Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mary and Miguel Buy a House...

I think it's been quite a year for all my kids and their spouses. Lots of things have happened and now Mary and Miguel buy a house. Here's a few photos. 
This house is just a block or so from the site of the old Wallace home place and Wallace Street. The house does not stand anymore but is it easy to spot where it stood from some large oaks still standing on a nice high spot of ground.

The orange wall. You know when I bough my house I had a room with two kinds of red wallpaper. I saw some of it yesterday when I changed a light switch. Cathy and Mary stayed up late doing stuff. Judging from the paint on Cathy's foot which is sticking out from under the covers this morning the wall may not be orange anymore. 

Kitchen. They will cook here. 

Ashley tries to pick put a bed room. 

Miguel says this is the jam room. Looks like we have room for the big amps. 

Air conditioned. 

Lots of nice outdoor living spaces and a big lot. 

I guess I should have made photos of Morgan and Ali's house in Pearland this weekend where we stopped by for a brief visit after the wedding. After a few constructions before moving in they are up and running and living there. I'll get some in a few weekends. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wedding Photo WebSite...

Dating back to Rose and Juan's wedding in 2003 I have used the pbase photo hosting to put up all the kid's weddings. It's a good place for non face bookers to visit and check out the family. Now Morgan and Ali join the crowd with their photos. Here is the link:
Morgan and Ali's Wedding

Here's some photos that did not make the wedding album or I have added a caption or story to the picture to set it in context. 

Warren says "hold my energy drink dad and watch this." 

My mother uses the rare bad word when I ask her to lay down in the bluebonnets for that special Texcentric kind of photo that everyone should have on their facebook page. 

Somebody bought a new suit for the wedding. My guess is it happened about 20 minutes ago because that's about how far from a big box retailer were were. We have not had a big screen TV give a way lately. I'll give a big screen to everyone who scans the pictures and picks the suit and exposes the suit and wearer. 

Her mother taught her that. Allways check for buggers before hitting the dance floor. Of course it helps if you have buggers that are big enough to feel. 

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

What a Wedding...

It was quite the day. My mom had a flat. I forgot my dress shirt and got my hair messed up. Of course the great thing was that Morgan and Ali got married. It was wonderful. Here's just a few of the many pictures I took. 

I'll get more photos and online albums as time permits. Thanks to everyone. It was truly a special day

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cigar Box Guitar with a Magnetic Pick-Up...

I have built a magnetic pickup cigar box guitar, the which is the regular type pick up like you see on electric guitars to transmit the string vibrations, once before. I have done it again. While that early try was a little rudimentary I thought the sound was good so I used the same type of single coil pickup as before. It's on a composite wood Java cigar box. 
I guess this is a pretty good camera. The dust is still visible. I came straight from the work shop. 
As it is a single coil pick up the sound is clean with one of my battery powered home built 2 watt amps. Acoustic sound is also clean and clear, nice but no great shakes for volume. This pick up should allow rock band volumes possible with out the feed back that the piezo pickups are prone to. Personally I don't mind fighting a bit of feed back. It's what makes an electric guitar become like a live thing, like a car driven down a crooked dirt road 90 miles per hour barely guided and like a thing adults and squares don't like. Next time I am in a recording mood I'll break out a tube amp and a fuzz pedal and see if it will do what I think it will. After all, cars drive fast down dirt roads don't always stay on the road. 
Volume and tone pots.Don't fear mom and dad. It only goes to "10." 

BB fret markers IV, V, and octave frets. It's to be played with a slide. Strings are lap steel height. 

Head stock is thin but sturdy. I needed the piece under the nut to get a bit more break over angle on the strings for better acoustic tone. 

This guitar is for sale. Make me an offer. Guitars similar to this are $125 or perhaps more with the fancy pick up on E Bay. I'll entertain your offer because I'd rather see an instrument in your house than have you watching TV. 



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Meet People All the Time...

I meet people all the time. Sometimes they act kind of crazy. Maybe they think the same thing about me. Either way I have a theory that there is a sign on each of our heads that only crazy people can see and sometimes my sign is lit and sometimes Cathy's sign is lit and it says "crazy people talk to me." If one person's sign is lit it makes the other person invisible to the crazy person or something like that. For some reason these crazy people I met recently in New Orleans had an aura around them that kept me from making the best picture. I did get photos but just maybe I was too busy talking to the crazys and forgot to properly document the encounter. 
This one was a good one. It's the guy in the red coat. I should have posed with him but it was somehow better to sneak a shot. This guy seemed to have a job of work in a junk shop we visited. It was 9 in the morning. He had a full glass that looked and smelled like bourbon. He invited us to a party that night. He gave good directions. Just go down the street, house with the boat in the backyard. Being he had a glass of bourbon at about the same time I was having my breakfast I felt like asking if he was going to be there. A night time party just seemed like a long way off for a man with an AM full glass of bourbon. 
One night on Frenchman Street me and Cathy sat hidden behind a street lamp pole when this rig drifted to a stop in front of us. The pole seemed to have prevented us from getting the best photo. The boat was full of bright shiny people grooving to the bongo player sitting in the back. Another guy that looked like Tom Waits on a bad day came and stood at the back of the boat but never really interacted with anyone but himself. Bongo guy dismounts and finds a bottle, never opened, of an STP type gas treatment solution like you put in your tank when you fill. It was laying in the gutter.
Bongo guy looks at us and says "you guys got a car?" And offers the bottle.
Since it seems we are all living in the now and we have a car, not with us but parked several blocks away I say "no, but that stuff will work in a boat." 
Bongo guy says "This boat don't have a motor." 

He was right. It had kind of a dolly that made it real easy for one person to pull. 

Couple days later we saw same boat, same people plus some in a parade. 

I must admire how much attention they paid to boat rules and regs. Boat was properly registered and everything. I don't now what happened to the gas treatment stuff. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine...

Folk singer, I guess he still considers himself a folk singer, Bob Dylan said that. It crossed my mind when I looked at this photo of Warren and a goat made at the petting zoo during a recent downtown event. They don't seem to want to notice each other. The more I thought about it the deeper I went as it brought up other connections to things I had seen, things I had read. 
Shortly after Christmas I was doing some reading on David Byrne's blog. He was in the old band the Talking Heads. I know some that only read this blog will be shocked to know there are other blogs. I stumbled on Roger Mcguinn's blog one time. Roger was in the really old band the Byrds. Both those blogs are kind of like mine. Middle age to elderly gentleman make pictures of stuff and write about it. I hope Roger is not offended that I called the Byrds a really old band. They do date to the 60s. By all accounts he is a fine fellow. Now the Talking Heads date to the late 70s-90s and don't seem like that old of a band to me because I kind of missed out on their music at the time. I was off somewhere trying to be Jerry Lee Lewis. Only thing was I did not own a piano. 

But back to Byrne's blog. I actually posted a link to it. He visited New Orleans over Christmas. About the same kind of trip and activities I do. Being a New York City guy he was surprised that when you are in the South, just standing around somewhere people you don't know that are also standing around will come up and start talking to you. I do this myself. I don't know if I have done it to David Byrne. He's  a big city guy where the world just hustles past you and this surprised him.   

One time I was in the big city. I was riding the Chicago Transit Authority. No, that's not the horn based band all us marching band geeks were crazy about in the 70s. It's a public transportation train. People packed on this train like clams and nobody is shooting the shit with each other. All quiet on the Great Lakes kind of thing or maybe they are just minding their own business. Two guys sitting across from me sharing a narrow subway seat and they could not be more different. One fat. One skinny. Different races. One wears a Cubs hat. The other wears Bears and so on. They aint even looking at each other but kind of turned away like Warren and the goat are. The thing that really got me though is that in the confines of that narrow seat, their butts were touching. I don't know about you but when in a situation like that, touching another persons butt, on purpose, by accident or out of necessity I will speak at least a word or two to that person. 

So I guess that brings us back to you blog readers. I can talk to you. I can feel close. I wear a hat when I write this blog and I bet you wear one when you read. I listen to old bands that are probably way older than what you think is old.  And we don't have to touch butts. 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Snake Farm...

Morgan gave me a ride home from Nick and Kim's house where we had a nice Saturday afternoon Barbecue. I found this copperhead in the garage. I knew it was a copperhead because Morgan looked it up on his phone. It was a good quick use of technology because I hate to kill a snake when he's not a bad snake. I know there might be some argument made about what is a good and a bad snake but sure enough this was a bad news boy. I used some old school technology in the form of a garden hoe to dispatch him. Here's a photo with the car wheel for scale. 

I was not to sure until I scooped him up with a rake but then it was easy to see the triangular shaped head that marks a venomous snake. 

How about a song about a good snake.

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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