Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews
Canadian Acoustic Guitarist Don Alder Wins Guitar Player Superstar 2010 Competition
This past Saturday night (9/18), Vancouver, British Columbia–based acoustic guitarist Don Alder stepped onto the stage at the 2010 Guitar Player Superstar competition and wowed the audience, the judges, and his fellow contestants, with a solo performance of his song "The Rogue."
The fingerstyle virtuoso combines a percussive approach that is more Ani DiFranco than it is Andy McKee (guitar tab) with an impressive grasp of harmony, melody, and arrangement, to create a sound that is best described as a one-man band. But don't take our word for it, just check out the video below and judge for yourself!
For more on Don Alder, visit his official web site.
Ukulele Master Jake Shimabukuro Performs Bohemian Rhapsody on New Album Due January 4
Jake Shimabukuro is recognized as one of the world's most exciting and innovative ukulele players and composers. On January 4, 2011, he'll continue to revolutionize the perception of the four-string, two-octave instrument with the release of new album Peace Love Ukulele on Hitchhike Records, distributed through Mailboat Records. "The ukulele," he says, "is the instrument of peace – and if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place."
Standout tracks on Peace Love Ukulele include Shimabukuro's compositions "Go For Broke," a tribute to World War II veterans; "143," from the numeric pager code for "I love you"; the high-octane "Bring Your Adz"; and his versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," the only solo ukulele arrangement on the CD (see video below). "Quite a challenge considering I had only 4 strings and 2 octaves to work with!" Shimabukuro says.
Shimabukuro's lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques defy categories: he plays rock, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and jazz, and has performed for the Queen of England and gigantic festival audiences all over the world, and recorded with a diverse range of artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Buffett and Bela Fleck. For more, visit www.jakeshimabukuro.com.
Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 09-21-2010
This past week, I was reading through an old transcription of the John Coltrane classic "Impressions," as recorded by jazz guitar master Pat Martino. If ever there was a tune that could be called "jazz shred," this straight-ahead blow-fest with its cut-time tempo of 152 (that's 304 bpm!) would be it.
"Impressions" is a modal tune, with sparse harmonic change, alternating between Am7 and Bbm7 chords, with each acting as temporary key centers. This makes the song an ideal introduction to jazz improv for rock players who want to cop some cool bop lines without having to worry about typical jazz changes (e.g., ii-V-I or I-VI-ii-V).
While Martino's interpretation offers many signature examples of his soloing style, like ostinato riffs and syncopation, it's the final bop lick in section A2 of the tune that really caught my ear as I played it (hear it at 1:23 of the Martino video below). The lick, which is rooted in an A minor arpeggio, demonstrates Martino's ability to imply chord changes over a static harmony, in this case, Am7. It starts with an inocuous A minor arpeggio, then uses an F natural passing tone that leads to an F#–A–C sequence, which represents the 3rd, 5th, and 7th, respectively, of a D7 chord, which in turn would be the V chord in an Am7–D7 ii-V move—pretty nifty substitution.
To be honest, I think this lick actually sounds better at a slower tempo, as opposed to the lightning-fast pace at which Martino plays it. Either way, it's definitely one to add to your bag of licks.
Here's the lick. I've included the original recording (via YouTube video) so you can hear it in context. Plus I recorded a video demo at a "merely mortal" tempo of about 200 bpm, with a slow demo of about 100 bpm. Enjoy!
Teacher Who Inspired Band Name Lynyrd Skynyrd Dies
Leonard Skinner, the gym teacher who inspired the name of southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early Monday morning. He was 77.
The band posted the sad news at their web site, along with the following statement from guitarist Gary Rossington:
"Coach Skinner had such a profound impact on our youth that ultimately led us to naming the band, which you know as Lynyrd Skynyrd, after him. Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."
The legend goes that Skinner, the no-nonsense, flat-topped basketball coach and gym teacher, was a real stickler for the school's policy against long hair on boys, which of course described to a T some of the young men who would go on to form the band bearing the tongue-in-cheek version of Skinner's name.
Despite their adversarial student-teacher relationship in high school, the band developed a friendship with Mr. Skinner in later years and even invited him to introduce the band at a concert in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.
Man's Stolen Guitar Found on eBay 8 Years Later
Recently we reported on the theft of two guitars from Machine Head guitarist Robb Flynn, and it seems too often we hear about someone's gear being ripped off, yet we rarely hear about recovery. Well, finally, we get a happy ending (thanks to Happy Traum for the story tip!).
Eight years ago, a 1957 Les Paul Special was stolen from rural Minnesota, according to an AP report in today's New York Times. But the guitar's owner, Doug Duncan, never stopped searching for his vintage beauty, even setting up email notifications from eBay to alert him whenever a similar guitar went up for sale.
Last month, his diligence paid off when he received an alert from the auction site that a similar guitar had been listed by a seller in Mill Valley, California. Duncan checked the serial number and found that it matched his guitar. Investigators then reached the seller, who was a collector that didn't know it was a stolen instrument. Since then, Duncan has been reunited with his treasured piece, though the childhood guitar that was also stolen eight years ago is still at large.
So how do you protect yourself from gear theft? First, keep a written record of all your instruments, along with photographs and even video. Record serial numbers, any unique identifying factors, purchase dates/places, and if purchased from a retailer, keep your receipts. And as made evident by Mr. Duncan's story, be diligent. In addition to police reports, check your local pawn shops, Craig's List, and online auction sites like eBay. Thankfully, most gear thieves are just looking for a quick cash grab and will try to resell your axe asap.
Buddy Guy to Release New Album October 26
PRESS RELEASE: New York, NY –Five-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Buddy Guy, will release his new album, Living Proof, on October 26th. His 11th Silvertone/Jive studio release marks a historic first as it brings together the incomparable B.B. King and Guy on the introspective and moving lead single, "Stay Around a Little Longer" (hear it here!). The landmark single represents the first time that these two blues titans have ever joined together on a studio release.
Asked what he considers himself Living Proof of, Buddy Guy answers modestly. "Do you know how many guys I started out with who just threw up both hands and quit?" he says. "My first wife said to me, 'It's me or the guitar,' and I picked up my guitar and left. We still laugh about that. But I'm still picking away at it, I don't know nothing else." In addition to the collaboration with B.B. King, Guy recruits fellow guitar legend Carlos Santana, who joins him on the slinky tune "Where The Blues Begins."
At 74 years young, he's been a major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago's fabled West Side sound and a living link to that city's halcyon days of electric blues. In a career than spans nearly 50 years he has received 23 W.C. Handy Blues Awards (the most any artist has received), the first annual Great Performer of Illinois Award, the Billboard magazine Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone ranked him in the top 30 of its "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."
Recently, Buddy Guy wrapped shooting the "Stay Around A Little Longer" video with B.B. King in Las Vegas and just held "An Evening With Buddy Guy" at the Grammy Museum's theater in Los Angeles where he discussed his storied career and performed a selection of songs. Right now the indefatigable musician is on tour throughout North America.
Remembering Jimi Hendrix: His Five Greatest Guitar Solos
This past Saturday (September 18) marked the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's tragic death at the age of 27. To commemorate his passing and unmatched legacy, here are our five favorite Jimi Hendrix guitar solos. Click on the title to get the official guitar tab.
5. "Red House" Are You Experienced (1969)
While Hendrix is widely considered the greatest rock guitarist of all time, his thick, incendiary lines in "Red House" make a good argument for naming him greatest electric blues guitarist as well. Jimi so nailed the essence of electric blues guitar in this tune that it is now considered a blues "standard," containing some of the greatest must-know blues licks ever.
4. "The Wind Cries Mary" Are You Experienced (1967)
This solo exemplifies one of Jimi's great contributions to rock guitar—R&B-style double-stop slurs in the style of his idol Curtis Mayfield that are cooler than the underside of the pillow.
3. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" Electric Ladyland (1968)
In the final 1:32 of this tune, Jimi puts it all on the line. In one of his most visceral moments—and Jimi had many of those in his too brief career—he rides the wah pedal and whammy bar with the reckless abandon and sheer power for which he is known.
2. "All Along the Watchtower" Electric Ladyland (1968)
Jimi's 32-bar solo on this Dylan classic is brilliantly arranged in four distinct sections that flow seamlessly from one to the next. From his signature to minor pentatonic lickery to a spacey slide interlude to the wah-drenched octaves and Mixolydian motifs to riding the changes with double stops and the climactic unison bends, it's one of Jimi's most captivating performances—and that's saying something!
1. "Machine Gun" Band of Gypsys (1970)
Take all the passion, abandon, and brute force heard in "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and multiply it by a factor of, oh, say, infinity, and you get an approximation of what Jimi achieved on the live recording of this Band of Gypsys opus. But don't take our word for it. A few years ago, Joe Satriani told this to Guitar One magazine: "To me, 'Machine Gun' is still the holy grail of electric guitar performance." And Robin Trower said, "Jimi's solo in 'Machine Gun' took guitar playing to a new level. It was bluesy, soulful, primal, and tormented." And finally, jam master Trey Anastasio imparted the following: "To me, 'Machine Gun' is the greatest example of pure soul. It's as if Jimi broke free of human constraints for about five minutes. To say it went beyond scales and riffs is a gross understatement; it was an outpouring of humanity."