Sunday, February 28, 2010

THE TEXAS RANGER DISPATCH

Image below of some old school Texas Rangers from http://www.texasranger.org/history/Images/Radio.jpg






The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, Museum and the Repository of the Texas Ranger Law Enforcement Agency up in Waco has a magazine, and the current Winter 2010 is online here http://www.texasranger.org/dispatch/Backissues/Dispatch_Issue_31.pdf.



There are several interesting articles in this issue. Although I greatly enjoyed Christina Smith's article on Indians and Rangers in 19th Century Texas, I was disappointed in the topical treatment given this important subject in terms of her listed sources and suggested readings. Perhaps the books she cited cites and references some of the books on the subject I've listed below.




To be sure, it's a heady subject that could easily be (and has been) the subject of numerous books and scholarly endeavors. The problem, albeit minor compared to her otherwise excellent article covering a roughly a half a century of history in just a few pages, is that in her sources and suggested readings list at the end of the article, she omits the best known and most interesting books on the subject, a few of which I will list here:

Indian Depredations in Texas by J.W. Wilbargerhttp://www.amazon.com/Indian-Depredations-Texas-J-Wilbarger/dp/0938349759

Here's a blurb from The Texas State Library on Indian Depredations, and as indicated by the blurb reprinted below, the brother of the author was scalped AND lived to tell about it. YIKES. It wasn't always the white man who knew how to inflict pain on another culture. Also, this link is to a set of pages entitled "Indian Relations", on which more than a few books have been written
http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/exhibits/indian/early/page3.html

Scalping of Josiah Wilbarger, 1833
Josiah Wilbarger, brother of the author of Indian Depredations in Texas, was one of the earliest American settlers in Texas. Wilbarger and a party of five others were riding near present-day Austin when they came under heavy attack. Wilbarger was scalped while still conscious and left for dead. He survived and lived for eleven years with his skull exposed. The attack on Wilbarger's party was the beginning of a bloody era in Central Texas that lasted until around 1846, when Texas was annexed to the United States.




Texas Indian Fighters: Early settlers and Indian fighters of southwest Texas
by Andrew Jackson Sowell, a chronicle of many of the early fights in Austin's colony and thereafter by Author Sowell and his father. http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Indian-Fighters-Settlers-Southwest/dp/0938349058



Indian Tribes of Texas by the late noted Texas historian Dornan Winfrey et al AND Indian Papers Of Texas and the Southwest edited by Day and Winfrey.

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/chronicles/v038/v038p110.pdf (scroll down for review on Indian Tribes of Texas)

http://www.tshaonline.org/publications/books/indian.html

http://www.borders.com.au/book/indian-papers-of-texas-and-the-southwest-1825-1916/4355708/


If you are interested in this subject, and it's a part of Texas history that is overlooked by many, then these books I've mentioned about early Texas life and strife between indians, settlers and Texas Rangers are great sources and recommended reading. There are numerous other books, all of which are readily available for online purchase or via reading at the Texas State Library.

Indeed, all one really need do is access the excellent online version of the Texas State Historical Association handbook which has information on all the above, plus other stellar books on the relations between indians and the early settlers of Texas. These are mostly first hand accounts, by the settlers themselves or their descendants.

Not included on her list of recommended reading or mine above are many other books about this subject, which one can easily find by looking at the biblios of the above books that I've listed. It's a subject about which much has been written, particularly by those who lived the history themselves, and it's disappointing that these books were omitted from the sources and reading list for her article. Some of those books, specifically Sowell's and Wilbarger's books, HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE FOR SALE (at least in the recent past) at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco or if out of stock, at the nearby Barnes and Noble store.

It's a great magazine, and I don't mean to slag the almost great effort that it takes to produce such a nice magazine, this one on a quarterly basis. Her article is well written, but I was shocked to see the omission of such prominent sources. Nonetheless, her article gets an A+ from this amateur Texas historian.

Another book I didn't see in the article recommended readings or include on my list was The Texas Rangers, by the Late Professor Walter Prescott Webb. Walter had a bad case of hero worship for the Rangers, and his writing reflects that. Still, it was the first comprehensive "story form" history of that august group of men who played an important part of Texas history. Also missing were books on early life in Texas in Austin's colonies, by Mssrs. Jenkins, Barton and Smithwick. Noteable omissions.

You can find some links to more current works about the Rangers on the wiki page, but I recommend looking back further than books written in this or the last century for a true taste of who and what the Rangers were, and how their relations with the various indian tribes across the State.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Ranger_Division


In closing, there are some other excellent articles in The Dispatch. There's a stellar article on how the Walker Colt changed the shape of law enforcement in Texas (and elsewhere but Texas was first), particularly as it applied to The Texas Rangers and settlers fighting indian tribes back in early Texas. There is an article on the close relation between the banking industry and the Rangers. It is 76 pages of great writing about the Rangers and about Texas history itself.



So to apologize once again to author Smith for being critical of her reference list, I'd once again say that this magazine and it's articles are great. Not enough people care about history nowadays, let along Texas history, specifically, the early days of Texas history. I salute their efforts and maybe I'll take a stab one day at contributing an article to their fine magazine, and I'll hope it doesn't get rejected.






Friday, February 26, 2010

THE HIGH NOON "MR. SOFTY" GLOCK M36 IWB HOLSTER REVIEW








This is the "Mr. Softy" IWB holster made by High Noon. Yes, I agree, it's a silly name for a holster but if you read on below, the only thing I've found silly about this holster is it's name. And it's price new is SILLY REASONABLE, like $27 from the maker, plus shipping I suppose.
I got mine for a screaming $4.00 price. It's in barely used condition. Mine is exactly like the one at left, but I am carrying a Glock M36 in it. I'll go over my impressions in a moment, but I want to add that this company makes this same holster but with a 15 degree forward cant, called BARE ASSET, and based upon my great satisfaction with this holster, I plan to get one of those soon as I generally like a forward cant in holsters.
It's made of leather, and the exterior is finished. The trigger is well covered in firm but not bulky leather. In fact, I was amazed at the supple yet firm nature of the leather in this holster. It holds it's shape inside the pants for pretty easy reholstering. The reinforcing lip of leather is somewhat collapseable, but I have found a slight bit of flexibility in the reinforced mouth of the holster to lend itself to less bulkiness and greater concealability.
It's a very lightweight holster and mine is unfinished on the inside. It is perfectly molded and offers excellent retention and the leather covering the trigger area is very firm. Although some leather finished exterior holsters can be "sticky" or "slippery" against the skin, this finish or stain seems to offer just the right amount of contact and movement against the body.
Unlike the suede roughout exterior IWB holsters I usually use, this one wears better, or at least it is more comfortable, with a t-shirt or undershirt underneath the holster and another shirt worn on top. Even a bit larger t-shirt provides excellent concealment with this holster. With a thicker polo shirt worn untucked, you can't tell I am armed. Which, of course, is a requirement of discreet concealed carry.
It has a metal J clip that extends further than the standard "flatter and flared end" clip used on many holsters such as the old school Bianchi clip. The J clip is large, meaning there is an full half-inch of unused clip below my one and a half inch belt. I don't wear two inch thick belts, and the largest I have is one and three-quarter inch.
I don't know if any other size clips are available, but I'd sure like to see one marketed with the more traditional belt clip used on old school holsters.
Other than having a different clip, I'd love to see a rough out suede exterior version of this holster.
I give this holster a nine out of possible ten, with one point deducted for the clip situation, but it is extremely comfortable and I'm guessing I'll wear it a lot. If I liked this kind of clip, I'd give it a ten. On the plus side, although the clip is big, it offers a great fingerhold to lift it off your belt, and although the holster is held firmly with this clip, it's not hard to get it off your belt at all. In fact, it's easier than the old school clip type holsters.
This unique clip does seem to operate as some sort of large clothespin, pushing down on the bottom of the holster from the pants portion below the belt of the wearer. Perhaps this action is what has kept this holster so steady since I've been wearing it.
It's a lightweight IWB holster that is not flimsy and that offers very good weapon retention. It's a very reasonable price and it has every bit as much quality as a holster costing three times as much. The leatherwork is great and the stitching appears to be of good quality thread. It's not a fancy looking holster but again, it's an IWB so who is going to see it?
It's light enough to wear in summer with some belted shorts and an untucked shirt.
Although the slimline Glock Model 36 .45 caliber is a thick gun, it conceals very well in this holster, riding a bit lower than some other IWB holsters. This lower positioning is a very good balance point for the Glock M36, and it hugs rather then leans out from the body.
Great holster. I'll get another one, the one with the forward cant. Maybe I can get a custom one, and if not, I'm pretty sure one of my holster repairmen can install a new clip and rivet and you won't hardly be able to tell.
UPDATE: I'm still liking this holster. It conceals extremely well under a t-shirt with jeans and a belt. It does not hardly print the butt of the Glock at all. It is very comfortable.
One handed reholstering is difficult but possible. With the Glock, if there is one in the chamber, I prefer to remove the holster and reholster safely.
This holster shines in being easy to put on and take off. The design of the "J" clip that is used makes removing the clip from the belt very easy, and the finish and shape of the holster combine to make putting on and removing very easy. Much easier than any other IWB holster I've owned.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MY BLOG ROLL

I've added a couple of more interesting blog sites to my role, Circumspection & Circumvention and Ann T. Hathaway, which I located via comments on the blog by one of my favorite blogging policemen, Texas Ghostrider.

I have some firearm related links and some prosecutor/lawyer related links and law enforcement related links. I plan to add more fishing and music/musical instrument/musician blogs, but I have not found any I wanted to add yet.

Check out Ann's post on Fissile Material--Toward a Price Prediction. Interesting stuff and quite well written. I have not had a chance to explore her two sites, as apparently she writes both of the above new additions, but plan to do some archive reading soon. From what I've seen, very interesting blogs.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

HOMEWORK

One of my kids is of the age that he is learning some pretty conceptual mathematics. Frankly, I was never a math genius, which is why I chose law as a career.

I know I sound like my father when I talk about how difficult of subjects they are teaching in elementary school nowadays and how we didn't learn "that" (whatever "that" is at the moment) until we were much older. Often times, we have to contact his teacher to figure out what a certain math word problem is seeking. Mrs. El Fisho is much better at the math stuff than I, but sometimes I am able to assist. Usually with internet intervention.

But tonight, I was the star. El Fisho Jr. was really upset at a certain problem, and Mrs. El Fisho didn't get it either.

I had seen this problem before. This exact problem. In the mid-1980's, on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test or some bullshit like that). I think they finally stopped testing for math after I took the test (naturally) but when I took them they had various math questions that challenged me.

So I took prep classes to get good scores on the SAT and the LSAT, as standardized testing is not my forte. But through cramming for these tests 'lo so many years ago, I recognized the problem immediately. Before I even had a chance to run through the formula, I knew the answer was 24. It just popped into my head.

And no, again, I am not Rainman. I am anti-math man. In fact, the only math professor I ever came close to comprehending was my college algebra prof Dr. Lam, who was on load from some east asian university to U of H. Poor Dr. Lam could barely speak-ah-the-english, and although I've grown up around folks from different cultures and international locales with accents, I had difficulty with his diction, pronounciations and grammer.

I just couldn't understand Dr. Lam. He did, however, immediately upon arriving in Texas, direct the cab driver to the nearest cowboy boot emporium, chosing a variety of boots that he liked, and wore well-polished cowboy boots thereafter every day, and of course you had to appreciate that as a Texas.

Amazingly, even though I could not verbally follow him at times, he was the best math teacher I ever had. He could EXPLAIN well in writing, making sense of formulas with tricks and using less shortcuts and longer methods to work through and double check equations.

I made straight A's. Top 'o the class. But even I knew it was a fluke, and Dr. Lam wasn't teaching any other upper math classes, and I knew enough to know that the reason I did so good was because Dr. Lam was good at explaining. So Dr. Lam, if you're out there, you were a great teacher some 32 years ago.

In any event, I was able to look very smart when solving the homework problem tonight. I instantly worked through the formula, diagraming the rectangle for my son, and he worked the problem himself once he understood what they wanted to know.

Homework. I worry about the stress that is being put on kids, and especially my kid, about learning a bunch of crap for the TAKS test. The stress they place on these kids is phenomenal, to the point of having pro-TAKS pep-rallys before the test. My youngest may end up in private school yet.

realized my elementary school child is, some 25 years later, being taught things that I learned in high school and college, and then prepped for in prep classes for the SAT and LSAT.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

RANDOM WINTERY THOUGHTS

-We got a little bit of snow today, a rare occurrence in my part of Texas. It was very nice to have some snow although it melted upon hitting the ground. In the corners and on cars it stayed, so there was some fodder for snowballing. It was very pretty when the large cornflake sized snow was drifting down. Like many other things in life, it was beautiful, but now it's gone and only a memory. I got El Fisho Jr. out of school early, when the snow was falling at it's heaviest, so he could do some playing and some snowball throwing. I didn't get enough of that as a kid growing up in Houston, in fact, I barely have any snow memories at all.



-I watched Zombieland tonight, and it was a funny and lighthearted movie. I enjoyed the acting, and since I really knew nothing about the movie other than Woody Harrelson was in it, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Bill Murray's cameo was very funny. It was a different treatment on the zombie genre, and although I've not watched many zombie flicks since childhood, I'm familiar with the various treatments and storylines. I liked this one and laughed out loud more than a few times.



-Speaking of zombie storylines, one of my friends who lives in L.A. has a daughter in N.Y.C a few years out of college working for the publisher who did the recent Jane Austen and the Zombies book, and apparently that author was following up the Austen treatment with a book about Honest Abe Lincoln and the Zombies. She says the Austen book sold well. Who knew?



-I'm planning at least two trips to the West Coast for the first half of this year and two to the East Coast. One will be a family car trip to the Eastern Seaboard to visit relatives of my wife and the other three will be airplane business trips. Unlike Ms. Kardashian's recent tweets, I can keep a secret about an Air Marshal if I'm lucky enough to be on a flight so staffed and figure out who they are. Two years ago, when doing some extensive traveling between the two coasts, I came across the same fellow, in the same sports coat, on several long distance east coast flights that were several months apart, the latter one during the holidays. I was pretty sure he was an Air Marshal, and told no one but the wife.

-Speaking and thinking of Air Marshals, my friend Max took a drive across Texas yesterday, stopping into one of his favorite gun shops during his trip. He called me excitedly to tell me that they had a pristine used S&W Model 60 in the store. I plan to call that shop today. That's the primary gun that the old school Sky Marshal's used to carry back in the early days of the Sky Marshal program, but I like it because it's an all steel frame five shot .357 J frame revolver with a concealable round butt and it weighs a very reasonable 22 oz and some change. It was priced reasonably. I can't wait for the full report today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

THE PERFECT DRUMSTICK: VATER FATBACK 3A

I started using Vater drumsticks about 2001 or so. I found that their sticks do not warp as fast or as much as the other brand I have used since beginning drumming nearly 40 years ago. I don't get free drumsticks from Vater or anyone else, I've always been a payin' customer. Except for the first pair of Vater sticks, which a pro drummer friend of mine gave me to try out.

When I first began drumming in the early 70's, there were few brands of sticks to choose from. Even at that time, Pro-Mark had become a very popular brand of drumstick, especially if you like me began your drum lessons at the long-defunct Brochstein's Music in Houston. Herb Brochstein not only owned one of the coolest music stores in town but also had by the time of my introduction to drumming become a very large maker of drumsticks, if not the world's largest, which he soon became.

Now Herb's son Maury and possibly other Brochstein family members run Pro-Mark. I've met Herb Brochstein many times over the years, seeing him the last time at the funeral of my former drum teacher Joe Raynor in 2004. In addition to being a drum stick magnate, Herb is also a helluva drummer himself. I actually have a video of Herb at a Modern Drummer magazine event in New Jersey some years ago engaging in tradin' fours with various famous drummers and the late publisher of Modern Drummer, Ron Spagnardi. Great drummers, all.

But the reason I strayed to Vater had everything to do with the unique size of their 3A drumstick. A drummer friend of mine who had an endorsement with Vater back in the early 2000's gave me a pair of his 3A's to try out. I was hooked, and except for a few jazz type gigs I've done since then where I needed a smaller stick, the 3A's have been my constant companion.

And I'm a drummer who likes what he likes and has pretty much been using the same stuff for many years. I've used the same cymbals for many decades, adding occasionally to the collection but always coming back to the original A. Zildjians that I've always used (14" New Beat Hihats, 20" ride, 14", 16" and 18" rock crashes). I've used Pro-Mark sticks since the beginning and I've used the same brand and model of drumheads since then too.

Some might call me staid, but I've tried drumsticks by many makers over the years, and I always came back to Pro-Mark until finding Vater. I've tried Regal Tips, various custom made sticks, Ludwig and other drum maker branded sticks, Vic Firth, Hotsticks and others. In the 1980's, when Hotsticks were introduced, I liked them because their 5A was just a wee bit thicker than a standard 5A size stick, fitting my hand perfectly.

But the Hotsticks ultimately became thinner as well, and they had other problems. One major problem with Hotsticks was that they were painted, and the paint chipped as rim shots and cymbal hits occurred, thus either marking cymbals or putting small paint chips everywhere, including on the drummer's sweaty hands. Again, at some point in time, it seemed like the Hotsticks were not available in Houston, and I went back to using Pro-Mark sticks.

5A was always my main stick of choice. At other times, a 2A size, which was a bit larger in diameter than a 5A, sometimes felt better in my hands, but usually after gigging for part of a night, I played better with the thinner 5A. And so it went for several decades of gigging and hundreds of gigs and rehearsals.

Nowadays, there are a huge number of models of drum sticks in many different diameters. I bet that Pro-Mark might even make a stick about the same size as a Vater 3A, and it might even be an artist's model named after some famous or infamous drummer. But I really have not looked too hard because I've been so satisfied with the Vater 3A. It's a lightweight stick and is left natural (meaning unfinished). Again, leaving sticks unfinished (which aids sweaty drumming hands to hold onto them properly by better absorbing sweat than lacquered sticks) is something Pro-Mark and other makers have been doing for decades. It's nothing new.

But the Vater just feels right in my hand. It has a bit thicker shoulder than the 5A as well, meaning that it gives (to me) a more solid sounding rim shot or hi hat click than a thinner stick. As far as I know, not one of my Vater sticks has warped. I have seen some Vater sticks at music stores that were warped, and we all know that wood can warp, but I've been amazed at the non-warpage of the Vater sticks I've bought over the last near decade.

I don't want to come off like I am dissing Pro-Mark at all. I still also use their sticks, as does my son. When my daughter, The Princess, was drumming in her high school years, playing with an all girl rock trio, she chose to use Pro-Marks as well. Most of my friends use Pro-Mark as well, and this includes those who like me studied drumming in their early years at Brochstein's Music and those who studied elsewhere.

Actually, when I was a wee lad, I was given my first pair of drumsticks by an older drummer. They were, of course, Pro-Mark drumsticks. When I began taking lessons from Joe Raynor, I bought some of his signature sticks, which were also made by Pro-Mark.

Joe Raynor's stick was a very unique model. It was a jazzer stick, about the size of a 7A (thinner than a 5A), but it had a "tip" on each end of the stick. The butt end of the stick had a much larger tip than the regular end, thus for differing volume levels in jazz and other music that is quieter than rock and blues a double headed stick was just the ticket.

I bought many of Joe's sticks over the years, as I found them perfect for orchestral, stage band and jazz music that required a bit lighter touch and sound than the 5A's. In the late 80's, out of nowhere, the now defunct Houston DRUM*GUITAR*KEYBOARD shop had a bucket full of new old stock Joe Raynor double tipped sticks, and I bought them all. Still have several pairs left.

I wrote Pro-Mark sometime back, and asked them if they still made that stick and if I could special order some of them. The customer service rep who wrote back said that they had destroyed the dies or mold or pattern (whatever they use) for that stick so it could no longer be made.

I plan to have some custom sticks made in the future that are the same size as the Joe Raynor models. Because they are thinner sticks, they are somewhat prone to warpage and breakage, and many of the remnants I have left are missing one or both tips. I do have several good pair, and guard those carefully, using them only for certain gigs.

In any event, I really do like the hickory Vater 3A sticks, particularly with the nylon tip, which really gives good ride and hi hat definition.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

AN OPEN LETTER TO HENRY REPEATING ARMS COMPANY AND WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS COMPANY



TO THE EXECUTIVES, CORPORATE OFFICERS, MARKETING GURUS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE HENRY REPEATING ARMS COMPANY, WINCHESTER REPEATING ARM COMPANY AND ANY OTHER MANUFACTURER OF LEVER ACTION RIFLES:


WHY ISN'T YOUR COMPANY MAKING A VERSION OF THE PISTOL SHOWN ABOVE?


The Mares Leg/Laig or Bounty Hunter pistol is a true invention of Hollywood. First thought of, as far as I know, for use by Steve McQueen in the 50's Western TV series THE BOUNTY HUNTER, it's been used by other actors and shows since then. Folks like me, ordinary folk, have wanted to have one of these guns of my own, but cannot justify the artificially high price that the makers of these weapons have charged and are charging for what is basically a cut down rifle.


I think there exists a significant market, both within the shooters and hunters and sportsman as well as within the ranks of the .22 plinker. Although there have been replicas made from cut down Winchesters and other lever actions, and although there is at least one Italian maker (Puma) who makes a version of this gun new as a pistol (thus avoiding the $200 tax for turning a rifle into a pistol), common sense says that this gun could be made by American companies and sold at a far less price than the replicas have sold for in the past.


Let's consider what would have to be done. I suppose a CNC machine would have to be repurposed to make the stocks shorter and to make the barrels and magazines 4" shorter. This would all occur before the barrel was fitted to a new receiver, thus it would be made new as a pistol, thus avoiding the $200 federal tax.


The receivers are already made by your companies, as are the other parts. Some slight re-enginnering would be necessary to make the magazines work properly, and of course as mentioned above a new stock and a cut down barrel would have to be made, but these are small changes.


For Henry .22 lever action rifles, it would seem like this would be an ideal move into some new marketing territory. I would buy a .22 version of this gun, were it reasonably priced at about $400 - $600, instead of a larger caliber version for the same price. It would be a great companion for hunting and fishing and just overall fun on the farm.
This type of pistol is a unique Hollywood creation, but logic dictates that someone back in western times could have done this as well. Perhap a railroad armed car guard, or a coach gun for someone traveling in a stage coach or buggy. It stands to reason that if folks were sawing off shotguns for close range weapons back then they were doing it to rifles. Seems like some of the gangster rifles like the BAR from the 30's and 40's on display in museums often had cut down barrels to 12" or 14" for use in the confined spaces of a car.
In any event, I've shot both the Wrangler lever action as well as the Henry, and they are both excellent guns. Likewise, other brands like Marlin make excellent lever action rifles. I think a gun of this nature would not only be an attention getter for a company but a profitable sales item, if it were priced reasonably.

THE MARE'S LAIG/LEG - BOUNTY HUNTER PRICE CONUNDRUM











The top photo features a picture of the MARE'S LEG (Sometimes spelled MARE'S LAIG) pistol as adapted from a full size rifle by a fellow known as JB CUSTOMS. The middle two photos show El Stevo McQueen from his famous series, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, where he used a cut down lever action carbine instead of the requiste Colt six-shooter.
The bottom photo shows an Italian made product called THE BOUNTY HUNTER MODEL 92 made by the Puma Gun Company. Perusing the Puma site, one can't help but notice their cheap prices, which might or might not be a good thing. I've owned some inexpensive guns that were good guns, and I've owned some inexpensive guns that were junk. The Puma Bounty Hunter pistols that I've seen have been pretty good quality, although I have not gotten to shoot one.
Both the JB CUSTOM version and the Puma version are expensive. The Puma version has a street price of about $1200, which is about the cheapest price that I have seen in the last twenty years or so that various folks have been making versions of this gun.
The thing is, everywhere else in the Western World, lever action rifles sell for anywhere from about $350 to $600 made by such companies as Marlin and Winchester. Winchester even has a model that chambers pistol ammunition with a large loop lever and a 16" barrel. Other makers have similar guns that sell in this price range.
So why is it that no marketing genius from Winchester or Marlin or another American gun company has not figured out that making their own Mare's Leg would be profitable, particularly if they sold it at a reasonable price, like $500 or $600? Here's another brainbuster of an idea, marketing folks: Make it in a .22 caliber so that it could be shot cheaply and frequently.
It begs the question why a great gun company like Henry Repeating Arms Company, which sells a .22 rifle with a 16" barrel and large loop level for $300 new can't make one of these guns and sell it for the same price or just a bit more? There may be another posting following this one with an open letter to the Henry Repeating Arms Company.
After all, as long as the receivers have not previously been used with a rifle barrel, it's a pistol being made and not a Short Barreled firearm, which requires the payment of the $200 tax. All of the receivers used by any rifle company are new prior to fitting them with a rifle barrel, and thus would be eligible to turn into a pistol if a manufacturer were so inclined.
JB CUSTOM now is apparently selling a model made by the same company that owns Puma, but this is a takedown model that does not appear on the Puma/Legacy Arms website. Here's the JB CUSTOM link to the takedown model, which is another $700 more than the already too-expensive Model 92: http://www.jbcustom.com/page713.html
JB CUSTOM also apparently sells the standard Model 92 as well, but tacks on their profit of another $495 to the already outrageous price of the Model 92 through more reasonably priced online dealers. As I said above, you can find the Model 92 very easily for $1200, so why would you want to buy the same gun from JB CUSTOM for an extra $495?
Once upon a time, I believe that JB CUSTOM made their own Mare's Leg pistols out of cut down full size carbines. This alteration requires the payment of a $200 tax to the Federal Government for creating a SBF, or short barreled firearm, meaning a short barreled rifle. JB CUSTOM originally used a previously unused pre-safety cut down Winchester Model 94 to make their Mare's Leg pistol.
THE PUMA BOUNTY HUNTER MODEL 92:
Here's what one site has to say about the parent company of PUMA and the BOUNTY HUNTER MODEL 92:
Puma Rifles - Based on the gun that cowboy character Josh Randall carried in the 1950’s television series by the same name, Legacy Sports International announces the release of the Bounty Hunter Model 92 under their popular Puma brand.
Manufactured in Italy by Chiappa Firerms,the Bounty Hunter is considered by Federal Law a handgun, not a rifle. It’s 12 inch barrel and 24 inch overall length make it ideal as a pack gun or a nostalgia collectible.
With a six round magazine, the Bounty Hunter also features a large, ¾ loop lever and the same beautiful wood and metal finish as the new line of full sized Model 92’s.
Available in .45 Colt, .44-40 or .44 Magnum.
BOUNTY HUNTER
Caliber Catalog Number Finish Barrel/Receiver Barrel MSRP.45 LC PCH-920185 Case Hardened/Blued 12” $1,250.00.44/40 PCH-920186 Case Hardened/Blued 12” $1,250.00.44MAG PCH-920207 Case Hardened/Blued 12” $1,250.00
About:Armisport Chiappa was founded in Brescia, Italy in 1958 by Ezechiele Chiappa and specialized in replica Black powder and muzzle loading firearms. Over the past 50 years the company has evolved into what is known today as “The Chiappa Group” and is chaired by Ezechiele’s son Rino Chiappa. The Chiappa Group has established a reputation of providing quality firearms and services in a worldwide market through experience and a commitment to its customers to uniquely blend old world hand craftsmanship with the most modern of machining technology. This blend of craftsmanship and technology has yielded treasures of the past which are truly antique art in the form of arms. Today, the Chiappa Firearms group is a solid and fluent reality, with a commitment to shooting enthusiasts offering a wide variety of high quality products worldwide. Chiappa Firearms is proud to be involved in the evolution of the Puma 92 series of lever action rifles and Legacy Sports International’s desire to make available the highest quality product that modern manufacturing techniques can allow, while maintaining a commitment to historical accuracy and traditional values.
Here's what Wiki says about the Mare's Laig/Leg pistol:
The Mare’s Leg (aka Mare’s Laig; both sometimes spelled without the apostrophe) was the name given to a customized shortened rifle by Steve McQueen’s character on the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958–1961). McQueen’s character was named Josh Randall, and the gun has also been referred to as a Winchester Randall, or a Randall Special.
The original Mare’s Leg was made by cutting down a .44-40 caliber Winchester Model 1892 rifle to a size that could be worn in a large leg holster and used with one hand. The barrel was cut down to a length of twelve (or possibly nine) inches,[1] and much of the butt-stock was removed.
For filming three guns were actually made, each with an enlarged loop on the cocking lever. The first gun differed in the size of its lever enlargement, and the last gun had an octagonal barrel instead of a round one. The actual gun being used could sometimes change from shot to shot in a given scene. While the guns were chambered for the .44-40 round, McQueen wore more impressive looking .45-70 rounds in the loops of his gun belt.
In the United States, under the National Firearms Act, to cut any weapon originally built as a rifle to a barrel length less than 16 inches one must pay a $200 tax and obtain approval from the BATFE.[2] However, such a permit is not required to make an exact copy from scratch as a “lever action pistol”.[3]
As of the 1980s, one of the original guns was on display at the Fort Spaghetti Restaurant and Museum (999 Ball Road, Anaheim, California).[4] Another one was bought by French singer/songwriter Gilbert B├ęcaud.
Other appearances
The gun makes an appearance as the favorite weapon of key characters in a film sequel to the McQueen series, and later series, that use the weapon as a homage.

Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987 film) starred Rutger Hauer as Nick Randall, the grandson of Josh Randall. Nick keeps his grandfather’s Mare’s Leg in a display case in his office.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–1994 television series) featured a Mare’s Leg wielding character named Crystal Hawks.

The Magnificent Seven (1998–2000 television series) featured Eric Close as Mare’s Leg wielding Vin Tanner, reminiscent of McQueen's character Vin in the original film.

Firefly (2002 television series) and Serenity (2005 film) starred Gina Torres as Zoe Alleyne Washburne, who used the same Mare’s Leg prop created for Brisco County, Jr.

Similar shortened rifles have appeared in:
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968 film) used by Woody Strode in a cameo, when sent to kill Charles Bronson's character "Harmonica".
Boss ****** (1975 blaxploitation film) used by the main character.
Zombieland (2009 film) used by Woody Harrelson throughout the film.
Replicas
There have been a number of toys based on the Mare’s Leg, from small cap guns to larger detailed toys complete with a holster.
A number of companies have marketed functional reproductions of the Mare’s Leg, making them the same way as the original, by cutting down Winchester rifles. These reproductions also have the same legal restrictions as the original: a rifle may not have a barrel length less than 16 inches without obtaining a tax stamp from the ATF, in accordance with the National Firearms Act.
Because of the legal problems, non-functional prop-quality replicas have also been produced by the same companies that make functional copies.
Pistol

1892 Mares Leg Lever Action Pistol
Type
Lever action pistol
Place of origin
United States
Production history
Designer
Jim Buchanan
Designed
2005
Manufacturer
J.B. Custom
Produced
2005—
Number built
~50
Specifications
Length
24 inches
Barrel length
12 inches
Cartridge
.45 Colt,.44-40 Winchester,.38-40 Winchester,.44 Magnum, or.357 Magnum
Action
Lever-action
Feed system
6-round Tubular magazine
Since 2005, J.B. Custom has been marketing an "1892 Mares Leg Lever Action Pistol". This weapon is a fully functional copy of Randall’s weapon, available in a number of calibers. Since they are newly manufactured as pistols and sold subject to handgun regulations, rather than cut down rifles, they avoid the aforementioned legal difficulties. Just like the original weapon, the J.B. Custom version has a 12 inch barrel, and an overall length of two feet.
The gun was available in .45 Colt, .44-40 Winchester, and .38-40 Winchester. Early promotional material specified a limited production run of 50 units based on the number of available 1892 actions that could be used legally.
Currently produced weapons use a slightly different action that while not exactly like the 1892 model, cycles more reliably, and is commercially available. This version is also available in .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum.
In 2008, Legacy Sports International introduced a Mare's Leg. It is made by Chiappa in Italy, imported for Legacy, and sold under the brand name Puma. This Puma 92 is named the Bounty Hunter. It is available in several calibers including; .44 magnum, .45 Colt, and .44-40. With a 12 inch barrel, no shoulder stock, and a receiver that has never been built into a rifle, it is considered a pistol by the ATF.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

IT'S BACK: THE FENDER MUSICMASTER BASS AMP





Through another trade with Billy Ray, I am back in possession of the Fender Musicmaster Bass Amp that I traded him some time ago for a very nice Strat and another guitar. You can read about that trade here at A Stratocaster Bargain.
So about the only thing this amp needs to be 100% is a new speaker. I put a used guitar speaker in the amp when I started using it for guitar playing a few years ago. I have the original speaker, but my efforts to recone it and repair it were not successful. So I want to find out what the original speaker specs were for this amp so that I can get as close to that as possible with a replacement.
As mentioned in the earlier posting, the amp was rehabbed after I got it sometime in 2001, buying it at a bargain price in not so great condition from a bandmate who had owned it for years. The amp guru repairman said it was an excellent example of a hand wired Class A tube amplifier, and not only rehabbed and replaced any wires or parts but resoldered some connections and replaced and rebiased the tubes. It's a cranking amp and gets a great sound.
Although the amp was rated new at 12 watts RMS with 26 watts peak, it's a bedroom practice or recording amp at most when used for bass guitars. But for guitar, it's three tube, solid state rectifier amplifier gets a great sound.
I once played in a band with a fellow who, for practices and recording, used some sort of Dbx stereo unit to play his guitar into, which split the signal to two Musicmaster Bass Amps. He also used a Fender tube reverb with this rig as well, which was plenty adequate for the full band live recording that we did with it.
These are one of the last great bargains available in Fender Silverface tube amps of the 1970's and 1980's. The similarly priced Fender Champ amps can also be had for several hundred dollars still, and both offer the tone that so many guitarists love. Throw a tube screamer pedal in front of this amp and you're ready to crank out some Texas blues for your shoes.
I'd pay as much as $500 for a pristine "closet classic" version of the Musicmaster Bass Amp, provided it had been kept with a cover and was relatively dust free. For a more used one, anywhere in the $250 to $300 range is good for an excellent working condition one, and less for other problems.
As with any tube amp this age, plan on getting it retubed and perhaps having at least the pots cleaned by a qualified repairman who knows how to bias tubes and properly clean an amp of this nature.
So I'm off to do some surfing to find the ideal replacement speaker for it. And maybe an amp cover, since it has been kept clean and closeted and is still relatively new looking and I'd like to keep it that way.



HOW TO PLAY THE DRUM SET: PART ONE

I've been playing drums now for 39 years. It's always been my great stress equalizer, and sometimes I can even relax by just visualizing myself playing drums, either alone or with a band. John Mayer has his visualizations and relaxation methods, and I have mine.

I got my first drum set, egged on not only by the love of rock and roll that I had as an elementary school child in the 60's but oddly enough by "TV" bands such as The Partridge Family. In my fifth grade year, my fever for wanting a drum set had become so fever pitched that only a drum set for Christmas was going to do the trick. Although I knew that the top brands back then were Ludwig, Rogers, Gretsch and Slingerland, I also knew that I'd likely be getting a beginners set like the cool Apollo blue or red sparkle beginner kits that were for sale at H & H or Parker Music stores at the malls. Instead, I got a very old 1950's era Ludwig set and was very happy with it.

I began drum lessons shortly after that, but those concentrated on skills such as stick holding, how to hit the drum and snare drum playing. In school, I started in the orchestra and marching bands in 6th grade, furthering my skills on snare drum and other percussion instruments. I did have a few lessons from my drum teacher on how to play drum kit, but I largely learned to play the drum set myself, as have many others.

LESSONS

I encourage anyone interested in learning to play the drums to invest in a couple of up- front lessons just to learn to hold the sticks and hit the drum properly. There are lots of great DVD's and books out there that can teach and guide you in the basics, and I urge you to study as much and as different of a material as you can. But there is no substitute for learning the basics of snare drum playing as that will later apply to the entire drum set.

You will need to learn how to begin your quest for "four way independence" with practice doing different things with each limb on the drum kit. Once you master the basic 4/4 rock beat of boom chick boom chick with the bass drum on 1 and 3 and the snare on 2 and 4, with either cymbal or high hat on 1,2,3 & 4, then you are ready to start learning to play the drums using the El Fisho patented method.

Lessons also provide the basic music theory foundation you need to begin your musical journey. Just like you wouldn't take a long road trip on the back roads without taking a map or a gps, you can't play music unless you understand the language. And learning the basic theory you need to play drums is minor compared to the amount of theory you need to learn to play a tuned instrument.

I would urge everyone who is taking beginning drum lessons to also take some beginning piano lessons at the same time, or perhaps just before you begin taking drum lessons. The piano is, after all, a percussive instrument itself, as the hammers strike the strings in a "real" piano, and even in digital keyboards and pianos, you are still using a percussive finger movement to make the music upon the keyboard.

Three months of weekly piano lessons before learning the first thing about drums will speed the study of drums exponentially. You can learn the basics of music theory, which make a bit more sense first applied to the piano anyway, and then by the time your drum teacher begins explaining rhythm, rudiments, time signatures and the like, you're already up to speed and ready to learn the physical movements and practice routines that will give you a smooth and steady drumming style.

I myself took lessons throughout my high school years, and then took another hunk of lessons in my twenties from my original teacher, the late Joe Raynor. I am no Buddy Rich, but the lessons helped me be the best drummer I could be. I realize in this day and economy many might not be able to afford extensive lessons, but the message is take as many as you can afford. Get a teacher you work well with. Have him recommend materials to study after you leave him.

There are classic drum rudiment exercise books out there that bear use in working through and practicing. Even if you, like me, often play a more simple style like Al Jackson or Charlie Watts, a nice John Bonham-esque triplet flourish around the kit at the end of a saucy blues tune often turns a head or two and is fun to do. It's nice to have a few arrows in the quiver, even if you're not playing a particularly flashy style of music.

You have to learn the rudiments to learn how to do most of these signature flashy licks. You have to take some lessons to learn the rudiments and how to practice them. Take lessons for as long as you can.

PLAYING ALONG WITH MUSIC

In spite of private lessons and being in school band for seven years, I learned to play the drum kit largely by playing along with records. Many folks both famous and everyday who play drums also learned this way, in addition to lessons. For many like me, taking lessons sped up my ability to learn, and playing with records taught me skills I wasn't learning in lessons and taught me about keeping time and finishing the song.

My first records involved easier drumming, and as my abilities and tastes expanded, I was able to play more complex drum parts. Since I was taking drum lessons pretty much throughout the entirety of my junior high and high school days, I had lots of opportunities to ask my instructors how to do a riff or lick or rhythm that was perplexing me.

I started by playing along with various Elvis and Beatles albums. One of my drummer friends lived about a half a block away. The late David Jost. In seventh grade, we began gathering at his home in a large game room, with both of our drum sets on a weekend night. His older brother had a huge record collection, and a very serious stereo rig in the game room.

His brother, who DJ'd at a local radio station had some gear that allowed more than one pair of headphones to be hooked up to very small amplifiers so that each headphone could have an independent volume control. He also had a room mike hooked up to a 4 channel mixer that fed a signal mixed with the record we were playing and the room mike, so we could hear ourselves drumming as well as the song we were playing along with.

This early skill in double drumming later came to be very handy in my twenties and thirties, as I sometimes played in double drum set configurations in bands I played with. Shortly after beginning our playing along with records sessions, we would be joined by other beginning musicians, learning bass and guitar, who also wanted to play along with records with other folks and learn how to play with other musicians.

It soon developed that we began playing cover music and ultimately, music that various members of these early jam sessions would write.

But more importantly, it taught us to listen to each other and I think gave us some pretty good timing. Pretty soon after working through "Meet the Beatles" and "Abbey Road" and various Al Green and CCR tunes, we had worked our way up to playing along well with "Sticky Fingers" and then onto various Cream and Hendrix tunes. Soon thereafter came more technical horn rock bands like Chicago, ELP or Blood, Sweat and Tears and then ultimately we moved onto progressive jazz artists like Billy Cobham, Lenny White and Alphonse Mouzon.

KEEPING TIME

The timing thing is the biggest thing I learned from playing drums along with records.
The biggest compliment I have ever received came from noted Houston blues guitarist Dogman Miller, who once characterized me as Houston's "Al Jackson" of the drums. The late Al Jackson, of course, played drums for Booker T. and The M.G.'s, Al Green, and numerous Stax Recording artists. amongst many others like B.B. King, and his sound and timing are legendary in modern blues and r&b drumming circles.

I credit that comment to the fact that I had spent hours listening to and playing along with Al Green Records in my youth before that ultimate drummers compliment was made to me on a hot, sweaty night in August of 1988 onstage at the Last Concert Cafe on Nance Street in the warehouse district in the east part of downtown Houston.

I remember the unique rhythms that different bands have, and how it felt the first time I noticed the difference between the flow of Al Green or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or Hendrix in their music. It was like an epiphany of understanding how the jigsaw puzzle pieces of "time", as the the time signature and flow of the music, all fit together and ended up back on the "one"

David's brother had stacks and stacks of local and national music magazines and newspapers to go along with his hundreds of albums. During our youth, we and other like minded friends spent a great deal of time becoming rock music historians and learning as much about the many bands we were listening to from the written word as we did from the music.

We were all gonna be rock and roll stars.

The point is, I still enjoy playing drums along with music through headphones almost 40 years later. Except now I often do it on a Roland electronic drum kit running into Garageband (and formerly, into multi track cassette and memory card home recorders), playing along with my own songs that I've written or those that I've done with other folks like Billy Ray and Ricky Ray.

Okay, so maybe this is not the guide of the century to learning to play drums, but it's how I and countless others learned as well. In future installments, I'll talk about buying your drums and finding other musicians to play with and playing in bands. I'll talk about other drum topics too, from choosing a set of cymbals to transporting your gear to the Zen of Drumming.

And there is a Zen of Drumming.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A VISIT TO THE GUN SHOP

I went to the locally owned but generally well stocked for a small gun store that's near my work yesterday at lunch. I got the gun fever, as does my friend who went with me. We went to several pawn shops in the area first, and to our dismay, neither carried handguns. One had a few rifles for sale but they were not on display, but some pictures of them were.

It's been a long time since my active pawn shopping days, looking for gun, guitar, amp and drum bargains in the early 80's pawn shops. But I can't recall ever having gone to a pawn shop that didn't sell guns, or pistols.

So off we went to the local gun shop. I saw a marvelous Colt Detective Special in the box for $650, a few of the beloved Kimber Ultra Carry and Ultra CDP II .45's, and the Smith and Sig versions of their new .22 assault rifles.

Both the .22 assault rifles were nice. The Smith was much lighter and has nice sights, while the Sig was typical Sig solid and function and felt very good in the hands. It didn't have any sights or a handle, having an accessory rail on top of the gun, which was flat and reminded of the original Armalites. The folding/extendable stock was very nice and accomodates both me and El Fisho Jr. quite well in the different positions. Both were priced at $499 and I'd like to have one of each, although I'm tempted to make a go for the Sig because I bet it is a great shooting gun.

The Kimber compact 1911 triggers are just fabulous. I recently shot a Ultra CDP quite a lot and I really liked it. Nice shooting gun.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: EVAN JOHNS AND THE H-BOMBS "LOVE IS MURDER"


Way, way back in the days of my well-mispent yout, I did a lot of listening to live music, particularly in Houston and Austin and occasionally in other cities like L.A. and NOLA. I was quite adept in those pre-internet days of knowing what bands I wanted to see and finding our where they were playing, which at times in those days was not so easy sometimes. The calenders in local music and news weeklies were often incorrect, and sometimes there was no ad for the club you might want to see an act at.
In Houston in the eighties it was The Public News, and occasionally a column by Marty Racine in the Chronicle about bands of interest. In Austin, there was the far more comprehensive Austin Chronicle, and in LA there were many local music 'zines but the LA WEEKLY was pretty comprehensive as well.
So when I was going to see my old friend Herschel Berry and The Natives gigging at various locales around Houston, sometime around 1984 or so, I happened upon a gig whether the Natives were playing with a then-Austin band at Chelsea's 804, then located logically enough at 804 Chelsea Street in the museum district of Houston.
Chelsea's is long gone, having closed sometime in the mid-to-late eighties.
But on this particular occasion I thought ole' Evan and his band, the same one as pictured above on my favorite Evan album, just plain rocked out. After his band played, Herschel introduced me to Evan and we were all out in back of Chelsea's getting some fresh air (Chelsea's, like many inner loop clubs of the day, had wholly inadequate air conditioning for any size crowd).
Evan had just been given some prestigious music award that year in Austin and we were congratulating him about it, and in a modest, aw shucks style that is Evan, said "Hell, you buy you an old piece of shit guitar in a pawn shop and play some rocking blues and they think you have talent!".
I picked up the above album a few days after that at a used record store. It's a great album with some really classic original tunes on it.
There's a bunch of great tunes on this album. "{Your} Love is Murder", "Life Sentence in Love, and my favorite My Baby She Left me (because I would not put my guitar down)" range from ballad to hard rocking blues. I often wanna do some dancing even when listening by myself when I hear "My Baby She Left Me". If you like Texas blues rock from that era, you'll love this. Some flavors of other styles of roots music (way before it was labeled roots music by music executives), this album is just excellent.
Here's My Baby She Left me on youtube from 1987...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eoT5n3rFEQ
Here's a link to Evan's website, such as it is: http://www.evanjohns.net/index.html
The Amazon site has a short bio on him:
Johns (b. 1955) had fronted several bands in the Virginia/DC locale, coming to the attention of guitarist Danny Gatton and eventually doing vocals and writing the title track to Gatton's Redneck Jazz album. He formed The H-Bombs in the late '70s, recording an eponymous four-song EP on the tiny Deco label. After moving to Austin, TX, Johns joined The LeRoi Brothers in the early '80s. Johns was nominated for a Grammy for guesting on the Big Guitars from Texas album, a compilation of Austin's best. He re-formed The H-Bombs, carnival-barker voice and crazed guitar chops intact, and has continued into the '90s with a spate of frenzied, off-kilter albums ever since. ~ Cub Koda, All Music Guide
(Above content from All Music Guide at Amazon link above)
Here's what Robert Christgau says about the above album :

Evan Johns and the H-Bombs [Jungle, 1987] B
Consumer Guide Reviews:Evan Johns and the H-Bombs [Jungle, 1987]Johns is a local hero, a rock and roll crazy who lives for the music and whose undeniable gift doesn't do justice to the magnitude of his devotion. After years of fringe rockabilly in D.C., relocating to Austin has brought out the Doug Sahm in him. On "guitars, vox organ, lap steel, upright and electric bass, slide, harmonica, and lead vocals," he rolls out tune after generically catchy tune in his somewhat raspy drawl. Most of them are about purty girls and hellacious wimmin, but I can't even claim he deserves the latter, because the specifics just aren't there--the words are unfailingly good-humored and never anything more, including funny. My favorite cut is an instrumental named after its entire lyric, "Hey Whew!," but those so enamored of authenticity that they fake it can fool their collector fans by covering "Life Sentence in Love" or "Love Is Murder" or "Moonshine Runner" or "My Baby, She Left Me." B
So Mr. Christgau finds this album "simple". I found it to be a rocking album and of course, as a live act they were just unbelieveable. After that first time I saw them opening for Herschel Berry (or vice versa, it's been so long...), I saw them numerous times in Austin and Houston.
BiographyBy the year 1980, noted Washington, D.C., musician Evan Johns had formed the H Bombs and released their first album. Their popularity swiftly grew and before they knew it, they were sharing stages with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and the Ramones. Johns moved to Texas in 1984, and shortly thereafter, the band moved to Austin to join him and reunite. The reunion was successful as the band went on to release a good number of albums on labels such as Rykodisc and Jungle. ~ Diana Potts, All Music Guide
Here's some youtube links for Evan:
Here's the Trouser Press bio on Evan with information as recent as 2005, placing him living in Vancouver, which is a mighty nice place to live. http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=Evan_Johns_and_His_H-Bombs
EVAN JOHNS AND HIS H-BOMBS (Buy CDs by this artist)Giddy Up Girl EP10 (Deco) 1980Even Johns and the H-Bombs (UK Jungle) 1986Rollin' Through the Night (Alternative Tentacles) 1986 + 1992Bombs Away (Speedo/Rykodisc) 1989Please Mr. Santa Claus (Rykodisc) 1990Rockit Fuel Only! (Rykodisc) 1991EVAN JOHNS AND THE H-BOMBS"Showdown at the Hoedown": Recorded Live at the 8 X 10 Baltimore, MD 3-16-1984 (Can. Jellyroll) 2005
Jerry Lee Lewis worshiper (who claims to have blown his hero off the stage on a good night!) and certified lunatic of the geetar, Evan Johns simply personifies the most incendiary and rebellious elements of rock'n'roll. A teenaged Virginia hellion who apprenticed in the DC bar circuit under the legendary Danny Gatton, Johns formed the H-Bombs in 1979 and made the reelin' rockabilly 10-inch Giddy Up Girl in 1980. The four songs are roughly recorded, but blueprint the searing six-string mayhem that has marked Johns' best work.
It wasn't until a move to Austin, a stint with the LeRoi Brothers and a Grammy nomination for his featured participation in the Big Guitars From Texas Trash Twang and Thunder compilation LP that Johns' name began to spread across the land he'd already criss-crossed time and time again. Rollin' Through the Night, a 1982 session unreleased until Jello Biafra came across it four years later, is the pinnacle by which Johns — and any other purveyors of roots-surf-guitar-billy-boogie — must forever be measured. With second guitarist Mark Korpi's taut speed runs setting the pace, EJ provides fireworks galore on cuts like "Madhouse," "Sugar Cookie" and "Do the Dootz." Put this album on a 90-minute cassette with The Best of ZZ Top and drive till you die happy. The '92 CD reissue (in which Alternative Tentacles owner Jello Biafra credits a "record reviewer from Trouser Press magazine" for introducing him to Johns' work) adds three previously unreleased cuts.
Released the same year, Evan Johns and the H-Bombs gathers three years of scattered sessions for a predictably less-focused set, highlighting Johns' love of Tex-Mex, blues and country, as well as head-stompin' rock.
The H-Bombs backed Eugene Chadbourne on the berserk, twisted Vermin of the Blues before making the relatively polished and consistently superb Bombs Away. Producer (and Springsteen sideman) Gary Tallent manages to squeeze the band into a clear, vibrant framework without obliterating the trademark hog-wild spirit of Johns' best outings. The seasonal and primarily instrumental Please Mr. Santa Claus is a holiday postcard that features a polka, the fiddle-fueled "Little Cajun Drummer Boy," a raging "Telstar" and plenty of free-style pickin' throughout.
Rockit Fuel Only!, while allowing for the broad stylistic whims of its creator (like a surprising compassionate piano ballad, "Prove It to Each Other"), also rocks harder than anything since Rollin' Through the Night. "Juvenile Delinquent," "Boogie Disease" and "Little Scene Setter" are among the rip-it-up corkers that keep Evan Johns among rock'n'roll's guitar elite.
Resident in Vancouver since 2002, Johns has lately been revving it up again, launching the Jellyroll label and putting his music back on the market. In addition to a number of CD-R EJ homebrews, the imprint's first commercial release, Showdown at the Hoedown, documents a scalding 1984 date with Gatton. (Great sleeve note: "...the newest instrument on stage was a 64 Stratocaster.") The sound is for shit, but the playing is absolutely frantic, as if their van was double parked in front of a police station. Speed, enthusiasm and ferocious rock determination fuel this platter, which contains a lot of the essential Johns canon, like "Madhouse," "Sugar Cookie," "Giddy Up Girl," "Rollin' Thru the Night" and "Do the Dootz." The gentle Johns instrumental track tacked on as a bonus is a bit of a moodbreaker, but affords proof that he's still at it, albeit in a far more sedate vein.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



I just got a set of these Pachmayr Compac grips for my bodyguard airweight, which is similar to the one shown except mine is sort of dull factory blued. I much prefer these grips to the Standard J Frame wood panel grips this gun came with, however the original wood grips are highly concealable. But I've been shooting this gun more and more and even with a Tyler "T-Grip" extension, it was not a comfortable gun to shoot with the old school skinny wood grips.

It has transformed into a great gun to shoot with the Pacs on it. And I of all people should have known this. I got my first Pachmayr's back in the early 1980's, upon graduating from the academy and becoming an officer. I outfitted by duty gun, a 4" nickle Python, after several rounds of shooting magnum loads through the sharp wood Colt grips. I bought that gun as a graduation present for myself from the Academy, and within a week of buying it (I think I paid $435 for it) I was back at Carter's Country picking up a pair of Pachmayr Presentation grips for it. They made my shooting much more accurate and enjoyable.

So when a few weeks after buying the Python I bought the Colt Cobra, I bought a set of the Compac grips for it as well. It shot very well with the wood grips, particularly since it weighs right at 15 oz. But once I put the Pachmayr Compac's on it, well, it was like a different "mo betta" gun.

But years ago I went back to the wood grips on the Cobra for increased concealability, and recently acquired a set of used (much larger than the Compac) Presentation grips for it and broke the nearly 30 year old Pachmayr Compacs for the Cobra out of the gun safe. The Presentation grips are great for winter but for concealed carry during less jacketed climes and times, the Compacs are very concealable.

Summertime is a good time for the wooden stock grips with the Tyler T adapter for maximum concealability in a IWB holster, but I feel you get a lot less recoil with the backstrap covered.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GALCO SPEED PADDLE TO BE TRADED


The above-pictured holster is the Galco Speed Paddle for a S&W J frame. I bought this holster last year and have used it a couple of times, and it's just not for me. It rides a bit high on the belt/pantsline for me. It's a shame because it's one of the best made holsters I've ever owned, as far as the leather work goes. I'd like to have some sort of hip holster made just like this one but with a big belt slot on the back. That's how much I like this holster.
But one of my primary carry guns, the Smith and Wesson Model 38 Bodyguard, is a bit top heavy for this holster, as is Billy Ray's Centennial, although the latter is less top heavy. The Chief's Special Model 36 and it's Taurus imitations ride better, I guess because they have a lower center of gravity.
In any event, I'll hit the gun forums and offer up a trade for a nice holster. Number one on the list would be the Galco Speedmaster for a J Frame. I recent got one for my Colt Cobra and talked about it here at Great Snub Nose Holsters Part One. It is truly an excellent concealed carry holster for a snubnose.
I'll entertain other trades as well, but since the Galco Speed Paddle retails for somewhere in the $70-$80 dollar range, I'd like it to be a nice one. I'd even take older holsters if they were in like new condition. I'll probably offer to take a Bianchi Askins Avenger for a subcompact .45 or a Glock 19.
I'm also looking right now for a nice vintage Bianchi Paddle Holster for the J Frame. I have one of those for my Cobra, which I bought new nearly 30 years ago along with my NIB Cobra when I graduated from the academy. The Bianchi Paddle Holster had a suede covered paddle, which was very comfortable and also stayed where it was supposed to. It's not so much a concealment holster as a carry holster, for colder weather. It's also the ultimate field holster, as it is stable and can be thrown on and off as needs or comfort require. The Bianchi paddle sits lower than the Galco, significantly so, and thus rides more securely on thinner belts.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MOUSEGUNS CONCEALMENT CHARTS

The charts linked below are great for looking at weapons to carry for self defense. Just go to the links and check them out. The stats are really comprehensive, and you even get the loaded and unloaded weights.

This one is for pocket automatics:

http://www.mouseguns.com/PocketAutoComparison.jpg

This one is for other concealment handguns:

http://www.mouseguns.com/CompactCompare.pdf

You can go here to the mouseguns homepage for all sorts of other cool links. http://www.mouseguns.com/

I stumbled onto these sites by reading http://www.thehighroad.org/index.php, a great forum about all kinds of things guns as well as the rights of gun owners.

FAB MOTION: A GREAT HOUSTON BAND

Way back when, back in the day my children would say, you could often find me listening to a great EP entitled "Howdy, Can I Bum A Smoke" by eighties Houston band FAB MOTION. When I drove in my car, a cassette copy of that EP was often in my car playing.

If you can find this album at a used store or online buy it. It's great stuff.


Today, I listened to a couple of cuts of it on a CD I burned long ago from the vinyl EP. They still rock hard.


Back in the mid-80's, when I first became aware of FAB MOTION, or as my friends and I called them, FAB MO, most of the original bands playing in Houston favored the southern, blues-flavored take on rock of our hometown heroes, Z.Z. Top. Austin flavored R&B rock was present as well, with the influences of S.R.V. and the like heavy in players minds and chops.


Although most of the bands I drummed for fell into the catagory of blues and blues rock bands, that didn't of course mean that these genres are the ones I always listened to. One band that caught my attention early on was FAB MOTION, a decidedly pop band. FAB MO leaned to the hard side of pop-rock on most efforts, and that was fine with me. I leaned that way too.



I never got to know any of the members of FAB MO very well until long after their demise. I came to know their first drummer, Clint Davidson, through his wife and local guitarist/singer/songwriter Alison Fisher, and I later was able to play a small part to encourage Clint to attend law school and he has now become a very fine attorney, now practicing in Houston. Clint has also served our country in the armed forces reserves after his stint with FAB MO.

Earlier this decade, they regrouped for a few shows. I was still living in Houston then, and went to see them with another old friend who enjoyed their music back in the late 1980's. Although I ran with and played music with a bunch of their cohorts, I never knew any of the band really well. I sorta got to know Toby when he opened up Mary Jane's nightclub on Washington in the early 1990's.


http://www.houstonpress.com/2003-10-02/music/i-ll-second-that-fab-motion/

Here's an article from the Houston Chronicle from 24 years ago by Marty Racine, then the grizzled if not well like Music critic for the Chron back when it was a much better newspaper.
http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/1986_220261/on-the-move-houston-s-fab-motion-presses-for-succe.html

Marty also wrote the Houston Press article from 2003 about the reunion shows.

I'll say this about Toby. Back in 1993 or 1994 he booked the band I played drums for to do a few shows at his new club. I think he booked us not because we were especially good, but because our Co-Lead Guitarist/Co-Lead Singer was a "regular" at his establishment, and the risk of losing one of his undoubtedly better paying customers was probably the real reason we'd get booked to play there.

But everytime we gigged there, I'd arrive early to set up my drums. Now loading a drum kit in and out of a club is usually a physically intense exercise. The drums, cymbals and myriad metal stands weigh a lot, and you get a good C-V workout just loading in and out. Drummers have much more stuff to haul around usually than other musicians, and Toby was the only club owner or employee that ever helped me load in and out of his place. Just a very talented guy and a nice guy.

In any event, Fab Motion was a big part of my listening and show going back in the late 1980's. In addition to playing a lot myself, I was always going to shows and always interested in getting new gigs and to hang out with friends and hear great live music. Fab Motion was a big part of that musically, along with other great Houston bands of the era like The Dishes, Beans Barton and The Bipeds, Lips and the Trips, Herschel Berry and the Natives and Ezra Charles and the Works, to name a few.