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    Elvis Costello
    My Aim Is True (1977)

    I chose this record not so much for the guitar playing—well, a little bit for the guitar playing—but just for the songwriting, and how you can really write punk rock and roll tunes while still being intelligent about it.

    Costello just hit me like a ton of bricks when I got into him. His lyrics blew my mind when I first heard them. And that record is so great because it’s so raw; it’s like a real snapshot of where he was at the time.

    There’s not a bad tune on there, not even a mediocre one. They’re very catchy tunes, but very punky and just really angry, but also with really intelligent lyrics.

    My Aim Is True was a huge influence on our first record. We all really love rhythm and blues and the immediacy of it—that sort of ballsy thing—but I also really love melodies; I’m a huge fan of Scott Walker and all those big-sounding Sixties records with beautiful melodies. Costello seemed to just get it right in the middle.


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    Former Kiss axeman Ace Frehley has begun work on a new covers album and has enlisted luminaries such as Slash, Lita Ford and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready to help him out.

    Frehley, whose new solo album, Space Invader, will be released August 18, has said he hopes the covers album will be released by next year.

    Check out the audio for "Gimme a Feelin'" from Space Invader:

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    The Who
    The Who Sell Out (1967)

    The band that changed my life was the Who.

    It’s hard to pick just one album, but if I had to pick the one that really showed me how things could be done, it’s The Who Sell Out. They really went to town on that, doing something that no one had ever done before.

    That album has the song ‘I Can See for Miles,’ which really put the hooks in me. The Who Sell Out is still weird now! Nobody does anything that cool today. It’s great and goes all over the map, musically speaking. And I don’t even think it was a big hit back then, unfortunately.

    I remember talking to the guitar player in the Stooges, Ron Asheton, about what bands he liked as a kid, and he said one of the main things for him was seeing the Who open for Herman’s Hermits in the mid Sixties when they destroyed all their gear. In order to be that weird now to middle America, I don’t know what you’d have to do.

    The Who really opened my eyes, and I’ve continued to love their stuff ever since.

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    Alex Skolnick is among a few guitarists who have achieved multigenre success and acclaim, first as a wild young gun with the iconic metal thrash band Testament, and then as a tasteful and technically impressive jazzbo with the Alex Skolnick Trio.

    In recent years, he has become something of a vintage guitar enthusiast. So when ESP approached him about building a signature guitar with his name on it, Skolnick was skeptical that a modern company could create a guitar capable of matching the refined sounds of aged classics.

    ESP met this lofty challenge and, after rigorous testing by the man himself, is now offering the Alex Skolnick signature model. I tested the budget-friendly AS-1FM LB, which differs in some details to the high-end version but otherwise offers the same bold response, unblemished build quality and significant tonal versatility.

    Features: Make no mistake, the Skolnick signature plank is absolutely a modern-built vintage guitar. Forget about weight-relieving contours and thin necks—this is a thick guitar. Elements of ESP’s Eclipse model are evident in the styling, but its design otherwise harkens back to the roots of great guitar building, demonstrating why it’s so hard to beat the tonal matchup of a thick, single-cut mahogany body topped with flamed maple and married to a beefy but oh-so-comfortable U-shaped mahogany neck.

    Contemporary performance-enhancing elements include a TonePros locking Tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece, precise Grover tuners, Dunlop Straploks and extra-jumbo frets. The Seymour Duncan SH-4 (bridge) and SH-1 (neck) humbuckers have dedicated volume knobs but share the master tone pot, which can be pulled to coil split the neck pickup.

    Performance: If handed the ESP Skolnick guitar while blindfolded, I might easily assume it to be a true vintage piece, not just for the Fifties-style neck shape and overall weight but also because of its immediacy and loud acoustic response, which brings to my mind the last few chord blasts from the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It delivers equally powerful spikes in the low and high mids rather than the centered-midrange focus that makes so many all-mahogany guitars sound similar. This opens the top end beyond mahogany’s typically mellow range, making it highly capable of screaming treble harmonics, pick chirps and serious punch.

    Both Duncan pickups are well matched to the Skolnick’s tone, offering enhanced lows and searing treble from the bridge bucker and clear but warm neutrality from the neck pickup. Single-coil tones from the tapped neck pickup are surprisingly snappy and sparkling, yet sound almost like a smooth semihollow when the tone is rolled off.

    List Price: $1,356
    Manufacturer: The ESP Guitar Company, espguitars.com

    Cheat Sheet:
    The chunky 24 3/4–inch-scale mahogany neck is deep but not wide in the hand, with enough mass to transfer rich blasts of volume and resonance into the loud-ringing mahogany body.

    Pulling the tone pot taps the neck pickup into single-coil mode, ideal for blues, classic rock and old-time jazz tonalities.

    The Bottom Line: Mirroring Alex Skolnick’s vast musical range and evolved taste, the economical ESP’s LTD AS-1FM LB signature guitar is a true multi-genre instrument that’s capable of delivering world-class acoustic response, impressive volume and versatility.

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    In some ways, the Fender Stratocaster has changed very little since it was introduced 60 years ago in 1954, but in other ways it has changed quite a lot.

    Part of this is due to the staggering selection of Strat models that Fender has offered over the years (Fender.com currently lists 170 different versions).

    Some, like the 60th Anniversary American Vintage 1954 Stratocaster, are faithful reproductions of past models, while others, like the American Deluxe Strat Plus, offer bold new innovations that pave the way for an exciting future. Then there are models like the 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster, which combine vintage features that guitarists love with modern improvements to satisfy the demands of present-day players.

    Features: The 60th Anniversary American Vintage 1954 Stratocaster is based on Fender’s very first version of the guitar.

    Like the original, it has a two-piece ash body with two-tone sunburst finish, a one-piece maple neck with 21 vintage-style frets and a 7 1/4-inch radius, three single-coil pickups, a synchronized vintage tremolo bridge with six bent steel saddles (which are even stamped “Pat. Pending”), “mini-skirt” control knobs and a single-ply white plastic pickguard. The main significant difference between this model and an original vintage ’54 Strat is that this one ships with a five-position pickup-selector switch, although a three-position switch is provided for purists.

    On the surface, the 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster looks similar to the ’54, but closer examination reveals several significant differences, including the neck’s compound radius and 22 medium-jumbo frets, gold-plated hardware, tuners with white pearloid buttons, and three-ply parchment pickguard with beveled edges. Underneath the hood are upgrades that include a no-load tone control for the middle and bridge pickups, a two-point synchronized tremolo, a bi-flex truss rod with micro-tilt adjustment and a contoured heel.

    The American Deluxe Strat Plus also looks a lot like the original Stratocaster, but in many significant ways it’s a radical departure from the classic Strat that still manages to remain faithful to its roots. It shares several features in common with the previous example, including a compound radius and 22 medium jumbo frets.

    Where it differs, though, are in its noise-free N3 single-coil Strat pickups and plug-and-play modular Personality Cards, which provide instant access to different pickup and circuitry configurations. In addition to the standard configuration card loaded in the guitar, the American Deluxe Strat Plus ships with two additional cards: Cutter, which transforms the tone controls into master treble and master bass cut controls, and Blender, which turns the middle tone control into a master treble cut and the other tone control into a neck/bridge pickup blend control. (The neck and bridge pickups are also engaged in each pickup selector position except three, which engages only the middle pickup.) The Personality Cards are solderless and can easily be swapped out.

    Performance: A non-playing collector recently paid $250,000 for a 1954 Strat that allegedly was the first one produced. But aside from a magic number stamped inside the tremolo cavity plate, there’s not much difference between that guitar and the 60th Anniversary Vintage 1954 Stratocaster to justify the $247,000 difference in price. If you’ve ever played an original ’54 Strat, the 60th Anniversary model will feel and sound just like that familiar old friend. The neck profile may be a little chunkier than today’s sleek examples, but when it comes to classic Strat tone, this new version truly delivers.

    From a tone perspective, the 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster is a lot like the original ’54 Strat as well, with similar tones that every guitarist knows and loves. However, the feel of the neck is an entirely different matter, offering a comfortable C-shaped profile, medium jumbo frets and a compound radius that makes it significantly easier to play. The tremolo is also a little more refined and can handle deep dives much more competently and without going out of tune.

    The American Deluxe Strat Plus model’s Personality Card feature is a major game changer. The different cards install in just seconds and transform the guitar into an entirely different beast. The Blender, in particular, can significantly expand the Strat’s tonal spectrum. The locking tuners and noise-free N3 pickups respectively provide rock-solid tuning and studio-quality quiet performance, and the guitar’s overall tone is bolder, bigger and more aggressive.

    List Prices: 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster and American Deluxe Strat Plus, $2,099.99; 60th Anniversary Vintage 1954 Stratocaster, $3,099.99

    Manufacturer: Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, fender.com

    Cheat Sheet:
    -The 60th Anniversary Vintage 1954 Stratocaster faithfully replicates numerous features of the original ’54 Strat.
    -The 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster includes player-approved features like a compound radius and no-load tone control.
    -The American Deluxe Strat Plus includes Fender’s acclaimed noise-free N3 single-coil pickups, which provide fat, assertive tone.
    -The Personality Card feature of the American Deluxe Strat Plus allows guitarists to instantly change pickup and circuitry configurations.

    The Bottom Line: Whether you’re a vintage purist, present-day practitioner, or modern visionary, these three new Fender Stratocaster models satisfy the needs of almost any guitarist and celebrate the Strat’s 60th anniversary in style.


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    Between July 9 and September 14, 1974, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young played 31 shows on a tour that took them through the U.S. and up into Canada, touching down for a grand finale at London’s Wembley Stadium.

    Over the 40 years since then, it’s been the over-the-top excesses of what Crosby dubbed “The Doom Tour” that made up most of the memories of those shows. Mention “CSNY” and “summer of 1974” and you would get wild tales of prodigious quantities of dope, Learjets and hotel pillowcases across the continent embroidered with the band’s logo … and not a whole lot about the music.

    But now we have CSNY 1974, a 3CD/1DVD set (co-produced by Graham Nash and über-archivist Joel Bernstein) that serves as a powerful reminder, all the weirdness aside, of the amazing music this quartet created. Backed by Tim Drummond (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and the late Joe Lala on percussion, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young played their asses off that summer — and CSNY 1974 is the proof.

    I recently had a chance to spend some time with Nash in New York City, talking about the new box set and standing in the line of fire of some epic Young/Stills guitar battles.

    GUITAR WORLD: As a guitarist, what’s it like to play alongside Neil Young and Stephen Stills?

    I’m constantly reminded that I’m no Neil Young or Stephen Stills. [laughs]

    Who is? [laughter] How have they influenced you?

    Not much, really. I still play the same basic three chords, you know. And there’s David Crosby: When we rehearse my songs, it only takes about 10 seconds; when you’re rehearsing one of David’s songs, you’re there for days. He’s much more jazz-influenced than I was.

    I enjoy jazz. I came here in 1966 and went to the Village Gate to watch Miles Davis. I saw Gerry Mulligan and Mingus, you know, but … I’m a very simple man. I know, I wrote that song and it’s true. I want to get your attention right from the beginning. I’m not interested in you trying to figure out four choruses later what the fuck I’m talking about. I want to get you from the first line.

    How would you describe Stephen’s guitar playing compared to Neil’s?

    They're very different, not only sonically, but different in style, as well. Stephen is much more blues-based and Neil is more … “experimental” isn't the right word … “futuristic” isn't the right word …

    I’ve used the word “angular” at times to describe Neil’s playing

    That’s a good word, yeah. To me, Neil’s one of the great guitar players in the world. They both are, and to stand in the middle of that shit and watch these two longhorn stags — “Hey, I’m playing this.” “Oh, yeah, motherfucker? Well check this out!” “Oh, really?” — it’s very interesting as a musician. I can't look at them from the point of view of being a guitarist as I’m an incredibly simple guitar player. I hardly know what I’m doing.

    Stop it.

    I’m not kidding. I know enough to write for myself and express myself in my songs, but it's not like anyone’s going to look to me to learn how to play guitar. But Stephen and Neil are really geniuses at what they do.

    Well, you’ve had the best seat in the house to observe them for 45 years. Have you ever been in the middle of one of those longhorn stag moments you just described and felt … concerned by the aggressiveness?

    Oh, yeah. Not concerned physically for them, but just concerned for, “Where the fuck does it go from here?” There are always crests and shallow parts of the wave — there should be in a solo — but there have been times when I’ve thought, “How do we get out of this? This is interesting …” But something happens, and they’re able — with body language and looks in the eyes — to convey exactly where we’re supposed to be going.

    Convey to everybody.

    Yeah, and then apply that to, say, Russell Kunkel, back behind the drums on that tour in ‘74. Russell couldn’t see our eyes; he simply knew where it was going. I think that’s one of the things the CSNY 1974 box set shows: just how good those musicians were to follow someone they weren’t looking at.

    Knowing that you might have played the same song last night, but tonight’s arrangement is something totally different.

    That’s right. Very often it was. But on the other hand, it's just music. And if you’re listening, you can figure it out, you know?

    You keep making things sound simple...

    It's stood me well so far. [laughter]

    A former offshore lobsterman, Brian Robbins had to wait a good four decades or so to write about the stuff he wanted to when he was 15. Today he’s a freelance scribe, cartoonist, photographer and musician. His home on the worldwide inner tube is at brian-robbins.com (And there’s that Facebook thing too.)

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Digital delay has been around for quite a while, as has realistic digital modeling of vintage analog and tape delays. But as great as those effects are, it’s still hard to beat the inherent musicality of a genuine analog delay.

    With the new Vapor Trail Analog Delay, Seymour Duncan has created a true analog delay pedal that combines the best attributes of genuine BBD (bucket brigade device) integrated circuits with modern low-noise analog electronics.

    The result is a pedal that delivers the fat, warm tone of genuine analog echo, with crystal-clean signal quality and definition similar to state-of-the-art digital technology.


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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    It’s a common practice these days for guitarists to use two overdrive pedals—one for an “always on” slight clean boost to sweeten the overall tone and dynamics, and a second as a midrange and output level boost for solos.

    The good folks at Radial have built their company around producing ingenious all-in-one utility solutions for musicians’ and recording engineers’ common applications.

    Now they have introduced a stomp box that combines clean and midboost functions along with several useful features that let guitarists dial in tonal perfection with optimum, professional-quality signal levels.


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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Hey, kids, I’m back! Did you miss me? Don’t answer that. Here I am, back in the glorious Guitar World studios in Bakersfield, California.

    Why am I back? Uh…to teach you how to rock, that’s why! I’m also here to talk about the brand-new Steel Panther album, All You Can Eat, which you are no doubt listening to right now! I came back just so that I could teach you how to play some of the incredible riffs on our new record, and I’d like to start with the song “If I Was the King.”

    This song is pretty basic rock and roll in that just about everything in it is based on either the minor pentatonic scale or the blues scale—the biggest scales in rock, right? These scales come in handy.

    Don’t just practice the Phrygian and Mixolydian modes—you should be basing everything on the blues and minor pentatonic scales. You might not listen to B.B. King very much, but everything he played is the foundation for all that Testament and Megadeth stuff you listen to, and it’s the foundation of Steel Panther’s music too.


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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Two of the most essential techniques for all aspiring guitarists to master are string bending and vibrato.

    The electric guitar affords us the opportunity to express musical statements that can evoke and rival the sound and qualities of the human voice, with string-bending and vibrato techniques as the primary elements necessary to achieve vocal-like sounds and phrasing.

    In this column, I’d like to detail a few of the string-bending and vibrato techniques I use and the applications that appeal to me the most.

    You can bend a string in many ways, and I like to employ just about every method imaginable. Drawing from a variety of string-bending techniques provides me with more options for how to interpret whatever I’m playing.

    Additional Content

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    In my previous three columns, I presented some cool approaches to improvising over the late Horace Silver’s mid-Sixties jazz classic “Song for My Father,” which is in the key of F minor.

    It’s an ideal introductory tune for rock and blues players looking to get into jazz, due to its fairly simple modal harmonic structure, defined by the fact that most of the chords are played for at least two bars, which gives you ample time to think about and play over each chord before the next one hits.

    While jamming on that tune these past few months, I recalled a similar and equally enduring jazz instrumental from the same era, one that’s also in F minor and played at a laid-back tempo and with an even-eighths feel. The tune is “Cantaloupe Island,” a soulful, enduring composition by pianist Herbie Hancock that he debuted on his 1964 album, Empyrean Isles, featuring the great trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and legendary rhythm section of drummer Tony Williams and acoustic bassist Ron Carter.

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    Below, check out former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley's brand-new cover of the Steve Miller Band's 1973 hit, "The Joker."

    "Some people call me the space cowboy," sings Frehley in what might seem a fitting choice for a cover.

    The track appears on Space Invader, Frehley's new studio album, which will be released August 19 via eOne Music.

    As always, be sure to tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook!

    Another song from the new album, "Gimme a Feelin'," is available for streaming, and you can check it out here.

    Frehley was featured in the July 2014 issue of Guitar World, which is available at our online store.

    Additional Content

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    As a working metal guitarist, I’m always faced with different challenges, whether I’m working with an artist like Rob Halford from Judas Priest or fronting my own band and performing my own music.

    In both situations, I’m required to come up with inspired, heavy metal–approved guitar parts that will fuel the music in an ideal way. Whether a specific guitar part is comprised of single-note lines against a pedal tone or fast-shifting chord voicings against different root notes, it’s essential that I have my rhythm/riff chops together for whatever situation I find myself in.

    In this month’s column, I’d like to detail a handful of riffs designed to sharpen up very specific and different aspects of proper heavy-metal guitar technique.


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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    When jamming, guitarists are always challenged by the task of creating interesting, evolving rhythm parts behind a soloist.

    In my experiences, I have found the study of modal chord patterns and structures to be tremendously useful in this regard and endlessly interesting.

    I recently devoted a few columns to the study of building chord shapes, or “grips,” and patterns from modal structures, focusing on two of the most widely used minor modes, Dorian and Aeolian. This month, I’d like to turn your attention to one of the major modes, Mixolydian.

    The Mixolydian mode is spelled: 1(root) 2 3 4 5 6 f7. It is essentially a major scale with the seventh degree lowered, or “flatted.”

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    Earlier today, the modern rockabilly king, Brian Setzer, premiered the lyric video for his new song, "Lemme Slide."

    The track features prominently on Setzer's new album, Rockabilly Riot! All Original, which was released today, August 12, via Surfdog Records.

    You can check out "Lemme Slide" below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook!

    Check out our new interview with Setzer in this general area. And, while you're at it, watch the official music video for "Let's Shake," another new song from the album, right here.

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    Brandi Carlile’s concerts are always intimate affairs – even when she’s headlining venues like the Beacon Theatre, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Chicago Theatre – but this fall she’s upping the intimacy quotient even further with the “Pin Drop Tour.”

    Carlile will be playing completely unplugged – no amps, no microphones – at small theatres that are uniquely suited to such performances. She will be joined onstage by The Twins (band mates/co-writers Tim and Phil Hanseroth) and cellist Josh Neumann.

    “Without giving away too many surprises, I imagine this to be a very vocal-centric set. Heavy on the humanity and light on the affectation. Lots of human percussion and hollering!” says Carlile.

    The outing will kick off at the Portsmouth Music Hall, a landmark 1878 Victorian theatre in Portsmouth, NH, and include a two-night stand at The Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA (October 6 & 7), an evening at the New York Society for Ethical Culture Concert Hall in New York City, NY (October 9) and two shows at Old Town School of Folk in Chicago, IL (October 13 & 14).

    Tickets will go on sale to the general public this Friday August 15. Further details are available at www.brandicarlile.com.

    The “Pin Drop” concept is an ambitious extension of something Carlile has been doing in concert recently: unplugging and playing one song with The Twins while standing in front of the stage. It’s the kind of tour she’s been dreaming about ever since fate threw her a curve one night nearly 10 years ago.

    “We had only been playing clubs and bars up to that point, but as we started opening for bigger acts, we got to cut our teeth in these big, beautiful theatres. One night, in the middle of our 30 minute set, the entire PA system stopped working,” recalls Carlile. “For a band our size, those were 30 very important minutes. As the clock ticked away, Tim suggested that we just walk out to the front of the stage and play our loudest song. We were so surprised to hear the sound thundering back at us from the end of the room and the crowd loved hearing the room, too. It was then that we started discussing pre amplification and sans amplification venues in the United States and how we might be able to put on a show this way.”

    A few years later, Carlile wandered onto a stage no longer in use because the room’s reverb and acoustics were too extreme for live bands using PA systems. She started snapping her fingers and singing “Everyday” by Buddy Holly, knowing the venue was the site of one of his last shows.

    “I found myself totally mesmerized by what can happen when you invite the room into a song like that,” says Brandi. “Nowadays, we may marvel at the lighting or the design on the ceiling in these old theatres when we go to a show, but the only people who get to hear the part that the history of these rooms can play in a performance are the artists that show up before the speakers come on. For me and The Twins, this is our chance to let fans in on this secret.”

    Carlile has just finished recording her fifth studio album, the follow-up to Bear Creek, which debuted in the Top 10 of The Billboard 200 in 2012. She will be previewing a few of her new songs and playing plenty of fan favorites from throughout her career on the “Pin Drop Tour.”

    Brandi has played numerous festivals this summer and will perform with her full band on the Main Stage when Dave Matthews Band Caravan comes to the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA over Labor Day Weekend (August 29-31).

    Brandi Carlile – “Pin Drop Tour”

    10/1 – Portsmouth, NH @ Portsmouth Music Hall
    10/3 – Cambridge, MA @ Sanders Theatre
    10/4 – Philadelphia, PA @ Perelman Theater
    10/6 – Vienna, VA @ The Barns at Wolf Trap
    10/7 – Vienna, VA @ The Barns at Wolf Trap
    10/9 – New York, NY @ New York Society for Ethical Culture Concert Hall
    10/10 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Carnegie Lecture Hall
    10/13 – Chicago, IL @ Old Town School of Folk
    10/14 – Chicago, IL @ Old Town School of Folk
    10/15 – Stoughton, WI @ Stoughton Opera House

    Findout more at at www.brandicarlile.com.


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    The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East has been considered rock’s best live album since its 1971 release.

    Recorded March 12 and 13, 1971, at the New York club, the album captured the original Allman Brothers Band at the peak of their powers, playing with verve, grace, intensity and seemingly telepathic communication.

    Guitarists Dickey Betts and Duane Allman finished one another’s phrases, spun beautiful leads off each other’s riffs and prodded themselves to guitar heights that have rarely, if ever, been equaled.

    Over the years, different versions have been issued, including the expanded The Fillmore Concerts, but the holy grail for Allmans fans has been hearing the many unreleased tracks from the shows, mostly stemming from Friday, March 12, as most of the album was culled from the final night.

    A new deluxe set, The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings, delivers almost all of the music played by the Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East during these shows in great, remastered sound. The set consists of six CDs or three Blu-ray discs, which are mixed for Surround Sound and bring the band’s performance to a shimmering new life.

    Duane Allman famously invited several guests, including soprano saxophonist Juicy Carter, harmonica player Thom Doucette and percussionist Bobby Caldwell (the drummer from the headlining Johnny Winter And), to sit in, much to the consternation of producer Tom Dowd. Dowd convinced the band to banish the horns for the second night and chose different versions of songs or edited out most of the guests’ contributions, which can now be heard — and mostly prove Dowd’s point.

    The final performance captured on the collection came a few months later, on June 27, 1971, the closing show of the Fillmore East. It includes promoter Bill Graham’s entire, ecstatic introduction, which concluded with “We’re going to round it out with the best of them all, the Allman Brothers Band.”

    We spoke with compilation producer Bill Levenson about the release.

    GUITAR WORLD: This set has been talked about for so long. Do you think it came out the same way it would have if you had done it any time in the last 20 years?

    The main difference in the last year or two was the Blu-ray and Surround Sound. I don’t think we would have done that in the Nineties when we were first talking about it. I think that’s what doing it in 2014 brought us — a Blu-ray set.

    And I’m very excited about the Surround Sound. The goal was really to put the listener in the 10th row of the Fillmore, with everything in front of you and the reflections and the audience behind you. I grew up in New York and went into the Fillmore. It had a distinct sound, a fabulous sound, and you can feel the auditorium in any album recorded there. I was trying to recreate being in the Fillmore, and I do think we were able to capture the magic of what was in that hall.

    Among other things, you finally brought us the sax stylings of Juicy Carter, which we’ve only been able to hear dabs of before. It’s really interesting but not hard to hear why Tom Dowd was upset about his sudden appearance during a recording.

    Yes. What really made it work was just to find the place in the mix where it was forward but not too forward, dissonant but not too edgy. To be honest, there are moments where we buried him because he was went off in really dissonant tangents. It’s still there; you hear if you listen, but he’s been pulled back. During these times, he was playing two saxes at once — baritone and saxophone — and some of the playing gets really out there.

    It was really the magic of the fader.

    This set scratched a lot of our itches, but a big one that remains is the first show, Thursday, March 11, which Tom Dowd said he recorded and which apparently featured a full horn section.

    Thursday night is the blind spot for all of us. I’ve picked through the vaults hundreds of times, and there’s not even a hint of it existing, not even a reference somewhere. The only time it’s even mentioned is in a Tom Dowd interview, and he’s no longer with us to ask. But I am certain that there’s no tape, not even a tape that’s taped over … I just used everything we had.

    Alan Paul is the author of the best-selling book One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. You can read an excerpt about the recording of At Fillmore Easthere.

    Additional Content

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    PRS Guitars has announced a new small-batch run of the Brushstroke 24 guitar.

    From the company:

    Based on "Paul’s Guitar," the guitar Paul Reed Smith is playing in the studio and on the stage, the Brushstroke 24 is lacking neither tone nor style. This limited-edition model carries over a familiar carved, figured maple top with mahogany back wood combination, the unique “brushstroke” bird inlay design, and adds 24-fret, tremolo versatility to the core Paul’s Guitar model.

    The pickups deliver a full range of tones from sweet, clean highs to full, alive mids and driven lows, and the electronics configuration consists of two narrow 408 pickups with a three-way toggle switch. Two mini-toggle switches, situated between the volume and tone controls, allow players to move between humbucking and single-coil tones with no volume loss when switching from full to single coils for maximum versatility.

    “The Brushstroke 24 is where visionary art and master craftsmanship meet,” said Jack Higginbotham, president of PRS Guitars. “This limited edition, with its elegant brushstroke bird inlay pattern and tonally versatile electronic package, is striking and performance ready regardless of whether the venue is a major concert arena or an intimate living room practice session.”

    Color options for this small batch run include some of PRS Guitars most popular maple top options: Aquableux, Black Gold, Blood Orange, Faded Whale Blue, Jade, Obsidian, Red Tiger, Violet.

    Fewer than 200 of these instruments will be made for this small batch run.

    For full specifications, visit prsguitars.com.


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    Pigtronix has announced its new Pigtronix Custom Shop Active Dual CV Expression Pedal.

    The product sells for $249 USD and is available exclusively from Nova Musik.

    With a range of 0-5V, the Active Dual CV Expression is eurorack-friendly and can control other gear equipped with 1/8" CV inputs, including Arturia MiniBrute and MicroBrute, Studio Electronics BOOMSTARs, Tom Oberheim SEMs and others.

    The pedal has dual outputs to control two CV parameters at once, with a polarity reversal switch on one of the outputs to let the player move the values of two separate parameters in opposite directions. The pedal features Neutrik jacks and an automotive-grade, textured green finish, giving it a tough finish.

    For more information, visit pigtronix.com.


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