Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews
Chuck Berry Turns 85
It's difficult to imagine what rock music or even heavy metal would look and sound like today without Chuck Berry, who turns 85 today (10/18). The "Father of Rock & Roll" invented and made popular not only many of the riffs and licks that formed the basis of modern rock (and are still played today) but also the stage moves and entertainment aspect of a rock 'n' roll show.
Berry was born October 18, 1926, in St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up, he developed an affinity for the blues of Muddy Waters and the jazz of Nat King Cole, who was his idol. Berry's first public performance came at a high school student musical event, in which he sang Jay McShann's "Confessin' the Blues." He received thunderous applause, and from that moment on Berry knew he wanted a career in the spotlight.
Soon after that performance, Berry began taking guitar lessons and soon discovered that if he learned rhythm changes and blues chords, he could play most of the popular songs on the radio at the time. In 1952, he joined a club band in which he began to develop his showmanship. The following year, he joined the Sir John's Trio (eventually renamed the Chuck Berry Combo), in which he intertwined his blues-based guitar riffs with country-western music, resulting in a captivating stew that appealed to both black and white audiences.
In 1955, Berry traveled to Chicago, where he met Muddy Waters, who told him to go see Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. Upon hearing "Maybellene," Chess signed Berry to his label, and that summer, the song reached #5 on the pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart. Chuck Berry was now a star.
The rest, as they say, is history. His songs "Brown-Eyed Man," "Too Much Monkey Business," "Roll Over Beethoven," "No Particular Place to Go," and, of course, "Johnny B. Goode" are now considered timeless masterpieces and form the foundation of what the world now knows as rock 'n' roll.
The "Eternal Teenager," Berry still tours, having played over 20 shows this year, and scheduled to rock in the new year at B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City, on December 31.
Unsung Blues Guitar Hero Billy Butler
Our friend and colleague Dave Rubin brought this one to attention today, mentioning how Billy Butler is one of the truly unsung heroes of blues guitar. His three-chorus solo in Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk," which has been covered by artists as diverse as James "Blood" Ulmer, Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty, and Danny Gatton, is a must-know classic.
Over the course of his career, Butler played alongside such legends as John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, King Curtis, the Temptations, Gladys Knight, and Connie Francis, to name just a few.
Check out the tune below, and then pick up the "Honky Tonk" guitar tab here. You can also learn more about Butler and get a great lesson on the "Honky Tonk" solo (along with the note-for-note tab) from Dave Rubin in his excellent book 25 Great Blues Guitar Solos (Hal Leonard).
Dream Theater Shows New Vigor and Excitement at Mayo Center
The construction crews may have been working outside, but it was inside the Mayo Center for Performing Arts in Morristown, New Jersey, where several bridges were built over the course of nearly two hours of tight and intense high-wire action courtesy of Long Island prog-rock titans Dream Theater.
Touring in support of their latest album, A Dramatic Turn of Events, which fans and critics alike have said bridges back to their 1992 breakthrough album Images and Words, the band opened the evening with "Bridges in the Sky," its tight focus on songcraft and melody along with James La Brie's soaring vocals building the first bridge of the evening and proving symbolic of the entire night.
Following "These Walls," which, thematically, also speaks to Dream Theater's return to their roots, the band launched into new song "Build Me Up, Break Me Down," which musically serves as a looking glass to Awake, the band's heavier yet still melodically concentrated follow-up to Images and Words.
The band displayed newfound vigor throughout the night, and perhaps nothing owes more this rejuvenation than new drummer Mike Mangini. Given the spotlight just four songs into the set, Mangini delivered a powerful drum solo that showcased not only his compositional skills but also his stunning proficiency with the sticks. Even more importantly, the 48-year old skin basher plays with the enthusiasm of a teenager who has just realized a dream come true, an approach that has clearly rubbed off on his new bandmates. Regardless of your opinion on the whole matter, there's no denying that filling the throne of founding drummer Mike Portnoy wouldn't be easy. But with the man who set five World's Fastest Drummer records now behind the kit, Dream Theater clearly hasn't lost a beat.
Riding high on the electricity of Mangini's solo, guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and bassist John Myung reclaimed the stage and launched into the high-octane instrumental "Ytse Jam," from their 1989 debut When Dream and Day Unite.
Curiously, though, just as that influx of adrenaline was coursing through the theater, Rudess and La Brie were left to perform a two-song "acoustic" piano set featuring the concert rarity "Wait For Sleep" from Images and Words and "Far From Heaven, from Dramatic Turn—yet another bridge between the two eras.
The pace soon picked up again as the band came back out with two stellar new tracks, "Outcry" and their new single "On the Backs of Angels," before once again bridging back to 1994's Awake for "Caught in a Web," inaugurating a showcase for Petrucci's and Rudess's dextrous prestidigitation that continued through the penultimate "Fatal Tragedy" and set closer "Breaking All Illusions."
For the encore, the band made their final bridge of the evening with their 1992 breakout track and fan favorite, "Pull Me Under." After final bows and the house lights up, a satiated audience filed up the aisles and into the crisp, autumnal night in curiously quiet fashion—curious, that is, until you noticed the 1,500 or jaws left littering the theater floor.
For a complete list of Fall 2011 Dream Theater tour dates, visit DreamTheater.net
Set List 10/11/2011
Bridges in the Sky
Build Me Up, Break Me Down
Mike Mangini Drum Solo
Wait For Sleep
Far From Heaven
On the Backs of Angels
Caught in a Web
Through My Words
Breaking All Illusions
Pull Me Under
Learn to Play 8 Aerosmith Classics
We're excited to announce that we've just posted brand-new video song lessons for eight Aerosmith classics:
Each video contains a brief lesson from instructor Doug Boduch, focusing on key chords, riffs, and licks in the song, followed by a full-band demo of the song from start to finish, with onscreen guitar tab.
Check out all of our Aerosmith lessons, guitar tabs, and jam tracks here.
Alex Skolnick and Chris Broderick Present a Winter Guitar Retreat
And you thought the Catskills were just for family foxtrot lessons and summer flings with dance instructors. This December, Testament's Alex Skolnick and Megadeth's Chris Broderick—two of the most talented and knowledgeable fretmen on the planet—are hosting the Winter Guitar Retreat, a week-long (December 26-30) intensive guitar study at the Full Moon Resort, in Big Indian, New York, in the heart of the Catskill Forest Preserve.
Over the course of five days, Chris and Alex will offer a curriculum that includes classes on a vast array of topics including improvisation, theory, counterpoint, gear pointers, classical techniques, ear training, harmony, rhythm guitar (jazz and metal), tapping, and even some slap 'n' pop.
The all-inclusive registration fee includes lodging as well as access to all workshops, seminars, gourmet meals, performances, and camp activities. All you need to do is get there. Prices start at $999. For a complete fee schedule and much more information, visit the Winter Guitar Retreat's official web site.
John 5 To Score New Rob Zombie Film
Ghoul metal master Rob Zombie has tapped his guitarist, John 5, to score his upcoming film, The Lords of Salem. Says Zombie: "John totally understands the vibe of the film and is the perfect choice to create the music."
According to Blabbermouth.net, Zombie recently told Empire magazine that The Lords of Salem will be his "bleakest" film yet. The plot of the film explores the infamous Salem witch trials and executions. "There were twenty people that everyone knows about—obviously all innocent—executed as witches in Salem," says Zombie. "There were a further four who actually were witches, who were killed secretly, and vowed one day to return to wreak havoc on Salem's descendants. That's when the movie jumps ahead to the present day and things start to go wrong."
A release date has not yet been set.
Brad Paisley Signature Licks Book/CD Now Available
Country superstar Brad Paisley is one of the most fearsome fret-men on the planet, and now you can get in-depth lessons on the licks, riffs, and techniques that have made him a genuine guitar hero. In the new Brad Paisley Signature Licks book/CD (Hal Leonard), author Dave Rubin breaks down 12 of Paisley's most popular barn-burners, while ace session guitarist Doug Boduch demonstrates the key parts both at tempo and slowed down on the included CD. See the complete song list below.
Brad Paisley Signature Licks song list:
I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)
Mud On The Tires
The Nervous Breakdown
Start A Band