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Showing posts from March, 2008

The Rig 3/28/08

Nord Electro, Guild D25, Epiphone Les Paul Junior, Agile Gold Top, the Plush. Life is good.

Cravin Melon/Lincoln Theater

I was working for a couple days in Charlotte, but when I got home to Durham, I knew I had to go see Cravin Melon 's show in Raleigh Saturday night. My Hootie pal Gary Greene was back in the engine room for the band. I never get to see him play, so this was my chance. Plus we'd just played together, along with Doug Jones, Cravin's splendid singer, down at the Sewee Outpost show . I'm not much of a clubgoer anymore. Especially solo, like Saturday. I wrote out the directions in large longhand and put off leaving the coziness of home until the very last moment, even reprogramming my iPod with a little Idle Race / Move / Roy Wood mix for the ride over. I left and locked the house without remembering the garage had lost my car key last week. It was a foregone conclusion that I was going, but the prelude to actually getting on my way was fairly inept and time-consuming. So much so that, approximately forty-five seconds after I set foot through the door, Cravin Melon s

when you're just a little hungry

Charlotte NC 3/08

Presentation: How to save the recording industry

Good afternoon. It has occurred to me that there is a very obvious way for the recording industry to save itself. The disappointing present state of the business, reflected in low sales figures and high salaries, can be counteracted in a very sensible and simple manner. Actually, it's sort of surprising that this idea has not yet been put into general use by now, considering its intrinsic values, no matter what the business climate is. I propose that record companies eliminate the artists altogether. The savings in royalties, publishing, tour support, hookers and blow will easily help swing the lagging concerns from their present deep bloody red into the blackest of black. In a boilerplate recording agreement, the artist has been known to gouge the company traditionally for somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve percent. Imagine the elimination of that disbursement and its effect on company profits! Can you say "Cancun"? When you eliminate the artist, you necessa

Winston-Salem visit

I went to Winston-Salem today to retrieve a lift chair for my mother. The chair belonged to the father of a close friend. She and her sister have been trying to get the house they grew up in ready to be sold, and they had offered us the chair months ago for my father's use. Now, as the proud owner of a 1993 VW Eurovan , I was finally able to get it from them and take the chair to my mom. My friend was to meet me after she got off work at five. I dawdled a little and headed over to the house closer to five-thirty, but no one was there yet. I shut off the motor and stood outside in the clear blue chilly afternoon. I had been to her house a couple times in high school, but I still needed directions from her today. It was very quiet in her old neighborhood. Apart from a few cars and their owners coming home from their jobs, I was the only person outside. A strange feeling came over me as I waited. The cool air, the bare trees struggling to bloom before April, the lowered sun in

Home and rain

The four-year-old woke at 5:30 this morning. That's right on the cusp of when he can and can't hop into our bed and snuggle. I was beat and wholly inattentive from trying to get the baby to sleep from 1:30 to about quarter to four, so he and his pillow and his bear and tiger friends slipped in before I could escort them back out. He doesn't really snuggle silently, that's part of the problem. He tries to engage his dozing parents in conversation about whatever is exciting to him at that very second. He cannot contain his enthusiasm, even at the crack of dawn and with encouragement from Mom and Dad. He is also extremely kinetic at that hour, often spearing a parent with an errant elbow (or worse). So be it. He is a four-year-old, and his mother handles it a lot better than I do. I brought my pillow and blanket to the couch. Since I'm bald and it's cold, I get completely under the blanket except for a small opening for my mouth and nose. I must look like

Cornbread atrocities

Not all my kitchen sorties are victories.

The $100 Guitar Wall, sixth in a series

Here's a familiar guitar to anyone who's shopped for Smart Wife 's baby t-shirts and onesies . It's a Fender Squier Bullet Special, a lotta words for a really cool, stripped-down Strat. I've always been partial to single-pickup electric guitars. Maybe it's due to my own limitations as a picker, but there's something about the sound of a snarling bridge pickup that seems like Universal Rock Tone Incarnate. My Telecaster became an Esquire after I'd hooked both E strings around the Lindy Fralin neck p/u replacement one too many times mid-song (and look at Brad Paisley's paisley Crook Esquire , lots of nice space there, unencumbered by a neck pickup). Not to mention the fact I NEVER USED IT ANYWAY. And my extremely groovy Agile 2500 with three P-90's... you can guess which one I use. Now I'm the proud owner of an Epiphone Les Paul TV Junior '57 Reissue that I intend to get a lot of use from, another with just the one roaring pickup.


Last night, we played in Celebration, Florida, the Disney-designed model community. It was for the Robert Gamez charity , but it also was dovetailed into being part of the town's St. Patrick's Day festivities. We had performed for Jim Sonefeld's Animal Mission auction/concert in Columbia, SC the night before in the 'hopped-up acoustic' format (no guitar or Hammond for me, no rack tom for Soni, Mark with a tuner, Tube Screamer and a small Fender amp and generally lower volume overall) but had sent the truck with the bulk of the gear on to Celebration. It was great to get to play on our own gear again; I have to say, much like buying a used Jeep, it's hard to tell what condition your rental Hammond B-3 and Leslie are going to be in when you sit down for the show. Of the last two I played, one was an exhausted old rig that gave out at the end of one song but got jerry-rigged to hang on through the end of the show; the other was a shiny black monster that sound

A trip to Chuck E. Cheese's

I got back yesterday, home to my family. Smart Wife had already dropped the bomb on me that we were going to Chuck E. Cheese's today, to reward the somewhat stir crazy four-year-old. I had a couple days to make the choice of staying at home with the baby or going along. The baby and I found ourselves in a whirling noisy circus full of aggressive children and the comatose parents they drug along in their wake. It was brought to my attention that beer and wine are served at Chuck E. Cheese's to help draw adults in and keep them there. We got there sort of later in the day so that possibly explains some of the logy behavior in the grown-ups, but maybe it was just the sheer volume and force of the youngsters that would make anyone else look slow. Blurs of families blew past our table, shrieking and pounding the floor. They huddled around video and bowling games, scores of kids, overamped winners and whining losers, all keeping up the low roar. I found myself reading SW'

Lasagne success 3/5

(The one on the right is the spinach version. We have a meat-oriented clientele, so I have leftovers for lunch!)

Big sister jumps over little brother

I love this picture. It was taken last year on the UNC campus on our way to dinner at Carrburrito's .

The $100 Guitar Wall, fifth in a series

This is a Yamaha FG-75 small bodied acoustic guitar. We had one in Arabi that I'd bought disassembled on eBay for a pittance. It was a matter of some pegs, strings and tuners, and the little guitar was itself again. Good writing guitar with a lot of fight. And long before that, in 1980 or so, I owned my first FG-75. I used it on the early tour I did with REM for my set, with a soundhole pickup through an amp. As time went by, I covered the guitar in black duct tape. The electric setup left little room for any sort of acoustics, and the tape finished that off. I can't remember what happened to my first little guitar like this, but I'm glad we have one on the wall now.

Vail again

Today, I cooked breakfast for anyone who'd stop long enough to eat it. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and toast, plus countless pots of coffee. It's another day off in Vail, and the more adventuresome of us are hitting the slopes again. It snowed yesterday, the place looks like a Currier and Ives illustration which would be fine except that it's March and 65 degrees at home. In my attempts to make my time seem like it's been spent in a worthwhile manner in this winter wonderland, I constructed two lasagnes for an upcoming dinner. One's a meaty one, the other is spinachy. I had to do a little improvising on the recipe I used since my trip to the grocery was slightly incomplete, I find, expensive as it seemed at the time. Well, they look great; hope they taste good too. At two, our little exercise group assembled silently in the fitness plaza, taking our places at the various machines in the room. A couple of the machines, treadmills and stairsteppers, are so

The $100 Guitar Wall, fourth in a series

This is the bird guitar. Smart Wife bought the bird guitar at a weird little music store in Hazleton after we'd evacuated to Jim Thorpe, PA. She bought it for $89, and it was the first of the $100 Guitar Wall guitars. It's a peculiar off-brand rendition of a Gibson Dove , one of those situations where someone saw a Dove once and then tried to replicate it and only partially succeeded at. It has the dueling doves on twin pickguards, like an Everly Brothers Gibson . Only the doves aren't exactly identical, just real close. The bridge is a giant block of carved wood, and the headstock is also enormous, with a skunk stripe down the middle of it. It's just slightly off-kilter which is probably why we love it so much. I've been unsuccessful trying to track down the maker of said bird guitar, unfortunately. We see them periodically in the Craigslist Musical Instrument listings, so there are more of them floating around. Ours needs professional help as the monster br

Great Rock and Roll Conundra

The mysteries that plague me constantly: 1. Whatever became of the little girl in the Art of Noise video for "Close to the Edit" ? We all have seen what the Nirvana naked pool baby has turned into, but I often wonder about the little punkette and her sausage dog... also, a question I've been asked: where are the angels from the "Angels" video Chris and I did with Phil Morrison ? 2. Who is Dick Powell? No, not the movie actor . I mean the guy who played the great fiddle on a lot of the early Rod Stewart solo albums. He's the guy sawing out sweet, neat melodies atop the Wood/Quittenton/Waller backings of songs like "You Wear It Well", "Cut Across Shorty" and "Reason to Believe" (well, for that matter, where's Micky Waller , too?) Even no less a potential authority as Ian McLagan was unable to tell me anything except that "Rod found him playing at a restaurant in Beauchamp Place, Kensington." He recorded a li


We are in Vail, Colorado for a few days. It snows a lot here, and people's vehicles are adorned with it. Many of our party are snowboarding and skiing, things you would not find me doing. I don't have great balance as it is on flat ground in shoes. In prep school I was introduced to ice hockey, played on skates. It's hard to play a game that you can't even stand up for, let alone move around. I admire anyone who can stand up on something as ungainly looking as a pair of skis, especially the ones who go real fast down hills: I shall cheer them on, inside but nearby. Today marked the first day in what I hope to be a long run of days getting serious exercise. I went to the hotel workout room (really, here more of a workout plaza) and got on the treadmill and recumbent bicycle for about an hour. It's a beginning, and I plan on going back down there tomorrow morning. Apparently the pool is available in the morning, because when we went exploring yesterday afterno