Comment by Andrew on No junk, no soul?

As a drug abusing, alcoholic musician I can say without a doubt, ‘Yes, it was and is worth it.’ Not only is it worth it, it’s necessary. Not so much the drugs, but the personality that will embrace drugs to cope with it’s existence. The individual who will shrug the pain of developing the finger callouses, tendonitis, arthritis, blown lip, etc. for the release of endorphins playing something ‘good’ brings will also likely shrug the dangers of drinking, smoking, or shooting whatever makes him feel better about his one true addiction…music.

That said, psychedelics are their own thing. Taking them not only makes you aware of different perspectives, it allows you to be one with them. Jimi Hendrix without LSD would’ve been just another exceptional blues guitarist. Maybe more because his career coincided with the invention of distortion and other effects. But what made him stand out was his connection to things he may have never personally experienced. Watch the woodstock video of his version of the national anthem. That wasn’t a new take on the blues scale. That was him expressing what his mind’s eye had seen of war. The 1st handers didn’t get a chance to play their guitars, but he was able to fully realize their plight and express it through his medium.

About the losses…death’s a part of life. We lose about as many musicians to plane crashes and cancer.

LondonJazzCollector mentioned the audience and the drugs they were on. The audience is a huge part of a music’s upbringing, evolution, and overall success. How many venues have you been to that didn’t have a bar? Where you didn’t smell weed near the back door? Where you didn’t suspect someone of a self-inflicted runny nose?

Drugs are as much a part of the music we know as an artist’s childhood, society, colleagues, or influences and it is worth it.

‘No junk, no soul.’


Guitarist’s block… Is that a thing?

I have thought to myself on more than one occasion that my frustration as a Guitarist must be similar to what a writer would call writers block.

The hours that I have spent so frustrated with not seeing improvements in my skill, or speed,  that for days or even weeks, I’d just have no interest in playing. Then maybe I pick it up for a couple of moments, lose interest at playing the same old, same old and put the guitar back down again.

I think most musicians hate doing endless repetitive scales or arpeggios and yearn to be able to improvise like Miles Davis or Grant Green. Those same musicians most likely know the importance of these exercises in the grander scheme that is Music. It would be like writing your first book with a vocabulary of a five year old.

Conversely, i have heard from many guitarist friends of mine that the drive to play better and faster becomes almost an obsession. I myself have periods when I am not satisfied until I go through my drills and make no mistakes. And if I make a mistake, I just start over again.

I constantly think that I should be farther along in my development than I am, that maybe I should play in a Jazz band or push myself more. But, I just have to remind myself that I have many years of learning ahead of me, and when I am ready, I will do these things.

I also get constantly frustrated with what I call ‘Frankensteins Hand Syndrome’, where it sometimes feels like one (or both) of my hands feel like they have loose wiring between them and my brain. My brain seems to be very capable of learning fretboard patterns and chord shapes, but I sometimes feel let down by my fingerwork.

When guitarists block kicks in, it is tough to keep to a daily practice schedule. Everything becomes a chore, scales become lines on a blackboard, fingers feel sluggish, your brain just can’t be bothered. You know that if you don’t play for a while, it is going to be a pain in the butt to get back to where you are.

Luckily, the remedy for guitarists block is to get inspiration from something or someone in the form of a mentor. Inspiration can come in any form.

In the past, my mentors have included Django Reinhart, Buddy Guy, Grant Green, Thelonious Monk and most recently Paul Mehling of the Hot Club of San Francisco.

So, in the event that you find yourself in the grip of this horrible affliction, I would recommend copious amounts of trawling for inspiration. I found Youtube very effective, but live performances are best.

Guitarist corner #2

A little something for those of you who are slightly more advanced guitar players.

This guy has a very easy style of instruction, and makes it easy to understand. Please try not to laugh at the way he says about, it’s not his fault…eh?


Guitarists Corner…


I have been noticing that lots of our readers are guitar players, so I thought I might try something a little different today.

Here we have a great youtube clip introducing guitarists the wonders of Jazz Guitar… youtube has proved to be a great resource for me, as it is a great way to get a visual help learning something you read in a tablature book.

What is music to me?

Music means different things to different people. I want to explain to you, the reader, what it means to me. I would welcome input from you with regards to your personal relationship with music. I would be happy to place any comments left on this subject, onto the main post.

The relationship I have with music has been a very intimate thing. It has always been as though music speaks to me in a way that words cannot. In a way that explains all that it needs to, without having to clarify or repeat itself.

Whereas people often confuse me, music never has. People make me angry, anxious, afraid, stressed and irritated, but I know that when i put on some of my favourite music, all that will not matter. It is like the best friend that knows that you want to get something off your chest and gives you a cup of tea and a hug.

Different types of music affect me in different ways. As a young(ish) man I seemed to have developed an allergy to young people’s music quite early on in life. The sound of sickly sweet Pop music, or X Factor drop-outs new singles, or some good-looking 18 yr old guy with a six-pack singing about how he “wants to get wit’ ya” or something equally as deep, either makes me walk out of shops, puts me in a bad mood, makes me angry, or just makes me feel sad for the kids – this is what they are going to have as their song one day, (seriously, go to a young persons wedding, it’s hilarious!).

I appreciate that I sound like a 60 yr old, who doesn’t like “those pesky kids”, but I can assure you that I am not. I just happen to have a taste in music that probably averages out at about 1960, or thereabout.

As you may have read before , I really got into music via Motown and the Blues. And since then,  have branched off into Folk, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Flamenco, World Music and more. And my tastes are constantly changing……I have recently found an elegant beauty in Classical Music which I used to be snub as elitist nonsense.

But, I have come to realise, since learning how to play, and how it works, that music is all inter-related.

All these different, styles of music that all have their mystic roots and traditions, all conform to a universal rule of music. The more instruments you can learn, the better a musician you will become. If you play guitar, you should learn the basics on Piano and vice versa. A percussion instrument may well help you develop a more natural playing style. All these little nick knack instruments that you see in music shops will all help you to become a rounded musician.

The way I see it is, that if you speak one language, you can understand people who speak that language, if you learn another language, one more group of people you can talk to. The more languages that you learn, the more people you can speak to. But, If you can work out how languages work, the inner workings of linguistics, you can potentially communicate with everyone.

It is the same with Music, I don’t remember how many musicians I have jammed  with, without even having to speak the same language.

Music is universal, make sure that you are as universal as it is…..