Sunday, June 25, 2017

Waterloo guitar, Anthem pickup, and AER amp equals acoustic nirvana

Part of growing older gracefully as a musician is downsizing your gear. Reasons range from a sore back to more serious stuff. Whatever your reason, if you're looking to downsize your acoustic rig and lighten your load I have good news for you. You can do it without sacrificing sound quality.

Partly through trial and error and partly through research I have assembled a lightweight and small system that sounds natural and acoustic and has enough power to play in a noisy bar. These days I rarely review gear on this blog but each component in this rig gets my enthusiastic recommendation.

In the past when weight was less of a concern I used a mixer, power amp, and speakers. It was a lot of stuff to haul and it was heavy and bulky but that was part of the price you paid to get good sound in those days.

My new compact rig includes a Waterloo guitar equipped with an LR Baggs Anthem SL pickup system. This goes directly into an AER Tommy Emmanuel amplifier. Simple!

This small, lightwight guitar and powerful little amp combine to produce a sound which exceeds my expectations. It sounds lovely! Better in fact than any of the heavy and overly complicated component PA systems that I hauled around back in the day.

When I first decided to downsize I thought I would have to sacrifice sound quality. Instead I found the most natural and musical amplified acoustic guitar sound I've ever experienced outside of a recording studio. Bonus! I'm looking forward to getting out and playing music with this rig.

Even if you're not shopping for "geezer gear" you'll appreciate the sound quality you get out of a small, simple rig like this and you'll love how easy it is to carry and set up. It just works and that frees you from tweaking sound and let's you focus more on your music.

The Waterloo, Anthem and AER amp make setting up quick and simple and the sound is awesome. I wholeheartedly recommend these products with the caveat that you should always let your ear (and budget) be your guide. Adopt a less is more philosophy and I think you'll discover as I have that you don't need a van full of gear to sound your best in 2017.

Disclaimer: I purchased this gear retail and use it by choice. I received no special consideration and these are not specially selected "review samples". 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Apologies for the long silence

1949 Gibson J45
1949 Gibson J45 Guitar

Hi Friends,

Sorry I haven't updated my content here for a while. Three years ago I was struck inexpectedly by a catstrophic illness. While moving into my house I suffered an aortic dissection.

Fortunately before I blacked out I made an emergency call. Thanks to quick response from the EMTs, the helicopter team, and the open heart surgery team at UNM hospital I survived.

That's why I've been out of the music biz for so long. I'll to start playing out again soon by visiting some open mics in Taos and Albuquerque before I attempt a real gig. If you readers are interested in seeing reviews of the northern New Mexico open mic nights here in the future please let me know.

In the meantime check out this 1949 Gibson J45 that turned up in a small Albuquerque shop last year. It's been broken and patched up a few times (like me) but it still sounds great and––after some fret work and an ace setup by George at Langston Guitar and Amp Works––it plays great too.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll by Peter Guralnick

Back in the 1970s while spending time in rural Arkansas I had the good fortune to meet folklorist Mike Luster. Mike was working on a doctorate in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He convinced me that rockabilly music is a legitemate form of American folk music. We spent hours listening to records from his collection as educated me. Of course a lot of his 45s were from Sun Records.

For those of you who love Rock 'n' Roll and the sound of Fender guitars twanging through vacuum tube amplifiers Peter Guralnick's book is a must read. I'm near the end of the first chapter and I'm hooked.

For a complete review see the article in the New York Times. I just wanted to give folks a heads-up here. You can get Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll from your favorite bookstore and also from Sun Records in Memphis. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ramblin' Jack and a mighty wind arrive in Albuquerque at the same time

After a long Santa Fe winter I was really looking forward to seeing Ramblin' Jack Elliott perform at the Albuquerque Folk Festival this spring.  Unfortunately mother nature had other plans. The tent covering the main stage violently collapsed from a powerful gust of winds that hit it just minutes before Ramblin' Jack was scheduled to appear. The concert had to be cancelled. Fortunately the tent was evacuated just prior to it's collapse. No one was injured. I've heard a rumor that there will be a makeup concert this fall. When I have more info about that I'll post it.

The good news is that Friday, the night before the folk festival, a few folks met up at our friend John's home to visit with Jack. Afterwards everyone adjourned to Sadie's for Mexican food.

Ramblin' Jack is in fine form these days. Albuquerque was  the New Mexico leg of a successful spring tour which included Louisiana, Texas, and Arizona. He was touring by auto with his friend and opening act, Rick Robbins. If the boys come to a town near you don't miss the fun.

And Jack... us folks here in New Mexico are hoping that the folk festival folks will bring you back here for another concert soon.  It was great to visit with you. I hope next time I see you we can continue our conversation about pocket knife lore. It was just getting interesting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Entertainment At The Three Ravens Coffee House

The Alan Acuff comeback tour is underway, and I hope you'll join us for some picking' and grinnin' this Saturday afternoon July 21st, from 1-3 pm at the Three Ravens Coffehouse in Tierra Amarilla, NM.
Click HERE for a map to the Three Ravens and right-click HERE to download a flyer provided by Debbie and Vincent, the kind folks who do the web design for the Three Ravens.

Please join us for a fun afternoon of music, great coffee, and good food. Bring a chair, bring your kids, and tell your friends.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three String Bale – New Folk Music for the Digital Age

Yesterday, I spent a musical afternoon and evening at the 14th Annual Albuquerque Folk Festival. This year the festival was held at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum.
ABQ Folk Festival 2012
I enjoyed all of the music I heard but I have to admit that my favorite band was a folk trio called Three String Bale.
Three String Bale perform at the ABQ Folk Festival

This energetic trio of talented multi-instrumentalists really works hard... almost as hard as James Brown himself, and in their own way they are equally soulfull. In short, what I like about these folks is that they are putting the fun back in folk music. Their music is sometimes zany and irreverent and never boring. A high point of the show for me was their performance of Clarence Ashley's The Cuckoo.

Speaking of keeping the fun in folk music, there's a movie that I want to recommend to Three String Bale and to everyone reading this. It's called Chasing Gus' Ghost and it's a film dedicated to Gus Cannon the famous jug band leader. This movie features Maria Mauldaur, Bob Weir, John Sebastian, and many other great musicians. It's a must see folks!

In closing let me urge those of you who missed the Albuquerque Folk Festival this year to put it on your calendar for next year. And in the meantime, I recommend that you go to the Three String Bale website to check their calendar for a show near you. Don't miss them!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Butch Crouch 1939-2011

It was a sad day for Santa Fe's music community when we heard the news about Butch Crouch. Butch was loved by all and will be sorely missed. A memorial gathering will be held at El Farol. We expect to have a date and time very soon and it will be posted here. Please check back for details and come help us celebrate Butch's life and music.

Here's a story I'd like to share with you folks. Back when the west was wild, I booked a banquet gig at the Legal Tender in Lamy, New Mexico. The night of the banquet I arrived at the Legal Tender and discovered that the gig was double-booked. (Double-booking is something that accidentally happens every once in a while, and every working musician dreads it.) Well, it turned out that the restaurant had booked me and the banquet folks had booked Butch. He arrived ten minutes after I did and immediately came up with a solution. "Let's take turns playing and split the money," he said.

That's the kind of man Butch was. He was a true blue friend, and he had a heart as big as all outdoors. He had many, many friends here and we will all miss him.

Butch was a talented artist and he was so much more that I'm at loss for words to describe him. So I'm going to defer to Kris Kristofferson here. The words of Kris' song The Pilgrim Chapter 39 describe Butch pretty well.

He's a poet, he's a picker
He's a prophet, he's a pusher
He's a pilgrim and a preacher and problem when he's stoned
He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction
Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home...
And there's lots of wrong directions on that lonely road back home.

So long Butch. It's been good to know ya.

UPDATE: My favorite writer, Steve Terrell, has posted about Butch. Click HERE.