Hey! Where’d all the tunes go?

I’ve been doing a some “Spring cleaning”, in the studio, in the shop and on line. I found my page has become very cluttered. In the interest of keeping things “neat and tidy”, I have removed several playlists and moved a number of older tracks that were not getting played to my site on . All tracks are still available to listen or download, and originals can be downloaded from my page on Bandcamp.

I have a number of projects outside of the studio keeping me busy, including a new second job, and building another “Partscaster” for slide, which should be done in July. Additionally, I’ll be taking master classes from two of my favorite guitar players later this some and expect to hit the studio with a vengeance in the fall. Thanks for listening!

http://hearthis.at/xDj3GQLw/#details

http://meanoldfireman.bandcamp.com/

Unlikely leader: He ain’t heavy

I occasionally get inspired to cover a classic pop song as an instrumental. Last fall, I recorded “He ain’t heavy (he’s my brother)”, the iconic power ballad made famous by The Hollies (and recorded by Neil Diamond, Cher and countless others). In reviewing the statistics from Soundcloud and other hosting sites, this recording has the odd distinction of being the leader in the download category. I guess I’m not the only sucker for a power ballad.

Sonny’s Voodoo

I’ve been a big fan of Sonny Landreth from when I first heard him with John Hyatt back in the ’80’s. About a year ago, I had the chance to see him in a small local club, The Bull Run Inn. His techniques are unorthodox and unique, to say the least. In particular, his ability to pull wild harmonic overtones out of seemingly nowhere is mind-boggling. To watch him is amazing…picking behind the slide, slapping, tapping, palm-muting…he seems to be working voodoo on his guitar and the tones are amazing.

I’ve recently been incorporating some of these techniques, along with some “artificial harmonic” techniques from Marc Athlan and Jaco Pastorius. Here’s some “Voodoo slide” over a minor blues backing track.

An unexpected day off – a variety of acoustic projects

My work week ended Sunday morning. All work and no play makes…yeah, you know. I got a pleasant surprise this morning when I found out one of my part-time jobs didn’t have me on the schedule. I got home in a productive mood, set up a mic and worked on a couple of projects that had been sitting half-baked for a while. The first is a solo guitar rendition of the gospel standard “I’ll fly away”, played on an old National Style O roundneck. This old guitar has it’s share of rattles and buzzes, but I was thrilled by the tone when recorded.

Naturally, once I had that down, I wanted to add some slide. I added a slide melody on top (same guitar) and then a Dobro track of harmony and occasional counterpoint.

Finally had posted an open invitation to collaborate on his “Jig”. I had been running this through my head for a while, but hadn’t had the time to really do much with it. I added some dobro lines around his previous work. I expect this may get re-hashed once or twice but made for a nice change of genre for me, anyways.

Bagpipes give me the blues

I have nothing against pipes. I know they’re not the most popular instrument on the planet and I can only imagine how difficult they must be to master. My issue is what I associate them with: Firefighter funerals. Here in the states, when firefighting was in it’s infancy, it was a very undesirable vocation. At the time, there were many new immigrants from Ireland and Scotland. Often times, in the East Coast cities, firefighting was the only job they could get. As such, many traditions in the North American Fire Service are deeply rooted in Irish and Scottish culture. Most notably, the playing of pipes at Firefighter Funerals is perhaps the most recognized.

On Wednesday, the Boston Fire Department fought what turned into a 9 Alarm fire on Beacon Street in the Back Bay. Part way into this event, the building “flashed over” and Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. They both leave behind families, as well as the “Brotherhood” of men and women of their chosen profession. Academics might refer to us as “Fictive Kin”, but spend a few hours in one of our “Houses”, and you might understand what you mean.

Please keep their families, both at home and at the Boston Fire Department, in your thoughts and prayers.

Rest in peace Brothers. You’ve answered you last alarm.

Key to the highway

This blues standard is often attributed to Big Bill Broonsey. Like many guitar players of my generation, I was introduced to the tune by the version that appeared on “Layla and other assorted love songs” by Derek and the Dominoes. (According to legend, that version was an impromptu jam that began when Eric Clapton and Duane Allman heard Sam “The Sham” recording it in an adjacent studio…hence the “fade-in” at the beginning.

I had the good fortune to drop a hint to Justin Valente that this might be a good tune to collaborate on. In less than a day, he was back to me saying Willie Johnson Jr. would sing, Tom Adams was in for playing some guitar and Gernot Baur would join in on Blues harp. Justin created the rhythm tracks and handled the production, as well as playing the first solo and fills. I’m honored to be able to collaborate with such a great bunch of musicians. Hope you enjoy listening to it at least half as much as we enjoyed recording it.

Moondance

I’m not sure why, but a number of Van Morison’s tunes have been stuck in my head recently. A few weeks back I recorded an acoustic instrumental version of “Have I told you lately that I love you?”. Around the time I was mixing that down, “Moondance” turned up on my mental playlist. It’s a tune a couple of my high-school era bands did various versions of, but not a tune that I’ve given a lot of thought to in, well, a long time. I thought about an acoustic version, but opted for a swing/jazz rhythm section and some electric slide and lead guitars for this take. (An acoustic version may well be in the works…eventually.)

Slow blues: a “Flash Collab” with Tom Adams

Tom Adams is Texas-based blues guitarist whose tone and phrasing I’ve admired for a long time. He’s very busy in his studio, often posting several new works on Soundcloud in a week. His tone is generally from a Strat or tele driving a tube amp to that sweet spot where it just starts to break – kinda a sweet little howl. He often works collaboratively, but I had not yet had the pleasure, until now.

Tom put up this slow blues with the rhythm section and his solo parts with an open invitation to collaborate. Well, many people jumped at the chance. He has reposted many of these on his soundcloud page:

Here’s my contribution (this time playing slide on a Telecaster in open G tuning):

Why does love got to be so sad?

Some projects are just meant to be. I’ve collaborated with Willie Johnson Jr. before on Stormy Monday and am a huge fan of his vocal abilities. I’ve also worked with Justin Valente on a rockin’ blues original, “You Name Ed Blues”. I thought the three of us might pull something off and mentioned a couple of tunes as possibilities. Before I knew it, just had some preliminary tracks down, Willie had decided what key it needed to be in and we we’re off to the races.

I think I was the ball and chain slowing this project down, between endless winter storms and working a ton of hours at the Firehouse that actually pays the bills, I felt like they were always waiting for me. A huge thanks to both of these great musicians for putting this one together.

Slide Guitar Showcase

A friend suggested (okay, a while ago), putting together a playlist featuring some of my tracks with slide guitar. Here’s a little showcase of tracks where my electric slide playing is prominent. Most tracks, I’m playing slide on a Made In Mexico Fender Telecaster that I’ve modified and had the action raised. A couple, such as “Through the Notch” I’m playing a Gibson SG, which was my axe of choice “back in the day” The set list includes a couple of collaborations with some great musicians, some originals and some instrumental takes on some pop tunes. Give a listen, hope you enjoy!