story of Light is largely instrumental, the album does feature guest vocalists including singer-songwriter Aimee Mann—dueting with Vai on "No More Amsterdam," which she also co-wrote—and Beverly McClellan, a season one finalist on The Voice. McClellan appears on "John the Revelator," a track inspired by a vintage recording of blues singer Blind Willie Johnson, whose acid-soaked vocals are in the mix as well.  Other highlights include the title track (which opens the album), "Gravity Storm" (see below), "The Moon and I," and "Velorum."

Throughout, three-time Grammy-winner Vai's lead guitar is as lyrically resonant as it is technically masterful, his licks and solos bending sounds and in listeners' minds in equal measure. The Story of Light follows the journey of a man driven mad by grief, intertwining tragedy, revelation, enlightenment, and redemption.

"I'm always pursuing knowledge, I'm a seeker of spiritual equilibrium—and music is a big part of that," says Vai. "I've been obsessed with these kinds of ideas for years." Looking ahead, Vai envisions a third set of songs that will unravel the mysteries and reveal truths that swirl through both The Story of Light and Real Illusions: Reflections. The completed trilogy, intended to be cinematic—even operatic—in scope, will include lyrics and narration.

The Story of Light is available as of today for online pre-sale orders. This special pre-sale selection of bundled packages is offered exclusively through Vai's website,, where complete details on the products and ordering information are available. Each package includes an instant download of a track from the new album personally selected by Vai, "Gravity Storm."

Following up the 2009 live album Where The Wild Things Are, The Story of Light is Vai's 16th solo effort. In support of its release, Vai will begin a tour of North America on August 15th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accompanied by his band—who are also featured on the new album: Dave Weiner (guitar), Jeremy Colson (drums), Philip Bynoe (bass), and Deborah Hensen (harp, vocals, keyboards).

Over 80 Classic Queen Tracks in Guitar Chord/Lyrics Format

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 21, 2012 at 4:58 PM

We recently posted over 40 new Queen guitar chords/lyrics sheets, including such classics as "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Another One Bites the Dust," and "Princes of the Universe," to bring our grand total to 88 tracks.

Queen guitar chords/lyrics sheets 
Queen guitar tab and jam tracks

Queen Illustrated LyricsOn a related note, Backbeat Books has just released Queen: The Complete Illustrated Lyrics, a 390-page complete collection of the band's lyrics. In addition to the lyrics, the tome contains hundreds of images ranging from handwritten lyrics to rare photographs from the stage and studio. The Complete Illustrated Lyrics, which was designed by the band's longtime creative director, Richard Gray, also contains a complete discography, pairing each song to the album on which it was originally released.


Our guitar chords/lyrics sheets are typically between one and three pages in length and feature all song lyrics, with chord symbols placed above them to mark the changes. Grids for all chord fingerings are presented at the top of the page, as well as the first line of the vocal melody notation, to help you start in key. This format is ideal both for the amateur player who simply wants to strum along to his favorite tunes and for experienced working musicians looking for a "lead sheet" format on the gig.

Be sure to explore our more than 7,500 titles!


Van Halen Cancels Tour Dates; Speculation of In-Fighting

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Van Halen And here we go again? With a new album that hit #2 on the charts and nearly sold-out tour, you'd think life in the Van Halen camp would be good, right? Yet the band has suddenly postponed all shows—without explanation—after their June 26th gig in New Orleans.

Van Halen guitar tab, video lessons, and jam tracks

Neither the band nor the tour promoter Live Nation have offered comment, but a source with knowledge of the situation told Rolling Stone that the band members "hate each other," and that they are "arguing like mad. They are fighting."

Paraphrasing the old soap opera: "Like sands through the hourglass, these are days of Van Halen's lives."

Bluegrass Banjo Great Doug Dillard Dead at 75

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 17, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Country music blog The Boot reports that banjo player Doug Dillard, who with his brother Rodney, formed the Dillards, has died following a lengthy illness. He was 75.

Douglas Dillard was born in 1937, in Salem, Missouri, and started playing guitar at age 5. He picked up his first banjo at age 15. He learned his own unique three-finger picking style by listening to the early recordings of Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, and Ralph Stanley. At his web site, Dillard recalls the first time he heard the music of Earl Scruggs (who passed away in March of this year): "I was driving down the road with the radio on. All of a sudden I heard this incredible banjo music. I got so excited that I drove off the road and down into a ditch. I had to be towed out."

Banjo video lessons

After playing in countless groups, Doug and Rodney stuck together and eventually got billed as the Dillard Brothers, which was later shortened to the Dillards. Their brand of high-energy and entertaining bluegrass soon became a hit on college campuses, and so, as the song goes, they "loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly," well, actually Hollywood, but close enough. Soon an A&R man from Elektra Records caught one of their after-hours sets and signed them to a multi-album deal.

Not long after, they were invited to audition for a recurring role on "The Andy Griffith Show." They were an immediate hit, and through their performances on that show, they introduced urban American audiences to their unique mountain music.

Doug eventually left the Dillards and went on to play with the Byrds, Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie, Linda Ronstadt, Glen Campbell, and even the Monkees and Beach Boys. Even up until his illness, he remained an in-demand session banjo player in Nashville.


Acoustic Master Laurence Juber Jams at Hal Leonard Office

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM

I love New York, but there are days that I miss my old Wisconsin home—like yesterday, when acoustic fingerstyle master Laurence Juber stopped by our parent company Hal Leonard's headquarters in Milwaukee and offered an impromptu private concert for employees.

Juber's brief set included solo fingerstyle versions of the Beatles' "Drive My Car" and "Blackbird" as well as Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die," plus "The Pink Panther Theme," "Little Wing," and an original tune. (See video below.)

Laurence Juber Solo Guitar Tab Arrangements for Beatles Hits 

Check out our selection of Laurence Juber guitar tab songbooks and instructional videos. Click on any cover for more info.

Juber Plays BeatlesJuber Popular SongsJuber Plays Leiber & Stoller









 Juber Method 1Juber Method 2Juber DADGAD Guitar DVD









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