Monday, November 30, 2015

Iggy Pop at Riot Fest...

Someone said recently the music blog is dead. That's why I'm still writing here about music related things. At the rate things are going one day Donald Trump will say something bad about catfishermen and probably catfisherwomen. as well. And you know what? I'll just keep on cat fishing. I won't even listen to Trump. I have never listen to much music by Iggy Pop, a singer we saw at Riot Fest a couple of months ago but I do like some things he says. 

Iggy is 68 years old. A skinny, leathery dude who dresses pretty simply in black jeans, belt, shoes and maybe a jacket if it's cool began learning about music (don't let this scare you parents) in the school orchestra. He started in bands as a drummer in the mid 60s. His career has been long and is still viable. Iggy has an interview posted on line where he states something like all the stuff people think they want when they are 22-40 years old did not come to him till after 60. 

I read where it took 20 years for Iggy's early critically acclaimed recordings to begin making money. I know how he feels. I started learning an instrument when I was 12. The last few years people have started to occasionally pay me to play in a band or make a cigar box guitar. It takes a while but I like the long arch of creativity. 

Iggy's attitude might be in line with the statement songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard once made something like "every day I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations is a good day." Don't expect much with your music, your art but keep working at it. In the the text of a speech by Iggy you can find on line he points out that the Great Blues singer Howlin' Wolf would play for a sandwich.

I'll play for a sandwich any time. 


Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Warren...

Happy Birthday Warren. Three years old and he's a mess! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Not Encouraging Black Friday...

I have been busy making guitars for sale. Christmas is coming and I have done well the past couple of years during the gift giving season and out of 5 recent builds one is boxed to ship and one is promised to a buyer. I have new builds handing in Sound Techs Music Store and a new opportunity has arrived. You can find my cigar box guitars in the gift shop at the Museum of East Texas. 

Here's a photo of the triplets. 
These guitars are made from boxes Katie shipped from Chicago. They have a new sound hole feature. It solves a problem I sometimes have when boxes have a blemish such as these that had a price tag and the tobacco warning label right on the front. It's hard to remove stickers without making an ugly spot so what I did was create a large screened sound hole but cutting out the unsightly areas. 

The screened material sort of looks like what you might find in an old style Catholic confessional booth. The border is the humbucker pick up mounting ring that you might find on say a Les Paul Style guitar.  I have two more boxes like this so there will be a couple more along these lines.

All are the same, but little different things here and there and surprisingly enough each one sounds different. As has been my experience you never can tell what a buyer thinks sound good. The things I prefer are often rejected as each person has a style and a sound they like and I think this is a great thing about these guitars. It makes it individual thing, a stamp, a badge, a sign on your soul. 

Thanks to my cousin Dixie who works at the Museum of East Texas for introducing me to the director, Ms. McDonald and for allowing my guitars in the gift shop. A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the museum. It also looks like there might be more opportunity from this association with the museum in the future so stay tuned. 

There is another great little guitar on my work bench but it got held up waiting on parts. look for photos next week.  


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Wedding Anniversary Rose and Juan...

Married 12 years. Happy anniversary! 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Know It's Not Black Friday Yet...

In the great American huckster tradition I am getting some cigar box guitars built for Christmas gifts so we can do what we do best which is buy and sell. Seriously thanks to all my friends and family who have been my customers lately. Me and the whole cigar box world, which is way bigger than you might think thank you for your interest in good homemade fun. 

Here is one of my latest models. It's from a Ricky Patel box. It's wood but has some kind of outside coating.
Three Strings currently tuned open E. You play it with a slide like a steel guitar. 

Because the box is long it makes the neck feel short and "nifty." 

It has a new feature. The pickups on this guitar are piezo disc which when glued some where in the box pick up the vibrations from the top as well as percussive sounds if you tap the box while playing. Depending on many factors such as placement, material of the box or the number of pickups used (I sometimes put two discs in the box) the tone may vary but the overall sound of the piezo is a bit on the clear treble end of the sonic spectrum. Below you see a new feature which will probably be on most guitars from here on out. It's a capacitor that jumps the poles of the input jack creating a passive tone circuit that tames some of the treble from the sound. 

I the past I have pretty much when playing electric on these instruments turned the treble down, maxed the bass on the amp or added in effects pedals to get a darker sound. The added cap makes the sound a bit darker so you will now be able to add some highs to your sound.. No price increase to the product for this feature since it cost about $1 to add this to a guitar. 

This guitar will be hanging in sound techs music store in Lufkin Tx next week for $75. Shipping is available and I have found the best rate with the post office. Buyer pays shipping.    

Thanks again for all you guys interested in my music, my art. It gives me a good "on the right track" feeling. 


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Old Ursuline Convent New Orleans...

With all the news from France I thought this might be a good time to tell a story about the Ursuline Sisters. They were nuns who came from France in 1727. Their mission and calling was to educate women as a means of establishing a more spiritual, civilized and just society, to care for the sick and to pray. Our last time in New Orleans we toured the convent, built in the French Quarter in 1745. 

In this location nuns twice prayed in 1788 and 1794 while fire swept the Quarter. Both times the fire did not jump the street to the monastery. 

I forget now which ones but some of these statues were brought from France with the original group of 14 nuns. 

If you recall your history the Church of England was formed when Henry VIII broke with Rome over a divorce.  During the war of 1812 as the Battle of New Orleans loomed the French Catholic population was concerned that a British victory would mean a sack of the city. Nothing like a war with some religious hard feelings mixed in.  A special Mass was said at the convent and at the moment of Transubstantiation a messenger burst in with news of the American victory by forces led by Andrew Jackson. 

This stair case is original from the 1740s. 

Courtyard Statues.
Next door to the convent is St. Mary's Italian Church known so because it was largely attended by the Italian Population of the Quarter. Parts of it were built in in 1727 and it was reconstructed in the 1850s. I think it is largely a wedding venue these days with maybe weekend Masses.   

Winding stair case in the church has what is believed to be the first use of the Fleur de Lis in New Orleans.

In 1823 the Nuns gave up the old convent to the Bishop and moved to a place in the 9th Ward. Around 1910 they gave this up to make room for some canal building and moved to a location on Nashville Ave. in uptown New Orleans and are still there today. That's a good thing because that 9th Ward location is where the levees broke during Katrina. 

 The Nuns continue to pray and do their work. Fire, flood and war are things we face today. We need all the prayer we can get. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Rose and Juan in Paris...

My prayers are with those in Paris and I am thankful that Rose and Juan made it back safely from their vacation. They were in Paris last weekend. They also made stops in England, Scotland and since they flew Turkish Airlines, Istanbul. Here are a few photos. Maybe the Europe heads can identify the famous places. 

From the small world department the band that was playing at the site of one of the terrorist attacks was the Eagles of Death Metal. We saw these guys at Riot fest in Chicago. I did not like their music but am glad they are safe. 
Here's a photo I made at that event. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover...

Ok you may be tired of reading about this and I might get through with documenting the bands I saw by the next time Riot Fest happens but here is more on the bands I saw at Riot Fest in Chicago last September. Besides I can't resist saying something about a dude who has a brother named Catfish. I'm talking about Bootzilla himself, Bootsy Collins. 

Despite the crazy looks Bootsy is an old school funk bass player who started a band in 1968 with his brother Catfish. In 1970 they became James Browns backing band and stayed with him for 11 months which was long enough to play on some of Brown's most notable recordings. Bootsy went on to George Clinton's P-Funk and has collaborated with everyone from Doc Watson to Buckethead. In other words after you been in James Brown's band you can do what you want. Bootsy is a member of the rock and roll hall of fame.  

Good big band, horns, singers, everything. 

If you are wondering about the costumes Bootsy takes a page out of George Clinton's play book by having several alter egos and a complicated mythology which best I can tell has something to do with an alien rock star who becomes weirder. 

So now you might have made up your mind that Boots is not your thing "he's too strange" just google up his facebook page. You see, me and Bootsy are "friends." He is a regular buy on facebook. You should check him out.  He thanked all vets from their service, wished his friends a happy birthday and he was sad when his dog died. 

Don't judge a book by it's cover. Maybe this tune is not real representative of all Bootsy's work but it's my favorite. 


Monday, November 09, 2015

A Beach Trip...

Cathy has been babysitting the grand kids while Rose and Juan vacation. I headed down Friday to spend a couple of days with them. One thing we did was make a trip to the beach. I had thrown in a fishing pole and wanted to give November beach front fishing a try because I am used to summer beach fishing and knew that different species of fish are on the prowl in different seasons. The winds and waves were not going to allow any decent fishing but still a nice afternoon.

Got a photo with everybody looking. 

Looking up toward Galveston. The surf looks like it will soon take those houses that are closest to the Freeport Jetty. Seems I recall in years past lots of beach right where that water is. I know memories dim but I think I recall once seeing a guy with an old bread truck parked on the sand near the base of the jetty. The truck sported a bright fanciful paint job and I remember thinking, "boy, just walk out for a swim, head over to the jetty and catch a fish for dinner, fire up the grill, he's got it made. I want to grow up and be him." Well I grew up and the beach is not there anymore. I have also noted, not first hand but from a pretty close distance that bread truck living quarters were not really livable. So as for me I'm hear again today. I don't know how bread truck guy ended up. 

Looking down the jettry. Those black dots on the left are surfers. They were getting in the water from out on the jetty and that's another thing I have learned, besides don't live in a bread truck about the Texas coast. Don't swim around the jetty. There are currents, rocks and no telling what else to interfere with your fun. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A Cigar Box Guitar for Morgan...

Here is a cigar box guitar I made for Morgan from the box that held the cigars that were smoked at his and Ali's wedding. I know the wedding was a year and a half or so ago but I tried a fretted build for this and it just took a while to get my courage and skills up for thsi special box. 

Not really my first fretted instrument. I had made Katie a uke last year. My fret-less builds that are played only with a slide are really looking great and sounding good but it takes a bit more to make a good fretted instrument. The bridge has to be in just the right place for chords up and down the neck to play in tune. 

This guitar has an adjustable bridge so there may have to be some more tweaking done but I think with a bit of practice and a tempered tuning there is something to work with here and the instrument certainly looks good. 
 These cigars are rolled in Houston, Tx. 
Neck is ash. Takes a stain really well and is much prettier that the popular I usually use. 

 My asymmetrical headstock. Each one is different. Headstock snobs get get used to it.  

Fender style bridge. 

Of course it's electric. 

I probably won't build many of these because I am not sure I can turn out a really playable one. I can make one that looks good but it might not have the gigability of my slide guitars. I would make you one but I'd have to total up the extra cost of the store bought parts used vs the found and improvised stuff I usually use to get a price as to what one like this would cost. 


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Big Slough Look Around...

Now we aint all about this concealed carry open carry business but when it get close to Thanksgiving or Christmas we don't mind grabbing up an old single shot shot gun and putting a duck on the holiday table. At least that's what we hope to do. To maybe make this a success me and Mary went on a Big Slough scout around. 

Mary wants to hunt this year. Mary kind of fell through the gaps as far as hunting went. Most of the other kids took to it one way or another but by the time Mary was old enough we just did other things or got too busy or something and she never went much. She is on it this year and has a licence, took hunter education, bought a bit of camo and will be using my old single shot 20 gauge.  That might be a laughable choice to some in the era of the 3.5 inch mag but I used it as a kid as did Rose and Morgan. It's killed some ducks. 

We had a bit of a set back on the scout around. The road was closed. It's still a good way to the big slough from here and I might know another way in but the sign says residents only $5000 fine. We turned around. That kind of fee would take some of the joy out hunting season before it gets started. 

Mary did get a bit of practice with a shot gun. 
Old iron bridge over a creek. I like a bridge. A sign of crossing over, breaking on through to the other side and stuff like that. This is a good one to mark a change in which side you are on. 

Looking down the Neches. I don't what the recent rain did to raise the water level but I like it low. Keeps the ducks on the creeks. I did not think but I had my hand held GPS with my hunting spots marked. With the river this low I think I could have paddled the canoe against this current should have checked how far up the river my favorite places are. 

IT's the start of the Davy Crockett Paddling trail. If you go down river the highway 7 bridge is 9.2 miles. Mary did not shoot the holes in this sign. 

This is the river bridge. I think they call it Anderson crossing. 


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