Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Bedford Chamber backs out of Summerfest

Summerfest in the historic waterfront city of New Bedford, Mass., is one of the most popular roots music events in the state, if not all of New England. The NB
Chamber of Commerce, expressing that it's not in the folk festival business, is withdrawing its support after 10 years, leaving the city to pick up the tab.
I confess -- I've not been to Summerfest, but I've tried to play there. If the chamber did an economic analysis to determine that the money spent by visitors who would have no other reason to go to New Bedford does not outweigh the investment, perhaps the business people are right.
Like any city, New Bedford has its problems. Summerfest shines a favorable light on the city, and we hope that others will pick up the slack.

A Josh devotee

Like many of us, Jim Crawford became smitten with the dobro after hearing Josh Graves, primarily known for his work with Flatt and Scruggs. Jim, who leaves near Toronto, was featured in this article .

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Producer, dobro player to be honored

Producer Jerry Kennedy will be honored next month at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Nashville Cats series.

One of his most distinctive musical contributions can be heard on Jeannie C. Riley’s 1967 hit “Harper Valley P.T.A,” where Kennedy’s playful Dobro licks go tit-for-tat with Riley’s bold vocals. Kennedy played on Bob Dylan’s famous Blonde on Blonde sessions, as well as on Roy Orbison’s hit “Oh, Pretty Woman.” His guitar and Dobro work also graced recordings by Elvis Presley, Ringo Starr and Kris Kristofferson, among others.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lloyd Thayer has song in film at Sundance

The Boston Globe, 1-28-08
"This is the first time in years there have been so many Massachusetts filmmakers here," said David Kleiler, a longtime Boston-indie mover and shaker who was in Park City.
Some of those filmmakers are no longer in the area but continue to hold onto local ties. Tom Hines, the director of the dark Alaska-set comedy "Chronic Town," has lived in Los Angeles for 16 years; the Holliston native moved west less than a month after graduating from Boston College in 1991. And yet, said Hines, "my old boss at Boston College Television Services, Lloyd Thayer - his song is the last song in the film. He's a street musician in Boston; he plays his dobro in the subways and has put out four great CDs."

Lloyd has been an inspiration to me, as a dobro player and a street musician. Though I've heard only a few tunes of his (I have to get his CDs), it's good to know that another lap-style player is making a go of it on the streets.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


My wife and I went to Real Art Ways in Hartford last night to see Honeydripper, John Sayles' latest film about a backwoods blues club trying to survive in 1950 Alabama. I'm not a film critic, and while it moved a bit slowly, I enjoyed the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of the railroad depot, the cottonfields and the Honeydripper club itself.
Mason Daring was the music composer, and Keb' Mo' did a fantastic job of riffing and sliding on a National.
Gary Clark, who was recently named best new musician at the Austin Music Awards, plays the guitar slinging impersonator and does a fine job on Chuck Berry-like guitar.
Other veteran musicians featured in the film are Dr. Mable John, saxman Eddie Shaw, and harpist Arthur Lee Williams.
I recommend that you see the movie -- it's a nice story, and the music is great.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Try a tricone

The next explosion in the reso/lap-style playing world will be in tricones. For a long time, all that were available were vintage or expensive Nationals or poorly made imports. The imports have improved, and their prices are reasonable. The best buy available is a Johnson, with the import cones replaced with Nationals. Well worth it.
Regal needs to make a square neck model. Johnson reportedly is being re-marketed as Recording King.
Randy Kohrs, show above left at the Reso Summit last November in Nashville, has announced a new line with Amistar, the Czech maker. Mike Auldridge also is shown giving it a ride. Amistars have a striking, burnished metal appearance. I can't wait to hear Randy play his tricone.
Many reso players are looking to add variety to their playing; that's why Weissenborn and Weissenborn-style instruments have taken off. Inspired by people such Kelly Joe Phelps, lap-style players are stretching out from their traditional line in the bluegrass band.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

14 1/2 songs; 29 days

February Album Writing Month is an undertaking to write an album's worth of songs in the shortest month of the year. I'll be collaborating with my wife, Jean, and we'll see what we come up with.
See the FAWM site for more information -- there' still time to sign up. We'll keep you posted on our progress.

Keeping the beat

Rhythm is the foundation of music. One of the challenges as a solo musician, at least for me, is establishing the rhythm, while playing the melody. I've been working on developing my thumb patterns on the lower strings, and even use a metal pick to dig into the string.
Another way to get rhythm is with a bass player. I've gotten together with Jon Swift, a great upright bass player and singer. Another solution for soloists is with a Porchboard or Ellis Stompbox. These essentially turn your foot taps into electronic signals.

One device that I've recently heard of is called the Farmer Foot Drum.
Pete Farmer, a teacher in Washington. I believe the price is about $700, but I'll look into. If anyone has experience with this, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Beard & Jerry Douglas collaborate

Beard Guitars LLC and twelve time Grammy Award winner Jerry Douglas announce an agreement to develop the Jerry Douglas Signature Resonator Guitar.

Master luthier Paul Beard and resonator guitar virtuoso Jerry Douglas will develop an exclusive family of signature guitars, designed around Mr. Douglas’s vision of sonic perfection.

Mr. Douglas states, “From my first meeting with Paul Beard early in our careers, I hoped we would someday work together. With a combined knowledge of the resonator guitar we have, I believe, created an instrument which establishes the standard by which all resophonic guitars are to be measured for years to come”.

The premier examples of the Jerry Douglas Signature Resonator Guitar will be unveiled at the Winter NAMM show, January 17-20, in Anaheim, CA and will be sold exclusively by Beard Guitars LLC and its network of dealers. Inquiries are welcome.

Paul Beard is celebrated for twenty three years of resonator guitar design innovation.

JerryDouglas, named a National Heritage Fellow by the NEA, is instantly recognized by his superlative work with scores of performers such as James Taylor, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Phish, and, most notably, Alison Krauss.