As if getting a new guitar wasn’t enough (See my previous post about my new guitar) I also recently picked up another new instrument… a Banjar, or as some people call it a Guitanjo. Give up? It is a cross between a banjo and a Guitar. At first glance, it looks like a banjo, but a closer look shows that it has 6 strings like a guitar. It tunes and plays very similar to a guitar, but looks and sounds like a banjo, with a lot more “bottom end”. I just installed a new Seymour Duncan pickup inside, so it is ready to go! I’m sure it will make it to more than a few gigs coming up soon!
Nothing like a new guitar to start off the new year! My family all pitched in and bought me a beautiful Les Paul for my birthday, and I have spent the past two months getting it all set up, changing the pickups and electronics, adding a MIDI pickup, changing a few cosmetic details…..and now it is ready to go! I can’t wait to do my first gig with my new guitar, and of course, I will be recording several new songs for my upcoming CD with this beauty!
Just got back from performing at the Firehouse Pub in Buckley, Wa. I have never played there before, but I sure am looking forward to going back! It’s a really cool place….lots of locals come in on a regular basis, and the food is excellent, from all the comments I heard. The chef was very busy turning out steak after steak after steak, and everybody was in a mood to have fun. I got a real kick out of the one couple that got up to dance right in the middle of their dinner. Hope their steaks didn’t get cold! Heidi is a great bartender too….she seemed to be everyplace at once, and treated everyone like an old friend. As a bonus, she’s pretty easy on the eyes too……my son will back that up! I highly recommend this place if you are in the neighborhood, especially the next time I’m there ;>) Check my calendar page for the next booking date, and I’ll save a table for you!
Awhile back I wrote about my guitar sound, and I was about to try out some new pickups for my Taylor acoustic. I tried out several, and here is what I finally came up with.
The main pickup I am using for just a pure acoustic sound is the Mag-Mic by Seymour Duncan. It is a combination of a magnetic pickup and a condensor microphone, and the sound is incredible! I have used it for many different types of performances the past few months, ranging from small clubs to large outdoor venues over a huge sound system, and it has worked way beyond my expectations. I was a bit concerned that a magnetic pickup would give me more of an “electric” sound, but that is definitely not the case! What I get is a true acoustic guitar sound, without the feedback and location problems associated with trying to mic an acoustic guitar live. And to get that extra “sparkle” you can only get from a microphone, there is a dial on the pickup that allows you to blend in however much signal you want from the built in condensor microphone. The dial is very easy to reach (you can adjust it as you are playing if needed!) and you can turn the mic completely off if you want, and still have a fantastic sound.
I also use MIDI to generate other sounds from my guitar, and the MIDI system I finally settled on is the Ghost System by Graph Tech. I had been using a different brand for the past few years, but after way to many pickup failures, not to mention a rather thin acoustic sound, I decided to make a change. The Graph Tech system tracks very well, the pickups are a completly different design that shouldn’t have the failure problems of the brand I had been using, and as an added bonus, the acoustic sound is very warm and smooth as well!
Between these two pickups, it’s almost like I have new guitar!
I get a lot of questions about the sounds I get from my guitars so I thought I would do an update here on my website. I will start with my electric guitars.
First, all of my electric guitars are fitted with Seymour Duncan Pickups. I have tried many brands over the years, and by far, Seymour Duncan pickups have always given me the best sound. They have done very extensive product reasearch, are very helpful and knowledgeable about not only thier products, but also which of thier pickups will work best in relation to what type of guitar, playing style, type of music, etc. From the Seymour Duncan pickups, I usually run the signal through a Peavey TubeFex guitar processor. Those “other sounds” you hear…things like bass, symphony strings, piano, organ etc, come from a Roland MIDI pickup driving a Roland VG-99 guitar synth, and/or a Roland JV-1080. My current “main” electric guitar is a Stratocaster style that I built a couple of years ago. I am thinking about building another one soon, with a few more refinements….but mainly because guitars are so much fun to build!
For my acoustic guitar, for the past several years I have mainly performed on a Taylor guitar, but for recording I may use my Taylor, Martin, Guild or Ovation Nylon string, depending on the sound I am after. I also installed RMC MIDI pickups in my Taylor, but I have never been all that thrilled with the acoustic sound that comes over the PA. So, once again I am turning to my friends at Seymour Duncan. They just recommended two different acoustic pickups for me to try, and I will be doing that later today or tomorrow. I’ll re-post as soon as I try them out!
OK, I admit it…I have really slacked off lately! My calendar has been sadly out of date, I haven’t made a new post on my website since last July, and I have also missed sending out more than a few emails. My bad! But I do have an excuse…really! I became a new grandpa to a great kid, Tristan Parke! While I definitely have not stopped playing music (far from it!) I kind of put some things on the back burner for a while while I switched my focus temporarily to this great addition to my life! I get to see him almost every day, and I can’t even begin to describe how much I am enjoying this! But, life goes on, and now that I am pretty much settled into my new role as “DAAA-AA” (I think that means Grandpa?) I am ready once again to put energy back into my music. I just updated my calendar with several months worth of upcoming gigs, I am working on lots of new material, and also picking up where I left off on booking house concerts. A big thanks to all of you who still came out to my shows….Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival, wine tastings at Archer/Rizzo winery, Westport Art Festival just to name a few, and once again my apologies to those of you that I have neglected! I’ll do better from now on. I promise!
July is usually a pretty busy month music wise, but this year it has been beyond awesome! I have been so lucky to be able to perform at some outstanding venues…Clatskanie Heritage Days, Pend Oreille Lavender Festival (with a very tasty 5 star BBQ dinner!), Rainier Days, (with the biggest fireworks display on the Lower Columbia River, 9 days after the 4th of July!) Dory days, where I got to watch special flat bottom fishing boats race full speed from the surf to the highest point they could reach on the sandy beach…one of only 3 places in the world that commonly fish this way, Allyn Days with some of the biggest and tastiest sausage dogs I have ever had, not to mention one of the most realistc Elvis impersonators I have ever seen. I also spent many days helping my good friend Scott Netling running sound at several events with his incredible sound company, Music and More. I have put over 3000 miles on my truck, gotten by with very minimal sleep, and enjoyed every minute. But the real highlight was this past weekend, when my Son Kris, married the most wonderful person I could ever hope to have for a Daughter in Law, Marikha! It was a beautiful wedding, on the beach overlooking the Columbia River. August is going to have to work very hard to top this month!
I discovered long ago that one of the reasons I love performing at festivals is because of all the wonderful people I get to meet, and the new friends that I make. The Brinnon Shrimp Festival this past weekend was a perfect example! I was planning on camping out in my truck, and cooking over my trusty propane camp stove, but it didn’t turn out that way. The Talbots, who had organized this event, invited myself and two other musicians to their home for dinner. We started off with wine and cheese, and then moved on to the main course of salmon filets, home made bread, more wine, great conversation…..quite a bit different than what I had planned for dinner that night! After dinner I was offered the use of their guest bedroom for the night, and they even fed me breakfast in the morning. I must admit that was much more comfortable than my sleeping bag, not to mention my “limited” cooking skills! A huge “thank you” to the Talbots!
The festival was great too. I can’t eat shrimp (darn it!) but oysters….oh yeah! I made several trips to the booth that was serving pan fried oysters, and even picked up a few dozen oysters on the shell to take home. This is spring time here on the coast, so no one was too surprised that it rained a bit Saturday night, but those poor folks with the beer garden were faced with quite a dilemma Sunday morning. It seemed that the rain had turned their tarp roof into a huge swimming pool! What had been an 8 foot ceiling was now hanging a few inches above the tables. Thanks to some of the food vendors loaning some hoses, the water was all siphoned out and the roof propped in time for the festival to open, so no harm done. The rain didn’t hurt any of the seating in front of the stage either…they just rolled the hay bales over to a dry side, and on with the show! Besides doing a lot of my old favorites, I also performed several songs from my new CD. A real highlight for me was when the entire audience joined in to help me sing a chorus. I stopped playing my guitar for a moment, and you could hear all their voices echoing across the festival!
I definitely want to do this festival again next year;-)
I got invited to enter a “talent contest” last night. I haven’t been in one of those since high school. I wasn’t booked for a gig anywhere last night, so I figured why not…it might be fun! And it was! I did one song by myself, and teamed up with a friend for another song, and both bits placed in the top 5. Now I get to go back on Sunday for the finals with a “winner take all” prize of $250. I’m glad this isn’t a wet t-shirt contest…I wouldn’t stand a chance!!!
Aaaaarrrrrrgh! I just spent the last 3 days in Wesport, Wa for the 10th annual Rusty Scupper Pirate Daze festival, and had a blast, as usual! It’s kind of fun to dress like a pirate, shout good natured insults to “enemy” pirates, walk around with a definite swagger, and have fun re-connecting again with pirates that I hadn’t seen since last year. The little girl that won the kids costume contest had to have been the cutest 3 year old pirate in history! I got her up on stage at one point, and she had absolutly no fear of the microphone, or the many cameras either. Her parents better get her an agent quick, and I better start writing some pirate songs for next year!