Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Good Week for Live Music...

It's been a good week for live music. I have already written about seeing Shinyribs at Under the Volcano. There were a couple of other shows we saw, both in Lufkin to round out our days off. If you thought I was going to write about music I had played you were wrong. I feel a little bad because I bailed on the Strat Kat Band (heck, they did not need me) for the LSSLC dance that we play each month. Usually I do a couple of rehearsals each week in addition to playing at church (we did play that this weekend) and sometimes another gig of some sort but I just took the week off and watched music instead of playing. Kind of rejuvenating things I guess.   

Monday night we saw the Harlem Gospel Choir at the old Pines Theater. First time I have attended an event here and they have taken the old movie house built downtown in 1925 and made a very nice venue. I noted the event on facebook that afternoon and managed to grab a couple of the last remaining seats which happened to be the last row of the balcony. I think the last time I was in the Pines was early 70s. A ticket might have been 50 cents if you were over 12 years old. These tickets were a bit more than that and I had never sat in the balcony either but the seats were good. Here's a phone photo of what it looked like. 
Last night was a blues/folk singer Charlie Parr at the Standpipe Coffee House. Great show. The Standpipe is pulling in some good stuff. Charlie, in addition to folk type originals did quite a bit of the old slide guitar gospel blues in the vein of Blind Willie Johnson. He had what looked to be a fretless banjo. Got to respect a man playing something like that. He also played a 12 string guitar and accompanied himself on a "porch board." It's kind of an electric box you stomp in time to the music you play kind of like the electric hand drums you have seen me make and play. 

Charlie told a story about learning 5 string banjo of how he took 7 strings off a 12 string guitar and when an accomplished banjo picker saw him doing that he just said "you are doing nothing right." After the show I chatted a bit with Charlie and told him how his story reminded me of how I had attempted to learn mandolin. First I tried traditional blue grass style and then the jug band style and with big clumsy fingers failing both of those I tuned it open and played it with a slide like I do everything. I was ashamed and hid this until I saw a video of Ry Cooder the great slide player in the Jazz Fest Gospel Tent playing what else but slide mando. I decided I would never be ashamed of my mando playing again. Charlie Parr said, "Do what works." 

Here's a trailer from a documentary made about Charlie. 

So all this live music and it's not even the weekend. I got to work but I bet you can find something to see in this hopping little town of ours. If nothing else mark your calendars because the band Loves It, friends of Katie and Peter's who we saw play in Chicago play the Standpipe May 1st. See you there.  

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cigar Box Build #34...

Here is cigar box build #34. It's a Don Tomas box, poplar neck, piezo pick up and gold hardware. 

As with the last guitar I listed on here there are a few cosmetic things that causes me to offer at a sale price. I'll take $65 for this because you may note that the sound holes are not quite aligned. To me that's a bit of the charm of a home made instrument. There are those that are concern themselves because my head stocks are not all shaped the same and such but the primitive instrument business is what it is. So get it, some don't. 

Here is a new feature that will be on all instruments in the future and I may go back and put it on instruments I have in stock. It's BB fret markers set into the side of the neck at the location of the IV, V and octave chord to ease playing. I have been doing pencil marks and on some guitars the note falls easier to the hand so there may be no marks but I figure this will get the novice player up and going faster. If you don't know, note the high string height. These guitars are played with a slide like a steel guitar and can be played held across the lap or held as a regular guitar. These fret markers are not too well in line. That's another reason for the discount.   

It's back to work tomorrow with quite a few things other than guitar making on the calendar for the new few weeks. This round of off days has been productive. I do have one guitar begun. It's different. It will be a four string with a regular electric guitar magnetic pickup. Check back for details. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Day...

Here is my mom and her great grand son Warren posing for a photo in front of the azaleas blooming in her yard. These bushes were planted before I was born. They put on a great show of color each year. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Morning loop Experiments...

Using the cigar box guitar I built yesterday and an electric drum made from a wooden box I made this look. The lead guitar sound is an Eastwood Baritone guitar. 

Here you see the cigar box guitar and the bottom of the drum. That's where it plugs to the amp. 
Closer view of the jack. I ran the drum sound through a flanger and phase shifter. I think it sounds ok but I wish I was a better drummer. There is a bit of wah wah on the rhythm strums which are done on the cigar box.  

Top of the box. It's simple no frills fun made with stuff I have at home. Now I realize there is probably not a flanger laying around your home but I bet you got a box and I can keep busy with a box especially if it's a big one that I can get inside.  

Click here for the Box Drum Blues


Friday, April 11, 2014

I Think This is Guitar #33...

I skipped a photo for #32 because it's a custom build and the owner has not seen it yet. Don't want to spoil the surprise but here as near as I can figure is #33. I have built and sold a guitar from this same box before. It's a good sounding wood back box. 
Look at the photos closely. The top is a bit scratched, probably from the stacking of cigar boxes. I don't know if I did it or it came from the store this way. I usually get $75 for a guitar like this with the box corners and all but since it's less than perfect I'll take $60. 

It's a goldy. All hardware except jack to plug to you amp is gold.  

Note the scratched surface. Does not effect play-ability. It is tuned to an open E chord for slide playing. Hand falls easily with no fret marks to correct playing positions. Speaking of fret markers I got a good idea for marking frets, will be easy to do after finishing so I might go back and do it. My endorser, tenor banjo player Bill Cooney gave me some Mother of Pearl so look for it incorporated into future builds.  . 

It's electric and sounds good acoustic or electric. 


Thursday, April 10, 2014


We went to our new favorite hang out, Under the Volcano last night. Mary was with us and we met Morgan and Ali there for a show by Shinyribs. If you don't know Shinyribs his real name is Kevin Russell and he used to be in an Austin band the Gourds. 

We last saw Shinyribs at a Discovery Green free concert last summer. That series starts up in May and there are some good bands scheduled. At that gig he was with a full band. This one he played 6 string uke and acoustic guitar. The music is a nice mix of original tunes with all kinds of snatches of unexpected covers worked in. You don't often hear country covers and Third Stone From the Sun all worked into a set but this is where Shinyribs lives and so do I. 
These photos were taken with my smart phone. They are a little grainy but I think you might get the idea of how the evening felt. Guy stands up on a stage in a Houston night club all by his lonesome. He gives it heck. It's a great show. 

This weekend I know some folks that will be at the Old Settler's Festival. Shinyribs will be there. Look for a good time during his set. 

By the way we spent our last night at Morgan and Ali's apartment. Next time we spent the night with them it will be in their new house. Parking is heck at that complex with too few visitor spots. Last time there we gave up looking and parked in a permit spot and suffered no penalty. We tried that again and awoke to find the truck towed. I did not feel so bad when Morgan told me that on one occasion he had also been towed at his own complex. 

Oh well it was the kind of trouble that if ya got money, you can fix it. Anyway Go catch Shinyribs. He will make it all right for cheap.  


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Most of the Time When I Look Like I am Just Standing There Looking...

Most of the time when I am just standing there and I look like I am just looking I am really watching something. I know it's a fine line, to be able to tell the difference in these two things. My wife can but there are not many others. I was watching the action on the street during a recent New Orleans visit. 

Everyone I was with had just gone in some type of trendy shop. It was on a corner and little did I know they would exit a door on the other side and leaving me there lost and looking, I mean watching. That's another story but I managed to make good use of my time observing and making photos of two Louisiana State Troopers. 

The NBA Allstar game was in town so there was a lot of VIP type things going on all around and lots of police. Two Troopers roar up each in SUV type vehicles. One parks easily in a parallel spot. There's a little room in front of him. and the other tries for this. Now people, I am just an old tuba player, losing his lip and not good at math at all but I can tell right away just from looking, I mean watching that an SUV will not fit in this spot. It takes him several tries at parallel parking to learn this. Lucky for him about two cars down the street there is an amply sized spot and he gets it. That never happens for me. I mean finding a quick and easy parking place in the French Quarter. I do occasionally get it though. 

Anyway it seems that there is quite a ritual for these guys once parked and out of the car. They each removed their licence plates. I asked my son in law who is a Texas Trooper about this and he said "Yeah people steal them all the time." Seemed no big deal for a Texas Trooper to drive around without plates. Then there was the hats. I know Texas Troopers got to wear them out of the car. One of these LSP boys forgot his but luckily his buddy was watching out and sent him back to get it.  

Anyway while watching I did what my wife says is going to sooner or later get my butt kicked and that is make photos of people unawares. I made this photo because this guy had something interesting in the back of his car. I even got a photo of another guy looking, I mean watching.
What's that in the back. Let's zoom.
It's quickrete! What's he doing with this? I did not get a photo of the back of the other troopers car so I don't know what he had. If I watch and bide my time I might get a look in the back of a Texas Troopers car. Hopefully it will be my son in laws and not one where I am sitting on handcuffs. 


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