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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.

Choosing The Perfect Guitar Teacher

This is an article written by David Smolover, who is not only the founder of The National Guitar Workshop, but also Workshop Arts Publications, DayJams and WorkshopLive.  As you can tell, he is a busy guy and knows a lot about guitar education.

How to Find the Perfect Teacher

Finding the right teacher is the best way to insure success in any endeavor, not just learning to play an instrument. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned by our school systems to accept the teachers they put in front of us. So often when we actually do have a choice like selecting a private teacher, we fall back into the habit of accepting whoever is available.

The first thing to do is truly examine what you want to accomplish. Do you want to play Beatle tunes? Do you want to work on your improvisation skills? Do you want to learn how to read music? WHAT DO YOU WANT? (If you don’t know, well then we have another set of problems that we’ll discuss later.)

Let’s assume for the moment that you do know what you want to accomplish. Then it’s time to locate and interview the teacher. Remember you are the customer. It’s your money and it’s your right to select whomever you want. Steps to take:

1. Referrals are a good place to start. Ask a friend who’s playing you respect and find out where they studied.

2. No friends. Sorry. Go to small live music venues and if you find a player you like ask them: 1) if they teach, or 2) can the recommend a teacher.

3. Too young to go to clubs or too old to stay up that late. OK. Visit the local music store and ask questions about their teachers. If you find a likely candidate, ask to set up an interview. The storeowner may look at you funny, but you’ll survive.

4. No likely candidates at the store. Onward. Call the local college music department. As them who are their most popular faculty members. Then ask if they teach privately. Almost all of them will. Ask for contact info and then set-up the interview.

5. Last resort. Hang out at the local coffee shop and stop everyone caring a guitar. Remember anyone making their living as a guitar teacher gets up at 10:00 and goes for coffee around 11:30. They have very few friends and no social outlets, so they’ll be happy to talk with you.

The Interview

Remember. Be honest about what you want to learn. Don’t try to please the teacher. It’s their job to please you. Ask them to specifically tell you how their approach will help you accomplish your goal. Ask them about their educational background. How long have they been teaching? Here’s the most important question. Ask them what kind of student do they most enjoy teaching? Does that sound like you? If so, sign-up. If not, keep looking.

If you don’t know what you want to accomplish or if you’ve been playing a long time and you’re not improving, then this is what you have to discuss with the perspective teacher. Honestly describe your playing. Ask to play with the teacher if words fail you. Then say, “OK, how can you help me?” If the answer sounds like good and it’s not a canned response (i.e. All my students ……) then give it a shot.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s your money, but it’s also your responsibility to find the right teacher.

Darcy James Argue and the Future of The Music Business

Original cutting edge music for large ensembles in a jazz context has been in short supply lately.  Of course you have Maria Schneider’s music, but as great as it is Maria’s music lacks that inner fire for me.

Darcy is a very well respected composer who comes from the Brookmeyer School (He studied with Brookmeyer while at NEC).  He is the leader of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, one of the most original large jazz ensembles to come around in recent memory.

Recently, Darcy released “Infernal Machines”, the debut studio recording from the Secret Society (purchase it here).


Not only did this interest me because of my interest in his music, but Darcy was very open about the deal with New Amsterdam Records.  The terms of the contract are very artist friendly:

  • The artist retains full copyright of the recording
  • Proceeds from the album are split 80% Artist and 20% Label until the recording cost are recouped. After that it becomes a 50/50 split.

You can read the whole agreement here.

However there are some downsides, such as no advance.  All costs related to the recording of the album are 100% on the artist.  To me, this could be a glimpse into the future of the recording industry.  As most of you know by now, the traditional artist/label relationship doesn’t exist as we know it.  In order to make the music industry more viable, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the business of making music, and I think NA Records and Darcy are going in the right direction.

Please check out/buy a copy of Darcy’s new album.  For those of you who feel big band jazz is all about Glen Miller and Count Basie, then you NEED to buy it.