Steely Dan guitar album

I’m looking forward to the release of this:

Steely Dan instrumental ‘tribute’ entitled THE ROYAL DAN, featuring some very heavy-duty pickers. Here is the final track listing and order:

1. PEG featuring Robben Ford
2. BODHISATTVA featuring Steve Morse
3. HOME AT LAST featuring Jay Graydon
4. AJA featuring Al Dimeola
5. PRETZEL LOGIC featuring Steve Lukather
6. JOSIE featuring Jeff Richman
7. DIRTY WORK featuring Mike Stern
8. THE FEZ featuring Jimmy Herring
9. FM featuring Frank Gambale
10. HEY NINETEEN featuring Elliott Randall

Amp troubles

Had a very good gig last night at The Norwood in Lobley Hill – not a very large audience but they were certainly appreciative – as were the bar staff. Unfortunately, during our encore “Stormy Monday”, my little Gallien amp decided it had had enough and went off in a sulk. Luckily it was the last song, and I just play rhythm, so it was not an issue at that point. When I checked the amp, it was very hot – I have been running it at almost “full pelt” every night, in an attempt to get the great sounds that come out of it to carry further. I have been looking for a guitar cab to use with it and have spent a lot of time searching the Wundaweb as well as some physical music shops. Then I thought to myself (as you do) “If I am going to get a cabinet and carry that round as well as my combo, maybe I should just get another combo.” I hadn’t voiced this thought to anybody, but my little amp obviously picked up the vibes and went off in a sulk. So today, after checking the fuses (to no avail) I took it to The Menders. (Actually, Ron’s Music in Darlington) It will be taken away and checked out and a diagnosis and treatment recommended. Of course, I have a gig tomorrow night (as well as 2 next weekend) So I asked my good friend (and great guitar player) Pete if I could borrow an amp. He consulted with Ron and gave me the nod. So, I have borrowed a very nice USA made Fender Princeton chorus combo (2×10″). It is solid state, but has a lot of depth, especially on the clean channel. It is of course reasonably priced too, so I am sure that Ron and Pete would be happy if I liked it so much that I bought it! We’ll have to see what The Mender says about the GK. I’ll let you know how the amp performs after the gig tomorrow night.

Just got one of these – Korg Ampworks modeller

Following a recommendation fron the guys over at guitarGAS I took delivery of one of these today. (£39 instead of £109 – shop around online). Now, I’m not an amp modeller kind of guy – but I don’t really know what sound I do want, or how to get it, so I though that this was worth the risk. I’ve only had 5 minutes with it in my headphones, but I can already see that there are some very useable sounds here, and that is with just using the presets. I’ll need to spend more time with it and see if I can use it in a live situation. I’m thinking of having a good clean sound and a creamy bluesy lead sound, and use an external footswitch (I already have one) to change between them. I might be able to minimise my other effects pedal use if I do that. I’d like to be able to get easy access to 5 or 6 useable sounds with the minimum of gear and hopping around on one leg stabbing at the floor. But it is early days – i haven’t messed around with gear for a long time, so it takes a bit of getting used to. Once I decide where best to use this modeller, I’ll do a picture spread of what I am using onstage and ask the advice of the millions of guitar players who come here every day in search of inspiration, education or just to have a good laugh (at me!). I’ll get back to you. There are lots of user reviews (good and bad) here.

I opened the show for Bill Haley!

Ok, it is time I came out with it.
*I opened for Bill Haley and the Comets*
Really! No, I am not 85 years old, nor am I a professional hoaxer. Pull up a chair, pour your favourite relaxant, and let me tell you all about it.
It was late 1973 or early ’74 – not exactly the Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll. I was only 20, and already a professional musician! My childhood dreams of fame, fortune, fast cars and even faster women were nowhere near coming true, but it sure looked cool on my passport – Occupation – Professional Musican. I was lead guitarist and backing vocalist in a pop combo called March Hare. We were from Hartlepool, in the North East of England, but we dreamed of bigger and better places – The Fiesta Club in Stockton, Batley’s Variety Club, you get the picture. We covered pop hits of the sixties and the seventies. Our main attraction, we thought, was that all 5 of us sang harmony vocals. So we could bash out Beatles, Beach Boys, Four Seasons tunes along with the best of them (we thought). At the end of the night, we would loosen up a little and get a little raunchy – Twist and Shout, Proud Mary, and we would end the night with Born To Be Wild, featuring the obligatory drum solo, and a feedback laden feedback solo from me. This whole show had to fit in around the real Main Attraction, the Bingo. As I was extremely shy (honest!) and suffered from stage fright, I took to wearing dark glasses on stage, and these became my trade mark.
One winter’s night we actually had a night off. We were, however, on standby for local clubs and agents in case the booked act failed to turn up. It was a good way to make friends in this business we called show. This was such a night. I got a call from the drummer, Derrick (yeah, he was oily!): “Get your stuff together, we’ve got a booking”
“Where at?”
“The Top Hat Club at Spennymoor – we’re supporting Bill Haley and The Comets.”
“No, really, we’ll pick you up in 10 minutes!”

And he did. I climbed into the back of our old Ford Transit van – blue, twin wheelbase, with caricature March Hares on the rear windows, and off we set to Spennymoor. When we got there, it became obvious that he was telling the truth – there were what seemed like thousands of Rock’n’Roll fans outside (Teddy Boys, as they were called here in England). We went around the back, and loaded in the gear. The compere said “You have to do 30 minutes to warm them up, and Bill Haley and the Comets want to use your drums and PA system.” As we normally played three times as long for less money, we were happy. Our time came. The crowd couldn’t care less about what we played, they wanted the Main Man, but we did get them in the mood. As we retired to the luxurious dressing facilities (The men’s toilet, I believe!), a guy came in and said “Stay here, Mr. Haley is coming.”
A look through a stained window revealed that a stretch limo had arrived at the rear door. We gaped and gawped, and saw a bunch of guys get out, carrying instruments and a few amps. Then he was there, Mr. Bill Haley. A little pasty, a little paunchy, but he still had that kiss curl plastered onto his forehead. The bass player was the original one from the Comets, and he carried a double bass. The sax player was also an original member – the rest were younger replacements.

As they took to the stage we were allowed to enter the concert hall. The crowd went wild. For 45 minutes, they played all of their hits, and a few of somebody else’s. The bass player and sax player fooled around as they used to in the old days, climbing around their instruments and so on. Bill Haley had a nice guitar, and pretended to play, but he wasn’t plugged in. At the back of the stage was a young guy playing his heart out. But soon it was over, the band got back into the limo and sped off to their hotel. Not even a thank you for the use of our equipment, an autograph or anything. The crowd danced some more to the disco, and we loaded up our van and crawled off in the cold Spennymoor night to our home in Hartlepool. A story that I tell anybody who will listen, when the talk gets around to music, And somewhere, somebody must have a photograph of Bill Haley and the Comets, onstage using March Hare’s equipment – a must have for my memoirs.

At the time, I pretended to be a disinterested hippie rebel, with no interest in this old guy playing the old hits, but of course now I am older (if not wiser!) (And also in a blues band – playing songs from a long long time ago!) and realise that he knew exactly what he was doing – he knew his audience, he knew what they wanted and he gave it to them in spades. He might secretly have harboured longings to kick out and record a prog-rock concept album or a set of Gregorian Chants, but this wouldn’t have met the needs of his audience. Hmm.