The week offers 4 gigs, lots of practice and the first instrument purchase since 2014.
This is a summary of the first week of March. After starting Monday with some strength training at home, I was picked up by my friend Glen around twelve o’clock. We went out to a small town outside of Nashville called Mount Juliet to have lunch and to continue my search for an acoustic guitar.
I had been looking for an ackegura for quite some time now and I had been recommended to visit a music store called Shiloh Music as they are resellers for Blueridge Guitars (and a number of other brands of course). I have liked Blueridge products that I have tested before and this store had significantly more different models in stock than I have seen elsewhere.
Glen and I spent about three hours in the store comparing different models, but we managed to pretty quickly limit it to two or three instruments that we definitely liked best. When we compared our favorites, I tried to tune the guitars in several open moods and also to play with capo on different parts of the neck to see how they would handle this type of playing situation.
After those nerdy hours, Glen and I agreed that the Blueridge BR-183A was our favorite model, and after a short deliberation, I decided to strike. I bought the guitar and a suitable hardcase and it was actually the first instrument purchase I made since October 2014 so it felt damn fun to step out of Shiloh Music and finally own an acoustic guitar again.
My new fine ackegura – a Blueridge BR-183A.
When I got back home I needed to learn a song super fast and then move on to The High Watt to participate in the monthly show Loud Jamz, where musicians in the city are invited and put together in different constellations to learn and perform a song but without scratching together before. I had received an incorrect link before so I had accidentally learned the wrong song and did not learn the correct song until two hours before the show started. Of course a little stressful, and I did not hear very well on stage. But I got through it and also met some very nice people during the evening. Overall a very nice start to the week.
I spent most of Tuesday rehearsing for a tribute gig to Rush that I was going to play on Saturday. After learning all the song parts during the previous week, I now focused on trying to steer the guitar sound as close as possible, which was not very easy because my limited access to equipment is not even close to what Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson used on the recordings for the the songs we were going to play. But after a lot of steering and tweaking, I came close enough.
I also had to spend some time thinking of as effective a way as possible to switch between these sounds without focusing on the game during these, to say the least, tricky songs. I ended up programming my Strymon Mobius with three different chorus presets and two flange presets just to minimize the number of keystrokes and switches between different banks. It was still far from easy, but I found a way that would work anyway. I like challenges like this, when you have to find a way to imitate a bunch of different sounds that were originally played with very different equipment. Recreating these things live when it is mostly recorded in the studio does not make things easier either, but you learn a lot during the process.
Here is the solo to the Rush song NATURAL SCIENCE
On Wednesday, I continued to rehearse the Rush songs. After sitting down earlier, I now got up and even walked around my room to simulate the feeling of moving on stage. In this way, I was able to clarify which games would be the most difficult to play and put extra focus on these. I also spent some time learning the choruses for a new song we were going to add to the Tracy Lawrence repertoire. The part I was going to sing was not very difficult but I was also going to shoulder the roles from both the electric guitar and the pedal steel from the recording. Singing the vocals, playing the slide and using both the volume pedal and my Hand Bender (to get as close to the steel sound as possible) becomes pretty damn hard when you do everything at the same time. But, just like with the Rush songs, it’s a really evolving challenge.
Lots to keep track of with slide, HandBender and volume pedal.
On Thursday morning, I managed to do strength training, re-string my Telecaster and go through the Rush material once more before we met up to rehearse these songs at Tom Hurst’s home. Tom plays drums with me in Tracy Lawrence’s band and it was he who had invited me to join this gig. The songs we played were really complex but everyone had really put in the time required to learn all the arrangements and details and it actually sounded unexpectedly good already during the first performance. This is how it is to work with professionals.
During the evening I went to the relatively newly opened club Topgolf to listen to my friends Victor Brodén, Anthony Rankin and Elton Charles participate in a competition with their band The Love Elektrik. They made a phenomenal appearance and it will be broadcast via web TV shortly. After that, I went to The 5 Spot to play a gig with my friends in the Glen Martian Band. Since I had not eaten for many hours, I was exhausted when I got there and thought I would have a hard time concentrating during the gig. But a real nachos plate later I was “fit for fight” and we did a great gig, it was without a doubt the most fun moment I had on stage with these gentlemen.
On stage with the Glen Martian Band on The 5 Spot.
The next day I hung out with my new friend Brian Lindsey who I had met for the first time just a month earlier. We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant, tested a bunch of cool guitars at both Eastside Music Supply and Fanny’s House of Music before moving on to my house where I showed Brian my guitar rig. We also experimented a bit with the super cool pedal Analog Drive from the Swedish company Elektron. INCREDIBLY many possibilities with that pedal indeed! Check out demos on Youyube if you want to know more about it. In the evening I played through the Rush songs one… time… more…
On Saturday, I pulled through those damn songs a few more times. Yes, they were SO hard to play haha… When I arrived early in the evening at The Basement East where the tribute show was to take place, I started to feel a certain nervousness even though I knew I had practiced like crazy and really knew the material without and before. I would share the stage during the evening with some of the most respected musicians in town and although it is rarely felt by the nerves nowadays, this was definitely one of those occasions.
Nice day with Brian and fun nerdy with i.a. Analog Drive from Elektron.
When I then heard the first two sets play fantastic versions of their respective selected Rush songs, I did not immediately become less shaken either. In the first set, it was a guy who played guitar and sang on the first songs and then moved on to the drum set for the remaining songs. I can state that there are many bands where it is easier to switch between the instruments, Rush music is NOT easy to play. All credit to that musician.
In the second set, Derek Wells played guitar, he has been one of Nashville’s most hired session musicians in recent years. He has played on more than 30 # 1 singles and was also voted “Musician of the Year” at the Academy of Country Music Awards 2016. Derek and his fellow musicians started their set with a sickly intricate instrumental song that left the majority of the audience with chins down at the shoes. Fantastic performance by everyone on stage and the rest of their set kept the same extremely high standard. SO INSPIRING!
We were next in line and I remember I was still nervous when I rowed up my amplifier and my pedal table but as soon as Tom counted in to the first song I just focused on the music and the nervousness was basically blown away. I had a lot of fun on stage and felt after a few minutes that I was confident enough in the game that I could actually contribute with a little show as well. As I wrote in the previous post, it was probably good that I did not have any gigs the week before because it really gave me enough time to prepare and rehearse these songs inside and out. My friend Justin Butler played with the last set of the evening and they also did an incredible job. Great game and sound by Justin!
Felt very fun to be mentioned by Derek Wells on Instagram after the Rush tribute!
Around midnight, Tom and I began our journey south to Vero Beach, Florida, where we were to play a gig with Tracy on Sunday. Fortunately, Tom is used to driving at night and he took care of most of the 12-hour drive. We were both really tired when we arrived an hour before the sound check and my memories of the rest of the day are extremely blurred to be completely honest.
Anyway, I bought a new acoustic guitar and played four gigs with four different ensembles of awesome musicians this week. I would call it a good week even if I do not remember much of the Sunday gig, haha…
David Henriksson is sponsored by: