Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dear Rockstar: Brad Davis

This edition of "Dear Rockstar" is with multi instrumentalist/guitar player extraordinaire, Brad Davis. Brad has played with a ton of legendary artist such as,Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow,David Lee Roth, Pam Tillis,Marty Stuart and Johnny Cash to name just a short list. He is a grammy award winner. He is endorsed and endorses Takamine, Gretch and GenzBenz to name a short list as well. He has played the world, played on movie soundtracks, produces other top artists and does the occasional guitar clinic like the one he just did at Rock Bottom Music this week. To be honest I had never even heard of him until it was announced he was coming to Rock Bottom. I have heard of him now and a converted fan now. I got to pick his brain for a while before the clinic and he was a total professional and down to earth. Here is what we talked about.

John Berret: Brad, why did you want to even start playing guitar?

Brad Davis: I saw alot of people like John Denver, Eddie Van Halen and Earl Scruggs playing and I wanted to do what they were doing. It looked like a lot of fun.

JB: What players inspired you to play?

BD: Classical guitar/music was what I was into at first then it went to the Eagles then bluegrass. Players like Tony Rice and Doc Watson engulfed me for a while. Those guys were like lighter fluid that lit the fire for me. Playing bluegrass when I started out was awesome because just having an acoustic guitar and not needing any other equipment but the guitar made it easy for me to want to play at first.

JB: What is your dream guitar?

BD: I have it. It is a Takamine copy of my 1937 Martin. I have used this guitar when working with guys like Pearl Jam and the Black Keys. When recording with it it sounds so good all you need is two microphones, you don't even need the pick up.

JB: Of all the places you have played, what is your favorite place to play?

BD: I love playing coffee houses. I like them because they sound less "surgical". The crowd is really there because they want to hear you.

JB: What other instruments do you play?

BD: I also play mandolin, upright bass, electric bass, electric guitar and banjo.

JB: What advice do you have for new players?

BD: Work tons on your right hand. When you do that, practice with your left hand muted.

Brad Davis was more than gracious and a great interview. I was feeling sick and had a head ache when interviewing him and made me forget all about it. He is as enthused about guitar as someone first starting out is. He put on one of the best clinics I have ever attended. It was entertaining and very educational. I will be doing a re cap of the highlights on a separate blog post with videos and such. If you ever get a chance to see him play or do a clinic, do yourself a favor and do it. It will improve you as a musician. Go out and get some of his cd's or download his songs off of I Tunes. Here is a link to his website.

here is a link to his itunes

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Student Spotlight: Brian Yonn Jr.

This edition of "Student Spotlight" is on a 13 year old guitar student of mine named Brian Yonn Jr. Brian is in 7th grade over at North Augusta Middle school.He has wanted to play guitar since he was old enough to know what a guitar was. Some of his favorite bands are System of a Down,Van Halen, Pantera (yeah!!) and MetallicA. His dream guitar is a Charvel SoCal......and he owns it!!!!!! He got it from years of saving up for a guitar. We had one down at Rock Bottom and he got it!!! I asked Brian where he see's himself musically in the next five years. He said that he sees himself being in a band and getting closer to being a professional musician. When he gets his band he would love to be the opening band and be on tour with System of a Down. Why System of a Down? They have an awesome show and they rock!! Brian has been the lead guitar player for Day Spring Church since February of 2011. You can catch him every Sunday there between 11 and 12. The church is located next to Augusta Harley Davidson off of I 520 and everyone is welcome to come check it out. Brian has a dream amp too. That amp is the balls to the wall Marshall Stack! If Brian could be a fill in guitar player for any band in the world it would be Metallica. That would be one of my top choices too Brian!! Brian comes from a very musical family. On both sides he has cousins, uncles and plenty of others that plays bass, piano, guitar and a number of other instruments. The thing Brian has gotten the most out of lessons with me?Learning where all his notes are and learning all the different chord voicings( how to make a chord in many different ways). The chord voicing has helped him in playing lead guitar for his church. Some advice Brian has for someone just starting some lessons with me? Practice a lot and relax be normal and not nervous. The most embarrassing thing on his Ipod? Britney Spears and Hannah Montana!!!!! Brian Yonn Jr. has been taking lessons from me since October of 2010. He has since elevated his self to one of my top students. I have watched him grow at a very rapid pace. He is well on his way to becoming a professional musician. I am a very lucky teacher to have got a student with such raw talent to have a hand in molding him and helping him grow as a musician. Brian is a hardworking , smart and all around good kid. He hopes to go to a college that has a good science long as it's not Clemson!!!! LOL!!! Here is to you Brian....Keep Rockin......Keep Playin'.....and Keep Having Fun!!!

Here is some video of Brian playing with his church

Friday, May 13, 2011

Product Review: Pearl Throne Thumper

This product review is on a drummer's product, the Pearl Throne Thumper. While I am just a novice drummer, I see how cool and use full this product is. What the Throne Thumper is is a device that attaches to your drum stool/ throne. When you hit your kick/bass drum it vibrates your seat. I like it's concept from two points of view. One is from a sound man's point of view. Alot of times a drummer will ask for the kick drum to be blasted through his monitor so he can feel it. While I understand a drummer wanting this is causes two problems. 1- It takes up all the sound spectrum in your monitor, not allowing things you could really need like lead vocals, guitar or keyboards to come through as clean and good as you need them. 2- It causes the amps to clip when you have to run it as loud as most drummers will need. With the Throne Thumper the vibrations give you the feeling of hearing it and gives you the thump you wanna feel when hitting the kick drum.

Let's get down to how this thing works. It is powered by it's own 200 watt amp. You hook up speaker wires very easily to the amp, much like home speakers, and run the other end of the wires to the thumper which hooks up just as easy. The Thumper itself easily just hooks up to your throne, right under the seat with a fast clamp attachment system. Here is where you will have a couple questions...How do I hook it up to the drums? With electric drums you just run your 1/4 inch cable out of your drums into the Throne Thumper amp, then run a cable to either your electric drums amp or to the p.a. you are running to. For acoustic drums you have two options. One is run a splitter cable off of your kick drum mic (you have to have one), run one line to the p.a. and one line to your Throne Thumper amp. The other option is just run off the out of the mixer board into the throne thumper amp. There might be other ways to do it at a gig or practice but these are the best ways I can think of. If you are just jammin at home or practice just stick a kick drum mic on your bass drum and run the line straight to your Throne Thumper amp. On the Throne Thumper amp you have a level adjustment for volume and low pass. You just adjust those to get how much you want to feel it.

The amp and the Throne Thumper itself are not that heavy or bulky and is easily carried around. It is very easy to hook up, so easy a drummer can do it !!!! LOL!!! We just got them in down at Rock Bottom Music and the price is $299. We have one hooked up on the stage and you are more than welcome to come give it a try. Once you get on it you might not want to get off. Not only is it very functional and serves it's purpose well, it just plain feels cool. Anyone that has tried it so far has not wanted to stop playing. The Throne Thumper is made in conjunction with Buttkicker. They are the ones who make the things that vibrate your seat in your home theatre. So get your butt on down and try the Buttkicker Pearl Throne Thumper!!!

check out the video of randy carver jr demonstrating it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Importance Of: Finding New Music

This edition of "The Importance Of" is dealing with how important it is to discover new music. New music does not necessarily mean find the newest, latest band out there. It means finding something that is new to you. It can be something that was released before your parents or grandparents were even born or something you just found on youtube or Pandora. I am someone, that for many years between ages 15-20 years old almost always listened to an hour or two of Pantera everyday. That is not a bad thing, Pantera is awesome! If I would have kept only on Pantera though, I would not have grown as a musician. Listening to and learning songs from something that is new to you can teach you some new tricks. It can inspire you to write songs different. If you only listen to say, country music, it would benefit you to try and listen to some rock. If you only listen to rap , it would benefit you to listen to some prog rock. I have the pleasure of students constantly bringing me lots of new to me music that I would have never thought to listen to. I have a bass student that turned me on to Lakeside. Lakeside has opened up my eyes. It has improved my bass playing. Here is a great Lakeside song

I have also had the pleasure of being turned onto Paramore. This is the song that got me hooked on them

The only exception is a great song. Discovering new music can get you out of a rut and open your eyes. I love seeing a student discover Bob Dylan or Black Sabbath for the first time. I can see, from the look in their eyes, the look of excitement and joy of hearing masters at work. Go out and discover the "Importance of Finding New Music!"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Double Your Pleasure: Learn Another Instrument

This little tid bit is going to be called "Double Your Pleasure" because i believe once you get comfortable with playing your instrument you should start learning a second one. It will benefit you in way too many ways. If you play guitar, learn how to play bass. Really learn how to play it. Just don't play guitar on your bass. When you actually start learning bass it will improve your guitar playing. If you are a bass player learn some drums. As a bass player you get locked into the drums anyway so you might as well learn some drum patterns to help you learn how to lock into it better. Every school that you go to for music has you learn another instrument. It makes you more "well rounded." Learning a second instrument is not something I recommend if you are a beginner. It's hard enough learning in the beginning with one, let alone two things. All the theory you learn on your primary instrument applies to every other instrument you learn. I have a ton of students who have been with me a year or more who now play multiple things. Student spotlight Alex Cooke plays guitar, bass, ukulele, harmonica and sings! It is actually easier to learn your secondinstrument than it is your first. Why? Because you already have an idea of what it takes and everything you have to do. Singing counts as another instrument too. It is harder than you think and takes the same time to get good at as anything you can use your hands to play. Lots of Augusta's local musicians are multi instrumental. Take Micheal "Dork" Dinkins who writes for this blog and plays in Artemia and L.I.E., he is a drummer, singer and keyboard player. Eric Rinker, who also writes here, plays guitar, bass and drums and is good at all of them. So is Dork! Expand your musical horizons and "Double Your Pleasure" and learn another instrument!!