I recently watched a charming movie that is somewhat music related: “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.” It was made in Spain in 2013 and as you can tell from the title there is a Beatle connection. The story revolves around a middle-aged public school teacher in Spain in 1966 who is a genuinely nice and unremarkable guy with one obsession: the music of the Beatles. He hears that John Lennon is filming “How I Won the War” on the coast of Spain (true) and decides he really wants to meet him. He embarks on a road trip and soon picks up two young hitch hikers, a boy and girl (who do not know each other). Their adventure ensues. I wish there was a bit more music in the film but a highlight is a tape recording of Lennon doing an acoustic version of Strawberry Fields at the end of the film. I never considered that tune for single acoustic guitar but I am definitely going to learn it after hearing this version. As I said, it is a wonderful “little” movie with no gratuitous violence or sex, just relationships between the principle subjects and people they meet along the way. Check it out, you won’t be sorry. Assuming you don’t mind reading subtitles if you don’t speak Spanish!
My experiment with humidity levels in my studio that I spoke about in a recent entry seems to be working fine. I still use Planet Waves sound hole humidifiers when the gauge in the studio reads in the low 30% range but not when the humidity is above 35%. The pay off of this gamble is that my present line up of guitars I play regularly (Martin 000-18, Martin D-16RGT, Taylor 516 FLTD) all sound great – none of the thunky dead sound that seems to develop when I keep the room at recommended levels of 45% - 50%. I absolutely believe that drier guitars sound better than well-humidified ones but I still acknowledge that I’m risking cracks, sharp fret edges as the fretboard shrinks or even lifting bridges and pick guards. None of those things have happened, thankfully. The experiment will continue.
I couldn’t bear to watch much of the Grammys. I guess the tribute to Glenn Frey was well done, as was the tribute to BB King. But I’ve never cared for the self-congratulatory nature of award shows in general (I amuse myself when I do watch one by counting how many times I hear “amazing” and “incredible”) and I have even less tolerance these days. Plus the vast majority of pop music leaves me cold. But hey, I will admit once again that I am a dinosaur!
Still looking for a stand-up bass player to perform with around here who has knowledge of swing jazz, country, blues, bossa nova and singer-songwriter type music. I’m not holding out much hope, which has a lot to do with living where I do. There are plenty of guitarists around here but any bass player who can play beyond the roots of the I – IV – V progression is most likely already playing out. It would probably be another story if I lived closer to Boston or Providence. Oh well.
With that in mind I recently bought a cool little pedal called the Trio, which “listens” to your playing and generates various styles of bass lines and also drums. It seems to be pretty neat but I need to spend more time experimenting with the settings. But the couple times I’ve used it have been fun. More on this in an upcoming post as I learn more about it.
I recently became Facebook “friends” with one of my early and on-going guitar heroes, the great Duke Robillaird. He plays absolutely wonderful blues and swing jazz guitar and lives in Providence, RI. He post frequently and always has links to great videos of many of the great of blues and jazz. He also does on-line lessons (more like tips), some of which are free. Check him out. There are none better. He combines both classy and passionate playing better than anyone I’ve ever heard. He has a new acoustic blues recording out now and I will purchase it soon; it has received rave reviews. It was Duke and his original jump blues band Roomful of Blues that inspired me to learn lead guitar.
One final tidbit. That Hiscox case I mentioned in a previous post arrived and both my Taylor 516 and Martin D-16RGT fit in it perfectly. It seems to be as advertised: light but heavily reinforced, with plenty of shock absorbing padding. I even did an experiment and stood on it (without a guitar in it of course!) and the case did not flex at all. I will feel a lot better about handing it over to the airline when I head down to the Keys in a month of so. But I’m also hedging my bet. On one of the guitar forums a person recommended a certain sticker for the case. Rather than going with the usual “Fragile! Handle with Care!” sticker that most of us use on our cases when we travel, which may inspire an unscrupulous or angry worker to do just the opposite, I found what I was looking for on Amazon. My new case is now adorned with a couple stickers in strategic locations. They say: “I (heart) Baggage Handlers!”
Peace & good music,