Friday, October 29, 2010

THE LEGACY OF HEY JOE

Hey Joe is a song I've been playing since high school in bands. I've even made several recorded efforts playing drums in different bands over the years, and some of those versions I'm quite happy with.

There came a time when Billy Ray and Ricky Ray and I were playing that song in our long time musical effort, and although I was playing drums at the same time, and I'm not especially good at either singing generally or specifically whilst playing drums, even I have made the effort to learn how to sing Hey Joe, just to give us some lyrics to play along with.

In any event, at least 1500 of others have recorded Hey Joe. This is a comprehensive website http://www.franzen.tk/
Hey Joe Versions By Jan MariusMore about the song "Hey Joe" and over 1500 versions listed (Thanks to Christian Arnould for additional information) that discussed all kinds of Hey Joe information about all of these bands, but you're overwhelmed at the number of acts listed.


UPDATE POSTED JANUARY 19TH, 2011: JAN SENT THIS COMMENT ADVISING OF THE ADDRESS CHANGE FOR HIS MOST EXCELLENT HEY JOE WEBSITE:


Thank you for the reference. FYI Hey Joe Versions has been moved to http://heyjoeversions.wordpress.com

/Sincerely, Jan Marius



Of course, there's even thousands or hundreds of thousands more private recordings of local and regional and "unfamous" bands. I know I've played it with MANY bands and improptu groupings of all sorts, all of which were absolutely unknown. A lot of those times got recorded by me during the past nearly 25 years of me playing drums with various bands and acts. But of course, none of the recordings I'm on (a few are "my" recordings, featuring my bands or bands I led, but most are with other acts where I'm just drumming) are going to be on a list like this. They're private recordings, and there's got to be thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of bands and acts and jams where this song was played and recorded, but never released commercially.

I've played Hey Joe with so many different acts that I actually have a CD of me playing the song with various folks in various ways over the past 18 years since I was able to digitally record live beginning back then and get a good sound mix. I have analog recordings from before made from stereo cassette recorders with decent microphones, but they have that free floating noise on the source tape. Nonetheless, there was some good bands I was getting to play with in those analog only days of the 70's and 80's up until Sony introduced the portable (and the home recording deck unit) DAT recorder, which made stereo DAT live recording a reality and easy.

So I like Hey Joe as a song after all of these years of listening to it, particularly the first Hendrix version. Stark. Emotive. Soulful. Just fantasic playing by three excellent musicians who were still hon-gray and rock and roll was this new happening thing they were creating in the mid-1960's. I could go on about Noel's bass playing or the certain resonance of Mitchell's snare and toms and his at times thunder and lightning fast fills, but if you know the song, you know of these things.

Of course, my favorite versions have always been those by Hendrix, but there are other noteworthy versions as well. Deep Purple had a gradiose and extended entry into the song in their 1968 version.

Robert Plant did some very innovative versions with both Strange Sensation (WILD VERSION, Justin Adams rocks the Gimbri) on their first CD as well as with the briefly lived Plant band project called Priory of Brion, who did a great thumping drum rhythm version live in their short existence 10 years ago. The Strange Sensation version is a MUST listen for any fan of Plant, and really, any fan of the song. The Gimbri, a three stringed lute of mystic trance Gnawan origin, gets the heck played out of it by Mr. Adams, and haunts the entire song.

At that time in the early days of the all too short lived band Strange Sensation, Porl Thomson (of CURE fame) was the lead guitarist, and no slouch is he on the six strings. In any event, it's an emotive interpretation of Hey Joe, I submit, the likes of which hasn't been done well since Deep Purple. That's a heady gauntlet to throw down, but listen to the Strange Sensation version and tell me I'm wrong.

But I'll link to the wiki page listing all kinds of folks who have covered Hey Joe. And that's in addition to the nobody's in the music world like me who have played it literally with dozens of bands and jam bands and I mean, in the Texas blues world, you better know how to play Hey Joe. Like Red House, it's liable to be thrown down any time on stage or in a jam or rehearsal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hey_Joe

MORE GREAT MUSIC: BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION
















Well, it's been a week of weeks, if not years, musically for El Fishing Musician so far.

My discovery of ALOE BLACC: GOOD THINGS was the highlight of some years. I excitedly was telling Billy Ray about the Aloe stuff I've heard so far, and I've been youtubing and listening while working and what a great bass player Aloe has. Truly inspiring to listen to him, he somewhat reminds me of the bassist for WAR back on great tunes like Spill The Wine and Slipping into Darkness and I sure wish I could play bass guitar just. like. that. Of course, it's nice that the artist/producer/etc who controls such thing put him fairly up front in the mix for a bassist. It's to their credit because the man can play that bass guitar.

Here's the website for Black Country Communion, a new band featuring Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham, all longtime favorites of mine, have teamed together in what seems to be a promising venture. The guitar of Bonamassa, the drums of Bonham and the savvy of Hughes on bass and vocals with Sherinian providing great keyboard backing from a variety of influences and genres. Hughes does have "THAT VOICE" of rock and roll, so this is going to be good and far better than the average "supergrouping" efforts we've seen in recent years I think.



I find out about this great rocking band from Billy Ray this week. After I tell Billy Ray about "discovering" Aloe Blacc (who has been around a long while, btw, so "discovering" him this week just means I'm out of touch with good new music and need to be looking more for it), Billy Ray tells me about a fantastic new group, a supergroup if you will, that seems to have enormous potential called Black Country Communion. Per his instructions, I go to their site and get absolutely enthralled in their music. WHO KNEW JOE BONAMASSA had such a hard rockin' streak in him?

I sure am glad he does, because it's been the first time in many, many years that I've heard a true bluesman guitarist really rock out.



Billy Ray more or less has just recently discovered Joe Bonamassa as a blues rock guitar power to be dealt with. I've been telling Billy Ray about him for at least ten years but sometimes things just float in and out of that boy's haid without latching onto anything. So back in 2002 when I was trying to get Billy Ray to latch onto some of Bonamassa's playing, he just wasnt' interested. But now he is, and I'll be taking a nice double live CD of Bonamassa and his rocking band for Billy Ray to listen to and learn some guitar licks off of.



In any event, a longtime Houston guitarslinger friend, the Bartman, introduced me to Bonamassa and his hard working, hard playing style sometime early in the last decade. My friend that gave me the Bonamassa CD's to listen to later became a bandleader for me for a year or so in a great band, and was no slouch of a long time blues rock guitarist himself. So when he told me this guy Bonamassa could play, I listened.



I've never seen Bonamassa live but have several CD's and he's a great guitarist. My kind of blues rock guitarist. Out of the current crop of younger players living the blues rock guitar band lifestyle, which requires much road time in concert to make a living, I really like Bonamassa along with Doyle Bramhall III.



So along with Joe Bonamassa on guitar is the legendary Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple on bass and as frontman. I'm a big Deep Purple fan, since my teens, and went back and got their early album (EL FISHO RECOMMENDATION: LISTEN TO DEEP PURPLE'S VERSION OF HEY JOE SOMETIME because, although a bit keyboardish in only that way that Brit keyboardists could be in the 60's and 70's, it rocks hard. Here's what wiki says: The hard rock band Deep Purple recorded a version of the song and included it on their first album, Shades of Deep Purple in 1968. Original pressings of the album mistakenly credited Deep Purple as the songwriters. As was typical of early Deep Purple cover songs, the band added a lengthy intro and musical interludes, bringing the song's running time to over seven and a half minutes.) and I became a longtime fan.



I've also kept up with some of the sideman and solo work that Hughes has done in the last ten years, and I'm glad to see him with such august gentleman as are in this outfit.



Jason Bonham is on drums. I've long been a fan of his late father, and Jason's work on Outrider in the late 1980's with Page as well as his touring with Foreigner and the legendary Led Zeppelin reunion several years ago (which I've only seen snippets and crowd cam videos of so far...where is that live DVD? Do they not think they will sell everyone they make?). There was brief talk of a World Tour but Plant began new projects and although apparently some talk was made of replacing him, that would prove to be impossible.



So it's good to see Jason moving on. Although liking some of his work, there's other bands he played with I didn't care much for, but I've done a sampling of listening to recordings where he played drums simply because his work on Outrider was so excellent.



I haven't listened to much of what Black Country Communion has done, just the two songs on their website, which both rock quite well. Very enjoyable drumming by Mr. Bonham, and I'm very impressed. His father is, I am sure, looking down from above and is very proud of him. I think most drummers like myself who have studied not only the playing but the back story of John Bonham's life knows too well how Jason was a prodigy but feels sorry he got deprived of more time with his dad than he got.

So I've always been rooting for Jason to find the right drumming situation where his voice comes out, and here in the two songs, I heard exciting Bonham drumming, perhaps the most exciting I'd heard since Outrider in like 1988. Been a long time since a rock and rolla.

I got all excited about Chickenfoot the recent supergroup band, but really didn't care for the stuff I heard. Great playing but it didn't get me to want to join the fan club. I totally had the underdog thing going for great bassist Michael Anthony, unceremoniously replaced by Van Halen's teen son Wolfgang in the band. I'd been a longtime fan of Sammy Hagar since the 70's and have been buying various things he's been on since then. Chad Smith is a great drummer and I'm a big fan of his. Big fan. You can't deny the guitar power of Joe Satriani either. But I just didn't think it meshed like I'm hearing Black Country Communion mesh on these two songs.

I'll write more when I hear some more. It does, however, upon first examination, appear to be rocking.

On the other hand, having been a BIG FAN of both Bonamassa and Hughes over the years, and witnessing some recent work this past decade that Hughes did on some solo stuff and playing with others, the deck is a little more stacked in the favor of this outfit in terms of my liking them.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ALOE BLACC: GOOD THINGS







BUY THIS ALBUM: GOOD THINGS, BY ALOE BLACC

If you can listen to the several videos, particularly the ones with the full on band on stage, and not move, wiggle, twitch, nod, wrench that lip toward a smile or otherwise move any part of your body to the beat of this band and this singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc, then you need a vacation.

I got a short vacation right here in my computer chair watching a few of his tunes, two in Paris recorded live on the street and in a subway station and one on stage. It's been a LONG DANG TIME since a band, a singer, a musician, moved me to find more and more of his music to listen to. Usually one, maybe two songs and I've heard enough. And unfortunately, it's been that way for years.

And that singer today, was Aloe Blacc and his most excellent band. Here's his home page, and just click on that youtube video for a nice soul rocking tune called "I Need A Dollar", from a live show in Southpaw, New York.

http://www.aloeblacc.com/home/

His new CD or itunes will be in possession shortly.

But really, it had been too long until today that the music part of me, which is a big part of my being, jumped up and said WOW! THAT'S SOME GOOD MUSIC! IT'S MAKING ME FEEL GOOD LISTENING TO IT, AND I WANNA GO HOME AND THROW IT ON THE STEREO AND PLAY DRUMS ALONG WITH IT, THAT'S HOW MUCH I LIKE IT. GROOVING!

So go here to this GREAT blogger at the LA TIMES who blogs briefly about a 13 minute video Aloe and partial band did in the subway in Paris of Aloe's "I Need A Dollar", followed at about 7 minutes by a most excellent street busking cover of Bill Wither's "Use Me". http://iliketowatch.latimesmagazine.com/2010/10/aloe-blacc-i-need-a-dollar-a-take-away-show.html

The Withers cover blasting over the computer speakers brought Mrs. El Fisho out of the other room to hear who this was singing on this video. It's a French video that actually has pretty good sound for where it is recorded and the improptu manner of it's recording. The mix is excellent and I'm going to have to visit the website that made the vidcast or whatever it was but it was very well done. The whole thing was very well done in every way and was a much needed change in a short living portrait of a band.

I normally don't notice this sort of thing but it seemed like it was done on film rather than video. It had that warm feeling film has. Maybe they can make a digital video like film now in a photoshop type deal.

In any event, it's an interesting crowd study and they make a whole $1.50 doing the song in the subway landing. They then move outside, where it's raining a slight bit and that makes for an interesting semi-circle gathering. The recording is good, particularly for what it is and how quickly it was done, which was basically walk up and go for it.

It's a 13 minute music video and differently enough done with this excellent two tune Paris video by Aloe and his partial band. It looks to be a few members of his regular much larger band.

As a drummer who has done similar things, although not in Paris, I'd of had a snare drum and a bass drum pedal thrown up against that plastic guitar case the drummer was beating on and would have been playing off the guitar case with sticks as well, like a woodblock. But hey, I'm writing a blog and he's recording with this cool dude Aloe in Paris, so what do I know? The guitar case as conga drum/djembe/cajon worked very well for him and really got me moving.

That being said, I'm interested to know who the drummer is as well. He's grooving like nobody's business with the full band and there were not enough clips of his playing to suit me. He was into it, he was groovin' and he was breathing as one with the rest of the band. It doesn't get any better than that. Like I say, you can feel the electricity on stage between the members. They've got communication going on musically, they don't even need to look at each other.

The Home Page for Aloe has a youtube feed on it, and if I was hip and had the time to spend learning to imbed here, I'd do it. I'm sure it's simple, but it's much easier to link. Besides, his home page is interesting. The first video up I saw was a full band, a full tilt soul band with horns, drums, guitar, backup singers, keyboards and the same excellent bassist that stands out in the Paris videos. Great bassist. Don't lose that guy, Aloe.

So the important thing is that this guy sings like nobody's business. He's got a great band. It's not a "Blues Brothers" type band, full of stars young and old. It's a more cohesive band. They are not backing him for the most part, but playing with him and to him, a rare and difficult feat to execute with any coolness and soul, and the entire outfit oozes with both of those rare genuine qualities. Aloe is leading the band and somebody has to. You can feel their commitment to his music and feel the joy in their music. The band is having a rocking time.

He has his own voice. I'm sure someone will or has compared him to some great soul singer in the past, and to be sure, there's hints of others in some phrasing and certainly in some of the music played by the band. Motown. Stax. Atlantic. Soul big bands and soul combos. His players are tight and I'm looking forward to hearing more of his music because I think I'm going to like it.

My only suggestion would be a bit more guitar, but I'm apt to say that in many situations like that. Aloe has an excellent guitarist, playing a Strat in the band video, and if I'm right, he's capable of a nice blazing 30 second guitar solo, saying something I need to hear. So Aloe, let him say it. Same with that bass player, man. He's a monster. That bass little warm up before the Withers tune was very cool.

Here's some wiki about Aloe:

Aloe Blacc
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Aloe Blacc

Background information
Origin
Orange County, California, U.S.
Genres
Soul, R&B, jazz, hip-hop
Years active
1995 – Present
Labels
Stones Throw Records
Aloe Blacc (born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III in 1979 in Los Angeles) is an American soul singer, rapper, and musician. His first album, entitled Shine Through, was released by Stones Throw Records in 2006.
He began his career in 1995 as an MC in an indie rap group called Emanon. By the end of the 1990s, Blacc was a "stow away" on a Lootpack tour in Europe.
His music contains elements of jazz, R&B, soul, and hip hop.
He recorded a cover version of the John Legend song "Ordinary People" in Spanish entitled "Gente Ordinaria".
His song "I Need a Dollar" is the intro song for the HBO show How to Make it in America, and was featured as the iTunes Single of the Week. His album titled "Good Things" was released on September 30, 2010.[1]

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NEW BLOG: TEXAS WHEELGUNS

I started kind of a new sub-blog about Wheelguns. Revolvers. I called it Texas Wheelguns because Wheelguns was taken and that was what I thought of at the time.

Here's the site and it's of course linked on my regular blogs to the side. It'll be a diversion from some of the somewhat obsessive-compulsive wheelgun talk that's been going on here. I'll still talk about guns and revolvers and shooting here, but I want to get some more music and lots more fishing talk going here again. Besides, I'm kinda becoming a student of double action revolvers made from the early 1900's through the 1960's, as I'm fairly familiar with what came during and after the 1960's revolver wise.

So I'll be doing a bit of original historical roundup and a lot of linking to some great pages where much information abounds about older revolvers.

TEXAS WHEELGUNS

THE RANGE REVOLVER EXPERIENCE

In the above post, I talk about the great revolver day I had yesterday at the range, when an unexpected windfall deal of .38 Special range ammo fell into our laps just before the range trip with a trip to our local gunshop, where we trade and do a lot of our business. Yesterday, friend Billy Ray wanted to get his grandpa's 1905 Colt .32 pocket auto gone over and refurbished with some new springs and we dropped that off for the work and then got a trade on some older ammo our gunsmith got at a gun show.

I live in Texas. My family lived in Texas long before Sam Colt and Col. Walker devised the ingenious weapon known as the Walker Colt, and before men in Texas started using them and Lord knows first te percussion revolver and then the cartridge firearm settled this once wild frontier. I learned to shoot a revolver first, and I learned to shoot a revolver well long before I was allowed to do any regular shooting with an autoloader.

When we were taught to bird and deer and rabbit hunt in our elementary school days, .410 shotguns and deer rifles for the kids were single shot. Every shot had to count. No, we were not poor by my father, like Billy Ray's father, had been raised during the depression and they hunted for fresh food. Like my father, Billy Ray's dad would be given one shell, MAYBE two, and admonished to try to bring not only food back but the extra unfired cartridge when they returned from hunting.

We had to earn our way to carry a pump/auto/double barrel shotgun or a lever action deer rifle like dad.

So maybe that's why revolvers, in this day and age of concealed carry pistols that often carry 10 or more rounds, with most holding more than that, are still a valid idea for self defense. Make every shot count.

In any event, I have a few friends that are revolver devotees, like me. Max, a good friend, is a diehard revolver fan, but like me owns numerous autoloaders and enjoys shooting them. But when it comes down to needing a gun for defensive purposes, like me Max is likely to grab his Model 66 snubbie or another wheelgun. The only difference in Max and I is his love for the .357 Magnum cartridge.

My first follower, Pietro from way across the Atlantic, is a fellow revolver fan, even though most of his relatives that blog with him are not so much into revolvers except as a historical concept. He'll be blogging over at Stefi's Place, also in my blog roll, so look for some interesting stories from him soon. Like his kinfolk at that blog, he's got an interesting resume, so look for some cool writing and welcome to this world of revolvers, Pietro.

I've been longing in the worst way for a nice large combat revolver based on the 1917. It could be a Smith or a Colt New Service. I keep running into guns customized back in the 40's and 50's but they are all .38 Specials or .38 Smith and Wesson.

What the El Fisho wants is some old working man's gun in .45 ACP. Not fancy collector's piece. Something in decent physical shape but dang good mechanicals. Chopped down, but I'd like a triggerguard intact (no Fitz Special cutaway triggerguard for me, thanks). Bobbed but still useble and cockable SA hammer. Some nice stag grips and a couple of good holsters.

So if you see some kind of cool .45 ACP wheelgun that's been chopped up decently into a snubnose conversion or a customized combat revolver from days gone by at your gunsmith and it's a decent deal, let me know as quick as you can. Also, realizing that my search for an already altered gun has not been so successful, I'm looking for fodder for a cut-down 1917 or New Service that I can find a smith to work on for me.
SO keeps your eyes open for me in those used gun shops and pawn shops.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

THE TRAVEL GUITAR/BASS HOTEL PRACTICE RIG











THE TOP PICTURE SHOWS A BOSE HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER. I'M USING ONE OF THE TINY SPEAKERS FROM ONE OF THESE SETS TO PROVIDE SOUND FOR THIS PORTABLE PRACTICE RIG.
THE BOTTOM PICTURE SHOWS THE POCKET POD. IT'S THE ONE WITH THE DIGITAL READOUT AND PRESETS, WORTH THE EXTRA $25 OVER THE MUCH SIMPLER POCKET POD EXPRESS. BUT IF YOU'RE A BEGINNER OR OVERWHELMED BY THE POCKET POD AND IT'S SOMEWHAT COMPLEX SELECTION SYSTEMS, THEN THE EXPRESS IS FOR YOU. KNOBS AND DIALS AND PRETTY EASY TO USE WITH THOSE LINE 6 QUALITY SOUNDS.
Now this post could apply to real working musicians, but they already have the tricks of the trade figured out in terms of in room practice. Depending on the size and $$$ of the band, in room gear could be anything from a bass and a headphone amp to any size amp from tiny practice to a stack.

No, this post is aimed at folks like me. Part-time guitar and bass players. Folks who don't get enought time, it seems, around the hacinenda to devote some quality time to just doing a little relaxing guitar or bass playing, either along with recorded music or by yourself. If you're lucky and are a songwriter of any sort, there's always the possibility the muse could strike and leave you with some great tunes.

So what I'm talking about here is a set of compact gear that can function in a variety of environments, mostly hotel type spots. A lot of the local State and near state seminars I attend by car, which enables me to bring a guitar gig bag with me. And I can pretty much fit what I need in the gig bag to play some guitar in my room.

I'm a drummer, first and foremost, who has been "playing at" guitar and bass and keys now since his early teens, waxing and waning in chops and abilities. I was just always far better at the drums and percussion, but enjoy the limited guitar, bass and keys chops I do have for my own songwriting.

But I want to work on guitar when I know I'm going to have some room time at a seminar. And I'm perfectly capable of sightseeing or hitting bars with friends or watching movies and doing nothing, but it is so rare the time I get a few hours with no real distractions to play the strings.

The other deal is, you don't want to disturb your neighbors at the hotel with your four or six string version of relaxation, which they would define as irritation. I get tired of in ear monitor listening, even though I have some nice monitors and custom molds and I like a small speaker.

But in most hotels, at any time past 7 or 8 p.m, even a Roland Micro Cube bass or guitar amp is going to be TOO MUCH even at it's softest. My solution was to get a single Bose Cube speaker off of ebay (the kind they use with home enertainment centers. I have it hooked up to a small headphobe amplifier

You get down time at the seminars, particularly the long ones, and particularly if you are teaching and not attending all the lectures. My guitar(s) have been to Dallas, South Padre, Alpine, Fort Stockton, Corpus Christi, Austin, San Antonio, Kerrville, Fort Worth and New Orleans on numerous occasions, and even other locales. All over East Texas and West Texas and Central Texas and the Hill Country.

Also, on family trips, this setup will often accompany me for some late-night-family-is-asleep playing. This can also involve when I go fishing, and I'm bank fishing and want to strum a little, or when I find a secluded park or spot that inspires. Throw out some fishing lines with some rod holders stuck in the dirt or tied to trees, pull out a chair and relax in the shade and play some guitar.

USING YOUR COMPUTER AS AMP AND EFFECTS: I could hook it up to the Mac, and that is the ultimate plan now that I have a multi-input interface for it, but usually I step away from the laptop and do it other ways. I carry a mini-disc recorder with me and usually just keep that running hooked up through an out on the rig while I'm playing in case any ideas come out. I can then try to relearn/remember how I played them or sample them into Garageband or Ableton Live later and work from that.

Soon, inevitably, I will be using the Mac instead of the Pocket Pod that I am so fond of. I don't know what programs I'll be using, but regardless, the section on the mini-speaker/amp I devised as a very low volume but hi-fi alternative to in ear practicing that I discuss below will be hooked up to the Mac earphones out jack.

So below here's a list of the gear and stuff I carry when I pack a gig bag for a trip, whether family or work. Depending on where I'm going, I might throw either of my tiny my miraculous Roland Micro Cube or the more amazing Markabass Microamp in the larger suitcase or in the car, in case I can play at a little louder volume in our room, like in some condo's in Port A or Rockport0

A DECENT BUT SMALL SPEAKER FOR PLAYING OUT LOUD BUT QUIETLY, AND A POWER SOURCE: Of course, those with laptops have the gear as well when properly outfitted with software and an input for the guitar. But computers suffer from the same drawbacks as early pioneers in the portable practice micro amp field like the Zoom 7010 Zoomfire, a combination effects, headphone amp and small crappy speaker to practice your guitar through at reasonable volume levels.

That same product, but way updated with a teeny bose speaker, a micro amp smaller than a lot of the bass companies are making and some "hep" electronics/effects could sell millions.

At certain hotels, with the proper adapter cable, you can plug your Pocket Pod (see below) into one of the holel clock radios designed to work with MP3 players and ipods off the headphone jack. Some of these units are Bose, so the speakers are good and you can get more volume than you need. Same thing with a rental car with a plug for an ipod or mp3 player. If you were so inclined...

But for while I did use the Zoomfire till I could stand the speaker no more, and then the Line 6 Pocket Pod came out. Fits in the palm of your hand and clips to your guitar strap or amp handle. Or you can clip it to your belt or place it any number of spots. I like it next to the couch where I can see the digital readout.

Tons of effects and tones and amps and speakers and it fits in the palm of your hand. I enjoy the effects section so much that I've never gone on-line to try to add some of the more "classic rock" band settings that apparently abound on the Line 6 website. Most of the settings that come stock with the unit are bands far younger than my taste runs, but nonetheless I've come up with some great ideas using their tones with my ideas.

There are several bass guitar settings as well, so the Pocket Pod works well when I want to get some tone and play bass instead of guitar on a trip or vacation. Again, I could download tons of them, and maybe I will, but I think the next step is going to be with the Mac.

Besides, I hate messing with the factory settings on stuff like that when it works well and as it is, I'm a guy who only wants one or two NICE effects going through a tube amp usually, so it's really simple to use and compact.

What the Pocket Pod doesn't have is he one thing it needs: enough power to drive a small speaker.

So here's what goes in the guitar gig bag pockets. This bag has a large front pocket, two smaller pockets on top of that big pocket, and a pocket at the top of the neck. Some of this is standard gear.

-two sets extra strings
-bunch of picks in bag
-stringwinder/cutter
-two (2) George L guitar cables, strap
-various adapter cables for minidisc recording, out from minidisc to small amp, etc.
-Pocket Pod
-extra AAA batteries for Pocket Pod and AA's for Minidisc or adapters.
-Shure in ear monitors plus extension cable
-Small Bose Cube speaker (3"x3"x3") (from Bose home entertainment system)
-very small old analog Radio Shack stereo amplifier
-mini-disc recorder and cables
-cable to input ipod or cd player into Pocket pod to play along with
-three prong electric cable with three jacks
-usually some instructional dvd to play along to

As you might guess, I run the Pocket Pod headphone out into the Radio Shack amp which puts out enough juice to power the small Bose Cube speaker for some low volume playing. To do it justice, a nice digital micro amp would be very hip, but the tiny Radio Shack amp fits in the gig bag and warms up the sound of the Pocket Pod's digital footprint a bit. I then run the Bose Cube speaker off of the amp. I thought about getting another Cube speaker off of ebay but that would be overkill, as the one speaker handles guitar or bass sound very well. It would be good for playing along with music, but as I said, I usually do that with in-ears.

Again, the small speaker is not to be cool or entertain others, it's to be able to HEAR the tone and sound of the guitar at an ultra quiet level in good sound quality in a small package. Bose makes a strong speaker, but you need enough power to get it performing properly.

Other times, I've taken the Roland Micro Cube guitar amp, which cranks some amazing battery power and has some cool efffects, or I've taken a teeny tiny microbass practice bass amp that cranks and measures 9"x9"9". When we spent spring break at the coast, both this year and last, the bass amp came along and played at very reasonable volumes after all were in bed. Of course, the sound was far improved over the Bose setup, particularly with the bass amp, but surprisingly the Bose Cube got a great practice guitar sound.

I like adding some guitar playing, just by myself, on vacation or when at a seminar or lecture. Sometimes I've had some great song ideas come to me, but the idea is to relax and take it easy. Back in the real old days, I sat in the back of my truck at the beach at South Padre, watching my surf rods in their holders, while picking on a cheap Mexican acoustic guitar that the salt couldn't hurt much.

Those of you who record regularly on your computer, as well as use programs for various sounds and effects, more power to ya.

I'd rather hook my minidisc up to an out and just record on the fly and see what happens. It ain't low tech, but I guess it's old school tech, none the less.

And it's been years since I've claimed to be anything other than old school.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TEXAS RAINBOW TROUT FISHING 2010

As I've written many times before, I'm a big fan of the stocked trout program in Texas. It hooked me, at an early age some decades ago, on these fun fish and on flyfishing and ultra light sport fishing for fish that will fight and jump. I was already a big destined to be lifelong fisher of all kinds and places, but the Texas trout stocking program, particularly in the Guadalupe in the 1970's, made me a fan of winter fishing for trout.



I'm not a hunter much anymore. Haven't been hunting in years. Do a lot of shooting but that's targets and occasional snakes mostly. Did a lot of hunting in younger years as a kid coming up, of all kinds but now I like to spend deer season chasing rainbows in Texas.



As my friend Cowboy says, if there's a sink with 6" of water in it, I'm asking somebody if anyone ever caught any kind of fish in that sink.





Of course, not that bad but almost. Old forgotten farm ponds and deep creeks with undercut ledges have always been great places to hang out, set up a fishing camp and do some great fishing. Some of the best fishing I had as a kid (and I've had some pretty legendary days on the water) was on the small ponds and lakes on a world famous golf course in Houston. We'd sneak over there at night, and those small waters held some big fish.





So going along with the idea of being able to catch rainbow trout in Texas, normally a cold water species, is the idea of visiting some pretty cool places where they are stocked by the State. Some State Park lakes are ideal for smaller kids, having gently sloping shorelines in case somebody falls in. El Fisho Jr, my son, was raised fishing around many of these parks during the winter, and he still really doesn't fully "get" the idea that in some places people don't go fishing in the winter, because he's been doing it so long.





So these parks, both in the city and county parks and in some locales away from home in State Parks where the rainbow stocking takes place, are often great places to not only let your child catch a fish but have family services and safety in mind. Restrooms. Cabins, both day and evening sometimes, piers, canoes and other rental boats at times and just whatever services the park you visit has to offer.





I've always found that the rainbow get a lot friskier and hungrier the colder it gets. And a drizzling rain or the rare light snow doesn't hurt either. The absolute craziest fly and spin fishing for trout in Texas that I've ever done was in VERY COLD weather. The fish were literally dancing like porpoises across the top of the water hitting some dry flies, that resembled small black flies or mosquitos, which maybe they had flying into the stock ponds they were raised in.





So that's my theory on why I've always caught more trout the colder and more intolerable it is. Unlike ice fishing in the land up yonder, in Texas you're exposed to the elements for the most part. Layers help and as the day waxes and wanes, layers are good to have to peel off. The outer layer needs to be some kind of Gortex or something similar, breathable that will resist water.





I have not been able to keep up with whatever news releases accompany the annual Trout Stocking in Texas, but usually they release a lit around the first of November with the fairly firm stocking dates and places. It's always good to call the location or the hatchery before you head off on a trip if you're going when the stocking occurs to make sure of no cancellations.





Also, if you get the chance to be there at the time the trucks deliver the fish, and usually it is early like around 6 a.m to 8 a.m. the times I've seen it, it is a very cool thing to see.



Let me give you another friendly "tip". If you take the wife and kids along, and it's a wintery day, they will not want to spend all day in the wind chill factor air. Get a room in a nearby town with cable and hopefully a restaurant or store nearby. Spend time there too. Have fun. Better than camping in the bitter cold, but you can make your forays in the early AM before sunrise solo whilst the family is warm and snuggly and get in a couple two-three of hours of prime fishing. I know Mrs. El Fisho is far more tolerant when she has a warm and comfortable place to read a book or watch cable/satt/dvds as the children and I go forth into the wilderness.



Yes, camping is cool and camping is nice. I've done a lot of it in my life. But for fishing in Texas, unless the State were to Stock some remote locale which made camping a necessity, then motels are the way to do it with a rented campsite and a tent set up for hanging out at the State Park or the locale you fish at.






FRESHLY STOCKED TROUT: Although some say that fishing is poor when fish are freshly stocked, I disagree. I have found them to be hungry and have caught many fish at times after stocking occurred. Remember, these rainbows are meant to be eaten because they cannot survive all year round in the hot Texas temps, and if you're not going to eat them, filet them and give them to a friend, who will appreciate some real fresh and good tasting rainbow trout raised with tax dollars.


COOKING AND FISHING: I've sometimes had a fire going near our fishing spot in a permissible location. A small skillet, butter and a few side dishes and supplies are all you need for some very nice rainbow filets or deep fried portions. And of course a good filet knife. The stock trout tend to the small side, and I can tell you that a limit for yourself can fill you up nicely with perhaps a bit left over. Bring easy to prepare or prepared dressing or potatoes and some veggies and salads and have a mega feast with some safe fish to eat from a Texas State Hatchery.

I've eaten freshly caught trout, grilled in butter over an open fire, streamside or lakeside on several occasions in very nice locations. Once, several decades agao, in thirty degree weather with eggs, bacon home fries and several fishing buddies (and volunteer cooks!) just a little over an hour outside of Austin, Texas about an hour after sunrise on a early deserted Saturday morning at a small lake where a little known Federal Fish and Game department used to stock rainbows in a public access park facility on Federal property. Permit costs $5 a person then. It was a screamin' deal.

FISHING METHODS: For me, I'm fly and ultralight spin fishing. A 3 wt. Orvis ( or an Orvis 6 wt if very windy or large water). I mostly use floating line but will use a spool of sinking line for nymphing and streamers when it's hot outside and I'm trying to get down as deep as possible. But usually before I change the spool I switch to spinning tackle.

For me, tiny spinners have always worked best. Mepps work great too, just remember these are tiny fish and a size 8 hook is kinda on the big side. I'm mostly fishing 10's and 12's but two of my best twenty year plus trout producers are spinners that are sized 14 and 16, gold and green, respectively.

My friend Jeff from Sugar Land always had good luck with a variety of sized and colored Beatle Spin lures on the part of the Guadalupe near the dam where the larger stocked Rainbows and Browns can survive year round in the ice cold discharge from Canyon Lake. Jeff once caught a really big six pound brown and eight pound rainbow tube on the same 3" black beatle spin while fishing from a fishing tube rig in the the area down below the dam in March of one year. Those fish had been around for awhile.

Sober and verifiable authorities were on that trip with him, who photo'd and quickly weighed the fish before releasing the giants back to their home in the cracks in the rocks along the shoreline.

For the easy fisherman, the lazy bank fisherman, the tried and true easy catch method, particularly for kids still fishing, is corn kernals, the kind packed in water in the can, not the cream kind.

Salmon eggs work better, and are cheap but usually you have to get those off the internet from somewhere other than Texas, unless a mega-store like Cabelas or Gander or such other stores has them.

There's a ton of effective scented bait tails and other creatures made of plastic out there. I've had good luck with Berkley Gulp! lures for other types of fishing, and I'm not sure what would work good on stocked rainbows, but I'm sure something would. As always, the Texas Fishing Forum is a great place to find chatter about stuff like this in a searchable format and with lots of folks who have posted about Texas Trout Stocking and their tips.

Trust me, there are enough "fishing experts" out there ready to advise what works that common themes emerge.

LOCAL FLY SHOPS: One place I like to really get expert information is from a local fly shop, if there is one. I buy me some local lures there, and support a local business. And sometimes, just sometimes, there are used gear deals or ore importantly, spare parts you can get for something you already have and that can be had at cheap and often giveaway prices. You never know what you'll find in a local fly, fishing, hunting or sporting goods store, sometimes with years old back stock.

Cool stuff.

The guys in the big city fly shops know too about what's biting in various stocking locales, like at Orvis and other places, cause they and their co-workers hit these places themselves and get reports and I've never had anyone at any fly shop, be it Orvis or a one man operation, try to oversell me anything.

And the various flies and lures that have been recommended and suggested to me have worked pretty well, so well that I go back and get more. For over 20 years now.

MY BASIC FLY SELECTION: In general, black flies work well for surface work, in small sizes. I have caught rainbows both wild and stocked on Homer Circle's famous sponge rubber green/yellow/white spider with the white elastic legs. You can find variants of these everywhere. Bass love them. Panfish love them. I've even caught speckled trout in the bays on these.

But trout will hit them. Squeeze them in water to put a little weight into them so they'll sink a bit.

Small grasshopper and cricket imitations and various nymphs and streamers work well, and I'll leave those to the recommendations of others. There are no grasshoppers or crickets in the winter usually, but the simple Dave's Hopper is a very successful fly for me when it is BITTERLY COLD AND WINDY and the trout are feeding at or very near the top, being very frisky because their genetics tell them THiS IS THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE FOR YOU, COLD AND FROSTY, has been the small grasshopper, twitched. Twitching is easy under these circumstances because you are shivering, no matter how bundled.

Get a variety of small flies, as these stocked rainbows are small, so be sure to focus on some teeny tiny flies in the 14,16 range.

I'll add this caveat: My first fly fishing rod, a cheap but functional bamboo affair gotten with S&H Greenstamps, came with a huge assortment of cheap flies, many resembling nothing I've ever seen in fly catalogs or store selection bins. Over the years, in buying used tackle and garage saleing and ebaying and such, I've acquired quite a few interesting flies of cheaper origin. Nonetheless, about 50% of these have caught fish at times when nothing else would, and the garish ones tended to do as well as the more sedate patterns that sort of resembled established basic fly patterns.

CHEAP FLY FISHING GEAR You can get a nice balanced fly rig for as cheap as $30, needing only the flies. I've fished some nice rod sets in this range, particularly Scientific Anglers cheap rig. Walmart, Academy and of course the sports superstores have them as well, with matched line, rod, reel, backing and sometimes some flies. A nice 5 weight would be ideal, but 6 weight is what mostly resides in this price range.

I started with that bamboo rod and progressed quickly to some garage sale fiberglass rods and then some graphite rods and \ then ultimately to a low end Orvis rod, and I'll say my decent fly fishing got a million times better after 20 years of fly fishing with the purchase of the hallowed first Orvis rod.

But I caught lots of trout and bass and panfish on a Berkley graphite Bounty Hunter rod that sold for about $12 in the seventies and damn decent Kmart knockoff of a Shakespeare that sold for the amazing sum of like $2.97 on sale. So I had plenty of fun with that great casting rod and some good Orvis line. A good solid and frequent decade of fishing with that rod, and now it belongs to El Fisho Jr. as again, it's a good learning rod. He's been fishing with this rod for quite some time now.

I found that buying good fly line goes A LONG WAY to making it easier to learn to fly fish and to fly fish better, and a nice weight forward taper for beginning casters is at once both forgiving and enabling. Spend some cash on a good brand of actual name brand fly line, Orvis or Scientific Anglers will do, and again, don't forget bargains on ebay and the like.

Don't forget that some of those tiny spinners and plastic scented lures might not work well with a simple hook on a fly rod, drifted down a river or taken around structure. Just because it's a fly rod doesn't mean you can't put some split shot on the line and get some kind of unconventional lure out there with a fly rod. I've caught catfish this way, on the fly rod, just not using a fly. It was a hoot and a battle royal for about 30 minutes, as it was about a 4 lb. channel cat.

THINKING ABOUT SOME GOOD OLD DAYS: When I was running around with the Llano boys, friends of mine from Llano and Mason and China Springs that I hung with alot back in my twenties, we'd go to various rainbow stocking spots and catch, clean and cook as we had a good old times. We hit places all over central Texas and the Hill Country, including some private land where the landowners had private stocks of non-gubment rainbows from private hatcherys stocked, and that was some good fishing.


There are people who do private stocking now on their own lands and in creeks that run through their lands. If you look around, you can find these. I'm not telling you mine. A man's gotta have some fishing secrets.

Monday, October 18, 2010

CHRIS DUARTE: "LOVE IS GREATER THAN ME" REVIEW: VERY SOULFUL BLUES ROCK GUITAR


Here is a link to a fan site site for Chris Duarte, and possibly the Chris Duarte site, I'm not sure. There are recordings and some dvd stuff and I know there are lots of interesting articles on this site. It seems ok and it's been around a long time, for many years.http://www.chrisduartegroupfans.org/



I just did a search and can't believe I have not written something by now about Chris Duarte, an extremely talented Blues Guitarist who I've been a fan of for some years now. He lived in Austin for an awful long time, gigging lots in Houston, Corpus, Austin and all over the States and into Europe. Hundreds of thousands of gigging miles, no doubt. He's put in a lot of time living and playing in Texas.


First, I want to say that the album I'm talking about was released back in 2000. It was released on Zoe Records, a company owned by Rounder Records. I'll throw some links in at the bottom of his post about Chris and his bands and whatever I can find out about him. It might have to be an update, so you can just google him down the road and find out all about him and his bands and his great, great blues rock music.



This is my favorite album that Chris has done, and would recommend it as a first listen to Duarte. All of his stuff has some harder edge blues rock material, this in my opinion came as close to blues rock zeppelin backbeat with a Texas screaming and tube distorted guitar, on top of NEW SONGS I HAVEN'T HEARD BEFORE AND THAT ROCK OUT!


Part of the reason this album rocks so hard is the bassist, John Jordan. He's a tower of talent in his own right. He was nice enough to talk to me some years ago about some of the music on his ONLY ONE CD, a personal release by John feature, well, some very jazz box playing by Mr. Duarte and some incredible drumming by Barry "Frosty" Smith, yet another in a long line of Duarte drummers. John's CD reminds me almost of a euro guitar CD by McLaughlin from the late 60's with the late Buddy Miles on the drums, it's that good and that electric. John plays both upright and electric, and plays very well. He's a groover too, as you hear as he lays down the foundation for this trio to rock like nobody's business, as the bassist in a solid blues rock trio must do.


So if you're interested in hearing some Duarte, I'm sure there is youtube aplenty and may itunes or other download services. I'd been looking for this disc for a few weeks, knowing it was shelved away in one blues rock area of music or another on one of several rooms of the hacienda. I found it this evening, just in time for a short run to the store and time for about four songs. Great songs. Rocking songs. Emotive blues guitar playing.




I just got caught in a real time flies moment here.


Wow. I was thinking this CD was from 2003 or 2004 but no, from ten dang years ago in 2000. And that's WOW because it DOES NOT SEEM LIKE TEN YEARS AGO but like yesterday when I came walking back into the office, happy from my extended Friday mexican food lunch, and I'd been listening to this CD all the way from the store marveling in it's rocking nature and Duarte's great merger of classic hurtin' guitar blues and some really solid original tunes. I started playing it in my office, and a neighbor came in to find out who was singing and playing that guitar. I remember it well.


Before 2000, I'd seen Duarte live many times and even had his first two CD releases, one of them being Tailspin Headwhack.


I remember the day I went to lunch with these two fellows I was working up a blues trio with and they told me that Duarte had released a new CD that had a bit harder edge, so we went by the store and I picked it up, on sale no less. It was something that


There's a lot of folks, guys and gals, who can play the you-know-what out of a guitar. Someone who can speak their emotions, often conflicted and complex, through six strings, ten fingers, two hands and a bunch of ways of hitting the strings and chording and fretting and all. It's not a dime-a-dozen skill, being a Texas blues guitarslinger, and there are all kinds of different ways to do it.


I've played so much blues and blues rock music all over this state and into a lil' ole bit of N'awlings on several occasions and worked with so many talented and yet diverse and different. With no disrespect to most of those folks (a few are truly outstanding and "taken by the blues guitar spirit"), Chris Duarte is one of those hard living bluesmen (or has certainly done his share of hard living) and that gritty life comes out in his playing and that of his bandmates.


Stalwart member for the time I was watching Duarte regularly, in the 90's and early 2000's, was his bassist Jon Jordan. Jordan is one of those folks who is incredibily talented on a highly technical musical level, but is also in touch with his soul and long ago understood that on most blues, "LESS IS MORE" in many aspects on all instruments in a blues combo. Say More with Less notes and Mo' feel.

There is a webpage devoted to the numerous drummers he's had, many of them pretty legendary.

If you ever wonder about what happened to guys playing something a little new and a little different in the Texas blues rock guitar line of music, then Chris Duarte bears a listen. He and the other bearers of the Austin blazin' blues rock guitarslinger (and there are more than a few) like Alan Haynes, Kent "Omar" Dykes, Charlie Sexton and one of my personal favorites, Doyle Bramhall (Clapton's latest favorite second guitarist, and I mean, how much better as a blues guitarist can a gig get than playing and recording with Clapton in his band as a regular full time job).

Other guys around Austin with tons of soul and chops on the Stratocaster, younger guys like Luke Cutcheon. That boy can play the guitar, boy-how-are-dee can he play the guitar, and tell a story with his fingers, and not say a word, although he is a good singer as well. A dang good singer, Luke is.

But back to this Duarte CD. It's good. It starts out from the very first note with a rumble and swings and funks and rocks all with that Texas Blues flavor I love so well. The songs are well written, and the liner notes tell the point of his life he was at when some things changed. All I can say is, parts of it for me border on Led Zepplinesque comparison in terms of just plain rocking out in a bit inventive and hard edged of a way, and there's probably only one other album in post 70's rock that had this quality:
So grab some tunes off youtube for Duarte ("CLEOPATRA" off another CD is an excellent tune) and see and hear for yourself. Then buy some of his music from him.

Here's a better review than mine, in bold and italics, from this website;

Chris DUARTE – Love is Greater Than Me 2000
Blues
The Chris Duarte Group plays some of the toughest blues-based guitar music to be heard today, with a sound that balances vitality and rawness with Chris’s astonishing and deeply spiritual playing. Love Is Greater Than Me, their first album in three years, explores soaring post-Hendrix rock (“Baddness,” Watch Out”), blues (“All Night,” “How Long”) and the intriguing Eastern modal sound of “Metaphor,” offered in contrasting electric and acoustic versions. Chris Duarte is esteemed in guitar circles (he placed fourth in a Guitar World poll – behind B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy!) and this is the hard-rocking album his many fans have been waiting for, with 11 new original songs.**Chris Duarte is indeed a legend in the music industry. He has been playing music for 25 years and seems poised to take that next step with the August release of Romp. His voice has never sounded sweeter and his guitar work is in top condition. It isn’t often someone can sit in a small bar and witness musician onstage actually melding with their instrument. There were points at the May 2, 2003 show at the Triple Crown in San Marcos where I wasn’t sure who was in control, the 1963 Stratocaster worn from years of playing, or Duarte – the stellar performer. I call Duarte a performer because a show by Chris Duarte is a performance. It is not just a man with a guitar on stage. It’s a wild being thrashing around making sweet love to six strings and playing loud passionate original music. Some nights he recites Shakespeare. Some nights he can go off on 20-minute guitar solos. Some nights both, but it’s always a new experience. It is difficult to categorize Duarte’s music – it is equal parts blues, rock, jazz and classical. A listener could easily place him in the “Texas Blues/Shuffle” category on the strength of Duarte’s 1994 release “Texas Sugar/Strat Magik”. Yet, in 1997, with the release of “Tailspin Headwhack”, Duarte delved deeper into the jazzy-funk rock sound. With 2001′s “Love Is Greater Than Me” he added a little classical guitar sound to the fold.By Sean Claes.**Chris Duarte has been many things during his career: Stevie Ray Vaughan heir apparent, psychedelic blues-rocker, light-speedy guitar god. For his third album, Duarte presents a new incarnation. It’s a lot like his previous ones, but with an added spiritual element that usually comes later in an artist’s career. So there are a few introspective pieces here–particularly “Azul Ezell” and “Metaphor (Acoustic)”–and a number of efforts at experimentation. One of these is “Metaphor (Electric),” which arrives just a few years too late for the grunge era. Another is “How Long,” with Duarte doing his best to sound like Howlin’ Wolf. Where does all this leave us? Well, it’s a good album, and there’s no doubting Duarte’s proficiency or his sincerity. It seems, though, that he’s still looking for his own voice. Once he can bring his considerable musical arsenal to bear on that, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.By Genevieve Williams. AMG.**The Chris Duarte Group, a power trio with attitude, has just launched their stongest project yet with “Love > Me.” The ride is an unbelivable one, starting off with the fuzz funk of “Baddness” moving through the rollicking “Brand New Day” and into the melodic “All Night”, which you cannot sway-proof yourself against. The Led Zepplin-induced “Metaphor Song” is as heavy as they come, showing Chris’ power and versatility. “Free 4 Me” pulses, and “How Long” is one of those songs causing the uncontrolled head-bob. But for the all-out Hendrix-a-thon, scramble your brain with “Watch Out.”. This one burns so hot I wondered if it would be wise to clear the area before playing it again. This song also really shows that Chris’ rhythm section is pure nitro: John Jordan on the 7-string thunder bass and Jason Patterson on drums form a strong backbone from which Chris can launch his spine-tingling attack. For those who prefer comparisons when shopping, artists like Stevie Ray, Hendrix, and Trower jump to mind. But Chris has his OWN thing: original, powerful and intense. “Love > Me” is a must-have CD.By Kelly Benjamin.

**Chris Duarte- (Vocals, Guitar);
John Jordan- (Keyboards, Acoustic & Electric Basses);
Jason Patterson- (Drums).
Additional personnel:
Doyle Bramhall- (Drums, Percussion);
James Fenner- (Congas, Percussion);
Erin Foster- (Riq, Tablas).

Baddness
Brand New Day
All Night
Metaphor Song
Free 4 Me
How Long
Paper Dolls
Metaphor Acoustic
Azul Ezell
Watch Out
Duarte E Ezell (Opus 1 no. 3)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

THE NEW DRUM ROOM: PART ONE

Actually, the new drum room is the new mini-home recording studio. The emphasis is on simple and effective. The ability to boot up the mac laptop, turn on the interface box, climb behind my electronic drums (or bass or guitar or keyboard controller) and go when a musical idea hits me or when Billy Ray and I work out and especially when El Fisho Jr and I jam.

Like fishing and shooting, El Fisho Jr. can play the drums already and will soon be in the band. He has some solid rhythm guitar skills and like me, struggles but optimistically with the bass beyond a simple bass line.

He and I have been listening a lot to the band WAR lately, and like me, he thinks the bass playing is some of the best he's heard. Little does he know, he's right. There might not be a better bass performance, simple yet as funky and groovy was there ever was, than the one in Slippin' Into Darkness by War.

El Fisho Jr. is understanding the role of latin percussion and rock drumming, and how you can combine them both on the drum set. This is something I didn't figure out until about age 12 after two years of private lessons, intense listening to the popular music of the day (like War) and band program, so he's way ahead of the curve I think. Sure, after about a year of private lessons I knew about latin rhythms, but didn't really understand how you can merge each on the drum kit, if done right and if you're not too busy. It's what you dont say, not what you play. Those spaces between notes left are unsaid in music I like.

So the drum room is part learning factory for El Fisho Jr. (none of his compadres allowed), it's also where we gather with Billy Ray to work on music we write and play. I've had drum rooms in the past, with the longest one a ten year home we owned with a HUGE loft, the most excellent recording and listening area ever. A cathedral roof, just the right size made Billy Ray's Klipsch speakers sound full.

A variety of electronic and acousitic drums have come and gone in the past, but I've basically had some kind of home recording for drums and music for about of the last 25 years, with about five years of the recording being done at the former swankienda of good friend El Bar and lots of recording done at small studios in Houston and Austin as well as the home studios of others.

My earliest home studio was in mid- law school, using midi drums and various samplers and drum machines to create various songs and backing tracks. One good tune, for me anyway, came out of that time.

Having an ace guitar player like Billy Ray on call is handy for augmenting all the ideas I can voice on guitar but not really play a whole song well enough that I knew someone else needed to do the part better than I can. I can pull off simple bass lines, and yearn to practice more on being a better bassist. Billy Ray and I have untold amounts of songs to catch up on, plus finishing an rock and roll ode to the investigation and prosecution of the famous killer of a poor girl named Lana in LA some years ago. It's almost done.

So I'll be blogging some about my home musical setup, simple as it is, and along the way will tell of the other methods I've used in the past, including four track, six track and eight track analog and digital recording. The wonderful device known as the SONY DATMAN (DAT format), or digital audio recorder, that became commercially and viably available for the consumer in 1992, and of which I bought one the day they arrived in Houston, was used with all these other methods of live and mastered recording as a mixdown stereo tape or as the live source.

Years ago, when commercial CD recorders became available, Mrs. El Fisho lovingly gifted me with one to put the years of live musical performances I've recorded, first on cassette and then on DAT or MiniDisc. That one still works, some 12 years later, despite heavy use but great care. Likewise, a Sony unit augments it now, using more modern cheaper discs to make the mixdowns and copies.

Garageband will be the format right now for a quick start, although I just got some very good Ableton software that will ultimately probably be what we use. A four input user interface is ready to go and up and working.

More later about the simple aspects of my home studio and the next piece will be about the electronic drums I've been using off and on for the past 25 years.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

OPEN LETTER TO SMITH AND WESSON: A COMBAT MODEL 22 OF 1917
















Just like you S&W, I'm lucky to be a working man in the U.S. of A.

Smith and Wesson. I've been buying your products for over thirty years now, and I feel qualified to ask you to give something back to the guys like me who are still buying and actively promoting your products, particularly revolvers.

Guys like me. Got to be millions of us. Of that masse, some number in at least the thousands would buy this gun:

A Model 22 of 1917 as recently reintroducted by your company, but with a 3" combat/carry sized barrel. That's it. Shorten the barrel. Move the front sight.

Sell me the gun at a decent price where you are still making a profit but you are giving back to me and thousands like me for being loyal American customers over the decades, who will continue to buy your products.

I'll put a set of Pachmayrs on it with some nice medallions and it'll be a great gun for self defense. There are those of us, Smith and Wesson, who do still practice the carry of revolvers for self defense and we have become smaller in number as the years go buy. Automatics are so fashionable right now, and with good reasons, but there is a place for the law abiding American to have a nice .45 ACP "combat" revolver to protect their castle.

Call your marketing program Arm America. Did you read on CNN today about these so-called "Americans" who are advocating jihad on America from foreign locales in online magazines? Certainly, you know about the recruitment of so-called American muslims to kill other Americans via mass murder like Fort Hood?

Arm America. The perfect gun. Sell it with rubber stocks, like the concealable Pachmayrs or Hogues. You have to work harder to conceal those grips, but in a gunfight, you'll be glad you don't have some pretty ivory or stag grips on that gun, but something substantial that absorbs the hell outta that recoil. I mean, I just love shooting the Model 22 of 1917 with the proper grips.

It's a historic gun for your company. I have one, an original, which I do shoot, but which no gunsmith I speak to will alter because of it's coolness. I admit to trepedation at even thinking of doing so, so instead comes the idea of buying one of your fine reissues of this gun, preferably in nickle.

Three inch barrel. That's all it takes, Smith and Wesson.

It's a half a pound lighter than the Model 29, and although much heavier than it's scadnium/aluminum/titanium/etc framed big bore brethern like the lightweght big bore Smith Mountain Guns and the airweight big bore snubbies shooting .45 ACP, it's just a much more pleasant and to me, accurate shooting firearm than any of your other fine revolvers in this caliber.

Here's some websites with some nice reviews of the gun, much better said than I. I've seen people on forums claim to be getting them new for like $800, so the possibility exists of getting a used but recent reissue for something well under that. I have not seen any around new or used, myself.















The closest thing available from Smith and Wesson in this regard has been the excellent Thunder Ranch Model 22, which is a different beast altogether than the 1917.






It could not cost that much to program some CNC machines to cut that barrel, crown it, and pin that front sight on that bad boy.

If you need to cut costs to get the price down to a REAL reasonable amount, consider the following:

A parkerized finish, with rubber grips, again with the all important 3" barrel.


HOLSTERS AND THEIR HISTORY

As a lifelong shooter, Texan, law enforcement employee and outdoorsman, I've done a lot of pistol toting. Even when I was a kid still in second or third grade, I'd be checking out the holsters and the guns that fit them. My dad would let me use some of his holsters for my around the house adventures, and I came to like a quality leather holster at a very early age.

My father's friends, the vast legions of Houston cops and deputies and lawyers and firemen and private eyes and prosecutors that were his buddies personally and professionally over his career as a lawyer, also brought with them holsters that I saw. Back then, lots of lawmen who didn't wear a uniform wore fancy basketweave or floral stamped patterns, with matching belts and cartridge/mag holders. Sometimes they were real fancy and covered to match a pair of expensive boots the fellow had.

Lots of those old timers from anytime before the 90's, they took their gun leather in Houston, Texas seriously. They didn't do a lot of changing when they found a holster that worked well with whatever they were carrying. They might change guns AND holsters, but not holsters on the same gun. They'd look pretty careful like at various leathersmiths in Houston and find sort of what they wanted and then get some good holstermaker like over at Stelzig's to make it for them and their favorite gun.

That's the cool kind of holsters to find, the one-off handmade holster. Usually ornate in some way, but they can be just as pretty if they are unadorned as if they are intricately stamped. I have several, and when I can find one at a decent "non-collectors" price, then I try to get my hands on them. Sometimes I don't like them and resell them, and sometimes you get lucky with older holsters.

And it's a hobby that's possibly with a low amount of expendature. I haven't made any money buying and selling holsters, in fact, surely I've come out on the spending end of that. But it more or less can pay for itself, buying and selling and trading holsters at reasonable rates, not as a collector but as a end user, one who appreciates fine gun leather from the past for a few meager dollars.

I wrote recently about finding bargain bin holsters in gun shops and the like, and lemme talk more about the startling revelation that sprang forth from Billy Ray's lips as we discussed the holster bargain barrels, boxes, bins and drawers that gun shops often have.

So this dude that I have been hanging out with for thirty years, this man named Billy Ray. He's the godfather of one of my children, and we've done just about everything two friends do over the years together. We've played in bands together for decades. We fished and hunted and traveled and hung out and taken road trips and just all kinds of things for decades.

A large part of that hanging out and trekking and doing all the stuff we've done involved shooting firearms, buying firearms and ammo, finding places to shoot weapons if we were not at one of our family places where we could shoot. We've been to untold numbers of guns and sporting goods stores that sell guns and accessories, and even a hardware store on the old Carthage city square that sold ammo back in the early 80's.

So the remarkable Billy Ray was gifted with one of THE INSIDER holsters to use with his larger autos. And I was detailing the story to him about that holster and the nice Roy's Leather holster we found for El Fisho Jr.'s single action cowboy .22 pistol, and showing him the bargain finds, and he says to me:

"Where do you find these holster bargain places in these stores?"

Billy Ray hisself, in sober condition, has been with me on numerous occasions where I have either rummaged through or bought a used or surplus or NOS holster from a bargain bin in all kinds of gun stores large and small and in sporting goods stores. How many times have I asked salesmen at old gun and sporting goods stores if they had a box of holsters anywhere they couldn't sell, or holster parts.

Recently, I found a NOS Askins Avenger 1911 holster and got it for $5.00, new in box and frozen in time from the early 1980's this way. Sitting in a box in a gun store in a small town for years and years until it was finally pushed away into a drawer to make room for the latest plastic and nylon holsters.

But to say, when that NOS holster came out of that time capsule it had been in, ah, that leather smell when the plastic box was opened was just the way I remembered new Bianchi products back in the day. Their brown leather holsters always smelled very, well, leathery and nice.

When I think about old holsters from my childhood that my dad and his friends had, and their gunbelt rigs and the like, that makes me think about going shooting back then, and how we didn't go usually to Oshman's to get ammo, either K Mart or an out of town Gibson's but just as likely, the local convenience store.

I can remember when Seven-Eleven, Utotem and other convenience stores in Houston everywhere sold ammunition, right there next to the cigarettes. That was in the 60's as a kid when I can recall that going on at the stores near our house in Houston, and I know it continued on in rural areas up into the seventies at least. Go get cha' a pack of cigs, a coke and a box of bullets. I remember a convenience store in Splendora, Texas made of cedar that sold all kinds of ammo, a great selection of pistol, rifle and shotgun ammo at great prices. We'd often stop there as a kid on East Texas jaunts and pick up ammo for shooting.

So such are the memories that come to mind when I think about shooting as a kid and the way things were back then.

I'm interested in hearing about brands of holsters, particularly those made in Texas by smaller leathersmiths or in other places that are particularly great holsters. I know lots of the names, and want to start a post listing names of holstermakers past and present, as a resource. Nothing fancy, just basically a link page for holsters old and older.

There's lots of names out there. Some of them are still making great holsters, like El Paso Saddlery. A lot of names have faded into the past, and I for one would like to be aware of the history of some random holster I might encounter at an auction site where nobody knows anything about the holster. I'm sure there are groups out there as well involved in collecting holsters, and that's great. But I'm looking for very reasonably priced bargains from folks in America who made and sold a lot of holsters during the latter half of the 1900's.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A GOOD CHEAP SHOOTING IRON: THE TANFOGLIO MODEL TA22


Image from an auction arms auction.
As I posted her previously about a holster I found for this gun that just fits it to a "T", ROY'S LEATHER ?"PANCAKE? HOLSTER FOR SMALL FRAME ..., I began doing a little research on the gun pictured from my family's collection.

It's a Tanfoglio Model TA22 made in Brescia, Italy. It was imported (and that fact documented with the words "EXCAM HILEAH FL" very crudely stamped on an otherwise very nice case finished side plate) by EXCAM and sold at gun shows and stores and were not expensive guns at all. The gun itself is well made, this particular model with a brass frame and plastic grips with a thumb groove on the left side of the grip for the right handed shooter. The gun and stamping are solid, and I don't know much about Tanfoglio but I know EXCAM was some sort of importer in Florida bringing in all kinds of cheaper, but sometimes well made guns in the 80's and 90's. Some were junk, but some like this particlar gun are just a gem.
I have some nice guns, and I have some shooting irons. I've always shot everything I've owned, and this particular .22 small frame Single Action revolver has always been a great shooter. My dad picked it up at a gun show somewhere, for about $75 of so in the eighties, with an extra .22 Magnum cylinder. His fireman and lawyer shooting buddy friends told him "get the one with the brass frame and the case hardened finish on the side plates", and so he spent a bit more and got a very solid gun.

Loaded with five, it weights in at 33 and a 1/4 ounce. It's a solid hunk of metal, and it point shoots like crazy. From the first shot out of the box, the fixed sights have been dead on the money, but the crazy fun thing about this gun is it's a GREAT point shooting.

Let me elaborate. Let's say the target is a beer can at 10 feet, sitting up about 40" in the air on a stick. It seems like I point the Tanfoglio in the general direction of the target and I hit the target. It's the kind of gun that makes me feel like a real pistolero, when I'm shooting from the hip or point shooting or doing some fast draw on a can or target.

So maybe it's an anomaly or a lucky pistol purchase, but as I recall the group of characters my dad ran with from his twenties on in Houston all had these when they were selling cheap at the gun shows. Heck, they're still selling cheap, just a quick goggle showed a recent sale at Guns America for something like $84 and some change. Plus shipping to a dealer, but that's $20-$30.

I see them around at various gun shops that trade in used revolvers, and one day I'll find a nice one. I can say ours is in exemplary condition, particularly when you consider it's had at least 3 or 4 thousand rounds through it. A bunch. Hunnerds and hunnerds. Maybe more.

It shoots better than my Ruger Bearcat from childhood. It shot better new than the Ruger did, and it still shoots better. Had a new firing pin put in and springs about a thousand rounds ago, because it was getting on in years. My father often bought the firing pin and spring kits or the like when he was buying a pistol, particularly a foreign made one.

He figured the guys selling these cheap imports could get or supply at purchase the necessary parts because they had a stock on had for troubled new guns of some spare parts. This was for sure a *Gun Show With His Buddies Purchase*, all of which I'm glad he made of course. I remember them talking about what a great bargain the gun was for what you got and how the ones they were buying from this distributor through their own small gunsmith and gunsales side/hobby businesses were just shooting dead on.

Deer hunters were buying them like crazy, for shooting at camp and taking into the field as a lighter weight belt gun to accompany the hunting rifle. Fishermen loved having them in their boat as a snake gun. Just regular old every day shooters loved them for fun at the range or for a good pest gun on the old home place or even in the city with the wrong kind of snake.

They are not terribly loud for what they are, and certainly to me are much quieter than other kinds of these guns that I've shot over the years, both import and high quality high dollar guns. But of course the guns primary feature has been it's performance as a good old shooting iron. Just over 24 ounces loaded.

El Fisho Jr. has long declared this pistol his, and fair enough, he can shoot it even better than I can, and I can shoot it pretty dang good. So now El Fisho Jr. has a great field holster for this gun when we are out at the range. And of course, er, em, uh, well Dad you know will need to continue to test that holster with that pistol and others it's size to make sure that it's safetly doing the job, especially after I install the hammer flap to the holster.

So now paired together, a bargain pancake holster and a bargain good old shooting iron like the Tanfoglio TA22. Yeah, I like high end guns, but when you get a good shooting gun like this, it's just a fun time everytime it comes out. You can buy this gun today at a gun show for under a "hunnerd", and probably barely more than that at some used guns stores. Or of course, gun auction sites. Try to look for the ones with the extra magnum cylinders and the brass frames.