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January 21, 2008

A Good Beer Buzz In The Morning...

Overall this was a good weekend for the advancement of the Fillmore Five Project.

There was one disheartening moment, where my husband, Tim, pointed out, as he does from time to time, that no matter how good I'm getting at jamming, I still can't play a single song from start to finish. It really bugs me when he says that. I don't know why I let it get to me so much. I realise that he's trying to be supportive in his own way, making me focus on the finished product. What he doesn't get is how fragile my musical ego is. I'm running on high right now and for once have faith that I can succeed. When he comes up with stuff like that it makes me lose faith in myself and my motivation crashes.

I've realised recently that I really need the context of a band to make me pull out all the stops. If I'm playing rhythm guitar then hey, anyone can learn a strumming pattern, right? If I wanted to I could sit there and strum out a whole song. The reason I don't do that on a regular basis is that it's just not where I'm headed. If I'm recording a song or playing live with other people then sure, I'll play the chord progression, over and over.

The flip side is that playing lead isn't about 'playing a whole song', it's about adding colour and maybe a solo, which I can do. Hey, maybe one day I'll do the power trio thing with just me, a bassist and a drummer, but not right now.

The one positive from the discussion was that Tim's said that if I write a couple of acoustic songs then he's willing to stand up at an open mic and sing them with me. Now that's something I could work towards.

On balance, the positive stuff outweighed the negatives over the weekend. Fired up by the need to prove I can play a song all the way through I turned around and learnt Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" on acoustic and a decent one guitar version of The Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash" on electric. I swear Red Dog (my shiny new Les Paul) is possessed. If I plug it in and try to play stuff using my head it comes out okay, but not great. If I disengage my brain and just let the thing play itself it totally ROCKS! Duane... is that you in there? Maybe I should hold a seance... not an exorcism, though. Oh, no. Whoever's in there has work to do! Which reminds me, as I'm trying to immerse myself in music I rented the Jack Black movie "Tenacious D", which focussed on the search for the satanic Pick of Destiny. Not exactly Oscar-winning material, though the intro sequence was cool!

By random chance I ran into the bass/guitar guy from last Friday night whilst online (frikkin' small Wide World of the Web). Had a chat about music etc. Turns out that he doesn't play in a band as such, but with people he grew up with. Sounded like they were looking to start gigging, playing Led Zep covers and so on. I let him know that if he ever runs across intermediate level players who want to get together and jam then to point them towards me. Who knows, eh? Explore all avenues.

Having nearly dropped Red a couple of times last week when the freebie guitar strap that came with it popped off mid-twang I decided to get a new, better strap. It came in the mail on Friday. I also found a top tip online about DIY strap locks. Rather than spend money on expensive locking mechanisms which don't always work and which can damage your axe, simply purchase 2 bottles of Grolsch... the kind with the wired cap.

Buy beer, drink beer (optional, but a bonus) then pull the rubber gaskets off the cap. Simply put your strap on then lock it into place using the gaskets. Sounds daft, but it really seems to work.
Whilst online I found a cool website with videos demonstrating how to play various classic rock riffs (click here). Had a go at The Eagles "Life in the Fast Lane" intro. It's actually a pretty simple run but the addition of flourishes like the string bends and the muted 'chug-chug' sound after the repeat of the first lick make it sound really cool. I think I'll be spending some time practicing that one as it's immediately identifiable.

Last but not least, I got my first Robert Randolph & the Family Band CD, called "Unclassified". As I understand it, it's their first studio album. To me it's a seems like a good introduction. Their sound is mainly groove based which lends itself to jamming. The first three tracks and one or two towards the end are standout pieces. Some of the middle tracks are a bit too 'safe' for my taste, but hey, it's an album that seems to be about laying it down every which way. Variety is always good. I'd definitely go check them out live if they ever came to town and consider buying other albums.

Well, it's Monday and Tim's studying for his next exam tomorrow so I guess I'll be off to the open mic at the Spice of Life pub again this evening, all being well. If I do go we'll see whether I'm ready to network yet, or if I'm still going to hang back in the shadows and just soak it up.

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