Summer Solstice Gig

I haven’t been posting a lot of my gigs lately, but, I played for a great group the other night at, Pacific Coast Grill in Cardiff by the Sea. In addition to playing for some nice people I got to see the sunset on the longest night of 2013.

Congrats to everyone at the law firm celebrating their 30th anniversary!!!

Happy summer!!2013 Solstice Sunset

“Under Pressure,” Queen and Bowie A Capella

My friend Dave shared this with me the other day and had to repost!

I was blessed at one time to hear the separated tracks of “Killer Queen” in all its glory. It was amazing to hear all the guitar and vocal parts, etc. I could tell you where I heard it but its TOP SECRET!

This a capella version of, ¬†“Under Pressure,” is also very cool.

ENJOY!

Amazing Audio/Visual Presentation of Stravinsky’s, “Rite of Spring”

Did you check out my previous post on Stravinsky’s, “Rite of Spring,” Centennial celebration?

Did you try to listen to it?

Did you just not get it?

That’s OK it is a hard listen but one that is well worth it. I just came across this video which has animated the complete score of the first section of the piece. It enhances the listening experience for myself and I think a novice listener would benefit, as well.

Through the animation you can see the compositional and orchestrational processes more clearly which should enhance the listening experience.

Give it a try…or just enjoy the flashing colors… ūüėČ

More info on the video’s creators

Enjoy!

OU812, Turns 25

The Beatle-esque Album Cover
The Beatle-esque Album Cover

Van Hagar’s 2nd album, “OU812,” turns 25 today.

This album was 3rd in a line of alpha numeric titled Van Halen albums. The Roth era was ushered out with, “1984,” while the Hagar era began with, “5150,” this album, “OU812,” and then, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” which is really just an elaborate play on the words in the title’s first initials…..shhh I think it was a bad word, but, dont tell anyone!

How does, “OU812,” stand the test of time? Well, when I was a kid, I loved this album. As time has gone on I lost touch with this album, as well as, “5150.” I guess that doesn’t bode well for its longevity.

There are some great songs, “Mine All Mine,” “When It’s Love,” “Cabo Wabo,” “Feels So Good” and “Black and Blue.” There are some forgettable songs too… Van Halen reached a new ‘chic’ status with “Finish What You Started.” It displayed a kind of hip adult coolness that appealed to a whole new audience for the band.

The summer of ’88 was great and I remember cranking this album at the San Diego beaches and having a great time. However, the production on this album and the thin guitar sound Eddie utilized leave a little to be desired in the history of VH’s storied output. Time, in my opinion has not been kind to, “OU812.” Eddie reached back for a heavier sound for his recordings after this one. While not in the caliber of those amazing Roth Era recordings, the guitar sound and production on subsequent albums has been much better.

That said…a slightly lackluster Van Halen is better than a lot of other bands strongest efforts!

Yngwie J. Malmsteen, San Diego Concert Review

I have seen a lot of musical acts in my day. My first concert was Ozzy with guitarist Randy Rhoads just two months before his fatal plane crash. I’ve seen Eddie Van Halen, Michael Schenker, Jimmy Page legendary rock/metal axe-men. I’ve seen classical greats John Williams and the Romeros. I’ve been to the Chicago and Los Angeles ¬†Symphonies. I’ve seen local and less-known musicians come through town and absolutely blow everyone away. I’ve seen some of the biggest acts in the world; Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith…, as well as, some of the most incredible street musicians in America’s big cities…the people you miss your train simply to hear a few more songs. I’ve been to shows in rock, metal, Jazz, classical, world music, pop,…on and on! But, I never saw/heard anything like I did Tuesday night at San Diego’s House of Blues.

Rising ForceYngwie J. Malmsteen put on a clinic!

Since his debut album, “Rising Force,” in 1984, I have been a fan. His blistering fast runs and arpeggios combining Heavy Metal with musical phrasing of the Baroque and Romantic periods are absolutely stunning. ‘The man obviously took his guitar lessons seriously,’ as one of my friends put it!

The knocks against Yngwie for the past thirty years are as earned as his virtuosity.

He is known for being a bit of a Diva and arrogant. ‘Bit’ might be an understatement. His music, although it has stood the test of time for thirty years, is thought to be lacking in general appeal to those outside of the music/guitar aficionado. There are not a lot of hits, hooks and catchy tunes in Yngwie’s output. His sound and style have not changed much over the years.

The Diva tag comes from a somewhat pompous persona. The J. in his name, as if he is going to be confused with another Yngwie Malmsteen. The use of words in his titles like opus. Oh yeah and he is 50 years old and still years leather pants, no shirt and gaudy jewelry…so the argument is made.

Yngwie hasn’t changed much over the years…which can be viewed as both a lacking and admirable trait. Vivaldi the Italian composer wrote over 500 concertos. Since they were all similar in style it is often jokingly asked , ‘Did Vivaldi compose 500 concertos or one concerto 500 times?’ This question might be applied to Yngwie’s output over his career, as well….but no denying the man’s sheer capability to play the guitar like no other.

Heading to last Tuesdays concert I was stoked to see Yngwie, but, more as seeing a relic. He could be crossed off my list of musicians I want to see but haven’t. I thought it would be a little boring. Watching Yngwie shred all over the place while his band sheepishly backs him up.

May 14, San Diego Setlist

I could not have been more wrong! Yngwie was incredible. His showmanship was incredible, his skills were incredible and his band was incredible!

The ability to play a concert is hard enough for anyone…but to put on a show of that caliber and not lose your musical chops is awe-inspiring.

We’ve all seen musicians use gimmicks live. Playing with their teeth, spinning and throwing their instruments, creatively creating feedback while putting on a ‘rock show.’ Yngwie does all of these, but, it doesn’t seem gimmicky. He legitimately has put time into incorporating all these theatrics into his ‘musical’ performance.

His speed and precision have not declined at all in the years since his 1984 debut. Equally astounding is his use of effects. All guitarists use them, like the whammy bar, they often become a crutch to make any level musician sound rocking cool. Yngwie obviously has invested time working out his electronics as part of his guitar acumen.

Most impressive during the show, was his ability, while playing a blistering arpeggio riff to accompany himself with bass pedals using his feet. Not just one note to give a boost underneath but a full contrapuntal  bass line with his feet while seamlessly arpeggiating over the top.

band side YNGWIE SIDEThe band, in typical Yngwie fashion, are not easy to find out much info about. However, these guys played great. Of course to play with Yngwie…who the band referred to as ‘the Maestro,’ throughout the night, you’ve got to ¬†have chops. You have to play fast, but, they put on a rock show, as well. They laid down a rock groove that Yngwie could soar over with his guitar acrobatics while keeping the crowd rocking, not letting it feel like a man and…. oh yeah a band(even though Yngwie does take about 3/4 of the stage for himself)…kudos to those guys!!

Bottom line…if you haven’t seen Yngwie yet but have thought about it….GO!

Happy Birthday Tony Gwynn, “Mr. Padre”

Wishing Tony Gwynn a happy birthday today.

You may ask why a baseball player is being featured on a music website…

TonyAlicia
Visit Tony and Wife Alicia’s Foundation!

If you follow this blog you probably know I am a huge sports fan. Growing up watching the San Diego Padres, was/is not much to root, cheer, (insert verb) for!

But in 1982 along came Tony Gwynn. As a kid you watch and cheer for your favorites. But over the years of following the team there was a ‘Tony Gwynn’ work ethic that was always discussed.

Tony was a tireless worker at his craft…hitting a baseball. He spent hours and hours watching film, studying the game and working on his game. That made a huge impression on me growing up.

It made me want to work that hard at guitar and I began to listen to guitarists who had that same work ethic. The guys who put in HOURS & HOURS day in and day out playing guitar.

Not only that he was and is a loyal citizen of America’s Finest City, San Diego! My hometown!

So that said Tony was a huge influence on me personally and professionally and that is why he is being a wished a happy birthday from me.

Thanks Tony and Happy Birthday!

Wedding Idea

This post is for all my upcoming wedding couples.

This is a great idea and WOW! …talk about thinking ahead!!! A personalized thank you card.

Congrats to Chris & Katie!!

Great Wedding Idea!
Great Wedding Idea!

Guitar Practicing Tips – Blues Scale in Major

Mike Slayen Studios Picks 2The blues scale is a great way for beginners to start improvising and an integral scale for all guitarists to have in their musical tool box. It is versatile and a bit forgiving in that it is basically a five note pentatonic scale with the added ‘blues’ note…the #4.

It’s easy to know which key to use the blues scale for a minor key. If you’re in A minor you play A minor blues, E minor-E blues…etc.

What is not so obvious is which major key to use the blues scale. Unless you are playing a straight ahead blues you can’t really use the same theory…G major= G blues, etc.

The answer lies with the ‘relative minor’ key. The relative minor is 3 half steps below the root of the major key. So the relative minor of C major is A minor. G major is E minor.

Once you know which relative minor you can rip away.

Here is a list of  Major keys and their relative minors commonly used in guitar.  A cheat sheet to get you started, but, you will NEED to know these intimately as part of your music theory repertoire!

Major key / Relative minor key(where to use your blues scale)

C/a

D/b

E/c#

F/d

G/e

A/f#

B/g#

Click here for more practice tips.