I Can't Play Guitar

Posted by Backyard Urban Gardening on Friday, June 05, 2009

When I was six or seven my grandmother gave me a book by Mel Bay titled something to the effect of Learn to Play the Guitar. My dad had an inexpensive guitar and let me strum it sometimes. I sat down and tried to duplicate the chords and techniques Mr. Bay demonstrated in the book. I spent most of the summer trying, but I did not learn to play the guitar that year. Or the next one either. But, I started out at a big disadvantage - neither of my parents can play the guitar either - but I've learned to appreciate and recognize a good guitar player when I hear one.

Stevie Ray Vaughn
I discovered the venerable Stevie Ray style like most people my age - after his untimely death. He died in a helicopter crash the same year that I graduated college. The local radio stations played a lot of tribute programs in the following few years. I believe one was called Tuesday's with Stevie (or something close). The radio station featured a "block" of three or four Stevie Ray songs at the same time each Tuesday night just after drivetime. I've been a fan ever since.

I absolutely love his version of The Sky is Cryin'. (I soon collected all of his albums and as many tribute albums as I could find.) Nobody's better in my opinion. I once asked a friend of mine who does play guitar to "play me some Stevie Ray". His answer, "I can play the notes, but it won't sound like the Stevie you're thinking of." His style is hard to duplicate.

Albert King
When I hear an Albert King song playing on Sirius, URGE, Pandora, or Playlist.com, it always reminds me of Stevie Ray Vaughn. It's easy to see that Mr. King influenced Mr. Vaughn greatly. Albert Cummings has picked up a little or both of these greats (o.k., alot actually).

Charlie Daniels
He's known for the fiddle but before The Devil Went Down to Georgia made him a household name, he played recording sessions with some of the biggest and best stars on Nashville's Music Row. Do yourself a favor and make a point to see Mr. Daniels at a live concert while you still can. You won't be dissapointed.

I saw him live in Dearborn, MI at a "free" summer concert in 2004. Before the concert a woman seated next to me on the portable bleachers actually asked me if he was the one who played The Devil Went Down to Georgia. That was the only thing she knew about him. She came to the concert because it was free and it was "something to do". As we were walking toward the parking lot I asked her how she liked the concert. Her response, "Charlie Daniels has a new fan in me that's for sure." His style of Southern Country Rock has had that effect on lots, and lots of people throughout the decades.

The rest of the story....
In 6th grade I decided to try out for band. My mom suggested the drums because two pieces of wood were cheaper than a trombone or trumpet. A lot of other parents must have had the same idea, because in 7th grade their were about 6 drummers sharing a snare and bass drum on the first day of school. The band director held tryouts and three of us got the boot. As a consolation prize she asked me if I'd like to try the Baritone. (The school had one I could play for free.) I later stepped up to the Tuba/Sousaphone. I played the hell out of it too winning a spot in the All District Band a few years later.

Who says tuba players don't have any fun?


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