Guitar World’s April 2015 issue features rock's super virtuosos, Tosin Abasi, Joe Satriani and Guthrie Govan. These three are the wisest of the wise when it comes to the art of guitar playing and teaching. Now they're joining forces for an epic four-day summer shred summit.
Then, read up on GW's 2015 album preview. As Dream Theater, Anthrax, Jeff Beck, Iron Maiden, Joe Satriani and others gear up to release new albums, we take a look at the road ahead to see what's in store for 2015.
Later, for more than 30 years, guitarist Gary Holt has kept Bay Area legends Exodus alive and thrashing. Here, Holt and co-guitarist Lee Altus get to the heart of the aggression heard on their most recent record, Blood In, Blood Out.
Also, from amps to axes to pedals and cables, picks the most exciting new pieces of gear from the 2015 Winter NAMM Show. ?guitar>
Finally, with their third album, Into the Wild Life, Halestorm's Lzzy Hale and her hard-rocking crew throw caution to the wind and come out more inspired than ever.
PLUS: Tune-ups: Zakk Wylde launches Wylde Audio, Randy Rhoads tribute, Dear Guitar Hero with Jeff Loomis, Revolution Saints, Soundcheck: Taylor 618E guitar, Roland Cube 10GX amplifier, Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive pedal and much more!
Five Songs with Tabs for Guitar and Bass:
• Royal Blood - "Figure It Out" • Joe Satriani - "Surfing with the Alien" • Ozzy Osbourne - "Goodbye to Romance" • The Band - "The Weight" • Rory Gallagher - "Tattoo'd Lady"
Ever since being discontinued back in 1984, the Boss DM-2 Delay pedal has remained highly sought after by players everywhere for its warm, “bucket brigade” analog delay tone.
Now the DM is back! With Boss's new Waza Craft DM-2W, the coveted stomp has been reborn with switchable sound modes and greater versatility for today’s music styles.
Using 100-percent analog circuitry, the DM-2W’s Standard mode nails the lush sound and 20-300 ms delay range of the original DM-2. Flipping into Custom mode instantly changes the sound character to a cleaner analog tone with over twice the available delay time.
This special-edition Waza Craft pedal delivers the ultimate Boss tone experience, including:
• True reproduction of the vintage DM-2 Delay sound • Premium all-analog circuit with BBD (bucket brigade) delay line • Standard mode for authentic DM-2 tone with 20-300 ms delay time • Custom mode provides warm-yet-clear delay sound and over twice the delay time • Expression pedal input for foot control of delay time • Two output jacks allow separate output of delay and direct sounds • Boss five-year warranty.
For more information about the Waza Craft DM-2W, check out the demo video and specs below, and visit its dedicated page on bossus.com.
Ah, the capo. That handly little tool that most guitarists carry one or more of with them at all times.
I’ve used a capo lots of times over my career.
Typically for one of two reasons.
I want to play chords that are easier to finger.
And I want to play those chords in a key that hits the sweet spot of my vocal range.
A capo is a great tool to address both of these issues. But let’s dig deeper.
Of course, there are some great guitarists out there that use a capo for reasons other than these. Often, a capo can give you some new tonal variations..
Say you have two guitarists in the band. One can be playing the song with a capo so that the strings all sound higher even in the same key, and the fingerings or inversions can be different. This will give a different quality to the performance and enable each instrument to fit into the aural spectrum in its own way.
Choosing a Capo
When you go to choose a capo, make sure it’s one that you can maneuver easily and that clamps evenly across the fretboard. You might want to bring your guitar with you to try it out.
Consider the type of guitar you are playing — acoustic, electric, 12-string or classical. Your choice might be different for each application and neck. There are capos for other instruments, too, like banjo or ukulele.
Also, take a look at your fretboard and determine whether it’s flat or radiused. Pick a capo that fits the flat or curve so that all the strings are clamped down evenly.
Most capos have adjustable tension so that you can get just the right amount of squeeze on your strings.
Most modern capos fall into these categories:
Clutch — this capo clamps onto your guitar’s neck close to the fret.
Lever — find the right position and squeeze. This capo will grab onto the neck close to the fret. It’s super easy to use and you can put it on with one hand. It can be knocked loose, though, so don’t get too wild!
Partial capo — these have a shorter arm for only clamping down some of the strings.
Capos can be used alone or in combinations. I’ve seen folks play with three capos on the neck at once! I’ve also seen a player move the capo in the middle of the song.
More About Partial Capos
You can use a partial capo to change the pitch of only some of the strings, again altering the sonic landscape and providing new tone possibilities and combinations.
One style of partial capoing sounds similar to Drop D tuning (when the lowest string, E, is dropped a whole step to D). For this sound, capo all strings but the lowest, and play most chords as you normally would. You’ll notice that chords that use the sixth string will sound different because that string will be a whole step lower compared with standard tuning intervals.
There are loads of other options. Try placing the partial capo like the Kyser Short-cut over the ADG strings to produce a sound similar to DADGAD tuning. Many guitarists refer to this technique as “artificial DADGAD.”
The drone of the open lowest string characterizes DADGAD tuning. Using a partial capo without retuning the strings, the notes are EBEABE — the same intervals and mood as DADGAD, but transposed up a whole step.
There are a few things to think about when you use a capo.
Make sure the capo doesn't bend your strings when you clamp it on, as this will make your guitar sound out of tune. You may want to tune again after you put the capo on.
Capos can get in the way of your fretting hand — check to be sure whatever capo you choose doesn't interfere with your technique.
And pay close attention to the points of contact between the capo and the guitar — you don't want your fretboard scratched.
You can get started with a relatively inexpensive capo, like the Kyser Quick Change, for about $24.95. Give it a whirl and you’ll see using a capo opens a myriad of possibilities!
This project, however, features all four members of Led Zeppelin—Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham—recording together before there even was a Led Zeppelin.
While still in "New Yardbirds" mode, the four pre-Zeps took part in the August 1968 recording sessions for P.J. Proby’s 1969 album, Three Week Hero.
Page and Jones were successful session musicians at this point, and when Jones got the Proby gig, he invited his fellow New Yardbirds along. A recent Dangerous Minds story quotes Jones as saying, “I was committed to doing all the arrangements for the album. As we were talking about rehearsing at the time, I thought it would be a handy source of income. I had to book a band anyway, so I thought I’d book everybody I knew.”
The sessions started August 25, 1968, and led to an album that didn't cause much of a stir when it was released the following April.
“The boys told me they were going over to play in San Francisco and all that, and I said, ‘Look, from what I’ve heard and the way you boys played tonight, not only are you not going to be my backing band, I’m going to say goodbye right now, because I don’t think I’m ever going to see you again'," Proby says in the DM story.
"'That’s how successful you’re going to be. You’re exactly what they want, you play all that psychedelic stuff and everything.' I said, ‘You’re going to go over there and go down so great I don’t think you’re ever going to come home.’ They didn’t ever come back until they changed their name to Led Zeppelin and stayed over there and came back huge huge stars. … I said goodbye that day when I cut that album, and I haven’t seen one of them since.”
Check out some samples from the album (and a non-album B-side) below.
Is there any doubt this is Led Zeppelin? This is part of the eight-minute medley that closed the album. I admit, this track really "shook me" ... all night long.
“The Day That Lorraine Came Down”
Here's track two from the Proby album, which was released on CD in 1994. It's easy to picture Plant on vocals — not that there's anything wrong with Proby's voice.
"Mery Hopkins Never Had Days Like These"
Here's a non-album B-side from the same sessions. This song is interesting because Proby calls out each member of the band, who then plays a little solo, starting with bassist John Paul Jones. By the way, for a little more info about about the album, check out good ol'Wikipedia. (PS: It seems the word "Mery" in the song title is supposed to be spelled like that; it's obviously a fun reference to then-popular Welsh singer Mary Hopkin.)
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Kaki King’s 'The Neck is a Bridge to the Body,' a multimedia, guitar-based show that was truly unique.
King not only composed and performs all the music (some to recorded tracks), she worked with truly innovative artists to create a visual and auditory experience that’s interactive, striking and worth experiencing.
She performs the entire show on a white-painted Ovation acoustic guitar that is affixed to static stands. This enables the images projected onto the guitar surface to be different than the images projected onto the screen behind her.
Everything about this show is special. King stretches her performance to go beyond her usual virtuosic performance skills to another level of creative art. Is some of it weird? Yes. Is it entirely accessible and enjoyable? Wholeheartedly yes again!
Here I had the chance to sit down with this energetic and wonderful artist to talk about “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body” and more. The soundtrack to this show just went on sale March 3 as well!
Check out all three parts of our exclusive interview to get the full scoop!
She’s touring the show right now. Get a ticket and go. You won’t be sorry.
Vermont-based news channel WPTZ (where my late-Nineties girlfriend used to work!) recently published a feature on the Alpaca carbon fiber travel guitar, a "special guitar made to withstand the elements."
As always, we thought we'd share!
"It can actually be put in the water, and then taken out and played, and be done again the next day. It is impervious to water," Alpaca Guitar Co. founder and designer Chris Duncan told WPTZ.
Duncan says it can also stand up to extreme temperatures that would destroy a wooden guitar. The Alpaca can also take bumps, whacks and various impacts.
"We don't really know to what extent. We don't drop them on purpose any more. So, we know they will take a blow," Duncan said.
Company literature adds that the Alpaca is a go-anywhere "adventure guitar." It is made (in Vermont, of course) of carbon fiber, flax fabric and bio-derived resins. This combination produces a lightweight and strong instrument with a resonant sound.
"The Alpaca will handle anything a good adventure brings; dirt, water, bumps and bruises. An embedded daisy chain on the back provides a strong universal attachment to any of your outdoor gear," the company says.
For more about Alpaca guitars, watch the video below and visit alpacaguitar.com. For the WPTZ story, which features WPTZ's own video, head here.
Various onsite sponsor activities and an interactive art installation with graffiti artist RISK have been announced for the fifth annual Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville, April 25 and 26 at Jacksonville, Florida's Metropolitan Park along the St. Johns River.
More details have been confirmed for the new Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville Tequila World.
Florida's biggest rock festival kicks off the World’s Loudest Month festival series and features music on multiple stages, autograph signings, interactive experiences, a Monster Energy viewing area with beverage sampling and a variety of food and beverage options, including gourmet food trucks and the new Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville Tequila World.
The new Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville Tequila World, with a Mexican fiesta theme, will feature a wide range of tequilas, extreme margaritas, gourmet tacos, mixologists and more. Admission to this area is free and open to those 21 and up.
Metalachi, the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band, will keep the party rolling with three performances on the Tequila World stage each day. Check out our Metalachi video below!
Also new in 2015 is the RISK interactive graffiti art installation. Kelly Graval, the multi-talented fine artist, illustrator and graffiti artist known as RISK, will be curating an interactive art exhibit to be displayed on site. The exhibit will showcase multiple live demonstrations by RISK and will allow festival attendees the chance to interact and add to the exhibit.
RISK has been synonymous with the Los Angeles art community for decades. With a career spanning 30 years, RISK has solidified his place in the history books as a world-renowned graffiti legend. He has come a long way since he pioneered the painting of freeway overpasses, signs and billboards, dubbed “heavens.” Although RISK loves aerosol art, he sees it as merely just one genre in his life’s work.
Tickets for Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville are available now at WelcomeToRockvilleFestival.com. Those looking for a VIP experience are encouraged to buy now and save. A limited number of VIP tickets are still available for purchase for the following prices: Weekend VIP: $244.50 + fees; Single Day VIP: $129.50 + fees. On March 9 at Midnight ET, VIP ticket prices will increase to: Weekend VIP: $264.50 + fees; Single Day VIP: $139.50 + fees.
Below, check out a recently posted demo video for the ServoBender guitar.
What is it, you ask? It's the latest—and perhaps the most successful—attempt at replicating the sound of a 10-string pedal steel guitar using the six-string variety (You know, the thing most of us play). One could even call it a guitar/pedal steel hybrid.
While there are guitars with B-benders and G-benders (and both benders at the same time), the ServoBender uses four servos, all of which are mounted to a metal plate below the bridge. Each one has a spring-and-cam system made from 3D-printed parts.
The de-tuning is controlled by an Arduino and sustain pedals retrofitted with hall-effect sensors.
If you want (a lot) more info about the project, plus photos documenting the building process, head here, here and here. Also, be sure to let us know what you think of this guitar in the comments or on Facebook!
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World. He's a B-bending guitarist who collects B-bender-equipped guitars. He has four at the moment. Follow him on Twitter if you dare.
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the April 2015 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.
GOLD AWARD WINNER
The variety of overdrive and distortion pedals on the market these days is truly staggering.
The vast majority is basically good at one or two applications, such as clean boost, blues overdrive, hard rock rhythm crunch, or metal distortion, but pedals that can do all of this (and do it very well) are very rare indeed.
The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive may be based upon the classic 808 Tube Screamer overdrive, but that’s really just a starting point as it does so much more.
Instead of building an imitation with perhaps a few circuit changes thrown in for good measure, the 805 Overdrive features an entirely different chip (an MC33178) and provides an expertly voiced three-band EQ section that delivers higher levels of saturated gain, lower noise and increased tonal versatility.
<strong>Here's your chance to win a Universal Audio Apollo Twin SOLO Desktop Audio Interface!</strong> Apollo Twin ($699) brings stunning 24/192 kHz sound quality to your desktop and the ability to record in real time with authentic plug-ins from Ibanez, Friedman, Chandler, ENGL and more.
Here's your chance to win a Universal Audio Apollo Twin SOLO Desktop Audio Interface!
Apollo Twin ($699) brings stunning 24/192 kHz sound quality to your desktop and the ability to record in real time with authentic plug-ins from Ibanez, Friedman, Chandler, ENGL and more.
Includes the UAD Realtime Analog Classics Plug-In Bundle—everything you need for recording, mixing and mastering guitar. The bundle features legacy editions of the LA-2A Classic Audio Leveler, 11 76LN Limiting Amplifier and Pultec EQP-1A Program Equalizer, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, the new 610-B Tube Preamp plug-in and more.
Apollo Twin Features Include:
● Desktop 2x6 Thunderbolt audio interface with world-class 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion ● Realtime UAD Processing for tracking through vintage Compressors, EQs, Tape Machines, Mic Preamps and Guitar Amp plug-ins with near-zero (sub-2ms) latency ● Thunderbolt connection for blazing-fast PCIe speed and rock-solid performance on modern Macs ● New Unison technology offers stunning models of classic tube and transformer-based mic preamps ● 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output
... and much more!
The follow-up instructional guide to Mastering Arpeggios, this Part 2 DVD takes you further in guitar theory!
With more than 90 minutes of instructional video, Mastering Arpeggios 2 will teach you everything you need to know about the five essential seventh chord arpeggios. You'll reach the next level of playing with instruction on:
• Major-seven, Dominant-seven, Minor-seven, Minor-seven Flat-five, and Diminished-seven forms • Two- and Three-ovtave Monster Shapes • Four- and Five-note "Shred Cells" • Interval Pattersn • Melodic Sequences for All Styles of Music
... and much more!
Mastering Arpeggios 2 also includes a bonus section on How to Play Like Bach!
Your Instructor is Jimmy Brown who over the last 25 years has built a reputation as one of the world's finest music editors through his work as transcriber, arranger, and senior music editor for Guitar World magazine, the world's best-selling magazine for guitarist. In addition to these roles, he is a busy working musician, performing regularly as a solo acoustic guitar/vocal act and rocking out with a full band at taverns, restaurants, resorts, weddings and private parties. Jimmy earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance and Music Management from William Paterson University in 1988 and relies on much of what he learned then - and since then, as a professional musician-for-hire to do his job effectively. He is also an experienced private guitar teacher and an accomplished writer, two skills that go hand-in-hand in his career at Guitar World.
It ships with the UAD Realtime Analog Classics Plug-In Bundle—everything you need for recording, mixing and mastering guitar. The bundle features legacy editions of the LA-2A Classic Audio Leveler, 11 76LN Limiting Amplifier and Pultec EQP-1A Program Equalizer, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, the new 610-B Tube Preamp plug-in and more.
Available in both SOLO and DUO models (with either one or two Analog Devices SHARC processors, respectively), Apollo Twin is now shipping worldwide with estimated street prices of $699 (SOLO) and $899 (DUO).
Apollo Twin Features
● Desktop 2x6 Thunderbolt audio interface with world-class 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion ● Realtime UAD Processing for tracking through vintage Compressors, EQs, Tape Machines, Mic Preamps and Guitar Amp plug-ins with near-zero (sub-2ms) latency ● Thunderbolt connection for blazing-fast PCIe speed and rock-solid performance on modern Macs ● New Unison technology offers stunning models of classic tube and transformer-based mic preamps ● 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output ● 2 digitally controlled analog monitor outputs for full resolution at all listening levels ● Up to 8 channels of additional digital input via Optical connection ● Includes "Realtime Analog Classics" UAD plug-in bundle, featuring Legacy editions of the LA-2A Classic Audio Leveler, 1176LN Limiting Amplifier and Pultec EQP-1A Program Equalizer, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, 610-B Tube Preamp and more ● Runs UAD Powered Plug-Ins via Audio Units, VST, RTAS & AAX 64 ● Available with UAD-2 SOLO or UAD-2 DUO DSP processing onboard
And then there's the time Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, Vai's former guitar instructor, shared a stage in 1988 to perform "Satch Boogie." You can check out this full live performance of Satriani's 1987 signature tune in the video below.
As always, let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook!
As you advance in your guitar studies, you'll surely come across the term "arpeggio."
Arpeggios are a great way to add color and complexity to your playing. You can make riffs out of them, use them in solos or even create melody lines with their fluid sound.
Nearly all of the greats use arpeggios. Yet, if you're like a lot of guitarists, you might be shying away from them because you fear being overwhelmed by the "Twin Ts": theory and technique. If you have a basic understanding of how chords work, though, it's high time to get your feet wet.
Here are eight things you need to know to help demystify the arpeggio.
01. What an arpeggio is exactly The word arpeggio (ar-peh-jee-oh) comes from the Italian word arpeggiare, which means "to play a harp." (If you can visualize harpists, they often articulate notes by plucking the strings one at a time.) Arpeggios, often called broken chords, are simply notes from a chord played individually instead of strummed together.
02. What arpeggios can do for you. Arpeggios create a fast, flowing sound. Besides using them for speed in playing, arpeggios add a kick to improvisation skills. Because an arpeggio contains all the notes of its chord, you can use them in your solos and link them to what's going on in the chord structure beneath you to create cool sounding licks. Arpeggios always sound good over their matching chord in a progression, therefore, they generally form the melodic home bases and safe notes for improvising guitarists. This guitar chord chart will help visualize the notes of each arpeggio on the guitar neck.
03. Scales vs. arpeggios. Let's clear up any confusion you might have between scales and arpeggios. Scales are a series of notes played one by one that fit sonically within a particular key signature (e.g., G major scale would be G, A, B, C, D, E, F#). Arpeggios, on the other hand, are a series of notes played one by one that consists of the notes within a particular chord (e.g., G major arpeggio would be G, B, D). Like a scale, an arpeggio is linear: it's a set of notes you play one at a time. Unlike scales that contain some extra notes not always played in chords, arpeggios use only the notes found in a single chord. Both scales and arpeggios can be played in ascending, descending or random order.
04. Arpeggio shapes. As with scales, there are a variety of shapes to learn when playing arpeggios. There are generally five CAGED shapes for each arpeggio, except the diminished 7th, for which there is just one. Learn arpeggios in different positions on the neck so you become familiar with the shape of the arpeggio rather than concentrating on which frets to put your fingers in. Learn the shapes one at a time. Although you need to get all five of the shapes down—eventually—it's far better to be able to play one perfectly than five poorly. Practice moving from one arpeggio shape to another, back and forth and back and forth.
05. Which arpeggios to learn first. The best guitar arpeggios to learn first are the major triad (1, 3, 5) and the minor triad (1, b3, 5). The major and minor triads are the most common and most used guitar arpeggios in all of music. While a triad contains only three notes, an arpeggio can be extended with chords like a major seventh, a 9th, 11th, 13th, etc., giving you endless possibilities.
06. Different picking styles. There are several ways you can play arpeggios—alternate picking, legato, hammer-ons and pull-offs, sweep picking and tapping are among them. (For the more experienced player, there also are lead techniques you should be confident with for playing arpeggios at higher speeds, such as string skipping and finger rolling.) Experiment with each way of playing these arpeggios to see which one works best for you and your particular style.
A note here about fingerpicking: While fingerpicked chords are technically arpeggios since the chords are broken up, the individual notes aren't typically muted after they're played and thus ring together. The listener can literally hear the entire chord from the vibrations of each individual note. Arpeggios typically only have one note playing at any given time and are a slightly different idea from broken chords.
07. Grab the arpeggio by the "root." When you're brand new to arpeggios, you always want to start and end on a root note (the note upon which a chord is built. Literally, the root of the chord.) This will help train your ears to hear the sound of the scale. Start on the lowest pitched root note, play up as far as you can, then go back down as low as you can, and then back up to the root note.
08. Form and speed. To play arpeggios, you should mute each note immediately after picking it by lifting the fretting finger. This will keep the notes from "bleeding" into one another and sounding like a strummed chord. Every note needs to sound individually. Start off slowly. Perfect your form before you add speed to the mix. You don't want to develop bad habits that you will have to correct later.
Femme Fatale Mizgin has officially released her new Get You Off Remix EP!
The original Kama produced single "Get You Off," mixed by Phil Tan (Katy Perry, Rihanna, Beyonce), presents Mizgin's sexy and fierce persona, complete with intoxicating vocals.
This unplugged version is just as mesmerizing, showcasing her passionate talent in a raw, personal way.
The visual counterpart, directed by Carter B Smith (N.E.R.D., Wyclef Jean, Snoop Dogg), went viral on VEVO and placed Mizgin at Sweden's #1 position within a few hours of release. Mizgin continues to turn heads, boasting raw, enthusiastic energy and an eclectic sound.
A true artist to her core, Mizgin dreamed of hitting the top of the charts ever since she first started singing, writing, and performing as a young girl. Growing up in Bollnäs, a small town in Sweden, the musical scene was limited and she threw herself into everything she could find, including school shows, small venues and local events.
In 2008, Mizgin auditioned for the popular Swedish TV show Körslaget, a competition in which seven celebrities return to their respective hometowns and each select 20 singers for their own choir. Mizgin's team ultimately won the competition, propelling her onto a path to stardom.
Mizgin traveled to America in 2013 and serendipity brought her together with Kama, the talented production duo responsible for the creation of "Get You Off." Mizgin first heard the rhythmic track in the studio as it was being promoted to one of the world's biggest pop stars. Immediately, Mizgin set her mind towards claiming it for herself and convinced Kama in her favor...a decision that ultimately proved correct, as she molded it into her own unique sound.
As a confident and driven individual, Mizgin explains, "The only thing that is endless in life is your imagination, so never be afraid to use it and believe in it. If you want something, go get it; no one is going to get it for you. You may get help along the way, but the only one that can truly take you where you want to go is you."
American Opera, the brainchild of NYC singer-songwriter John Bee, will be playing the Acoustic Basement stage on the entire run of Vans Warped Tour 2015.
Dates kick off June 19 and run through August 8th. Tickets for all shows are now available here.
Bee says, "I went to my first Warped Tour in 2002 and got to meet some of my favorite bands like Thursday, Hot Water Music, and Reel Big Fish. I remember Geoff (from Thursday) asking the crowd, “How many of you out there have bands that are going to play Warped Tour someday?” Almost everyone in the crowd raised their hand. I sheepishly raised my hand, too. And now it’s true. I can’t believe it. It’s an honor to be a part of the tour."
American Opera has just released a new single and video for a track titled "Sand & Seed."
Check out the video here:
"Sand & Seed" will appear on American Opera's forthcoming LP, Small Victories, to be released later this year.
"'Sand & Seed' is a just a tiny glimpse of what to expect from my new album. It’s a song about failing, and trying, and failing, and trying some more. It’s about building, rebuilding, and never giving up. I loved working with a horn section and string section on the album. I have been writing and re-writing these songs for almost 3 years and I can’t explain how good it feels to share these songs with the world."
American Opera has performed well over 200 shows (both solo and full band) spanning the U.S. and Canada, including dates with The Avett Brothers, Josh Ritter, Cursive, Murder By Death, Owen, and William Elliott Whitmore, as well as featured performances at SXSW and the Vans Warped Tour.
Prior to Warped Tour, American Opera will play a string of shows this spring, including an supporting stint w/ Owen on April 9 in Lansing, MI and an appearance at Bled Fest on May 23. See dates below.
03/13/15 @ Hotel Philaphornia in Philadelphia, PA
04/01/15 @ Pittsburgh Winery in Pittsburgh, PA
04/09/15 @ The Loft in Lansing, MI (with Owen)
04/10/15 @ Studio Anatomy in Traverse City, MI
04/11/15 @ Fischer Hall in Frankenmuth, MI
04/12/15 @ Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago, IL
04/13/15 @ eMbers House in Rensselaer, IN
04/15/15 @ Tacocracy in Cincinnati, OH
04/16/15 @ The Shrunken Head in Columbus, OH
05/07/15 @ Buzzbin in Canton, OH
05/08/15 @ The Den in New Haven, IN
05/14/15 @ Reggies in Chicago, IL
05/22/15 @ Relax! It’s Just Coffee in Mansfield, OH
05/23/15 @ Bled Fest 2015 in Howell, MI
American Opera is the brainchild of John Bee, a born and raised Michigander currently residing in New York City. With a unique vocal range that effortlessly moves from whispersoft to singing at the top of his lungs, John’s one-of-a-kind vocal delivery and brutally honest lyrics make an instant connection to anyone within earshot.
In the three years of American Opera’s existence, John has released three EPs and penned a 2014 single entitled “Ode to US Airways” that pitted himself in a war against an international airline after they lost and refused to replace his guitar. The single ended up going viral and earned the airline so much bad press that they quickly replaced the stolen guitar. Up the punx.
Recording recently wrapped on the American Opera debut full length album. Small Victories is an expertly produced powerhouse that features everything from horn and string arrangements, quietly picked guitars, full-fledged rockers, and even an a cappella performance. The album chronicles the last 3 years of John’s life and begins with his move to New York City, just hours after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the bustling metropolis.
Incredibly honest, Small Victories is a 48-minute roller coaster ride featuring true-life stories of heartbreak, hope, suicide, murder, religion, mental health, and more. The deeply introspective album questions the author’s worth while simultaneously forcing himself to push forward. The record climaxes triumphantly with the subject proudly proclaiming that in spite of everything and against all odds, he still sings.
Guitar World celebrates the 30 greatest recordings of Stevie Ray Vaughan—from “Texas Flood” to “Riviera Paradise”…from “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” to “The Sky Is Crying.”
For someone who spent a mere seven and a half years as a heavy player on the world stage, Texas guitar-slinger Stevie Ray Vaughan left behind a wealth of recorded material—and one hell of a legacy.
In that blink of an eye between his incongruous appearance on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance in 1983 and his death in a freak helicopter crash in 1990, Vaughan unleashed four indispensable studio albums that hijacked the trajectory of modern blues guitar.
Without the aid of light shows, edgy haircuts and goofy rock-star posturing, he introduced the MTV generation to passion-fueled guitar music—not to mention the work and importance of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Buddy Guy and Howlin’ Wolf.
He even had time to star in his own mini rock-star drama of drug and alcohol addiction, breakdown, recovery and triumphant return.
In honor of what would have been Vaughan’s 60th birthday (It’s about as difficult to picture SRV at 60 as it is to picture Hendrix at 72), Guitar World looks back at what we consider his 30 greatest guitar moments. Our list digs deep into his six-string artistry, while taking historical importance and other factors into account.
In terms of material, we’ve considered everything, including his official studio work and numerous posthumous studio and live releases—basically everything that will be included on Legacy Recordings’ recently released 13-disc box set, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble: The Complete Epic Album Collection.
We also considered his DVDs and videos available on YouTube—pretty much everything and anything he recorded with a Fender Strat, a guitar that, as reported elsewhere in this issue, also happens to be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. — Damian Fanelli
30. “Texas Flood” (Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985, 2001)
Sure, there are scores of stellar live versions of “Texas Flood” online, but there’s simply something magical about this raw performance from July 17, 1982, at the Montreux Jazz and International Music Festival.
The extended, dynamics-filled rollercoaster ride finds SRV reaching into his bag of King-meets-Hendrix licks—not to mention behind his back, where his Strat rested for the final third of the song. SRV floored everyone that night, except for a handful of blues purists who can be heard (and seen in the video) booing loud and clear.
“We weren’t sure how we’d be accepted,” Vaughan told Guitar World in 1983. But he knew it went well when David Bowie appeared backstage and an important alliance was born.
29. Love Struck Baby (Live at the El Mocambo, 1991)
“Love Struck Baby,” the opening track on Texas Flood, is an SRV original, a straightforward rocker in the style of rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry.
This explosive live version from SRV & Double Trouble’s July 20, 1983, performance at El Mocambo clearly illustrates Vaughan’s incredible touch, tone and phrasing from the very first note.
The rhythm guitar parts are built from Berry’s signature alternating root-fifth/root-sixth style, and Vaughan’s solos borrow from both Berry and T-Bone Walker, Stevie’s great influence. During his first and second solos, Vaughan leans heavily on an Adim7 voicing fretted on the top three strings that is slowly bent up one half step and vibrato-ed in the style of Walker.
At the end of his second solo, he employs an unusual A7add2 chord voicing—made popular by blues great Freddie King on his instrumental hit “Hide Away”—sliding down the fretboard from this voicing and jumping into unison bends played on the third and second strings, with the ring finger used to bend the third string and the index finger used to fret the second string.
28. Say What! (Soul to Soul, 1985)
The opening track on SRV and Double Trouble’s third album, “Say What!” is a swinging 12/8 instrumental that features intense, virtuoso guitar work drenched in echo and heavy wah-wah.
“ ‘Say What!’ had been a jam, like Hendrix's ‘Rainy Day, Dream Away,’ ” Tommy Shannon recalls. Rumor has it that, for this track, Vaughan used a wah that had formerly belonged to Jimi Hendrix.
Allegedly, the wah was acquired by brother Jimmie Vaughan in a trade with Hendrix when the two played a show together in Forth Worth, Texas, in 1969.
It’s crazy enough that, in the synth-happy early Eighties, newcomer Vaughan had a top-20 hit with a Strat-fueled, 12-bar-blues shuffle called “Pride and Joy.”
Even more bizarre is that, the same year, his raunchy Albert King–inspired bends graced a bona-fide mega-hit, David Bowie’s jittery “Let’s Dance,” which spent a solid three weeks at the top of the charts.
The song—and the album of the same name—is notable because it served as the world’s introduction to Vaughan’s dynamic fretwork, a fact lost on most of Bowie’s newer, younger audience.
For a heftier serving of SRV, check out the seven-plus-minute version of this track, plus “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” and “China Girl.”
26. Ain’t Gone ’n’ Give Up on Love (Capitol Theater, 1985)
Cut originally for 1985’s Soul to Soul, “Ain’t Gone ’n’ Give Up on Love” is a great slow blues in A with some interesting twists and turns found in the bridge chord progression.
This smoldering version, cut on September 21, 1985, at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey, is one of the many great examples of Stevie’s pure and complete mastery of the slow blues idiom. Throughout the song, his soloing style leans heavily on his Albert King influence, blended masterfully with his incredibly precise articulation and powerfully emotional execution.
Although he performs increasingly complex improvised phrases as the solo progresses, his rhythmic sense is sharp and he retains total control throughout.
25. Superstition (Live Alive, 1986)
Stevie Wonder originally wrote this fantastic riff rocker for Jeff Beck before reclaiming it as his own and making it a Number One smash in 1972.
A decade later, SRV wrestled it back on his 1986 Live Alive and made it the monstrous guitar song it always wanted to be. The only demerit is that Stevie—the undisputed king of corny music videos—used the track as an excuse to make yet another hilariously bad promotional clip.
24. Change It (Soul to Soul)
Arguably Stevie’s best single.
He sounds like the big bad wolf threatening to blow down some girl’s door—and if that won’t do it, his snarling guitar solo will. Although the lyrics are generally positive, his vocals are menacing as all hell. Another terrible video, though.
23. Blues at Sunrise (In Session, 1999)
Stevie Ray Vaughan and his hero and mentor Albert King convened on December 6, 1983, to perform for the In Session live music television series produced by the Canadian television station CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario.
Vaughan, whose debut release Texas Flood had been out for only a few months, was largely unknown to most viewers at that time. In fact, King didn’t know him by name and initially refused to perform with Vaughan—until King realized he was the same Austin, Texas, guitar prodigy that King had already played with many times before, known to him as “Little Stevie.”
The show features King’s band and consists mostly of his material, aside from a scorching version of Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.” The two guitarists “battle” back and forth beautifully, King often laughing as he is tickled pink by Vaughan’s virtuosity.
“Blues at Sunrise” is the high point of a session that many consider to contain some of the greatest playing SRV ever recorded.
22. Crossfire (In Step, 1989)
“When Stevie first heard ‘Crossfire,’ it reminded him of ‘Shotgun’ by Junior Walker,” bassist Tommy Shannon recalls of Vaughan’s only Number One hit.
Shannon, one of the song’s composers, actually wrote the butt-shaking bass line that serves as its primary riff, but according to keyboardist Reese Wynans, the track had a somewhat difficult birth.
“We put it together little by little, and it wasn’t easy,” he says. “But in the end it came out just right.”
21. “The House Is Rockin'” (In Step)
We’re suckers for a killer guitar riff, and “The House Is Rockin’,” the lead single from Vaughan’s 1989 comeback album, In Step, is built around a doozy.
Actually, the riff—a Chuck Berry–inspired E power chord shape played on the seventh fret (tuned down a half-step, of course)—is fairly basic. It’s Vaughan’s pinky gymnastics on the fifth and sixth strings that give it its own chugging, barrelhouse flavor.
“Doyle [Bramhall] wrote that part,” Vaughan told Guitar World’s Andy Aledort in 1989. “He writes these great songs.” With this track, Vaughan once again managed to bring a tasty piece of roots rock to the Top 20.
20. Tin Pan Alley (Montreux, 1985)
When Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble played the Montreux Jazz Festival for the second time on July 15, 1985 (almost three years to the day from their first appearance), Stevie joked with the adoring crowd: “First time here, we got booed… First time we got a Grammy!”
The 1985 performance included Reese Wynans on keyboard, whicih led Vaughan to dub the group Serious Trouble.
“Tin Pan Alley” is a very slow, emotive minor blues that had been in SRV’s live set for years by the time he first cut it in the studio in January 1984 for Couldn’t Stand the Weather.
This version includes legendary Texas guitarist Johnny Copeland sitting in on vocals and guitar, and Stevie’s guitar work throughout—performed on the white Charlie Wirz Strat with Dan Armstrong “lipstick tube” pickups—is absolutely astonishing.
His tone, his touch, his feel and his phrasing are just phenomenal. Electric blues guitar just does not get any better than this.
19. Come On (Part III) (Soul to Soul)
Every Stevie Ray album had to have a little Hendrix on it somewhere, and his third album, Soul to Soul, was no different.
While he stays pretty faithful to Jimi’s Electric Ladyland version of “Come On,” Vaughan outsings and outplays the original in every way. Hey, it was bound to happen.
18. “The Sky Is Crying” (Blues at Sunrise, 2000)
Although the officially released version of this Elmore James cover, from 1991’s The Sky Is Crying, features welcome embellishment courtesy of keyboardist Reese Wynans, Vaughan’s tame and somewhat predicable solo owes a bit too much to “Texas Flood.”
This three-piece version, recorded earlier (during sessions for Couldn’t Stand the Weather) and released nine years later on Blues at Sunrise, captures the band at its live-in-the-studio best.
SRV slides up and down the neck with abandon, laying into a solo so fluid and tasty that it makes you wonder why it hadn’t been released during his lifetime.
17. Telephone Song (Family Style, 1990)
Released a month before Stevie’s death, this track is just one of the many highlights from the vastly underrated 1990 Family Style album, recorded with his older brother, Jimmie.
If Stevie had a fault, it was that he was a little too earnest, but with his bro and producer Nile Rodgers onboard, he sounds like he’s loose and having a blast.
“Telephone Song” is surely the funkiest studio track of his career, and his improvised rap at the end is a hoot.
16. Look At Little Sister (Soul to Soul)
To think of “Look At Little Sister” as a somewhat inferior follow-up to “Pride and Joy” is to miss its many virtues.
Sure, it features less guitar, but Stevie’s lascivious vocals are fantastic, and the track’s superior sound and production add substantial heft to its grinding stripper chug. It’s dirty in a way that the blues should be.
You can’t help but imagine what this sweet thing looks like when SRV spies her “shakin’ like a tree” and “rollin’ like a log.”
15. “May I Have a Talk with You” (The Sky Is Crying, 1991)
This cover of a Howlin’ Wolf tune stands out as one of the rare polished-sounding studio recordings where Vaughan actually flubs a note.
The (let’s call it) tiny imperfection occurs at the 4:01 mark, when SRV is coming back for a landing after a series of bends high on the neck. But the error plays only a bit part in this particularly exciting and majestic slow-burn solo and reminds us that Vaughan was, occasionally, mortal.
14. Scuttle Buttin’ (Couldn’t Stand the Weather)
Composed as a tribute to Lonnie Mack, who is among rock’s first virtuoso lead guitarists, this 1:52 shot of pure adrenaline opens with one of Stevie’s flashiest and most imitated licks.
Featuring a series of quick—and relatively easy—open-string pull-offs, “Scuttle Buttin’ ” is the song for guitarists to learn when they want to impress skeptical parents, buddies and girlfriends.
13. Cold Shot (Rockpalast, 1984)
Originally included on SRV’s brilliant sophomore release, 1984’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather, “Cold Shot” is a swinging shuffle with a dark, heavy blues feel.
The song was written by keyboardist Mike Kindred, who was part of the Triple Threat group that preceded the formation of Double Trouble. Stevie loved “Cold Shot” and kept it in the repertoire for his entire career.
At the time of this performance, which took place on August 25, 1984, at Freilichtbühne Loreley, St. Goarshausen, Germany for the Rockpalast television broadcast, SRV and Double Trouble were still performing as a trio, and the band’s pure power at this stage of its development is simply incredible.
With his Fender Vibratone cranked to the max, Stevie rips through his first solo, relying on hybrid-picked non-adjacent double-stops played on the third and first strings.
Notes on the high E string are fingerpicked, while notes on the G string are sounded with the pick. SRV’s solid fret-hand strength allows him to execute the many bends and hammer-ons played on the G string while simultaneously fretting the high A root note on the E string at the fifth fret.
12. Tightrope (Austin City Limits, 1989)
When Stevie cut 1989’s In Step, his last studio effort with Double Trouble, he showcased more of an R&B/soul approach than ever before, evidenced by the hit tracks “Crossfire” and “Tightrope.”
“Tightrope” is a straightforward 4/4 groover with a James Brown–meets–Albert King type of feel. Shot on October 10, 1989 for Austin City Limits, Stevie’s performance is extraordinary, displaying a combination of raw power, deep emotion and technical brilliance in perfect measure.
His Fuzz Face–drenched solo is crushing in its power while also beautifully melodic and precise. The intense multistring bent vibratos at the start of his outro solo (3:42–3:46) are just the tip of the iceberg as he closes out this truly masterful performance.
11. “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (Austin City Limits, 1989)
“When I go out and play [“Mary Had a Little Lamb”], I can hear people say, ‘Oh, that's Stevie's number,’ ” Buddy Guy once said.
“So I say, ‘Okay man, that's Stevie's number.’ But Stevie knows whose number it was.”
“Mary,” the first Guy composition to be recorded by Vaughan, was the perfect canvas for Vaughan and keyboardist Reese Wynans to slather with their mad skills.
Like the rest of this priceless 1989 Austin City Limits broadcast, Vaughan is simply on fire. Between the song’s funked-up sections, he delivers a series of stellar, note-perfect solos that careen and soar with the aid of some nifty whammy-bar action.
10. Testify (Texas Flood)
The idea of Stevie Ray covering a funky song by the great R&B band the Isley Brothers might seem bizarre until you consider that rhythm and blues was a big part of the Double Trouble playbook.
Besides, his choice of “Testify” makes perfect sense when you realize that the guitarist on the Isley’s original 1964 version was none other than his hero, Jimi Hendrix.
More a tip of the hat than a cover, Stevie pays respects to Hendrix’s original opening riff before ditching the rest of the song and heading into parts unknown. It’s just as well. “Testify” wasn’t very good in the first place, and Vaughan carves a much more exciting path while ripping a total of seven—count ’em, seven—electrifying solos, each more intense than the one before it.
But what really makes this one of Stevie’s very best performances is the variety of sounds he gets by using his wah pedal to subtly color his sound, as it gradually shifts from silky smooth to full-on banshee wail.
09. “Couldn't Stand the Weather” (Capitol Theatre, 1985)
Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Vaughan’s 1984 sophomore album, featured impressive guitar work and sold well, two factors that confirmed SRV and Double Trouble weren’t a mere flash in the pan.
Still, many critics and fans at the time couldn’t help but notice that the album was something of a letdown. With its combination of originals and covers and heavy reliance on the blues, the eight-song collection had a “more of the same” feel about it.
Thirty years later, however, one can’t help but notice that Couldn’t Stand the Weather is where a Texas-sized portion of Vaughan’s most essential recordings live. These include “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” “Cold Shot,” “Tin Pan Alley” and the funky title track, which—contrary to the “more of the same” criticism—finds Vaughan working hard to break out of the blues mold of Texas Flood. The song features several fine guitar parts, from its free-form intro to its funky figures to its Albert King–Jimi Hendrix stew of a solo.
One of the most inspiring performances of the song—from September 1985 at New Jersey’s Capitol Theatre—can be found on YouTube (below), courtesy of the Music Vault. It’s all there: Vaughan’s power, intensity, focus and mammoth stage presence, plus a new-for-1985 breakdown section that gave keyboardist Reese Wynans a chance to shine. This version also scores bonus points for its choreography! (P.S.: I was in the audience that night! — Damian Fanelli)
08. Riviera Paradise (In Step, 1989)
Stevie called it “The King Tone”—the bell-like, crystalline timbre of a Fender Strat played clean, warm and in the in-between (out-of-phase neck-middle and bridge-middle) pickup positions.
And he put it to extraordinary use on In Step’s “Riviera Paradise,” one of his rare but unforgettable forays into the world of Wes Montgomery–inspired jazz blues. Done in one magic take, the recording session was the stuff of legends.
“Stevie told me he had an instrumental he wanted to try, and I said that I only had nine minutes of tape left,” producer Jim Gaines recalls. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only four minutes long.’ We dimmed the lights and the band started playing this gorgeous song, which went on to six minutes, seven minutes, seven-and-a-half… The performance was absolutely incredible, totally inspired, dripping with emotion—and here we were, about to run out of tape.
“I was jumping up and down, waving my arms, but everyone was so wrapped up in their playing that no one was paying me any mind. I finally got Chris’ attention and emphatically gave him the cut sign. He started trying to flag down Stevie, but he was hunched over his guitar with his head bent down.
Finally, he looked up, and they brought the song down just in time. It ended, and a few seconds later the tape finished and the studio was silent, except for the sound of the empty reel spinning around.”
07. Rude Mood (Texas Flood)
Along with “Testify” and “Lenny,” “Rude Mood” is another of the three instrumental tracks recorded for SRV’s debut release.
Written by Vaughan and inspired by the Lightning Hopkins song “Hopkin’s Sky Hop,” this barn-burning track serves as a tour de force display of Stevie’s mastery of a great many different guitar techniques, including fast alternate picking, complex sections devised of fingers-plus-pick hybrid-picking techniques, and seamless transitions from hard-driving rhythm playing to blazing single-note solos.
As a composition, it is perfectly constructed into distinct and individual 12-bar choruses, each of which brings the intensity of the song to a new and higher level.
Says Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, “In early ’79, [country DJ] Joe Gracey made early recordings of Double Trouble while Lou Ann [Barton], Jack Newhouse and Johnny Reno were still in the band. That was blues stuff like, 'Ti Na Nee Na Nu,’ ‘Scratch My Back’ and ‘Sugarcoated Love,’ along with an early version of ‘Rude Mood.’ Those recordings were done in the tiny basement of KOKE, a country station. Gracey recorded us on a four-channel mixer with a reel-to-reel, with everything done totally live using just four microphones.”
It’s fascinating to hear the recording of “Rude Mood” from that period, because the Texas Flood version, which is much faster, is a note-perfect recreation of it. There is virtually no improvisation whatsoever. It is almost unheard of for a blues guitar player to compose something that lengthy and complicated, and perform it note-perfectly for years and years, just as Stevie did.
He displays incredible attention to detail on this song, and this is even more obvious when you compare the two studio versions, recorded four years apart.
06. Lenny (Live at the El Mocambo)
“Lenny” is a beautiful, Hendrix-inspired ballad that Stevie wrote for his wife, Lenora.
The solo section is made up of alternating bars of Emaj13 and Amaj9. Stylistically, the song is very similar to Jimi Hendrix’s classic ballad, “Angel.” For this El Mocambo performance, Stevie chose to play a guitar he dubbed Lenny, a 1963/1964 guitar that Lenny bought for Stevie in the early Eighties.
It was stripped down to the natural wood and features a light-brown stain as well as a butterfly tortoiseshell inlay in the body. The guitar originally had a neck with a rosewood fretboard, but Stevie soon replaced it with a maple neck that was a gift from his brother, Jimmie.
In true Hendrix style, Stevie treats the arpeggiated bridge section (the B6-D6-G6-Bb6-A6 chord progression) with subtle whammy bar manipulations. His improvised lines are based primarily on E major pentatonic (E F# G# B C#), with brief use of the minor third, G, as a passing tone into the major second, F#.
Of great importance is the subtle use of hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides throughout, which serve to provide a liquid feel to his well-articulated and melodic phrases. When playing these lines, Stevie sticks with the index and ring fingers of his fret-hand. Of note is the smooth and effortless way he moves from playing straight 16th notes to playing lines articulated in 16th-note triplets.
05. “Leave My Girl Alone” (Austin City Limits, 1989; released on The Real Deal: Greatest Hits 2, 1999)
One of the most frustrating things about Vaughan’s tragic death in August 1990 was the fact that, in the last two years of his life, his playing had somehow improved.
Vaughan’s (and the rest of the band’s) coke-induced distractions were snuffed out, and his portal—that magical gateway that connected the guitarist to his unique source of inspiration, divine or otherwise—was wide open.
A perfect example is this live 1989 version of Buddy Guy’s “Leave My Girl Alone,” recorded on the Austin City Limits TV show. Eric Clapton has mentioned how Jeff Beck “pulls” notes from his guitar; in this case, Vaughan is clearly “pushing” the notes out of his Strat, all in relentless, lightning-fast bursts that make you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life.
His ominous groans between phrases underscore the passion and excitement he felt during every performance, especially when he was able to experience his surroundings as a clean and sober guitar god.
04. Little Wing (Live at the El Mocambo, 1991)
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s electrifying performance of Jimi Hendrix’s timeless ballad during his July 20, 1983, performance at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto, Canada, is one of the best live versions he ever performed, beautifully filmed and captured at what was the very beginning of his rapid ascent to stardom. Stevie always played the song as an instrumental.
Six months after this performance, he would record an instrumental version of “Little Wing” in the Power Station studio in NYC while working on his sophomore release, Couldn’t Stand the Weather.
Without mimicking any of Jimi Hendrix’s licks, Stevie expresses his own distinct musicality—as well as complete and utter mastery of the guitar—while beautifully and faithfully emulating Jimi’s style. He relies on specific elements, such as strong and wide vibratos, razor-sharp string bending and expressive legato techniques, delivered with a swinging 16th-note triplet feel.
Throughout, Stevie focuses his formidable technique on emotionally expressive phrases, as each new improvised melody balances perfectly against the last.
Jimi’s original studio take may have been a mere 2:24 in length, but SRV uses “Little Wing” as a vehicle for extended improvisation, as this stellar version stretches out to just over seven minutes long. A huge plus for all guitarists is that the DVD of this concert, Live at the El Mocambo, stays focused on his hands virtually the entire time, allowing for close scrutiny of just about every blazing lick, bend and vibrato that he performs.
03. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) (Couldn’t Stand the Weather, 1984)
It’s ballsy when any guitarist attempts to cover a Jimi Hendrix song, let alone a masterpiece like “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” And even though SRV was no ordinary guitarist, he labored long and hard over the decision to include his version of the tune on his second album, Couldn’t Stand the Weather.
“I love Hendrix’s music,” Vaughan told Guitar World in 1985, “and I just feel it’s important for people to hear him. I know if I take care of his music that it will take care of me. I treat it with respect—not as a burden. See, I still listen to Hendrix all the time, and I doubt I’ll ever quit.”
In many ways Stevie was a perfect envoy for Jimi, as witnessed by his electrifying studio take on “Voodoo.” His uncanny ability to smooth out some of Hendrix’s weirder edges without losing any of the music’s power or excitement allowed him to credibly deliver Jimi’s avant-garde blues to a whole new generation of guitar fanatics.
02. “Pride and Joy” (Texas Flood)
Imagine what radio listeners in 1983 thought when they first heard the fat, droning Eb notes that kick off Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.”
After their steady diet of Irene Cara, Flock of Seagulls and Human League, did they even know it was a guitar? Regardless, the notes—which quickly morphed into a rollicking Texas shuffle—underscored the return of heart-felt guitar music as a viable artistic force.
Part of what makes “Pride and Joy” stand out from, well, pretty much everything else is its reliance on heavy-gauge open strings, including the high E (.13, tuned to Eb), B (.15, tuned to Bb) and low E (.58, tuned to Eb). Throw in Vaughan’s trademark “Number One” Strat, an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer, a Roland Dimension D Chorus and a Dumble amp (which belonged to Jackson Browne), and you’ve got something truly unique.
“Stevie wrote ‘Pride and Joy’ for this new girlfriend he had when he was inspired by their relationship,” Layton said. “Then they had a fight and he turned around and wrote ‘I’m Cryin’,’ which is really the same song, just the flip side, lyrically.”
01. “Texas Flood” (Texas Flood, 1983)
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble—bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton—didn’t walk into Jackson Browne’s Down Town Studio in Los Angeles in late 1982 with highfalutin plans about recording their monster debut album.
In fact, their sites were set much lower. “We were just making a tape,” Layton said. “We hoped maybe we were making a demo that would actually be listened to by a real record company.” Browne had offered them 72 hours of free time, and the group recorded 10 songs over its last two days at the studio.
The last tune to be tracked was “Texas Flood,” an obscure slow-blues tune recorded in 1958 by Texas bluesman Larry Davis (with Fenton Robinson on guitar) that had been a staple of Vaughan’s live shows for years. Vaughan’s version, which borrowed heavily from Davis’ arrangement and singing style, was recorded in a single take—live—just as the clock ran out. According to Nick Palaski and Bill Crawford’s Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire, there were only two overdubs, both covering mistakes made when Vaughan broke strings.
Listening to Vaughan’s ferocious Albert King–on-steroids two-string bends, it’s a miracle another three or four E and/or B strings didn’t self-destruct every few bars.
The stark, five-and-a-half-minute recording is a composite of everything that made Vaughan great, from the note choices to the intensity to his ability to learn from, yet build upon, the groundwork laid by his influences.
Here's a video that was recently posted to Facebook by a news/media website called Siakap Keli.
Even though we can't read a word of the Siakap Keli post (or most of its comments), we can tell you the street guitarist in the video is young Damian Salazar of Beunos Aires, Brazil.
We also can tell you that, even though people are just passing him by in this particular video, Salazar DOES tend to draw crowds, as can be seen in several other Damian Salazar videos on YouTube. He's also been mentioned in stories by Guitar Hive and has a decent Google presence.
Enjoy! And be sure to give him some money if you see him performing on Florida Street in Beunos Aires!
Tina S.—everyone's favorite teenage French shredder—is back with another new video, her first of 2015.
This time, Tina—who has covered everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Eddie Van Halen to Steve Vai to Gary Moore—tackles (or, in this case, plays along to) DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames."
The original version of the song is from DragonForce's third album, Inhuman Rampage, and features rapid twin guitar solos by Herman Li and Sam Totman. Tina plays both herself.
Tina, who'll be turning 16 this spring (if it ever gets here; more snow in NYC today), posted the video to YouTube today, March 5. As always, Tina is playing her Vigier Excalibur Custom guitar. She was taught and filmed by her guitar instructor, Renaud Louis-Servais.
In a career that has spanned more than 25 years, guitarist extraordinaire Richie Kotzen has built an impressive resume of albums that showcase his unique shredding prowess, vocals, songwriting and vast musical knowledge.
On Kotzen’s recently released 20th solo album, 2015's Cannibals, we find the guitarist exploring some interesting new territory.
“In an Instant” and “Come on Free” offer a tasty, Seventies-AOR sound, while “The Enemy” showcase Kotzen’s slide guitar skills. Kotzen also makes the new album a multi-generational affair by including his daughter’s piano-driven song, “You.”
I recently spoke with Kotzen about Cannibals, his songwriting and his current gear setup. He also provides an update on the next Winery Dogs projects and more.
GUITAR WORLD: Lately, you’ve been busy with the Winery Dogs and releasing a compilation package called The Essential Richie Kotzen. What made you decide to release a new solo album?
I felt like it was time. I really had not released a new solo record since 2011. I remember saying to myself around that time that I'd like to take a break from myself and do a collaborative project. The Winery Dogs came at a very good time because the songs I was working on at the time, “Elevate,” “Damaged,” “I'm No Angel” and “Regret,” all ended up on that record.
They were things that we either finished or ideas that were started that ended up on the record. Plus we all wrote new material. After spending the last year and a half doing the band, I really wanted to get back to what it was I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. So I went back into the archives and found some songs I started writing many years ago. There also are brand-new songs, like "Cannibals," on there too.
This is one of those records where I did what I felt and one that creatively and artistically was true and accurate. I don't like having to meet a deadline or live up to someone else's expectations. I'm at my best when I'm left to my own devices.
What’s your songwriting process like these days?
I don't believe in consciously setting aside a time to write. For me, writing is an emotional, creative thing that requires a lot of variables to line up. To write a real song, there are a lot of things that have to go on emotionally. In my experience, the most truthful material I’ve written comes from unexpected moments. Ideas will come at you many different times and in many different ways. You just have to be prepared to recognize that inspiration and roll with it.
I’d like to ask you about few tracks from the new album and get your thoughts on them. Let's start with the title track, "Cannibals."
I was out one night at a restaurant and I heard that melody in my head and simultaneously had the concept of the lyric. It was a metaphor in the sense of how people are willing to step on each other to get ahead without any regard. It was really one of those songs that wrote itself, which is the best thing that can happen.
"Come on Free" has a cool Seventies-AOR sound.
That track is an old song I recorded back around 2002 but never knew what to do with. It actually sat on my hard drive for years until one day I brought it back up and decided to update the mix. I thought now was the time to release it because it seemed to fit in well with the "Cannibals" motif and the R&B-tinged things that were going on.
The time was right. What’s interesting is that while I was working on it, I had a bunch of people from Brazil over and they were listening to it and loved it. They started singing this little chant to it, which I thought was so cool. So I literally hooked up a live mic and we had a party. At the end of the song, you can hear that chant happening.
"In an Instant"
I already had the opening intro to that song, and a lot of what you hear from the bass and guitars in the intro and pre-chorus was actually recorded many years ago. It was an interesting way of writing. It’s not something I do all of the time, but the end result is a song I really like.
That’s one of my favorite songs on the album. I very rarely play slide guitar and on that song I decided to do a slide solo.
One of the coolest songs on the album, “You,” actually has nothing to do with guitar. What can you tell me about that track?
That’s my proudest moment of the record. “You” is a song that originated from my daughter. Years ago, she was playing this three-section piano piece over and over. It was so cool that I recorded her playing it for about seven minutes. Then I ended up forgetting about it and it stayed on my hard drive for many years. When I was in the process of compiling the record, I found it again, finished it up and put words to it. I'm really happy with the way it turned out.
What's the latest with the Winery Dogs?
That’s the next thing I’ll be doing creatively. Billy [Sheehan], Mike [Portnoy] and I got together recently and threw around some ideas. Now it’s time to for me to write some lyrics and melodies and turn them into songs. That’s the next phase. A realistic goal would be for us to release a new album on or around the end of the summer. I love playing with those guys.
Will you also be doing the Dog Camp again this summer?
Yes, we have that going again this year too. Last year was a lot of fun. You never know what to expect being up in the woods with people who are very familiar with your music and playing style. But it was very enlightening, enjoyable and quite peaceful. I’m looking forward to that, for sure!
What’s your setup like these days?
I’m still using my Signature Fender Telecaster. My amp thing is a revolving door. I’ve been using a lot of different things, depending on what it is I’m after. At one point, I was touring with the Vibro Kings; then I went back to the Marshall Plexis. More recently, I did a month of dates where I used the Bogner Goldfinger. Another one of my favorite amps is that little Marshall 1974X 18-watt that has a volume knob and a tone knob. It’s impossible to make that amp sound bad. When I’m touring, the last thing I want to do is have to think about gear. I just want to play.
What is it that drives you about music and playing guitar?
I learned this in the weirdest way when I was building a deck at my house. After I had finished, I was standing there looking at my work and it was the same feeling I would have after I had written and recorded a song. I had accomplished something and it felt like I had purpose and meaning.
In that moment, I discovered that what really drives me isn’t the gig or going on tour or having people tell me they like my legato technique. None of that is important. What’s important is feeling as if I have purpose, and for me, that comes from creativity.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.