Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's a Good Weekend for Entertainment in East Texas...

It's been a good weekend for entertainment here in East Texas. Remember those old days when you sat at home and said "there is nothing to do." They are gone. 

It started on Thursday night with the Stephen F. Austin State University Theater Department production of the Monty Python play "Spamalot." It was a great show right down to the live orchestra in the pit. Cathy saw the original cast in this play on Broadway in 2005 when traveled to see our son Morgan and the Lufkin High School Band perform in Central Park. She said this performance was every bit as good as the broadway show.  We have seen several productions at SFA this year and all have been very good. The college has some great talent to work with. 

Last night at the Pine Knot Music Co-op Eliza Gilkyson performed. She is an Austin based Grammy nominated singer songwriter. Maybe our second time to see her and it is always been a great show.  She comes from good songwriting stock. Her father was Terry Gilkyson, a folk musician who had many hits of his own as well as having others record his songs for hits of their own. You might remember the tune from the movie "Jungle Book" The Bare Necessities." He wrote that.  Here's a cell phone photo I snapped at the beginning of the second set. 


The side men that backed her were great. The mandolin player on the left and I don't have his name off hand is from the Grammy nominated band Greencard. I bought one of their cds. The guitar player was out of this world. Very unguitar like sound and I don't know how he got it but it fit the music perfect. He also played resonator and lap steel. His name was Mike Hardwick. Here's a clip of Eliza from youtube. 


All this fun will continue tonight with the famous western swing band Asleep at the Wheel playing as part of the Angelina College concert series. They been around for awhile. I have lost count of the times I have seen the Wheel but two times stand out. I saw them open for Waylon Jennings in the SFA coliseum in 1974. I saw them at a rained out Willie Nelson kind of thing one time about 1976. They were the only band to take the stage in a downpour. With no electricity they played some kind of set (best I recall) backed by string bass and sax. I have had a few gigs go like that myself.  

The Wheel is probably a sold out show but if you have to get an old time western swing fix a great little band the Sugar Moons are playing and swing dancing at Standpipe Coffee House tonight. While the Wheel is famous the Sugar Moons are top quality.  

Head out and have some fun. 



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Friday, November 21, 2014

More Cigar Box Guitars and the Bass Tuner Jinx...

Here are two more cigar box guitars. I am trying to get some made up and in stock. I have been doing pretty good selling lately and though I don't encourage you to Black Friday me I did do well during last year's Christmas season so I am trying to be ready. Besides I do have the curse of the bass tuner to overcome.

Guitar on the right is pretty standard. Nice ceder box with piezo pickup but a little different tuning. It's tuned low to high B-E-G# which is still E but kind of gives the possibility of a low down greasy chord minus the third on the top two strings but you with the choice to throw in that happy major third when you want it. Good acoustic sound and a dirty powerful sound through the battery powered amps. Have not tried it through the big amps since Cathy is working on church music this afternoon (likes quiet while doing this) and has already endured an hours worth of tuba playing. 
Headstock is a bit more primitive than normal. I usually buy tuners in a six pack three left three right. For some reason they are all the same side in this package.  


Here's an experimental model. It started out to be a one string with an open sound hole. The inside of the box was more striking than the outside. Along the way it developed to a resonator of sorts. maybe I'll get a bit better at centering the string as I make more of these. 

The curse of the bass tuner. Sometime in the past year I bought 4 bass guitar tuners at a cost of $16 bucks for a set. I used two to make a two string bass which is still hanging in Sound Techs Music Store unsold. This is the second one string I have made with these nice bass tuners and it will probably remain unsold also. Guess I am just going to have to play these things myself. I have not tried this one string through a big amp but I have a bit of a feeling it will be a romping stomping buffalo herd imitator if you use a fuzz pedal.  Plays surprisingly well if you are doing the kind of thing I do. 

I can't seem to find much about King Albert. I am guessing a 1960s box. This was the inside. It's no problem to take an inside that is more attractive than the out side and flip it around. 

I'll sell the Presado box for $65 bucks since I did not put box corners or anything like that on it. If ya need a one string make me an offer. 


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Saw the Magic Smoke...

We should have known things were not going to go right at the Strat Kat Band's monthly  Lufkin State Supported Living Center gig right from the start. During sound check there were no monitors. I did what you are supposed to do when you can't hear yourself in the monitors. I yelled louder and suddenly they worked. Then when Mike was setting up his amp and switching it on there was a bunch of static that would not go away. Mike is one of those guys that always sounds like Mike no matter what amp or guitar he plays. He has this great sweet singing bluesy sustain so we just ran him direct to the P.A. and had a usable sound. Then about an hour into the gig the monitor right in from of me belches out the magic smoke. Here is what the magic smoke looked like. 

I have noticed that any musical item that has an on/off switch, tubes, transistors, speakers, wires and other things which I may not have ever heard of but know they are in there and required to produce the kind of racket you get when an electrical instrument is plugged in contains magic smoke. I know this smoke is magic because as long as it stays out of sight everything is fine. Once the magic smoke is seen getting out the item it can no longer produce the racket.

Now there are household appliances, like say a toaster, that contain a type of magic smoke. I have known them to produce this smoke on occasion. It's not the same thing because while it puts your butter and jelly on the sidelines until you can visit Target for a replacement toaster there is just a different kind of magic smoke in a cranked Fender amp that can produce a sound that makes your pants legs flap. It's a different experience from browning bread. 

I don't know how they get the magic smoke in there. 


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Build #43...

Or at least I think it's #43. I have lost count what with some of the one stringers I have made lately. I did not really count all of them since they are trick guitars and since I have met no one locally brave enough to turn that trick (I did sell a couple of one stringers but I think it was just the oddity of the item) I'll just resume counting at the gigable instruments. 

It's an American brand cigar box. Second guitar I have built from a box like this. The first one is sold. It's a good sounding box. I added in a few different things so if you show up at a jam with the other guy it won't be like ya'll wore the same dress or anything.  You might need some other songs than that same old Merle and Hank stuff you both will be playing but at least your guitars won't be the same. 

Check the string through bridge method. Slight pull up of the ferrule does not affect play - ability. If you don't like it I'll knock off 5 bucks. It only pulled up because I live in E tuning, a higher tuning. If you live in D you can probably make it lay down.  

Cotter pin holds stings in place.

A different type of box corner. First guitar I have made with these. Like I say, it's a little different. 


I don't have a sound clip. Do you need one?  It's electric with the double piezo pickups. It's on sale for $70 because of the slight imperfection. 

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Friday, November 14, 2014

More Photos Ortega Guitar...

Here's a few more photos of the custom build I did for Mr. Ortega. I don't usually make photos from start to finish of a guitar being built but since I was doing a special one and I noticed that out there in internet cigar box land other builders frequently do. Of course one thing I have noticed about myself is that when I get these feelings that I should do things like other people I have this thing that happens to me which if I was a car going down the road it would as my dad used to say "swap ends." That means suddenly and inexplicably  going in the other direction. In other words look for me to soon do nothing like anyone else. I think it was Papa Mali who said something like I am standing on the side of the road, not going your way. See I have to find my way. 

Here's the photos. It's a nice box. Had some scratches but a little lemon oil fixed that. 
 Headstock. Gold harware matches the box. Two choices when I build a guitar, gold, silver. They will match mose boxes. 
 Cutting the neck to fit the box. Notched neck so the top does not snug anymore than necessary to free up the tone man!  
Double piezo pickups. They are glued down with super glue but then I coated them in hot glue to kill some of the feed back tendencies naturally inherent in piezos. I used to use hot glue to put the pickup to the box top but I find the super glue makes for a sound I like. 

 Neck install.
Finished guitar. 


I later added a string tree for a bit more downward pull on the strings. Helped the tone. 

Of course it's electric. 

And here is what it sounds like. I used this video on facebook so if you saw please move along but I do know I have blog readers who don't facebook. For the gear heads equipment used are my phone for the video, a $100 Fender solid state Frontman amp (good cheap howling fun) a Boss Lesile/Univibe pedal and and a little bit of an EH Soul Food overdrive pedal for the lead.  

I do have another guitar finished except for the fret markers. Photos of it coming soon. It will be for sale to the general public.  

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Looks Like I Am Fired From the Country Band...

People ax me all the time, "Mudbelly how do you get into country music?" I always answer with a question of my own. "How do you get out of it?" Well I'm out. No hard feelings or anything just moving on. 

The first gig I played with the Back Porch Band was January 2011. Last gig was Labor Day 2014. Not a bad run but it seems like the last few months gigs have been pretty short notice. I don't work well with short notice. Of three gigs I played (this is not counting music played for church and a funeral) in October I had 4-6 weeks notice from the people that wanted me there. Those three gigs knocked me out of two Back porch Band gigs that came up after I had confirmed to play these other things. The band found a substitute and now he's the permanent bass player.  I'll probably substitute in the future if they need me. I think maybe the band has reformed with other new members so catch them playing around town when you get a chance. I'll still run their facebook page as I have info to post.  

As for me I am ok without being in a working band for now. Sometimes things go as far as they can. The cigar box guitar thing is going well. Well enough that I need to make some things with Christmas coming. I sold several last Christmas. I am also playing slide guitar in a blues thing we are calling the Cotton Square Explosion after the incident on March 2nd 1913 that blew up the Houston East and West Texas railroad depot that sat just off what is now Caulder Square in downtown Lufkin.  No gigs yet but we will get there. 

The question that was always asked was "Hat, where you going with that bass player?" Where that hat goes is what the future holds.



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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fat Cats on a Windy Day...

It was windy. Neither me or the catfish could keep a hat on. We did manage not to drown and caught 15 nice fish that made enough fillets to feed 8 or 7 members of the Wallace family next time they gather. 
We began the day fishing one of our number one honey holes that we call "the place." It was very windy and exposed but we caught a few fish there. See fishing the wind is the way we do it. Find a point, a sand bar, a line of cypress trees that the wind is blowing into and you have found fish. Of course there needs to be a drop off, a fish sanctuary where they can stack up and wait till they are hungry enough to cruise the feeding areas. In the photo you see Cathy fishing a second "place" because even though the fish were there in the first spot I don't think the wind was letting us get our baits to them well.   

Nice fall colors to the cypress trees.

These were good fat cats. Hopefully the water will not cool off to quickly in the shallows. It's 67 degrees and that is much to fish liking.  If it gets too cool and they go deep and with the lake near normal pool there are not a lot of prime tie ups showing along the river channel for deep water winter fishing. 

My camera got switched to "fish eye" effect during the bumpy run across the lake at sundown. We were taking a little bow wash and an occasional splash.  


Here's the fish. Blog readers I meet in person often comment on the fishing we do. Seems like we have not been as mad at them this year and a quick count of fishing trips on the blog show we have caught just over 100 fish this year. If we use this amount as kind of an average that's enough to feed maybe 50-60 people. Good thing I have not eaten 50-60 catfish dinners. I'd be fatter than I am now. 

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