Interesting Encounter

Let me first set the scene. At my house, on the first floor, there is a small porch that one can only get to from the inside. Well, one can get to the porch from the outside, but it would require you to scale a small stone wall. On the porch, there is a wooden swing, which takes some effort to climb into. I went with my full-bodied Yamaha acoustic guitar and set up shop on the swing. I played mostly songs I had written and people passed by nodding their heads at me or dancing a little down my road. My neighbor across the street came outside and smoked a cigarette and listened. It was very relaxing. This all took place about 11 pm last night.

Then a man, not much younger than me, walked in front of my house. He was bobbing his head more vivaciously than any of his predecessors. I stopped playing as he was leaving my field of view. He also stopped walking and dancing and said to me, “I like your trumpet playing.”

“It’s a guitar,” I said half laughing, “but thank you.”

“Do you slice the viola?” He asked.

“No, I do not slice the viola,” I said, bewildered.

“Do you ever mixilate the phalanges?” Is what I think I heard next, but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure.

I didn’t say anything at this point, but it is important to point out that this man was very nice and seemed interested in my musical abilities.

“Sometimes when I trumpet slide, I really get to slicing,” he said.

“Oh do you play an instrument? I asked.

He changed the subject and began walking away. “But your good,” he said. “Even with your little guitar trumpet.”

I am not sure what to make of this little encounter late last night, but I am going to take everything he said as a compliment. He seemed genuine in his almost incoherent babbling, very confused, but genuine.  I hope I meet him again and we can talk music. Who knows, maybe he was playing an elaborate prank on me and was very committed. Either way I liked the babbling man and I mean that truly.


Rodrigo Amarante – Irene

My sister described this as ethereal. I agree. I would like to sit and drink a coffee in another country while I listen to this guy play from within the cafe. The waitress would come by every ten minutes and ask “¿Quieres otra copa?” in a barely audible voice, to which I would reply “no estoy bien” and smile just a little. Her eyes would be brown and I would secretly be in love with her, but I would say nothing. Instead, I would glance at the cobblestone sidewalk and become interested in the type of stone they choose. You can tell I’m daydreaming. I don’t even like coffee.

Blues Guitar


            Many modern genres must tip their hats to the blues. Since the start of blues music, jazz, rock n’ roll and alternative music have come to fruition. If you want to start playing the blues there are certain characteristics in a guitar to look out for.

           “Most blues music requires a lot of bending or pulling the strings to add that soulful vibrato sound,” Ken Strittmatter said, who builds his own guitars. “Larger radius necks make string bending easier.” Chris Baney, a guitarist and worship leader at Basic Truth Church said that he finds semi-hollow bodied guitars to be the best for the blues. He said that Gibson and Gretsch provide a full, rich and deep tone that is perfect for the blues. Baney also noted that many blues greats used a solid body Fender American Stratocaster because it can provide a raw cut through solo sound. In his opinion the Strat has the fastest fret board around the guitar world.

           “With blues music there is a really raw sound that is made from the guitar itself whereas other genres use multiple amp effects to sculpt their sound,” Baney said.

            No matter the style played or the level of skill, finding the right guitar does not have to be a daunting experience. Find out what you want to use your guitar for and what kind of music you will be playing. Pay close attention to the wood used to make the guitar and how it is set up. And the first few times you play get a bunch of buddies to play along with you so you cannot tell the mistakes you are making.

            “If a lead guitarist is on stage with a drummer, percussionist, keyboard player, rhythm guitarist, four horn players, three backup singers, and a lead singer, you really cannot tell if he is playing a $189 Fender Squire or a $2,000 Fender American Stratocaster,” Corky Ballard, a longtime guitarist said half joking.  “The important thing is that you are playing man, experiencing music.”