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5 Links for the weekend

Thinking About a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance? – Dr. John Pisano writes a fairly informative article aimed at younger musicians who are thinking about obtaining a performance degree in college.  I don’t fully agree with some of the points Dr. Pisano makes, but all are worth considering.

Top Guitarists on Twitter – I wish I had the computer skills that Jon at Guitarnoize.com has.  He has put a great list together (even better than mine) of some of the top guitarists on Twitter.

Interview with Trey Anastasio from Time Out – If you haven’t picked up Phish’s Joy.  Do so now.  Probably their best studio album to date.

Changing the Size of Guitar  Chord Diagrams in Sibelius – Daniel Spreadbury writes a great blog on all things Sibelius.  I have been using Sibelius since college and have never regretted it.  Great software.

20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Beatles – It seems like there are a lot of Beatles things going on this week.  I figured I should add something to it.

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Bill Frisell at Infinity Hall

Last night I went to a great venue in Norfolk, Connecticut called Infinity Hall to see one guitarist that I have yet to see live.

Bill Frisell.  He was just coming off of his annual two week stand with Paul Motian and Joe Lovano at the Village Vanguard.  Bill’s trio included Rudy Royston on Drums and Eyvind Kang on Viola.  Despite the unusual instrumentation,

the music seemed to work in this situation.

The preshow music right before the trio came on was a collection of bird calls from nature.  As they came on the music developed in a free nature with them playing along with the birds before going into more solid time.  Both sets were really great with the standouts being “Misterioso” by Monk and a great take on “Blue Yodel” by Hank Williams.


Bill solo playing “Shenendoah”

Two Masters.  Jim Hall and Bill Frisell.

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7 Questions with Pete Huttlinger

There are musicians out there who really get to the heart of what it means to make music.  It seems to just flow through them no matter what the setting.  Several months ago I had the chance to finally see one of my all time guitar heroes up close.  Pete Huttlinger is a National Champion Fingerstyle guitarist who just released a collection of Stevie Paul Schatzkin photoWonder songs arranged for solo guitar.

Pete was gracious enough to participate after just returning home from a tour of Germany.

Describe your first experience playing music.

The first place I played was Shakey’s Pizza in Walnut Creek, Ca. My mom would take me there and I’d sit in and play banjo on a few tunes. The first place I made money was playing square dances in Danville, Ca. Both gigs were on banjo. The square dances were great fun because it was all about community. The caller, the dancers, the band. We were all in it together. Even though I mostly play solo these days, my favorite thing is to play music with other people.

What has been your most significant musical experience?

There have been many but the biggest has to be playing solo at Carnegie Hall. I was opening for 1964 – The Tribute ( a Beatles tribute band). I had lots and lots of family and friends in the audience. It went well, I hit it out of the ball park, and now I’m returning on January 9, 2010 to do it again!

What is the best advice on pursuing a career in music you were ever given?

My mom grew up in the post-depression era and when I was 15 years old she said, “Pete, play music because when times are good people want it. And when times are bad, they need it. She’s been 100% right.

What is your favorite sound?

Two actually – water and birds.

Name some of your biggest non-musical influences.

My brothers, my mom, my brother-in-law and anyone one who has taken the time to show me the right way to do something. The new testament is pretty amazing too. I’m not deeply religious but when you read it, it’s really a no-brainer. It’s all good information.

What was the most memorable concert you ever attended?

That would probably be one of Bill Graham’s famous Day On The Green concerts in Oakland, Ca. I won 3 pair of tickets from the radio. My brother and his girlfriend drove me and three friends to see Steve Miller, Heart, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Eagles & Foreigner. All the groups were all over the radio at the time so it was an amazing day for a 15 year-old kid.

Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that appear

The theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents (From Television’s Greatest Hits), Mean Old Man (James Taylor), Just Friends (Amy Winehouse), Blues For TJ ( Larry Carlton), Sweet Lorraine (Joe Pass)


11 Guitarists You Need To Know About

Every summer while on tour with NGW I learn about a new guitarist that either I have never heard of or hear a track that makes me rethink how I listen to someone. Below I have listed 20 guitarists that I feel are appreciated enough and should be exposed to a larger audience.

Go support them. Buy their CD. Go see them live. Even, email them and ask for a lesson. At the very least go to their website and say thanks.

Mary HalvorsonMary is one of the leading guitarists on the NY improv scene. With an angular, yet melodic style she can fit in with artists from Anthony Braxton to Marc Ribot. Pick up her Dragon’s Head album on Friehouse Records.

Andy McKeeOk, so maybe you aren’t one of the millions of people who have seen Andy’s videos on YouTube. Drawing a clear lineage from Michael Hedges and Preston Reed, Andy is a modern acoustic master.  He also has TABS available on his website. I wish more guitarists did this.

Jody Fisher – Many of you probably recognize Jody’s names from the many books his has written.  His series of jazz method books still ranks as some of the most popular.  I have had the great pleasure to get to know Jody over the last 6 or 7 years and every time we get together I learn something new.

Bret BoyerBased out of Austin, Texas Bret has become one of my favorite musicians and people.  When I first met Bret, I knew him mostly as a jazz guitarist specializing in fingerstyle guitar.  One of my favorite albums of Bret’s is Grace, a collection of hyms done on solo fingerstyle guitar.  Later on I discovered that he is also an amazing songwriter.

Pat BergesonTo those of you who live in Nashville, Pat’s name probably won’t be that new to you.  The first time I heard Pat play was one night in Nashville at a bar.  He was playing with Guthrie Trapp and Dave Pomeroy.  Long jams, lots of improv and tons of guitar.  Years ago, Pat was teaching guitar at NGW when Chet Atkins heard him play and convinced him to move to Nashville.

Ben LacyAs a one-man guitar army, Ben takes tunes and reworks them to fit for solo guitar.  Many other musicans in this niche usually go the acoustic route, but Ben does his damage with a Brian Moore.  Make sure to stop by their booth at the next NAMM to see Ben in person.

Tim MillerRemember that guy you went to college with and every assignment seemed incredibly easy to him?  Well, imagine that guy crossed with Alan Holdsworth and you get Tim Miller. Coming out of the long line of great musicians from North Texas, he just recently did a stint at the Village Vanguard with Paul Motian.  Not bad.

Amanda MonacoOnce when someone asked Amanda what her music sounded like, she told them “Have you ever heard a fire in a pet store?”.  I personally don’t think that her music is that avant-garde, but it definitely has a modern New York vibe. For the last few summers, I have spent a considerable amount of time on the road with Amanda and I can’t tell you how many times people of come up to me and said how gifted of an educator and musician she is.  Also, she CRANKS out the CD’s.  Don’t forget her blog as well.

David TronzoI first heard of David through Amanda Monaco (I think she first met David at NGW, years ago). He is a crazy mad scientist of a player, but well worth checking out.  Recently he did a gig with Kurt Rosenwinkel at Smalls that I heard was out of control.

Andy AledortI knew the name just like everyone else of my generation who grew up on his transcriptions in Guitar World, Guitar for The Practicing Musician and other magazines.  A few years ago I received a call from John Scofield asking if Andy could come to a clinic.  It was great to finally meet him in person and thank him for all the help he gave me growing up.  Nowadays, Andy is holding down the guitar chair in Dickey Betts’ band.

Mike CramerWhen I first met Mike, he was really into acoustic delta blues.  Then he went to UNI and became a great jazz guitarist. I would imagine he was bored with that, because he then took to flatpicking bluegrass guitar and won some competitions.  Scary player, super nice guy.  He owns a teaching studio in St. Paul, Minnesota along with his wife and is an in demand player in many styles.  I hate him.

So make sure to Google their names, look at their videos on YouTube, follow them on Twitter and then let me know who I missed in the comments below.

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7 Questions with Albert Lee

As one of the most influential guitarists in country music, Albert Lee needs no introduction.  From his early years in Emmylou Harris’ band (replacing his hero James Burton, who left to play with Elvis Presley) to his time with Eric Clapton, Albert has spent time playing with some of the most well respected musicans around.  Currently he is spending his time working on solo material and playing in Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.Albert against wall

Describe your first experience playing music.

That would be thumping away at the piano at the age of 9, I took lessons shortly after but dropped them because I rarely practiced.

What has been your most significant musical experience?

Some memorable concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London playing with The Everly Bros, Concert for George and Spinal Tap.

What is the best advice on pursuing a career in music you were ever given?

That everyone has something to offer no matter how good a player they are.

What is your favorite sound?

50s/60s V12 Ferrari.

Name some of your biggest non-musical influences.

Mum and Dad.

What was the most memorable concert you ever attended?

Many, but a recent solo concert by Bruce Hornsby in Malibu springs to mind.

Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first five songs that appear.

Handel’s Messiah: The People that walked in darkness. Trevor Pinnock

Chopin Etude #2 Pollini

Brandenburg Concerto #3 Allessandrini.

Glory: Lonnie Donegan

Don’t like goodbyes: Frank Sinatra

To find out more about Albert, visit www.albertleeandhogansheroes.com.


This Week on Twitter



7 Questions with Steve Vai

Of course, Steve Vai hardly needs an introduction.  As one of the leading guitar virtousos of his generation he has achieved a legendary place in mainstream guitar culture.  We were lucky enough to have Steve as a guest this past summer at NGW and the feedback I heard from the students was amazing.

I am very lucky and thankful to have Steve participate in this project.

Steve is preparing to release his newest live DVD/CD entitled “Where the Wild Things Are “. Here is a short preview of the video:

Describe your first experience playing music.

I walked up to a little spinet organ and played the theme song for the horror flick with Bette Davis called “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte”. The movie sacred me to death and the melody haunted me until I plucked it out and then I thought…”Hmmm, that’s not so scary”. I think I was 4 years old.

What has been your most significant musical experience?

The most significant musical experience I ever had was in astral projection dreams when I was younger. I’m not sure if that’s even a correct terminology for them. They started as long back as I can remember and would happen once every 4 years or so. The most profound one, and the last one, happened when I was around 22 years old and it lasted for as long as 4-5 seconds.

The sound I hear during these episodes is impossible to describe. It  rages far beyond the dynamics and frequencies of the ability of the physical ears to hear. It has an intensity and weight to it that dwarfs your own being.  It’s like a 10,000 piece orchestra of all different instruments, all playing different notes and rhythms, all tuned differently, but in perfect harmonious and melodic exhalation. It’s all encompassing and comes from all sides. It actually emanates from within and not from anyplace outside.

It permeates everything. The waking from it is akin to slamming the pavement of a 100 story jump. I awake to feel the limitations, (prison) of the physical body and the congested cloudiness of my own cognizant awareness.

The finest music ever created in this world is like a toilet compared to this celestial orchestra. There is no way to capture and reproduce it. In the world I am left grappling for melodic scabs of it’s magnificence, only to feel that my finest work is a feeble attempt at capturing even a glimmer of this glorious inner music. I’m ashamed at my explanation but then again, I did say it was impossible to explain.

I know I’m not the only one that has had this experience.

I believe this sound resonates within the core of every living thing. VAI_7-023_promo

What is the best advice on pursuing a career in music you were ever given?

“Keep your Publishing”. Frank Zappa.

What is your favorite sound?

Complete silence to the point of hearing white noise, or… water lapping on a beach at sunset.

Name some of your biggest non-musical influences.

Complete silence to the point of hearing white noise, or… water lapping on a beach at sunset.

What was the most memorable concert you ever attended?

Return To Forever at Hofstra college on Long Island when I was 14 years old.

Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that appear

Rat Bat Blue by Deep Purple

Cry by Michael Jackson

Sonata for Cello and Piano: Allegro by Elliot Carter

I’ll Wait by Van Halen

The Part You Throw Away by Tom Waits

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