Saturday, October 31, 2009


I have a facsincation with the old wooden handled jetty and pier fishing rods that would be bought at discount stores, hardware stores, fishing and sporting goods stores from at least the 1940's until about the 1980's. Mine are all made of fiberglass (or Fibreglass, as my good friend Paul, Canadian custom TEMPUS Fibreglass Drum builder would say ).

Most of my fiberglass rods have been very durable, catching fish over the years. I inherited a group of rods from my grandpa, actually quite a bit of very cool tackle. 4 tackle boxes full of fresh and salt lures and rigs, as well as boxes full of "stuff" like fishing rod holders, snelled hook holders and the like. Stuff he couldn't cram in the boxes he already had.

And all kinds of reels. Johnsons. Garcia Abu. Shakespeare. Pleuger. Heddon. Several Ocean City reels, a medium duty saltwater Penn like saltwater reel. And a couple of very unique French spinning reels that were made in the postwar boom in fishing as recreation. I even have a book that talks about these unique reels.

When I was a kid in the 60's and 70's, we would often buy our fishing tackle in Houston at locations that offered more reasonable prices. Places like Sage, K-Mart and on the outskirts of Houston, Gibson's Discount Center. Oshman's Sporting Goods had all kinds of cool stuff but was a little pricey in most cases for my dad. We bought stuff we had to buy at Oshman's, like cleats and pads and things I needed for the various sports that I played in as a kid.

Sears and Wards also had large fishing and boating supply stock back then. I bought many a cool fishing item at Wards in Sharpstown Mall back in the day.

These rods are different from cork handled rods. For jetting fishing, if you jam the rod down between some rock cracks you don't have to worry about tearing the rod handle.

I also like the way wood feels in my hands. We weren't fighting super big fish, so it wasn't a big deal to be holding on to the wooden handles comfort wise. But the inherent grime and dirt and sand and all the things that go along with saltwater fishing, particularly bait fishing, can be easily wiped off the wooden handled rod but soak into a handle made of cork.

Does anyone else miss the fact that inexpensive saltwater rods are not made with wooden handles anymore? Are they being sold somewhere that I've missed?


Another of my favorite artists, Johnny Winter, plays one of these guitars. I beleive Mr. Winter is somewhat afflicted with arthritis, and pretty much plays while sitting down these days. I had the chance to see him a few years ago, and he was just as rocking as he ever was.
This is the guitar that Johnny's been playing for many years now. If you've ever heard it live, you know it's a cross between a Gibson and a Strat. And in the hands of a master, like Mr. Winter, it can sing, cry and soothe.
Mark Erlewine makes these guitars in Austin, Texas, so he's a homeboy and if you're in the market to get a guitar that WILL REALLY lay down those Texas blues, then I don't think you can do better than this guitar. For me, it's hard to be an honest to goodness great sounding Strat or Les Paul, but this guitar does a pretty damn good job of doing it. He's at
I don't own one of these, but I'd sure like to.
There was a version made by Hondo of this guitar, and you can see the link to an ad for it in this forum thread here:
I could have bought a somewhat beat Hondo version of this guitar back many years ago, knowing full well it was nothing like an Erlewine but likely the closest I'll ever get to an Erlewine type guitar. It was in a small town music store and it was overpriced for the used condition it was in. It had an added single coil and mini-switcher so it was similar to the actual Erlewine Lazer. I couldn't get the guy to come off the price, but given what they go for now when they rarely appear, I should've grabbed it.
Like many other guitars I should have bought and collected since the seventies.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I want to talk in this post about the tackle I use when trout fishing for stocked rainbow trout in Texas during the winter and early spring.

Not surprisingly, I use a lot of different kinds of rods and reels depending on the place that I'm fishing. Any freshwater spin, spingcasting or flycasting rig will do, but I do have a couple of favorites that are kind of oddball rigs that I like to use.

Flycasting can be a challenge at some stocking locations. Overhanging trees and the like can sometimes make casting with an 8 or 9 foot rod difficult at best. I have an inexpensive Mitchell import that is 5 and 1/2 foot long which takes #4 line, but will work well with #6 line as well in windy situations when overloading the line can improve casting distance.

I have a ultra light crappie jigging rod that is something like 14' long. It has the sliding reel clamps that allow any type of spinning reel. It's great for dangling lures, particularly jigs and grasshopper flies, through thick underbrush or in tight spots that really can't be cast to. It can also be used for distance casting for spinners in larger lakes, although it's action leaves something to be desired with some lures used long distance.

My standby ultralight spinning rods are 6 and 7 feet long. On some of these larger lakes where trout are stocked, they are the best all around compromise. Distance, yet with an ultralight reel and line, a great fight with a beautiful fish.

I'm not above bait or spin-casting either, particularly if the lake or river has brushy or rocky areas that need a spinner to be "horsed through" weeds or the like. A pair of nice 6 foot Lews Speed Stick rods serve this purpise, one a spin-cast rod rigged with a Abu 170 and the other a bait-casting rod rigged with the new Shimano Curado. An alternate heavier rod for pulling baits through floating weeds and the like is the Cabela's travel casting rod at 7 and 1/2 feet. Great action for a medium heavy rod, and for small fish like the rainbows, that strong of a rod can be overkill but if you need a strong rod to get your lures down through obstructions where the fish are, you gotta do what you gotta do.

If I had to pick one rod for stocked trout fishing, it'd be a seven foot ultra light spinning rod with 4 or 6 pound test. Distance and sporting fun and really heavy enough to handle much of the fishing for trout that will be done in a stocked environment. Of course, any medium or light spin-casting gear will work as well.

Texas Trout time is coming. Be ready.


You might have noticed I have recently had several albums of the week, sometimes, like today, even within the same 24 hour period. DO NOT BE ALARMED! I am simply making up for lost time in not having this feature and will resume a normal weekly schedule in the future.

The John Lennon "Live Peace In Toronto" album is an interesting gig with some great music. Clapton on guitar, Lennon on guitar and vocals, Klaus Voorman (noted Beatle friend and damn good bassman) and future Yes drummer Alan White do some serious jamming here and it is absolutely a great listen.
Except for the parts that Yoko sings. They are, of course, unbearable for me to listen to. There is one song where she is literally tied into a canvas bag with a microphone and wails and sings.

It's a notable album as the first appearance of the first version of the Plastic Ono Band. I recall reading an interview some years ago with Alan White and he said they were learning the songs on the airplane flight over to Toronto from England. He was playing the songs with his drumsticks on the back of an airline seat.

You can find some pictures of this band and of them practicing on the airplane at Klaus Voorman's site here in about the middle of the page.

But as always, take four outstanding musicians and combine them with some songs they are familiar with, and often a stupendous jam occurs. It's a one take only thing baby, the magic you can get from four great musicians having that energy playing together the first time sometimes, like this effort, makes for a magic occasion.

Except for the Yoko parts.

My favorite song that Lennon ever wrote was "Cold Turkey." I played it for many years in a great band I was in, and I think we did it justice. Cold Turkey appears on this live album and it totally rocks out. Side two is occupied by the caterwailing of Yoko.

I'll write more about artist and bassist Klaus Voorman later on. He's an overlooked personality in the importance of much good music made in those great years of British rock. Just give his basslines a listen on this effort. They rock.


James Beck Gordon was already a highly successful drummer prior to his association with Eric Clapton. He was living the good life in Sunny 1960's Southern California, living that Hollywood lifestyle that only a first call musician could lead. He had a family and was making, at that time and even nowadays, great money for his drumming.

He then joined up with the Joe Cocker and then Delaney and Bonnie and their tours. After that, Derek and the Dominos came to be. A short lived band, it burned brightly, with Clapton more confident in his frontman role than ever before and the studio sessions featuring Duane Allman also on guitar.

As a drummer, I was always entranced with Gordon's drumming on the Derek and the Dominos albums, particularly the double live CD. He is technically masterful and manages to infuse that with a soulful delivery and surprising rhythms and solos.

His life, after the Dominos and the rest of the 70's, is a story of rock and roll excess and decline and tragedy. I'll not recount it here. It can be easily found at several sites that discuss his incarceration in a mental prison in california, found guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of his mother in the early 1980's.

But his work is worthy of study for the serious blues drummer. DVD's of the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour with Cocker are particularly entertaining since they include his double buddy drummer Jim Keltner. They did a great job double drumming together, a formitable duo that really came off well together. And double drumming is hard to do, or at least to do well.

He did tons of sessions and if you are interested in listening to a great "feel" drummer with magnificent technical chops, then Gordon is a solid starting point.


I'm sure there are many who disagree, but I just find myself returning to this Clapton album time after time. I recall listening to it alot in the early 90's when it came out. It's not my favorite Clapton album, but it's a special one.
The Layla version is simply timeless to me. It's one of my favorite Clapton songs and it's captured here in a way that really moves me. Raw emotion. Even the audience "whoop" at the beginning of the track has become a part of the listening experience. I wonder who that "whooper" was, exhibiting his happiness with the selection by letting out a good whoop worthy of any Texan.
Don't get me wrong. I'm an electric Clapton fanatic. John Mayall. The Cream. Blind Faith. His work with the Beatles. All of his solo stuff. His playing with Doyle Bramhall II for most of the past decade. Doyle is one of my favorite guitarists and artists, and it's gotta be a dream job being Clapton's second guitarist.
I like to listen to this CD when I'm driving, particularly a trip where it can be enjoyed in it's entirity.


First of all, start with this YIN selection to hopefully rock your day.

It's not an actual Rory Gallagher video, it's one of those homemade slideshow deals, but the sound is pretty good on this clip of this song, called Crest of a Wave.

Secondly, I straight out copped the title of this article from one of those in my blog roll, Banjo's Place. I hope he doesn't mind, what with me admitting this and all. I read his page often and he's got a lot of interesting stuff to say. Funny to boot. Banjo's Place. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

I'm sort of O-C when it comes to what I'm listening to at any given moment. My taste is global, it is nearly all encompassing and it is so broad that it is annoying to most people. Amongst most of my lead guitarist buddies, I am annoying because of my constant talking about Rory Gallagher.

I have damn near every album Clapton has made since his days with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers to near the present day. I'm not near as fond as the post VH1-Unplugged era as I am of the pre VH1 Unplugged era. I've spent months at a time listening to nothing but Derek and the Dominos, fascinated with every aspect of their live and studio creations. I even have a two disc bootleg set someone gave me years ago of the Derek leftovers and outtakes from their studio sessions.

You can safetly say I'm an Eric Clapton fan. He's not to be compared to Rory, and they are each great in their own way. There is no greater guitarist amongst them, or among any of the other great guitarists of the 1960's and the 1970's in the blues rock genre. You simply can't compare apples to oranges, even though a number of great players like Beck, Page, Clapton, Gallagher, Keith Richards, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix and other great, stunning lead guitarists came of age during the mid-sixties.

I'm sure there are some great guitarists I left off that list. Certainly, Mick Taylor, Brian Jones, George Harrison and John Lennon need to be on that list as well.

The point is, I'm in a Rory phase right now. Next month it might be a Zeppelin phase or listening to early Jane's Addiction or the first Guns and Roses album. I might be in a 70's Jimmy Buffett or Eagles listening jag, with a little Linda Ronstat "Heart Like a Wheel" thrown in for good measure.

And it goes on, from country to bebop jazz to fusion to even Morrocan trance music.

But Rory music has one thing I find compelling: Soul, short, the blues. He had a way of venting some of his demons, I suspect, through his vigorous and simply moving playing. There's a yin and a yang to it, a dark and a light side, counter-balancing each other as they move within the circle around each other. Sometimes, the yin and yang happen in the same song.

I hope that some of these postings might turn someone on to Rory. He wrote some great songs and played some phenominal guitar. Rest in Peace, Rory.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I've had numerous occasions of fantastic fishing where just everything came together like clockwork. There was that time in the 90's when I was at Walker's Cay, snorkling off the beach that is one part of that fine fishing island, when I found myself in the midst of about a gadzillion bonefish. Just everywhere and not too spooked at me being around. I hightailed it back to the beach and grabbed my trusty Orvis fly rod with a couple of different flies and streamers I had bought with the advice of an experienced Bahamian/Florida bone fisherman that lived in Houston.

I had a grand time wading the flats chasing and sight casting to bonefish. And even catching a few.

So Walker's Cay was a stunning experience, to say the least.

And there are tons of other fishing trips with family and freinds from the time I was a small child of 5 or 6 until now that were great and fun and memorable in their own way. I've fished in a lot of different places, yet there are so many more places I yearn to fish.

But back in my youth, in the early 1970's was the first wild fishing experience I ever had. We were staying in a condo called the Sand Castle on South Padre Island. Back then, South Padre was just in the beginning phases of development. There was the Bahia Mar (just opened), the Holiday Inn, the Sea Ranch and just a few other condos on both the beach and bay side. Much of what is now condos and the like on the beach side of the island was solidly full of stilt beach houses.

Lots of Houstonians went down there then, either owning a beach house or renting a condo on the bay side where you could dock your boat. An equal number of upper and middle class Mexican nationals vacationed there as well back then, and we once met the then Mexican President's helicopter pilot who was staying next door to us for a few weeks.

We had a family friend, Joe Leago, who lived part time down in next door Port Isabel, where he fished the Lower Laguna Madre with a passion for speckled trout and redfish. He supplied some of Houston's finest restaurants with fresh shrimp and fish, and by doing some of the driving himself he got to do a lot of Port Isabel fishing while still living in Houston.

Joe would take us fishing nearly everytime we went down there. He knew lots of fishing spots and tactics and knew a lot about nature and the ecosystem down there. I caught some of the biggest specks I ever have caught, back up in the grassey back bays of remote parts of the Lower Laguna Madre, fishing with Joe in those days.

But when we weren't fishing with Joe, we had our own boat and would go fishing ourselves. Joe was a morning fisherman, but since we were on vacation we'd often fish the evening as well. Back then, it seemed that the ecosystem at South Padre and Port Isabel and the Lower Laguna Madre was a lot more in balance than it is today, nearly 40 years later.

So one night I went fishing on the lighted pier that the Sand Castle had. It didn't go out too far, since the boat channel for the bay was about 30 or 40 yards from the boating channel that was cut into the often shallow bay. We had a boat and had been fishing for much of the morning and evening. But the family was tired and I was invigorated by the fishing action that had gone on that day, and since we had several quarts of live shrimp in the livewell left over from the day, I went fishing on that pier until the wee small hours of the morning.

I caught all kinds of fish and lots and lots of them. Lots of speckled and sand trout, a couple of redfish, some gafftop catfish along with the requisite nuisance hardhead cats, some flounder, croaker, dogfish, puffer fish, sheepshead, ladyfish, several kinds of different sea perch, a small baby shark and a HUGE black with yellow and blue markings Angel Fish. Yes. An angel fish. I kept and cleaned the specks and iced them down as I caught them, but threw the other fish back. There were some sort of grouper looking fish I've not seen before or since that seemed to be schooling for a while during that night, and I caught several of them as well.

I finally ran out of live shrimp and got a box of frozen shimp that was in our boats ice chest. I went through it fairly quickly, since I was fishing several rods at once. I was just about to walk down the dock to where the boat was moored and get another box of frozen shrimp when the parental call to return to the condo occurred.

Although I thought I was pretty grown up and could take care of myself at 12 or 13 or however old I was, finally the folks made me return to the condo about 1 o'clock in the morning or so. Of course, I had my Boy Scout knife should any trouble present itself. But that mattered not to the peeps. Reluctantly, and with deliberate slowness, I stowed my gear on our nearby boat and trudged up to the room, convinced that the fishing was just now getting good, although it had been getting great all night.

Every now and then, you take one of those fishing trips where everything goes right. You're hitting on all 8 cylinders. You're doing as much catching as you are fishing, or you're hooking big fish putting up memorable fights. You can be by yourself or with friends or sometimes, a bunch of strangers.

With me, thought, despite my love of catching fish, I enjoy the fishing as much as I do the catching on most occasions, especially when I'm with friends.


One thing I forgot to mention in part two of this series on Texas Trout Fishing is that one of the most popular baits for stocked rainbows in Texas is kernel corn. Yes, that's right. Get the kernel corn in the can, not creamed corn, but kernal corn. Just put a few on a bluegill sized hook and fish at some different depths under a bobber until adventure calls.

When I don't have salmon eggs, which although we don't have salmon here in Texas to fish for there are lots of fishing stores in the State who sell them. I've never tried salmon eggs for any other species, so I don't know if they work on fish other than trout.

I have, however, often caught bass and even the occasional channel cat on a Mepps spinner in some of the coldest, nastiest, rainy weather I've ever been fishing in when I've been after trout.

Since the early 1980's, I always carried a large hand crank can opener in my "kit bag", which is sorta a larger doctor's bag looking sort of affair. Often times I forego a traditional tackle box and carry my kit bag. Back in the old days, and I'm talking from 50 years ago to who knows how many hundreds of years before that, when a sportsman went outdoor they often carried their kit bag. In fact, 60 or so years ago Smith and Wesson christened a line of weapons as "kit guns", which were small pistols usually in .22 caliber that one could carry afield on various types of sporting endeavors.

So anyway, I have a bag that I carry such things as the can opener and some extra gear, perhaps fly fishing stuff and maybe a few of the small pocket sized tackle boxes. I always have some sort of handgun with me (legally, of course) and it's usually in the kit bag, unless I'm in real snakey country, then it is more accessible.

But now many of the canned kernal corn that you can buy has the flip top lids like cat food cans do, so a can opener is no longer needed.

Unless the opening tab breaks off of the can and you need a can opener. So I still carry an old school can opener. I often forget to get corn in preparation for a trip, and I'm pleased to announce that many convenience stores sell canned kernal corn, so you don't have to make a big trip to a large grocery store just to get some in the middle of a trip in most cases.

I always like to have a can of kernal corn with me when I go fishing, just in case they aren't hitting anything else.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pond Fishing

It's pond fishing time sometime in the next few days for me and El Fisho Jr. A friend has a pond on their place and reported that not only is it full of water but that every cast was met by a catch last weekend. This is the kind of fishing young kids really need to do, to get them hooked on the sport.

I'm gonna hook Jr. up with a rig that I used to use in the 1970's and 1980's, a great Berkley fly rod. It's a great casting rod for beginners and is very forgiving. It'd be nice if he could catch a nice pond bass on a fly rod. And very exciting.

I might even see if I can talk Billy Ray into dragging his trailer down there to spend the night lakeside and have a small scale fishing camp. It'd be awful fun for Junior.


In 1971, guitarist John McLaughlin released the Mahavishnu Orchestra's first album,
INNER MOUNTING FLAME. It is both the prototype and the penultimate example of what rock-jazz fusion music is, and should be.
Featuring future superstars Billy Cobham on drums and Jan Hammer on Keyboards, they were joined by masterful bassist Rick Laird and violinist Jerry Goodman. It was one of those raw energy bands, the Led Zeppelin (if you will) of all the bands that could be grouped into the rock-fusion genre of the late 1960's and 1970's.
The original lineup released another album called Birds of Fire, and it too is as rocking as it is innovative and soulful. These guys were burning with creation and making new types of music and were all virtuoso level players at the top of their games. Plus they had that hungry, youthful drive for going for it.
38 years later, it still ranks as one of my favorite albums. It's a great album for a road trip, when an uninterrupted trip through a nice rural area really makes the music serve as the ultimate soundtrack of your life for that moment. There are such a diversity of feelings and emotions that come through this vocal-less album that it is nearly a spiritual experience.
McLaughlin is well know for his spirituality and it certainly comes through in his playing. Laird is such a great bass player who is just right there where he needs to be at all times, never too much and never too little. Jan Hammer is a masterful keyboard virtuoso and composer whose pedigree should be well known to the readers of this blog...they are impeccable and impressive.
Cobham, of course, is on fire and does amazing things on the drumkit. You can literally feel the sweat coming off of Cobham when he is in a double bass drumming frenzy or an extended break. Likewise, he is always capable of being soft and melodic at the most opportune times. The only performance of Cobham's that equals this one, IMHO, is that on Cobham's Spectrum album, featuring Tommy Bolin on guitar.
It's sometimes hard to imagine a violin or fiddle raging on with these masterful musicians, playing loud electric and mic'd up instruments at LOUD stage volume, but Jerry Goodman not only pulls it off but helps to create a new genre. Jean-Luc Ponty had done the same with Zappa and later filled Goodman's shoes in later versions of the Mahavishnu.
There's one other album featuring these original players that was released several years ago called THE LOST TRIDENT SESSIONS. It too, is excellent and was long awaited by fans of the band.
It's not too late for the members of Mahavishnu to have a reunion tour with the original members. They are all still alive. Maybe one day they can put their egos aside and do something for the fans that made it all possible for them to be successful. It would be a momentous occasion. Although Laird now has a successful career as a photographer, he apparently is also giving bass lessons as well as authoring several intermediate and advanced bass instruction books.
I've seen Cobham in clinics on several occasions, and he is just awesome. And remains awesome. I can't imagine with all of the different types of music that McLaughlin and Hammer have played in the past nearly 40 years wouldn't make their playing exponentially better after all this time. Goodman apparently was playing as well
At least do like one major gig and release it on DVD, dudes.


I talked in my last post a lot about the lake at the State Park in Meridian. But there are similar lakes all across Texas that offer similar fun and good eating of the stocked rainbow trout that you can catch. They are for eating, because in all but a couple of locales in Texas, the water gets too hot in the spring and summer for them to survive. I hate to shock the vegan audience out there, but I will eat a fish if I think it is free of poisons and toxins.

The Rainbows that are stocked in Texas come from several hatcheries across the state. The locations of the hatchery, as well as the number of fish to be stocked and the stocking locations for last year can be found here

Sometime in mid-November or thereabouts, they'll post the list of trout stocking sites for 2009 and 2010. It's usually the same group of suspects, with new locations every so often.

I fish for these trout with ultra light spin and spin casting tackle, as well as fly tackle. A gift last year of a 3 weight rod to augment my 6, 7 and 9 weight rods was perfect for some of the fishing I did last year. Hatchery trout are on the smaller size, say from about 10 to 12 inches. Or so, as I'm terrible about estimating such things. But I can tell you that filleted, they are the perfect size for pan grilling in a heap o' butta for a nice streamside lunch.

Although I worked my way through much of college in Houston, I did three semesters at a school near Austin. An austere educational environment, the dorm director found out I was a fisherman who fished for trout, and was always happy to prepare the fish in her apartment kitchen. I got real nice treatment from her.

Those three semesters put me in easy striking distance of a wide variety of Hill Country and Central Texas trout stocking spots for both weekday and weekend fishing trips. There was a nice lake near the school that was stocked, and I was there nearly daily before school from January to March. I once fished with lots of snow on the ground, and that was very cool. Needless to say, rainbows like a little chill in the water and get really frisky in those conditions.

It rained alot that winter and spring, and often it was 30 or 40 degrees with a stiff wind blowing and a drizzling rain falling. I found the trout to be much more frisky and aggresive in this kind of weather. I caught a daily limit nearly every day, and many times had to release fish after limiting out.

Then as now, I have a selection of dry flies, streamers and nymphs that I fly fish with. On warmer days when the trout are a few feet down in cooler water, streamers or nymphs are the call of the day. But get a nice chilly string of days lowering that water temperature and you've got some dry fly fishing buddy.

I've used to Gulp! (or another brand that is Gulp!-like) salmon eggs to great success. Real salmon eggs work wonderful as well. I usually set a spin casting rod out with a bobber on a rod holder with salmon eggs (real or Gulp!) and then fish with an ultralight spinning rig or a fly rod.

Small hooks are the name of the game with these fish, say size 8 and smaller. I fish with a lot of spinners with my UL spinning rig. I've had about equal success with both silver or gold Mepps type spinners in smaller sizes.

There are several brands of small bodied spinners that are colored and I've had good luck wth the green or yellow bodies with gold blades. Of course, there are a wide variety of small spoons and sonic spinner type lures as well. I've also been known to use very small plugs with some success.

When finding out what depth the fish are hovering at, I use several techniques with my spinning rig. I do the standard pull-the-rod while reeling in, then lowering the rod slowly. Usually if I get strikes with this method, I get them when I begin pulling the rod up and reeling it in, after it's fallen a bit.

I've also experienced good luck with beetle spins in various colors, again, in some smaller sizes. Mostly I've used the darker colors.

I'd love to hear about your favorite lures for trout. We get trout for about 4 or 5 months in Texas every year. It's almost time to go trout fishing!

Monday, October 26, 2009


It's nearly that time, friends, when in mid-November the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department releases it's stocking list of dates, locations and the number of fish to be stocked in lakes and rivers across the state. Since my junior high school days, this has been a highlight of every year.

You get the list, now for many years available online, but used to you'd have to mail off for it or luck into a copy at a sporting goods store. You'd then start dreaming of all the trips you want to take fishing for stocked rainbow trout.

You can literally travel all over Texas to catch stocked trout in all of the locales they are stocked in. The earliest stockings happen out West, then in Central Texas and the Hill Country.

One of my favorite spots is the Lake Meridian State Park. Just a grand facility, with some great views from the trails and drives and campsites in the park. They have a great covered facility near the lake, and if the weather's right (cold, windy and drizzley), it's nice to have a little shelter from the elements. Of course, this particular combination of weather almost always results in frisky fish and good fishing for me, so I'm willing to bundle up and do some hardcore cold weather fishing.

Meridian is a nice little town, located a short drive northwest of Waco. As I said, the State Park is gorgeous, and I camped there for a weekend back in January of 1985. I got to watch them stock the trout the next morning, and that was a pretty cool thing to see. I've seen the actual stocking a few times and it is really an astounding operation.

There's some nice restaurants in Meridian and I'm sure there is some reasonable lodging either there or in the nearby towns.

When I traveled there in 1985, it was a total spur of the moment thing. I was in Austin visiting some fishing friends, and we were debating whether to head to The Guadalupe or the Blanco Rivers. We were listening to a fishing show on AM radio and heard them talking about Meridian, so we took off at about 3 a.m. the next morning and cruised to Meridian. We got there before daybreak, just in time for the hatchery truck to arrive.

Later that day in town, I had some trouble with one of my spark plugs. There was a full service station still there back then, and he sold me some like new wires that he had just exchanged in a car like mine for some fancy colored wires. He charged me like $5 bucks labor and gave me the plug wires for free and got my ride running right. So since that act of generosity, I've had a special place in my heart for Meridian.

It's in Bosque County, and it's worth a visit, even if you're not going trout fishing.

I'll be writing more about some favorite trout tactics of mine for stocked rainbows in Texas in future posts. Get ready, fisherman, the trout are coming.


We did some driving and shopping and relaxing this weekend by taking a Hill Country drive, up Highway 71 west of Austin near Llano. We crossed the Perdenales River both ways, and I am sad to report that it is but a ghost of it's former self, despite all of the recent rain. It was a small channel running through the middle of it's river bed, with the dry boathouses and docks and piers many yards away from the water, perched precariously in some cases on uneven river bottom.

I went on a winter camping trip with Billy Ray and El Fishing Musician Jr. in January of 2008, and it was strong running and full then. I thought about how nice it'd be to rent one of the river houses there near the Hwy. 71 bridge or thereabouts that had a pier or a boathouse for some night fishing. Then came the droughts of 2008 and 2009 and there you have it.

A good friend, a lawyer but still a believeable individual, reported taking a trip to the eastern side of the lake, to the Eagles place that normally has the lake and river cruises that in winter and spring often spot the wintering bald eagles near the river. My friend said the lake was all but dry, consisting of puddles where he was at in the river channel, and that it too was a ghost of it's former self.

My recent trip up to East Texas showed water water everywhere. On the other hand, Central and West Texas and the Hill Country, among other areas, were just hit so damn hard this summer with the drought. Many of these areas have been geting a good bit of rain the past few days.

A cool blog

I'm always looking for interesting blogs to read. What I find interesting varies greatly, as I'm sure it does with other blog readers.

One commenter Freg shares my obsession for Rory Gallagher and has a blog that features some Rory posts. I read a bit of the first page and plan to return for some further reading.

You can find it at Maybe Freg will stop by and share some more cool Rory stuff. In any event, just another cool blog to cruise by.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I took a road trip last weekend and visited a friend who lives "Behind the Pine Curtain" that is that unique area of Texas known as East Texas (note: in my world, since Texas is such an ass-kicking state, various regions of the State deserve capitalization, a'la West Texas, Panhandle, Gulf Coast, the get the idea).

My friends name is El Bar, and he hails from Houston. Like many of my close friends, he's about ten years older than I am. Many years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I fell in with a large group of Houston musicians, artists and various creative-persona types. Many of us have stayed friends over the years, and El Bar is one of the closest friends I have. El Bar's chief running buddy, Woody Oakes, is an old friend of mine and Woody and I have played in many bands together since the mid-1980's.

El Bar and I began playing in bands together about 20 years ago. He and Woody had been friends since the early 1970's. Like me, El Bar has a huge circle of friends from all walks of life, and so many of his good friends have become, over the last 20 or so years, my good friends as well.

So last week yet another of El Bar's friends also visited him, namely, The Chef. The Chef, or "Chef" as we call him, is a famous and reknowned chef from Houston. Like El Bar, myself and Woody, he too is a Houston native. We all have a lot in common. A love for the blues and lots of other types of music, a love of guns and shooting and fishing. We have a passion for good Mexican food and each of us is a pretty good storyteller. Some of us are even funny mo-fos.

So the Chef and I spent the weekend checking out El Bar's country castle on a nice piece of property. I don't know whether to call it a farm or a ranch, because he does neither at this time. He just relaxes and is enjoying his retirement and playing music in bands in his area. He's a Houston refugee, and more and more of my friends are bailing on Houston and heading to other parts of the state, with a few heading to other states.

It was nice and green and the ponds and tanks and creeks and rivers I passed along the way were full as well. I took the backroads up to East Texas, opting to go a little out of my way past Bryan and getting on 79 there and taking 79 all the way to where El Bar lives. Past I-45 on 79, heading northwest past Buffalo, it was REALLY green, and there was water water everywhere. A big change from my recent journeys this past summer through Central Texas and the Hill Country.

We did lots of shooting of a wide variety of weapons, using the targets that register hits with a colored dot. Rifles, pistols and even a shotgun, .45 caliber and .38 super autos were the big shooters of the weekend. It was really windy all weekend, and the reports from all the local lakes was that they were full of big chop soup, so we didn't take El Bar's new bass boat out for a spin. El Bar drives a Honda Element normally, and he had to buy a used Suburban just to be able to tow his new boat.

So be it. We're ready to go to El Bar's house and do some big fishing in the future. He's right in the catbird seat literally being near Lake Palestine, and he's in striking distance to at least 6 or 7 GREAT fishing lakes with good stuff going on right now.

We didn't do much running around town. We all did a lot of reminiscing and music listening and watched several very interesting Jeff Beck concerts on DVD. I'm more a Clapton or Gallagher or Page or Peter Green man myself, but there are highlights to any Jeff Beck concert. I particularly like the songs from the "Blow by Blow" album, and it's been a favorite of mine since it came out.

El Bar is going through a Jeff Beck phase right now, in his guitar playing and in his music listening. In the car, we listened to Jeff Beck. At the house, Jeff Beck played both indoors and outdoors at the home fairly constantly. Out by the pool, his small outdoor Bose speakers really sounded great. I have a pair of those as well, and they are quite the outdoor speaker.

It came time that I had to leave, and as usual when my friends and I travel to meet each other over this broad expanse of state, the drive back is enjoyable but sort of a let down because you're headed back to the working week. Although I greatly enjoy my job, I would rather be fishing and shooting and hanging out at a good friend's place, surrounded by other good friends, remembering some of our glory days together 20 and 30 years ago.

Music Concert DVD's El Fisho is waiting on

There are several music DVD's that I am awaiting the release of. I have, perhaps, 20 or so different concert videos by different bands. I'm not a huge buyer of them, but occasionally I see one of a band I really like or a particular concert tour that is supposed to be just great and I buy it.

I'm waiting for the Led Zeppelin reunion H2 concert dvd to be released. Likewise, the reunion dvd of the Austin, Texas Arc Angels band is anxiously awaited by me. Those two bands have announced that dvd's are forthcoming but as of the last time I checked, there was no certain release date yet.

I'm hoping that the reconstituted Jane's Addiction will release a concert dvd with the original lineup, meaning with Eric Avery on bass.

If anyone has any music dvd's that they are awaiting to be released, let us know about them in the comments section.

Wynton Marsalis, The Blues and Race

An excellent short essay by Wynton Marsalis regarding the blues and race and it appears today on CNN. It's a three minute read and is excellent.

I like the part where he compares rap to minstrel shows.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More about drummer Rod De'Ath

At this blog post a while back, I discussed Rod De'ath: My Favorite Rory Gallagher drummer . In that post, I indicated how I'd like to find out what has happened to Rod in the intervening years. There are various stories on the internet, including the obligatory death rumors, but I wanted to just throw some things out there in hopes some reader will set me straight on Rod and what happened to him.

For example, I found a blog history here at of a band called Downliner's Sect, which Rod joined in 1981. The article implies that he might had continued playing with the band for a few years, but doesn't say when he left the band. It goes on to say that by the late 80's Rod had "disappeared" and was presumed dead.

For years throughout the late 90's and 2000's, I would occasionally do a search to see if there was any new info on Rod De'Ath. In 2008, I found it here at

Here's an interview with Rod at that was apparently done in 1996. Since then, I've been able to find out nothing on what has happened to Rod in the intervening 13 years.

Along with playing with Downliner's Sect, he also did a couple of albums with his former Rory bandmate Lou Martin in a band called Ramrod. He also arranged a Screamin' Lord Sutch album. At some point he moved to America, living in New York City and got married and had a child.

According to these articles and interviews, Rod had then some sort of accident in which he lost an eye, was in an extended coma and suffered total memory loss. As of the interview of 1996, he said he had regained 95% of his memory.

This page talks about a book by Gerry McAvoy, longtime bassist for Rory.


I thought I'd start a new feature here called Album (or Band) of the Week, and take a bit of time to talk about one of my favorites. If you've read this blog at all, you know I'm a Rory fanatic. He was an Irish strat guitarslinger, and he was right up there with the best of them. Although he sold (and continues to sell) millions of albums, he never had the international or American fame of those famous blues/rock guitarslingers like Clapton, Beck, Page or Stevie Ray. I never heard Rory on any radio station except the public and university channels, and he was never a darling of MTV.
But oh how he rocks my philsoul when he is rocking out. And one of the best two disc introductions to Rory is the BBC SESSIONS cd set, produced by his loving brother Donal on Buddah records in 1999. One disc is live tunes recorded in concert on BBC, and the other cd is tunes done in the BBC studios. Several Rory drummers are featured, but most prominent on both discs is one of my favorite drummers, Rod De'Ath.
Sometime in the 1990's, I began seeing "BBC SESSIONS" cd's of great bands appear at Best Buy. I remember buying the Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin versions, and of course they are just excellent. This one is no exception. The sound quality is excellent, even though a few of the tunes were remixed from mono recordings. Most of the tunes were recorded in stereo or with a multi-track, but overall the production and sound is top notch.
It doesn't contain several great person Rory favorites of mine like Tattoo'd Lady or several others, but no matter, since it has some really killer versions of songs like Used to be, Garbage man and so many others.
My personal favorite is What in the world, which features a killer drum sound on DeAth's drums. In contrast with many of his peers at the time who favorited the muted tom sound, Rod has those drums running wide open with lots of sustain and they really ring through on his short interludes between parts of the songs. You can really hear them ring free, and I dig that. I like drums with lots of sustain.
Of course, the sound enginner has a lot to do with the sound of mic'd drums, and the BBC enginner who recorded What in the world was at the top of his/her game that day, I'll tell you.
I once, I say once, got a sound that nice out of drums myself doing a club gig. It was in 2003 at the old Rhythm Room on Washington, backing a singer-songwriter named Elizabeth White. Elizabeth had some really great originals, and it was sorta a folk-rock band with a blues lead guitarist. It worked well. I recorded the gig and it was just fantastic, especially due to the fact that it was a throw down band put together a few weeks before the gig.
So the Rory BBC Sessions is a good introduction to Rory. Of course, I'll be making some other Rory recommendations, or you can hit some of the Rory forums out there and see what other folks have to say about what albums of his they like.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Reagan Wells is a small community located about 25 miles to the north of Uvalde, and just to the west of Garner State Park and the other Frio River lodging legends in that area. It's located on Ranch Road 1051, and it crosses the Dry Fork of the Frio River at several low water crossings.

Here's a nice page that has some good pictures of the River and the terrain.

In good years, the Dry Fork of the Frio is anything but. I've seen it when it was a strong running stream with water crossing over the low water crossings.

About 10 years ago Ms. El Fisho and I were looking for a weekend cabin in a nice place on a small amount of acreage and near some sort of fishing water. We went to Reagan Wells to look at a nice cabin located on an elevated piece of property on a very high bluff over looking the Dry Fork of the Frio. It was reasonably priced, and sat on five acres overlooking the river. It was at least 60 feet about the river, so any flooding chances were remote.

It looked to me like the perfect place. Although in that semi-desert and more barren lower Hill Country, there were quite a few trees on this property. There are springs and wells all over Reagan Wells, meaning plentiful water most of the time, and for several decades in the early 1900's the area had a health spa touting the healing waters of the springs and wells in the community.

In any event, the fatal flaw in the plan was the fact that the place, and indeed, Reagan Wells, was located on a dead end RR that had either two or three low water crossings that had to be crossed to get back to Uvalde or to roads that connected to the main highways in the area.

I found out just how strongly Ms. El Fisho felt about low water crossings. She doesn't like them, she will not drive over them and she damn sure will not own property that involves driving over one or more to get to it.

I suspect that in a flooding rain the crossings would be absolutely impassable for those folks who live in Reagan Wells, meaning no way out of the area in a flood except by helicopter. You'd have to keep a several week supply of food and water and the like in case a big flood came, trapping the folks there in their homes.

So after that idea was nixed, we looked at several places in the area surrounding Bandera, along some of the small creeks that feed the Medina River. Again, we found some nice, quaint and pretty cabins and small houses along small acreage fronting rivers and creeks. Of course, we are interested only in those that are high enough to keep from getting flooded.

Again, the curse of the low water crossing. This area is in the large but somewhat nebulous part of Texas referred to "As the Country of 1100 Springs". There are creeks and streams and rivers all over the place. Alas, all of the places we could afford and that we liked required crossing at least one low water crossing to get to.

So that was the end of trying to find a weekend cabin in the Hill Country with some live water flowing through it. Any of the places we could afford were in low lying areas that had flooded and would flood again. Finding an affordable place required at least one low water crossing, and I can tell you we're at an impasse on this issue. There is no negotiation.

So since the chances are slim to none that I can ever convince Mrs. El Fisho to move or even weekend in that area, I'll give up this little secret place of paradise. The Hill Country can be quite dramatic, and I think the elevation of this area is in the 1400' range. The availability of live water makes this little area unique. It is isolated and sparsely populated. I suspect it is a hunter's paradise as well, having seen numerous deer while there during the daytime.

It's a great drive to hit the Ranch Road to Reagan Wells and the side roads once you get there and it's really a dramatically beautiful part of Texas. Bring the camera, or better yet, bring the fishing rod and fish off of the low water crossings. Beetle Spins work pretty well, as do spinners. When the fish are deep, streamers and nymphs work well also, but you have to get them deep.


Mrs. El Fisho and I have been spending much time the last few years trying to figure out our next move. It may even be before retirement, which means the added complication of finding a place where we can both work in our respective fields. We love Texas, of course, and even though I'm a fifth generation Texan, I wouldn't mind having a place in a another vastly differently clime.

I was born and raised (or reared, as my Father would have said) in Houston, where at most times between May and September, the humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I never really thought anything of the humidity in Houston until my early twenties when I first visited California, the Golden State. I spent the day at the beach, fishing and surfing and generally doing lots of physical activity. I was barely sweating at all, and at the end of the day my face wasn't oily like it always was from the humidity in Houston.

Even since that two week trip to California in 1982, my life has never been the same as far as tolerating humidity. Sure, I've done tons of fishing and camping and boating and other outdoors stuff a lot since that California trip, but all of a sudden, I really noticed the humidity.

So I'll always have a place in Texas, someplace to call home, but like one of my recently retired friends did, I'd like to do at least summers in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps in Washington state. Although I've never been there, the wife likes that area and after doing a lot of research on towns and areas and various educational and social type issues, it's got a lot of nice possibilities.

I have a longtime friend who is a Tacoma native, so I know a lot about living there. A retired Texas judge friend and mentor who moved there a few years ago just loves it, and has a very interesting (non-lawyer type work) business that is quite productive. I'm attracted to Washington for the varied and prolific fishing opportunities. Another Judge friend of mine travels there regularly to fish for all kinds of cool and big fighting fish with his friend who lives there, and we're discussing me going on a trip with him to fish both inland trout streams and salmon rivers as well as one of the large bays.

Mrs. El Fisho just loves Port Aransas, but I'm wary of a making a permanent home in hurricane prone zone. The question is not if another hurricane will hit Port A, it is when. And how bad it will be. I do love my Port A fishing. In the surf and bays. Offshore. It is often fabulous.

So where would you like to retire? What kinds of things to you want your retirement locale to have?


I want to start giving some shout outs on this blog to some of the GREAT companies that are located her in Texas. Companies in our state need to be supported by us Texans, or for that matter, for friends anywhere in the world who like Texans and Texas. Buy local, think globally.

I don't play the steel guitar, but I've been in a couple of musical outfits over the years that featured steel guitars, particularly pedal steel guitars. I grew up being "subjected" to classic 1960's and 1970's country and western (Yes, both kinds of music, country AND western) by my Father. Whereas I wanted to listen to rock, soul and pop music while traveling in the car, my Father favored C&W. He once referred to Robert Plant as "That fella sounds like someone is squeezing his testicles with a pair of pliers", which pretty clearly conveyed what he thought about Led Zeppelin.

But soon into my live music playing days, I would often be involved in a band or project that at some point played some classic country song. As I said, on several occasions I did gigs and played in bands that had a steel guitar player. In high school, a talented multi-instrumentalist down the street could not only play (and play well) the pedal steel, the guitar, a Leslie equipped B-3 Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes electric piano, he could totally rock on alto, tenor baritone and soprano saxophone. So I used to hear this well-equipped and super talented friend wail on the steel on occasion.

Carter Steel Guitars is located in Mesquite, Texas. Their founder, Bud Carter, was recently inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. You can go to to find out more about this great company. I don't own one of their products, but one day I'd like to get a "Carter Starter", an entry level steel guitar with three pedals and four knee levers. It's not an inexpensive proposition, when you have to also get an appropriate amp to get a decent sound going on and a few other accessories. But maybe one day...

Carter makes some high end steel guitars. Many famous stars play them. I flattered that they make their home in our state, and want to urge readers and musicians to support this Texas owned company if you're considering a pedal steel purchase.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I've carried a gun for many years, first as an officer and later as a citizen with a concealed hangun license (CHL). Over the past near 30 years of gun carrying, I've had my favorites which all have their own advantages and disadvantages. For those of you new to having a CHL, or for those law officers out there who carry, I present my top ten concealed carry gun selections (in no particular order).

Your favorite gun might not be on this list. That's because it's MY list. Be sure to comment and tell me your favorite carry or duty or self defense gun. We can all benefit from this discourse on fine handguns.


I know non-law enforcement folks who carry, as a concealed carry weapon (CCW), a single action revolver, usually a Colt, Ruger or other western style revolver. The disadvantage, of course, is the extremely slow reloading of this pistol, should that become necessary. It is made in powerful cartridges like the .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and Special and .45 Long Colt as well as in unique calibers like the .44-.40.

Most of the folks I know who carry a single action pistol as a defense weapon are enamored with the old west. I've owned a few single action pistols, but never felt like carrying one off duty or as a CCW.


So many, it seems, in this day and age of double action high capacity autos like the Sig, Glock and others have forgotten about the original high capacity 9mm of John Browning design. Here, I'm talking about the single action variety, not the later modified double action version.

In the 1960's and 1970's, plainclothes cops like Serpico carried the Hi-Power to augment their five shot S&W J-frames or six shot Colt Detective Specials. It's a highly accurate pistol with a nice low recoil. It feels good in the hand, but for concealed carry it's probably only an option in colder weather when it could be concealed under a heavy coat or if you're wearing several untucked larger shirts. Similar guns would include full-size .45 Government and Gold and their variants.


The Walther PPK is perhaps the best known of the James Bond movie guns, but it's roots go way back to WWII as an officers gun. It has a bit of a bite in it's kick, but it's accurate and safe. A double action, it has a manual safety so that it can be very safely carried with a round in the chamber. It's a bit bigger than the current micro-380s made by Kahr, Kel-Tec and others, but the solid feel of the Walther, the high reliability factor and the accurate shooting it is capable of have endeared it to generations of shooters and those who carry guns daily.

It's drawback, of course, is it's small caliber. But back in the day, this was one of the smaller pistols that was considered reliable to carry. It has much competition now, and the newly introduced Sig single action is destined to be a legendary gun, as with the old generation Sig double action .380. Any of these weapons would make an excellent carry gun if small size is the controlling factor.

In hotter and more humid climates, a .380 or a J frame are often the only reasonable choice for off-duty or CHL carry in the summers.


Sig enjoys a big following in both law enforcement and CCH circles. They manufacture a several compact autos shooting calibers such as 9mm, .40, .357Sig and .45 calibers. They are very well made, if not a little heavy compared to some of the competition, but are extremely reliable and accurate. You can't go wrong with a Sig.


The Colt Commander and Officer's models, as well as the multitude of variants such as the Para Ordinance, Detonics (back in the day) and the many other brands of compact 1911 based pistols. The lightweight Commander and Officer are old favorites, and new custom pistols like the Kimber Ultra CDP are state of the art as far as compact combat 1911's are concerned.

If you don't mind carrying a big bore pistol right next to your body in a cocked and locked position (the only safe position for a 1911 and the way the gun was designed by John Browning to be carried), then there are tons of quality 1911 compact variants on the market today, from reasonably priced to very high priced.


Known as a squeeze cocker for it's unique cocking level located in the handgrip, I've always felt safe carrying this pistol. I'm not a huge 9mm fan but the safety and thin nature of this gun, as well as the accurate shooting with low recoil, renders it a big favorite of mine.

It's too bad no other company has come forth with a lighter weight model of this design. The P7 only weighs 25 oz unloaded, but due to the design and weight distribution it seems heavier than that to me. I would have guessed it weighed 30 oz or so.


The Glock family in the standard size and the compact sizes are clearly popular with both law enforcement and the CCW crowd. Reliable, light weight and highly accurate render them an excellent carry weapon.

They are a bit thick in the grip, except for the Model 36 mentioned below, but the compact models are readily concealable despite the larger grip diameter. Grip adapters made on longer magazines are available to extend the length of the grip on the compact models, as most hands are just a bit large.


This relatively new weapon shoots five rounds of either .45 Long Colt or .410 shotshells. Different models either shoot the regular or magnum .410 shells. For home defense it's a perfect weapon, although most of my friends who own one of these carry it in the field for snake control while hunting and fishing. It's a bit large for concealed carry for most of us, but when loaded with anything from a 00Buck to a #4 shotshell, it's going to blow an extra large hole in whatever it hits with low risk of over-penetration.

I haven't shot one yet but I'm guessing it kicks quite a bit. El Fisho's fishing/snake gun for the past 25 years has been a Thompson-Contender in .45LC/.410 and it kicks like hell with a .410 magnum shell. Even experienced shooters find the recoil of my TC unpleasant. Still, it's basically a legal sawed off shotgun and again, in a home defense scenario, is sure to stop whatever it hits with small risk of pellets going into unintended targets.


My first snubby, bought days after graduating from the academy, was a NIB chrome Colt Cobra lightweight snubnose revolver in .38 special. It remains one of my favorite carry guns. Six rounds in a reliable Colt revolver. For me, it's much more accurate at longer distances (10 to 25 yards) than any of my J frames, and it looks cool as hell. Watch the original version of Shaft and see what he carries (one of these). Now out of production, fine examples can be found for around $600, which is what you'll pay for a new J frame. A close relative to this pistol is the excellent Colt Diamondback, which is basically a mini-Python in .38 special with a ribbed barrel.


It has one shot less than the Colt Detective Special/Cobra pistols, but that one less round equals an extremely concealable gun. From the Chief's Special to the Centennial to the Bodyguard, it's a reliable powerhouse in self-defense. It's reliable and with minimal training, it's nearly a foolproof gun to carry and shoot. The lightweight versions weigh under 15 ounces and are popular with El Fisho for CCW. I personally prefer the Bodyguard airweight. What's your favorite J frame?


My favorite Glock and my favorite carry gun. It's a slimline, single stack magazine .45 that weighs 20 oz. empty. It is easily concealable and holds 7 rounds. It suffers from the same larger slide that other Glocks do, but again, for what it is, it's tiny.

What's more, the recoil is very low for a small pistol shooting a .45 auto cartridge. I've shot many .380's that recoil more than the Glock 36, and I've never shot a .45 with as easy of recoil as the Model 36. The substantially larger Model 21 full size .45 kicks alot more.

The Model 36 doesn't so much kick as it does push with a slight barrel rise. When shooting low recoil ammo, it's even less. But unlike many compact autos, it's a pleasure to shoot. Of course, like other Glocks, it's strong suites are reliability and accuracy. It seems to feed whatever is fed it with no jams or misfeeds.


One of my favorite pistols in the world is the Heckler and Koch P7M8, the squeeze-cocker 9mm that is a mighty fine shooting pistol. I always felt very safe carrying a P7, as we called them in the early 80's. It was a bit heavy for my liking, but a check on the weight shows they only weigh 25 oz, which in the pistol world qualified back then as light weight for a 9mm auto.

This fine gun is out of production. But I want to urge H&K to redesign some of the materials used in the weapon and get that weight lowered and start making this bad boy again. With some of the alloys in use in today's modern lightweight pistols, I am sure that your fine company could get the weight down under 20 oz. unloaded.

Your company makes some fine pistols. But I think you should do some materials redesign and make this pistol the shooting machine for concealed carry that it could be. A frame made of a composite material a'la Glock would also be very cool. Whatever.

It's just a shame that one of the finest pistols ever made is no longer in production. Yeah, they're readily available used for $1k and more right now, but really, reconsider making the P7M8 again. It's a helluva pistol, and I really think you owe it to the shooting public and the group of fans of this weapon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This One's For You, Coffee Cigar Donut man.

I know you've been having some heavy duty stuff going on lately, and I miss your musings.

In other posts I've written about one of my favorite guitarists, Rory Gallagher. The irish muse that fueled his playing and songs is very powerful to me.

I had a friend named Joyce who passed several years ago with a brain tumor. Like so many of my friends, she was about 10 years older than I was. I played in her band in Houston for a year or so, and we remained good friends thereafter. She was a marvelous singer, songwriter and guitarist, and like me she loved some of them well-played heart wrenching guitar blues.

I remember a time when my dear friend Joyce said, while introducing a sad epic of a blues tune called "Reconsider Baby", that listening to the sad old blues could make you happy, for some strange reason. The power of song.

So here's some links to some heartache music to cure that heartbreak, or at least make it better.

Sending postive vibes your way, dude. Here's a tune I listened to today on the BBC 2 disc set of Rory Gallagher, a tune called "What in the world". I hope it has a curative effect. This is a nice live version from 1982 with great sound.

There are two other songs that even holds a candle to this masterpiece of Rory's for heart breaking blues.

One is the Led Zeppelin classic "Since I've been loving you" with Jimmy Page sending out riffs of heartache and heartbreak. Here's a version from 1973 with ok sound.

The other song that for sure belongs in this catagory is Jeff Beck's "Cause we've ended as lovers". Although the killer version on the "Blow by Blow" album is hard to beat, here's a version 30+ years after the original with the stellar band consisting of young Australian bass virtuoso Tal Wilkenfeld, the imcomparable Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Jason Rebello on keys.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The Simmons drum pads eventually contributed to the demise of the popularity of the kit. The first generation pads featured a hard plastic playing surface, which was advertised at the time to be the same perspex that police riot shields were made of. It led to claims of wrist tendon injuries by some players, and it had a loud clacky sound.

The second generation of pads had the same cool external shape as the originals, but had a softer rubber playing surface. Somewhat softer, but there was a trade off in trigger sensitivity. The second generation pads were just a thin piece of rubber on top of a plywood board. The middle of the plywood board had a hole in it, in which was mounted via silicone caulk a cheap piezo transducer.

It was a vast playing improvement in comfort, however, over the harder original pads. It would be interesting to see with some of the high tech rubber compounds we now have just how comfortable a Simmons pad could be with a better covering.

In any event, when I played a hybrid setup, with the Simmons toms and snare and an acoustic bass drum and snare, one big advantage was the slim nature of the tom pads. The tom pads could be placed very low over the bass drum, meaning more dexterity for me as a drummer. Often times, I played a basic 4 piece acoustic kit with a couple of Simmons tom pads over the acoustic toms and I'd put the Simmons snare pad to the left of the high hat for some variety in sounds.

Many drummers were doing this long before I was. Many studio recordings had similar setups, and often had the acoustic bass drum and snare also triggering the respective electronic sounds. Many touring bands, the big ones, augmented their drum kits with a few electronic pads to again add some different sounds. As technology improved, these bands with lots of equipment bucks could trigger edrums sounds off of the microphone impulses of the acoustic drums, thus removing the electronic drum pads from the stage.


I'm having problems with spacing sometimes, and I apologize for it. I'm working on it.

So as I mentioned in Part One, I fell for the whole Simmons drum thing. Part of it was, I really liked that one signature Simmons sound, the reverb-y, echo-ey thunderous tom tom sound. For effect and for occasional use, the bass drum and snare drum were good, but like many other drummers using Simmons, I tried to use an acoustic bass and snare whenever possible during live gigs, using the toms since that was the sound that most of the bands wanted anyway, just the toms. The electronic bass and snare were cool, but couldn't give the variety most drummers and indeed, most bands, want coming out of the drum section.

Dynamics was a large part of this. Although thunderous tom fills (usually when no singing is going on) are cool, the dynamic range of early e-drums like the Simmons was very limited, and not anywhere near that of an acoustic bass or snare.

I was lucky to be living in Houston then, where Simmons Rep and Clinician Tim "Texas Tim" Root worked at The Drum Shop on West Alabama. The Drum Shop was big into selling the Simmons line, and I got lots of opportunities to play around on them. I thought they were "cool", and lots of other people did too.

They were highly expensive for the time, say 1983 and 1984. Several thousand dollars for an early basic kit, the SDSV. Soon came the much more expensive SDS7.

In 1984 or so, I ran into a rockabilly drummer hit upon hard times and got the set in a trade for a Ludwig kit that I had put together with some mismatched drums. The Rockabilly drummer got a paying road gig with a band that wanted real drums and since he had to leave immediately for one of the coasts and needed a set THAT NIGHT, I traded him a mismatched (but very cool sounding) Ludwig kit in larger sizes.

The SDSV's were the most reliable set of Simmons that were made, closely followed by the SDS 1000 and the SDS 8. Although vastly different units, each feature "That Simmons Sound" program, and really, if you were playing the Simmons drums because you had to in order to get the gig (many working bands demanded them or even provided them), you just wanted mainly the main program.

The SDSV featured 4 voices, but really only the voice known as That Simmons Sound" was the good one. The others were weird and often wacky. Wacky has no place in drumming, or at least, not in my drumming.

So because the SDSV had hardwired circuits that provided and made the analog electronic sound converted from the strike of the drumstick, their memory was stable.

I later owned an SDS7 that had crashed on the original owner several times during live shows. He was a union drummer who had to put on a "pro level" show and an edrum rig crashing and failing in the middle of a gig was unacceptable. It crashed one last time and I got it broken for something like $50. I sent it off to Simmons and got it repaired but to me the flaw of the SDS7 was that it's digital memory was highly volitile. You could, if I recall correctly, use sound chips in the modules but the electronics of them never seemed to work right.

I played in one band that had bought their own SDS7 drumkit for their home studio. It failed again and again. The ones I saw at The Drum Shop always seemed to work great, and really made some good sounds. But the one I owned and the band I knew that had one had repeated crashes with them.

So after the second repair, I did another trade for an SDS 8 (entry level kit) and an SDS9. The SDS9 cost twice what the SDS8 did, but I never did like most of the voices on the SDS9. It worked flawlessly, but it didn't have "That Simmons Sound", instead it was intended to be some kind of electronic imitator of a real drum kit.

The SDS 8 was the entry level kit, yet featured a non-software based memory like the SDSV and later SDS1000. The SDS8 featured "That Simmons Sound" and one other, as I recall. Which was really all you needed. The SDS1000 came along later, with the SDS1000M model having midi.

The SDS1000M was the optimum Simmons drum kit. As I recall, you had several sounds, but all you really needed was "That Simmons Sound". And it had that. And because it was an upgrade from the SDS8, it had a fuller, richer sound. Because it had midi, you could midi it together with drum machines, samplers and keyboards to create unique drum sounds. Or use it by itself.

At about this time, in the late 1980's, samplers had largely replaced the sound modules by Simmons and a few others as the sound sources for electronic drummers. Often kits would midi together numerous sound sources to their drums, leading to elaborate mixing systems and midi mixers and the like. El Complicatedo.

Simmons went out of business sometime in the early 1990's. I kept several of the Simmons kits boxed up at the folks house in my old closet. Climate controlled. They weathered the years well. But when I started playing them again in the late 1990's, I found I needed some repair parts.

Piezo transducers were easy enough to find at Radio Shack, but other parts had to come from Simmons. Through a habit of saving old Modern Drummer magazines, I found an ad from the early 1990's from a California guy who was a former Simmons employees and who had bought the remaining stock and repair inventory from Simmons.

In any event, at about that same time, a friend of mine who owned a music store had a box of "broken" pads and stands and an SDS1000m brain that had been in his back room for 10 years or more. I got it real cheap, and quickly fixed all the wiring problems and they worked like a champ thereafter.

I have an EMU procussion unit now, and it has "That Simmons Sound" when I need it. I still think that the merger of acoustic drums and electronic drums is a very cool thing to do, and I like to do it myself.

It's nice to have options.


In the 1980's, I bought into the whole Simmons drum thing hook, line and sinker. Over the years, I owned several sets (SDSV, SDS7, SDS8, SDS9 and a SDS1000M(idi). Most of them I bought at a great bargain. I was working in lots of bands in Houston in the 1980's and playing as much music in my spare time as my employed and going to school single lifestyle would let me. Which was a lot.
For a lot of the working bands that were playing clubs, it was cover music, and much of the popular rock, soul, r&b and jazz songs had Simmons drums in them. If you don't know much about the history of Simmons, the wiki link will tell you what you need to know. There's some links at the bottom of the wiki page to some sites with lots more historical information about the company and the products.
More in Part Two about Simmons.