Sunday, December 16, 2007
So we got our gig, but it was a hollow victory.
You can read the Cobblestone Ballroom story at http://www.iowaballroom.com/p/past/cobblestone/cobblestone.html and, as always, keep on rockin!
Friday, November 16, 2007
It’s not often that you get to see a band in its formative stages that you know is destined for greatness. Oh sure, if you were lucky enough to see, say, the Beatles at the Cavern Club in 1961; or the Rolling Stones on Eel Pie Island in 1962 or 1963; or even the Replacements at the 7th Street Entry in 1981, then you know what I am talking about. But a good friend of mine, who goes by the name of Mr. Whoamus on his blog, and I traveled to Grandpa Al’s in Faribault on Thursday last to see a fella by the name of Brandon Scott Sellner and his band. Now he may be a well-kept secret, but I had an “in:” their new bass player, Todd, whom I’d worked with and played drums with a couple of years ago, called me up and clued me in to Mr. Sellner, a 24-year-old wunderkind and guitar whiz, who’s got a CD single out called “Things are Gonna Be Good.” And indeed they are: you never met a nicer, more personable fellow, and that goes for all of his band mates: Todd on bass, Hardy on 2nd guitar, and “Melvin III” on drums. Once introduced to Brandon and the guys by Todd, we were treated with respect and like equals, with no trace of ego by any of the band. What’s more, we were treated like fellow musicians, which to me, impresses the most (of course, they haven’t heard me play guitar – then their opinion might change!) about these guys. When I used to be a trucker, traveling the highways and byways of this land, we had a saying: “knock the balls off the dog on the hood.” Forgive the crudity, but it basically means you’ve really done something right; you’ve “nailed it.” And I have to say that Brandon really nailed it that night – he is nothing less than a prodigy on guitar (I’m told that he’s just turned 24 and has only been playing for seven years). Their CD single is a fine tune, but it doesn’t do justice to their live show, which is nothing short of incendiary. The way he tosses off Stevie Ray Vaughn licks on his Mexican Strat like he was doing it in his sleep left me with my jaw bouncing off the floor. With Hardy chugging away on rhythm, Todd laying down a rock-solid bottom, and Melvin III putting down a solid backbeat, they’re the real deal. He reminds you of “Kid” Jonny Lang in his early days. Yes, this kid is that good! I’m told that he’s got a CD’s worth of original tunes in demo form ready to be recorded and I for one, can’t wait to get my hands on that disc. So, if you hear of this guy or get a chance to see him live, by all means, make the effort, because he is gonna be great! Check out his MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/brandonscottsellner, and, as always, keep on rockin’!
Brandon Scott Sellner - "Things R Gonna Be Good"
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This one is from the Too Much Fun jam in Des Moines this summer. This is a Pink Floyd number (“Comfortably Numb,” perhaps?) that I don’t think I knew the guitar part for, so I sat that one out. That’s Rick on guitar, Bob on bass, Jim on drums, another Bob on guitar, Randy on keys, and a fellow known only to me as "Callahan" on bass. Nice job, fellas, and may be next year I can contribute something to the song!
Until next time, keep on rockin!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Today in rock history, Buddy Holly and The Crickets had their only number one, “That’ll Be the Day,” this week in 1957. Their next two singles, “Peggy Sue” and “Oh, Boy!” also made the top 10, while “Maybe Baby” and “It Doesn’t Matter Any More” (written by Paul Anka) were top 20. Buddy Holly, apart from being a rock and roll pioneer and hit maker, is also known for championing the then-new Fender Stratocaster solid-body electric guitar, at a time when everybody else was using the big arch tops and hollow bodies, and it wasn’t necessarily cool to use a strange, space-age-looking solid body electric guitar like the “Strat.” It, along with his black plastic glasses, became his trademark. The Strat has become a rock and roll legend, too, that can count guitar greats Clapton, Beck, Mayer, Buddy Guy, and others, as users. Ever since I picked up the guitar 4 years ago, I knew I had to have one. I don’t know if you’ve read my first post where I said I’d be lucky to get a Strat by the time I was 60? Well, the time is now – when my oldest son took my Epiphone SG Junior off to college with him in August, I was a guitar short, and it was time to look around for a new one. Now, I look at guitars and check the on-line listings for what’s out there nearly every day, but now I started to look for a nice used Strat in earnest. In terms of Strats and strat clones, you have quite a range – from the imported, low-budget “Squier” versions to the ultra expensive Signature and Custom Shop models. What I needed was something that was somewhere in between the Squier and the more expensive USA-made Strats. Now, I’m not the kind of guy who shops on eBay – I need to play a guitar, have a look at it, and see how it’s set up, before I can buy one. I also am fond of buying used gear – there’s nothing like a nicely broken in, well-set-up guitar that needs nothing done to it before you can play it. I get most of my used gear from MusicGoRound stores. They are a national chain of stores specializing in new and used musical instruments. You can check out the inventory all over the country online at www.musicgoround.com. My local store had several used Strats, so I went in to check them out, and came home with a sweet electric blue, Mexican-made model, 1999 vintage, for about $280, including gig bag. The Mexican Strat is a good value, bridging the gap between the Squier and USA made models, while featuring the quality of an “American made” (well, Mexico is in North America…) Strat. The five-way switching between the three single-pole pickups gives you incredible versatility, from a twangy, Buddy Holly-like sound through my Kustom solid-state amp, to a distorted snarl through my Epiphone Class A tube amp. With this tonal palette, I’ll have years of fun just figuring out all the different combinations of tone! “Oh, Boy!” indeed!
Thanks to www.garylessard.com for the trivia, and, as always – keep on rockin! Buddy Holly forever!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
remember thinking (as I looked across the church basement at all those 7th and 8th grade girls swooning as Paul McCartney made the impassioned promise that he'd “…never dance with another…”), “Hey – this stuff is pretty cool!” Now if I could only have summoned up the courage to ask one of those girls to dance – but no, that would come later (much later, in my case!). I was content to listen, and wonder what all the fuss was about…
P. S. - Confidential to "Who Am Us Anyway" - it was J. Frank Wilson, and we played that one too!
Thanks to http://www.buzz.mn and http://events.mnhs.org/bookofdays for the trivia, and, as always, keep on rockin’!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Today in Rock History, Ray Peterson wasn’t selling too many records in 1960. It was reported that Decca Records discarded 25000 copies of his latest single, “Tell Laura I Love Her,” because it was vulgar. The song told of the dying moments of a teenager who was just in a car accident. It didn’t make much difference, however, as the song made the top 10. I am intimately familiar with that song, as we must have played it a hundred times or more during my tenure in a ‘50’s band called “The Telstars” (later renamed to “Too Much Fun”) from 1973 to 1975 (with reunions of some of the original members in the ‘80’s, ‘90’s and ‘00’s). I wouldn’t necessarily call it vulgar, but we always introduced it as “a very sad song” (you could hear my fake crying in the background) that “really didn’t happen.” I can remember lead singer “Delbert” (in his gold lame’ jumpsuit lovingly stitched by his girlfriend) belting it out. He was later replaced by Ronnie Jo in the Too Much Fun band. Now I owned a microphone and I thought that gave me the right to sing back up (a lot of “doo wops” to be sung in a ‘50’s band), but, truth be told, I could be lead singer in The Monotones. So we reached a compromise – I could belt it out to my heart’s content, and the sound guy would just unplug my mic. Worked for me (and for the rest of the band, too)! The rest of Too Much Fun were: Rick, guitar; Bob, bass; Dan, distorted Baldwin organ; and yours truly on the ancient Slingerlands. We really did have “Too Much Fun;” and you all keep on rockin’, until next time!
Thanx to HYPERLINK "http://www.garylessard.com" www.garylessard.com for the trivia.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
So what I want to do here is, each day I post (and I can’t guarantee that I’ll post every day), I’ll take a look back at what happened in rock music on that day in history, and make some comments on how it affected me or add some information that may not be widely known. I don’t claim to be an authority on every aspect of music, but I have been told that I am a fount of useless rock trivia. Better to be known for something rather than nothing, eh? Well, here goes…
Today in rock history Duane Eddy peaked at number 6 with “Rebel Rouser,” a guitar driven instrumental. Eddy would score many other hits over the next 5 years, including, “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Because They’re Young” and “Peter Gunn.” Duane Eddy was famous for his big, twangy sound, made by single-note melodies, low string bending, whammy bar bends and vibrato. John Fogerty called him “the first guitar god.” Well, I don’t know about that, but ” The “Peter Gunn” theme seemed to be the universal “break song” for many of the rock bands in my home town when I was in high school. If you heard “dada dada dada dada…” you knew it was time to hit the snack bar, the head, or the parking lot for a smoke (if you were into that sort of thing). I know it was used in at least one of the bands I played drums in. A monotonous song, really, with an uninteresting drum part, but thankfully short, since, if you’ve just sweated through a 45-minute set, you don’t want to play 4 or 5 minutes of the song or do any solos, you just want to take a break. I do remember the TV show too; with Henry Mancini’s orchestra pounding out the beat… it was the first TV show that used modern jazz numbers to spice up the sound track. I seemed to remember that Mr. Gunn himself (played by Craig Stevens) always got into big trouble, but managed to solve the mystery week after week. So if you hear “dada dada dada dada…” go ahead, take a break, you’ve earned it!
Thanks to www.garylessard.com and www.wikipedia.org for the trivia, and until next time, keep on rockin’!