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    Recently, just as his Guitar Gods tour was getting off the ground, shredder Yngwie Malmsteen visited the Guitar World studio in New York City.

    Why? Why else! To melt some faces!

    In the exclusive Guitar World video below, Malmsteen performs his instrumental "Overture," the track that kicked off his 2014 Guitar Gods tour shows—and that opens his 2010 Relentless album. Of course, Malmsteen is playing along to a backing track (The band isn't hiding somewhere off camera).

    Stay tuned for more "Malmsteen in motion," courtesy of the fearless GW video crew!

    Additional Content

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    Last month, I discussed a few of the ways in which I like to utilize odd and mixed meters, as well as alternating between straight 4/4 time and odd meters, as compositional tools in writing music with Revocation.

    Another technique I love to use is to take a particular melodic line, or “shape,” and re-imagine it in varying syncopated rhythms.

    When you add to that a “free” harmonic approach, wherein reference to any fixed tonal center becomes ambiguous due to switching keys frequently within fast-moving figures, the possibilities for invention become endless.

    These are some of the techniques I employed in crafting the primary riffs in “A Debt Owed to the Grave.”

    The song opens with quick shifts between F minor and E minor triads, played in straight eighth notes in 4/4, although the rhythmic syncopation of the line is obscured by the unusual way in which the melody falls on the downbeats. During this intro, I’ll either begin or end a phrase in the middle of a bar or a beat to lend it a twisted feel.

    At the first “chorus” section (1:00), I further develop the melodic content presented earlier by expanding to a series of minor arpeggios based on a progression of seemingly unrelated chords. As shown in FIGURE 1, the progression alluded to is two bars of Fm, two bars of Em, two bars of Fm, and then a bar of Abm followed by a bar of Gm. Shifting through minor keys half-steps apart like this lends an uncertain and unexpected quality to the music, which I find very appealing.

    In FIGURE 1, the Fm arpeggio begins in sixth position and gradually moves back one fret at a time to fifth and then fourth positions. Notice the inclusion of the open G string in the line, which, in relation to Fm, serves as the major second.

    On beat three of bar 2, I pull off from the fifth of F, C, to the minor third, Ab, using my pinkie and index finger. At the beginning of bar 3, I play the same arpeggio shape one fret lower as a means to modulate down one half step to Em. I employ a similar technique in bars 7 and 8, as I move from Abm down to G major; the Abm is preceded by Fm and uses that same arpeggio shape shifted up three frets.

    At the guitar solo (2:32), the feel of the tune switches to 12/8, which can also be interpreted as an eighth-note triplet feel in 4/4 time. This sets up the riff shown in FIGURE 2, for which I begin with a line rooted in Fm but modulate almost immediately to G#m, with the additional twist of starting the G#m-based melody on beat four of bar 1.

    This two-bar figure is repeated three times, then the idea is permutated to set up a switch from Fm down one whole step to Ebm. Aside from the unusual harmonic progression, these fast-moving triplet lines can be challenging to articulate cleanly at tempo, so work through each phrase carefully and slowly before building up speed.

    Hey, this is the last installment of Thrash Course for now, so I hope you’ve enjoyed the column, and I’ll see you out on the road!

    Note: This month's edition of Thrash Course with Dave Davidson does not include a video! We're sorry for the inconvenience.


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    On March 26, 2015, the guitar community lost a legend: progressive folk master and founding member of Pentangle, John Renbourn, a picker who literally did what he loved—playing and teaching—up until the end. (When Renbourn didn’t appear at a concert in Glasgow, Scotland, police checked his nearby home, where he was found deceased from an apparent heart attack.)

    With a steady stream of albums issued since 1965, Renbourn is among the first of the influential English fingerstyle “folk baroque” heavyweights (a list which includes Davey Graham, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy); he had a profound impact on pickers in the U.K.—everyone from Jimmy Page and Richard Thompson to Nick Drake and John Martyn—and abroad (Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Pierre Bensusan and many others).

    A fan of music beyond “folk,” Renbourn incorporated classical (in the mid Eighties, he studied composition and orchestration at Dartington Collage of Arts), jazz, blues and “early” music (Medieval, Elizabethan and other eras) into his overall artistic vision. He also played a key role in exposing the Renaissance music of John Dowland to the masses in the late Sixties. Let’s pay our respects to Renbourn with a retrospective look at his influential solo output.

    In 1965, around the time he issued his self-titled solo debut, Renbourn met Bert Jansch at a London club. The two became roommates and began playing duo renditions of traditional and contemporary folk songs with an emphasis on counterpoint (creative musical interplay between two or more single-note “voices”). The results are documented in 1966’s Bert and John album, marking the birth of “folk baroque.”

    In 1967, Renbourn’s Another Monday hit the streets, an LP containing the bluesy fan favorite “Buffalo,” which informs FIGURE 1. That same year, Renbourn and Jansch made a full-time “band” commitment, forming the seminal “folk-jazz” group Pentangle, a collaboration that continued until 1973.

    When Pentangle disbanded, Renbourn prioritized his solo career and released The Hermit, a record ripe with intricate cuts like “Faro’s Rag,” not unlike FIGURE 2, the latest challenge for Renbourn’s hardcore “picking” fan base (the album art even included guitar transcriptions).

    Interestingly, Renbourn’s revitalized direction was a direct reaction to having been in a band for several years; after Pentangle, the guitarist realized he’d become a bit out of touch with developments on the solo acoustic guitar scene and felt compelled to contribute in impressive fashion. This pursuit continued throughout the decade, evidenced in 1979’s The Black Balloon title track, a feast of pianistic voicings and strategically placed natural harmonics, like those in FIGURE 3.

    In his later years, which included Pentangle reunions, as well as collaborations with Stefan Grossman and Wizz Jones, Renbourn would conjure more impressionistic sounds from his ax, which were chiefly facilitated by his use of unorthodox tunings, such as open G minor, used in the Celtic-flavored title track to The Nine Maidens, which informs FIGURE 4. This tuning is somewhat similar to the D A D G Bb E tuning Renbourn used in the title track to his final album, 2011’s Palermo Snow, akin to FIGURE 5.




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    Behold the Jeff Craig Line. We might be looking at the world’s first amp-in-guitar combination.

    It was most likely built somewhere in the 1950s. Possibly a prototype, this guitar is loaded with speakers, batteries and a solid-state guitar amp—all covered with textured paint.

    The body is shaped like a human torso. A brass plaque that’s etched “The Jeff Craig Line” is glued to the face (No luck finding it on Google). The strings are anchored with a trapeze tailpiece similar to old Stella acoustics. The pickup appears to be a Harmony Stratotone “Hershey bar” pickup.

    A second brass plaque at the bridge says “Allied Artists of America – Patent Pending.” From what I could research, this is a society that promotes and funds artists in the New York area. Perhaps they gave Jeff Craig funding to create this guitar.

    What makes this really unique is the stuff hidden behind the removable back cover. This guitar has a built-in amplifier that was powered by an old dry cell battery!

    freak2.jpg

    The innards of this axe show a neck-thru-body design (We think they body might be Masonite or fiberglass). There are two speakers wired up to an internal solid-state amp. The original inputs even allow for an additional microphone (!). The owner removed the old, rotting dry cell battery to protect the instrument and had a luthier wire it to play straight to a regular guitar amp.

    freak3.jpg

    Some additional notes:
    · The body is painted in a stone spray finish.
    · The headstock has another brass plate with no writing.
    · The bridge appears to be fashioned from a Stella acoustic floating bridge (rosewood with fretwire running across the length)
    · The neck is all original. It’s a standard guitar neck shape (not lap steel) and runs the length of the body.
    · All parts used seem to be from the 1950s or before.

    The Jeff Craig Line amp-in-guitar is owned by collector Jerry Duncan and is on display at Guitars on George, 1121 N. George St., York, Pennsylvania. (BTW: This is one of those magical mom-and-pop guitar stores that is packed to the rafters with hundreds of guitars and all kinds of delicious gear. If you plan on visiting, you’ll need to budget a couple of hours.)

    Does anyone have an idea what this thing is?

    Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at ShaneSpeal.com. Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C.B. Gitty Records.


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    The Women’s International Music Network (WiMN) hosted the 2015 She Rocks ASCAP Expo Showcase at the Tinhorn Flats Salon and Grill during the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo in Hollywood, Calif., and it was nothing short of awesome.

    Female songwriters from all over the country joined in L.A. to perform at the showcase, which spotlights talented women in music. The venue was filled near capacity with songwriters, tastemakers, music industry executives, and lovers of all things music.

    Check out the evening’s four talented performers, complete with video!

    Dia Frampton

    The closing and much-anticipated act was Dia Frampton, whom you may remember from the first season of The Voice. With six number-one singles across Asia as a solo artist, Frampton has established herself as a prolific songwriter, collaborating with distinguished artists from around the world, including Lindsey Stirling, The Crystal Method, M83, and Singto Numchok.

    Currently, Frampton is working with her band ARCHIS, which pairs her with renowned film composer Joseph Trapanese, the musical mastermind behind Tron, Oblivion, and The Raid. In February, ARCHIS released a self-titled EP through Nettwerk Music Group. The band is now writing their debut album, to be released later this year.

    Here’s Frampton covering “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

    Find out more at www.archismusic.com


    Kate Diaz

    The night kicked off with the sultry vocals of Boston-based songwriter Kate Diaz, who graced folks with her original track “Glare,” armed with a Godin A6 Ultra electro-acoustic guitar. She then displayed her skills on the keys on a Casio PX-350 and performed her original composition “Front Seat,” among a few other songs.

    Diaz has released four acoustic albums and three singles, including award-winning songs and songs for various causes. Over the past five years, she has booked her own gigs and performed more than 150 solo acoustic shows at Chicago venues and national festivals, notably at Lollapalooza, Milwaukee Summerfest, Midpoint Music Festival, Taste of Chicago, and National Mall Earth Day Festival.

    More at www.katediazmusic.com


    Elle Winston

    The second act was the lovely Elle Winston, a talented singer-songwriter who spent most of her life growing up in the southwest sun of Phoenix, Ariz., before moving to Brooklyn.

    Her sound might best be described as a meeting of folk-legend James Taylor, the songstress Erykah Badu and the classical great Elly Ameling. Winston earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the Herberger College of Music at Arizona State University. She performed several original pieces, including “She.” Check it out here.

    More at www.ellewinston.com


    Alyse Black

    Up next was Alyse Black, hailing from Seattle, Wash. Black started out singing Billie Holiday tunes a cappella on the streets of Pike Place Market in Seattle. Since then, she’s performed on Seattle’s NPR station, recorded a commercial for Target, moved to Austin, won Billboard’s Annual Songwriting Contest, had several songs placed in movies and TV shows, and toured the country playing over 600 clubs, theaters, festivals, television shows and radio stations.

    She recently won The Recording Conservatory of Austin’s Top Singer-Songwriter Contest and ran a successful Kickstarter to fund her long-awaited next album.

    Black lit up the room with her powerful vocals through her tracks “Love Lives,” (which included a playful sing-along part), “Come To Me,” and many others. A true performer!

    Find out more at www.alyseblack.com

    The event wrapped up with cool giveaways from Casio, Taylor Guitars and 108 Rock Star Guitars. And if you couldn’t make it out, don’t fret. The WiMN will be hosting two more showcases in 2015, one in Nashville on July 9 during Summer NAMM, and another in Boston on Sept. 19 at the WGBH Food & Wine festival.

    For more information, visit www.thewimn.com


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    25 Top Classic Rock Songs is available now at the Guitar World Online Store.

    This series includes performance notes and accurate tab for the greatest songs of every genre.

    From the essential gear, recording techniques and historical information to the right- and left-hand techniques and other playing tips, it's all here! Learn to play 25 classics note for note.

    Including:

    • Addicted to Love
    • After Midnight
    • Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
    • Beat It
    • China Grove
    • Dream On
    • Fortunate Son
    • Go Your Own Way
    • Life in the Fast Lane
    • Lights
    • Message in a Bottle
    • Reeling in the Years
    • Refugee
    • Tom Sawyer
    • Wild Night

    Head to the Guitar World Online Store now!


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    I'd like to address a very meat-and-potatoes bit of info that very rarely gets mentioned.

    Who should you emulate in order to be a session guitarist?

    The answers and the reasons for each might very well surprise you. Also, you might assume you know how to play like these guys, but, until you really try it, you do not know how!

    I'm not kidding here; I guarantee you don't know how. And not a week goes by when I'm not asked to imitate at least one of these guys.

    So now, in the photo gallery below (in no particular order), I give you a list of players you'd better become intimately aware of and learn at least a few of their licks! It will start, save and prolong your "studio guitarist" career.

    One more thing before I start: These names are used in the way "Kleenex" means "tissue." If someone asks you for a Kleenex and you give them an off-brand tissue, it's the really same thing. So if someone asks for EVH, you know they want some tapping, whammy bar, bluesy, fast playing. Get it?

    One final note! Learn the history of popular music as seen through the eyes of a guitarist. Play in a wedding band. Play in a show band. Play in a cover band. You will thank me.

    Merry Christmas!

    Ron Zabrocki is a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. Says Ron: "I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just thought everyone started that way. I could sight read anything within a few years, and that helped me become a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could find and had some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played several jingle sessions (and have written a few along the way). I’ve “ghosted” for a few people who shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I get the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.

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    On the heels of releasing his new self-titled LP, Tony Lucca dropped by the Acoustic Nation studio to chat with editor Laura B. Whitmore.

    You may know him as a contestant on The Voice, but Lucca’s been honing his craft long before he appeared on the show. In fact, this is his eighth full-length album.

    Tony Lucca is his first self-titled release, and his first entirely self-produced effort.

    “We went in with the intention of making a record that was as live-sounding as possible,” Lucca shares.

    “I wanted to close my eyes and be able to visualize the players in the room or up on the stage, actually playing the songs together. One guitar over here, the other guy over there, bass, drums, some keys? I mean, that’s the rock-n-roll I fell in love with when I was a kid.”

    Lucca also performed a couple songs for us live in studio, and you can watch “Delilah” right here.

    For more on Tony Lucca, visit www.tonylucca.com.


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    Sweden’s The Tallest Man On Earth has been on his first ever-full band tour for a week now in support of Dark Bird Is Home, released last week on Dead Oceans.

    Following a performance at Noncomm and a sold out show at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, The Tallest Man (aka Kristian Matsson) made his late night television debut last night on Conan.

    Watch the performance below to see what makes Matsson a favorite of so many, and catch he and his band live across the country throughout the spring and summer.

    All upcoming tour dates are below.

    The Tallest Man On Earth Tour Dates:

    Thu. May 21 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater #
    Fri. May 22 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst #
    Tue. May 26 - Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre *
    Wed. May 27 - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium *
    Thu. May 28 - Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel *
    Fri. May 29 - Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center *
    Sun. May 31 - Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre * – SOLD OUT
    Mon. June 1 - Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre * – SOLD OUT
    Tue. June 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg # -- SOLD OUT
    Wed. June 3 - New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre #
    Fri. June 19-Sun. June 21 - Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
    Fri. June 19-Sun. June 21 - Scheessel, De @ Hurricane Festival
    Fri. June 19-Sun. June 21 - Munich, DE @ Southside Festival
    Tue. June 23 - London, UK @ Koko – SOLD OUT
    Wed. June 24 - Antwerp, BE @ Openlucht Theater
    Thu. June 25 - Paris, FR @ Divan Du Monde – SOLD OUT
    Sun. June 28 - Stockholm, SE @ Göta Lejon – SOLD OUT
    Mon. June 29 - Stockholm, SE @ Göta Lejon – SOLD OUT
    Tue. June 30 - Oslo, NO @ Rockefeller – SOLD OUT
    Thu. July 2 - Goteborg, SE @ Pustervik – SOLD OUT
    Sat. June 27–Sat. July 4 - Roskilde, DK @ Roskilde Festival
    Fri. July 17-Sun. July19 - Louisville, KY @ Forecastle
    Fri. July 17 – Sat. July 18 - Eau Claire, WI @ Eaux Claires Festival
    Mon. July 20 – Detroit, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
    Wed. July 22 – Buffalo, NY @ Asbury Hall @ Babeville #
    Fri. July 24 – Newport, RI @ Newport Folk Festival
    Sat. July 25 – Richmond, VA @ The National
    Sun. July 26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Carnegie Music Hall
    Wed. July 29 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
    Thu. July 30 – Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theater
    Fri. July 31 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Pabst Theater
    Fri. July 31 – Sun. Aug. 2 - Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
    Fri. Aug. 21 – Sun. Aug. 23 – Portland, OR @ MusicfestNW
    Sat. Sep. 5 – Holland, MI @ Hope College – Knickerbocker Theatre
    Sat. Oct. 3 - Oslo, NO @ Opera House ^
    Sun. Oct. 4 - Göteborg, SE @ Konserthuset ^
    Mon. Oct. 5 - Stockholm, SE @ Cirkus ^
    Tue. Oct. 6 - Umea, SE @ Idun ^
    Thu. Oct. 8 - Linköping, SE @ Crusell ^
    Fri. Oct. 9 - Falun, SE @ Magasinet ^
    Sat. Oct. 10 - Arhus, DK @ Voxhall ^
    Mon. Oct. 12 - Cologne, DK @ E-Werk ^
    Tue. Oct 13 - Berlin, DE @ Huxley’s ^
    Wed. Oct. 14 - Vienna, AT @ Arena ^
    Thu. Oct. 15 - Milan, IT @ Alcatraz ^
    Fri. Oct. 16 - Zürich, CH @ Volkshaus ^
    Sat. Oct. 17 - Paris, FR @ La Cigal ^
    Mon. Oct. 19 - London, UK @ Roundhouse ^
    Tue. Oct. 20 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 ABC ^
    Wed. Oct. 21 – Dublin, IE @ Vicar Street ^
    Fri. Oct. 23 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall ^
    Sat. Oct. 24 – Bexhill, UK @ De La Warr ^
    Sun. Oct. 25 - Brussels, BE @ AB ^
    Tue. Oct. 27 - Copenhagen, DK @ Vega ^

    Find out more at www.thetallestmanonearth.com.


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    Third Man Records is proud to announce the forthcoming releases of jazz and roots legend Leon Redbone's debut album Out on the Track and Long Way From Home, the never-before-released earliest known recordings of the mysterious performer.

    The news of the Third Man releases follows the recent announcement of Leon Redbone's retirement from both public appearances and recording.

    Out on the Track– Leon Redbone's debut LP – was originally issued on Warner Brothers Records in 1975 and will be reissued exclusively on vinyl by Third Man Records.

    Long Way From Home was recorded in 1972 by Dave Benders for WBFO Radio at the University of Buffalo and features some of the earliest known Leon Redbone recordings.

    The recording was never released commercially and will finally be available in CD, LP and digital formats for all to enjoy. Specific release dates for the two offerings are forthcoming, but in the meantime, peruse the track listings below.

    Watch an old clip of Redbone performing:

    About Leon Redbone:

    Redbone’s career has spanned over four decades and began with his earliest performances on the folk festival and club circuit. His numerous appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live and other outlets catalyzed his rise to international recognition. Over the ensuing years he has appeared throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Japan and released thirteen albums of his unique music, a panoply of early music styles that he delivered with his singular laconic idiosyncratic style.

    A true champion of early American ragtime, blues and jazz, Leon Redbone has spent a lifetime preserving that musical tradition while exposing successive generations to a rich musical heritage of which they might not otherwise have become aware.

    Out on the Track Tracklisting:

    1. Sweet Mama Hurry Home or I'll Be Gone
    2. Ain't Misbehavin'
    3. My Walking Stick
    4. Lazybones
    5. Marie
    6. Desert Blues (Big Chief Buffalo Nickel)
    7. Lulu's Back in Town
    8. Some of These Days
    9. Big Time Woman
    10. Haunted House
    11. Polly Wolly Doodle

    Long Way From Home Tracklisting:

    1. Looked Down the Road
    2. Mother Queen of My Heart
    3. T B Blues
    4. Don't Let It Bother You
    5. Marie
    6. Me and the Devil
    7. If I Had a Possession Over Judgement Day
    8. Mississippi Blues
    9. Kind Hearted Woman
    10. Love Letters
    11. Hurry Home
    12. Jailhouse Blues
    13. Walking Stick
    14. Catman
    15. Gamblin' Barroom Blues
    16. My Good Gal's Gone
    17. Yodelling Cowboy
    18. Bootleg Rum Dum Blues

    Stay tuned to thirdmanrecords.com for updates.


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    Today we’re happy to bring you the exclusive premiere of LA-based folk-punk troubadour Bryan McPherson’s “Days of Rage.”

    The song is partially inspired by his involvement in the Occupy Oakland protests of 2011.

    Melding Americana, folk, alternative, and punk into one incendiary, incisive sound, “Days of Rage” is a perfect example of his songwriting style.

    With his driving acoustic guitar holding steady in the background, McPherson’s words almost spill out of his mouth as he sings about his view of the world — it’s at once captivating, thought-provoking and powerful.

    "This tune came from everything I was absorbing in pop culture: revolutionary figures, propaganda, fascism, conspiracies, government, dissent, socialism, anarchism, some of my memories from Oakland and San Francisco during Occupy, Highway 1, Skid Row and the San Fernando Valley,” McPherson shares.

    “I was influenced by the shopping mall and Cadillac SUV culture of where I was living at the time and the abstraction and contrast of who I am as an artist versus my environment.”

    Take a listen below. McPherson’s third album, Wedgewood, releases June 10, and you can view his tour dates below.

    Find out more at bryanmcpherson.com.

    Bryan McPherson U.S. Tour

    6/11 Portland, ME at Matthew’s Pub

    6/12 Boston, MA at The Midway Cafe

    6/13 New York, NY at The Map Room at Bowery Electric

    6/14 Asbury Park, NJ at Russo Music

    6/16 Philadelphia, PA at Kung Fu Necktie

    6/17 New Brunswick, NJ at The Court Tavern

    6/18 Trenton, NJ at Mill Hill Basement

    6/19 Syracuse, NY at Gorham Brothers Music

    6/20 Oswego, NY at The Barn

    6/24 Newport, KY at The Thompson House (Heaven Room)

    6/25 Indianapolis, IN at Sabbatical

    6/26 St. Ann, MO at The Waiting Room

    6/27 Chicago, IL at Reggies

    6/29 Laramie, WY at Gusty Gully

    6/30 Fort Collins, CO at The Forge Pub

    7/1 Salt Lake City, UT at The Garage

    7/2 Colfax, CA at The Colfax Theater

    7/3 Santa Cruz, CA at The Crepe Place


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    Here’s a treat! It’s The Dustbowl Revival’s video for their new single “Never Had To Go,” featuring the man himself, Dick Van Dyke and his wife Arlene dancing up a storm.

    The song is from their new album, With A Lampshade On, set to release on July 21 on Signature Sounds Recordings.

    A downhome, handclapping good time, The Dustbowl Revival clearly shares their joy through their music. What a great band! Large and varied with spot-on musicianship, the band delivers this tongue-in-cheek charmer with enthusiasm.

    The Dustbowl Revival is a Venice, California-based collective that merges old school bluegrass, gospel, pre-war blues and the hot swing of New Orleans to form a spicy roots cocktail.

    Known for their roaring live sets, Dustbowl bravely brings together many styles of traditional American music. Some call it a string band-brass band mash up. Maybe it’s swing-grass or good old Americana, however you spin it, Dustbowl creates and curates infectious, joyous music - a youthful take on time-worn American traditions.

    After winning Americana song of the year from the Independent Music Awards (Tom Waits judging), getting tapped to play top festivals like High Sierra, Floydfest, AmericanaFest and The Hudson River Revival and opening for bands like Lake Street Dive, Rebirth Brass Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty, the band has become a barnstorming touring machine.

    They will go international for the first time in 2015, joining The Winnipeg Folk Festival, Naked Song Fest (Netherlands) and Bergenfest (Norway) where they will team up with Tori Amos, First Aid Kit and Jackson Browne.

    Founder Z. Lupetin came west from Chicago in 2007 and placed a humble Craigslist ad to get the circus started. The group has grown steadily from a humble string band playing up and down the west coast, into a traveling mini orchestra featuring instrumentation that often includes fiddle, mandolin, trombone, clarinet, trumpet, ukulele, drums, bass, harmonica and plenty of washboard and kazoo for good luck. They have settled into an eight piece touring group - rattling ceilings and sometimes bringing their grinning sound into the street.

    They have recorded their first mostly LIVE album With A Lampshade On at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall and LA's famed Troubadour and will be releasing it in July through Signature Sounds Recordings.

    Preorder and find out more at: http://www.dustbowlrevival.com/


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    In today’s episode, I go through a basic phrase I’m calling “4 Measure Mix Up.”

    I’ve constructed this pattern to make something simple seem a little more complex without it actually being too difficult.

    By giving the Em and Cmaj7 chords in the second measure one beat each, it throws off the balance a little, but makes for a cool deviation.

    Also note that when I repeat the entire progression, I use a G chord at the end instead of Cmaj7.

    This, again, adds just a little bit of variation to this somewhat straightforward phrase.

    Check out the lesson below and enjoy!

    Justin Horenstein is a guitar instructor and musician in the Washington, DC metro area who graduated (cum laude) from the Berklee College of Music in 2006. He also plays in Black Clouds, a 3-piece atmospheric/experimental band. Their new album, Dreamcation, was released on November 4, 2014 via Collect Records.

    More about Justin at 29thCenturyGuitar.com and BlackCloudsMusic.com.


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    When was the last time you changed your strings? Well, before you do this time, check out these tips for picking out the perfect strings for you.

    Guitar type

    This might seem obvious, but first and foremost, take a look at guitar and determine which type of strings you need. Acoustic steel, electric, classical nylon? Most of the time these strings are not interchangeable. You can’t use steel strings on a nylon string guitar for example. It could damage your instrument.

    Check your bridge and see if your guitar uses ball-end strings or needs strings that tie at the end. Typically all steel string guitars are fitted to use ball-end strings, but nylon string guitars can go either way.

    Gauge preference

    Here’s where things get tricky. Strings come in a wide variety of different gauge ranges. The gauge is the diameter of the string…or how fat it is.

    The gauge of your strings can really change how the guitar feels when you play, and the sound, too. Typically lighter gauge strings are easier to play, but can break more easily. Beefier strings can have a fuller tone, can be louder and are harder to break, so if you like to dig in, consider a heavier set. Here’s a general run down of acoustic string sets:

    • Extra light: .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 .047
    • Custom light: .011 .015 .023 .032 .042 .052
    • Light: .012 .016 .025 .032 .042 .054
    • Medium: .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 .056
    • Heavy: .014 .018 .027 .039 .049 .059

    Picking a gauge

    So how to you know which gauge set will fit you just right? Here are some general things to think about.

    Body size: Are you playing a small bodied guitar or a jumbo? Typically a smaller bodied parlor guitar will sound and feel better with lighter gauge strings. While you might want to try a medium or heavy gauge on a larger body or jumbo to take full advantage of their larger sound chamber.

    Tone: Heavier gauge strings tend to emphasize the lower end of the guitar’s tonal spectrum while lighter strings are more treble-y and sweet.

    Playing style: Are you a fingerpicker, a strummer? Typically lighter gauge strings are easier on the fingertips for pickers and if you’re a heavy strummer, you’ll want heavier strings. If you do both, try a medium set, that have heavier guage on the bottom and lighter on the top.

    Instrument age: If you have a vintage instrument, be careful about putting heavier gauge strings on it, as they put more tension on the neck.

    Material

    I know you probably think a string is a string. But you are wrong! There are several different types of materials that strings are made of, and they can affect the string tone, and longevity.

    • Bronze: These are typically constructed of 80% copper and 20% zinc and are used for all styles of playing. With a clear, bright ringing tone, these strings can age quickly due to bronze’s tendency to oxidize.
    • Phosphor Bronze: These are bronze strings with phosphor added. Still bright, but warmer and darker than bronze strings. Phosphor extends the life of these strings versus standard bronze strings
    • Brass: A bright, jangly, metallic sounding string.
    • Silk and steel strings: These produce a soft, mellow sound. They offer less tension and come in lighter gauges so they are good for vintage guitars that require special strings. They are quieter and less durable but easier to play.

    What about nylon string guitars?

    Tension: Classic guitar strings are made in different tensions. These typically consist of low tension also referred to as moderate or light, normal or medium tension, and hard or high tension. Low or light tension are easier to play, but you may get some buzz. Normal or medium tension strings are typlically consistent in tone. Try a few and see what you like.

    Materials: Treble nylon guitar strings can be made with clear or rectified nylon. Clear nylon strings are extruded and then calibrated for accuracy. Rectified nylon strings are extruded and then ground to produce a string that will play in tune. They have a very fine roughness of texture. Treble strings are also made of carbon fiber and composite materials. Bass strings are primarily made of bronze wire or silver plated copper wire wound around a core of fine threads.

    Coatings and treatments

    These days string technology has progressed to offer several additional life-extending options. These can include coated strings, which can sometimes be a bit less bright or have a bit less sustain. But they can last three or four times longer. You can also find strings that have been cryogenically frozen, which seems to lengthen their lifespan without diminishing the tone or sustain.

    Changes

    So how often should you change your strings? Probably more than you do. I’m always amazed at how gorgeous my guitar sounds with new strings. It always makes me want to change them more often.

    If you’re playing pretty regularly you might want to change the every week. If you’re an occasional strummer, try once every two months. If you wipe down your guitar and wash your hands before you play, your string tone may last a bit longer.

    Price

    Like pretty much anything, strings come in all different price ranges. Typically bronze strings are the least expensive and coated strings the most. Average strings typically cost between $5 - $15, but you can also get better deals if you purchase in bulk. There are cheaper ones, and more expensive too. Typically if you just opt for a decent set of strings, you’ll be in good shape.

    Packaging

    This might seem inconsequential, but there have been some new developments in string packaging meant to both make them more eco-friendly and to keep them fresh and rust-free while they are waiting for you to put them on your guitar. If you do buy in bulk, think about how the strings are packaged, especially if you are not going to put them onto your guitar for a long time.

    Try, try again

    I know it’s comfortable to stick with the same strings, but give some alternates a try, especially if you haven’t tried anything new for a while. There are some really great new string options that you should check out.


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    Several year ago, my publisher asked me to attend a song camp in Sweden. I love to travel, but Sweden is a long way from the comfortable confines of Nashville.

    The trip cost a good bit of money. My publisher paid for it up front, but they recouped it from me later. I wondered at the time if I would ever make back my travel costs.

    But, I decided to give it a shot. At the camp, I got to write with Germans, Swedes, Icelanders, and Danes. It really opened my eyes to the broader world of music beyond my comfort zone. And it introduced me to Malmo, Sweden — a beautiful place.

    When we arrived, they took us to “The Roasting House”. It was an old coffee roasting complex that was now a publishing company. Roasting House had writer/producers in every possible corner of the facility. All of them played every instrument and sang, so they were a song factory.

    Each day, we would write from 10 AM until noon. Then the producers would start working on the tracks. At 6 PM each evening, we had a “Wine and Listening” party to hear the completely mixed tracks that had been written THAT MORNING! It was crazy to hear the finished product the same day you wrote it.

    The song camp turned into such an amazing growth opportunity. I still write with some of the Swedes that I met there. One of the songs I wrote at the camp with Alexander Holmgren and Carl Utbult was recorded by a Korean artist named Cho Yong Pil. It became a single and bumped Psy out of #1 in Korea. Then it became the song of the year in Korea AND all of Asia.

    The lesson I learned was — You Just Never Know. The probability of having the song of the year in Asia written by two Swedish guys and a redneck from Nashville would be extremely low. No one would have bet on that before the camp started.

    The same goes for any opportunity in life. You just never know. You have to weed through the ones you think give you the best shot, but you have to take chances.

    Betting on the sure thing doesn’t give you much return, even if you win.

    Take chances. Dive in. You just never know.

    Marty Dodson

    Editor’s note: Not only did “Bounce” pull Marty out of his comfort zone, it also revived the career of 63-year-old Korean artist Cho Yong Pil. Now that’s one powerful song!

    Marty Dodson blogs daily on Facebook at www.facebook/songtownusa and on www.songtown.com. You can check out his music at www.martydodson.com. Marty plays Taylor Guitars and Batson Guitars.


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    What do you get when you attach drum machine pads to your acoustic guitar?

    German guitarist Pensen Paletti answers this question in the video below!

    Uploaded to YouTube May 19, the short clip has been viewed almost half a million times and counting.

    In it, Paletti demonstrates his wacky device that enables him to play drum beats as he strums/picks the guitar. He apparently calls it the “Bumm-Guitar.”

    Some YouTube folks have commented that the tune sounds a lot like John Butler Trio’s “Funky Tonight.”

    What do you make of this? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section or on Facebook!

    Check out Pensen Paletti's Facebook page here.


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    The 2015 LA Bluegrass Situation has been announced, with the festival taking place on October 3 at Los Angeles' famous Greek Theatre.

    This year's event features a full day of music, food, culture, and activities, with more details to be announced.

    Presented by The Bluegrass Situation, Goldenvoice, and Nederlander Concerts, the 2015 LA Bluegrass Situation marks the fifth year of the annual event co-founded by Ed Helms.

    The festival's all-star lineup includes performances by Dawes, Punch Brothers, The Lone Bellow, Gregory Alan Isakov, Della Mae, Jonny Fritz, Sam Outlaw, Spirit Family Reunion, The Dustbowl Revival, and The Wild Reeds.

    The combined collective represents the breadth of talent The Bluegrass Situation has come to represent, bridging the musical gap between traditional and progressive, and presenting everyone from well established favorites to buzzed about new acts.

    Past acts have included Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Sara and Sean Watkins, John C Reilly and Friends, the Infamous Stringdusters, Shakey Graves, Langhorne Slim, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lord Huron, Blind Pilot, Willie Watson, Josh Ritter, and the Lonesome Trio.

    Tickets are on sale this Friday, May 29, at 10 am. Tickets and more information are available at GreekTheatreLA.com, AXS.com, and thebluegrasssituation.com.


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    I'd like to address a very meat-and-potatoes bit of info that very rarely gets mentioned.

    Who should you emulate in order to be a session guitarist?

    The answers and the reasons for each might very well surprise you. Also, you might assume you know how to play like these guys, but, until you really try it, you do not know how!

    I'm not kidding here; I guarantee you don't know how. And not a week goes by when I'm not asked to imitate at least one of these guys.

    So now, in the photo gallery below (in no particular order), I give you a list of players you'd better become intimately aware of and learn at least a few of their licks! It will start, save and prolong your "studio guitarist" career.

    One more thing before I start: These names are used in the way "Kleenex" means "tissue." If someone asks you for a Kleenex and you give them an off-brand tissue, it's the really same thing. So if someone asks for EVH, you know they want some tapping, whammy bar, bluesy, fast playing. Get it?

    One final note! Learn the history of popular music as seen through the eyes of a guitarist. Play in a wedding band. Play in a show band. Play in a cover band. You will thank me.

    Merry Christmas!

    Ron Zabrocki is a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. Says Ron: "I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just thought everyone started that way. I could sight read anything within a few years, and that helped me become a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could find and had some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played several jingle sessions (and have written a few along the way). I’ve “ghosted” for a few people who shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I get the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.

    Additional Content

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    On March 26, 2015, the guitar community lost a legend: progressive folk master and founding member of Pentangle, John Renbourn, a picker who literally did what he loved—playing and teaching—up until the end. (When Renbourn didn’t appear at a concert in Glasgow, Scotland, police checked his nearby home, where he was found deceased from an apparent heart attack.)

    With a steady stream of albums issued since 1965, Renbourn is among the first of the influential English fingerstyle “folk baroque” heavyweights (a list which includes Davey Graham, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy); he had a profound impact on pickers in the U.K.—everyone from Jimmy Page and Richard Thompson to Nick Drake and John Martyn—and abroad (Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Pierre Bensusan and many others).

    A fan of music beyond “folk,” Renbourn incorporated classical (in the mid Eighties, he studied composition and orchestration at Dartington Collage of Arts), jazz, blues and “early” music (Medieval, Elizabethan and other eras) into his overall artistic vision. He also played a key role in exposing the Renaissance music of John Dowland to the masses in the late Sixties. Let’s pay our respects to Renbourn with a retrospective look at his influential solo output.

    In 1965, around the time he issued his self-titled solo debut, Renbourn met Bert Jansch at a London club. The two became roommates and began playing duo renditions of traditional and contemporary folk songs with an emphasis on counterpoint (creative musical interplay between two or more single-note “voices”). The results are documented in 1966’s Bert and John album, marking the birth of “folk baroque.”

    In 1967, Renbourn’s Another Monday hit the streets, an LP containing the bluesy fan favorite “Buffalo,” which informs FIGURE 1. That same year, Renbourn and Jansch made a full-time “band” commitment, forming the seminal “folk-jazz” group Pentangle, a collaboration that continued until 1973.

    When Pentangle disbanded, Renbourn prioritized his solo career and released The Hermit, a record ripe with intricate cuts like “Faro’s Rag,” not unlike FIGURE 2, the latest challenge for Renbourn’s hardcore “picking” fan base (the album art even included guitar transcriptions).

    Interestingly, Renbourn’s revitalized direction was a direct reaction to having been in a band for several years; after Pentangle, the guitarist realized he’d become a bit out of touch with developments on the solo acoustic guitar scene and felt compelled to contribute in impressive fashion. This pursuit continued throughout the decade, evidenced in 1979’s The Black Balloon title track, a feast of pianistic voicings and strategically placed natural harmonics, like those in FIGURE 3.

    In his later years, which included Pentangle reunions, as well as collaborations with Stefan Grossman and Wizz Jones, Renbourn would conjure more impressionistic sounds from his ax, which were chiefly facilitated by his use of unorthodox tunings, such as open G minor, used in the Celtic-flavored title track to The Nine Maidens, which informs FIGURE 4. This tuning is somewhat similar to the D A D G Bb E tuning Renbourn used in the title track to his final album, 2011’s Palermo Snow, akin to FIGURE 5.




    dalekkkkk.jpg


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    We were lucky enough to have the fabulous Tony Lucca in the Acoustic Nation studio recently.

    After a lovely chat, which you can view here, Lucca was kind enough to play a song or two. Below he shares "Smoke 'Em" from his self-titled album.

    You may know him as a contestant on The Voice, but Lucca’s been honing his craft long before he appeared on the show. In fact, this is his eighth full-length album, and his first entirely self-produced effort.

    “We went in with the intention of making a record that was as live-sounding as possible,” Lucca shares.

    “I wanted to close my eyes and be able to visualize the players in the room or up on the stage, actually playing the songs together. One guitar over here, the other guy over there, bass, drums, some keys? I mean, that’s the rock-n-roll I fell in love with when I was a kid.”

    Check it out and find out more at tonylucca.com


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