Those Conservative Guitarists…

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the musicians with the most nonconservative reputation are really a little fuddy duddy when it comes to their purchase choices. Other pastimes, like Hockey, Tennis and Golf continue to embrace new tools, new materials and performance enhancing equipment, whereas the world of the guitarist remains startlingly the same. It’s almost like time has stopped with guitarists.

Classic, or snoozeworthy?

The kid walking into the store may have a blue mohawk, a nose ring, tattoos, and a burning desire to rebel against “all the hypocritical conventions of our decaying society.” But, when it comes to buying his guitar, chances are he’ll come down on the side of the convention, play it safe, and pick one of the forty-plus-year-old designs that represent the mainstay of the guitar business. As popular musicians in every genre strive to lead the cutting edge, it’s more than a little ironic that Continue reading

Texas Guitarists Still Feeling Stevie Ray’s Influence

As one of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s proteges and a member of the late Austin boogie band the Arc Angels, Doyle Bramhall left Austin in October to enter drug detox and rehab in California, but once that is behind him, Geffen Records will start grooming him for the big time.

Considering the diversity of talent represented here, generalizations can be futile. Even so, there are several important common threads. The influence of Vaughan, whether blatant or subtle, can be felt whenever any of these musicians performs, and like Vaughan, most of them play in a power trio or quartet format. Also, nearly all are as enamored as Vaughan was of Jimi Hendrix, the wizard who in the late sixties redefined electric guitar.

Stevie Ray Vaughn continues to influence a new generation of guitarists.

Finally, when they play outside the region, the newcomers are invariably sagged the successor to Stevie Ray Vaughan,” though in fact Converse and Wayne are the only near wannabees. At the opposite end of the spectrum are Foley and Andrews, both pretty much blues purists. The others fall somewhere in between. Continue reading

Buffalo’s Celebrations And Discoveries Was Classic

The 1993 Guitar Foundation of America International Festival and Competition, or “Celebrations and Discoveries”, was probably one of the most epic guitar conventions of all time. It lives on in history through the minds of those that were present.

Those attending the festival were treated to a whirlwind of recitals, masterclasses, workshops, panel discussions, and lectures. These events were staggered so that, in theory, a diligent registrant could attend every single one. In practice, however, this became impractical because in order to do so one would have had to miss the drama of the preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds of the annual competition and the displays of 25 different suppliers to the guitar trade who had set up a giant Vendor’s Fair, both of which were going on simultaneously with the festival events. Host for “Celebrations and Discoveries”, which was held October 21-25, was the music Continue reading

Bluegrass Still Coming Up!

Enthusiasm for “unplugged” music has helped revitalize the careers of middle-aged rocker Eric Clapton and elderly crooner Tony Bennett. It may also be behind the growing interest in a purely American musical form–bluegrass. Born in the 1940s and based on folk-music traditions, bluegrass incorporates guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo to create melodic musical lines.

Adults who buy bluegrass music are a small share of all music purchasers, at 2.4 percent. Yet these 4.6 million aficionados average more than nine musical buys a year, well above the U.S. average of five annual purchases, according to a new survey by Simmons Market Research for the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). The potential for bluegrass is even greater. In 2013, about 30 percent of adults said they like bluegrass music.(1)

banjo-bluegrassWhy don’t more bluegrass fanciers take home bluegrass tapes and CDs? One possible reason is that many bluegrass performers refuse to write and record songs expressly for broad commercial appeal. Continue reading