GOING ON A ROAD TRIP? TAKE THE FOLDING GUITAR!

A folding guitar!  Of course they come out with one NOW! I could have used one of these back in the day.

It’s not one of those dwarf guitars, but a FULL SIZE acoustic instrument with a good sound! I thought the strings would be all messed up, but I guess not!

It’s called the Voyage-Air VAD-04 Travel Guitar and retails for $599. A good idea if you have one of those midget Smart cars. Even at 26 inches, you probably would fill half the car with it.

Check out the video!

Check out the specs on this baby!

• Songwriter™ Series
• Dreadnought Body Shape
• Premium Solid Spruce Top
• Hand Inlaid 3-ring Soundhole Rosette
• 6-ply top binding
• Select African Mahogany Back and Sides
• African Mahogany Neck
• Solid East Indian Rosewood Fingerboard
• Dot Inlay in Prewar-style staggered sizes
• Compensated Saddle
• Distinctive Voyage-Air gloss black pickguard
• Proprietary Voyage-Air Captured Nut
• Patented Folding Neck-Hinge System
• 25.5″ Scale Length
• Traditional 1 11/16″ Nut width
• Chrome Plated Die-Cast tuners.
• High-Gloss finish: top, back and sides.
• D’Addario 12-54 Phosphor Bronze strings.
• Includes Carrying Case
• Thoroughly inspected & set-up in the USA

ROCK ON STRONGWRITERS!!!

Dean

A WUNNERFUL DAY IN MUSIC HISTORY

I recently took another field trip with the very lovely Mrs. Eclectic, to the 99 degree weather of Escondido, California.  We were paying a visit in the area, but during our stay, we stopped briefly at the landmark of a musical legend of a bygone era.

Lawrence Welk left his heart and spirit in this desert community, which is about 40 miles north of San Diego.  There is a famous golf course, a resort complex complete with all the trappings, and, appropriately, the Lawrence Welk Museum and Theatre. To our surprise, this museum was the coolest part of the trip.

Was this “Champagne Man”  one of my heroes?  Was I a big fan?  Not particularly.  Even my parents weren’t into his television show, but my granddad did watch it.  Even in the show’s prime, it was a throwback.  To all of my peers, it was old people’s music with old people’s sensibilities.  In other words, anything but cool.

But, today, as my wife and I were discussing, we can appreciate what Lawrence Welk represented through the TV tube.  Big band swing, waltzes, polkas, and even jazz was showcased on his weekly hour of entertainment.  The point is that these types of music were fading away, and he kept them alive, and that’s a good thing. Given the time of their relevance, each genre contributed its own positive influence in the lives of everyday Americans.

So, it was definitely a trip in the wayback machine to 1951, where KTLA (that’s channel 5 here in L.A.) regularly broadcasted his band from Ocean Park in the Aragon Ballroom on Lick Pier in Santa Monica.  The station quickly signed them to a long-term contract due to the overwhelming response from the viewing audience.   In just a few short months, they gained a loyal sponsor, the Dodge Motor Company.  The relationship lasted for many years.

It was on today’s date, July 2, 1955, that Dodge partnered with the Welk show as they went nationwide.  This began a twenty-five year love affair with their fans.  By 1980, they set a record that still hasn’t been matched by any other musical show in television history – 25 years of continuous broadcasts.

By 1982, then on ABC, he taped his final show, leaving behind many champagne memories.  He died ten years later in Santa Monica, the city that launched his televised voyage.  He was 89 years old.

Though not a songwriter, Welk was an accomplished bandleader, musician, and a music publisher.  He had few gold records under his belt, and more than 25 singles on Billboard.  And his musicians were always the cream of the crop.  He was conservative and old-school, but definitely not uncool.  That’s the way I see it now!

Anyway, just sharing another “wunnerful” day in music history!  It comes at a great time as we celebrate the founding of our country.  Lawrence Welk was born the son of Russian German parents in North Dakota.  And ever since, he has been a patriotic American through and through!  This article is not intended to be a biography, so you can learn more of his story on this website –  www.welkmusicalfamily.com/

 

See ya!

DEAN

JAMMING WITH STING, ANDY, JOOLS & BRIAN

Very cool video from 1981.

Sting is being interviewed by Jools Holland, and then he introduces him to “Brian.”   He calls for an impromptu jam session, and then Andy Summers jumps in to add to the jazz flavor.

I always enjoyed the Police era!

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See ya!

DEAN

A Tribute To a Former Bandmate

I uploaded a rare studio recording today of drummer John Ritchey during his short tenure with the Eclectic Rhythms Band in 2000.

“(Mama Said) Let It Rain” was a work in progress that was nicknamed “U Lost Da Key, Dean” due to the ironic shout at the end of the performance.

This video is a sarcastic yet affectionate tribute to our friend with the drums. It was a challenging time while it lasted!

This is just a glimpse into our studio process.  Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Dean

IRVING BERLIN – A GREAT AMERICAN SONGWRITER

On this day, 123 years ago, a great American songwriter was born – Irving Berlin.  He is one of those individuals whose compostions have left an indelible influence on songwriters and musicians in the twentieth century.  Only time will tell, but I believe his work will live on for centuries, just like the great composers of the common practice period.

For those who don’t know his story, you are missing out on a quintessential American narrative. He was born in Russia in 1888 (as Israel Isidore Baline) and lived there for five years until his family of ten emigrated to the United States.  After settling in New York City around the Bowery, it would seem that the elemental seeds were sown to cultivate a gift within this young boy.  In the ghetto world of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, “Izzy” was immersed in the songs and sounds that would shape his spirit down the line.

As he took odd jobs, like hocking newspapers, he absorbed the soundtrack of the local saloons, as well as the vernacular of the street.   As he grew into a young man, he had developed a talent to translate the flavor of his world into music and lyrics.  But what’s more is that he showed the ability to connect with a wide span of the American public, and that is a true gift.  In fact you can gain some understanding of him through the following quote:

“My ambition is to reach the heart of the average American, not the highbrow nor the lowbrow but that vast intermediate crew which is the real soul of the country. The highbrow is likely to be superficial, overtrained, supersensitive. The lowbrow is warped, subnormal. My public is the real people.”

Can you name a famous Irving Berlin song?  What’s he most famous for?  Quick!  Quick!

“White Christmas!”

I asked this question to a few people just a couple of weeks back, and most said “White Christmas,” or because it was April, “Easter Parade.”  But that was about as far as the list went.   How about “God Bless America” or “Puttin On the Ritz?”  Or maybe “Blue Skies” or “What’ll I Do?”  Perhaps you’ve heard of a lesser known hit called, oh I don’t know, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”  Yeah, he’s written a few hits, I think.

In fact in his official fifty-nine year musical career, he put his name on hundreds and hundreds of tunes, most of them used for shows and musical productions.  The first one to achieve worldwide success was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911, and it only gets better from that point.  It is a safe bet to say he has a catalog of more than 1500 songs, counting only the ones we know about.  It is rumored that there are more of his works stored away that haven’t been revealed, even twenty years after his death.

I love to read Berlin’s quotes and stories, because I learn so much about songwriting through his philosophy, of which he claims he has none.   For instance, how did a man like Irving Berlin produce so much quality work, even in six decades time?  He must have been a genius, right?  Not if you asked him.

He was realtively humble when it came to answering questions about how to write great tunes with memorable lyrics.  His process had little to do with inspiration and more with plain old-fashioned discipline and hard work.  He would make sure that every day, without fail, he would write a song.  Not just a few lines and melodies, but an entire song – words and music – everyday!  I find that amazing, but it’s just a matter of making it a habit.

The way I see it, Irving Berlin simply found his own formula, and he made it work for him.  He didn’t learn to play anything in other than F sharp, but he cranked them out, day after day, from 1907 to 1966.  He didn’t bogged down into the details, he would leave that to the arrangers to transpose the key and polish up the rest.  That’s how he got the job done!

So Happy Birthday to great Irving Berlin.  And God Bless!

 

Dean

 

WISHING A HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SIR DUKE!

“There is hardly any money interest in art, and music will be there when money is gone.” – Duke Ellington

Happy Birthday Sir Duke!  You would have been 112 years old today!

That’s some gooood stuff!  And I always liked the fact that he called his music ..

American music”  !!!

SUPERMAN (Wish I Could Figure This Out)

I don’t know if it happened yet, but Superman is supposed to renounce his U.S. citizenship before Friday.  Now, I’m no expert on the Man of Steel, but was he ever a citizen?  I thought he was illegal.  Or did the Kents make him legitimate?

I’m confused, but comic-con is tomorrow here in Anaheim. Maybe someone there can produce his birth certificate.

Dean

 

PHOEBE SNOW PASSES AWAY AT 60

Another beautiful voice in music is now silent. Phoebe Snow died today from complications of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January 2010. She was 60.

A beautiful voice, a beautiful mother, a beautiful person.

Here is the song that was her breakthrough hit in 1975.

God Bless,

Dean

DAVE GROHL FIGHTS FOO IN HIS GARAGE

Award winning songwriter Richard Marx sent this my way.

Dave Grohl in the garage

This a cool video for those who are technical and make their own demos in their garage or basement or bedroom.

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters fame likes to say the F word a lot in this clip, but what he does reveal is his affinity for analog technologies.

It’s nothing academic, but like John Stewart says on The Daily Show, “Here’s your moment of Zen..”

 
 

Dean

MEL MCDANIEL LOSES FIGHT WITH CANCER

Country recording artist Mel McDaniel died today at the young age of 68.  He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the man behind the number one hit “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.”  I don’t claim to be a huge listener of country music, but I do remember him for sure.

McDaniel was known for such songs as “Gentle To Your Senses,” “Louisiana Saturday Night,” “Stand Up,” “Anger and Tears,” and “I Call It Love.”  It’s nice to remember this string of hits in the eighties, because his other decades were a struggle.  His early years in music were frustrating to point that he uprooted himself from Nashville and moved north to Anchorage, Alaska.  It was up there that he played for the oil workers and local folks in the clubs, and that seemed to be a good fit.  He developed a strong following that heated up his career, so he went back down to Nashville to write songs and record demo tapes.  He cut a single with Combine Records called “Have a Dream On Me,” and by 1977, he had released his first album with Capitol Records.

Life was good for long time, but in 1996, he almost died at a Louisiana concert when he fell into the orchestra pit.  He never fully recovered from this accident which became a daily burden on his health.  As if that wasn’t enough, he suffered a heart attack thirteen years later that put him into a coma, and finally he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It was a tough and painful road at the end, but it didn’t stop him from playing.  The last notable appearance was at the Grand Ole Opry reopening after it was flooded last September.  Good man.  May he get some rest now.