I am always looking for new gear that will make my gigging and teaching experiences easier and I recently bought a cool little device that falls in that category. It is called the Quiklock music stand. Part of my quest with all new gear I buy is to make my set-up more condensed and easier to transport and set up. This thing helps. It is a music stand/holder that attaches horizontally to a mic stand. While not as spacious as a regular music stand it holds two lead sheets side-by-side on an arm that is adjustable both in the distance from the stand and angle of the back that holds the music. It attaches to the stand via a clamp. I’m not entirely convinced the clamp will hold up in the long term (that is a complaint in reviews of the thing) but for now it seems to hold just fine. I doubt I would trust it to hold something valuable like an IPad but it serves the purpose with printed music. There was a time in my gigging life that I scoffed at people who didn’t have ALL their music memorized and needed a music stand. Not anymore. Seems like many if not most single performers use them or an IPad holder these days. I do know enough to bring along clips to hold the music to the stand in case it’s windy. Anyway, I recommend this inexpensive little device if you don’t want to lug a full size music stand to your gigs.
My favorite song lately is a great one by Ry Cooder called “Tattler.” His recording features his fine guitar playing but also a full band so I had to adapt it somewhat for my own use and use with students. What a sweet and catchy tune! It has a bit of a Caribbean or New Orleans vibe too, which immediately attracted me. Check it out if you can. Ry Cooder is hugely respected in the singer/songwriter world although he doesn’t have the wide recognition of some. His work as a writer, player and producer is stellar. Also, it was Ry who brought the wonderful Buena Vista Social Club musicians of Cuba to the attention of the world. In some small way, I believe that his work with them may have contributed in some small way to the opening of relations with that country and more exposure to its rich musical heritage.
I recently bought the first electric guitar I’ve owned in a while, a semi-hollow body by a company called Prestige. I got a very fair deal on it locally; it is in perfect condition. There is a bit of mystery about this company. While their web site says they are based in Vancouver, Canada (there is no label in the guitar, but it is number 000113!), a person on the Acoustic Guitar Forum stated that it was in fact made in Korea at the same factory that makes Peerless Guitars and I believe this is the case as it is identical to one model they make. Peerless is producing some of the finest archtops made overseas and my hero, jazz guitarist Martin Taylor consulted with them to produce his signature model. They are rather expensive and fairly hard to get. My Prestige has many of the same features, and the fit and finish are top notch. It features two Seymour Duncan P-90’s and a super comfortable neck. The sound is just great, equally at home in both jazz and blues. It also came with high quality hardshell case, and being only a year old and hardly played it is in perfect condition and set up perfectly too. Best of all, it sounds terrific through my Carvin AG-300 (this was a big surprise!) so I don’t need to spring for another amp. With a beautiful tobacco sunburst finish, gold plated Grover tuners and bridge, and a very cool retro looking cream colored pickguard that matches the Seymour Duncans perfectly, it is a gorgeous thing to look at too. Only down side is that is has some serious weight due to the maple block inside but that is the trade off for the amazing sustain it has. Sooner or later, I will get some gigs that call for an electric, and I’ll be ready!
I had a great conversation with the person who sold me the guitar and this gets to my previous post about guitar teachers. It seems that his daughter took lessons – actually, just one lesson! – with a guy who lives not far away. This person is a former member of a very well known R&B group that broke up a while ago and he now lives in this area. While all reports are that he is a great guy, from what I was told his teaching style is a bit shaky at best. He basically did some playing and expected this poor young girl, a raw beginner, to then repeat what he played. Compounding the confusion was that he is left-handed, and she is not! His advice? Just look in the mirror! Yikes. Plus he demanded three months of payment in advance. Again, big respect for his playing and background but the reality is that a great player may not be a great teacher. The sad part is that he probably succeeded in turning off this youngster to ever playing the guitar. But the positive was that this inspired the guy who sold me the guitar to begin playing himself (after all, he had paid for three months of lessons….) and he seems to love playing without value judgements by himself or anyone else. Good for him!
Finally, as regular readers of this blog know, I have been playing regularly for about 5 years at a wonderful little café near my home called the Daily Brew. I play almost every Sunday from 10 till noon. When I started and until very recently it was all about challenging myself to carry the time with totally instrumental arrangements of blues, bossa nova, jazz and pop stuff. I can say the pay off is that my playing at this point in my life is better and more gratifying than it’s ever been. But recently I thought, what the heck, maybe I’ll start mixing in some vocals too. Understand that this was what I always did in the many groups I’ve played with over the years. So a couple of the locals were quite surprised to see a mic set up in front of me last weekend as they had never heard me in any of my previous musical endeavors. And you know what? In spite of dealing with the aftermath of a nasty cold and seasonal allergies it sounded…. Not awful. Or it seemed that way anyway. And it was fun! Looking forward to tomorrow morning, for sure!
Oh, and one more thing. As most of us know, this is the 50th anniversary of the release of what I feel is the great album of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. I listened to an interview with Sir George Martin’s son Giles yesterday on PBS radio and he went into great detail about the new box set and remixed Sgt. Pepper. It was absolutely fascinating. Contrasting the mono and stereo versions, alternative takes, and little tidbits about the behind the scene recording process back in 1967. I believe that interview may be available on You Tube or perhaps via PBS. Check it out and even if you can’t give that album a listen again. Pure genius.
Peace & good music,