Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews
Yngwie Malmsteen Shreds on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
On February 4, 2011, Yngwie Malmsteen unleashed some shred fury while sitting in with The Roots for the entire episode of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." And to help you meet your daily intake of shred in, what else, rapid manner, MetalInjection.com has extracted all the show clips in which you can see and/or hear Mr. Malmsteen tear it up (see video below).
Malmsteen's latest release, Relentless, was released November 23 on Rising Force Records, and as the title implies, Malmsteen shows no signs of slowing down even now in the third decade of his recording career. To hear sample clips from the album, visit YngwieMalmsteen.com.
Buddy Miller Gathers Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Greg Leisz For Majestic New Album
If you're going to call your new album The Majestic Silver Strings, you'd better make sure the guitar pluckin' is top-notch, and that's precisely what roots/Americana legend Buddy Miller did for his latest effort. Miller, whom No Depression named as their Artist of the Decade, recruited the majestic talents of six-string titans Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Greg Leisz for the largely country-leaning disc.
Right from the opening harmonic play from Frisell against Leisz's ethereal lap-steel backdrop on "Cattle Call," it's apparent that the guitar takes center-stage, particularly when we're treated to over two minutes of silver-string heaven before the vocals enter. On "No Good Lover," and old Mickey and Sylvia tune that features a fiery yet playful single-note riff, Frisell and Ribot trade delectable solos while Miller wrings sinewy tones from his baritone electric. On the Lefty Frizzell classic "That's the Way Love Goes," sung by Shawn Colvin, Leisz's steel and Frisell's electric work together seamlessly in lyrical fashion to create a striking solo while Ribot's outro acoustic solo is simply lovely. The Libby Cotton classic "Freight Trane" provides a showcase for Frisell's famous harmonic manipulation as well as some nifty Travis-picking and yet more impressive pedal steel work from Leisz.
The quartet of esteemed guitarists might have top billing on The Majestic Silver Strings, but Miller also gathered a handful of hall-of-fame singers for guest vocals throughout, including Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Lee Ann Womack, Chocolate Genius, Ann McCrary, and his wife, Julie Miller. The result is a stunningly beautiful and warm array of heavenly pipes.
It's early in the year, but don't be surprised if you see Buddy Miller accepting the award for Best Americana album at the 2012 Grammys for The Majestic Silver Strings. Check it out at Amazon.com or iTunes. And for the latest news and updates, visit BuddyMiller.com.
Here's the group's take on the George Jones country hit, "Why Baby Why."
Brian Setzer Gives Bluegrass a Rockabilly Makeover on New Album
With its forays into bluegrass and traditional jazz, Brian Setzer's new album Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL! (out April 19 on Surfdog Records) has the guitar legend testing new waters and putting his signature Stray Cat stamp on a few instrumental favorites. Setzer didn't set out to create an all-instrumental affair but couldn't resist temptation when the music started heading in that direction.
"I didn't start writing an instrumental record, per se," says Setzer. "I wrote 7 songs with lyrics, and then all of a sudden I just took a turn and started fooling around with 'Blue Moon of Kentucky,' except without any vocals. I started playing melody chords and thought, 'Wow, this is pretty cool!' So the direction turned about halfway through my writing. I had never done an instrumental record, but I thought, well, now's the time."
Setzer wrote six originals and revitalizes five jazz-bluegrass classics – "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Earl's Breakdown," "Cherokee," "Be-Bop-A-Lula," and "Lonesome Road." Recording each gave Setzer the chance to revisit old techniques and try new tricks, such as playing banjo on the Earl Scruggs' classic "Earl's Breakdown," or substituting jazz chords into traditional bluegrass on the Bluegrass Boys' "Blue Moon of Kentucky."
For all the latest news and updates, visit BrianSetzer.com.
Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL! track list (all songs written by Brian Setzer, unless otherwise noted):
1. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" (written by Bill Monroe)
2. "Cherokee" (written by Ray Noble)
3. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (written by Tex Davis and Gene Vincent)
4. "Earl's Breakdown" (written by Earl Scruggs)
5. "Far Noir East"
7. "Go-Go Godzilla"
8. "Lonesome Road" (written by Gene Austin, Nathaniel Shilkret)
9. "Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown"
10. "Hot Love"
Camp Jam Presents Battle of the Online Rock Solos Contest
ATLANTA - Camp Jam, the ultimate rock summer camp for kids ages 7 to 17, is hosting the second Battle of the Online Rock Solos starting March 25th. This interactive online music contest gives young rockers the chance to showcase their talent online via YouTube and receive personal video feedback from some of the music industry's top Rock Legends. Prizes include a spot in Camp Jam’s All Star Beatle cover band, rock star band coaching sessions in Atlanta this summer with a gig at a major venue, plus cool musical gear.
Registration starts March 4th to March 24th, so just fill out the form on the Campjam.com site. The contest is open to guitarists, bass players, drummers, keyboardists and vocalists. From March 25th - April 17th participants simply upload their best 30 to 60 second rock solo to YouTube for consideration and encourage friends, family and fans to give feedback by using all of the rating tools available on YouTube, including: star ratings, video responses, number of views, comments section and more. The videos will be reviewed collectively by Camp Jam Rockers and Staff at the end of the contest's upload period on April 17th.
Young rockers will be judged in three categories:
1) Delivering the best technical performance
2) Creative ability
3) Generating the loudest, most positive feedback from your friends and family through Camp Jam’s Facebook page
On April 30, 2011 the Top 15 will be selected (three finalists for each instrument). From there, the Top 15 will get the chance to have their video evaluated individually by Rock Star friends of Camp Jam including:
Jeff Carlisi (.38 Special)
Liberty Devitto (Billy Joel)
Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck)
Ricky Byrd (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
Rob Arthur (Peter Frampton)
Jeff Jacobs (Foreigner)
Jim Peterik (Survivor)
Christine Ohlman, (Saturday Night Live Band, George Harrison)
Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees)
Additionally, Camp Jam's All Star Rockers will contribute video feedback daily to randomly selected videos submitted during the entire contest from March 25th – April17th.
Once the Top 15 have seen their Rock Star Reviews, they will then submit a new rock solo to YouTube based on the feedback received from the rockers. The audience of friends, family of fans will once again be able to contribute by voting on CampJam.com for their favorite of the 15. Winners from each instrument category will be invited to Atlanta in early August where they will be auditioned and coached by Jeff Carlisi and other Rock Stars. In addition, you will receive cool gear provided by top brands in the business including: VOX, Korg, Daddario, Evans, Jam Hub, SKB, Extreme Isolaton Headphones, Hal Leonard and Rock House Video. Additionally, Camp Jam will provide prizes for the first 100 participants who upload a video during the March 25th-April 17th time period.
Those interested in demonstrating their musical chops online can follow the easy steps below or visit the Battle of the Online Rock Solos event page on CampJam.com. To enter, kids must be between the ages of 7-17 (7-12 must have parent approval) and can be of any experience level.
For more information, visit CampJam.com or call 1.800.513.0930.
Jeff Beck Rock 'n' Roll Party DVD/CD Honors Les Paul
When Les Paul passed away in August 2009, a huge void was left in the guitar universe—one that will never be filled. But since that time, another of the guitar's greatest legends has been working harder than anyone to keep Les Paul's legacy alive and well: Jeff Beck. Recorded live at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, in June 2010, Rock 'N' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul features the inimitable Beck performing a selection of Les Paul tunes and classic rock 'n' roll tracks backed by the Imelda May Band along with special guests Gary U.S. Bonds, Brian Setzer, and Trombone Shorty.
Right from the opening strains of "Baby Let's Play House," featuring Darrel Higham on spot-on '50s-style vocals, you're transported to a time of AM radio, sock hops, muscle cars, and milkshakes, not to mention tons of twang and reverb. Beck and the Imelda May Band's ability to capture the very essence of that vintage sound is simply amazing, and their execution flawless. Of particular note is Beck's ability to nail the vibe and structure so perfectly while injecting so many of his own signature elements into the solos and fills. If you're a Jeff Beck fan but not all that familiar with rockabilly, you've got nothing to worry about—Beck is simply sublime.
Personally, I was very interested to see how Beck would handle the jazzy Les Paul tunes, and not surprisingly, he was impeccable. From his tender, understated comping on "Cry Me a River" to the explosive dyad stabs of the Les Paul/Mary Ford classic "How High the Moon," Beck played confidently in the moment and left nothing in reserve.
Speaking of Mary Ford, Ms. May's powerful yet warm vocals are nothing short of special here. And her chemistry with Beck is downright covalent. Their interplay on tunes like "How High the Moon," "Tiger Rag," "Bye Bye Blues," and "Walking in the Sand" (the latter two being among the show's biggest highlights - see video below) is at once commanding, enchanting, and playful.
The DVD includes special bonus features including Les Paul's classic demonstration of his "Little Black Box" (aka the "Les Paulverizer") and the blues jam with Les Paul and Jeff Beck that later ensued, followed by the pair's playful squaring off headcuttin'-style on "Back at the Chicken Shack." There's also a 26-minute interview with Jeff Beck talking about Les Paul's influence on his own music, an 18-minute behind-the-scenes look at the tribute show, and a terrific segment with Beck at his home talking about a selection of his treasured guitars.
Click here to purchase the DVD. If you'd like to capture this show live, Beck is taking it on the road, beginning March 24, in Washington, D.C. Here's the full list of tour dates:
3/24 Washington, D.C.
3/25 Philadelphia, PA
3/26 Boston, MA
3/28 New York, NY
3/29 New Brunswick, NJ
3/31 Ann Arbor, MI
4/1 Chicago, IL
4/4 Grand Prairie, TX
4/5 Austin, TX
4/8 Pomona, CA
4/9 San Francisco, CA
Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 03-01-2011
With so much blues being played in my office lately (especially Alligator Records' 40th Anniversary set), I felt it was a good time for a must-know blues lick. And what better way to say "must-know" than to go to one of the pioneering statesmen of electric blues guitar, Elmore James.
This timeless James lick comes courtesy of my friend and colleague Steve Peplin, who though now a full-on jazzer, is a closet blues beast (and I suspect can still play Yngwie covers while wearing leather gauntlets). It's a turnaround in the style of "Take Me Where You Go" (heard around 0:26 in video below), from his landmark Dust My Broom album. But when you hear it, may very well think of a much more famous variation—the turnaround lick that Eric Clapton played in Cream's "Cross Road Blues (Crossroads)," which, coincidentally, is a Robert Johnson tune.
The lick is rooted in A Mixolydian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G), with grace-note slurs from the b3rd (C) to the major 3rd (C#) using hammer-ons. This is a pianistic way of getting that treasured blues note, as opposed to bending the C up to C#. Another standout note here is use of the 9th (B) on the first string—a favorite move of B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. James—and Clapton, for that matter—played this lick at a moderately fast tempo of about 132 bpm, so try to keep loose and relaxed so that you don't lose the groove.
Elmore James performing "Take Me Where You Go"
Hot New Blues Releases Worth Your Attention
In addition to the stellar Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection (reviewed here), here are a few of the other notable new blues releases that have come across my desk the past month and are now available.
Even Things Up Pete Anderson
(Little Dog/Vizztone - 1/25)
One of the best guitar records of young 2011, this new deluxe edition from Grammy-winning producer and guitarist Pete Anderson is some high-octane material. With a tone to die for and some of the finest phrasing this side of Robben Ford, the country-roots legend leaves no doubt that he is a bluesman at heart. Amazon.com or iTunes
Devil Got His Way Damon Fowler
(Blind Pig 1/18)
The album opens up with "We've Got a Good Thing," and indeed, the 25-year-old bluesman's got a darned good thing going on with his sophomore effort. Of particular note on this release is Fowler's guitar playing, which, while quite appetizing on his debut, Sugar Shack, is even more satiating here. Amazon.com or iTunes
100 Years of Robert Johnson Big Head Blues Club
(Big Records - 3/1)
May 8, 2011 marks blues legend Robert Johnson's 100th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, an ad hoc collective of blues musicians led by Big Head Todd and the Monsters along with special guests Hubert Sumlin, Honeyboy Edwards, B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, Cedric Burnside, and Lightnin' Malcolm has released this potent 10-song collection of Robert Johnson classics. Amazon.com or iTunes
Can't Control Myself Gina Sicilia
(Vizztone - 3/1)
At just 25 years of age, Philadelphia singer Gina Sicilia, with the help of producer and guitarist Dave Gross, represents an exciting new voice in blues, roots, soul, and Americana. Album opener "Addicted" is a swampy seduction that pulls you right in to the Stones-y Willie Dixon-penned "Crazy 'Bout You Baby," while on the title track, Gross weaves an old country-blues-style acoustic riff into a slow R&B groove. Amazon.com or iTunes