Friday, February 27, 2009

Black Uhuru - Reggae Icons of the 1970s

Cover of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"Cover of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Black Uhuru - Reggae Powerhouse, Sizzling Sounds of Solidarity by Theresa Goodell

The first-ever recipients of a Grammy Award in the Reggae Music category which was introduced in 1985, Black Uhuru has always been one of the most progressive reggae or "reggae-rock" bands, managing to stay true to its fierce Rastafarian politics and haunting vocal harmonies in spite of many challenges over its 35-year history. And, WOW, what a history!

Black Uhuru, whose name comes from the East African Swahili language meaning "freedom" (hence Black Freedom), was originally formed as a trio in 1974 in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica by Derrick "Duckie" (now "Gong") Simpson, Euvin "Don Carlos" Spencer and Rudolph "Garth" Dennis.

They played clubs around Jamaica but did not attract much local attention despite their Top Cat-produced singles "Folk Songs", "Slow Coach" and "Time is on Our Side". In the '70s, as today, young black men in Kingston had few opportunities to break away from the poverty of the city's slums. Reggae was certainly one escape route, but it was packed with talented hopefuls, so the chances of succeeding were very slim.

After a few years, Don Carlos left the band to pursue a solo career, Garth Dennis left for what would be an 8-year stint with the Wailing Souls, and Simpson quickly reorganized the band with Errol "Jay" Nelson and Michael Rose. This time, the group's singles, "Natural Mystic" and "I Love King Selassie", attracted the attention of a London distributor named Count Shelley, and Black Uhuru's first full-length recording, "Love Crisis", produced by Prince Jammy, was released in England in 1977 ("Love Crisis" was later re-mixed and re-released as "Black Sounds of Freedom").

Nelson departed soon after the release, leaving Simpson and Rose to work as a duo for a while. But it wasn't until the hottest rhythm section in reggae, Sly Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass (who were friends of Michael Rose), graced the stage alongside them that they created their most unique sound and became the Black Uhuru with which we are most familiar. At this time, Sly and Robbie were just putting together their Taxi label, and Black Uhuru's "Observe Life" became Taxi's first release.

In 1978, lightning finally struck when Nelson's spot was taken over by African-American Columbia-graduate harmony singer Sandra "Puma" Jones. Led by the distinctive prowl-n-scowl tenor of Rose, and recording for Sly and Robbie's Taxi label, this third lineup launched the group into its most commercially successful period with the haunting hits "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", "Abortion" (banned in Jamaica), "Leaving to Zion", "Plastic Smile", "Shine Eye Gal" and "General Penitentiary". All of these singles were assembled on 1979's "Showcase" album, later reissued on CD as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner".

The release of "Showcase" brought an invitation from a New York City radio station, WLIB, which was holding a concert at Hunter College. It was Black Uhuru's first performance outside of Jamaica, an opportunity most reggae bands never had. "Showcase" also captured the attention of Chris Blackwell, president of Island Records, and Black Uhuru's first major-label contract soon followed with Island's subsidiary, Mango.

The band made their American album debut in 1980 with "Sensimilla", which established the group's heavy-hitting sound blending traditional roots with modern digital effects on its sizzling tracks, all written by Michael Rose, like "Happiness", "Push Push", "World is Africa" and, of course, the title cut. As front man for Black Uhuru, singer-songwriter Rose was approaching the international reggae stardom of the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. His vocals and his deeply conscious Rastafarian lyrics helped to bring forth an exciting era in reggae music.

The release of "Red" launched the band into the top 30 on UK charts and many considered it the group's masterpiece, illustrating their commitment to social change. "Youth of Eglington", written by Rose, became Uhuru's manifesto and a reggae classic, linking Jamaican youth with African youth worldwide from Eglington (the West Indian enclave in Toronto), to Brixton (where riots paralyzed London), to Utica Avenue and Brooklyn.

The album tour encountered some violence; a show in Miami was reportedly stopped because the audience brought weapons. "Red" would end up being 24th in Rolling Stone's Top 100 Albums of the 1980s with its rootsy classics like "Rockstone", "Sponji Reggae" and the joyous "Utterance". Black Uhuru now found itself among the most influential reggae groups on the planet in the aftermath of Bob Marley's 1981 death.

With the 1982 release "Chill Out", Sly and Robbie moved Black Uhuru from the simple sound of traditional reggae to a more electronic sound called "dub", the new sound that was becoming so popular in reggae in the mid-1980s. Some critics felt this was Uhuru's weakest album while others marked it as their finest album of all. Some classics from this album include the title track, "Wicked Act", and "Mondays", which spoke to all of us working folk who see Monday as "the day slavery begins".

The group reached its peak in 1983 with the release of "Anthem". Island Records tried to build on "Chill Out's" success by remixing "Anthem" in 1984 for US and European audiences (but original versions can be found on "Liberation: The Island Anthology", a superb two-disc anthology). And, in 1985, Black Uhuru garnered the first-ever Grammy Award for Reggae Music, beating out Bob Marley and the Wailers, Steel Pulse, and Yellowman.

"What is Life" was a huge hit and the album was full of classic anthems like "Solidarity", "Elements" (a masterpiece I say), "Botanical Roots", "Black Uhuru Anthem" and "Bull in the Pen". While Rose had written most of their earlier stuff, these lyrics were largely written by Duckie Simpson. With this release, Black Uhuru blended a touch of pop/R&B with reggae without sacrificing quality and was able to gain more mainstream attention.

As so often happens though, success can destroy a group. In 1985, after the band's rise to success began to slow, Michael Rose decided to try his hand at a solo career and at establishing a coffee farm in the Jamaican hills. Delroy "Junior" Reid came in to replace him, appearing first on "Brutal" on the RAS label in 1986.

Reid, a devout Bobo Shanti Rastafarian, was a talented singer as evidenced by "Let Us Pray" and "Fit You Haffe Fit", but the U.S. government denied Reid a visa to perform on tour in America, causing him to return to his solo career and Uhuru to tour without him. And, then, Puma Jones was compelled to leave for health reasons just before completing the recording of "Positive" in 1987: the singer was battling breast cancer and would pass away in 1990 at age 36 (she was briefly replaced by Janet Reid).

In 1987, the "Reggae Times" Awards honored Don Carlos as Best Vocalist and Black Uhuru as Best Group and arranged for Simpson, Carlos, and Dennis to play together. A European tour followed, and by 1990, the original trio was recording once again as Black Uhuru. "Now" (1990) got critical praise and rose to number two on "Billboard's" world music chart. It also garnered another Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album.

From "Iron Storm's" (1992) single, "Tip of the Iceberg", an award-winning video was made featuring controversial rap star Ice-T and was filmed on the burned-out streets of South Central Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King police brutality trial verdict. "Mystical Truth" (1993) and "Strongg" (1994) continued Black Uhuru's commitment to the eradication of oppression, offering hope in spite of injustice, and received critical acclaim.

By 1995, old animosities (mostly over money) resurfaced and Uhuru split up again. But Dennis and Carlos continued to tour using the Black Uhuru name and in 1997 were taken to court in Los Angeles by Simpson, who claimed the exclusive right to the Black Uhuru name. Simpson won; Carlos and Dennis were out and lead vocalist Andrew "Bees" Beckford and harmony vocalist Jennifer "Jenifah Nyah" Connally were in, producing "Unification" (1998). Some high points were "System", "Real Thing", "Hail Tafari" and "Lullaby Love".

Andrew Bees and Pam Hall, rejoined by Sly and Robbie, were featured on "Dynasty" (2001) on the RAS label and toured in support of the album. ("Bees" soon left to pursue a solo career.) The wonderful greatest hits collection "20th Century Masters--The Millennium Collection: The Best of Black Uhuru" was released in 2002.

In February 2004, Simpson and Michael Rose reunited under the name "Black Uhuru featuring Michael Rose". Together with a female backing singer named Kay Starr, they released a single, "Dollars", and performed at several concerts.

Over the years Black Uhuru has headlined many music festivals worldwide as well as touring with groups like the Rolling Stones, the Clash, Talking Heads, and The Police. Duckie Simpson has continued to tour, with and without Michael Rose, and there is even talk of a new album!

Black Uhuru remains one of the best reggae groups ever and is firmly rooted in the heart of reggae fans everywhere. And they were voted the #1 reggae band in the "Rolling Stone's" critics' poll. Listen and delight in this still-evolving legend of reggae music!

Visit for loads of information about Jamaica, its history, its food, travel information reggae music, its artists, and resources for locating those hard-to-find collectibles in the genre.

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The Genres of American Music

B.B. KingB.B. King (via

History of American Music by Martin Jeszke

The history of American music has been a culmination of many different musical styles and tastes that have grown and changed throughout the years. It is an African and European based music that has undergone many variations and changes but, has yet maintained its roots firmly too.

As far as the African basis is concerned, it was the two different beats that are known as polyrhythmic that started this when the slave trade brought it to America. This combined with the European classical based music and as a consequence the 2 major music influences began to create completely different genres. These genres became known as soul, rockabilly, jazz, and especially the blues.

It was the blues that has been the inspiration for the rock and roll that we often hear today. Players like BB King, Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, and groups such as the Temptations and O jays are a few of the many of the pioneers that has taken this genre to the masses with great success. Eventually, this blues based music transformed into rock and roll and brought even better known performers. Performers such as Elvis, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cream, and The Yardbirds quickly embraced the blues based rock and roll and would go on to incorporate it into their songs.

Hip hop, techno, pop, country, jazz, blues, metal, fusion, and a few other types are all part of the mainstream now and each is enjoyed by many listeners each and every day. The diversity of music styles in the United States has grown in the last twenty five years and is now offered by many media outlets. From music cd's, to radio stations, one would be very hard pressed to not find a type of music that they would enjoy.

Music videos, songs that have a visual that sometimes incorporates a story are the standard norm for most artists and groups today and this has created a market that deals entirely with these only. DVD's have also created a marketing outlet for most artists and bands too. This has been very lucrative for them and offers a fan the opportunity to see as well as hear the artist or groups.

Some of this music is considered cutting edge and can probably even be discussed as a new and separate music genre. Which, seems to constantly continue considering how musical tastes grow and consistently change. These changes do not necessarily include simply the artist but can also include different musical instruments too.

One thing is for sure. All of these styles of music had to start somewhere and that somewhere began with both Africa as well as Europe. And this is what has been basically the history of American music. Although, this history will also continue to grow, change, and prosper as different markets open up. Have a great day and be sure to enjoy the wonderful world of music wherever you are. We have 4 other music sites which are listed in the links section.

Martin Jeszke lives in the UK currently, married with Italian wife, 2 grown up children both attending university. I have been involved with Personal Development for several years both in the corporate world and now ongoing training.

My mentors are Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn and now Stephen Pierce.

I love to write including Blogging, Articles, Free Newletters, Writing advertisements, Web Site Copywriting. Interests: Photography, Guitar, Music,Yoga, Sport, Reading and Web Publishing.

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OPINION: My Favourite Beatles Albums

Cover of "Revolver [UK]"Cover of Revolver [UK]

The White Album, Sgt Pepper, & Revolver - The Beatles' Best Three Albums by Jackson Weinheimer

As a long time Beatles fan my favorite Beatles albums have changed over the years. In fact I can remember times when I've considered four different Beatles albums to be my favorite at that time. Those four albums were Abbey Road, Sgt Pepper, Revolver, & The White Album.

At this point I've pretty much settled on The White Album as my all time favorite because it seems to be the one I never get tired of. The one I keep coming back to.

This is my list of the three greatest Beatles albums of all time. And by the way, please skip the greatest hits albums and get the real deal instead! The Beatles are too great a band to just get those greatest hits albums. It's their real studio albums that showcase their brilliant best.

#1 The White Album

This 1968 double album includes 30 tracks which represent just about every style of music that had ever existed up to that point. It's a lesson in what music can be. A journey through different styles. And they are all done so well. To me it's their most timeless album. It still sounds just as vital today as it did over 40 years ago when it was recorded. From the early heavy metal of "Helter Skelter" to the beautiful acoustic ballads like "Blackbird," "Julia," & "I Will" to the rock n roll of "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey" this album really has it all.

#2 Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

How many times have I heard this album is "overrated" or that it's "dated"? Too many to keep track of! Obviously I disagree strongly with these opinions. This is a brilliant album that sounds timeless to me, not dated. How can you go wrong when your final song is the incomparable "A Day In The Life"?

#3 Revolver

The songs. Wow. This is an album filled with absolutely stunningly perfect songs. And in the end it's the songs themselves that make this band who they are. The greatest band of all time.

Music Blog Featuring The Beatles.


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OPINION: Greatest Jazz Albums of All Time - Top 10

Miles DavisMiles Davis (via

Best Jazz Albums of All Time - My Top 10 List by Bradford Alderman

1) Kind of Blue - Miles Davis

Yes this is probably the number one selling jazz album of all time. Some say it IS the best jazz album of all time. Did you know that the musicians didn't even rehearse for the recording session? Miles just showed up to the Blue Note session with some melodies and chords and proceeded to record each song in one take... that's how Miles liked to do it... he wanted everything to be spontaneous. Needless to say, everyone played brilliantly. There was so much talent and feeling that there was just no need for many takes. The songs consist of simple melodies and there is so much space yet also deep emotion. It is a pleasure to listen to and feel this album.

2) A Love Supreme - John Coltrane

This album completely changed the jazz world in 1965 and even today it's effects can be found in many musical styles, not just jazz. Coltrane evolves from the extremely complex and dense harmonic language he had mastered with Miles Davis and Monk and just played with pure, raw passion. The four songs on this album are simultaneously filled emotions of anger, joy, sadness, ecstasy, tragedy and triumph. I know of many different types of artists such as writers or painters who use this album to inspire energy and passion from within themselves for their own personal art. This album also inspired a revolution in Coltrane's playing as he played with this same organic raw intensity for the rest of his life.

3) Time Out - Dave Brubeck

This was the first instrumental jazz album to sell over a 1,000,000 copies. 'Take 5' was even a number one hit on Billboard's charts which is a serious feat for any jazz song (and any song in 5/4!). Brubeck uses rhythmic influences from Eastern Europe to create a very new sound in the jazz style. The complex rhythms he uses sound very natural and are easy to listen to, probably the reason for his success. This one is guaranteed to please and intrigue it's listeners.

4) Ellington at Newport - Duke Ellington

Here's a historic concert that has a wonderful background story... It was 1956 and many big bands were failing because of the rise of bebop and modern small group jazz. So at the 3rd annual Newport Jazz Festival, Ellington tried hard to please the crowd with new suites and new arrangements, but the crowd was very sedated as usual. Then finally on a two section song, Dimuendo and Crescendo in Blue, Duke had the two sections connect with a sax solo by Paul Gonzalves and him told to play the solo as long as wanted to. He usually only took a couple choruses but this time Gonzalves took a 27 chorus solo that eventually had the crowd off it's feet and dancing! This changed the face of jazz solos and as well as gave Duke some new found success. Duke's band continued in this popularity for 18 more years.

5) Jazz at Massey Hall - Charlie Parker

This album often appears reissued under the name "The Greatest Concert Ever". It is an all star lineup of Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. These guys were all involved in the creation of bebop about 15 years before this concert date (1953) and thus were all seasoned veterans by the time of the concert. Also this was the only time these five would record together and everyone plays amazingly. A lot of earlier bebop recordings suffered from sound quality but this one sounds very good for a live concert.

6) Headhunters - Herbie Hancock

When I first heard this album I felt I had finally found that perfect "sound" I had been searching for my whole life. Some critics and pure acoustic jazz-heads say this album is not jazz, but I must disagree. Others do too, this album was so popular that it quickly sold over a million copies after it's release in 1973. It's simple, funky, extremely enjoyable, and AMAZING! Listen to it over and over for maximum satisfaction.

7) Blue Train - John Coltrane

Recorded in 1957, this album was Coltrane's first album as a leader. It's very interesting to hear how Coltrane was playing before he started heading to the freer, passionate playing that he evolved to in the 60's. Did you know that ten years earlier, Coltrane was considered just a mediocre player? He studied with others and performed SO MUCH with Miles. He was known to constantly practice after gigs late into the night to become the player he was on this album... and he continually improved after this recording! I love this album because it has such a solid, classic jazz sound with great musicians and great originals by Coltrane himself.

8) Getz/Gilberto - Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto

So Herbie Hancock won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2008, the last jazz album to win the award was this one in 1965. It created the Bossa Nova craze in the United States and is one of the best selling jazz records of all time. Stan Getz, Joao and Astrud Gilberto are extremely graceful and intimate as they float along through this wonderful material composed by the famous Antonio Carlos Jobim. I think the best word to describe this album is relaxing.

9) Mingus Ah Um - Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus had a way of making his bands sound lush, original, and of course swing like crazy. This album features many tribute songs to former jazz legends that are guaranteed to get your foot tapping and your fingers snapping! Also there are some amazing ballads filled with highly colorful and emotional horn arrangements. I love to listen to and jam the song Fables of Faubus, a track dedicated to the infamous former governor of Arkansas who took a stand against integration in schools in 1957, the music says it just right.

10) Concert by the Sea - Errol Garner

Errol Garner is a beast. This may be because he can't read a note of written music and therefore must rely on his hearing to guide him to what sounds good. Well he certainly knows what that is because this album is incredibly interesting both harmonically and rhythmically. His left hand swings so hard that it really is on another level of most all pianists. He is technically fluent and plays extremely extravagant arrangements of many well-loved standards like Autumn Leaves and I'll Remember April.

Brad Alderman is a jazz pianist and teacher. He authors the jazz information website,

Also, videos of his playing can be found at

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Burning Spear - Reggae Icon of the 1970s

Cover of "Rasta Business"Cover of Rasta Business

Burning Spear - Surrender to Burning Reggae by Theresa Goodell

The legendary Winston Rodney, 2009's winner of the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album (for "Jah Is Real"), was born on March 1, 1948 in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, also the birthplace of two of his greatest influences - Robert "Bob" Nesta Marley and Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.

The story is that Rodney was walking through the hills one day in 1969, bumped into Bob Marley and the two chatted about Rodney's interest in music. Marley encouraged him to visit Studio One's Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, who had given Marley his start. Rodney took the advice and he and his partner, bass singer Rupert Willington, auditioned for Dodd, who signed the duo. So, thanks to Bob Marley, Rodney had his foot in the music business' door.

Rodney chose the name "Burning Spear" for the duo. It was the nickname of Jomo Kenyatta who had been jailed in Africa by the British government for allegedly participating in the Mau Mau Rebellion but who went on to become the first Prime Minister and first President of an independent Kenya.

Coxsone Dodd had chosen "Door Peep" for the duo's debut single and, shortly thereafter, Burning Spear grew into a trio with the addition of Delroy Hinds, brother of Justin Hinds. Rodney chanted his vocals while Willington and Hinds provided sweet backing vocals. They released several singles for Dodd, including "Joe Frazier (He Prayed)" which was a smash hit in Jamaica in 1972. Two albums soon followed, "Studio One Presents Burning Spear" (1973) and "Rocking Time" (1974), but they were only a small taste of what greatness was to follow!

Like many famous Jamaican reggae artists, Burning Spear is known for his Rastafarian messages. His lyrics are deeply spiritual and full of emotion concerning oppression, black unity and religious devotion. But Studio One's were not always the best arrangements of Rodney's songs. In later years, Burning Spear would revise and re-produce many of his songs, significantly improving upon them.

The trio continued to release singles but could not seem to repeat their 1972 smashing success, so they moved on from Studio One to producer and Ocho Rios sound system owner Jack Ruby. The results were magic, creating the singles "Marcus Garvey" and "Slavery Days". Now accompanied by the wonderful studio band, the Black Disciples, more magic resulted in the album "Marcus Garvey" (1975), in honor of the great St. Ann's-born pan-Africanist and Rastafarian prophet, which became one of the all-time greatest roots albums ever to come from Jamaica!

Island Records swooped in to sign Burning Spear but infuriated Rodney when they remixed his record for a UK white audience. This spurred Rodney on to start his own label, Spear, and Burning Spear churned out more singles such as "Travelling" and "Spear Burning", followed by the group's next album, "Man in the Hills" (1976).

The trio broke up and Rodney went out on his own, self-producing his next album, "Dry and Heavy" (1977), which featured re-workings of "Swell Headed", "Creation Rebel" and "Free Again". By now Rodney's following had grown, especially in the UK where he made a scorcher of an appearance at London's Rainbow Theatre, backed by trumpeter Bobby Ellis and the UK reggae band, Aswad. Island released an album of the performance called "Live" (1977).

In 1978, Rodney left Island Records and, along with the Black Disciples and members of Aswad, issued the brilliant "Marcus Children" (released in the UK as "Social Living"). This was one of his best albums yet, but he followed it up in 1980 with the wonderful "Hail H.I.M.". In between, Rodney had a leading role in the movie "Rockers" in which he sang "Jah No Dead", a highlight of the film.

Rodney has continued to release an unparalleled flow of great albums, supported by regular appearances at Reggae Sunsplash and tours throughout the US and worldwide. No other artist has equaled the strength of his body of work. In 1982, "Farover" featured Rodney's new backing group, the Burning Band.

1984's "Resistance" was nominated for a Grammy Award. "People of the World" (1988) sizzled and earned yet another Grammy nomination, and 1988's "Mistress Music" featured former members of Jefferson Airplane, blending in a little rock and roll. "Live in Paris: Zenith 88" garnered another Grammy nomination in 1990.

Although the Burning Band dissolved, the 1990s saw some of Rodney's best work despite a monstrous touring schedule. In fact, he managed to put out excellent albums about every two years! With "Mek We Dweet" (1991) and a new backing band, Rodney returned to his powerful sound and added Grammy nominations for that album as well as for "The World Should Know" (1994), "Rasta Business" (1996) and "Appointment with His Majesty" (1998)!

In spite of all the nominations, it seemed that an actual win might never materialize until 2000's "Calling Rastafari" won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album and was followed by an American tour. Even the turn of a new Century could not slow Rodney down; far too many messages of peace, universal love, black culture and Rasta beliefs were still inside, awaiting his powerful and unique lyrical expression.

In 2002, Rodney and his wife, Sonia, formed Burning Spear Records and we were treated to more Grammy-nominated albums - "Free Man" (2004), "Our Music" (2005), "The Burning Spear Experience" (2008), and the latest "Jah Is Real" which took home the 2009 Grammy Award!

Burning Spear was awarded Jamaica's Order of Distinction on October 15, 2007, for citizens who have rendered outstanding and important service to Jamaica. One of the most brilliant and respected roots artists in Jamaica's history, "The Spear" has shared his beliefs with us in his recorded music as well as in his fierce live concerts. I have loved each and every performance, most recently at the renowned Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in 2007, and especially enjoyed Rodney's bongo solos. Let's hope the Spear keeps burning hot for a long, long time!

Visit for loads of information about Jamaica, its history, its food, travel information reggae music, its artists, and resources for locating those hard-to-find collectibles in the genre.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

VIDEOS: John Mayall and The Bluebreakers

With Eric Clapton album coverImage via Wikipedia

Hi all,

One of my favourite bands of all time is John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. Many of the finest blues musician's passed through the band which was a 'breeding ground' for the British blues explosion of the mid-to-late 1960s. The line-up often resembled a who's who of British blues. Just some of the great musician's who passed through the band at some stage, or who have worked with John Mayall, are:

John Mayall - keyboards, harmonica, guitar, vocals
Eric Clapton - guitar, vocals
Peter Green - guitar
Mick Taylor - guitar
Harvey Mandel - guitar
Albert King - guitar
John McVie - bass guitar
Jack Bruce - bass guitar
Larry Taylor - bass guitar
Hughie Flint - drums
Keef Hartley - drums
Ron Selico - drums
Dick Heckstall-Smith - saxophone
Ernie Watts - saxophone
Blue Mitchell - trumpet

Here are some great videos of The Bluesbreakers from the mid-to-late 1960s. Enjoy!

Hideaway (1966) (with Eric Clapton):

The Supernatural (1967) (with Peter Green):

Key to Love (1966) (with Eric Clapton):

Blues City Shakedown (1965) (with Eric Clapton):

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Friday, February 20, 2009

What Was the Beat Generation? - Part Two

Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness album coverImage via Wikipedia

What Was the Beat Generation? Part Two by Russell Shortt

So what went before that inspired such originality? Well their influences were diverse - take Kerouac's spontaneous prose, well put it this way Jack liked his jazz, improvisational jazz, the bop jazz style of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Burroughs cut-up method may have had it's origins in the poetry of Tristan Tzara and speaking of Tzara, Dadaism and Surrealism directly impacted upon many of the Beats. Like the Dadaists, the Beats liked to attack the elitism of high culture and thrived on being spontaneous; and similar to the Surrealists they drew from their subconscious, juxtaposed the disassociated and desired to be influential upon humanity. They were also influenced by the Symbolists - Rimbaud and Baudelaire; and by the Romantics - Shelley and Blake. They also drew from the Transcendentalists - Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman.

And even though, the Beats were reacting against Modernist tendencies, they were influenced by writers like Proust, William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound. In addition to having precursors, the Beats also had contemporaries who were working in other artistic endeavours - Jackson Pollack's action paintings and other Abstract Expressionists such as de Kooning and Kline; the composer John Cage and the assemblages of Rauschenberg. The Beats' influence was massive and widespread and continues to be down to the present day.

The Beat Generation tested traditional lifestyles, norms and values in the post World War II era - breaking from the mainstream and developing different approaches to living. The Beats also had a large influence on rock and roll including Bob Dylan, The Doors and The Beatles.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt,

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What Was the Beat Generation? - Part One

Jack Kerouac album coverImage via Wikipedia

What Was the Beat Generation? by Russell Shortt

The Beat Movement, The Beats, The Beat Generation - what exactly was it? Truth is I don't know and I don't think anybody else does. I mean beat generation was a moniker that Kerouac applied to his close circle of friends - it hardly defines a generation - indeed Corso saw that only three were in it - himself, Ginsberg and Orlovsky.

But then again, what a circle of friends. It often strikes me that the Beats when young were just like any other young group of people, they believe in what they believe, they might compile a half-baked manifesto - but to follow it to the letter, to keep faith in it, to see it to the end - well that's Beat I suppose.

Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs met at Columbia University, envisioning themselves as future literary figures but they were absolutely astonished when they sparked a literary movement. They didn't even know they had, they were living in Europe, whittling away their days in the Beat Hotel, Paris immersing themselves in creative and hedonistic activity. Their circles in New York, San Francisco and Paris included people who were solely hedonists, they would be intricate cogs in the movement, providing distraction, entertainment and inspiration. Poetry by the people for the people.

Indeed, the original beats were Columbian University academics, they needed the influence of the hucksters and hipsters or they may have went the way of the formalists. Well, maybe not, the work that they produced was so fresh, raw and provoking - far from mainstream and it's producers refused to compromise even though it appeared for years that their work would forever remain misunderstood and unpublished.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt,

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

1960s Music and Culture - An Overview

Cover of "Big Brother And The Holding Com...Cover via Amazon

The Music of the 60's by Joe Boikowich

The 1960s refers to the years from the beginning of 1960 to the end of 1969. However, the term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, which denotes the complexity of inter-related cultural and political trends in the west, particularly the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Spain, Italy, and West Germany. Nevertheless, political turmoil was not limited to these countries, but also included nations like Japan and Mexico.

"The Sixties" as they are known in popular culture in the United States, is a term often used nostalgically to describe the counter-culture and social revolution of the times; and pejoratively to describe the era as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance. Also the decade has been labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the libertine attitudes that emerged during this decade. Experimental drug use became tightly associated with the counter-culture of the era, as pointed out by Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner: "If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren't really there."

There is no doubt the 1960s have become synonymous with all the new, exciting, radical and subversive events and trends of the period, which continued to develop in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and beyond. Also in Africa the period was an important one as considerable political change was brought about. Altogether 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers during this period.

By some commentators it has been pointed out that this era was a classical Jungian nightmare cycle since a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm. A vivid example is the rise, success, fall/nightmare and explosion in the London scene of the 1960s. However, as pointed out, this does not alone explain the mass nature of the phenomenon.

During this period in time rock music became the most popular way of defining the new hippie aesthetic, and the style that arose with the stark, swirling colors and hallucinogenic imagery was coined with the term psychedelic. Among others Bob Dylan demonstrated that expressive songs with surrealist imagery could be merged into popular music. Dylan though was one of few artists that did not jump on the psychedelic bandwagon. However, his efforts at the time inspired countless bands that did.

The first psychedelic bands came from San Francisco, and some of these were the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Nevertheless, it did not take long before the psychedelic aesthetic spread musically to other places such as New York, where bands like The Fugs and the Velvet Underground, Sly and the Family Stone and the Chambers Brothers were inspired and in England bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, among others, began producing the same kind of music.

During this period, music entered an era of "all hits", as an abundant number of artists released recordings beginning in the 1950s, as 45-rpm singles, and the radio stations most of the time only played the most popular of the large number of records being made. Also, bands most of the time, only recorded the best of their songs to have a better shot at getting radio play. Among the best examples of American listeners expanding from the folksinger, doo-wop and saxophone sounds of the 1950s and evolving to include psychedelic music, is the developments of the Motown Sound, "folk rock" and the British Invasion of bands from the U.K.

There is no doubt that the rise of the counterculture, particularly among youth, created a huge market for rock, soul, pop, reggae and blues music produced by drug-culture influenced bands like the The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, Deep Purple, The Who, Sly and the Family Stone and the Jimi Hendrix Experience also were helping to create the new version of rock music.

Today, the sixties are celebrated by some of the people who remember the freedom and good times they had during this time in history, but the period is also widely celebrated by younger people all over the world, who have made the period an important part of their life by adopting the aesthetics, buying the records, wearing the clothes and approaching life with the open and free attitude which characterized this period.

Joe Boikowich writes about music formats and vinyl records. For more information check out Nylvi. Nylvi is a new social marketplace for buying and selling vinyl records.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Les Paul - Legend

Lester William Polfus (Les Paul)Image via Wikipedia

The Birth of a Guitar Legend by Robert W. Walker

July 9, 1915 brought the birth of one of the greatest jazz guitarists the world has ever known. This was the day that Lester William Polfuss, better known as Les Paul, was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Little did his parents know how their little baby would change the guitar world with the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.

Les began showing signs of musical interest and talent at the age of 8 when he took up playing the harmonica. In his teenage years he tried his hand at the banjo but instead chose the guitar as his instrument to master. He certainly succeeded in mastering the guitar and went on to revolutionalize not only guitar design but the face of Rock and Roll.

Les and Gibson Unite

Les became frustrated with the guitar designs of the 30's and began working on his own design. By 1941 Les had designed one of the first solid body electric guitars named "The Log". This design was recreated by Gibson in the early 50's when they introduced Les to their new guitar design. He entered into a contract with the Gibson Corporation to play this guitar exclusively which began the era of the Gibson electric guitar.

Later this guitar became known as the "Les Paul" sold only in the "Goldtop" version at that time and is highly collectible today. Les was under contract with Gibson to be seen only with this guitar for public appearances, and photos. This contract lasted through 1961 when Gibson changed the guitar design without consulting with Les so he ended the union with Gibson.

A few years later Eric Clapton brought back the original Les Paul guitar and soon thereafter Les and Gibson reunited with Les at the helm of the designs of his guitars. Today his early guitars are desirable to guitar players and collectors all over the world. The guitars were a big hit and to add to it all Les was also the key component in creating better pickups that guitar makers still use to compare against their new designs.

Les's Life and Achievements

Les played in various venues from his teenage years and beyond. He semi-retired in the late 60's but still performed in various venues well into the 90's. Les was in a car accident in which his elbow was broken in 1948 so he had his doctor set his elbow so he could continue what he loved to do.

In the late 40's Les was married to Mary Ford and they toured together. In 1964 Mary could no longer handle the busy life they led and they divorced. Les has been recognized and rewarded over the years and he and Mary were both inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Les is a highly respected musician all over the world and his technical advances in the guitar world will live forever.

Robert W. (Bob) Walker - I'm a big fan of the Gibson Les Paul in all of its variations. Please visit my blog ...

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

A History of Fleetwood Mac

The Original Fleetwood Mac album coverImage via Wikipedia

Welcome Back, Fleetwood Mac! by Matt J Ryan

Hard to Believe

In the history of the music industry, a lot of bands have come and gone. Some have made an overnight splash and faded away, leaving only the faintest echo for posterity. Many have had a good long run. Very few can claim a forty-year span, often interrupted but never quite gone from the scene. Score one for Fleetwood Mac, back for yet another (possibly) tumultuous tour of the U.S. With the four original members together again, this enduringly popular and charismatic band is back to remind fans of just why they have never been forgotten.

Going Back a While

The story behind the amazing Fleetwood Mac goes back to 1967 in the U.K., when three members of another band called the Bluesbreakers broke off to form their own band. The three were Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, and the band was simply called Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, to cover all the bases, so to speak. They released a single album by the same name, and their sound was still very much "Blues" - this was the era of the "British blues boom". The album did well in England but got little attention in the U.S. The first song to spark the American interest was "Black Magic Woman", on their third album.

The changes in Fleetwood Mac's "personnel" will make your head spin, but in the beginning . . . Peter Green left, and Christine Perfect McVie (then John's wife), came on board as keyboardist by 1969. From then until 1975, two new members were added: Stevie Nicks as vocalist and Lindsey Buckingham on guitar. Five albums were released, and the five members became familiar to fans as the Fleetwood Mac band, and Stevie Nicks' remarkable voice and style became a "signature sound" for the group.

Changes in Attitudes

Success and fortune did what they often do - caused internal strife among band members and some excessive use of alcohol and various other drugs, notably cocaine. However, the 'backbone' of the group somehow stuck with it and kept on recording. Though Stevie Nicks went off to do a solo gig on her own, and other contributing members "flamed out" either temporarily or finally, the music kept on and the fans kept asking for more. While still with the band, Stevie Nicks had a hit single with "Rhiannon" from the album "Fleetwood Mac".

The album "Rumours" was Fleetwood Mac's greatest hit to that time, and won the 1977 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Then they came out with "Tango in the Night", containing four hit singles, and bringing more public and critical acclaim. The storms and dissension among various band members did not prevent them from putting the sound down, though with different artists joining and then leaving, that sound ultimately went through changes. According to most of their fans, it was all good.

The band put together and headlined its own road tour during this time, and performed with other headliners such as REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar. They were still playing to sell-out crowds on their tour, and their fans were not disappointed. The request from Bill Clinton to perform "Don't Stop" (his campaign theme song) at his Inaugural Ball in 1993 got the old group together, but they fell apart again for several more years.

After that appearance, things became chaotic again, but the band continued to perform. They had their own successful road tour, and they opened for other artists such as Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon, and their public never quite lost sight of them. Fleetwood Mac as a band kept splitting up and reforming, and it was not until 2004 that they came together again with the release of "Say You Will", their 15th album.

They're Ready. They're Set. Let's Go!

After all these years, and five years after their last major appearance on the musical scene, Fleetwood Mac is with us again, on tour in the U.S. With the timed release of a new CD/DVD titled "Unleashed", the band begins an "Unleashed" series of performances starting on March 1st at Pittsburg's Mellon Arena. From there fans can follow their procession from city to city, and tickets are selling out. The energy, the enthusiasm and the sound of the "core four" - Fleetwood, McVie, Nicks and Buckingham, is sure to sweep the audience along and make tickets to Fleetwood Mac on stage a thrilling and unforgettable experience for all.

Written by Matt Ryan, article sponsored by StubPass sells Fleetwood Mac Tickets, sports tickets, concert tickets, theater tickets and many more tickets to just about any event in the world.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

The 1960s and the End of the Mod Movement

Small Faces album coverImage via Wikipedia

The End of the Mod Movement by Russell Shortt

When the Mods and Rockers clashed, the antagonism reached its peak in the summer of 1964, when hundreds of youths fought running battles with themselves and the police in the seaside resorts of Clacton, Margate, Bournemouth and Brighton in the UK. However, the media reports of the time greatly over-exaggerated the severity of these incidents causing some moral panic and vindication by the older generations that these youth movements were decadent rabble.

As psychedelic rock music and the hippie subculture began to become popular in the UK, the Mod lifestyle began to peter out. Some of the great Mod bands such as The Who and The Small Faces had changes their styles and really no longer considered themselves as Mods. The "peacock" or "fashion" wing of mod culture evolved into the Bohemian style of London hippie culture, which favoured the gentle, marijuana-infused contemplation of esoteric ideas and aesthetics, which contrasted sharply with the frenetic energy of the mod ethos.

However, there was a small core that did not relate to the middle-class hippie movement's drug-oriented and intellectual music. They began listening to Jamaican Ska and attending underground house parties and clubs and adopting the Rude Boy look of pork-pie hats and too-short Levi jeans. These 'Hard Mods' soon evolved into the first skinheads, a non-political group who hung with black Rude Boys in West Indian clubs. These early skinheads retained some of the basic elements of Mod clothing such as Fred Perry and Ben Sherman shirts, Sta-Prest trousers and Levi's jeans but they mixed them with working-class oriented accessories such as braces and Dr. Marten work boots.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Garage Rock: The Origins and History

Doin' Our Thing album coverImage via Wikipedia

The History of Garage Rock by Joe Boikowich

Garage rock is a raw form of rock and roll that first became popular in the United States and Canada from around 1963 to 1967. During the 1960s garage rock was not recognized as a separate music genre and had no specific name. However, in the early 1970s, some rock critics began to label it as punk rock and later the name was changed to rock or '60s Punk to avoid confusion with the music of late 1970s punk rock bands such as the well-known Sex Pistols and The Clash.

The garage rock style had been evolving from regional scenes as far back as 1958. Mainstream examples of the genre in its formative stages are bands like "Dirty Robber" by The Wailers, and "Rumble" by Link Wray, Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs, but there are also a number of other bands that that had a significant impact in shaping the genre and by 1963, singles released by garage bands were creeping into the national charts in greater numbers, including the Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Trashmen and the Rivieras. Other influential garage bands such as the Sonics never made it into the Billboard 100 though.

In the early period of rock there was a cross-pollination between garage rock and frat rock. Frat rock, which is another major influence and precursor to punk rock, was also a vaguely defined genre of rock and roll, which was characterized by raw, energetic and usually party-themed anthems. Frat rock is today mainly viewed as a sub-genre of rock.

The "British Invasion" of 1964-1966 is another key influence on garage rock as garage rock bands were to a large extent influenced by the British "beat groups" with a harder, blues-based attack, such as for example The Kinks, The Who, The Animals and The Yardbirds among others. However, another major influence on garage rock, which should not be left unmentioned, is the folk-rock of the Byrds and Bob Dylan.

Looking back, it is commonly agreed that garage rock peeked both commercially and artistically in 1966. What happened was that the genre entered a slow, but irreversible, decline with fewer and fewer records being released, and by 1970 the genre was, from a general interest standpoint, by any practical means dead.

So how exactly did the genre get its name? Well, the name Garage Rock comes the common view that many of those performing within the genre were young and amateurish, and often practiced in a family garage. Naturally this connotation also evokes a suburban, middle-class setting. However, it is definitely not correct to draw the conclusion that that all garage bands had this demographic background. Some bands were made up of middle-class teenagers from the suburbs, while others were from rural or urban areas. Additionally there were also the professional musicians in their twenties.

The garage rock performances were most of the time characterized as being amateurish or naïve. Common themes were related to the negative aspects of high school life and the lyrics and delivery were quite a bit more aggressive than what was common at the time, often with growled or shouted vocals that often seemed to be more like screaming.

A particularly common type of song was about "lying girls". This might imply that the music was very limited. However, in reality different garage rock acts were quite diverse in both musical ability and in style. Bands varied from one-chord musical crudeness to near-studio musician quality. Also there were regional variations in many parts of the country with the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon having the most defined regional sound.

Thousands of garage bands were extant in the USA and Canada during the era. Several dozen of these produced national hit records, while hundreds of others produced regional hits. However, as expected most garage rock bands were commercial failures even though such bands were signed to major or large regional labels.

By 1968 the style largely disappeared from the national charts and the local level as new styles had evolved to replace garage rock. As well, the music industry stopped supporting it. The only exception was in Detroit where garage rock stayed alive until the early 70s, however, with a much more aggressive style. Among the true believers these later bands are not considered to belong to the rock genre. Instead they are often described as proto-punk or proto-hard rock.

Garage rock expert Joe Boikowich writes about the history of garage rock. For more information check out the Essential Garage Rock Selection at Nylvi.

Nylvi is a new social marketplace for buying and selling vinyl records.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aynsley Dunbar - The Drummer who Played with Everyone!

Cover of "Jeff Beck Group"Cover of Jeff Beck Group

Famous Drummers - Aynsley Dunbar by Drew Mers

Aynsley Dunbar is one fine English drummer who has worked with such high-profile rock and roll musicians as Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, and Journey.

Born Aynsley Thomas Dunbar on January 10, 1946 in Liverpool, England; he began playing drums at the age of eleven. Dunbar launched his professional career by playing at various gigs on the Liverpool jazz scene. At fifteen, he teamed up with the band Leo Rutherford, then with Merseysippi Jazz Band at seventeen. Other groups he became a part of were the rock/R&B band Derry Wilkie and the Pressmen, The Flamingos, Freddie Starr and the Flamingos, Excheckers, and Stu James and the Mojos.

In 1966, Dunbar joined John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, with whom he recorded and released an EP record. After being part of Bluesbreaker concerts, Dunbar then joined and formed the English rock band The Jeff Beck Group, along with guitarist Jeff Beck, vocalist Rod Stewart and bassist Ron Wood. He drummed on Jeff Becks Seminal Truth sessions, Tallyman, and Rock my Plimsoul. Prior to leaving the Jeff Beck in early 1968, the group made an appearance in Donovans Barabajajal album.

Dunbar almost became the drummer and percussionist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but Mitch Mitchell beat him in the audition when he won Hendrix's coin flip.

In 1967, Dunbar formed The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, a blues-rock band featuring vocalist/guitarist John Moorshead, keyboardist Tommy Eyre, bassist Alex Dmochowski, organist/singer Victor Brox, blues artist Champion Jack Dupree and Tim Rose. Interestingly, Rod Stewart fronted Retaliation on a previous live recording. Dunbar released four studio albums with Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation from 1968 to 1970.

In January 1970, Dunbar next led another rock band, Blue Whale. His stint with Blue Whale was short-lived. With this group, Dunbar recorded one album, 1971 Blue Whale, which featured a cover of Willi the Pimp, a Frank Zappa single. Dunbar earlier met Frank Zappa in Belgium, when he was still with the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation.

Dunbar then became the drummer for Frank Zappa, leading to Dunbar's move to America. He played on Zappa's new version of the Mothers of Invention, which was featured in the albums Fillmore East: June 1971, 200 Motels, Waka/Jawaka, and The Grand Wazoo.

In 1973, he joined David Bowie for Pin Ups, and Diamond Dogs, released in 1974. He also recorded with Lou Reed in the 1973 album Berlin. The mid-1970s saw Dunbar team up with the then-new jazz-fusion group Journey, with whom he recorded and co-wrote four albums, namely, Journey, Look into the Future, Next, and Infinity. Dunbar then left the band, as it was veering away from the challenging rock-fusion style.

In 1976, Dunbar collaborated with Sammy Hagar in his first solo album, Nine on a Ten Scale. He then worked with Jefferson Starship in 1978, recorded three albums with the band, and toured with them until the 1982 album, Winds of Change. Dunbar then took a break, but was later on convinced to join Whitesnake in 1985. He played and recorded on the 1987 self-titled, commercial breakthrough album released by the band. With this group, Dunbar produced the hits Still of the Night, What is Love, and Here I Go Again.

Drew Mers is a consultant to Empire Rehearsal Studios, which rents aspiring bands, musicians and drummers a music rehearsal studio in Long Island City, Queens, New York.

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Tower of Power Drummer - David Garibaldi

Tower of Power album coverImage via Wikipedia

Famous Drummers - David Garibaldi by Drew Mers

David Garibaldi is the legendary drummer in the 10-member Oakland-based funk/soul band Tower of Power. Born on November 4, 1946 in Oakland, California, and raised in San Francisco, Garibaldi was already fascinated with drums at the age of 10. He played drums in the Pleasanton Elementary school band, and in high school, joined the Sid Reis Big Band under the teaching of James Campana, during which period his parents bought him his first ever drum set.

When he graduated from high school, Garibaldi became a member of a funk band called The Disciples. Just when he was starting his professional career as a musician, Garibaldi was enlisted in the United States Air Force and joined the 724th US Air Force Band. Following his release from the service, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, and in 1970, joined the Tower of Power.

With Tower of Power, Garibaldi easily became one of the most influential drummers of his generation. He was widely recognized as an innovator in funk drumming. He was particularly celebrated for his grooves on the hits You're Still A Young Man, So Very Hard to Go, You've Got to Funkifize and What is Hip? Garibaldi decided to leave the band in 1980, following some tumultuous years. His funky drum style, which became integral to Tower of Powers music, made it difficult for the drummers who replaced him.

Garibaldi had collaborations with various prestigious artists, including Patti Austin, Natalie Cole, Larry Carlton, Mickey Harts Planet Drum, Jermaine Jackson, Ray Obiedo, the Buddy Rich Orchestra, Boz Scaggs, Talking Drums, Gino Vanelli, and Deniece Williams.

He also has books and videos under Alfred Publishing and Warner Brothers Publications, including Tower of Groove: Complete, a two-volume DVD, where Garibaldi performed eight great tunes with a six-piece band and then breaks down his drum part in each tune section by section. In this video, Garibaldi combined funk drumming with his interest in Afro-Cuban music. Garibaldi also worked with Doc Kupka in the Strokeland Superband album. He toured as well with singer RAD.

In January 1998, after 18 years of studio work, teaching, writing books, and producing videotapes on drumming, David Garibaldi rejoined Tower of Power. He came back at a time when the band was constantly touring. The band continues to tour extensively in the US and around the world.

Garibaldi has been recognized many times for his contributions to the music industry. He was named Best Traditional R&B Drummer in the Modern Drummer Readers Poll 2007. He was also recently honored by Guitar Center, when he was given the 2008 Drum Legend Award.

Garibaldi plays Yamaha Drums and Sabian Cymbals.

Drew Mers is a consultant to Empire Rehearsal Studios, which rents aspiring bands, musicians and drummers a music rehearsal studio in Long Island City, Queens, New York.

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Jimi Hendrix and his Famous Guitars

Jimi Hendrix StatueImage by bleachers via Flickr

Jimi Hendrix's Guitar by Ricky Sharples

The influence of Jimi Hendrix as a guitar player is undeniable. He lived in an age populated by guitar legends and became a legend among them. Did Jimi Hendrix's guitar have any special part in the making of the legend or would Jimi have made his mark with the aid of any old guitar?

For those who are interested in reproducing Jimi Hendrix's unique guitar sound, here are some facts about the instruments and equipment behind the guitar sound that shook the world like a wet kitten. The fact is there was nothing particularly special about the Jimi Hendrix guitar set-up.

Jimi Hendrix was left-handed. What this means to most guitar players is you reverse the strings on a right-handed guitar so that the strings are in the same order as they would be for a right-handed player, that is the sixth string on top and the first string on the lower side of the neck. If you don't want to do this you pay a lot of extra money for a left-handed guitar. Jimi chose neither of these options. He played a Fender Stratocaster strung for a right-handed player because he preferred his tone and volume control knobs on the top of the guitar.

Feedback added another dimension to Jimi's guitar playing and he got it from the three single coil pick-ups on the Stratocaster. During the evolution of the electric guitar a lot of work was put into eliminating feedback. It was considered a nuisance. The solution to the problem was the development of Humbucker pick-ups. The Strat did not use the Humbuckers so Jimi used the Strat.

Like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Eddy Van Halen, Jimi used the amp of choice for heavy metal guitar players - the Marshall. The Marshall sound was well-liked in the seventies and is still duplicated today by effects software, but prior to the Marshall becoming the most popular amp Jimi used Fender Dual Showman and Twin Reverb amps.

Did Jimi Hendrix play other guitars besides the Fender Strat? Yes he flirted with the Gibson Flying V for a while and was known to play a Epiphone acoustic but he will always be remembered as a Strat player.

The effect that is most associated with Hendrix is the wah-wah. In 1967 he heard and watched Frank Zappa using it and immediately fell in love with it. He also loved the Leslie speaker sound.

Do you want to learn to play the guitar? Learn How To Play A Guitar For Free is a constantly updated blog which contains all the resources you need for: learning to play solo guitar, how to learn guitar chords, how to learn to read and play easy acoustic guitar tabs, finding a free online guitar tuner, looking for free guitar lessons online, and how to learn guitar scales.

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