Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


My longtime close friend, since the mid-’80s, and bandmate in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Mick Berry — drummer/actor/playwright/stand-up comic extraordinaire — will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival performing his masterful one-man play, Keith Moon: The Real Me. In it, he recreates the alternately very funny and tragic life of Who drummer Keith Moon. There are many blurbs praising Micko’s playing and performance, but perhaps the best is from Keith Moon’s daughter Mindy, reflecting on Micko’s faithful recreations of her dad’s drumming: “Now I know what my dad’s drumming sounded like.”

Drummer’s Bible front cover

Micko is also the co-author of what is almost certainly the best-selling drum book of the new millennium, The Drummer’s Bible, a guide to playing every style under the sun from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco, along with our mutual friend and Micko’s co-author Jason Gianni, instructor at the Drummer’s Collective in NYC (which changed its name relatively recently, but I’m too lazy to look up the new name) and winner of a Platinum Record with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, (Micko is a master of Afro-Cuban and New Orleans-style drumming, while Jason is a master of off-time/compound-meter drumming; but they can both play almost any style to perfection — yes, they’re that good.)

Micko is also the co-author of Stage Fright, with Micheal Edelstein, PhD, a book on how to beat stage fright. with interviews from performers including Melissa Etheridge, Robin Williams, David Brenner, Mose Allison, Jason Alexander, and Maya Angelou. An expanded edition under a different, more accurate title, with a different cover, will appear in 2020.

As for the Fringe Fest, ticket max out at about 12 pounds ($16 dollars), so if you’re there and want to pay about what you’d pay for super-hero schlock from Hollywood, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.


Yep, that’s $155 combined for the guitar and the amp. Both were made in Meridian, Mississippi back in the late ’70s to mid ’80s, and the guitar cost me 75 bucks, and the 55-watt amp $80 off of Craigslist.

And they sound fantastic, proof that you don’t need a $2000 boutique tube amp and a $2000 ultra-high-end boutique guitar to sound good. I think my $155 rig would beat the crap out of any such combo. (Check out the video of tonight’s gig — which should be coming within a day or two, friends willing.)

What are the magic ingredients? A slightly upgraded Peavey Patriot solid body electric guitar, with SuperFerrite pickups (a beginner-level bolt-on solid body with ultra-hot, quiet pickups) and a slightly downgraded Peavey Bandit 65 solid-state amp. (“Downgraded” refers to the speaker.)

Tonight, I played a gig and ran into the guy I bought the Patriot from seven or eight years ago. He did me a huge favor by selling me that guitar for 75 bucks; he wasn’t mercenary, and decided to do some random guitar player — me! — a solid. I love the guitar: it’s fantastic; since then, I replaced the original crappy toggle pickup switch with a high quality knife switch, replaced the scratchy volume pot, and had it professionally set up. That’s all. Another 75 or 80 bucks.

As for the amp, it cost me 80 bucks off of Craigslist about ten years ago. These things originally had very high quality Sheffield Scorpion speakers, with heavy magnets. For no apparent reason — I hadn’t played it above about “5” and no one else had touched it — the speaker started buzzing a couple of years ago. I disassembled it, reassembled the magnet assembly a couple of times (yes, you can do that with these speakers), and the buzz didn’t go away, so I pulled the speaker, checked out what I had on the shelves, and replaced it with the only one that’d fit: a cheap, no-name 12″, 50-watt Chinese speaker (yes, lower wattage than the 55-watt Bandit’s rating) from a complete piece of shit Crate tube amp (but I repeat myself) I’d cannibalized years earlier after the power supply blew up because of construction defects. (As an aside, don’t bother with the more recent Peavey “trans-tube” models.)

Anyway, if you’ve ever heard an old Silvertone Twin from the 1960s, with tiny output transformers that super-saturate very easily, and deliver an incredible blues-distorted tone, this rig with the shitty Chinese Crate speaker essentially delivers the same. This is probably a one-off, so please don’t buy a Bandit and pull the high quality Sheffield and replace it with a random piece of shit speaker — you’ll likely be very disappointed. Bandits typically go on Craigslist for between $75 and $150, and they sound way-good as is.

As for the guitar, the Peavey Patriot comes in two flavors: one with two single-coil pickups, the other with a single bridge pickup, which is as useless as you’d suspect. (Anyone who’d buy such a guitar is forgiven as a 14-year-old moron who might eventually learn better, but it’s useless nonetheless.) Look before you buy. You should be able to find one on Craigslist for somewhere in the $100 – $250 range depending on condition and on whether it has a case.

There’s a near-equivalent model, which should sell for about the same: the Peavey T-15, which has a slightly shorter neck and slightly different body shape. Other than that, they’re identical.

As for the other Peavey “T” models, the Peavey T-60 has become fashionable in recent years, is the most in-demand, and typically sells in the $500 to $600 range. It’s the guitar Jerry Reed used on the “Smokey and Bandit II” album — with the great cut “East Bound and Down.” It has the two SuperFerrite humbucker pickups, but with a split switch to give you a single-coil tone if you want  it. The downside is that these thing play great, sound great, and, unless you’re young, strong, and will learn better by the time you’re 30, they’ll give you major back problems. The weight varies, but they’re far heavier than Les Pauls, with some weighing over 13 pounds. If you have the money and will use it only in the studio, get one. For day-in-day-out bar gigs, get something lighter, unless you have masculinity issues.

As for still other “T” models, I’ve owned Peavy T-25s, T-26s, and T-27s. I didn’t like any of them. The Strat-like T-27 (I believe, could be wrong about the model number) wasn’t good — equivalent action, but noticeably worse tone than my standard Strat. I’m rebuilding the one with SuperFerrite humbuckers (I believe the T-26), and, once I have new tuning machines in it, will set it up for slide (which is about all humbuckers are good for). Sorry for the confusion about the “T” Peaveys — the only ones I like are the 2-pickup Patriot, T-15, and T-60.

Enough for now. Time to pull apart my Peavey Classic 30, see why it’s howling, and fix it.

Cheers, Chaz

* * *

Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia (pdf sample here). He’s currently working on the sequel and an unrelated sci-fi novel, and is the author of An Understandable Guide to Music Theory. He also was the guitarist in Ass Deep In Hippies (in San Francisco), Pinche Blues Band (In Tucson), and is the guitarist in an upcoming a yet-to-be-named blues/rock/jazz/country band, mostly featuring old bandmates and both originals and covers in Tucson. Should be huge fun. For a sample of the originals, click here. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the free mp3s.)

Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front cover


From now through June 30 all See Sharp Press hard-copy books are 50% off when ordered on the See Sharp site or by mail. This is a great time to save on all of our new and recent titles, such as Corrupted Science, by John Grant (now only $9.97), and Venezuelan Anarchism: The History of a Movement, by Rodolfo Montes de Oca (now $8.47).

Corrupted Science front coverAll of our backlist titles such as our very popular music instructional and reference books, including The Drummer’s Bible: How to Play Every Drum Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco, by Mick Berry and Jason Gianni (now only $17.47 for the best-selling drum title published this century) and Musical Instrument Design, by Bart Hopkin, are also on sale.

Shipping is free for orders of $49.99 or more, and only $3.50 per order (not per item) for smaller orders. (Due to sky-high overseas shipping rates, this sale is limited to domestic orders.)

All discounted titles are now up on the See Sharp books page.

Drummer’s Bible front cover

We’ll be keeping the books available indefinitely, but it’s a different story with the pamphlets. The remaining pamphlets are even more heavily discounted than the books; they’re available on the See Sharp pamphlets page. (We sold over 100,000 of them in the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s, and are down to a few doszen each of the remaining titles. When they’re gone, they’re gone.)

Drummer’s Bible front cover


Here’s one from my old pal and ex-bandmate up in S.F.,  Mick Berry, who’s the co-author of The Drummer’s Bible: How To Play Every Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco:

“There are two types of people in this world: musicians, and other people who are even more unhappy.”

If you think that’s dark, here’s an earlier one: “Why don’t people who don’t play music just get it over with and shoot themselves?” (He wasn’t kidding.)

Micko, who just turned a spry 60, will be in Austria in May performing one of his one-man plays, Dad fought Hitler and Me, and will be in Los Angeles performing his latest one-man, Keith Moon: The Real Me, at the L.A Fringe Festival in June and then in Europe at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival a couple of months later.

Not that anyone cares, but he’ll also be in Tucson sometime this summer along with Bassist’s Bible author Tim Boomer to do some recording and to play a couple of jobs at the local blues dives along with yours truly and some talented local friends. It’ll be huge fun for either a no- or five-dollar cover featuring two great musicians.

(In the meantime, the surviving members of my 20-years-past blues band, Green Bullet Band, will be performing at House of Bards in early June, featuring my good bud, musical collaborator, and brilliant front man Brian Hullfish. The only front man I’ve ever seen who I though was better was David Byrne, with maybe Mick Jagger on a par. I’m not kidding. If you’re in Tucson, do yourself a favor and see this performance that will be free on a Sunday night. Stay tuned.)

 

 


It’s hard to boil these down to a dozen, fifteen, whatever, but here goes, not necessarily in this order; and these are only the first ones that come to mind, If you’ve never seen these, I think you’ll enjoy a lot of ’em:

  • The Wild Bunch (director’s cut). Sam Peckinpah’s bloodbath western, probably the first film to ever show the true brutality of the American West. Great acting, great dialogue, great cinematography. The political subtext is priceless — absolutely right on. You walk away from this one wanting to pick up a gun and slaughter the forces of repression. The best anarchist western. Absolutely inspiring. My favorite film.
  • The Producers. Mel Brooks’ funniest film. I defy you to watch the first fifteen minutes without falling out of your seat laughing. The musical number “Springtime for Hitler” is worth the price of admission.
  • Deconstructing Harry. Yeah, Woody Allen is creepy. But he’s a genius. This extremely funny film is Woody’s “fuck you” to all those who try to dismember him. Maybe his funniest film.
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors. Woody’s realistic drama for adults, showing that evil does sometimes triumph. Widely hated because people can’t handle the truth.
  • Double Indemnity. The film that proved that Fred MacMurray is a great actor. Intricate and well plotted. One of my favorite films noir.
  • The Third Man. Another great film noir. The cinematography is incredible, as is Orson Welles in one of the starring roles.
  • The Life of Brian. The Pythons’ most coherent and funniest film. As much a political as a religious satire.
  • Apocalypse Now. The surrealistic adaptation of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness — some of the dialogue on the river is word for word. Mind boggling.
  • Platoon. Oliver Stone’s depiction of his time in Vietnam. I cried uncontrollably while and after watching this. I will never watch it again. Never.
  • Downfall. Probably the best film since 2000. A gut-wrenching depiction of Hitler’s final days in the bunker. Brilliant acting.
  • Blue Collar, with Richard Pryor, Yaphet Koto, and Harvey Keitel.  One of the most brutal, accurate depictions of corruption in working-class life and organizations ever filmed. An unacknowledged masterpiece.
  • Taxi Driver. You talkin’ to me? . . . . .
  • They Live. With — ta da! — wrestler Rowdy Rider Piper, which strips away the illusions from the everyday bullshit we’re constantly subjected to.
  • Walk Hard. Almost certainly the funniest mockumentary about musicians short of Spinal Tap.
  • Speaking of which . . . smell the glove . . . . .
  • Ran. Kurozawa’s Japanese-adapted version of Lear.
  • Throne of Blood, Kurozawa’s Japanese-adapted version of MacBeth.

Enjoy! More to come . . .

Still another musician joke

Posted: November 25, 2018 in Humor, Jokes, Music

Two musicians on a way to a gig got in a head-on crash and died horrible deaths, mangled.

They’re standing in front of St. Peter, who says, “You’re good to go. Come on in.”

One of them stops and asks, “What about hell? Is it much worse than this? This sounds boring.”

St. Peter pauses and says, “You don’t want to know. It’s horrendous, horrible. Eternal pain, torture, screaming, Loose bowels, roasting flesh. Forever.”

The musicians look at one other, and the first one asks, “Do you know who books it?”

–and, yes, for once, I know who wrote this joke: Mick Berry

 


Pinche Blues Band and Michael Zubay

Pinche Blues Band at Boondocks Lounge a few years ago. Michael Zubay is at left playing bass guitar.

My good friend and on-again-off-again bass player for the last eight or ten years, Michael Zubay, died last night from cancer. I loved him. We clicked both musically and personally. If I wanted someone to talk to who I’d trust, Michael was the guy. He was honest, helpful, tremendous fun to be around, and tremendous fun to play with. He also was funnier than hell and had a good, dark sense of humor. He was a very good friend and a very good musician.

Michael was an atheist, and in place of a religious service there will be a day-long jam session and party for all of the musicians he played with over the years. No date yet, but I’ll post video if and when it’s available. (Update: The jam happened yesterday on November 11; Jay Werth videoed it, and I’ll post links to some of the videos once Jay has them up on Youtube.)

Here’s probably the best recording I have of Michael from back in 2014 when we had the Pinche Blues Band together. His bass lines are absolutely wonderful (check out the syncopation and how much the bass line drives).

Michael wrote a number of songs, and we’ll record his best one, “No Job Blues,” on our next CD (probably as Stone Dead). I’ll post it once it’s available.

More later.