GIVE TIL IT HURTS!

Old dog learns new trick

That old dog would be moi, seeing as how a six-string lap/pedal steel guitar—SIMULATED pedal steel, more like, since I ain’t seeing any foot or knee involvement, as is required with your conventional pedal steel—is something I never saw before.


Man, that ain’t nothing but a sweet, sweet one minute-seventeen seconds of pure country-music Heaven right there. From here, looks like he’s using a Gretsch Filtertron-style pickup on that home-style beastie, perhaps a TV Jones Magnatron, even. Veddy interesting, too, how he has that stainless-steel plate bolted overtop the bridge p/u to keep the heel of his right hand up off of it, thus avoiding any inadvertent dampening of strings he doesn’t want dampened. Altogether ingenius, the whole setup.

MOAR NEW TRICKS update! Dug through the comments to see if I could maybe pick up more info on this remarkable instrument, and damned if I didn’t. Ladies and germs, I present to you…the Duesenberg Fairytale!

THE FAIRYTALE LAPSTEEL IS ONE OF THE MOST DESIRED INSTRUMENTS FOR LAPSTEEL ARTISTS AROUND THE WORLD.

Its innovation on countless aspects from the integrated capo nut down to the versatile Multibender bridge system leaves this lapsteel without competition.

“The minute I picked up the Duesenberg Lapsteel I was hooked.

This is a lapsteel that is a complete joy to play,

even if you’ve never picked up a slide before.”

– John Mayer

I don’t doubt it. Clearly, this beaut is made for the serious player who knows exactly what he not only wants but needs from his axe.

The Multibender is an integrated string bending device that can be configured to do a number of different things.

It is used for bending specific strings up or down a semi- or full tone, all done with the heel of your hand while playing. This comes in handy for changing chords from minor to major or all kinds of other intervals. The Multibender takes up to five levers (additional levers available seperately) which can all be set up to do different things.

I said it once, I’ll say it again: remarkable. Also, ingenious. What a wonderful world this can be, no?

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The greatest band you never heard of

A look behind the scenes at the Cramps. First, a cpl-three of my personal favorites.

Yes, I’m aware that the Cramps’ bare-bones, raw, stripped-to-the-primer sound; the shock/schlock vintage horror-movie sensibilities which are shot through both their recordings and their onstage presentation; and Lux Interior’s more-shouted-than-sung vocal style isn’t going to appeal to all of y’all CF Lifers—let alone the bizarre way he prowls and flings himself around onstage, the outré antics, the in-your-face freaky-deakiness. I can see how that might be off-putting to those who didn’t come of age during the mid-70s punk rock explosion like I did, and that’s cool. In consideration of more-restrained and/or genteel tastes, I’ll do y’all a favor and just tuck the rest of this post away beneath the fold.

Continue reading “The greatest band you never heard of”

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LACHRYMOSE: the mot juste for sure and certain

lachrymose adjective

lach·​ry·​mose ˈla-krə-ˌmōs

1: given to tears or weeping: TEARFUL
tended to become lachrymose when he was drunk

2: tending to cause tears: MOURNFUL
a lachrymose drama

Another sleepless night, owing to the agony of relentless phantom pains lancing through a foot and ankle that burned (along with one of my very favorite tattoos, on the side of my lower-left calf) in a hospital medical-waste incinerator well over two years ago, has produced its silver lining: I was awake at three AM to hear the local classical station play this brilliant, spare arrangement for clarinet and piano of the Lacrimosa section of Mozart’s (and his pupil and friend Sussmayr’s) exquisite Requiem mass.

Simple, elegant, tuneful—just altogether lovely, no?

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On FIIYUHH!

Johnny Cash, Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, and Mark O’Connor’s blazing, inspired sequel to Charlie Daniels’ classic mega-hit, which follow-up I must confess I’d never heard of before.

WHOA, that’s good squishy! But…can it really be 45 years since the original was first released? I can’t believe it; dammit, I WON’T believe it!

(Via Bayou Peter)

Update! In keeping with my long-cherished belief that one good Charlie Daniels tune deserves another, here’s my friend Bart Lattimore with his own re-imagining of another CDB classic.

Back in the day, I used to play backup for Bart on the regular, and came up with a swampy-sounding electric guitar riff (think the intro to the Blasters’ “Dark Night” wedded to CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle,” say; I certainly did) which set this tune off quite nicely, if I do say so myself…and I do.

Nicely enough, in fact, that the BPs ended up adopting his/our version to close our encore sets out with. On the frequent occasions when Bart opened shows for us, he’d sometimes join in and sing it with us, which was always a heck of a lot of fun. Alas, I checked, and there appears to be no Innarwebs-available video record of those BPs/Lattimore collaborations, which is a crying shame. They exist only in my own dusty, cobwebby memory now, and possibly Bart’s.

Updated update! What the hey, since I figger many of y’all won’t be familiar with the Blasters, enjoy yourselves a latter-day live rendition of “Dark Night.”

Blasters fans out there, if any, will realize right away that the above video ain’t them, and they’d be right about that. It’s Blasters lead singer/rhythm guitarist Phil Alvin wailing away in Pittsburgh with what I can only assume are some local unsung bar-band heroes. As it happens, Phil was also on the bill for the BPs farewell performance at CLT’s Neighborhood Theater seven years ago or thereabouts. A genuinely nice guy, Phil Alvin is—warm, friendly, sincere, not a jot or tittle of ego, pretense, or arrogance about the man.

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Apropos of nothing

There are damned few blogs whose comment section I bother to check out much, but the tall but brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning example of a placental mammal Diogenes Sarcastica‘s would be one of those. Commenter Dan Patterson’s most apropos mention of “The Steps to Heaven” put me in mind of an old Eddie Cochran gem I felt worth putting up here, just to share the wealth a little.

Eddie wrote, recorded, and performed one hell of a lot of great tunes before his tragic death in Bath, Somerset at the too-tender age of 21, no doubt—“Twenty Flight Rock,” “Summertime Blues,” “C’mon Everybody,” to name but a few—but this one has always been my absolute favorite of them all.

Update! Okay, okay, have just a bit more Eddie Cochran lore, from the above-linked Wikipedia article.

Cochran was one of the first rock-and-roll artists to write his own songs and overdub tracks. He is also credited with being one of the first to use an unwound third string to “bend” notes up a whole tone—an innovation (imparted to UK guitarist Joe Brown, who secured much session work as a result) that has since become an essential part of the standard rock guitar vocabulary. Artists such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, UFO, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Rod Stewart, T. Rex, Cliff Richard, the Who, Stray Cats, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes, the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, Rush, Simple Minds, George Thorogood, Guitar Wolf, Paul McCartney, Alan Jackson, Terry Manning, the Move, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Hallyday and U2 have covered his songs.

It was because Paul McCartney knew the chords and words to “Twenty Flight Rock” that he became a member of the Beatles. John Lennon was so impressed that he invited McCartney to play with his band, the Quarrymen. Jimi Hendrix performed “Summertime Blues” early in his career, and Pete Townshend of the Who was heavily influenced by Cochran’s guitar style (“Summertime Blues” was a staple of live performances by the Who for most of their career, until the death of bassist and vocalist John Entwistle in 2002, and is featured on their album Live at Leeds). San Francisco Sound band Blue Cheer’s version of “Summertime Blues” was their only hit and signature song, and has been described as the first heavy metal song. Terry Manning recorded a live version of “Somethin’ Else” at a concert inside Elvis Presley’s first house in Memphis.

The glam rock artist Marc Bolan had his main Gibson Les Paul guitar refinished in a transparent orange to resemble the Gretsch 6120 played by Cochran, who was his music hero. He was also an influence on the guitar player Brian Setzer, of Stray Cats, who plays a 6120 almost like that of Cochran, whom he portrayed in the film La Bamba.

Never anywhere near as renowned or revered in the US as he was (and remains) in Jollye Olde—it was the same with nearly all of the great old rockabilly icons, excepting Elvis Presley, who ironically enough never performed overseas—Cochran’s continuing influence on rock & roll really can’t be overstated.

In fact, it was thanks to Eddie Cochran that I myself abandoned punk rock to dive into the rockabilly pool myself, a genre so incredibly deep as to be for all intents and purposes bottomless. At my cousin and BP’s drummer Mark’s place one hot summer afternoon, we were listening to his collection of Sid Vicious’s post-Pistols 45RPM releases, almost every one of which was an Eddie Cochran cover, none of which we’d ever heard the originals before.

We started looking at the labels and, seeing the songwriter credit to one “E. Cochran,” found our curiosity well and truly piqued—who WAS this mysterious E Cochran chap anyway, and how is it that Sid had come to cover so much of his stuff? Mark always having been the record-collector geek to end all record-collector geeks, he consulted his indie-label catalogs, looked up this E. Cochran dude, and placed a telephone order for several of the original 45s Sid had glommed onto.

When the vinyl arrived a cpl-three weeks later, we adjourned to Mark’s place again, put them on the turntable, and were forthwith blown right the fuck away. From that day forward, we were ex-punks and fledgling rockabilly greasers. So it was that eventually, from this joyous discovery, the Belmont Playboys were born.

As hinted at in the Wiki article, Gene Vincent was (re-)crippled in the same taxicab crash that sent Eddie Cochran to Rock And Roll Heaven and never really recovered from his injuries. Certainly, he was never the same afterwards, either in body or in spirit, enduring constant pain and walking with a pronounced limp for the rest of his days; the crash with Cochran exacerbated severe injuries to his legs sustained in a motorcycle accident in 1955.

Craddock (Vincent Eugene, a/k/a Gene Vincent—M) dropped out of school in 1952, at the age of seventeen, and enlisted in the United States Navy. As he was under the age of enlistment, his parents signed the forms allowing him to enter. He completed boot camp and joined the fleet as a crewman aboard the fleet oiler USS Chukawan, with a two-week training period in the repair ship USS Amphion, before returning to the Chukawan. He never saw combat but completed a Korean War deployment. He sailed home from Korean waters aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin but was not part of the ship’s company.

Craddock planned a career in the Navy and, in 1955, used his $612 re-enlistment bonus to buy a new Triumph motorcycle. On July 4, 1955, while he was in Norfolk, his left leg was shattered in an auto crash. He refused to allow the leg to be amputated, and the leg was saved, but the injury left him with a limp and pain. He wore a steel sheath as a leg brace for the rest of his life. Most accounts relate the accident as the fault of a drunk driver who struck him. Years later in some of his music biographies, there is no mention of an accident, but it was claimed that his injury was due to a wound incurred in combat in Korea. He spent time in the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and was medically discharged from the navy shortly thereafter.

Cochran ended up departing this vale of tears on April 17th, 1960, the day after the wreck—Easter Sunday, as it happens. As for Gene Vincent? Wellllll…

Moar coinkydink: the “clapper boy” at Vincent’s right shoulder above is an “early rockabilly pioneer” from High Point, NC, name of Paul Peek. Now, as fate would have it, the folks responsible for putting together a little annual whoopjamboreehoo called Bubbapalooza at the legendary Star Bar in ATL tracked Paul down to a semi-rural Holiday Inn not too far from the Alabama line, where Peek was working a steady solo guitar/singing gig in the hotel lounge—one of the most dreadful, depressing gigs there is, a test of endurance and sheer will that truly puts the “work” in the phrase “working musician.”

The Star Bar people implored Paul to show up at Star Bar for Bubba the next Saturday night, a suggestion Peek was dubious about, to say the very least. But throughout the intervening week the Star Bar folks kept after him: visiting the Holiday Inn to attend his nightly lounge ordeal; badgering him on the phone; plying him with endless rounds of beer and/or whiskey in hopes of persuading a drunken pledge of attendance out of him, etc. The Star Bar crew worked poor ol’ Paul as assiduously as an intractably smitten high-school senior does his virgin sophomore girlfriend on Prom night.

And lo and behold, on Saturday night who but Paul Peek should cross the Star Bar threshold and present himself at my usual haunt down at the end of the bar, just before the Playboys were to take the stage as the headline act. I was introduced to him and extended a warm invitation for him to join us onstage for a few Vincent tunes.

Paul Peek in the flesh cut a decidedly unimposing figure: mid-60s, probably; medium height and build; balding; modest and soft-spoken; painfully shy, peering awkwardly at me through Coke-bottle glasses. Whatever flash he may have had in his youth, there was nothing whatsoever of flash about the man standing beside me now. No garbardine, no suede creepers, no vintage 50s panel shirt or velvet smoking jacket. Just an average, quiet old guy who seemed to feel as if his mere presence here might be some kind of imposition.

I can’t recall whether Paul had brought a guitar of his own along or played one of mine—seems to me now he had his own battered acoustic box, but I could very easily be wrong. No matter. Assisted by the urging of the Star Bar staff, I finally coaxed him up with us early in the set. The place was elbow-to-elbow, I mean this house was packed. Paul grinned over at me, eyes wide behind those thick-ass goggles of his, as we launched into a Vincent chestnut—”Be Bop A Lula,” perhaps, I dunno.

As the band vamped the intro behind us, I waved Paul to the center-stage mic and introduced him to the appreciative audience. After having sworn up and down to me at the bar that “none of these young people will know who I am, they won’t care about seeing some old man up there,” the audience let rip with a thunderous ROAR on hearing his name that would’ve liquified the bowels of an entire pride of savage African lions, just from pure fright.

Paul ate it up, every bit of it; you could see the happy pride at this unexpected ovation written all over his beaming face. We finished the first song, then I asked him to sit in with us for a couple more numbers. During I guess the fourth song, Paul decided it was time to do a little showboating, dropping to one knee during my guitar solo. Thanks to his creaky old knees, two of us had to help him get back upright, whereupon the crowd roared its approval yet again.

Paul ended up playing half the damned set with us; barside with him after the show, he profusely thanked everyone within arm’s reach for his thrilling Bubbapalooza experience, signing autographs while he recounted amazing tales to me of life on the road backing the immortal Gene Vincent. That was the night I learned about Gene’s salty-rock-and-roll-dog motto from the man who’d lived it with him: “We blow into town. We drink all the whiskey. We screw all the women. We make a big racket. Then we leave. I mean, seriously, what’s not to like?”

I’ve never forgotten that glorious night, and I never will. I’m quite sure that Paul Peek never did either.

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Moar Irishness!

Since JC gave him a mention in comments the other day/week/whatevs, have y’selves a little sumpin’-sumpin’ from the man they call the greatest guitarist you never heard of: Irish white-boy-blues legend Rory Gallagher.

Never have been a huge fan myself, but I would nonetheless never dream of denying that the boy could really, truly shred.

My own new git-fiddle acquistion is supposed to arrive tomorrow by 7PM, so if I decide to just blow off posting altogether you’ll know the reason why. The new axe is sure to need a set-up done (every new guitar does, especially after traveling across the country), a procedure I learned the basics of years ago but have never been any damned good at; like playing itself, set-ups are as much art as they are science, requiring an innate talent I just do not seem to possess, alas.

Spoke last week to my old friend Stacy Leazer of NC Guitar Works and arranged to bring the pseudo-Mosright in next week to get the job done right, but I can tweak and fiddle about with it enough to do until I can get it into the hands of the bona fide professionals.

(Via Joe Jackson)

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The greatest story ever told

When it comes to guitars, at any rate.

“So many people lost their guitars. I lost 44”: Peter Frampton recalls how he lost and recovered guitars through floods and plane crashes as he shows off his eye-watering gear collection on Gibson TV
Gibson TV has released its latest episode of The Collection – a web series that sees the firm sit down with big name players to pick apart their vintage guitar gear, and reflect on the stories behind each historic piece.

For its newest hour-and-a-half installment, Gibson’s Mark Agnesi visited Peter Frampton to explore the guitars behind some of his most iconic cuts – as well as recount the tales of loss and recovery that have defined the rock master’s collecting career.

As far as guitar collections go, Frampton’s is especially steeped in history. Not only did he effectively have to restart his guitar collection after losing 44 individual guitars – and numerous pieces of other gear – in a flood in 2010, he also experienced what has become one of the most famous tales of lost-and-found guitars in history.

To that end, the most notable instruments in Frampton’s episode of The Collection are the ones whose histories are interwoven with such stories.

The “Phenix”, for example, takes center stage. The mid-’50s era triple-humbucker Black Beauty Les Paul Custom needs no introduction: as seen on the cover of Frampton Comes Alive!, it is one of the most iconic Les Pauls of all time, and made its way on “just about every track [Frampton] recorded between 1970 and 1980”.

However, in 1980, the “Phenix” went down in a cargo aircraft – which crashed while taking off from Curaçao – and it was believed to have been lost forever. Miraculously, 31 years later, the Les Paul was reunited with its rightful owner after it had been picked up and played over the years by a local musician.

“It was just one of the best feelings in the world,” Frampton recalls of being reunited with the “Phenix”.

Yeah, I just bet it was at that. What a great, heart-warming story, eh? You gotta love it. Didn’t watch the vid, because I almost never do, but I have a sneaking suspicion I may be making an exception in this case.

(Via Lonesome Ed Driscoll)

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A kingly gift

SO, last night a close friend of mine bought a dang guitar for me, this lovely Mosrite Joe Maphis-model facsimile, a single-neck reimagining of the original double-neck body style, handcrafted by a young luthier fella out in Monterey, Cullyfornya who’s offering his wares el cheapo on eBay for purposes of getting his work out there and his name established.

Purty, ain’t she? All-mahogany construction, P90s, Bigsby tailpiece (or a clone thereof, probably made of Chinesium, I’d bet), 24-fret neck w/ real-deal abalone inlays, everything a growing boy needs in a guitar.

BACKSTORY: After initially declining, I finally knuckled under and agreed to give my friend’s young son Zachary guitar lessons, an every-Saturday course of instruction which cranked up just over a month ago. Zachary showed willing, revealing some natural aptitude right off, practicing diligently at home, retaining the simple riffs and smattering of music theory I showed him, eager and excited to come down for his weekly lessons instead of the whining, pouting, and foot-dragging you get from some kids.

This encouraging display of studiousness, unfeigned enthusiasm, and potential motivated dear old Dad—now fairly bursting with pride in his son—to buy a mini-Strat starter kit (complete with cable, strap, picks, and even a small amp) for him to use instead of the tired old acoustic student-guitar of mine he’d started out on. The relatively heavy bronze acoustic strings hurt the little guy’s fingers—which, as I warned from Day One, they will do. The lighter-gauge electric strings and slimmer neck-profile will be much easier on him.

Now as I believe I’ve recounted here before, I’ve taken in a good few students over the years, although I’ve never taught a beginner before. Two facts I painstakingly informed all the poor victims who badgered me into taking them on of, from the git-go: 1) I am a truly awful teacher, being a most impatient sort; and 2) I truly, truly HATE teaching. Right down to my very bones, I hate it, I just ain’t cut out for that shit. Hence my stern resistance to inflicting my piss-poor teaching qualities on my friend’s boy, a really sweet, good-natured kid who has known me his entire life as “Uncle Mike.”

Anyhoo, with the acquisition last week of Zachary’s mini-Strat, my bud Zach Sr decided I needed an electric guitar of my own, insisting that I scout around for one at a reasonable price. Z explained this unexpected guitar-buying spree by saying it really made his heart happy to see me re-engaged with playing as a side-effect of teaching his son. He just wouldn’t take my repeated “No!” for an answer, eventually pestering me into submission over the course of the past week.

So after unearthing the above pseudo-Mosrite on eBay, I bid on the thing and ended up winning, scoring what looks to be a really nice instrument for a mite over 200 simoleons with shipping. Supposed to be delivered anytime from this Saturday to next Thursday, and I have to confess I’m pretty excited about it. Don’t tell anybody, aiight?

There’s a crappy old Peavey Heritage amp here for me to play the Mosrite through owned by my friend Don, a VERY occasional player who swore up and down the damned boat-anchor was FUBAR’d, wouldn’t make a sound. After a bit of investigating I found it had a broken power tube, but the main issue seemed to be that the speaker cable had been disconnected at the head-section output, dangling all forlorn at the bottom of the amp unnoticed. Plugged it back in and replaced the catastrophically-blown tube with a new Sovtek 6L6, so it should be good to go now.

Next up, gonna have to look into getting my hands shut of the accursed DePuytren’s Contracture that forced me into retirement seven miserable years ago, robbing me of a lifetime’s self-identity and happiness, instilling much mental anguish, confustication, and despair in their place. There’s a new, non-surgical treatment for the affliction now which works pretty well, or so I’m given to understand.

Although Zach has sworn to keep after me about it until I give in again, there will be NO triumphant return to the stage pour moi, not ever. I’ve always held to certain standards and preconditions for performing onstage, and rolling up there as a wheelchair-bound object of pity is definitely not among ‘em. To my way of thinking, the elusive, indefinable quality known as “stage presence” is not just important, it’s absolutely indispensible; if you can’t swagger out there like you own that fucking stage, then you got no business being there at all. Performing onstage isn’t about being shy, modest, or self-effacing; it’s all about being bold, self-assured, and confident to the point of cockiness. A stage performer—ALL performers—must for the duration of their stage-time be larger than life, not some mumbling, diffident cipher. It’s the only way as far as I’m concerned, you’re just wasting everybody’s time otherwise.

So, not happening, then. I’ll content myself with torturing the cats and kicking out the jams in my living room, thenksveddymuch.

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Gibson amps are BACK, baybee!

Welcome news.

The Falcon Returns | Gibson Roars Back Into the Amp Game
As a “solo act,” Gibson began making amplifiers way back in 1935, summiting with the coveted yet cultish GA series amps of the early rock era, until ceasing production in 1967. Awesome amps, but unappreciated—even with cool names, such as Raider, Invader, Titan, Hawk and others. Gibson tried again in 2005, and made some wonderful-sounding amps, but through no fault of Gibson’s, the earth still did not move.

That all may change with the 2024 introduction of the Gibson Falcon 5 and Falcon 20 amps—a collaboration by Gibson and Northern California boutique-amp innovators, MESA/Boogie. Shazam!—peanut butter and jelly.

The future of the new Falcon amps is yet to be written, of course, but that future looks absolutely luminous.

Brought to the fore by Gibson’s acquisition of MESA/Boogie in 2021, the partnership was also nudged forward by a “Gibson Amp Club” within the company, the increasing values of their vintage amps and a somewhat overlooked sonic characteristic—when cranked to maximum volume, ’60s Gibson amps produce a uniquely riotous overdrive that is, in a word—ferocious.

The Falcon project was also championed by Gibson President and CEO Cesar Gueikian (who acquired a bunch of vintage examples for the company) and Vice President of Product Mat Koehler (a member of the Gibson Amp Club, a talented guitarist and an aficionado of the ’60s-era Gibson GA-19RVT amp).

“The MESA/Boogie acquisition basically added a layer where it was like, ‘Why would we not do the new amps with Boogie?’” explained Koehler.

Boogie’s contribution to the dynamic duo is two legends in the field of guitar amplification—Founder, President and Designer Randy Smith, and Director R&D Doug West. Here, West and Koehler—yes, another duo—share how the Falcon project kicked off, as well as its design strategy, tone challenges and breakthroughs.

Follows, an in-depth interview with the Koehler/West dynamic duo recounting the how’s, why’s, and wherefore’s of getting the Falcon project off the ground and soaring which is bound to be of interest to guitar amp aficionados. Certainly, the new Gibsons are serious eye-candy.

An attractive pair
Even the grab-handle is a work of art
Simple, elegant, NO master volume–now THIS is what a control panel ought to look like!

Years ago I owned one of the vintage Gibson amps, a  57 GA-6, I think it was called. Lemmesee if I can find a…hold on…damned stupid Innarnuts…AH, here’s one!

Yep, that’s like mine, or close enough for rock and roll anyway. The Gibson was a nice enough rig for twangin’ and bangin’ at the house, but not really suitable for actual gigs in a room of any size, being way underpowered for such usage. The sound was as muddy-brown as could be: strong on the lows and low-mids, but far too weak in the higher tonal ranges to appeal to my born-and-bred-on-a-Marshall self.

As described in the interview, there’s distortion aplenty when cranked up to 11, but no real punch or presence like I’d grown accustomed to from the 100 watt Marshall half-stack I had as a teenager. In terms of the several qualities a lead guitarist needs most in an amp, the Gibson didn’t have any. That being so, the poor little Gibson box was extremely vulnerable to being completely lost in the mix onstage, particularly if the drummer had any balls at all.

Even back in their modest (not to say lackluster) heyday the Gibson amps, while a fair few jazz cats swore by ‘em, just weren’t up to bringing the rock and roll thunder, thus were left in the dust of their Fender, Marshall, Vox, and Ampeg competition—soon to wind up discontinued, forgotten, and unmourned by all but a handful of amp-collector geeks bent towards the less-pricey oddballs, orphans, and exotics of the trade.

Can’t recall when I got rid of my old Gibson amp, nor what the specifics of the deal in which it was offloaded were. Most likely, I used it as trade-bait on a gutsier amp with the kind of ferocious OOOOMPH I required. It was in mint condition the day I bought it, and same-same the day I sold/traded/whatever the hell I did with it, having lived peacefully at the house all the years I had it. Hopefully, it ended up in a good, loving home.

With the MESA/Boogie brain-trust helming the design and build, I expect Gibson’s new amplifier line will be bigly improved over the old good-but-not-great models. If so, I wish them nothing but success.

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Juiced up

Wow. I mean, just, like…WOW.

Shocking phenomenon: Alabama man struck multiple times by lightning in his lifetime, then gravesite also destroyed by lightning
Childersburg, Alabama is known as the oldest continuously occupied settlement in America. The city, which sits just 37 miles southeast of Birmingham was settled in 1540.

Legends and lore have passed through generations over the years, but one story, in particular, is a bit shocking.

William Yeldell Cosper was struck by lightning at least five times. However, two of those times were after death.

Born to the Rev. James Berry Cosper and Sarah H. Dejournett Cosper in 1844, Cosper would live for over seven decades before succumbing to his fate.

Rumor has it that Cosper survived being struck by lighting the first time. He was sitting on his front porch at the time. He was injured and it took time for him to recover. According to gravesite records, his wife, Martha Carolina Butts Cosper, helped nurse him back to health.

However, he had already had a close call before. A month prior to the strike that hit him, he and Martha were sitting in the front room of their house, spinning wool. A lightning bolt struck the wool, setting it on fire.

Certified Broadcast Meteorologist JP Dice said when a person is struck by lightning, injuries can vary.

“You can see someone’s heart stop because of the disruption of the electrical signals that drive the heart,” Dice said. “They can be revived by CPR in some cases. Also, when they are struck by lightning, there can be severe burns. A bolt of lightning can be over 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hotter than the surface of the sun.”

There are no details on what Cosper’s injuries were, but he is thought to have had a short recovery. Not long after recovering from the shocking event, Cosper was inside his home in Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, when it happened again.

Historical accounts do not reveal exactly where Cosper was in the house but this time, he would not survive the lightning strike. According to death records, Cosper died in 1919. He was 74 or 75 years old.

Cosper’s body was brought back to where he was born and he was buried in the Childersburg Cemetery.

And that’s when things started getting REALLY weird. All in all, a perfect opportunity for two (2) appropriate Tune Damage embeds, I do believe.

(Via Irish)

Update! A fun little Behind The Music story the first vid reminded me of, which I just cannot resist sharing with y’all. I’ll tuck it below the fold, so as not to annoy the non-guitar amp geeks who aren’t interested in this sort of arcana.

Continue reading “Juiced up”

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Git-fiddlin’

A fascinating list of the most expensive guitars EVAR, including this one.

5. Reach Out to Asia Fender Stratocaster

Sold: Qatar, 2005
Price: $2,700,000

Unique here in that it was never owned by a superstar, the Reach Out to Asia Strat was auctioned for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

It was a humble Mexican Standard Stratocaster bearing the signatures of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davies, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus and Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams. 

New made-in-Mexico Strats sold for around $350 in 2005, making this objectively the most overpriced axe of all time. 

If 2 million seven sounds a tad extravagant to ya, believe me, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

One of the very best Strats I ever did own was a Mexi-Strat, a Wayne’s World model, incredible as it may seem. Hard as I tried to be one, as desperately as I wanted to be one my whole life, I just never could master the Stratocaster. Me, I’m way more of a Gibson guy, myself. That said, enjoy this vidya of little ol’ moi bashing away on the best guitar I ever did own: a heavily-customized and -tweaked Sam Ash house-brand copy of the grand old Gibson ES5 box, playing a song I’d completely forgotten I wrote until I ran across this h’yar vid just recently.

Good times, good times.

Update! One of the aforementioned tweaks was the replacement of the “master tone” knob, which is pure-tee uselessness defined, with a master volume, which is anything but. The guitar came stock with a volume control for each pickup, which was also extremely useful, but no pickup selector switch, which elevated the master-volume from being merely useful, to damned critical: you needed a way to cut the danged thing off between songs onstage, lest you get either that annoying 40-cycle hum single coil pickups are infamous for, or outright squalling feedback should you be bold enough to remove your damping-hand from the strings for a micro-millisecond, and a quick swipe of that master-volume accomplished that nicely.

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Happy birthday!

To the incomparable Franz Schubert, born on this day in 1797, of whom Beethoven said on his deathbed, “Truly, the spark of divine genius resides in this Schubert!” For his own part, Schubert practically worshipped Beethoven, leading to this lovely story.

Five days before Schubert’s death, his friend the violinist Karl Holz and his string quartet visited to play for him. The last musical work he had wished to hear was Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131; Holz commented: “The King of Harmony has sent the King of Song a friendly bidding to the crossing”.

Nice, no? Schubert served as a torch-bearer at Beethoven’s funeral, and was buried near Beethoven’s grave at his own request. The latter-day charge that Schubert was a homosexual and actually died of syphilis is arrant bullshit.

Schubert died in Vienna, aged 31, on 19 November 1828, at the apartment of his brother Ferdinand. The cause of his death was officially diagnosed as typhoid fever, though other theories have been proposed, including the tertiary stage of syphilis. Although there are accounts by his friends that indirectly imply that he had contracted syphilis earlier, the symptoms of his final illness do not correspond with tertiary syphilis. Six weeks before his death, he walked 42 miles in three days, ruling out musculoskeletal syphilis. In the month of his death, he composed his last work, “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen”, making neurosyphilis unlikely. And meningo-vascular syphilis is unlikely because it presents a progressive stroke-like picture, and Schubert had no neurological manifestation until his final delirium, which started only two days before his death. Lastly, his final illness was characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms (namely vomiting). These issues all led Robert L. Rold to argue that (although he believed Schubert had syphilis), the fatal final illness was a gastrointestinal one such as salmonella or indeed typhoid fever. Rold also pointed out that when Schubert was in his final illness, his close friend Schober avoided visiting him “out of fear of contagion”. Yet Schober had known of his earlier possible syphilis and had never avoided Schubert in the past. Eva M. Cybulska goes further and says that Schubert’s syphilis is a conjecture. His multi-system signs and symptoms, she says, could point at a number of different illness such as leukaemia, anaemia, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and that many tell-tale signs of syphilis — chancre, mucous plaques, rash on the thorax, pupil abnormality, dysgraphia — were absent. She argues that the syphilis diagnosis originated with Schubert’s biographer Otto Deutsch in 1907, based on the aforementioned indirect references by his friends, and uncritically repeated ever since.

In any event, as I said the other day of Mozart, it’s a real pity Schubert left this world so soon, thereby robbing us of even more wonderful music. If I had to pick the Schubert composition I like best of all, it would have to be his overture for the play Rosamunde.

Happy birthday to Franz Schubert, with heartfelt thanks for all the wonderful music.

Update! Okay, okay, it just doesn’t sit well with me to leave this excellent piece out.

I went looking on YewToob for this one a few months back, misremembering that it was by Mozart for some unknown reason, and couldn’t find it anywhere until the “it’s SCHUBERT, you dope!” lightbulb finally switched on in my head.

Dear old Franz wrote so many good ‘uns—The Trout; his Symphony No 8 (a/k/a the Unfinished); the 4 Impromptus for piano (check out the third in particular, which starts at 20:05; SO achingly beautiful!)—that it’s damned difficult to choose a single favorite from among ‘em. But the above two would definitely top my personal Best Of list.

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Happy birthday!

On this date in 1756 was born, in Salzburg Austria, the greatest composer of all time: Wolfgang Amadè Mozart (“Amadeus” was an in-joke used by Mozart to make sport of any perception of him as pompous, inspiring him to sign letters to friends as “Wolfgangus Amadeus Mozartus,” at least according to one of the biographies I have). Follows, one of his most well-known and admired compositions for piano, the Rondo in D major K.485.

Another wonderful rondo written concurrently with the above-embedded one, from his Horn Concerto #4, K.495.

Happy birthday, Herr Mozart. Would that you had lived longer, so that the world could have been blessed with more of your beautiful music. Not that the contribution you did make was anything to be sneezed at, of course. When a composer as gifted as the great Ludwig Van Beethoven cribbed directly from your work…well, there’s just not a whole lot more to be said, I shouldn’t think.

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