Fendered Bike

Guitar Ted from Twenty Nine Inches  (not a band name) posted this picture over at Commute by Bike. Apparently he calls the bike Karate Monkey (a good name for a band). I think we call them mudguards over here – though Mudguard Stratocaster doesn’t have quite the same ring about it.

CD Review – Lee Ritenour – 6 String Theory

Disclosure: I got this CD for free

When I first posted about the release of this CD I was kind of excited about the possibilities of such an album – the possibilities that it would be a meeting of minds, hearts, fingers – a meeting of guitar players. There was also the other possibility that it would, excuse me, suck big style, with Ritenour shredding jazz fusion licks across a bunch of tracks in odd time signatures and not allowing the other players to get a note or a riff in sideways. I needn’t have worried – Ritenour features on just over half of these tracks and his contributions are, as expected, as tasteful and meaningful as everybody else’s.

If you don’t want to read the rest of this review, let me make this plain:

If you are a fan of guitar music, of whatever style, you should at least listen to this album – there’s something here for everybody. More importantly, if you are a guitar player with an open mind you should go out and buy this album. For me, there is so much “stuff” on this album that is not only enjoyable to listen to again and again, but also inspirational to me as a guitar player.

The album opens with a jazz fusion piece featuring Lee with John Scofield. On first listening I thought, “Ah, here is the first of many jazz fusion tracks.” And it certainly is a good opener – I’ve always liked Scofield – I know his work much more than I do Ritenour’s, and this track features several licks that are recognisably Scofield. I even managed, after listening to the album several times, to be able to whistle along with one of Scofield’s solos! (Sad, I know!)

But the second track begins to show the wide variety of styles of music and guitar players that Ritenour has brought together for this project. Keb Mo’ & Taj Mahal partner up on the first of 3 blues tracks, “Am I Wrong?” As soon as I heard the loping beat and the tasteful slide refrain, I knew this was going to be a tasty track and one that would be featured on my Blues Show as soon as possible. (In fact, I featured the 3 blues tracks from the album on my show last Sunday.)

I’m not going to talk about every track in as much detail, but they do all deserve mention:
“L.P.(For Les Paul)” features Ritenour with jazz guitar Pat Martino and organist Joey DeFrancesco and is a fitting tribute to the jazz style of Les Paul’s playing – reminding us that as well as putting his name to one of the most iconic guitars in the world, he was a great guitar player too. Both guitar players play more runs than i will ever be able to manage, with chords that I don’t know the name of, and Defrancesco shows why he is top of the game in jazz keyboard circles.

“Give Me One Reason” is the second bluesy track (written by Tracy Chapman) and features Joe Bonamassa and Robert Cray,  in a tasty, groovy rendition of a song that I’ve heard once before by Junior Wells. Bonamassa’s playing is, as expected, very fine, with a tasteful solo before Cray’s vocals come in, followed by a typical Cray solo. The differences in styles and tones is obvious, but the liner notes make it clear on each track who is playing which part, and which channel they are panned to. This song too has already been played on the Blues Show.

“68” starts to rock things up a little, featuring Steve Lukather and Neal Schon trading licks on a mid-tempo, melodic instrumental. Not wanting to be left out, Slash weighs in on the fade out.

Lukather and Schon feature on the next track “In Your Dreams”, joined this time by Ritenour. This is a slower track, featuring precise whammy bar action – a skill I’ve never mastered. The guitar tones here, like everywhere else on the album, are wonderful and the liner notes detail which guitars and amps were used by which players.

The next two tracks feature George Benson – the first “My One And Only Love” solo, the second “Moon River” with Joey DeFranceso. George’s guitar playing might be overshadowed to some extent by his soul/jazz/pop vocal excursions, but believe me, he can play – as witnessed on these two tracks. He even had me whistling along with the melody of Moon River, whilst at the next verse having me whistle in delight at his jazz runs and chords.

The blues make a comeback on the next track “Why I Sing The Blues” which features Ritenour with B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Keb’ Mo’ and Vince Gill trading vocals and guitar licks. Very groovy.

The next track “Daddy Longlicks” features Joe Robinson (Winner of “Australia’s Got Talent”) on solo acoustic guitar. I’ve already tried to learn this 3 times – and given up every time!

“Shape Of My Heart” (yes, the Sting song) features Ritenour on nylon strung electric guitar, with Lukather on electric guitar and Andy McKee on his steel string acoustic. The thing I like most about this track is the tasteful accompaniment provided by whoever isn’t the featured soloist at any given time. Ritenour found McKee after following his son’s advice to go and check out guitar players on YouTube.

McKee’s own”Drifting” follows, (Yes, I’ve wondered at it it on YouTube too!) featuring Paulinha DeCosta on percussion and Jimmy Johnson on bass.

Mike Stern takes centre stage on the next track, Freeway Jam, a driving melodic instrumental which also features Tomayasu Hotei and Ritenour. This track reminded me to go and dig out my albums by Mike Stern – a wonderful player.

Britain’s marvellous Guthrie Govan is next up, with a wonderful take on his track “Fives” featuring the wonderful Taj Wilkenfield on bass and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Apparently during the recording of this track Joe Bonamassa was in the control room and wondered at Guthrie’s playing. “Man,” said Bonamassa to Guthrie, “I didn’t play that many notes all last year.” “Yes,” said Guthrie, “but you played the right ones.”

The album finishes with Shon Boublil (16 year old winner of Yamaha 6 String Theory Competition) and “Caprices” – a fitting relaxing end to a fantastic album.

“6 String Theory”? There’s plenty of that here, but much more importantly there’s lots of great playing.

In case you didn’t quite grasp it – I love this album, and so will you.

New Blues Show 30 playlist

 Broadcast Sunday 27th June 2010 6-8pm

Fathead – Where’s The Blues Taking Me?
Dani Wilde – Come Undone
Cyndi Lauper – Just Your Fool
Dave Van Ronk – That Will Never Happen No More
The Panthers – Rocky Road Blues
Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal – Am I Wrong
Brad Wilson – I Can’t Quit You
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Little Red Rooster
Sonny Landreth – Mojo Boogie
Lil Ian Goodsman – Can’t Be Satisfied
Stringbean – Pain Killers
Smoke Fairies – Frozen Heart
Clarence Gatemouth Brown – Better Off With The Blues
Seasick Steve – My Home (Blue Eyes)
Joe Bonamassa, Robert Cray – Give Me One Reason
Bad Influence – Not The Only One
Cash Box Kings – Lost Sheep Blues
Duster Bennett – Got A Tongue In Your Head
Ed Maly – Happy Blues
Cyndi Lauper – Rollin’ & Tumblin’ (feat. Ann Peebles)
Egypt – Viola Lee Blues
Eric Deaton – Trying To Get Along With You
B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Vince Gill, Keb’ Mo’ – Why I Sing The Blues
Peter Frampton – Blooze
Eugene Morgan – Bare Bones
Lightnin’ Hopkins – Sun Goin’ Down
Fathead – Harp Sauce

The Blues Show on myspace
BishopFm 105.9

Weigel Ceramic Slides

Weigel Slides

A couple of years ago I bought a ceramic slide from a potter who was wanting to expand his business. It was a beautiful thing to look at and to wear, and when I played guitar with it, it was such a smooth creamy sound that it immediately usurped the custom made brass slide that I’ve been using for about 20 years as my “go-to” slide. At least it did for about 3 gigs, because at the 4th gig I placed it on a handy table after I’d finished a song. Next time I went to look for it it had slid off the handy table onto the stone floor and shattered into hundreds of pieces. Yes, I too was shattered. I lost the details of the potter I bought it from and had pushed the memory of the ceramic slide to the back of my mind.

Imagine my pleasure then when I saw this ceramic slide at a very reasonable price. Yes, I’ll be sending for one and yes, I’ll tell you what I think about it.

Weigel Slides – Tone-Toys Onlineshop

New Blues Show 29 playlist

Cee Cee James – Black Raven
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Jefferson Jericho Blues
Steve Miller Band – Rock Me Baby
Elvin Bishop – The Blues Rolls On
Hot Tuna – Keep On Truckin’
Alvin Youngblood Hart – Big Mama’s Door
Hadden Sayers – End Of The Road
John Mayall – A Big Man
Eddie Clearwater & Ronnie Baker Brooks – Hypnotized
Son of Dave – Ain’t Nothing But The Blues
J. Tillman – Barter Blues
Rick Pisano – Don’t Do the Crime If You Can’t Do The Time
Lightnin’ Red – Don’t Have To Worry
Tommy Castro – Can’t U See
Elvin Bishop – Red Dog Speaks
Red Dog SpeaksElvin Bishop
“Red Dog Speaks” (mp3)
from “Red Dog Speaks”

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

Cream – Born Under A Bad Sign
Cee Cee James – Love Makes Change
Bonzo Dog Band – Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?
Lonnie Brooks – Reconsider Baby
John Scofield – Motherless Child
Steve Miller Band – Hey Yeah
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – U.S. 41
Elvin Bishop – Clean Livin’
Monte Montgomery – River
Michael Hill Blues Mob – Young Folk’s Blues
Leslie West – Crawlin’ King Snake

Download or stream here

Jacksons Coffee House

Part of my job involves visiting possible venues that we might use to host training courses. I made such a visit before I came home tonight, to the Xcel Centre on Aycliffe Industrial Estate. Before being shown around their extensive and impressive conference facilities, however, I simply had to sample the refreshments available at Jacksons Coffee Shop, which is part of the same building, though open too to the general public. And I am so glad that I did. Jacksons sell Starbucks coffees as well as cold drinks, snacks and lunch time choices. I was very impressed with the surroundings, the service, the coffee of course, and the fruit and cheese scones were very good too,

A couple of added bonuses are that it is 5 minutes drive from my house; orders can be rung in for collection and they are open from 8am on weekdays. They also have some late night opening on Thursday, Friday and Sunday until 9pm.

So my verdict – very good – and I’ll certainly be back – frequently!

Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day – my Father’s dead
I wonder what he’d say
About the way things have turned out
On this my Father’s Day

I’ve got three kids, a steady job
Married more than 30 years
No longer just a long haired yob
Grown up, with all those cares

I still remember things he said
I thought they sounded trite,
But now I’m older, wiser, maybe,
He was mostly right

He let me see the way things work
He taught me right from wrong
To search for knowledge in a book,
For beauty in a song

He used to spend a lot of time
Showing ways of dealing
With tasks you hate but have to do:
Do them “with good feeling”

A man of rigid principles,
Stood by them to his cost,
I know he used to hide the way
He felt for things he’d lost

I wish he’d had the chance to see
My children as they’ve grown
I’ve done my best, not always right,
But still I hope I’ve shown

That I’ve tried to pass on in my turn
What I’ve learned along the way
To my three sons who make me proud
On this, my Father’s Day

Copyright Gary Grainger 2006

Charlotte Street Blues

I was in London (Marble Arch) on Wednesday night, staying over for a conference on Thursday. Looking for something to do, I took a walk along Oxford Street looking for a bar that was supposed to have an open mic night – I’d hoped to be able to sing a few tunes. When I got there, the night had become a Smooth jazz night at £10 a ticket – not for me. Returning briefly to the hotel to use the facilities, I checked Facebook and saw that I had a message from Jamie Hailstone, friend, music writer, reviewer and more. Although he had never been, he recommended the Charlotte Street Blues Bar, as it was fairly close to where I was staying. A quick squint on google maps pointed me in the right direction, and off I went.
Every Wednesday there is a blues jam session, and, if I’d been aware of it earlier, I might have got there in time to get my name on the list (next time!).
As it was, I got there just after 10 and stayed till the music stopped around midnight. In that space of time I saw 5 or 6 different collections of blues musicians – some from the house band too – playing a wide selection of blues. The standard was really very good – the house band obviously tight and well skilled in backing other musicians, and there were 3 or 4 good vocalists, as well as quite a few excellent guitar players.
As well as the blues jam, there are shows too by travelling UK & US blues musicians, so I’ll certainly try and get there again the next time I’m in London. The website is here.