Saturday, July 31, 2010


I've been thinking about a trip to the Golden State quite a lot lately. I've got business in L.A. I need to take care of, and a slight detour up the Eastern side of the Sierras yields virtually endless fishing opportunities for trout, particularly The Golden Trout.

More likely I'd catch a hybrid Golden, but no matter. Or even if I catch a rainbow or other variety, that would be fine too. Goldens are generally tiny that I've seen caught, but there are some big fish out there.

I'm thinking I could hit LA about 8 A.M., get the rent car, have my business taken care in a couple of hours and hit the freeways heading north and east. The main place I rent cars in LA does rent Wranglers for a reasonable price, and it can be dropped off in Reno or Lake Tahoe or where ever the nearest airport is I could fly out of after the fishing trip.

There's tons of places, both accessible and remote, for fishing in the Eastern Sierras. There are several creeks near small towns that I've been wanting to fish, and the motels in the area are reasonable.

There are public access land with 4wd only roads leading to creeks and lakes that are, I am told, relatively uncrowded and many are stocked with fish every summer by the State. The roads are not bad but 4wd can be needed for some difficult spots, but it's novice level four wheeling to get to the places I want to go.

You have to hike into the high mountain lakes, the ones I'd like to fish, but I don't have near enough time for this trip for the extra days required for hiking to get to the interesting lakes in the Golden Trout Wilderness. But I have that down as a soon soon future trip to take with El Fisho Jr and maybe Billy Ray.

This trip might be solo, and I'd take the following gear:

1. my normal Orvis Frequent Flyer 6 wt rod
2. fly reel with interchangeable spool
3. Fenwick travel spinning rod ultralight
4. Shakespeare 2052 spinning reel.
5. Zebco medium light action spincasting travel rod
6. Abu-Matic 170 spincasting reel

I could do a lot of different kinds of fishing with that small amount of gear, and a;; of it would easily fit in my current rucksack/backpack with tons of room to spare for other items. All of the other fishing tackle stuff plus other gear, lunch and water can fit in my bag for short hikes to some nice, tranquil meadow streams I've been wanting to fish for decades.

I could likely eliminate the spincasting stuff, but I think it would be useful to get some casting distance on the 4wd driveable high mountain lakes where fish might be congregating in the deeper parts of the lake. Also, if there are any situations where natural bait fishing are allowed, the spincast rig is perfect for that.

A shoulder bag with fly boxes and a box of spinning/spincasting lures, some composite needle nose pliers, a red plastic hook remover and a few other items. The shoulder bag can easily clip onto the rear of my rucksack via d-rings, straps and small caribiners. I'd carry pretty much my entire fly array, save the saltwater flies, including streamers. The extra fly reel spool would contain a sinking tip line in case the fish were deep down.

A small first aid kit, snake bit kit sans razor blade (carry on, remember), flashlight and extra batteries, handheld backcountry GPS unit and batteries, MAPS AND COMPASS and an SOS inflatable life vest with manual inflate option (sans the CO2 cartridge which I believe won't get through carry on).

As per usual when fishing in California with carry on luggage restrictions, I'm going to buy a lighter in case a fire needs starting and a knife for fishing and protection. With so many gas stations and convenience stores selling cheap knives that have decent sharp blades if bait needs cutting, and the last knife I bought on a trip was a fixed 4" blade sharp as any expensive knife I've owned that was branded as a JEEP mini survival knife, a great nice rubberized handle and it cost $3.95.

I carry a medium sized bubble envelope with me with some dollar and regular stamps and mail it home after the fishing trip since carry on keeps it from coming with me. I can always get a hotel or motel to weigh it on their postal scale or just over estimate and mail it home. Any knives or the like that I might buy on a trip but that carry on prohibits but the US Mail allows can get mailed.

You've got to have a knife when fishing, and on other occasions I stopped a dollar store and got a ginsu cutting knife going for .99 cents. I fished at the Malibu and Santa Monica piers, and left the knife as a gift with a nice elderly couple who was fishing for food and were giving me tips on rigging and fishing for halibut, which were biting at the time.

I usually take with me an empty Tandy Leather Company knife shealth I built from a kit years ago. It fits an amazing variety of knives, even though I wet molded it to fit a certain type of lockblade folding tanto knife that I wanted to use as a belt knife on fishing trips, carrying it in the open locked position, and didn't have a shealth for it.

Likewise, I like having pliers when fishing, and my "mystery of origin or manufacture" composite pliers of which I can seemingly find no mention on the internets are a great carry on companion for fishing. With those extremely lightweight pliers, which float due to rubber on the handles, fish can be grasped gently by the jaw and the traditional red plastic hook remover gets the hook out so the fish can be gently released. I find with careful use of these pliers, I don't get my hand on the exterior of the fish, thus not messing with the delicate viscious type slime covering and scales protecting the skin of the fish from disease.

I'll mention at this point that one friend of mine who went High Country Golden Trout fishing in the Golden Trout Wilderness himself, taking days to hike into the high and hard to reach lakes and streams that are stocked via water-dropping fire fighting type planes. Some of these pristine hard to reach areas still contain native puer Goldens, untouched by the DNA of Rainbows or other trout. Most of the pictures of these tiny Goldens show fishing caught on 2 to 4 weight fly rods or 2 to 4 pound test spinning line. Tiny reels and lures and flies.

But I'll be fishing in the lower altitudes, not up in the high mountain Sierra wilderness. Hopefully, and there's a good chance before August is over, I could be dipping a line in some Eastern Sierra waters.


First of all, since I'm not fancy and imbedding video links here, here's an old school link to a recent Michael Landau show featuring Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. It's great blues playing, and Abe is a groove drummer, so he has no problem with it. Look how happy Abe looks when he is playing.

You can also see Abe playing with the early 2000's live BACK IN THE U.S. DVD of Paul McCartney's world tour. Great drumming throughout, and Abe's been playing behind Macca for about the last decade, and that's a mighty good gig to have.

You've probably saw him playing with Macca at the Superbowl halftime a few years back. He's a big feller and plays a HUGE BASS DRUM and according to friends of mine who are also studio and touring musicians and run in some of the same professional circles as Abe when they are at home in L.A., he's a super nice fellow with no star ego or complex happening. He's there to play, and for the fellowship as he can often be found gigging in places like THE BAKED POTATO or the few other great live places that book itenerent conglomerations or one-off bands of famous working musicians banding together for irregular gigs when their main gigs are not working.

Two of my guitar-slinger friends who have been out there beating a living out of the L.A. music scene for twenty and thirty years respectively have worked with him often and have nothing but praise for his playing and his easy going self. He's there for the music and has fun with the music and is a great player and a monster groove drummer.

In addition to that, Abe does session work with lots of groups, and has been part of a few interesting part time groups as well. I've even got a CD of a working band he was in years ago when he attended Berkley.

Abe often favors kits with 26" or 28" bass drums with 18" diameters. Dat's a big arse bass drum. Most guys like me in working bands tend to play 22" or occasionally a 24" bass drum for projection but for some east of transport. A 26/28" bass drum is a monster if tuned right with the right heads and bearing edges on it, and Abe certainly knows how to get a great sound out of his huge bass drums. Simply huge bass drum sound.

I enjoy watching him play. Although highly technically proficient and capable of performing all sorts of whirlwind paradiddles and other rudiments at amazing speed and spread amongst his four limbs, he's mostly a groove drummer, and being that sort of drummer myself when playing blues and rock and such, I find him highly inspiring.

It's a serious thing to throw down, and as much as I think Ringo is one of the kings of groove drumming and how impossible to replace Ringo it would be, Abe does it with humility, with respect and with a nod to tradition when playing Beatles songs with Macca. There's also a little bit of a touch of Abe thrown in the mix on occasion, and it's always a great lick or groove.

Abe does it simple with Macca, although large. A huge bass drum, a 14" or 15" tom tom mounted on a snare stand to the side of the huge bass drum, a snare and an 18" floor tom. Three huge cymbals and a set of hats (probably 15") complete his classic Macca sets.

I've seen vids of him playing live with Sting (best drummer Sting's ever had since the Police demise, imho) using two wing toms, and sometimes several snares or floors. Like many, he varies his gear for the gig. I've seen pics of sets he's playing at small clubs that appear to have a-more- reasonable-to transport 24" bass, 16" floor and 13" tom, these gigs being during NAMM conventions.

Do a wiki or a google on Abe Laboriel Jr. and see the many bands and artists that Abe has played with. It's a phenominal list. For several years, I found deals on the net on used CD's featuring Abe playing with a huge variety of artists, including an obscure act called Chocolate Genius, which actually has some great stuff.

His dad, Abe Laboriel, has also played bass for gazillions of artists over the past few decades, a who's who of musicians. Check out some of his stuff too. He's a monster bass player and has really played with some cool outfits over the years, in addition to tons of studio work. You've probably heard him on tunes decades ago, but never knew he was playing bass. More of a jazz cat, I'm pretty sure he did his fair share of studio gigs playing outside his general jazzy genres over the years.

I've got a substantial collection of Abe cd's where he is playing on other folks stuff. Some of the pop stuff was just not my cup of tea but some of it has been kinda cool. The stuff I didn't like hit the cd store or ebay and I kept the rest.

I can't believe I have not written about Abe before. He's an interesting individual, who seems to have a lot of inner peace and serenity, something probably many of us could use a little more of in our lives.

I think a Modern Drummer interview back around 2002 or so with Abe found Abe saying that his goal as a drummer (and a great singer, btw) is "FOR HIM TO BRING JOY TO THE MUSIC".

I really and truly adopted that mantra to my musical endeavors after reading that. Even when I was doing gigs whose music didn't particularly make my bones wanna jiggle and shake and move, I gave the same effort and happiness to the gig to make it happen as best as I could make it, with a smile on my face and not worrrying about the small stuff I used to gripe and moan about.

So I learned a thing or two from reading about Abe's life, and deciding that my musical endeavors deserved a much more mellow and happy direction. No frustration. No self-bashing about one's mistakes. Getting into the music and your fellow bandmates for the sake of the music and playing for the song.

I've generally got along well in the bands I've been in, and often in the role of peacemaker between the "more creative" instrumentalists and "artists" with egos the size of an Escalade. Thank goodness and the Lord above that most of the folks I've made music with were really nice folks who were fun to make music with and to hang with, and that they had little ego problems. I've always promoted peace and harmony in my musical gigs because the negative energy just spoils the music and the connection between musicians.

But watching Abe and reading about him reinforced these ideas in me, driving me to almost a zen-like attitude about it. It's a attitude that could east one's own lifestyle, and I've been trying to adopt it fully in my professional and personal life as well. I've done pretty good at it lately I think, and Abe had some inspiration for me to strive to be better and continue as the peacemaker in those sometimes talented but stormy musical liasons.

So keep an eye out for Abe, or if you're interested, the Macca's Live In The US dvd is an excellent introduction to his great drumming style and the entire band just rocks like nobody's business.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Brannon Temple is, I think, still an Austin drummer. He's been doing lots of big gigs the past decade, and is an in demand drummer. I used to watch Brannon play with a wide variety of bands around Austin some years ago. Met the man in passing, a nice sort, but don't know him at all. But I sure do enjoy watching him play those drums. He's a great drummer and there's a Robben Ford concert DVD from Paris where Brannon is just out of control.

Actually, the entire band in that concert rocks out seriously, including Robben. Great tunes. Great playing and just beautiful guitar based music. It's called ROBBEN FORD: NEW MORNING (THE PARIS CONCERT). It's a great crowd and I don't care whether you play the guitar, the keys, the bass or the drums, you can cop some serious licks from these cats watching this DVD a few times.

Myself, I simply don't get tired of Brannon's drumming, and more than half of the songs in the show are really some of my favorite tunes now. I've grown to be a fan of Robben Ford, at least the more bluesy, jazzy Robben Ford. Bassist Jimmy Earl is a maniac and at one point in a heavy rhythm with the drums and organ he looks like he might stroke out. Just rocking out to the max and laying down a serious rhythm. You'll know it when you see it. It's a few songs into the DVD, but he gets over near the keyboards and lays a foundation strong enough to drive a HumVee on.

Brannon has played with all kinds of groups as sideman, band member and band leader. The last time I saw him at the Elephant he was doing this sort of new agey jazz stuff, certainly entertaining stuff but nothing making me want to shake, rattle and roll my old bones to the beat and go "Hey Whew!" (hat tip to EJ).

In line with my previous post about Frosty and his be-bop sized Austin Jasper Fibes, Brannon is playing a set himself in the New Morning DVD. I think they are silver glass, or cut glass, or silver sparkle. He rocks the heck outta that kit, and I have not seen anyone play really hotrod drumming blues like he does since Steve Jordan with the Blues Brothers band in the studio.

Anyway, I don't know what kind or brand or setup of drums Brannon is rocking these days (now that Fibes has not made any drums in several years, so I hear), but I know those Fibes rock the hell out of Robben Ford's tunes and the New Morning DVD.

Brannon is one of numerous exceptional drummers that hail from or live in or lived in Austin over the past few decades. I'll be writing about some of them soon. The late Mambo John. Barry "Frosty" Smith. Uncle John Turner. Several female drummers and a cadre of other drummers I've really liked over the years in bands both short lived and long lived in Houston and Austin.

The best sounding Fibes Be-Bop kit I've ever heard was a rental I used once from Tommy's Drum Shop.

The second best Fibes Be-Bop kit I heard was played by a mid-thirties blonde female, backing some sort of folk/rock/blues singer three or four years ago. I stopped in Ruta Maya on the way to a gig, and heard the band playing. Her drums were unmic'd save for the bass drum, and it sounded just ri-ot. She must have been a great drum tuner but those drums were singing quite well in that venue.

Which brings me back to Brannon Temple and his silver Fibes in the New Morning DVD. You've got to check out this drumming, if you're into great groove drummers WITH MONDO CHOPS at all.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I'm concerned about some very good friends who live in Belfast. I've been meaning to go, along with my friend Max, for most of this year. I'll make it over there before the end of the year, for sure.

But lately, there's been some more problems there. You know the kind of problems. All of my friends there are on the side of an independent Northern Ireland. Freedom. I can understand that.

Several of my friends over there grew up during "The Troubles" and are lucky to be alive. Recently, there were some problems that began again.

My main concern is that my friends remain ok. They are dear to me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Back when I was a kid, my mother's father, a very nice man with a great and vast knowledge of many subjects, one of them being fishing, told me many things about fishing and hunting. When relaxing at his home, was always dressed in freshly pressed chinos and a dress shirt. Never saw the man in a pair of blue jeans or a t shirt that wasn't white being worn under a dress shirt. Although he owned guns, he wasn't much of a hunter. He was more of a fisherman. Didn't matter where he was living...Oklahoma, Houston, East Texas or Southern California, he was a fishing man. Fresh or Salt.

He did a lot of salt water fishing during a brief job assignment in L.A. in the 50's. I suspect he was on some of the classic piers out there every chance he got. When we would visit his East Texas cellar when I was a kid, I was regaled with all kinds of fishing tackle from the 40's through the 60's. Everything was in pristine condition. Reels were seriously well maintained and several that I've never used are still greased up from the last time he cleaned them somewhere between 40 and 50 years ago. Most lures were washed, dried and then replaced in their original packaging (usually a cardboard box) and placed in it's tray in one of his tackle boxes.

So my Grandpa told me about having a kit bag, and how you could keep your pistol in it for snakes and such, a knife, a lunch, some water or coffee, a small first aid kit and the like.

Definitions vary about what exactly a Kit Bag is. One source says it is a knapsack, or alternatively a suitcase usually with sides that fasten at the top or that open to the full width of the bag. Although for many years and even continuing to this present time, I still use one of several knapsacks or rucksacks as my Kit Bag.

I've also got a great zip open top canvas with leather trim that came with some cologne I bought in the 80's. It would look like a big doctor's bag if it were black leather. It's been my main kit bag for fishing trips over the past 25 years. I can think of all kinds of locations I've fished with that bag at my side over the years. The Colorado at Lemon Springs, Lake Belton, Lake Georgetown, Lake Conroe, Lake Livingston, Lake Summerville, The San Marcos River, The Guadalupe River in various upper and lower parts and all numbers of other rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks and streams.

It's a great Kit Bag, and is probably similar to what many folks used as a kit bag. In his later years, my Grandpa approved of my Kit Bag, and expounded on things it should have. A readily accessible .22 revolver, several good knives, matches in a waterproof case, a flint, ammo, some hootch in a small flask (preferably Jack Daniel's Black), a compact belt and holster for the pistol, an extra floppy hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and all sorts of other handy stuff. A towel. A flashlight and batteries.

My first Kit Gun was a 9 shot .22 caliber Harrington and Richardson, followed soon by a six shot single action Ruger .22 Bearcat imitation pistol. Some Italian brand, he probably gave $25 for it and it's still shooting forty years later. Because my Dad likes guns, and because some of his closest friends were always wheeling and dealing and trading guns, he was always having cool stuff around. Soon I got a Walther PPK/S .22, but still used the other guns.

Cottonmouths, Water Moccasins and Rattlers that were at the family place down by the creek had no chance with a well armed youth on the prowl. I never saw any gators but heard there were some in the area, and often saw tracks on the sand bars in the creek that looked like gator tracks.

Other and larger caliber guns also were around, but the .22's were cheap to shoot and we liked to shoot lots and lots. Even certain handgun experts (the late Chic Gaylord, for one) recommend practice with a "like firearm" to one's duty weapon in .22 caliber. Back in Chic's heyday, that was the revolver, and several Colts and S&Ws had guns in larger calibers and in .22 caliber.

In fact, Smith and Wesson had several guns they dubbed as "Kit Guns", mostly in .22 caliber. I know my people on both sides of the family carried pistols when fishing or in the outdoors at a fishing camp. Several of my uncles wisely said "You never know who you might run into to in them there woods". I know during prohibition that stills were running all over East Texas where both my families hailed from, and booze running was quite prevalent even in the Baptist Belt of the Piney Woods.

But primarily, they were more interested in shooting snakes and the like, although they were families that ate what they caught or hunted. They actively hunted deer and young hogs and turkeys and other game birds because they GOT HON-GRAY in the depression. They fished and raised fish in their ponds and caught breed fish in creeks and rivers and brought those older fish to their ponds and tanks and lakes.

So my Father's kit bag as a kid differed greatly from mine. His was some sort of army surplus shoulder bag, brought home by a relative from the war. It held some shotgun shells and slugs and some .22 bullets, a big knife and a variety of smaller knives, some kind of food like bread and smoked meat, a simple fishing rig with line/hook/sinker and you cut your own bamboo pole at the lake or creek. Probably some kind of mason jar with fresh water in it and a lid. Some matched dipped in wax. Some rope. Maybe a snare or two.

So my father didn't have a pistol in his Kit Bag. They had two guns: a single shot bolt action .22 rifle and a single shot 12 gauge shotgun. Shells were expensive and every shot had to count. It was permissible to shoot snakes for safety, but it was preferred that snake shooting be done with the .22, if not an emergency "surprise" situation.

I like having a pistola in the kit bag. Sometimes, it's a .45 ACP or a .38 Special. Sometimes there is a .22 in there as well. All with some solid bullets and some shot shells. Shells are particularly effective on snakes. I usually back up the shot shells in any field pistol with 2 or more rounds of ball ammo.

There's all kinds of kit bags for all kinds of outdoorsmen and women who engage in lots of sporting activities. Sailors, boaters, golfers, tennis players, pilots, hunters and a myriad of other types of folks have some sort of kit bags that accompany their sport.

Nowadays, there's likely to be lots of electronics in the Kit Bag. GPS. high and low tech Cell Phones. Sat Phones. Marine Radio. Wireless laptops and iPads and the like. Maybe one of the high tech water purification straws. Radar patches. GPS emergency transmitters.

I'm curious. What do you carry in your kit bag?

Friday, July 23, 2010


The MAK-90 is a long legged Mack Daddy of assault rifles for sure. It reminds me of my old rough and tumble hot rod Mustang. It ran like a bat outta hell, but was no cruiser and you really had to work to drive it well. The various AR-15 Colts and clones are more like some sort of more refined automobile, sometimes finnicky and sometimes just down right difficult.

I've owned one great AR-15. It shot great and wasn't made by Colt. It was made or imported by IMI, but all parts fit. I put some good springs in it and it was good to go. Never should have sold it.

The MAK-90 was another gun I shouldn't have sold. Bought from a freind in crisis with a big electric bill due, it was new in the box. At the time, I was shooting russian surplus ammo that seemed a little hot, and some newer non-surplus ammo like Gold Bear or something like that. You could buy a battle pack of ammo at a gun show in the early 90's for nothing, and do quite a bit of shooting with the MAK-90.

The MAK-90, as pictured above, is an AK-47 with a sporter thumbhole stock and supplied with a five round mag to satisfy the Clintons. It took the 20 and 30 round AK mags as well. I borrowed a friends AK drum magazine back then, and that was a real hoot to shoot. Again, sold to a good friend who still has it who had to have it.

I recently got to shoot a MAK-90, one that had been new in the box and unfired. It was great and shot really well. Again, it's not a Lexus or even a Toyota or Honda like most of the AR's are, it's more like an old 80's Land Cruiser. A bit rough around the edges with a bumpy ride, but as with Glocks, pull trigger, goes boom.
Over the years I met folks older than me who fought in Nam and in other conflicts with the M-16. They either loved the M-16 or hated in between. Many of the guys found good AK's on enemy soldiers and just carried those into the field, often for adjunct reason that they could get extra ammo off the enemy,
Special Forces folks I've known told me they often went into enemy territory carrying about 200 rounds a man for their long guns. They didn't hardly ever use full auto, and very rarely 3 round burst, but usually semi-auto mode to conserve bullets. So to me, if you could find a well functioning AK when the enemy is carrying that (rarely it seems do they carry anything else), that you could snag extra ammo/magazines off enemy combatants as you completed your mission.
But what do I know about combat? Nada.
AK's have a reputation of functioning very well in a variety of dirty or nasty conditions. Sandy, wet, dirty, gritty, bloody, name it, vets will tell you that a good AK will work well under conditions that incapacitate many other rifles.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've got the opportunity to do a trade for an FEG P9R, as I wrote about here, GUNS, GUNS AND MORE GUNS , which was also rebranded for Mauser as the 90DA. Same Same. There were also probably some other rebrands by importers like KBI and Interarms, but their name escapes.

The gun is in about 90% exterior condition, but the interior is not worn at all. This gun has not been shot much. It comes with two factory 14 round mags. The springs are tight, the DA trigger pull is excellent and the SA pull has a bit of travel in it but very predictable. My friend is having our smith work on the SA trigger as we speak, as he has some experience with this gun. It won't be target quality, but it will be combat ready.

I'm intrigued by this gun. Resembling a Browning Hi Power on the outside, save for a slide mounted safety and a slightly squared trigger guard, it has fatter and different grips than the BHP. The mag release is slightly different on the interior of the guns, so mags are not interchangeable. However, there are mags available for it, but promax mags get a lot of bad ink on the internets unless a Browning BDM follower replaces the Promag wobbley follower.

The firing mechanism is derived from the Smith and Wesson Model 59 mechanism. One picture on the web shows them side by side, and it looks identical. That's good, because the M59 was a very safe pistol with a great history of working well and reliably.

I've shot several boxes of shells through one of these that a friend owned, way back in the early 90's. It shot well, particularly at defense distances from 5' to 25'. I could hit within a 12" circle at 25 feet at dusk with dark sights shooting double action mode at about a 12" black target.

In any event, I've been wanting some kind of DA/SA 9mm to plink around the place with, and my friends places, because 9mm ammo is still cheap.

I need to know what holsters will fit this gun. Primarily a leather belt holster, similar to an Askin's Avenger, and a leather IWB holster. I've heard that some BHP holsters won't fit the P9R because of the P9R's more squared trigger guards, but some will. I'm thinking a 1911 holster might fit, as well as a HKP7 Askins Avenger that I modified years ago to take both a BHP and a Colt Commander. I've also got the Askins I modified to fit the Glock M36, but then scored a new-old-stock (NOS) Askins that fits the 36 perfectly (made for the M19)

So I know I can fashion a nice OWB holster for this gun, but what about the IWB holster. I wrote High Noon today, and we'll see what they say. It looks very similar in size with a CZ75B with a similar trigger guard, and somewhere in my surfing it seems like I read that a holster for a Beretta 92 will fit it well. I can't seem to find that post now and didn't mark it.

So I'd be happy if any FEG'ers stumble across this site and have any sage advice to give about holsters for other guns that fit, about where to get some non-promag magazines, what ammo works good in your experience and is there any particular Pachmayr or Hogue or other rubber grips that can be modified/adapted/just happens to fit that will work with this gun?

I need to know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010





Of course, since I live in Texas, it's hot as heck and humid humid humid, but we who are natives here know that we ain't seen nothing yet. It's gonna get considerably hotter and more humid and just generally intolerable to be outside. Because most of the state has had lots of rain this year, mosquitos are everywhere and are hon-gray. I know they are hon-gray and not just hungry because I am a major food source for these creatures. I must be, because I am constantly being bitten, despite precautions.

The heat I'm talking about for this post, however, is packing pistol heat, as first elaborated on in this recent post TEXAS SUMMER HEAT, THE LONG GUN AND PACKING SMALL .... I'm still using my Glock 36 and my S&W Model 38 Bodyguard Airweight right now as my primary carry weapons, but the Glock is about to be the car gun and not the carry gun for the next couple of months until things begin to cool down in late September and early October. Although I'm tempted to get a small Kel-Tec or other mini-gun for extreme summer carry in light clothing, so far it's been working with the Bodyguard in a Bianchi suede-out thin IWB clip holster.

So even in the debilitating heat of the summer, I have my gun. I've mentioned before but will quickly mention again my favorite carry holsters. For the Bodyguard, I favor the suede out IWB Bianchi clip holster, the smallest and cheapest they probably sell. The suede absorbs sweat and keeps the holster from sticking to my body. I like the Bodyguard over other snubbies because the Bodyguard has an enclosed hammers. I like hammers I can see on my guns, although I make exceptions for my Glock, but the Bodyguard hammer doesn't jab and cut me like a traditional snubnose would.

I also favor the High Noon IWB holsters The Bare Asset and Mr. Softy for my Glock 36. They are made of cowhide and I don't know what kind of finish they have on the leather but it doesn't stick to my body either. I'm a big fan of the High Noon holster and nearly everyone of my friends who has seen it and tried it has ordered one of their own. They are a steal at about $36 UPS shipping included and I plan to order one for my J frame Bodyguard soon. The Glock carries very well in both High Noon holsters, with the Bare Asset having a 15 degree cant forward and a higher ride and the Mr. Softy keeping the bottom of the handle of the gun at belt level, thus being more concealable.

The profuse sweat that I seem to emit during this time of year when outside the air conditioned enclaves where I live and work does not seem to effect the High Noon holsters at all. For many years, my Bianchi showed no signs of effect from sweat either, but since it is 29 years old it has begun to show some slight signs of wear after thousands of hours of wear. I keep meaning to buy me a new Bianchi IWB holster like this one but the one I have is still great. I've worn it so much it's just molded now to fit my body and it feels like a part of me.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I don't get buck fever, and I'm not much of a hunter these days, although in my youth we did a large amount of bird hunting. But I do get fishing fever quite often, and since I enjoy lots of different kinds of fishing, I get variations of fevers for different kinds of fishing.

I've been blessed to have done a large amount of fishing already this year. Going back to the beginning of 2009, I've done a ton of fishing in several different parts of the state and nation. I've done lots of saltwater fishing these past two years, which has been great, and I've also gotten to do a fair amount of freshwater fishing.

I've got a friend who has a friend who has a riverfront cabin on the Colorado below Austin. My friend who has the friend who owns the cabin says he can get the cabin for us to use anytime, and wants to have a few friends out do to some trotlining, some bank fishing and some drinking over a night or two once it cools down a bit. My friend is a really nice guy, and says that this place has a nice sloping bank ideal for fishing and landing/launching a small boat. Some of the other parts of the riverfront on the property have a deep dropoff at the waterline, which can also mean good fishing.

There's nothing like spending the night outdoors at a nice fishing camp. A place like this, with an air conditioned respite nearby with a facility makes it all the better. My friend Trotlining David would like to bring his small metal fishing boat out there and run some trotlines down the river in that part. He's convinced there are some nice fish and some big fish in some of those deep bankside holes on the river.

There would be an opportunity to train some lights out on the water powered by the house to possibly attract some game fish like black bass and other fish like crappie and white drum. We could have a rousing campfire providing light and a great atmosphere and a gathering point, as well as providing light for the camp.

Hogs, snakes, coyotes and other critters are sometimes found at the edges of such nocturnal fishing camps, so a sidearm is a nice thing to have handy. A rifle for hogs and a shotgun for snakes are nice things to have handy at the camp as well. I like having a gardening hoe down near the water in case I spy a snake close by and don't want to make a bunch of noise shooting him.

It's been awhile since I've stayed up all night fishing on a river, running a few trotlines and fishing from the shore.

I got the fever.


I was at a very cool sporting goods store in the Pacific Northwest recently, and they had some ultra small super ultra light spinning rods and reels for sale. I've got a couple of "micro" spinning reels already, with light rods to match, but these rods were only about 2' long, including the handle.

I've long seen the need for some short rods for Texas river and creek fishing. And even for farm pond and lake fishing. It seems like I always get access to some great fishing spots on the bank. Billy Ray and I have had many fishing camps on all kinds of waters. Many of the spots we get access (public or private) to have undergrowth and trees all around, making the use of long rods impractical and sometimes, impossible.

One of several good five foot long ultra light rods is often used in these circumstances, but particularly when I'm fishing in Hill Country rivers and creeks, I've thought that having a two or three foot fishing rod would be great.

Likewise, I've thought that having a three or four foot fly rod would be great.

Seems like if you could find the right length upper section of a ultra light rod that you could figure out a way to attack a spinning reel or fly casting handle to the bottom part of the rod, thus making a new rod out of the upper half of another rod.

The rods they had at the sporting goods store were not ice fishing rods, as sometimes are sold on ebay or the internets as "short or micro ultra light" fishing rods". Nor do I want a short rod with a reel the size of a half dollar. The rods at the store looked to be cheap asian imports with sloppy guide positioning and crappy parts.

I've got several rod tips that would make excellent short fly and spinning rods, or even casting rods. I'm gonna have to do some thinking about how to affix a grip of my choice to a much thinner blank in order to adapt some of the upper sections of 2 piece rods to a micro fishing rod, but seems like there would be a way. I know I can buy grips from a variety of sources, and I have several from old rods in my parts box right now.

The question is, how to make that much thinner upper rod section seat securely in a handle designed for a blank that is much thicker? I'd welcome any suggestions...

Years ago, K-Mart and Gibson's used to sell these three and four foot casting rods. They were cheap japanese stuff, made of fiberglass often with cheap guides. I actually have two of these left, and both are pretty good rods for the type of brushy undergrowth and overhanging trees that prohibit using even five foot long rods for most fishing. One is a medium heavy action and the other is an ultra light and both are casting rods.

I've used the K-Mart rod a lot in creek and river fishing. I used to spend quite a bit of time fishing on the Medina River both from the bank and from canoes, as well as in a lot of the clear and beautiful creeks that can be found all over that part of the Hill Country.

The K-Mart rod is a seventies green fiberglass number with a cheap handle. I didn't like the cork that was on it, so decades ago I covered it with a tennis rod grip wrap. When I've taken it out in canoes, I've taped a small three foot long rope to it that has a caribiner on the other end so that I could attach it to the canoe in case of a capsize, which has been known to occur.

I wish I had several of those rods like the one I got at K-Mart for like $2.99 in the seventies. It has a good action for fighting fish and the line stays within the contour of the rod if a decent size fish gets on, in other words, the line doesn't skew off the side of the rod between guides.

I plan to have some new guides put on this rod soon by Island Tackle down in Port A.

I have the top part of a seven foot ultra light spinning rod that I'd like to modify to have a cork handle with sliding reel rings on it.

I also have a Berkley Bounty Hunter 6 wt. fly rod whose upper section is about four and a half feet long. It would be a perfect rod for a 3 or 4 wt line with a good handle on the bottom of it. I've actually used the top part of this rod and some line from the reel to fish for small perch in a Hill Country river, under a huge cypress tree, using a 12 or 14 sized green rubber spider or Dave's Hopper to nail the multitude of fish lurking within roots of the cypress trees lining the banks.

For me and the kind of fishing I've done and plan to do, a three and a half to four foot rod would work best for me. But I could see having one really micro rod for those times when tiny bass, panfish or rainbow trout are available for the catching.

I've looked around and not many folks make short rods for freshwater fishing. I do have one four foot super ultra light fishing rod. It's a dandy, and needs a guide fix as well. I've looked around quite a bit and have yet to find anything with near the great action this rod has. It's an H&H 4 foot spinning rod and it rocks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've been gigging on and off for the past 35 years. During that time, as a drummer, I've had technical difficulties despite keeping my gear in good shape and taking care of it and doing preventative maintenance. Screws and bolts break. Things freeze up. Snare wires break. Drum heads break. Hardware fails. More likely, if you care for your gear like me, your guitarists doesn't have any tools to do a quick fix on a fatal tube amp problem.

As a drummer, I say it's dependant on you to be the anchor for the band. That includes carrying some pliers and screwdrivers so your guitarist can fix his amp. While you're at it, carry a box or two of popular sized fuses for tube amps so you can save the day. It is likely your guitarist, especially if a lead guitarist, will need at least one nine volt battery for his tuner as well.

I use a heavy duty medium sized padded shoulder camera bag or a backpack for my personal items, and it stays with me throughout the gig, even on breaks. It has wallet, cell phone, my DAT recorder when not recording, hearing protection and extra hearing protection, in ear monitors on the off lucky chance the venue has in ear monitoring, the DAT mic when the gig is done, extra t-shirt, hand towels, etc. If, hypothetically, you were a law officer permitted to carry a handgun off duty into a licensed establishment, this might also be an excellent place to carry your weapon or keep it while playing, as well as an extra mag and a flashlight.

I carry usually at least a spare snare drum head in my cymbal bag with the cymbals, encased in a pillow case.

Mrs. El Fisho got a nice gimme bag many years ago. It's a small, padded and heavy duty fabric satchel, just a shade too small for a laptop but perfect for a tool satchel. It has multiple dividers, and by using smaller containers to carry items, parts and tools, it fits into the SKB rolling stand case with the stands and is always there. She never used it and therefore I rescued it from a charity donation and it became my emergency drum repair bag.

I've used it for many, many years, and it's often com in handy. I keep it permanently stowed in the SKB stand case, except for the rare occasions I haul stands in some really nice red vinyl/pleather baseball bat bags. I have to break the stands down for the bags, but throw the emergency drum repair bag in as well.

Think of it as a gear fixing bail out bag for a drummer.

Although the case I use a thin and firm profile and edges, it is multi-pocketed and about 2" thick. Inside of that, I have several of the smaller zipper bank deposit bags made of canvas and vinyl that hold tools and or parts. I also have one of the pencil bags abandoned years ago by The Princess and rescued from charity by me.

Here's what I carry in my bag:


-either contained in a small plastic box from plano with compartments or in other of the other bags. Each bag and the box fit into their own segmented compartment inside the master bag, so everything is fairly accessible quickly.

*spare drum lugs of several sizes
*spare drum keys, including heavy duty DW key
*spare snare mounting thread and tape
*Loctite tiny small bottle
*Breakfree tiny small bottle
*machine oil teeny tiny small bottle
(note: all oils and fluids in a ziploc bag)
*screws/nuts/bolts matching those in drums for lugs and mounts
*extra small lug bolts and wing bolt for my DW pedal and tom mount(s)
*extra cymbal felts, the concave metal base that felts sit on and the top fasteners for the stands. I used the cymbal top fastener that is plastic and includes the plastic tubing that keeps the cymbal from rubbing on the stand mounting bolt. So I carry a few of each and a few tradition screws and tubing pieces.
*extra high hat clutch
*tuning/lug rods for snares, toms and bass
*extra set of snares
*extra wing nuts and bolts for cymbal stands, hh stand, snare stand, etc.
*extra dw memory lock
*basically any screw or bolt or nut that any piece of hardware uses that I have
been able to find for a spare.


*1 small vise grip pliers
*one leatherman tool with needle nosed pliers
*one tiny Snap On socket that fits the small nutdriver listed below
* one screwdriver handled nut driver with small socket and sockets for:
- various screw sizes for phillips and straight,
- nutdrivers
- and stardrives
that are used in my various drums. A very thin and small plastic box for all of the drive sockets fits into one of the bags along with the driver
*a couple of small interchangeable screwdrivers. one from a honda motorcycle tool kit, one from a toyota tool kit and some small ones from various sources.
*one small rachet drum key device that fits lug bolts for quick head changing
*one small hunk of duct tape wrapped around itself in a smaller sized package that a roll of duct tape in a plastic bag.
*a Tama Drum Dial, I've had it since 1993 and it works great. A real help in quick tuning in loud environments and it's small. Carry it in the plastic case it came in inside a padded mailing envelope to keep it safe.
*extra Radio Shack stereo condensor mic circa late 1980's in a small zippered case as a back up to the sony DAT Stereo mic normally used.
*an extra Danmar red maple beater (all I've used for 26 years)

I carry some unusual items that are quite useful. I have a selection of rubber tips that I can put on my spiked spurs to protect the floor, in various sizes. I have two doorstops if my bass drum wants to travel, and a couple of large old timey rubber stoppers to put my spikes into if needed. My gig rug has solved most of my problems, and I have reinforced rubber pieces to tape to the gig rug in case the gig is on a floor. Spikes will go through a gig rug, but the rubber keeps that from happening.

Since I bought a gig rug with a block of wood in the front, bass drum travel doesn't happen. But the various rubber tips and stoppers keep my spikes from penetrating the gig rug onto the floor. HINT: my spur spikes are long and sharp. I put washers in the bottom of the rubber tips, so the tips wouldn't be damaged but so the tips won't penetrate the bottom of the rubber tip. I usually keep a set of rubber tips on the spurs themselves but like having backup pairs.

With the exception of the microphone and the Drum Dial, the tools I carry are in a zippered small bank deposit bag, Some are in their own roll up cases, and some are in a smaller zippered bag. It makes finding stuff easier in an emergency.

I have a small first aid it and some aspirin and other stuff that goes in the bag as well.

Extra Falam! pads both large and small for the bass drum in the rare case I might start damaging the drum head (which already has a small Falam! on it). If it did begin to tear, a larger Falam! applied over the smaller would likely get me through the gig. Since I began using Falam! pads on the bass drum, I have not had any broken bass drum heads.

I also carry a couple of the Ludwig adhesive Power Dots that went on their popular 70's tom and snare heads. Essentially a layer of drumhead with adhesive underneath, if a tom or snare head begins to give away or does tear, one of these can get you through a set or gig.

-Stuff I carry for guitarists to keep the gig from cratering:
*two sets of electric guitar strings
*two nine volt batteries
*two tiny boxes of amp fuses
*a guitar cable (George R, thin and good).

This stuff has come in handy many times. Once, I could see a snare head begin to crack, and layed off of it for the rest of that song. A quick Power Dot applied, and a little retuning and it was fine for the rest of the gig. I've had bolts on the DW pedal come loose, hence the loctite and spare pedal screws and bolts.

So in a smallish 10" x 8" by 4" malleable bag I have most of what I need in an emergency, and most of what I need to rescue a guitarist so the show can go on! The bag is really about 3" thick, except for the bulge of the Tama Drum Dial which is a bit thicker.

The bag rides nicely in the SKB stand rolling case, and stays there. Because it's padded, it stays put and doesn't get slammed against the other contents of the sand case. It doesn't leave the SKB case unless needed at a gig.


Life, that is, for the working blues or rock drummer. There comes a time in the life of most working drummers that they begin to slow their gigs down for two reasons: lateness of gigs and hauling drums and drum hardware. I say hauling because you often don't carry or tote or bring with you drums and the stands that go with them. You haul those often heavy parcels and load them in.

Always envious of the guitarist, who could load in and out in one trip, if they had a cart for their amp, or at most two trips. Pity the drummer loading in and out four or five drums (and loading them in and out of cases) plus heavy metal hardware like cymbal stands, snare stand, high hat stand, throne stand and perhaps a tom stand. Add to that items like a throne seat, bass drum pedal, stick bag, gig rug, cymbal bag and other stuff, you're making five or six trips if someone is helping you load in/out.

Allow me to suggest a few load lessoning trip tips. After years of drumming, mostly in Houston and Austin but other places as well, I found I was playing two basic types of places. Either places where the drums were miked by the house PA people with their gear, or smaller rooms where they didn't want a ROCK AND ROLL sound, they wanted a moderate rocking sound at a medium level.

I saw Frosty playing a be-bop sized Fibes kit, and marveled at how he had stripped it to the basics for lots of gigging. Frosty had a goal of having a kit that would fit in the trunk of his car.

For those who don't know, a be-bop kit infers the type of smaller drumkit used with be-bop jazz, and other jazz music like trios. Certain drum engineer types claim you are going to get the best sound out of an 14" x 18" bass drum for either recording or miking, and lots of stars seem to agree.

For instance, although through his career with Bad Company, Simon Kirke played a black, Bonhamish sized Ludwig kit. 14" x 26" bass drum. 10" x 14" wing tom. 16" x 16" floor. That was what you always saw him playing live or on TV.

The Ludwig ads at the time said "Simon Kirke plays Ludwig". But in reality, he recorded at least the first Bad Co. album on a Gretsch be-bop set, not his mammoth Ludwigs. Lots of other endorsing drummers have done this as well over the decades. But even then, it was well rumored that Bonham DID actually play Ludwigs on their recordings, with ONLY two mikes on the kit, directly out front.

So folks like me of course had to have a larger bass drum at that time, as did many folks. I didn't go to the 26", mainly because it was just too much to haul around. I did go with a 24", which had a bit more umph than a 22".

So when I heard Frosty just laying into his Fibes bop kit, I was amazed. There were no drum mikes at the joint I heard him at in Austin, yet he was right there in the mix, and although it wasn't at ROCK AND ROLL sound levels, it was certainly at a comfortably loud club volume level for live music. It was a large room, and the only thing going through the PA was the vocals.

As I've said before, Frosty is hardly your average drummer. He is still a force to be reckoned with behind the kit, who can just do amazing things, incredibly fast things while doing a different rhythm with each of his 4 limbs. And sometimes blowing a whistle in there too.

But for a guy like me, who at the beginning of the 2000's had launched into a second career of club gigging. Many of my former bandmates were still around, and getting gigs was no problem. Nice gigs with nice folks playing lots of blues music.

So all of this drum hauling was wearing on me. I was toting a Tempus kit, which is lightweight by drum standards but still big and you still had the hardware problem, which was lots of heavy stands.

Over the years, I had been able to accumulate some lightweight aluminum stands by Gibraltar and Sonor, and used those with some other stuff. With three or four cymbals, a tom stand, a myriad of percussion items and either one or two wing toms, I was toting a lot of stuff. Even a dolly and an SKB stand case didn't help too much, cause I still had too much stuff.

So I traded some stuff and got a be bop kit of my own. It had a great sound, and was in great shape. Almost standard Be-Bop sizes: 15" x 18" bass, 14" x 14" floor and 8" x 12" tom, then I added a 5" x 14" Slingerland Niles black badge snare drum with a black covering that I got for $100 and a LP mini-timbale (8").

I mounted the timbale on an elongated LP cowbell mounting bracket that mounts off of the bass drum hoop, effectively allowing you to position a mini-timbale over the bass drum and between the snare and floor tom, inside of where the ride cymbal resides. Thus, with your right hand you can access floor tom, ride/crash cymbal, cowbell, mini-timbale and reach over to the snare when needed. Everything on the left side of the body (hats, snare, crash) is taken care of by the left side of the body.

So with the purchase of a small folding luggage rack, I could load my smaller drums onto a rolling rack, with the cymbal bag on top of the bass drum and behind the floor and wing tom in the stack. I'd wedge the Yamaha rectangular mesh throne seat behind the toms as well.

That's one trip in and out.

With the SKB rolling stand case. since I was only using four cymbals total (2 hihat, one crash, one ride/crash), I had less stands. The tom was mounted off one of the cymbal stands on a DW bracket residing on a RIMS. In my SKB case, I carried the following:
1. DW Pedal in small padded case
2. 2 cymbal stands fully extended, one with tom holder attached (both aluminum with steel tom attachments)
3. 1 hi hat stand (Gibraltar AX series-aluminum)
4. One Tama single braced snare stand from the 80's
5. Some extra sticks, just in case
6. a small parts and repair bag
7. 1 throne stand bottom
8. 1 gig rug in bag
9. Floor tom legs
10. Small bag containing extension cord, surge protector, extension mic cables, and a roll of duct tape.
11. A padded small bag that holds the below-mentioned cow bell wrapped in a t-shirt inside the bottom of the timbale.
12. The timbale cowbell mount.
13. 1 lightweight microphone stand for the DAT mic.

That's two trips in and out. Versus five or more otherwise.

I also threw a 3" Toca cow bell on top of the stand holding the mini-timbale. It's quite loud for it's size, and is plenty loud for what I need. I tend to throw a lot of latin accents into my music, and although I started using timbales in drumset playing in high school, I learned much about what could be done on them, again, from watching Frosty gig with tons of bands.

With personal stuff like water, DAT recorder, etc, inside a backpack, I can load in and out in two trips with this rig, or one trip if it's not over bad terrain. I can wheel both items to the club door and get someone to watch it while I get my ride and pull up next to the door if playing at a busy locale with no real load in/out door where you load out the front door, or wheel to my car if parked nearby.

When playing Johnny Finz in Austin on Lake Travis at a floating marina, I had to park way far away from the marina but an employee would tote you from the parking lot to the stage in a golf cart. I was able to sit in the back of the cart with one rolling gear cart in each hand, and she took me up near the stage. Same thing on the load out as well. Quick and easy.

I'll add it's a benefit too when staying at hotels/motels following a gig. It's a big hassle hauling gear up on the rolling luggage racks hotels have (if you're lucky), or hauling them in by hand with no cart.

Using my carts, I can make two trips into the hotel or one if helped by a doorman. Since I have a medium large SUV with folddown seats, I can leave the drums on the cart and just slide them into the back of the ride, as with the 48" long SKB rolling stand case.

I've been known to leave the SKB stand case in the car, covered by a black sheet (my suv has a dark interior and the black sheet all but makes it invisible) depending on my security feel for the location or how close I'm parked to the front door.

I never leave my drums or cymbals in the car. Ever.

Another tip with black sheets in an suv like mine with a dark interior is that when on the way to a gig, if you have to stop somewhere, no one can see what's in the back of the ride. Even with light window tinting, the black sheet over the drum cases and stand case just makes them invisible from outside the ride. A big theft deterrent in my mind, although I never try to eat anywhere going to or from a gig where i can't see my parked car.


In the early part of the 2000's, noted drummer Barry "Frosty" Smith was using a bop sized Fibes (Austin era, Jasper shells) to gig around Austin and the world. He was running a 14 x 18 bass drum, a 12 x 14 floor tom, a 8 x 12 tom and a huge 8 x 14 snare. He also used a 5 x 8 Fibale.
His cymbals were El Sabor, specifically, an 18" crash ride, a 16" crash and a set of 14" El Sabor hihats.
Single braced Yamaha snare, hihat and cymbal stands, an LP bracket for the Fibale and small cowbell and he was done. He's also using a Yamaha bass drum pedal, and I think it had a metal link instead of chain, but memory fails. He's using a Yamaha tom holder mounted to the side of the cymbal stand, and the drum had the Yamaha mount attached directly to the shell, sans RIMS mounting device.
Back then, he was using a Vater Fatback 3A, a stick I came to find was my favorite. Just a little bit fatter than a 5A and not as fat as a 2A, the beefy shoulder of the 3A means great rimshots and few broken sticks.

Of course, Frosty is an extraordinary drummer and can outdrum mere mortals like me with only a snare, ride and bass drum. I've seen him do it, on more than one occasion. Although Frosty changes setups as often as most of us change the oil in our cars, here's what I noticed back in the early 2000's about the great rig shown in the photos of Omar's Big Delta CD.

Note the bass drum has an 18" metal floor tom rim on the reso side, instead of the traditional 2" thick wooden hoop that goes on bass drums . That's because with this rim, instead of the much larger wooden reso hoop, Frosty could get the bass drum into the trunk of his car in a soft case.
Frosty has also been known to use a Fibes Cymbal Cup, which is a plastic curved disc about 4" in diameter that mounts under the cymbal. Frosty can make an 18" El Sabor mounted on a Fibes Cymbal Cup sound like a high hat, a stack of crash cymbals, a crash or a ride. I don't know how he does it, but he does. The Fibes Cymbal Cups were made by a long ago version of Fibes and can be found often on ebay for a nominal cost.
Having watched Frosty gig tens if not over a hundred times, I've noticed that he carries extra snare and tom heads, sticks and the like in an old pillowcase.


The bad news is that Snooks died last year, but recently I saw a concert dvd from a NOLA Storyville Gig he did in 1985. Just rocking.

A blind man, Snooks possessed incredibly long fingers. Now I don't mean just long fingers, I mean REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY long fingers, like bassist Stanley Clarke has. If you've ever seen video of Clarke playing bass, his extra long fingers were like an agile spider's legs on the strings.

Likewise with Snooks. Watching this live show footage, you see a master of a guitarist. When his guitar breaks a string mid-song, he does another couple of numbers before he bothers to change guitars, working around the broken string in his extensive and unique solos. It's no big thang to Snooks as he just strums and picks around the broken string without a care in the world, sounding great.

He plays very strangely. With his extraordinarily long fingers, he used no pick but hideous nails to strum and pluck the strings. You really got a great view of a dangerous looking pointed thumbnail on his left fretting hand during the video. Yikes! Usually you only see the likes of fingernails like this on inmates and convicts, who keep them that way for protection. Likewise, his thumb reaches over and does much of the fretting of the top two strings throughout with his thumb, although he certainly frets with the other fingers on those strings too. In any event, it would be challenging to emulate him due to his fingers influencing his style.

You can read about Snooks here


Some years ago, probably in the 90's, Galati Int'l made a great rig for home defense. It was a large nylon holster with an extra mag pocket on the front of the holster. It had some sort of single strap on it where you could don it like a shoulder bag if the strap was hung over one shoulder, or the gun would rest in the lower front of the torso if the strap was worn across the body.

It doesn't have two straps like a regular shoulder holster. This is a holster designed to be worn like a small purse, or if strap across torso, sorta like one of those shoulder holsters for HUGE Alaskan hunting handguns that resides on the front of the body, over the lower front abdomen.

A friend has one of these, who got it with a very nice Taurus 92F clone when he bought the gun from an estate 10 years ago or so. My friend lives in the country, and can keep the gun + extra mag hanging off a hook nearly anywhere. That gun, I believe, hangs in the coat closet, in case trouble strikes.

I'd like to have one of these but I don't see them in Galati's current catalog. I would only make two alterations with it. I'd have my friend with the heavy duty sewing machine add a flashlight holder to the side, so that if you went reaching for your gun you'd have a flashlight too.

I suspect this holster was bought back in the 90's, when the person from whose estate the gun was bought was very active in hunting and camping and shooting. I suspect they sold new for under $20.

I'd like to have one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


CONTENT ADVISORY: The below is a bunch of rambling about cool guns and stories about guns of the past and present and the friends who own them. And a few of their sage words.

I don't have the desire to own every gun I see, it's just about every third or fourth one that I'd like to have some time in the holster with. I just really love a great 1911 or variant, great revolvers of many types, but particularly J and K frame Smiths and D frame Colts, both snubnose and longer barrels.

I especially like .22 rifles and pistols, for their cheap ammo. Ammo prices these days are no laughing matter, and although I do not want to undertake reloading my own ammo, I think I'd like to have the gear and the training and the supplies to create ammo in certain calibers (9mm, .45 ACP, 30-30, 30-06, .223, shotgun shells, et al) and several of my friends have discussed buying some kind of reloading gear, not for regular use, but for ammo shortage situations.

I've got to see and shoot a bunch of guns lately. The S&W Model 1917 continues to impress and astound, as does my Glock 36. What stalwart firearms both of them are. I shot several very cool 1911's recently as well as some other autoloaders.

I've seen some cool pistols lately that I'd like to have. I saw a nice Taurus .22 revolver with about a 5" barrel, a 9 shot capacity and a smaller grip, and the gun frame was about like a J frame size. It was almost like it was a 3/4 scale gun, and it was perfect for El Fisho Jr.

A friend recently had a 20's Colt 1911 restored and refinished, as the finish was bad. His Smithy put the best inside parts in there, keeping as many stock Colt parts as he could but still being true to the vibe of that model gun. He then handfit the gun before putting a lusterous blue finish on it. My friend put some ivory imitation grips on it, but that pistol is so fine it calls out for some old real ivory grips. My friend says the closer you keep the gun to the way John Browning designed it, the better off you are and the more reliable the gun is. Use it the way it was designed.

That gun my friend wears in his LE work on his hip everyday, and which I see every day, has made me want to get one of the new Remington 1911's. It's old school, except it has the safety feature of a transfer bar between the hammer and firing pin, which some enthusiast's claim prevent trigger work to the extreme, but I plan on taking the trigger as it comes and not modifying it. I would add some Pachmayr Signature grips and that would be that. Maybe a rounded combat hammer with a lanyard hole as they snag much less in concealed carry. I could pimp it up and have get the hammer gold plated, but I think I'd go with a stainless one for a contrast with the blued gun.


I saw a used 90's FEG P9R that absolutely attracted me last week, for a bargain price. I have several friends who have owned these guns back in the 90's, and I recall shooting one of them and being impressed with the da/sa setup and the general accuracy and reliability of the gun. One of the friends who owned one of these sold it, and regrets selling it now. The DA trigger on this one was excellent but the SA springs need some work to lesson the take up, and the shop owners/gunsmiths (very talented, I might add) said they already had this on their list. They found some new springs and firing pin and some factory mags and refurbished the gun. The slide has a lighter, actually just a hint of blue on a polished steel finish which was different than the blue-ish finish on the frame.

The P9R was a creation of the FEG company of Hungary. Looking like a Browning Hi Power, it's innards strongly resemble the S&W Model 59, which was the first (at least mass produced) DA/SA 9mm high capacity pistol. Although the High Power has been in production since 1935, only in the past few decades did Browning make a half-hearted attempt to "double-action-ize" the Hi Power.

So the P9R is a Hi Power on the outside. Almost. The Safety/decocker is on the slide itself, as with a Model 59. There are minor but significant differences in the location (at least of the internals) of parts like the magazine release.

FEG did make a virtual clone Hi Power whose model name escapes me just now but most of the variants of this gun did interchange parts with Hi Powers. I do want one of these. With a Hi Power going in the high hundreds whether new or used, an FEG at a bargain $200-300 is a great opportunity to get the Browning feeling on the McDonalds budget.

I got to grab a couple of the new Glock Gen 4 pistols with different sized backstraps and definately like the smaller backstrap on the Model 19 better than the standard non-adjustable Glock 19 grip size. The Glock keeps getting knocked down the *firearms to get* list through no fault of it's own.

Another gun I'd like to have is one of the 2.5 inch barreled versions of the S&W .45 ACP lightweight revolver. It's big but in winter time it's the gun to carry. It shoots not unlike my Model 1917, meaning very low felt recoil, and with a pair of Crimson Trace grips, it's the ideal defense weapon for the home.

I'd like to put Crimson Trace grips on all of my guns that would take them. The grips themselves are not as comfortable for me as Pachmayrs (imho) but do so much better than wood grips, and in any event, the difference between the Crimson Traces and the Pachmayr is nitpicking by me. The Crimson Trace absorbs mucho shock and do well.

I really liked the discontinued Ladysmith series by Smith and Wesson, particularly the K frame Model 65 .357 with 3" barrel. A nicer stainless version of the blued Model 13. I also liked all of the 39XX derivatives that came out of the Ladysmith series. They are great guns and all are lighter than their non-Ladysmith counterparts. I never bought one before they were discontinued (they kept getting moved down the guns to get list) and like many other guns, I regret it and I'm keeping my eyes open right now for a Model 65 3" barrel.

I'd also take a screaming deal on a Model 13. Another great weapon, the blued version of the Model 65. K frames can easily be concealed even during summer if the barrel is no longer than 3", at least on my body. The 4" barrel is hard to conceal either with a belt holster or an IWB holster. A full size 1911 is easier to conceal than a 4" K frame. So thinks me.

I also began reminiscing about my old MAK-47 from the 1990's. I sold it to a good friend. I saw a really beat one in a gun store with the original thumbhole stock from the dark Clinton Assault ban days. It was so beat that you had to wonder what kind of idiot owned it and literally beat the crap out of it and totally neglected it. You know it wasn't probably cleaned either, for years probably, since they were made in the mid-1990's that way.

I've seen a lot of overpriced AK-47 and variants lately, many of them beat to hell. When the furniture is totally scarred and messed up and gouged and dried out you have to wonder how the weapon was treated. Thrown from a moving tank or banged around in a vehicle or aircraft? Dropped from a low flying helicopter? Drug behind a convoy for a few miles? Take a fall down a rocky mountainside?

The guns I saw, and there were five or six different variants, were all sad and priced in the $400-500 range. I wouldn't pay $100 for the ones I saw. The SKS rifles were in much better shape but were way overpriced as well and sporting fixed magazines and bayonets. I don't need a bayonet on my SKS, if'n I had one.

One gun fancier I know named Big Howard things that it's better to have SKS rifles that take AK magazines spread all over a farm than one or two high end assault rifles. He reasoned that these were still the cheap deals in assault rifles and he had had excellent experiences with his multiple SKS's. His theory was, one, use long guns not pistols (hat tip to TGR) and to have SKS's all over the place with bags of magazines with them, rather than a couple of assault rifles you might not be able to get to in an emergency. And perhaps a few sealed air/water tight "battle packs" of ammo nearby in the main safety area. Howard tends to be a bit OC at times (that's both Out of Control and Obessive Compulsive) but there is wisdom from his words for the rural resident.

Finally, giving a hat tip to the late Chic Gaylord, I'd like to find a nice 40's-50's Colt Official Police/Positive Positive in .38 Special or .38-.40. If they made them in .44-40, that's the one I'd like to have. You can still find some relative deals on these guns, which in the late 50's Gaylord recommended as the top concealment guns for self defense. If I could get a deal on one, the barrel would have to be cut to 3".

In that line of Colt revolvers with short barrels, the heinously overpriced Python in a 2.5 snubnose is a great weapon. There was a small run in the early 80's by Colt called "The California Special" that had a 3" barrel. I know from experience the 4" Python is highly difficult to conceal in warmer weather. With jacket, no problem. But such a butter smooth trigger one day I'll get one of these Python Snubbies.

Finally, many of the lighter .44 Special and .45 LC S&W Mountain guns intrigue me. Another gun I hope to find at a gun show sometime, with trading fodder in hand, because some of these guns really rocked, especially the five shot alloy framed versions. I wish I could find a comprehensive list of the Mountain guns produced, as I'm always running across a new model I didn't know they made for a year or two.

I'd love to have a 70's Mauser Luger as well as a P-38. H-K's like the P7, P13, P9S and other fine rifles from them would be a welcome addition. I'm a sucker for German handguns like old Walthers and H-K's. Belgium FN Brownings.

Enough ramblings. Go Shooting!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


My friend Johnny, another friend from college of Billy Ray's that I've been friends with now almost as long as Billy Ray. Johnny wasn't from a gun family, having originally hailed from the mid-west then graduated from a Texas college and he moved to Houston. He and I hung out quite often, whenever he was in town, back throughout our 20's. I was a cop back then,

Whenever we'd go out to eat or on the town, Johnny would ask me ask me if I was carrying a gun off duty but would use words and terms from movies from the 30's and 40's:

* Do you got your roscoe?
*You know, your heater, your heat, your gat...your rod, your piece, your artillary, your ordinance?
*WTF are you talking about?
*You know...your pistola, your Sam Colt, your "God made all men but Sam Colt made them equal", your firepower.
*Oh, why didn't you just say gun? It's in an ankle holster.

And so on. Johnny knew all the old timey words to refer to a pistol, and I'm only remembering about half of them. The first time he asked me if I had my heater, I said yes, my car has a heater. I know he was trying to be funny but in those way pre-internet days, he had a good memory from movies he watched about the 20's and 30's gangster era.

Which is my segue into carrying heat while it is very hot and very humid in Texas in the summer/early fall?

So when you need some heat to carry discretely, comfortably and concealed in very hot and humid Texas weather, there are some considerations as to size and thickness.

Now let me paraphrase Texas Ghost Rider here. A pistol is just for getting yourself to "the long gun". A shotgun or a hi capacity rifle is far more effective in any kind of non-close range gunfight or for multiple attackers. A shotgun is the superior weapon for home defense, even for many experienced pistol shooters. So remember the words of the wise old lawman TGR. If necessary, use the pistol to get to "the long gun".
Do like the man in the photo above and carry a long gun in your car. It can be a lever action or a Remington autoloader or pump with extended magazine or an assault rifle. A cheap AK makes a nice car gun that won't break you if it geist heisted. A shotgun is also a great long gun for self defense. Extended capacity is a plus, but one good friend has carried a short (and legal) double barrel 12 gauge under his truck seat for decades. His leather gun sling holds extra rounds like an ammo belt attached to the weapon. He put a small but powerful flashlight and mount on the gun, sighted in like a bit laser for targets at night. I prefer a Remington 870 with a wood stock and extended mag in a parkerized finish, but for years I carried the folding stock version with the 20" barrel and extended magazine, also in a parkerized finish.

Even a SKS or other older semi-auto rifle is great as a defensive weapon under the proper circumstances, that is, if a rifle is called for. This is particularly true if you live in the country or if you were carjacked or hijacked while traveling in rural areas. You might want a high power rifle with the ability to shoot through car doors in your backseat. The new electronic sights that put a diode on the target via the "open" sight make target acquisition very simple and effective, so long of course as the weapon is sighted in.

But for the small gun to enable you to get to the long gun in your house or car, summer clothing may dictate a smaller gun than the 1911 or other full size or even compact gun you prefer.

There's quite a few guns out there that qualify as ultra small and concealable in or under a t-shirt/shorts combo. In my book, the upper end of ultra small guns hovers around the venerable S&W J frame snubnose, the Colt D Frame snubnose, the Walther PPK series, the newish Walther PPS in 9mm, the Kel-Tec single stack guns from 9mm down, older Berettas and Brownings, the now discontinued Sig .380 DA/SA, and other smaller guns by other makers. Kahr may have some thin guns that fit this description. The interesting but "for me the the jury is still out" on the Rohrbaugh 9mm and .380.

Certainly, Taurus, Smith and Wesson and other makers have semi-autos that fit the thin criteria. I just don't care for them at all. I do like me some Taurus revolvers and 1911's, but unless it's copy of a Beretta M9, I'm not interested in it. Likewise, one step up from the ultra small guns I'm talking about here are the S&W autos that are derived from the orginal Model 39 series, but that falls into the compact and not ultra compact size range.

So I'm talking about guns smaller than the Glock and Sig and Beretta and other sub-compact guns. Ultra small guns.

I don't think that .22 caliber bullets and guns, at least in the ultra small sizes, are good for self defense. One could shoot any number of calibers smaller than a .38 Special and do lots better than a .22. This is not to say that .22's don't do instant kills, because many times they do. But sometimes they don't. Whereas rarely does the person shot with the .45 (or 9mm or .40 or .357 Sig or .38 Special, etc) live through it.

There are some .22's I'd consider for self defense (Ruger, Walther, S&W, Browning) and if that is the biggest gun that someone can deal with to shoot, then put a laser/flashlight combo on that rascal and have extra ammo on or with the weapon/holster in case it takes a few shots to put an intruder or predator down.

I myself prefer J frame airweight revolvers for self-defense in summer months, although the idea of a .32 or .380 that weights 6 or more ounces less than a 14 ounce Model 38 is very attractive in theory, as it the smaller size and flatter profile. The Ruger LCP and the small caliber Kel-Tecs have gotten good reviews from the friends of mine who have them. Many of my friends owning these pistols opt for pocket carry and go for an add-on laser that sort of squares the gun print. Special pocket and belt holsters are made for these laser equipped pistols and I've thought long and hard about getting a Ruger LCP.

I've owned several Rugers and every one has been a champ. Most have been designs in production for decades (or produced decades ago like the Security Six). Although my Kel-Tec toting friends like their guns and swear as to reliability of their guns, I'm not totally convinced. I think the Ruger is a few bucks more than the Kel-Tecs, but it's not much.

Any tiny gun like this is going to have some serious bite in it's recoil and will be difficult for some folks to shoot. Having shot a lot of chopped down .45's and various .44 and .357 magnums in my days, I'm no stranger to a pistol kicking like a mule. Of course, in larger guns you have more control via a much better and bigger hand grip, whereas the .32's and .380's in these ultra light pistols are rumored to be quite lively, jumpy with a bite to the kick and VERY LOUD when shot.

As evidenced by Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent elimination of a threat to his lab puppy in the form of a coyote with a Ruger LCP with a laser, these pistols are capable of defending ones self against a variety of predators.

In looking at these guns online and for holsters for them, I came across a sort of lanyard device designed to suspend the .32 Kel-Tec the neck of the wearer. I hope they have enough sense not to have a round in the chamber if they choose that rig. That rig might be good for some but I'm not sure that's a great idea for a novice.

I recommend several concealment holsters. The High Noon Bare Asset and Mr. Softy are cheap, made of cowhide and despite the near 100 degree and certainly dang near 100 percent humidity lately, I don't sweat around the holster even when I'm sweating elsewhere. It is finished very nicely and does not stick to my skin in any way, since I'm usually wearing it under a t-shirt or polo.

I also have used for nearly 30 years a Bianchi single layer suede out IWB holster with belt clip for snubnoses. Highly effective, very comfortable and very secure. Inexpensive, as far as holsters go. Stay away from the synthetic black material IWB holsters, they're just not comfortable like a good old leather holster is.