Saturday, June 25, 2011

Time For a Jam, Buddy!

I have a number of students now who are ready, and need, to get out and jam with some people. There comes a time in every new musicians life when you just WANT to jam with someone. I bet close to 75% of all new students I get say the same thing....I am not really looking to be jammin with people, just entertain myself. While that might be your true intention when you start, the natural progression of your improvement leads you in that direction. What happens is when you first start you get that thrill of making your first notes and chords, then after a while that is not enough, so you start pushing yourself to learning a bunch of songs you like. You jam on them for a while, cranking your amp and stereo as loud as possible. Your rockin out with your favorite bands. After a while that leads to you wanting more. Your not quite ready to be doing the whole band thing or not ready to play gigs maybe. That's when a jam buddy or jam buddies come in. Someone to take that step to the next level, someone to get that next musical thrill from. Once you get some people to jam with you can share ideas, try writing songs, show each other some new licks and riffs. Sometimes finding people to jam with can be hard, even harder if your a musician who does not yet have a drivers license. No matter what you got to find someone to jam with. Places like music stores, school, music venues bands are playing at and now a days, facebook are great places to look. I think Facebook is a great way for people to find like minded musicians to jam with. On my student page I have added all my students I have found so far to the group to try and help you guys find jam buddies. You can even find people in places like craigslist that are looking for people to jam with. In the case of something like craigslist where you are maybe dealing with someone you don't know, make sure everything is on the up and up and you are with someone safe before jamming with them. Finding a jam buddy and taking your playing to the next level is great and rewarding on one hand and agitating and frustrating on the other hand. Those are things you will always encounter when it comes to jamming with people.Many a great band started out as jam buddies in school or answered an ad to find ech other. Bands like the Rolling Stones, Pantera and MetallicA are just a few examples. Take that chance, find a jam buddy and get rockin!!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bizz with the Buzz: Attack of the Killer P’s…

Yeah I know it’s been a while since we last congregated on the subject of getting that first gig…but that’s cool…plenty of times music can be a waiting game…actually plenty of times I can just be slack…just remember to do as I suggest, not as I do…take this as a lesson…being slack will get you nowhere. With this is mind, it’s time (well, sorta past but screw it…) to get ready for that first gig and as a lover of fine cheese…well actually fine cheesy ala hair metal…I would like to totally cheese out and offer to you a great guideline to follow known as the “Five P’s.” So grab a drink to go with the cheese…here we go:

PREPARE: While you’ve been working hard for this first moment, there is no such thing as putting TOO MUCH work into a gig. Yeah your tunes are tight as all get out but just tossing a buncha tunes together doesn’t make for a tight set. Your set’s gotta have good flow and work well for the gig you’re playing. Now being that this is your first gig, you may not really know who you’re playing for so first off, seeing that this IS your first gig the chances are pretty good that you’re opening for at least one established band. Check that band out online or anyway you can and get an idea what type of people will be coming out to see them and why. This can help in figuring out what to play and how to play it. For example – if you’re a kicking hard rock band and you’re supporting a heavy band it’s always a good idea to come out of the gate with your most thumping, head-bangin’ stuff. Good rule of thumb is a pair or three smokin’ fast tunes back to back (to back) before stopping to give the audience a chance to figure out what just hit ‘em. If you’re only working with a short set (20-30 mins) work up and rehearse a ferocious set of kicking tunes. A little longer allows a chance for more of a rollercoaster ride and even to slip in a ballad about ¾’s of the way into the set. If you’re planning half original and half covers, flip flop them to keep the crowd interested. Most importantly, if the crowd is sparse or doesn’t seem interested early on…be prepared to keep firing as hard as you can. You’re there to hold up your end of the gig and if all you do is impress the venue or the other band or even one or two patrons, it will go a long way as you progress as a band. A legendary singer once said “It doesn’t matter if 100 or 100,000 people pay to get in, each and every single person paid full price to get in and deserve full return on their money.” As a new band you build a following one person at a time…besides…impress one and they will talk you up to their friends which can turn into a few more at your next gig.

PROMOTE: While you may get lucky enough to open for a local band that pulls in fans in droves, the last thing you wanna do is be complacent and just rely on the other band’s drawing power. Sure your promotion may only add a couple of more faces but once again, showing effort goes a long way. Besides, sometimes people miss the memo when their fave band is playing and you may just happen to alert one of them to the fact that their fave local band is playing. It also doesn’t hurt to show other bands and the venue that you’re willing to work hard to get peeps out. Even 2-4 friends can mean extra revenue for the venue which at the end of the day, is what it’s all about for the venue not to mention it never hurts to have a few people in your corner right off the bat. Interest is contaguous, your friends cheering you on may help the first timers get more interested in what you have to play.

PUNCTUALITY: You’re not Axl Rose…if load-in time is at 7pm…be there at 6:50 and not with a “our drummer will be here at 7:30” explanation why your band and equipment are not all there. Why create tension the first time out? The soundman will appreciate it and that could turn into better sound for your set. I’m not saying to kiss butt…just to do your part. The show is a team effort from venue to bands to sound guy to even door person and you’re just a part of the machine for the night. Piss off the sound guy and no matter how hard you rock…you may not be invited back. No one digs a primadonna…especially one playing their first gig. Once you’re all set up…you can chill. Just make sure the entire band is in the vicinity of the stage at least thirty minutes before you’re scheduled to go on. Things can change in a heartbeat. I was once about to put out merch at 9pm while waiting for a 9:30 time slot when I was told “you guys go on in five minutes. At that point there’s no time to haggle, question, argue, and especially hunt down members of your band. You just have to suck it up, get onstage, check your tuning, and roar into your first tune.

PLAY: The time has finally arrived to show what you can do. Yeah there may be some nerves but you have to shake that off and push forward. If you just happen to blow a note, screw it and move on. Dwelling on a mistake can shake confidence and lead to way more mistakes. No one is perfect. Rock your hardest to the best of your ability. It’s your first show and honestly, no one expects you to be all that great so by playing a good, solid, energized set you’ve already exceeded expectations. That’s a win and anything above that is super sweet frosting.

PACK: You’ve worked hard and come a long way since that first music lesson or music book. You’ve just played a solid set…but the job ain’t over just yet. Sure you’re tired and sweaty but now is when you have to step past that and GET THE F**K OFF THE STAGE!!!! Forget about packing every little nut, bolt, etc. Get your gear off the stage so things can stay on schedule. You can tear stuff apart once your gear is offstage and you’ll have plenty of time to relax and bask in the glow of your first show once you’re clear and out of the way. The last thing you wanna do is wear out the welcome you’ve so graciously been given. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort and it will show just how serious you are about wanting to be a serious band.

Congratulations…you’ve just played your first show and can now look forward to many more. What do you do next? I can sum that up in one more word…just not a “P” word.


Your Brother-in-Arms,


check Stoney out at

and be sure to tune into his lokal radio show at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

We have talked about making a practice schedule a long time ago on this blog. It was called "The Importance of a Practice Schedule." I am talking about practice now because I have seen students progress at a rapid pace when they practice regularly and not progress at all when they dont. I understand some people come to lessons for fun and /or just dont have alot of time to practice. The fact is though that when you first start, that first year in particular, you need to stay consistent with your practice. Your hands and fingers were not meant to do the things you have to do to play guitar. You have to train them. Give them stregth and get the muscle memory going. In all the student spotlights and all the rock star and professional musician interviews I have did they all have one thing that gets said in all of them.......that is to practice, practice, practice. I would recommend around a half hour a day if you are wanting to be a serious player. Thats just for starters. In my opinion though that 1/2 hr a day can work really well for you. There are many years I played 4-12 hours a day. For many, many years (all you students have heard me tell this story) I did 2 hours a day of just exercises, everyday, every week, no matter what. It did me well. Once you get into the routine of practicing everyday it will become easier and just another part of your day, like eating and sleeping. Get yourself on a practice schedule and get to playing that instrument!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Learn From: The Rolling Stones

This edition of "Learn From" is on the greatest rock and roll band on earth.....the Rolling Stones. They have been around since around 1962. They are constantly the biggest tour on earth every time they tour. They are one of the few remaining bands on earth today that can consistently fill stadiums. The song writing team of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger is second to none. They have brought us many jems such as Sympathy for the Devil, Brown Sugar, Start Me Up, Miss You, Wild Horses and way way too many to list. They came to America in the 1960's via the British Invasion and were kinda marketed as "the bad boy beatles." They were highly influenced by American blues and r&b music. You can hear alot of that in their songs. There have been a few line up changes over the years. Once they got really huge you would always see a big band on the stage with them. Horns, congas, back up singers. I saw them in concert a few years back and they put on a hell of a show. If you ever get a chance to see them live do your self a favor and do it. It is well worth the inflated ticket price to see a band like the Stones. They have influenced so many other really huge bands over the years. Bands like Guns and Roses, Aerosmith, The Black Crowes and just about any band out there. They used alot of open tunings on the guitars when they played too. In fact Keith Richards would often leave his low E string off the guitar completely. They have a "swing" to them that is due in large part to the drumming of Charlie Watts. When you listen to their songs you think "Hey these drums are east, I can do it!" but then you try to p[lay them and you realize there is actually something unique going on with them. There is a certain "tight looseness" to the band too. I have read where jazz players say the Stones are more jazzy then most jazz bands. The guitar sounds and tones are sick. Listen to any of their songs, electric and acoustic sounds have been so good it makes you jealous. Every bar band in history plays Stones songs. The songs are son ingrained in world culture that they are standard songs for almost any bar band in the world. They have released too many albums for me to give you a discography. They are also a testament to how a band is a business. They set the bar for marketing for a band. They made smart moves business wise and are some of the richest rock stars ever. Their "Lips" logo is a recognizable as a countries flag. Just go out and download some songs or buy the cds and "Learn From" the Rolling Stones.

here are some cool videos of a couple of my favorite songs. cant ya hear me knockin
miss you