Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews
Matt Schofield and Eric Gales Jam at NAMM
Another year, another winter NAMM show come and gone. For those of you wondering what all this NAMM stuff is, it's a trade show organized by the National Association of Music Merchants, at which manufacturers bring out all their hot new products for music retailers to see.
Held in Anaheim, CA, every January, the show also attracts many top-name musicians for autograph sessions, parties, and occasionally, ultra-cool impromptu jams like this one at the Two Rock Amplification booth, featuring modern blues beasts Matt Schofield and Eric Gales. We'll let the music do the talking ...
Matt Schofield online guitar lessons
Classic Video: Nigel Tufnel Describes the Amplifier Capo and Jams with Les Paul
Now this is how you kick off the work week! In this classic video brought to our attention by Dave Rubin, Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) jams with Les Paul on "The Dennis Miller Show," followed by a humorous (of course) interview segment with the dueling axemen, in which Tufnel describes his two latest inventions: the amp setting of "infinity," and the "amplifier capo." (On its original airing, the interview happened first.)
Guitarist Nile Rodgers Battling Cancer
Guitarist/composer/songwriter/producer Nile Rodgers revealed at his web site this past Friday (1/14) that he's battling cancer. The very private Rodgers offers few details but exhibits acute honesty and courageous determination in the post titled "Walking on Planet C." Read it for yourself here and leave a note of encouragement and well wishes for Mr. Rodgers.
Now, check out quite possibly the sweetest funk guitar riff in history:
New Notable Blues Releases for Early 2011
Going through my too-long-neglected pile of CDs, I found several cool new blues albums to kick off 2011 in "Woke up this morning ..." style.
Big Shanty Collection Big Shanty
(King Mojo - 2/8/11)
With his fuzz-drenched, exploding-out-of-your-speakers sound, Big Shanty has been labeled by some as "death metal blues." The analogy may be a bit overstated, but this 19-song 2-CD set is certainly more akin to Jimi Hendrix than it is to Muddy Waters. Visit KingMojo.com for more info.
You Can't Keep a Big Man Down Big Joe and the Dynaflows
(Severn Records - 2/15/11)
Veteran blues drummer Big Joe Maher explores blues sounds from Chicago and New Orleans to K.C. and Texas on his first album for Severn Records. Guitarist Rob McNelley (Delbert McClinton) handles six-string duties on this swingin' platter, showing off a particularly nice luster on the uptempo instrumental "Supercharger." For more, visit BigJoeM.com.
Salvation From Sundown Lance Lopez
When Jeff Beck calls you "a very exciting and intense blues guitarist," you're doing something right. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, but raised in Dallas, Texas, guitarist Lance Lopez drinks heavily from the Stevie Ray Vaughan grail of Texas blues intensity and attack yet avoids the cursed clone label. Check out his huge sound at Lopez's MySpace page.
Porchlight Todd Sharpville
British guitarist Todd Sharpville is blues royalty. No, really. His late father holds about four different "Baron" titles in the U.K., where the titled aristocratic family history spans well over 1,000 years! Despite his life of privilege, Sharpville found the blues here in the U.S. (imagine that), and recorded this 2-CD set with the legendary Duke Robillard at the controls, begging the question: Can the son of a Baron work for a Duke? For more, visit Sharpville's MySpace page.
Hook, Line & Sinker Roomful of Blues
(Alligator - 1/18/11)
The venerable blues institution Roomful of Blues, led by the highly underrated guitarist Chris Vachon, swings hard as ever on their latest release. The stellar horn section shines brighter than polished brass, and Vachon takes advantage of every spare space to showcase his killer lines and sweet tone. Visit Roomful.com for more details.
Worst Guitar Solo Ever?
Eight years ago, Guitar One magazine published a controversial "Top 10 Solos That Suck" list, which included such sacred cows as Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton as well as less surprising picks like C.C. DeVille and Ace Frehley, and was topped by George Kooymans's clam-filled solo in Golden Earring's "Radar Love."
Well, folks, we have a new #1. The Matt Cherette over at Gawker TV has unearthed a real doozy of a video clip featuring a really bad band playing a really bad song resulting in an absolute train wreck for the solo. And, to quite literally add injury to insult, the singer smacks the guitarist upside the head. Ouch!!
Click here to watch the video at Gawker TV.
Ex Queensryche Guitarist Chris DeGarmo Reunites with Michael Wilton For Seahawks Halftime Show
At halftime of last Saturday's (1/8) playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints, former Queensryche guitarist Chris DeGarmo joined current QR axeman Michael Wilton, bassist Mike Inez (Alice in Chains), and drummer Ben Smith (Heart) for a heavy metal halftime show featuring a drum corps at Seattle's Qwest Field. The quartet ran through a brief montage of hard rock and metal classics including "Crazy Train," "Kashmir," and "The Spirit of Radio." (See fan-filmed video below.)
DeGarmo co-founded Queensryche in 1981 and was the primary songwriter during the band's most successful era, including classic albums as The Warning, Rage For Order, Operation: Mindcrime, and Empire. He left the band in 1997 but later collaborated with them for their 2003 Tribe release and also wrote and recorded "Justified," which appeared on Queensryche's 2007 greatest hits package Sign of the Times.
Whether this Seattle jam will lead to a full-on Queensryche reunion is pure speculation at this point, but it certainly would be welcomed in this little corner of the guitar universe. Fingers crossed!
Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 01-11-2011
Since Jimmy Page celebrated his 67th birthday this past Sunday (1/9/2011), Led Zeppelin has enjoyed a considerable amount of time playing in my iTunes library. Even though it's not their most popular song, Zeppelin's cover of the Willie Dixon classic "You Shook Me" (Led Zeppelin I) is a defining example of the band's affinity for the blues.
Most of the guitar parts in "You Shook Me" are played with a slide, but starting on the last beat of bar 4 in the solo, Pagey lets loose with some fiery traditionally picked E blues scale (E-G-A-Bb-B-D) licks that presage some of signature lines from "Whole Lotta Love" on Led Zeppelin II. In the lick below, which is based on those opening picked salvos in bar 5 of the solo, we see how Page included diatonic tones like the major 3rd (G#), 6th (C#), and 9th (F#) to create the hybrid blues-Mixolydian scale (E-F#-G-G#-A-Bb-B-C#-D) favored by bluesmen like B.B. King and Freddie King. Perhaps the most recognizable phrase is the opening chromatic descent, which is famously heard in the aforementioned "Whole Lotta Love." It's an evergreen move that oozes so much cool factor that when you use it in your own solos, people will say, "Hey, he's ripping off Jimmy Page there ... Cool!"