Monday, May 25, 2015

Practically Toto - "Breakdown Dead Ahead" - Boz Scaggs

I've been posting YouTube videos of pop songs that were recorded by members of the Wrecking Crew.  The "Wrecking Crew" was a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles who played on many of the hits in the 60's and 70's.  Musicians like Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye and dozens of others laid the foundation tracks for a diverse group of artists like The Beach Boys, The Mamas and Papas, Sonny and Cher, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, The Monkees, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, The Carpenters, Nancy Sinatra and many others.  Hal Blaine (who coined the group's name) alone played on six consecutive Grammy Records of the Year.  That's a record that will never be broken.

Towards the end of the 70's a new group of musicians started getting the top calls for major label record dates. A few of them, Steve Lukather, David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro and David Hungate went on to form the band Toto. They had several hits in the late 70's and throughout the 80's.  As many hits as they had they went on to play on even more hits for other artists.

This "Practically Toto" series will concentrate on songs that had two or more Toto band members on the recording.

Lukather, Jeff Porcaro and Hungate contributed to almost every track on Boz Scaggs "Middle Man" album. This song, "Breakdown Dead Ahead" features Luke and Hungate.

Neither Hungate nor Luke are in this video.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Bottle Cap Banjo

I'm constantly on the look out for new sounds. New sounds for me. And even better new sounds no one has heard. Often when working on film and games scores a different sonic paintbrush is required.  That's when a good imagination comes in hand. Case in point the video below...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Getting Better - Adult Edition (Updated 6/2/15)

A friend of mine asked me for some tips on how to get better.  And like many adults with jobs and families he doesn't have a lot of time. Here's what I told him...

Some thoughts on getting better on guitar.

1. Practice 5 minutes a day. That’s easy, 5 turns to 10 to 15 to 30, etc. If I told you had to practice an hour a day you’d never do it. Like me trying to get to the gym.

2. Keep guitars handy. If you have a lot of down time in what you do, make sure the guitar is out and ready to be played.

3. Dig your left thumbnail into your finger tips (pads) to toughen them up when not around the guitar. Or right if you are left-handed.

4. Your right hand should lock to the drummer’s right (HiHat) hand. (Or left if, well you know...)

5. If you are struggling with a new chord practice going to that chord from all the other ones you aren’t struggling with. For example… say F was your hard chord.

F C F G F Am F Em F E F D F Dm F etc.

… and just do one strum of each, this is left hand work not right hand. Don’t waste valuable time strumming four beats each.

6. If you want to be playing electric guitar, every now and then practice loud. Maybe when no one else is home. The guitar is a whole different animal to tame when cranked. That’s why Eddie Van Halen is so amazing because that guitar is a tamed tornado in his hands.

7. Practice standing up if you are going to be performing. The ergonomics are very different sitting than standing. Otherwise after the gig you’ll be all like “But I played so good at home.” 

8. Jam with others better than you. Like playing tennis with someone better it’ll raise your game.

9. Take a lesson every now and then.

10. Spend too much on a new guitar. Out of guilt you'll be motivated to get your money's worth.

11. Watch videos of great players to get inspired. Watch how they approach the instrument.

12. To be able to play like your favorite players, study their influences. That will give you greater insight.