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Gee Tar

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Last week, I dusted off my “Oscar Schmidt” acoustic guitar and tried to play some random songs from my memory bank in front of my nieces. I failed miserably and I immediately lost their interest as they became focused on whatever else was entertaining them and I felt rejected, emotionally.

I enjoy listening to the sounds of the guitar. Its a great noise that comes from those strings as they are strummed, plucked and picked. In high school I wanted a bass guitar because it sounded cool and I had some friends that liked to play those funky backbeats. My parents rented one for me as a gift and it came with a small amp. I had fun messing around with it but I never really got anywhere. I even took advantage of a free lesson, but still, I got no where. Then about a year later, mom and dad tried it again. They rented an electric guitar for me to satisfy my interest once again. I cheated and played guitar solos on my cd player in the background in my bedroom and pretended I was playing. I ended up fooling my mother, but that wasn’t any fun. I lost patience and the guitar and amp was returned to the music shop.

College came. Various room mates and friends in the dorms had guitars. Electric and Acoustic. As much as I enjoyed hearing the guys jam away, and believe me they were impressive, I just didn’t have the time, patience and skill to jump right in and start playing with all the pedals and knobs, etc. However, when I listened to this one guy with a beard during my second year in college, I suddenly found a way to do this. He was reading tablature from a Smashing Pumpkins song, I think. Its a way of notating music. But tablature made it more simple for me to grasp. It lays out the frets and strings in a more elementary sort of way. At that point my interest in music was soaring anyway. I was experimenting with a lot of bands and hanging out with all kinds of friends that showed me a thing or two with the acoustic guitar. I find that going back to the roots of music with that kind of instrument and those kinds of easy guitar tabs made my experience a lot easier.

I would occasionally pick up my roommate’s, “Hotsauce” was his nickname, acoustic guitar and start jamming based on trial and error. I would hear the sounds on the cd player or sit and observe others, like the bearded man from earlier, and just go by feel and sound. But, of course, the tabs helped a lot when I returned home from college. My parents finally BOUGHT me an Oscar Schmidt guitar. I found myself enjoying it a lot more and growing much more patient with it. All through the late nineties and early naughties, I played frequently. I was able to mess around with the styles of bands like Monster Magnet, Type O Negative, Pink Floyd, Jewel, Mazzy Star and Smashing Pumpkins. But then it really started to collect dust, until I met my wife. I tried to impress her but my efforts weren’t so great because I started to rust out a little. My lack of practicing showed, unfortunately. But lately, since my encounter with the nieces, I decided to try and master a couple of songs and spend more time with it.

Sure I love to listen to music, write about music, go to concerts and review them. But I wish to bring back the acoustic instrument back into my life. I seem to know so much about music and who my favorite guitarists are and I love to write poems that are very much musical. So why cant I get back up on the musical horse and start riding again? That is one of my goals this year. To become connected with the music on a deeper level. Who knows maybe I’ll even post a video of me playing in the future. We’ll see. Later.

C-Note

Time for some Tom and Jerry……..

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Jazz Surprise!!!

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It was Black Friday yesterday. We did most of our Christmas shopping online because I prefer to not deal with malls, traffic and waiting among sniveling, rude and annoying people. However, I managed to peal myself out of pajamas while stuck to the couch, into a coat & santa hat and drove over to a local record store called DISC REPLAY. Many times I just like to walk up and down the aisles and browse through all of the musical treasures. They do sell movies and video games there too. But I tend to gravitate towards music. While they don’t sell vinyl at the one I go to, I still like looking. Mostly it’s because I tend to get “ideas.” A discovery happened and it wasn’t what I thought I would stumble upon.

First of all, I am a jazz fan. I love the classics. Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and John Coltrane (to name a few). So when a department store, a coffee shop or a used cd/dvd store starts playing jazz; my ears start to perk up and I go into “curious mode.” Essential elements of jazz require three major instruments, in my humble opinion. Bass Guitar, Drums and Piano. Anything else is bonus musical gravy. My ears heard clapping, announcing, drums, bass and the most amazing piano playing I have heard in quite a long time. The inquisitive inner voice inside my head needed to know “who am I listening to?”

I asked an employee, “What record are you playing over the P.A.?” The bearded beatnik looking dude was quick with his response. He told me that he is streaming a live show from The Blue Note Jazz Club in Chicago, IL. The artist was The Oscar Peterson Trio. He said they don’t carry it but he wanted to play it . I am glad he did. I wrote it down immediately and went home to read about him and listen to some more. Now I have a new Jazz musician to obsess about for awhile. Mr. Peterson is a terrific pianist. He’s from Canada. Unfortunately, he passed away about 6 years ago (just before Christmas of 2007). His music lives forever.

Oscar has played thousands of concerts, released hundreds of recordings and he was a rather large black man with a Fats Domino kind of appearance. But he redefined the famous “Jazz Trio,” by taking his members to the highest level. He wanted those drums and stand up bass to just knock people off their socks! Imagine Charlie Parker’s improv sax playing being applied to the keyboard, backed by tight snares tapping away and bass solos that melt you in a trance of ooohs and ahhhs. What a treat. To walk into a store and not come out with anything purchased. Instead, I left with a revived sense of melodic spirituality.