Monday, December 5, 2011

Giving Birth to The Gillbillies || 1978 Les Paul Custom || Old Guitars

Isn't she a beauty?  I mean who has ever seen a custom colored orange Les Paul?  Not I.  There is some really history behind this babe.  If you have ever seen or heard The Gillbillies you know that they are an instrumental act that focuses on the melodic rhythms often found in the 60s era surf music...but with a twist.  They are heavy.  They have a sound all to their own.  And this guitar played a vital role in shaping the way of The Gillbillies ever so sweet tone.

Seeing The Gillbillies "live & in person" is an experience in itself.  When talking Gillbillies and guitars you would think that I would writing about one of the Flying V's with Bigsby's (a la Lonnie Mack) that many have seen Jimbo playing out and about the Bay Area.  But as Jimbo put it, this is the guitar that gave birth to the Gillbillie sound.  "We decided to try an instrumental surf guitar sound and this was the only guitar I had with a tremolo."  Hence, the Gillbillies were born.

But there is a lot more to this story.  I had seen and admired this guitar being played for quite some time.  One day after a jam with Jimbo and Nick I got the real story behind the Orange Custom Les Paul.  He had spotted this unique instrument while perusing through the online auction house, eBay (as many of us do who are addicted to the instrument known as the guitar).  He checked on the end date and made a mental note to check on it before the auction ended.  Life got busy and the auction slipped his mind.  Luckily it had ended with out a sale.  He sent an email to the seller and asked if he could buy it.  A week later he got a reply, "If they don't sell, I get rid of them write away."  Jimbo inquired if he could have the dealer's contact info that the guitar was sold to because he really wanted it.  "I'll see what I can do." Another week goes by and he finally gets the contact info of the dealer.  He calls the dealer and he is told that he sold it a few weeks ago to a music shop in Hollywood (the town of flashy guitars).  He asks for the shops info....and the wait continues.  On a Sunday night an email comes with the name, address and phone number of the Hollywood shop.  Jimbo sets his alarm to call the shop first thing when it opens on Monday morning.  11:05am monday morning rolls around...

Ring, ring...
Music shop employee: How can I help you?
Jimbo:  I was wondering if you have a certain guitar in your shop.  You will know if right away once I described it to you.  It is a 1978 Orange Gibson Les Paul Custom with Bigsby tailpiece.
Music shop employee: Are you shitting me?  I literally just hung that guitar on the wall right before we opened.
Jimbo: Please take it off the wall and run this credit card number.  I want it.
Music shop employee:  Ah man, one of my co-workers is going to be soooo pissed!  He loves that guitar.  Unfortunately he is over-extended on his store credit and the owner won't let him have any more.  He is going to be pissed.

Soon after it was shipped up to Jimbo.  The only change that the shop made on it was removing the floating wooden bridge and replacing with the current adjustable one.  He did find out that this Les Paul Custom originally came out of the factory polaris white with all nickel hardware (tuners have been updated).  Soon after it's first birthday it was painted the beautiful color orange it now possesses along with the addition of the bigsby.  The the sound is to die for.  But for now just feast your eyes of a few pictures of this rare gem.

And here is a little taste of that tone she puts out....

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Graves Brothers Deluxe || San Malo || Reviewing Vinyl

The men who form The Graves Brothers Deluxe are living proof that the longer you play as well as study the artform of music, the better you get at it.  What we will be taking a look at today is their new LP out on Too Long to Chew Music.  On a recent Blogcast I caught the frontman, Stoo Odom, spinning the Tales of how the album came about.  It is a story based on an island in swampland East of New Orleans where the oldest living inhabitants from the far east escaped the oppressive Spanish who enslaved them.  Traveling across the atlantic in 1740 they lived for 150 years in peace as well as relative obscurity until a hurricane wiped their tribe completely off the map.  No Survivors.  Fast forward 400 years and Katrina did the same for a lot of residents of the City of New Orleans.  When prompted, frontman Stoo shared that the more recent event had a catastrophic effect on his loved ones and he felt a kinship with the story of San Malo.  Parallel lines.  Events never change, just faces and and numerics.  Besides the tales they spin, this album comes in custom orange vinyl decorated with pink and red dots, just like someone threw paint  on a wall.  A real beauty.  Not sure who or what is behind the album artwork, but you guys get an A+ for originality.

 Side One:
1.SanMalo National Anthem- Heavy Duty.  Let's you know where this album is about to go to.  2.I'm Fine-Chorus is arrogant and awesome.  3.Splinters- Vocal performance is one of the best on the album.  Drumming out of this jazzy world.  4.Five Foot Category Five- Primus meets Tom Waits (did I just say that?) The least favorite thing on this side is that little RHCP break.  It's not that I don't like the break, its just everything else is off the hook with originality up to this point on the album.  5.Vulture Sing- The Guitar work on this tune is spectacular, and I don't even want to about the tones these guys are getting down. Nice stuff!

Side Two:
1.My Heart Burned Down Today- This second side starts off with a sick and twisted love song.....just waiting for that coming train.  It teases you just enough with a sick groove that really comes to life on the second verse.  Then dumps you.  2.Papio Paio (The Swamp Ape Again)- We are back into religion.  Is it the religion of fast paced chase scenes a la McQueen in bullet?  I think so.  It builds drama and pace and I might add, is awesome to see live and in person.  3.La Balada De San Malo- Another brilliant number. Short pulsating buzzsaws sung in a foreign language.  God dammit!  That guitar is so short & repetitive...all the while being too good.  The buzz is created through the bass (which is the buzziest instrument in the band).  It adds just enough of a pause to build tension and it's littered through out this gem.  I wish I could cover this one.  4.Noisy Kind of Nothing- Noiso tales of life on the island of San Malo.  5.Fifty Years Later on the Bayou Skimmer -There is a goat on the album.  I keep listening to this song to try to understand the significance of it on the album, to see if there is something I am missing.  To the artist it must mean something, however I follow the live rule...would I want to see it performed live and in person. Probably not.  Everything else on the album I would and I have.  And hopefully I will see it again real soon.

Thumbs Up!

Here is a little live Graves Brothers Deluxe for ya...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Archers of Loaf || Return of Original Music || GAMH 9-2-11

I thought that I would never be able to say that I had been to an Archers of Loaf show.  Why?  Because the most original rock band of the last 20 years (before this year) had not played a live show in over 13 years.  I thought it was hopeless.  Sometime back in April of this year I received a text from the east coast gentlemen who introduced me to their sound.  Blue Lang wrote, "Archers of Loaf, September 2nd.  Date Night.  Get a babysitter."  I was pretty stoked to get this message.

They were the biggest influence on my old band, The Booty Chesterfield Trio.  Blue and I started jamming in the spring of 2006.  As a lot of jams go, you start to bring in your influences.  One of the first bands that Blue turned me on to (and that I took and instant liking to) were these guys.  I got what he wanted out of the music and tried to transcribe that thought process into original tunes.  Hence, the reason for being so influential.  More importantly; they rocked.  And all I wanted to do is rock too.  They are smart punk rock.  Their songs are a mixture of built up drama entangled with overwhelmingly powerful hooks.  They have a lot of "eek and awnk" chord structures in alternate tunings that you don't hear every day.

Archers of Loaf
I had heard several live recordings of them but nothing to prepare me for the show.  Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Blue did not make the show.  He was back home in Florida.  As the day of the show approached, like so many other things in life when you age, I was tired and just wanted to have a weekend to relax.  Driving up to the City on a Friday night didn't sound too appetizing.  But we rallied and made the most of it.

The opening band sucked.  I cannot even remember their name.  And for the most part I thought the evening was going to suck because the dinner service at the Great American Music Hall.  I had always wanted to sit in the "good seats" that got you dinner and a show, but my cheap ass could never pony up to it.  I need never do it again.  My advice, just get the regular tickets.  While the GAMH is one of the best venues to see a small and intimate show in San Francisco, it is not known for the food or the service.  And the following statement shall serve as an exclamation point.  We had the A grade tickets that night; they gave us the C grade waitress.  A terrible management issue by whoever was in charge that night.  I believe that she was probably new to the job, probably took a hit out of the bong before showing up to work and was completely off.  When it took her 15 minutes to get us a drink from a non-packed upstairs bar (about 30 feet from us) that we were in for it.  Then I noticed the only other group there for dinner had completely finished their meal. I walked up to an usher to inquire (our waitress was no where in site).  Turns out that she completely forgot to place our order and we finally ate overly salted and peppered cafeteria food about hour and a half after our arrival sitting in the dark through a shitty band.  That is the mood that was set.  I was ready to go home.  My buddy took it upon himself to make sure at least we had cocktails on the house floating into our veins to cool our heated jets.  Go for the music; don't go for the food.  And never use a cocktail waitress there.  Very unreliable for such a small intimate venue.

Now for some action.  The Archers came out and completely blew the doors off the non capacity crowd.  They played it perfectly, rolling through all the songs that one who was half a fan would want to hear.  Even more important; it felt real.  It felt like they meant it.  They were not here for the money and to sell more Archers CDs, they were here to put on a kick ass live rock and roll show.

Archers of Loaf

A couple of highlights from the show; staring down from the balcony into the crowd with the Archers in full blast off mode I witnessed  this swirling pool of middle-aged balding white dudes, many with glasses and plaid shirts, attempting to re-start up that pit again, just like they did back in 1993.  But this time with a lot less force.  It was cute (for lack of a better term).  I saw myself in there at one point in time too.  Another highlight was when the Archer's entered into the classic "Low" I heard, check that, we all heard someone shout out "Fuck Yeah!  I have been waiting 15 years to hear this song!!!"  I think that is how many people felt that night.  See, Archers were always an East Coast band.  They never had much of an impact on the west coast as let's say, Pavement or someone else from that era.  Probably because they didn't tour a lot on the west coast.  Maybe two or three times.

So why write about this?  I'd like to encourage musicians to understand the real impact that bands make on people.  The music never dies.  It just keeps on growing.  Now, to see it live...that is a whole different story.  After Friday night I feel like I was one of the fortunate ones....

Archers Of Loaf "Audiowhore" from christopher Bettig on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pirate Pat's Lost Treasure || 1976 Black on Black Stratocaster || Old Guitars

I think I need not mention my love affair with the guitar.  If you have read any of my earlier posts it comes across quite evident.  When one ages, we tend to acquire more things.  From the previous spoken love, I started collecting guitars.  The true guitar behind the 1976 stratocaster is actually a 1964 Fender Jaguar.

I love the off-set shape of the jaguar and wanted a vintage one.  This preceded me learning the valuable lesson of "never buy a guitar on eBay".  I was misled by this online dealer that I decided to attempt to acquire a jaguar from.  Vintage City Music out of Lansing, MI sold me an "all original" guitar.  Jaguars are known to be complex instruments.  When I received it I couldn't figure it out.  The bridge pick up seemed dead.  I called up Guitar Showcase and they pointed me toward the direction of Mark Brown, whom I am forever indebted to in the guitar buying world.  I took the guitar right over to Mark.  He told me that the neck had been refinished, possible fret job, new reproduction tuners and the neck pick up needed to be rewound.  All in all about $700 worth of work to get it up to snuff.  I said, "ah, I got ripped off" and Mark so eloquently replied, "How much did you pay for this guitar? $2500.  You didn't get ripped off, with the work you would have a $3200 guitar, about the price of a vintage jaguar in good condition."  I love his thought philosophy.

The jaguar story does have a good ending.  They had a 24 hr. return policy, and honored it as "24 hr. business days" and took the guitar back with me paying the shipping.  Now I had cash burning a whole in my pocket.

60s Smugglin' Pat
The cosmos must of aligned wanting me to have, our family friend, Pat Ryan's 1976 black stratocaster.  I met Pat through my uncle Craig.  This guy was a real character; boisterous laugh and parrot on his shoulder.  Pat had a rough go at the end of his life.  He lost his wife, Carol, from a obscure ailment and this sent him into an unfortunate tailspin.  He couldn't hold down a job leading to a depressed & broke dude.  He stated it was his buddhist teachings that made him want to get rid of all of his prized possessions and live a simple life.  Looking back on it now and think he was just preparing for the ending.  Unfortunately Pat took his own life at the age of 58.

80s Jammin' (note Blackie in the background)
Before the end, he approached me about buying his 1976 Black on Black Stratocaster.  It was in good shape with just the tuners being changed.  He wanted $1900 for it.  I was flush with the return cash of the jaguar.  I wanted a vintage instrument and the opportunity to try and help a buddy out.  I did give him the caveat that if he ever wanted his Strat back, I would give it to him for the money I paid.  He said he would not be wanting it back.  An unfortunate truth.  This is the story of how I am in possession of a beautiful 1976 Stratocaster.  He said he bought it because David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame played one.  But he said he never played it that much because he was much more of a Gibson man.  I understood this philosophy because I am more of the opposite.  I love Fender guitars.  And this one was a beauty, right down to the instruction manual and extra springs.  I did have Mark Brown set it up for me and the tone pots needed replacing and I also had him put back on the original tuners.  It plays and looks great.  See for yourself...


And this is how it sounds......

Patrick Joseph Ryan 1951-2009

Friday, August 12, 2011

Zombie(fied) in San Francisco || Compliments of Mr. Santos || 2011 Summer Drink Series

The Summer Drink Series continues on as I headed up last Friday to visit a "Brethren in Rums" at the Bernal Tiki Refuge lodged deep within the San Francisco underground.  Christian Santos has been a fan of the "Tiki" and all it inspires ever since the little kid discovered his family roots were firmly footed on the isle Guam.  His passion really took off during his early twenties when his kitschy American roots took control and combined the two that make one, Mr. Santos.

Christian and I get together every so often to share thrift store adventures as well as to trade new concoction ideas at one of our bars.  He has been known for serving up quite a delectable drink from time to time.  He has the classic Mai Tai down as well as the Polihale Punch that he came up with.  However, this summer Christian has really been working on his Zombie skill.  See, the Zombie was invented by Don the Beachcomber as one of the original slew of tiki drinks, but also turned out to be one of the most potent.  If you ever want to perform a test on someone to see if they truly understand Tiki bars & Rum drinks, a simple question to ask is "(by overall majority) what is the most potent Tropical Drink?"  You guessed it, The Zombie.  Let's enjoy the true strategic alliance of liquids while making this drink...

SPECIAL NOTE: This recipe really is one of its own and only real connection to the original is rum and the ass-kicking potential this potent beast will pack.  Warning:  Please do not drink more than two of these drinks.  I have no liability, responsibility, inquiry, contrary and illusionary dreams that you people will be able to party all night with these drinks.  This drink is a perfect "Starters" drink to a "big night out".  Stick to beer or a pepsi after you slurp down a Zombie.  Now let's get to the creation part....

Fill a Pint Glass 2/3 to the top with cubed ice.  Fill a Shaker with the other third

 3/4 shot of Fresh Lime Juice

Put One shot of barcadi

One shot of Trader Vic's Dark Rum

One shot of Pineapple Juice (the fresher the better!)

One shot of Passion Fruit Mix

One shot of Orange Juice (the fresh rule applies here too)

Half a shot of Apricot Brandy

2 dashes of Bitters

Shake rigorously for 15 seconds

Then take the top off the shaker and strain into Pint glass.  Now add one more dash of bitters on the top (for olfactory effect).  Now, if you only have one of these drinks, treat yourself to a called for floater of Barcadi 151 on the top.  We were opted to not add it due to trial process during filming.

Garnish with A fresh mint sprig and skewered chunks of Pineapple and enjoy!

I would personally like to thank the purveyours of The Bernal Tiki Refuge for their kind hospitality.  Thank you Christian and Kristy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Victor || The Film Dude in San Jose || circa 2007

Inspiration is the reason we breath.  So when one writes a song they can only look as far as the air that they are breathing.  The small, subtle music scene in downtown San Jose back 2007 was part of my muse.  There was one character that always stood out; a guy named Victor.  You could spot him pretty clearly, a man of short stature with no hair on top, glasses and mustache.  He did not try to fit in because he couldn't.  I love Victor for that.  Most important, there was a freshness toward music that he took in.  It was very inspiring.

I met Victor at the Caravan one night back in 2007 and I got as much of his story that he would divulge to a complete stranger on some random night.  He was videotaping some band (usually with a women in it) and I started talking to him.  He told me that he just does it for kicks.  Bands don't pay him.  He doesn't really promote it.  Had barely even heard of Youtube back then and just loved to tape the performances of bands he liked.  I asked him if he'd seen our band and he replied yeah, "I saw you guys at Johnny V's back in January.  There was supposed to be some surf band from Spain you were opening up for but they didn't show.  I thought you guys really rocked.  I was bummed my battery ran out on the first band."  I told him when we were playing next and he showed and caught on tape some classic original "The Booty Cheterfield Trio" footage with Pickle on bass and Blue on drums.  One of our best performances at the time with full comedic routine and one, Joe Izzo, out in the crowd giving away T-Shirts.  Here are some highlights I decide to put up on Youtube:

This one is some recently uploaded old footage that Film Dude recorded for us back in 2008.  Recollecting back, it was a really fun night with a pretty full bar.

This is a portion of the song we wrote for Film Dude Victor.  We wanted to right a straightforward punk rock song that typified his attitude toward live rock and roll.  You can find a version of it on our first album, Sellin' Cookies.

And this last one is my favorite.  At about 10 seconds into the clip, the video pans around and you can see Film Dude Victor sporting a Booty Chesterfield T-shirt and dancing like nobodies business to the tunes.  What else can I say?  Like is about having fun....and FDV is doing just that!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

U2 || Even Better than an Ankle Sprang || Oakland June 7, 2011

U2 Oakland June 7, 2011
I had seen this thing coming down the pipeline before.  For me the last experience like this was the night I got backstage all, access passes to see The Rolling Stones "Bridges to Babylon Tour" in 1997.  So I knew what to expect.  The likeness of a gifted gem of one more childhood Christmas Eve or a highly anticipated trip to Disneyland as a young lad.  I was prepped and ready for it.

See a good friend has a certain family member that happens to be a founder of Elevation Partners, the famous "dream team" of venture capital firms that happens to include Bono.  So I knew that U2 was coming and that they would probably have pretty good seats.  I planted the seed, "Ya know, sometimes people fall off the bus at the very last moment.  If anyone cannot make the show at the last minute I want to let you know that I am available."  At 9:30pm the night before I got the call.  "We have an extra ticket."  Bingo.  I am in!

I shifted my day to an early office close and headed up to the pre-party in Atherton.  Cold beer and good food all within the backdrop of a beautiful private estate.  Unfortunately Bono couldn't make it, I think he was donating his time at the local children's hospital before the show (not really).  Either way we prepped up for the big night with food and booze then climbed aboard the luxury liner bus and made the 3 hour jaunt over to Oakland.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  It took 3 hours to go 40 miles.  There was a massive traffic jam trying to get to the coliseum and we never even made the bus ride into the coliseum parking lot.  We got out and hoofed it for about four blocks.  And we were the lucky ones getting in about 9:30pm just in time to see the lights go down.  We heard later that some people didn't even make it to their seats until about 11pm.
U2 360 - Light Attack
We got to our seats, which by all standard we definitely corporate.  They were close enough to be "really good seats", but for a true music fan they were nothing to write home about.  That was until I got a "red zone" pass slapped around my neck.  My friend and I proceeded to walk right on up to the stage.  This is what we saw....

Sunday Bloody Sunday


Bono Serenading the Crowd

All and all a great show.  They kicked off with "Even Better Than the Real Thing", which was my personal motto pre-show because, I felt like I was a little kid on his way to Disneyland.  It was like I was dreaming the whole time, this unexpected fortunate experience that was bestowed upon me.  The stand out numbers were "I Will Follow", Bowie's "Space Oddity" going into "Pride".  I personally enjoy "Vertigo" as well as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and I was happy that the video came out so well.

If you think about it U2 is amazing.  Not only are they still the same four guys rocking in a rock band the way we all wish we could, they have been doing it for 30 years.  Any fan who has a love for live rock 'n' roll  can attest to U2's incredible staying power to continuously put on a great show with just four members (along with a hidden keyboardist under the stage, they have been doing that for years).  I referred to the Rolling Stones show that I saw back in 1997 and "yes" it was a great show.  And "yes" they are one of my favorite bands of all time, but still they came with full horn section, back up singers, percussion, keyboards and god only knows who else was on the stage.  So to see a stripped down 4 piece rock a crowd of  69,000 people was a sight to be seen.  And then there was the light show......hats off, men.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Perfect Mai Tai || Compliments of Joe Izzo

Is summer here yet?  It feels like we have not kicked into high gear in regards to the summertime weather.  In an effort mentally take us there a little sooner I would like to pass on my favorite Mai Tai recipe and encourage other to try it out and enjoy the beginnings of the ever-so-pleasant time of year.

When this drink first came into my existence its concoctions were so potent that it brought down divine forces keeping me out of a head on collision.  Back in '98 I used to get up around quarter to six in the morning, grab my 9 foot surfboard and strap it to the top of a '78 Grand Marquis paneled station wagon and head over the hill to Santa Cruz with my venerable Uncle Craig and one, Joe Izzo.  Joe is a peculiar fellow and this was the beginning of our friendship.  I didn't really know what to expect from the guy.  It was all summed up in one experience; in the makings of a Mai Tai.  We had just peeked over the hill on the 17 heading for a pleasant day of surf.  The topic started off with Mint Julips and quickly drifted onto the Mai Tai.  That is when I blurted out from the back seat that I had never had a Mai Tai.  Joe shoulders and head turned 180 degrees facing me head on and said, "you have never had a Mai Tai?  We need to fix that problem."

The next week we booked a reservation at a Thai restaurant close to my apartment.  Joe was reviewing restaurants for The Metro Newspaper at the time.  A nice friend to have.  Joe showed up with a whole box of ingredients and mixed up a batch of heaven for a couple of friends before heading out to Siam Square.  I had never tasted, felt & fully enjoyed so much pleasure in a beverage before.  I devoted a will to perfect this drink.  I think I have you tell me.  This is how you make it:

First off, you need to get yourself a 16oz. barrel glass.  I recommend going to Hula's in Downtown Santa Cruz and picking up a couple with their logo's on them.  They are pretty cool and it is always a good memory buying a tiki glass or mug.  Fill it with cubed ice.  First put in about 2oz. of Barcadi White Rum.
Then add about an ounce of O.J. and an ounce of pineapple juice. 

Then add just a splash of Trader Vic's Mai Tai mix

Then add in a half of ounce of Grenadine, nice and slow so it goes to the bottom and separates away from the mixed juices.L1050390
Then add a nice hefty floater of Myer's Dark rum.L1050391
Garnish with a skewer of pineapple with cherry and umbrella of top. 
And with a short bendy straw if you got one.  They look beautiful with the three separate layers.  For the rookies and the non-regulars and recommend a good stir after you are done enjoying the scenery.  Personally, I like sipping on the dark rum floating around on top.

Let me know if you have any successes or suggestions when mixing up this drink.  Enjoy!