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Another Summer On The Road

This summer will be my sixth season with NGW. From my first day in New Orleans as a Resident Advisor, I knew there was something special about the teachers, students and participating in the experience.

I will be directing the following campuses:

McLean, VA – June 27th through July 2nd

Chicago, IL – July 12 through July 17th

Austin, TX – July 19 through July 24th

One week I am looking forward to in particular is Austin.  We have an amazing faculty that includes Matt Smith, Bret Boyer, Murali Coryell, and Jason Loughlin, just to name a few.  Also during that week we will be featuring a rare clinic appearance by one of the most recorded guitarists in history, Brent Mason.


Brent is one of the most versatile guitarists around.  You need to be in order to be one of the most in demand session guitarists in Nashville. 

We have had Brent (and his brother) in several times before and they are always extremely nice and make sure all the students get what they need to improve as musicians.

If you happen to live in one of the locations above and would like to come to one of the faculty concerts (the first two nights of each week) please let me know and I can give you the info.

Steve Vai appearing at National Guitar Workshop Rock Summit


Steve Vai will be appearing at our Rock Summit in Purchase, NY during the week of July 19-24. 

As a Grammy award-winning guitar virtuoso, Steve Vai’s sheer breathtaking facility on the guitar is acclaimed in the rock world and beyond. Starting with his groundbreaking "Passion and Warfare" album in 1990, and throughout the years since, Vai has consistently used music as a microscope peering into the human spirit, with equal attention paid to both the darkest obsessions and the most exalted impulses contained there. While Vai clearly had what was needed to make indelible impressions during his stays with Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, it’s as a solo artist that he’s made his most precious contributions. Each of his solo releases are unique, varied, compelling and, even when the music is looking darkness square in the face, genuinely uplifting. His most recent studio album, "Real Illusions," is a major achievement from a musical alchemist of the highest order. In addition to his recording career, Steve is involved with many worthwhile organizations. He is a former Trustee for NARAS (National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences), a board member for Hollywood Arts, and works closely with his own Make a Noise Foundation, raising money for music education. Steve has just finished a live concert DVD entitled "Where the Wild Things Are." The two hour and forty minute concert film, which was filmed in Minneapolis, will be released in August.

This will be Steve’s first time at our main campus.  Spots will be sure to fill up quick.  I am very excited to see what Steve will be presenting.  Unfortunately, I will be in Austin during that week.


Follow Friday 5/29

@NeilZaza – Neil is a good friend and a great guitarist.  Check out his website, Christmas Show and his newest project.  Currently working on a new album it promises to be full of really good guitar stuff.


@TheRockHouse – If you are into players like Alexi Laiho, Oli Herbert and Alex Skolnick, then these guys are for you.  They make some of the best instructional DVD’s out there.  We are happy to be working with them this year.


@JohnHorneGuitar – One of our most versatile teachers, John keeps busy teaching practice in Ohio.  He has taught for NGW for a few years now and it is always a great hang.

Dave Matthews Band

The reasonDave I am a musician is because of the Dave Matthews Band.  Period.

In August of 1995 I had just returned from a backpacking trip in New Mexico when I received tickets to see Dave for my 14th birthday.  My best friend and I saw them at Palmer Auditorium in Davenport Iowa.  It was one of the first times I was allowed to go to a concert by myself.DMBUnderTheTable

At the time DMB were becoming more well known due to their two hit singles “What Would You Say” and “Ants Marching”.  The main reason I went is because I heard they were pretty cool from some of my friends.

Here is the set list from that night:

Seek Up
Proudest Monkey>
Two Step
The Best of What’s Around
#41 >
Dancing Nancies >
Rhyme and Reason
Lover Lay Down
What Would You Say
All Along The Watchtower
Ants Marching
E: Little Thing (Tease) >
Typical Situation
Tripping Billies


I distinctly remember hearing “All Along the Watchtower” and thinking “So that is who wrote that song.’”  I was completely clueless, but I couldn’t believe the energy that a great band could put out. 

From that moment on I wanted to play guitar.DMBBigWhiskey 

Since then I have seen Dave in various formats (both with the band and solo) in most of the big Midwest venues.  Each and every time it brings me back to that incredibly hot and sweaty gymnasium in August of ‘95. 

Yesterday I listened to their new album “Big Whiskey and the GrooGroux King”. It is the first album since the death of Saxophonist LeRoi Moore last August.  From the first listen it strikes me as one of the best (if not the  best) DMB studio album of all time.

Next week I am taking my wife to see them for the first time.  She has never seen them before.  I don’t have any doubt that she will enjoy the concert, as far as deciding to quit everything and play guitar, maybe not.

But you never know.

If you have a favorite Dave Matthews Band concert experience, I would love to hear it.

Follow Friday May 22nd 2009

There has been a lot of talk lately about how much value the #followfriday hashtag on Twitter has been.  Does it really make you check out someone solely on the mention of their name?

I thought of instead of just referring people to my Twitter Guitar Directory, I could write a short post each Friday about a few people on Twitter who I enjoy reading about.

Sometimes 140 characters just isn’t enough.

@fretbase – One of my favorite guitar blogs.  Fretbase is a somewhat under the radar discovery for me.  Not only do they have a great news feature of the site, but they have a fairly extensive database of artists and songs with links to what gear they play and where you can download the songs (iTunes or Amazon).

@sixstringloungeSix String Lounge is a blog/community started by Mark Lee, who is the guitarist in Third Day.  SSL is an amazingly deep site with articles on guitar heroes, lessons and much more.  The video lessons for beginning guitarists are very well done and a great place to start.

@matthewwarnock – Dr. Matthew Warnock is a great jazz guitarist currently residing in Illinois.  On his website, he has many great resources including a great list of free PDF chord melody arrangements.  Matt also contributes to quite a few publications including Just Jazz Guitar, Modern Guitars and MusicEdMagic.

Guitar Magazines, Do You Still Read Them?

As Director of Marketing and Artist Relations for NGW, it is my job to keep tabs on what are in the latest guitar magazines, and what guitarists are receiving the most attention.  We advertise in all the major mainstream publications, and several niche magazines. It is interesting to me how the guitar magazines (which aren’t huge publications in the grand scheme of the magazine industry) are effected by the current economic conditions.


In speaking with our students at several campuses, I found out that younger students lean more towards Guitar World and adult students are split between Guitar Player, Premier Guitar and Fretboard Journal (which is an AMAZING new magazine).  Acoustic Guitar Magazine seems to be split fairly evenly among the age demographics among the students I talked to.guitarplayer

This year we had 8 page spreads in both Guitar Player and Premier Guitar.  As far as I know, no company in recent memory has had such a large presence in a single issue.  Both PG and GP have considerably different circulations and even target audiences.  I respect Premier Guitar for their focus on a missing aspect in the mainstream guitar media.  They focus largely on gear with some educational content.  Most of their covers feature some type of gear.  Outside of Vintage Guitar Magazine (which has a smaller circulation, I believe) they have the most gear coverage than either Guitar Player or Guitar World.

How does the coverage that these magazines give to products or artists translate into popularity?

I can honestly say that if I wasn’t for my job, I would probably rarely read these magazines unless there was something very specific I was looking for.  For products such as guitars and amps, it would be relatively easy to see if an increase in press coverage equals more sales of that particular product.  For artists, it’s much more abstract.

If you read about a particular artist in the magazine, does that motivate you to either buy a CD or go to a show?AG

Obviously who is on the cover is very important to the magazines.  How many times have you seen Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, or Eddie Van Halen on the cover? Trust me, it isn’t because they have something new to cover (for the most part).

My opinion is that there isn’t a single magazine that is representative of guitarists as a whole.  Each magazine has it’s own niche and that is great. 

What are your opinions are the current guitar magazines?

Let Me Show You Around……

Now that I have started to settle into the beauty of a self hosted blog, I thought I would share some of my most popular posts with links to their new location.

Twitter Guitar Directory – By far the most popular area of the blog.  It started with this post about who I felt were the most valuable people to follow.  After a while it was made obvious that 10 was far too few, so I expanded it onto it’s own page.

Kurt Rosenwinkel – I came to appreciate Kurt’s playing fairly late. In this post I discuss his influence on me and have some cool links to other Rosenwinkel related material on the web.  Also check out the post about his Village Vanguard set.

7th Chord Inversions -These posts to me have the most long term value.  I plan on having more guitar specific lessons and handouts appear here on the blog.  Since I am also getting back into teaching, these serve a dual purpose.  If you would like to see certain topics covered in lessons, please let me know.

Mick Goodrick – This is by far the post that brings in the most readers via keyword searches.  Mick is a bit of an enigmatic figure in the guitar community. His teachings and writings are legendary, but he is grossly underrepresented in recorded output.

Grant Green Solo on “Cool Blues”- This is one of my favorite solos by Grant.  He swings so hard and is so melodic over the blues.  Well worth learning and playing over and over and over…..

12 Websites that Will Make You a Better Musician Part One and Part Two – I thought there were some websites out there that could easily make people better musicians if used properly.  If you have anything to add, please let me know.

How I Learn Tunes – One of my favorite posts, but the process is constantly evolving.  I am going to rework this into a slightly simpler version for a well known guitar magazine.

Thanks for checking these out and if you have any topics you would like to see covered, please let me know in the comments below.