Last week during the annual Crossroads Music Festival held at Madison Square Garden, Austin native and rising star Gary Clark Jr. stood out among a dozen of rock’s greatest guitarists as the man of the moment.
He was neither the fastest or loudest or most technically challenging player of the festival but he effortlessly made the greatest impact. Clark brought ineffable presence–excitement–and star-power to the stage.
Clark’s performances were clearly anticipated by the crowd. Organizer Eric Clapton has never shied away from praising unique talent and his endorsement of Clark over the last few years (along with a guest slot and standing ovations backstage from The Rolling Stones) has only added to the seemingly unstoppable momentum of Clark’s career.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since Gary Moore passed away of a heart attack at the age of 58 during the early hours of February 6, 2011.
I first heard the news when Joe Bonamassa tweeted: Gary Moore, RIP.
Gary was on holiday at the Kempinski Hotel in Estepona, Spain, with his girlfriend at the time. His death was confirmed by Thin Lizzy’s manager Adam Parsons. Tests later revealed that Moore had an excessive amount of alcohol in his system.
So much has been said about Gary Moore. He was without a doubt one of the all time blues guitar greats.
I applauded the 5-CD release of “Essential Montreux” as a pure masterclass of blues guitar in a previous review.
Shortly after Gary’s death, Joe Bonamassa perfected his cover version of “Midnight Blues” and began weaving it into his live performances. Many say this Joe’s version is better than the original – and while that is debatable, my preference is to simply sit back and enjoy a guitar virtuoso paying homage to one of his heroes.
I have watched this video dozens of times and still get lost in the music. So much so that I now prefer absorbing the emotion with my eyes closed and headphones on.
See for yourself as Joe Bonamassa plays tribute to Gary Moore:
These are high quality, collectable, limited edition reproductions printed on non yellowing, acid free, 100lb. dull cover stock that will be professionally shipped to you – ready for the framing of your choice. I will personally testify that the quality of these art prints will exceed your expectations!
Billy is is best known as the lead guitarist for “ZZ Top”. Gibbons trademark guitars are his Gretsch “Billy-Bo” and his 1959 Gibson Les Paul known as “Pearly Gates”, although it is common to see Billy step on stage with something quite exotic.
He is also known for his custom cars and love for Mexican cuisine. It is widely known that Billy has used a Mexican Peso coin as a guitar pick.
One of my favorite Billy Gibbons quotes is: “This place won’t be here tomorrow, so let’s tear it down tonight!”. Another is: ““Same three guys, right here. Same three chords right here. And we’ve been doing this for 35 years.”
The title gives this one away. I could end right here. But instead, I will tell you the story…
I met Rick Vito at NAMM earlier this year. He was stumping his new signature axe from Reverend Guitars, a brand that I wanted to learn more about – and they were on my hit list that Saturday afternoon. So was Rick.
I watched him noodle on his black signature, playing everything from slow blues to Bob Seger to Fleetwood Mac. No doubt, the man has chops that won’t quit.
But it was the guitar that I kept staring at.
Art Deco? Race Cars? Tuxedo looking? Whatever it was, I was hooked on the look. And to be honest, the sound.
Last week, my Rick Vito Signature guitar arrived – thanks to an awesome deal on eBay. This art deco masterpiece sounds as good as it looks! The korina construction is warm and resonant, the ebony fretboard adds clarity and a slick feel. The neck P90 has been moved slightly closer to the bridge for extra bite.
But the big news is the Reverend Dual-Pro bridge pickup. Based on a mid 1960′s Supro™ pickup, it’s a hot single coil with a second blade polepiece in addition to the standard screw polepieces. The blade is essential to the unique sound: imagine a P90 meets Tele with humbucker output… fat, raw and clear. And they managed to fit it all into a standard size humbucker cover, a first in the industry so they say.
Vito is a slide virtuoso and there are dozens of videos on YouTube like this that prove it:
Roy Buchanan passed away on August 14, 1988, well before I had the opportunity to see him play live. Thanks to YouTube, we all have another chance to see his true genius in action.
This may be the best high-quality video of Roy’s performance we will ever see.
It was recorded live on November 15, 1976 by New West Records in association with Austin City Limits. I found the video on YouTube and have been mesmerized with it for days.
Here is the Track List:
1. Roy’s Blues
2. Soul Dressing
3. Sweet Dreams
4. Hey Joe
5. The Messiah Will Come Again
Roy was a blues musician. He did not just play his guitar, he made music with his guitar. He was a pioneer of the Telecaster sound, both a sideman and solo artist, with two gold albums early in his career and two later solo albums that made it on to the Billboard chart.
Despite never having achieved stardom (as we would define it today), he is still considered a highly influential guitar player and one of the all-time greats. Guitar Player magazine praised him as one of the “50 Greatest Tones of all Time. After watching this video about 50 times, I most certainly agree.
Unbelievable — starting at 5:40 he’s actually doing more with just three fingers than most players can do with two hands. And at the same time he’s scratching his nose and taking a long drink from a cup. Then he grins and yawns. What a showoff
Former Tower of Power guitarist Bruce Conte was diagnosed with leukemia a few months ago.
Bruce is also an insulin-dependant diabetic and has been dealing with health issues for years.
You can help by donating any amount. 100% of the money collected will go to Bruce’s medical expenses. There is no generic available, which makes the medication expensive.
For now, his condition is responding very well to the medication. Thank you for reading this and please consider helping Bruce Conte.
Here are a few words from Bruce:
Around the beginning of July I took some routine blood tests to check my diabetes and doctors discovered that I had abnormal white blood cell counts. I was hospitalized for 3 days in LA and had to undergo 2 bone marrow biopsies, an ultrasound of my liver and spleen and lots of blood tests. It was determined that I had leukemia. They put me on a medicine called Imatinib 400mg. I have been on it for about 6 weeks and can tolerate the side effects. It has sent my blood levels back to normal for the this period of time. The meds are very expensive but the good news is that I can stay alive as long as I continue taking them. I don’t have health insurance because of being diabetic. I am starting to get some help from some of my friends to get me through these hard times. I appreciate any help given.
Thanks so much,
For more information and to donate to help Bruce pay his medical bills, click on this link from the Tower of Power website:
Doyle Bramhall II is the son of the late singer, songwriter and drummer, Doyle Bramhall, who grew up as a close friend of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan. At age 16, Doyle Bramhall II toured with Jimmie Vaughan’s band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, as second guitarist.
Some of Doyle’s influences include, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Donny Hathaway, Freddie King, Albert King, Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sly & the Family Stone, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Curtis Mayfield.
In 1992 Doyle formed Arc Angels with Charlie Sexton and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton (also known as Double Trouble).
Eric Clapton took an interest in Bramhall’s music and they have often toured and recorder together. Doyle co-wrote “Superman Inside” and played guitar on Eric’s 2001 solo album, Reptile. He occasionally joined Eric on stage.
Doyle became Clapton’s second guitarist after Andy Fairweather-Low backed out of the tour in 2004. He also toured with Eric Clapton as part of his 2006/2007 world tour along with slide guitarist Derek Trucks and he performed at the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival at Chicago’s Toyota Park.
While all of that is very interesting, the most amazing fact about Doyle is that he is left-handed and usually plays the right-handed model of a guitar upside-down! When he does play a left-handed model, the guitar is strung as if to be played by a right-handed player (as was the case with Albert King.)
In other words:
The low E string is at the bottom of his guitar
The high string at the top of his guitar.
The pick-guard is on the top.
Strings are bent DOWN, not UP.
The most common pick motion is an “Up-Pick”.
Check out this video to see his most unusual style in action and up close.
Of course, a Flying V almost looks the same either way…Enjoy the VIDEO.
(Note: at :40, Clapton looks away from Doyle’s sharply as if to say “I can’t watch that!)
I was talking guitars with a buddy last week and I brought up the name of Michael Landau. He said “Michael who?” What followed was a long discussion about one of the greatest guitar players he had never heard of.
Musician and composer Michael Landau was born and raised in Los Angeles. He grew up with the music of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream and The Band.
In his early teens, Michael quickly became very interested in jazz and electric jazz music. Weather Report, Pat Martino and Jaco Pastorius were some of his early obsessions. From this diverse blend of influence, his sound and path began to take shape. His current group focuses on the improvisation and spontaneity of live shows. “I live for those live moments when the sound and emotion becomes this monstrous force bigger than the individual musicians, it becomes a unique creation and feel, exciting and calming at the same time, difficult to describe but I’m addicted to it.”
Michael starting playing guitar at age 11, at age 16 he began playing the L.A. club scene with an R&B band and shortly after he toured the west coast with Robben Ford which
included band members Jimmy Haslip and Russell Ferrante. At age 19 he joined Boz Scaggs for a world tour and by the age of 20 he started to do session work on the recommendation of long time friend Steve Lukather.
Some session highlights over the coming years would include Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, BB King, James Taylor, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart. There is a complete session discography at allmusic.com with over 700 records and soundtracks listed!
His most recent album, “The Michael Landau Group Live” was released in October ’06 on Tone Center Records. Here’s a quote from a review by John Kelman:
“The Real Question, when a studio ace comes out of hiding and releases two hours of visceral material, is this: who is Michael Landau when he’s in total control of the situation? While his stylistic breadth elsewhere would suggest that this is only one part of the answer, “Live” posits him, amongst other things, as a powerful torchbearer for Jimi Hendrix, While the late Stevie Ray Vaughan was most often saddled with that accolade, Landau’s broader language more accurately represents where Hendrix might be today, since the late guitar icon was clearly moving towards his own view of jazz in the final days before his tragic passing in 1970.”
Michael currently tours and performs with his own group and a new band with Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak called “Renegade Creation”.
Maybe you haven’t heard of Michael Landau by name…
…but you certainly have heard him play.