February 2016 we tapped the keg on Aces & Ales Guitar Classes w a Pint of Craftbeer. The classes began at Oceanside Ale Works(Home of the Dude Double IPA) Maybe you heard about it…lol
Two and a half years later and the classes are still going strong!
We’ve held classes at Oceanside Ale Works, Green Flash Cellar 3, Thorn Street Brewery, Second Chance Beer Co. and for the wine lovers we have been holding classes at Koi Zen Cellars in Carmel Mountain.
The classes are all about guitar and the beauty is getting all levels involved; there is something for everyone.
-Absolute beginners join in and get their feet wet. Rhythm and getting comfortable with a guitar and making cool sounds is the focus.
-Intermediate players come for the chance to play in a group setting. No matter how much you practice at home you just cant substitute playing with other musicians.
-Advanced players come to pick up tips on improvising and music theory.
All levels really do fit together! The key is the relaxed atmosphere no matter what experience you have you will learn something and did I mention you get a pint of craft beer?
Win-Win! For everyone!
Classes mix it up with classic rock, blues, classical, flamenco, jazz…
Fell asleep on the couch last night. Woke up to head up to bed but checked my iPad first and saw the extremely sad news. One of the guitar world’s heroes has passed away.
Paco De Lucia IS an amazing legendary guitarist. A flamenco guitarist who crossed many boundaries which furthered the genre’s cause. He played with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin in THE Guitar Trio, marking his crossover into the jazz/fusion world. His long hair and rock look, coupled with his amazing guitar chops, piqued the interest of the heavy metal and rocker guitarists. And his association with greats like Los Romeros gave him notice in the classical realm.
I was lucky enough to see him in the 90s in San Diego. We had front row seats(directly in front of the Romeros) and will never forget that show!
RIP the guitar world has lost a giant…
(Paco is not the one pictured in the video capture below, he is on the left of your screen)
I get plenty of these type responses, as to why people don’t want to pay a professional musician to perform their ceremony…
“My nephew plays guitar,”
“My Uncle’s barber’s son plays guitar and will do our wedding for $50,”
“Our best man plays guitar,” and so on and so on.
Careful you might get this person!! That is assuming they even show up. I often book last minute weddings from those who hired their uncle’s barber’s son, who chicken out two days before the ceremony when they try to learn the music and realize they can’t play it…
Here is why you might want to have a second thought hiring family, a friend or friend of a friend.
An ABC Award has been bestowed on yours truly and this humble blog, ’12 Notes & the Truth!’ Thanks so much to my blogging colleague on the other side of the pond…Heavy Metal Overload…a true music fan if ever there was one…make sure you pay his blog a visit!!!
Without doubt the hardest part of this ABC list was deciding on a topic. I have been so busy, performing, teaching and networking that I didnt have a lot of time to devote to this spot for a while. My first and favorite idea was to write a description of each musical key, A, B, C…. Even the novice can see the flaw in that theory. The musical alphabet ends on letter G what would I do with H-Z? And what about the ‘#’ & ‘b’ keys??…scrap that idea.
Went through a host of other blah ideas before it hits me! Why I am trying to be so cute just write about what I know…the guitar!!!
So here it is the A-Zs of the worlds greatest instrument…the guitar!
A, AXE- Ever heard the term axeman? Well unless it is some crazy Jack Nicholsonesque dude it refers to a guitarist(no jokes please)….the axe being his guitar. Of course every other instrument has had to steal the idea…there’s just something uncool about hearing a saxophonist saying he “needs to grab his axe.” Here is Michael Schenker an axeman supreme on, “Attack of the Mad Axeman.” BTW the ‘axeman’ on the left of the video doubling on keyboards is San Diego’s own Wayne Findlay and one of my music buds back in our younger days. Have I ever mentioned that? Haha, well guess I am just proud to see one of us San Diego kids living the Rock n Roll dream!
B, BLUES- Sure, blues is not necessarily a guitar term, but, can you imagine the world without blues guitar? No Robert Johnsons who influenced the BB Kings who influenced the whole Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton generation who influenced the whole Eddie Van Halen generation who influenced me and my generation…I would be calling my saxophone an ‘Axe’ if it wasn’t for this lineage. Oh yeah don’t forget Stevie Ray Vaughan!
C, Capo- A capo is a small clamp that guitarists place at different frets on the neck to change the ‘key’ of the guitar which facilitates easy transitions to other keys.
D, Dreadnought- A Dreadnought guitar is a style/body shape made famous by C.F. Martin. The term ‘Dreadnought,’ was used in reference to the British Navy’s large battleships of the day, early 1900’s.
These guitars are characteristic in having large ‘squared’ bouts and a booming sound.
F, Fifth-Now some of you are really interested! No not a fifth of Jack…the musical interval of a perfect 5th. The fifth is the skeleton of all chords(Maj. & Min.) and for rock guitarists extremely important for the formation of power chords which are made up exclusively of the interval of root & 5th.
G, Golpe- Golpe is a technique stemming from the Spanish/Gypsy Flamenco tradition. The guitarist strikes the top of the guitar creating a percussive sound while strumming with other fingers. Note the use of the previously mentioned capo in the video, as well.
H, Harmonics- Harmonics are not exclusive to guitar by any means but they do play a large role in playing guitar. The technique actually cuts off part of the overtone series(lower end) which make up a musical note. The resulting sound resembles a high, thin, bell like texture. The intro of Van Halen’s “Top Jimmy,” uses this technique.
I, Inlay- Inlays are part of the artistic design of a guitar. Inlay can be placed all around the sound hole(rosette) soundboard, front, back and sides of a guitar. Some of the fanciest inlays are put into the neck of a guitar. Sometimes just dots and sometimes elaborate as seen here.
J, Jimi Hendrix Chord, The ol’ Dominant 7#9 chord! Also called a V7#9. To build this chord you would take your root chord say C7 and add the note ‘#9’ which is the 9th note above C -C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D and raise that note one half step to D#. The chord symbol will appear as: C7#9, etc., for any root note. I call it the Jimi Hendrix chord cause he used it a lot and when I was a kid learning his songs is when I was first introduced to the chord. Check out Foxy Lady or Purple Haze for examples. The sound is a bit bluesy and has some dissonance with the #9 against the Major 3rd.
K, Keys- The guitar has a handful of musical keys that are conducive to the instrument and a handful that are not! Guitarists tend to like sharp(#) keys vs flat(b) keys. Flat keys take away the open strings making the guitar harder to play as noted in the letter O, Open Chords. Popular guitar keys include C, G, D, A and E (as well as, their relative minor keys). Any key with more than one flat is often avoided especially by beginners.
L, Lick- This is a great guitar word somewhat synonymous with the term ‘Riff.’ Guitarists practice hours on end trying to create new ideas and phrases which are, ‘Licks,’ and ‘Riffs.’ Licks are more of short phrases placed in improvised solos while riffs are more like a composed guitar part think of the intro to “Smoke on the Water,” or “Iron Man.”
M, Mute- The most common type of muting is done by placing the palm of the strumming hand against the strings near the bridge of the guitar. Notation is often ‘P.M.’ for palm mute.
N, Nut- The nut is simply the piece of bone or plastic, among other possible materials, at the top of the neck. It has carved slots for the strings to rest inside which keeps them inline as they lead up to and wrap around the tuning pegs.
O, Open Chords- One of the nice things about the guitar especially for beginners is the use of open chords. They are somewhat simple to play as they make use of a combination of fingered/fretted notes and open strings. Bar chords are harder to play as all strings need to be fretted.
P, Percussion- Believe it or not the guitar is classified as a percussion instrument, not a string instrument(chordophone.) By definition a percussion instrument is one that is put into vibration by being struck and consequently the pitch fades away. Piano is another such ‘percussion’ instrument. Electric guitars fall into another category, that of ‘electronic’ instruments. Electronic instruments can have their sound altered and lengthened through electronic means.
Q, Quadrant- This is a term I use to differentiate parts of the neck. I divide the neck into sections for study. For instance I will play on the bottom three strings first 6 frets. In this territory I will work on as many permutations of a particular scale, arpeggio etc. Then move to the top three strings same frets. Then down to fret 7-12 on each side of the strings.
R, Rasgueado- Spanish term meaning to strum. Usually associated with Flamenco guitar playing. Rasgueado is a rhythmic use of the fingers and thumb while strumming a guitar. It is a percussive strum by nature. In the video watch how his fingers fire in succession.
S, Solo- The beloved guitar solo! Ruined forever since the demise of rock. This demise can be traced to the weak musicality typically displayed in late 80’s hair/glam metal giving way to Grunge. Grunge was a movement that sought to distance itself from the aforementioned Hair Bands.
Maybe ruined forever is a bit harsh, but, music sure has changed since the early 90’s. I grew up on the rock guitar solo and it is not something I want to see go away. It is often the most musically adventurous part of most pop music. My music heroes were the guitar solo shredders…Eddie Van Halen, Michael Schenker, Jimi Page, Randy Rhoads, Tony Iommi, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani…. Here is the quintessential rock guitar solo Eddie Van Halen’s Eruptions.
T, the ‘Thumb’- The Thumb is the nickname given to jazz guitar legend Wes Montgomery. His unique technique employed a drastically positioned thumb. One of my all-time favorite guitarists.
U, Upstroke- An upstroke is simply a strum across the strings in an upward motion. Typically, upstrokes happen on a weak beat. A strum of down-up-down-up etc. would sound as STRONG-weak-STRONG-weak.
V, Vibrato- Vibrato is a technique employed by stringed instruments where the string is actually moved in a controlled manner either ‘side to side’ or ‘up and down’ to add articulation to a note. As mentioned before the guitar is a percussion instrument. Vibrato is one of the few ways we as guitarists can actually manipulate a note after it is struck into motion.
W, Whammy Bar- Also called a vibrato bar, tremolo arm…The whammy bar is a short piece of metal(a stick) inserted into the bridge which can either lift or depress the bridge forcing the strings into some ‘unnatrual’ sounds. The whammy bar in the hands of an amateur becomes a gimmick. In the hands of a skilled musician it becomes a devastating way to command a guitar with unique and angular articulations.
X, X Bracing- Have you ever dropped a pick inside your guitar? No problem you can just slide it out right? Nope. The top of a guitar, the soundboard, is braced underneath with a lattice of wood to help project the sound off the top of the guitar. One technique of bracing is called X Bracing.
Y, Yuquijiro Yocoh- Was a Japanese guitar composer (1925-2009.) Yocoh is most well-known for his variations on the theme of the traditional Japanese folk song, “Sakura.” I played the piece for my Senior Recital in college and still play it to this day. The video features John Williams on guitar. Listen for the previously mentioned palm mutes at :40 & 4:25 and harmonics at 2:25.
Z, The Flying Z- Most people even non guitar aficionados have heard or seen a flying V guitar. But, lesser known is the flying Z also known as a Destroyer.
For those of you who don’t know about Al Di Meola, you are missing out especially if you are a guitar aficionado. Di Meola’s style is a blending of Latin influences with jazz fusion. He is known for blistering solo work and has collaborated with a wide variety of musicians. These partnerships range from rock/metal guitarists Steve Vai and Joe Satriani to fusion jazz master Chick Corea. From flamenco giant Paco De Lucia to pop singer songwriter Paul Simon.
Happy holidays, hope you enjoy the guitar inspired Christmas music.
One of the first things people ask me when they find out I play guitar for weddings is, “Do you get tired of playing, ‘Here Comes the Bride’?”
My answer is NO! I enjoy playing for all of my clients big day. Each wedding is different and has it’s own energy. It is important to make the atmosphere of the event special for each couple and their guests. Second, I really don’t play it as often as one might think.
To some the “Bridal Chorus,” Here Comes the Bride’s, real title, has become cliché or cartoon-ish due to having been placed in so much media over the years; movies, commercials, cartoons, etc. It also has the feel of ‘My parents wedding march’ to many of my clients.
The irony is that I have handfuls of clients who say NO WAY to the traditional marches and a handful of those who wouldn’t have it any other way. There is no right or wrong, it is each couples decision.
That said there are a few popular alternatives that have trended over the years. Some are short lived trendy and some have become the new traditional, like Pachelbel’s, “Canon in D.” Without doubt the Canon is the most popular piece I play for the Bridal procession. It is classy and timeless but has a more modern feel than the “Bridal Chorus.” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” by J.S. Bach and Handel’s, “Harmonious Blacksmith,” are two other in demand classical pieces that I am often asked to play.
Then there are the non-traditional options, for those who want their wedding to display something uniquely them. I have played Metallica, Journey, Gypsy Kings, Enya, George Harrison, The Beatles to name a few. There are also trends that are born from mass media, like when the big wedding episode of “Friends,” the 90’s sitcom, used Eric Clapton’s, “Wonderful Tonight.” I played that one quite a bit back then, although I think that song always makes a great procession.
The idea of a piece becoming trendy is not really a new idea to these times. ‘Here Comes the Bride,’ as I mentioned, is really entitled, “Bridal Chorus,” and was adapted from Wagner’s opera, “Lohengrin.” It only became traditional due to its extended trendiness.
So there it is a post about Bridal March music. Hope this helps you pick your music whether you like traditional, semi-traditional or something unique. I am always glad to go over options and ideas with my clients to help them if they don’t already have a clear idea of the music they want.
Here are my upcoming public performances through the end of September.
There are two shows.
Both are solo performances featuring a mix of classical, Latin, popular and flamenco styles.
Friday, September 21 at the Roxy in Encinitas. 7:00-9:30PM
Very cool place that has been supporting music forever in San Diego. They have something for every taste. Great food mostly vegetarian but don’t let that scare you, try the falafel burger or their pizzas. Roxy also has specialty coffee drinks, full bar and desserts.
This is the place to go if you want to relax out in nature for a couple hours. Orfila overlooks the vineyards and mountains in the distance.
Taste some wine, grab some food(they are supposed to have a gourmet food truck) and listen to music.
Kids are definitely welcome even though it is a winery.
In all I have five gigs the next two weekends so I will be a busy guy. Two weddings, a fiesta and the two public events above.
It’s been blast seeing everyone at the recent shows and it is always great to see familiar faces so hope to see you! You might even get your photo on the website! Check my blog.