Clark won a GRAMMY this year for Best Traditional R&B performance for his song “Please Come Home.” And yes, I dug around and found a nice acoustic performance of that song. But it’s this performance of a nice, gritty, live acoustic blues played on a resonator guitar that really floats my boat.
A classic singer/songwriter in the vein of James Taylor or Joni Mitchell, Robby Hecht has just previewed an upcoming self-titled album that simply grabbed me right away. Slated for release on March 25, Robby Hecht is a melancholy combination of lovely acoustic accompaniments and masterful but accessible lyrics. Hecht’s collection of songs fits like your favorite shoes. Even on first listen these songs feel like they’ve been lurking in the back your brain just waiting for a chance to make themselves known. Sigh.
I grew up listening to James Taylor, and I admit I know pretty much every word of every song he’s ever performed. But when it comes to the guitar parts, that’s something I’ve still gotta work on. Luckily the legendary Mr. Taylor has taken steps to remedy that. He’s posted a series of free lessons on his site that not only run through some of his most beloved songs, they also incorporate new portable camera technology so that you can see his right hand technique from the inside.
2014 has so far been incredibly brain busy for me. I’ve been accepted into a year-long song a week project that has been keeping me up most nights. It’s called Real Women Real Songs II, and I’ll write more about it once I’m deeper into the year. I admit that I write very few new songs a year for my solo work. Somewhere along the lines of about three new songs that I care to play out.
Violent Femmes, in many ways, were as punk as it comes. Their music was raw, passionate, and completely unique. They never fit into any sort of genre, other than the arbitrary, encompassing “post-punk” label the music industry used for bands that didn’t sound like anybody that had come before. But most impressive of all, they turned their backs on one of rock music’s most basic elements, volume. Violent Femmes were raw and unhinged in the classic punk spirit; and they did it acoustically.
Often, people ask me when, how and where I find inspiration. I generally tell them that I sit down on a couch every day with a blank word document on the screen in front of me and a guitar in my lap. If inspiration doesn't show up at 10:30 when my co-write starts, then I start going through my idea file or playing my guitar.
If there's anyone who can shred on acoustic guitar with jaw-dropping effect, it's Tommy Emmanuel. Here he runs through "Guitar Boogie" and "Stevie's Blues," a song he wrote for the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan. You might be flabbergasted when you finish watching. You might be shaking your head. Me, I have a big ear-to-ear grin and am gonna hit replay.
One of my favorite half hours at NAMM 2014 was spent with Andy Powers, master luthier for Taylor Guitars. Andy proudly shared the new Taylor 800 series with me, and boy was it worth my time. While those of you who have tried to check out gear at NAMM know that It’s incredibly hard to hear anything, this series of guitars sure felt fabulous and the rich resonance was unmistakable.
Here's one more video filmed live in the Acoustic Nation studio. It features John Butler performing "How You Sleep At Night," from his upcoming album Flesh & Blood. Before he started he told us this was the first time he's played this song solo live on acoustic. I'd say this performance was not too shabby!!