Friday, January 31, 2014

Cigar Box Guitar Builds #27 and 28...

Here you see cigar box builds #27 and #28. The Black guitar is the one for sale. The other is claimed. 

This guitar is made from a Flor De Antillas box. These are Nicaraguan tobacco and was named the best cigar of 2012. It's a wooden box with pizo pickup and tunes to a bright happy country blues low to high string G-B-D. Neck is white pine.   

This is a Partagas cardboard box. It's one of the oldest brands of cigars dating to 1845 and in fact the name is used by two companies, one in Cuba and one in the Dominican Republic. This is the Dominican box. It has a pizo pick up and poplar neck. It has a darker, warmer sound and maybe that's because it jumped right up into a D-G-B tuning similar to what you hear used on many bluesy hits by the ancient rock band the Rolling Stones. It is for sale for $75. 

Both guitars have a new feature. The back of the neck is rounded for increased playing ease. Both are fretless and are played with a slide similar to a steel guitar or dobro. You will need a good ear but if you have music in you these guitars will get it out. Quite trying to cop those tunes you heard on the Grammy Awards and be yourself.  

Thanks to Ron and Chase Crocker at the 1882 Tobacconist located in downtown Lufkin. They traded me a nice supply of cigar boxes in exchange for a the Acid Cigar Box guitar you have see pictured in these pages before. 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Couple of After Work Photos...

When I went in to work this morning at 6 it was snowing. It did not last long but it did leave a little accumulation in the shade. It looked cold. I have nice windows to look out at work. I can watch the day and stay warm. Not everything was staying put and warm and I made these photos on the way home from work. 

These photos were taken in the high game fence two miles from my house. A few of these deer have that does he have range cubes look on their faces. 
This would be a great wild life shot if I had not gotten the high line guide wire in the frame. I was standing about 15' outside my property line to make this photo through the fence. 
I think that's the no he don't have range cubes look. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

So I get These Questions...

I noted on the internet some thought the Grammy Awards were terrible. Some thought there were great. I did not watch. I happened to be holding down my regular Sunday evening gig at St. Patrick's Catholic Church 5pm bilingual Mass. I don't really get TV anyway, no dish, no digital, no big screen so no matter that I was busy. The Grammys did bring to mind a question my youngest daughter asked me the other day. She said, "Dad was pop music good when you were a kid?"

I'll try to answer that question. When I was a kid I was playing a horn in the school band. Seemed like the horn was a big thing in Pop music. I listened to bands like Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears and Bill Chase. Those guys had the same kind of training I was getting in the good old Lufkin High Band and that could be heard in their arrangements. So that was good pop music even though as my interest began to gravitate to records by long dead black men I thought the sound of those bands got softer and accused them of "selling out." Then came Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, Foghat, Barry Manilow and a lot of other terrible stuff. So I guess the honest answer is yes, pop music was bad when I was a kid. So that clearing of the air brings us to the fact that there is always good music. You just have to find it. 

Here's a guy I like and own all his cds. I have seen him twice including the time the bass player played the wildest solo quoting from "Seven Nation Army" with Jack White and the Dead Weather being the next band up. Who thought a trombone player could be out front? In fact I just download his brothers cd. He's also a bone player. 
Here's another good band, The Tin Men. I'll see them soon on a trip we have planned to New Orleans. 

Here's the kind of stuff Cathy likes. Might have to travel a bit more to see it and I sometimes wonder if the kids playing horns these days have clue this exists. 

Now I know you have a question. What CDs do I own that won a Grammy this year? I own best Blues, Ben Harper and Charlie Musslewhite, Best R &B Gary Clark Jr and Best Americana, Rodney Crowell and Emmy Lou Harris. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Quick Report on the Sickies in the Family...

Looks like my mom is going to do fine. She was in the hospital last November and it was the same drill this time. They ran all the tests they could to see if they could find some really bad wrong and once again could find nothing. She will be there a few more days taking antibiotics and stuff but so far so good. She has been bossing us around and pretty soon will be back in business making us buy gifts and prizes like the one she shows off in the photo. 
Miguel's dad, Miguel Sr. is also doing well. Moving around in bed, trying to talk, is able to sit in a chair for short periods, really wants Denver to win the Super Bowl. He may be a candidate for some rehab at TIRR Memorial Herman in Houston which is one of the top rehab hospitals in the country. Let's all hope for that because I think there is some great potential for his recovery and this is what it will take. Here is a photo of Miguel, Mary and Alejandra at Mary's nursing class pinning back in May. 
So hopefully things will keep going great. I'll be able to get back to writing about music, crime, sex, tubas and grandchildren and not necessarily in that order.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

So Here are our Snow Pictures...

Who been walking in my snow? Is it the return of the Christmas Possum?

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Here' is the scene at 9pm on my deck. If I had not had such a long day and if Cathy was at home I would probably jump in the hot tub. But don't worry about us getting snowed in here in East Texas. The way our weather is we might be back in shorts by dawn. 

Mom in the Hospital...

Mom was not as peppy last night as she was in this picture made when we were opening Christmas presents a few weeks ago. We convinced her to go to the Memorial Hospital emergency room. She has Pneumonia. After a breathing treatment and some oxygen she was feeling better but they still admitted her and started some IV antibiotics. 

I left the hospital about 11 last night and she was still not to a room. She will be held in ER till a room is available sometime this morning. I'll be at work today and Cathy is working nights. We will keep you posted. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Finished my first bass guitar build this week. It's a Southern Biscuits Tin with Currier and Ives prints front and back of the "Blacksmith" and the "Mill Dam at Sleepy Hollow." Tin sells as an antique for anywhere from $10-$40 on the internet. Paintings date from 1860s and the tin seems to be 70s vintage.

Here's a close front and back view, whoops forgot to flip that one. Oh well bet y'all all got Ipads might be easier for you to flip than me. 

Head stock has that Fender vibe and rightly so I am pretty much a Fender guy until some one lays a high dollar Gibson on me. Note the rounded neck. Morgan routed that for me. I now have my router and table set up and I think I got it figured out and it looks like all my guitars will have rounded necks from this point on. 

So here is the specs. Strings are tape wound and tuned E and A. Has a piezo pickup. Acoustic sound is fairly loud and electric sound through a small guiatr amp is boomy. Have not tried the big bass amp. Neck is oak and it's thick. It's fret less so if you have music in you I bet this thing can get it out. This baby screams for a fuzz pedal. Maybe I'll make a demo later this week. 

It is for sale. Have not decided on a price. Make me an offer. 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes. I guess you wonder what I did today and if you are expecting so big thing you may be surprised to find that I took it pretty easy. After a big weekend I fooled around making a tin bass guitar in the shop. There will be more on that later. For now I'll post some photos from this weekend's fishing. 

I think the last time I had the boat out was in September maybe early October. That's a pretty long stretch without any fishing for me. I don't really think I have gone that long ever before. I'll try not to do it againg. Anyway the boat ran great, we caught two fish on a cold windy day and I was glad to be there. In this photo Coraline is pointing out where the fish are. 
In this photo Grandma tells the store of old Ol Ginormus.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Working Weekend...

If you remember a while back I posted a link to the old Albert King song "Crosscut Saw." Here's the lady I cut wood for. She has me do it all the time. 
We have started cutting up three white oak trees that fell on Morgan and Ali's Hearne property. We thought we had a pretty good load of wood gathered up on Wednesday. We gave this load to some friends from church. 
Thursday we gathered up a load of beds from Mary and Miguel's Pasadena house. They are moving back to Lufkin. The old truck and trailer has been busy this weekend.
On Saturday we got another good load of wood. Me and Morgan did all this cutting and splitting with Coraline, Ali and Cathy loading. 
So as you see we did a lot of work this weekend. It was fun and I am glad I can still put in a full hard day. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Competition in the House...

At home I have one of Miguel's guitars. Actually I have a couple of his guitars but this oil can guitar is something he won at a drawing last year at SXSW in Austin. It's made by Bohemian Guitars, a company headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. It sits next to the lates can guitar I have made.
It has a fretted neck, one single coil pickup, volume and tone knobs and plays like a real guitar with six strings. It's nice. It will set you back about $300 if you go to their web site and order. 

With Miguel's permission I might take this little can to the upcoming Lufkin State Supported Living Center dance and play it next week. Give it a good run through. Of course Miguel is welcome to come and play it on the gig himself if he likes.  Pickup sounds a little harsher than I like but we will see what happens when you put it to the volume test with full band. 

Of course I am a little prejudiced and I think my guitars sound perfectly good. Espically if you are a slide player like myself.. They are doing a different thing and in fact the black can guitar essentially acts as a microphone and I plan on getting it's abilities on record soon.  It will be for sale and will only set you back about $65. 

Make music. It's inside you, get it out. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

My Hey Joe It's Friday Tune...

Working the shift I do makes tomorrow Friday for me. Sometimes after I get off all I am really good for is playing loud sloppy electric guitar. Seems to help clear my mind and free my soul to prepare to enjoy my days off.

Someone told me after viewing my recent news segment (ok, money compliments and publicity time) that some one else said to them "I did not know he could play electric guitar." Maybe I'll make this little "it's Friday" series a weekly upload. Not that it's all that great an example of electric guitar playing but gives me something to practice on and maybe one day I will have something nice come from all this time in my room with my scales.

I recorded the old folk standard Hey Joe. What started this is the fact that I arrived home today to find Miguel's made in where else but Mexico Fender Stratocaster laying in the floor of the record room. It's the wine red one in the photo and it's made in 2001. It's the rhythm guitar and the first lead. The second lead is the sonic blue made in Indonesia Fender Squier Deluxe. This guitar is from 2009 and although Squier is considered the budget line it has some upgrades that make it a nice little instrument. It was won in a charity auction by sister in law Margaret. She gave it to Pop who gave it too me. If ya'll ever need it back I am taking good care of it as you see.  The last lead and it's using a slide is my black on black 1976 American made strat. It's a hard tail, no whammy( I'll never buy another guitar without a talent lever) bar.  I have owned this guitar since 1982. Interesting story, I drove to Dallas one weekend because I wanted a strat. I looked in the want ads of the Dallas paper and saw this one. I drove over to the guy's house (this was before GPS) and bought it cash on the barrel head. It could also be called a Mexican made strat because being located in Southern California Fender's work force has always been predominantly Hispanic. 

The bass is a Fender Precision I bought new in 1984. Some one told me it's a 1983 serial number. Hard to believe I have had that guitar 30 years now. The looped bass part is using the little red Fender Frontman amp. Electric guitar is through the Fender Champ II. Lot's of various wah, tremolo, phase shifted delayed distorted goodness to go with it. Hope you like it. 

By the way, if anyone has a telecaster I would be willing to give it a try.   Posted by Picasa


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Could Not Find an Instrument...

It happens around here. Some piece of musical gear you don't use real often can't be found. No that's not true because I can always find the bass guitar wah-wah pedal. Anyway on some of the recent quirky gigs we did such as the drum and tuba Christmas and the KTRE news story it seemed like my turtle shell shaker would go just perfect with that kind of music. It could not be found. I was sad because it was one of the oldesf instruments I had made.

Here's a photo of a bunch of percussion instruments of the type I used to make. They are stuck in some kind of decorative pot and draped with Mardi Gras beads but the short story of it is you get a forked stick, string a wire between the forks and thread beads, baubles and bone on the wire so you have something that clanks together to make noise. Lots of stuff I have makes noise. I would guess these date to the days when we had a kid in the old Jr. High East Pep squad because some are in the orange and white team colors. You remember those days. You could bring a sharp stick to a public gathering and no one thought anything about it.

It was not long I begun to explore the possibilities of forked stick shakers a little deeper. I'll give away a secret here. If you build one thing and everyone thought it was cool make the next thing you build upside down. It will seem brand new. That's what I did with this shaker and I stuck a turtle shell on it. The shell really does nothing but it does have a good flat bottom that sets the instrument up right if you put it down to sip a beverage, listen to some one else's ride or something like that.  I take it to the harp gigs I get. Face it folks the harp is not like the tuba. It does not sound good on every song so at these shows when the harp was not right, I played the turtle shaker. 
I even played it at the jazz fest.
So you can imagine how troubled when I could not find this instrument. Cathy came to my rescue and located it for me this past week It was hanging on the wall in the record room. That's bad. I go in the record room everyday and I make a good living tell people, among other things, to look up when they walk. You know I think events like this where I can't find something are going to start happening more often.  

Here's where it hung. The old turtle is a little in disarray but we will fix it up before it makes a public appearance again.  

By the way, no turtles were harmed making this instrument. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

So I Lost My Temper a Bit Today...

And I hate that. It's never a good thing. 

It was after work. One of those days where you work hard but things go well and you think to yourself, "gee I am really good at what I do and I like doing it." So maybe I'm a little full of myself. Maybe I was driving around town listening to the Jon Spenser Blues Explosion a little too loud. You are supposed to set that digital volume display to your age are't you? I stop and browse goods at a local merchant until they start loudly making statements "so and so said" concerning public education and certain students. It's comments that I consider to be racist and have serious doubts that the claims they were making about practices at a certain East Texas area school district could even be true. If there was an East Texas school administrator that was so lacking in integrity to allow such to happen it would explain the poor performance recently reported by many nearby school districts. I don't think that is the case. I have been there, done that. It's not how it is. 

Somehow it flashed on me and I spoke up that I could not see what they said could be true and had personal experiences to back my claim. Of course they insisted what they said was true. I did not argue. I just left my goods on the counter and walked away. 

So I am sorry if I got mad. I won't come in your store again. I won't make claims that I can't back up, claims that border on gossip and fear mongering.  I will back up what I believe in with action, prayer, money, whatever good thing it takes to change the world. I also will post this photo Cathy made of me standing by a life size Harry Truman statue at his presidential library this past summer. See, that's what it takes. Be life size. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Girl Talk...

With the poinsettias in the background I can only think that this Christmas time photo of Katie, Cathy, Mary and Ali is capturing the emotions present in a lively debate on the merits of their favorite Christmas carol. 

Mary has snugly made up her mind that "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is the best because her daddy plays it so well on the tuba. Cathy sings a few bars of  Handel's Messiah because she likes the name Handel. Ali thinks that to be a good Christmas song you got to be able to dance to it. Katie advances the hypothesis that "Jingle Bells" is the most famously misheard lyrics of all time is is actually "Jingle Well." 

Post in the comment section what your family talked about at Christmas. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Photos of the finished Bunk House...

You may remember we installed a little portable building out back. It's for when we have all the kids and grand kids in so we have more room. 
It's a bit like staying in a hostel or a rooming house. You get a bed and the bathroom is down the hall or in this case in the big house. You can also eat with us if you choose but be aware most major food chains now have outlets in our fine city so if ou gotta have your Cracker Barrel go ahead.  

A project that turned out nice and arty is the conversion of the old original door to our house into a bed headboard. We cut the door into 4 pieces and used three of them assembled to fit the bed with as the headboard. I had the idea to convert the door to something other use because after all it's a good heavy piece of wood. It was Cathy's idea to make it a headboard. Lamp next to the bed is called the Uncle Woody. It was made by a relative of Cathy's.  
The cloth painting that hangs in the old "door" window was found in a New Orleans thrift store. It dicpict a bunch of cave men and women running a dragon with seven deadly sins inscribed on his back off a cliff. Read more on this piece in an old blog post at this link
I mentioned there were four pieces to the door. I used the remaining one to make a table to hold a mirror that came from Cathy's grandmother's house. Cathy estimates to mirror is possibly 100 years old. 
Inside walls are covered by mostly thrift store bought heavy upholstery stapled to bare studs in the wall and ceiling. Heat is provided by this decorative electric heater. Katie and Petter were first tenants over the holidays and they reported heater was adequate. The live in Chicago so you would think they should know. 
And of course a little bit landscape by Carl and there you have it. I do hope these shrubs grow big enough to justify the purchase of a ferocious man tool to keep their bushiness in check. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Made Two Guitars Today...

It's been a creative day. Working from 9am to 3pm with one short break to drive to the hardware store in Huntington I came up with two guitars. I had done the metal cutting on the gas can guitar some time back and one of the necks I had cut was for another project (ok all you jealous guys I do have some failure) so not a total today assembly but pretty close.  Here's what we have:
ON your left is Cuesta Rey cigar box that Morgan spotted a while back when we were thrift store shopping in the Hearne area. Cuesta and Rey were two gentleman who started a company to roll cigars in 1884. It's the official cigar of Spanish King Alphonso XI. The guitar on your right is made from a Thompson water seal can. I used the contents to treat the boards of my deck in the spring of 2013. It's a good product and I'll probably have another can available for guitar making in spring 2014. 
This is an interesting guitar and I am not putting it up for sale just yet. I want to do some recording with it. It's got a piezo pickup and I have already discovered that if you speak directly into the dish drainer resonator the whole thing acts like a microphone and the sound of your voice comes out the guitar amp. I see some possibilities for beat boxing. By the way Cathy liked the sound of this guitar through an amp and that's a good thing. By the way I can answer questions about what I was doing talking into my guitar later when I come over to your house. 
This box, being used had a sticker, nothing to do with cigars, on the lower corner that I did not like. I peeled it off and with it came some of the box covering. That's why the three reso covers and the jack in a row. They are covering a mark that gives the guitar some character. 
Nice polished metal gives access to the inner workings. This was a tough pickup insulation for my big hands.  

I'll sell the cigar box guitar for $75 bucks. Items like this go for $125 on ebay. It's a deal. The can will be for sale later but if you gotta have it now make an offer and I'll bring it to your house. 


"...I know I've seen that face before," Big Jim was thinking to himself "Maybe down in Mexico or a picture up on somebody's shelf..."Bob Dylan from "Lilly Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
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