Thursday, April 6, 2017

GUITAR GODS: Steve Morse


Where does one begin in an attempt to encapsulate a career like that of Mr. Morse into a few short introductory paragraphs? Hmmm....

7 Grammy nominations, millions of albums sold, played for several legendary bands (including Dixie Dregs, Kansas, and Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famers Deep Purple), voted "Best Overall Guitarist" by Guitar Player magazine for five years in a row (and one of a VERY short list of players of the GP "Gallery of Greats"), 7 Grammy nominations, played on almost 200 albums (30 as band-leader), has a signature model guitar from MusicMan Guitar Company & signature pickups from DiMarzio, has toured the world numerous times, played thousands of shows, and is cited by players such as John Petrucci & the late Shawn Lane as one of the best players alive.

And that just scratches the surface of his accomplishments.

He is known for his uncanny ability to flow effortlessly from rock to classical to country to jazz to progressive to bluegrass and more, is the longest serving guitarist in Deep Purple (the other guitarists all legends: Tommy Bolin, Ritchie Blackmore, and Joe Satriani), he has seen his work top the charts for albums & singles in a variety of countries (Deep Purple's 2013 release "Now What?" was a Top 10 album in 10 countries, four of those at number one, while Flying Colors' 2011 debut reached #9 on Billboard's Hard Rock Charts), and is about to embark on the next Deep Purple tour which will carry them across Europe & North America for the next 7 months.

And that still leaves a lot out.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

GUITAR GODS: Scott Ainslie

I saw Scott Ainsle first a number of years ago when he appeared on Woodsongs Old-time Radio Hour (2009, for show #502) for a celebration of Robert Johnson. There were two guests: Scott and the amazing Rory Block. As she is one of my favorite players ever, I had zero interest in this guy Scott Ainslie...until he began to play. And sing.

And then it just got better, and better, and better....because in addition to being a stunningly talented player & singer - and as authentic in the style as anyone you'll ever hear - he is also a walking encyclopedia of the blues...of American culture...of music.

I was immediately a fan.

Music on Your Brain

From Popular Science
by Sophie Bushwick

....At the end of a stressful day, you pop on a pair of headphones, hit “play” on your favorite song—and your mood instantly improves. This emotional response occurs, a new study suggests, because music activates a chemical reward system in your brain: the same system that makes yummy food, vigorous exercise, and opioid drugs feel good.

Humans have had music on the brain for most of our existence—cultures all over the world create, listen to, and experience pleasure from music. To study this phenomenon, researchers have surveyed people’s feelings, scanned the brains of performers and listeners, and even measured hormone production. Their findings thus far suggest that our enjoyment comes from the same two-phase reward process—a dopamine-driven anticipatory phase, followed by a dopamine- and opioid-influenced consummatory phase—that kicks into gear when you eat a tasty treat or experience a rush after an intense workout. This neurological reward system also gives drugs their appeal.....

Read the entire article HERE.

Music & Evolution

From Science Daily:

....A new theory paper, co-authored by Graduate School of Education doctoral student Samuel Mehr and Assistant Professor of Psychology Max Krasnow, proposes that infant-directed song evolved as a way for parents to signal to children that their needs are being met, while still freeing up parents to perform other tasks, like foraging for food, or caring for other offspring. Infant-directed song might later have evolved into the more complex forms of music we hear in our modern world. The theory is described in an open-access paper in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Music is a tricky topic for evolutionary science: it turns up in many cultures around the world in many different contexts, but no one knows why humans are the only musical species.....

Read the entire article HERE.

Monday, April 3, 2017


There are many amazing players who can play rockin' rhythms and rip out blazing solos, but it takes a whole different breed of guitarist - of musician - to play authentically across stylistic boundaries. It requires knowledge of music AND of the fretboard, but also (within each style of music) the "tendencies", the techniques, the aesthetics, the sound, and more. 

It also takes a special kind of musician to be able to then communicate to others how to do it, too.

And it takes a special kind of player to find, amid all of this, their own unique voice with the instrument (as players and composers).

Jon Finn is just such a guitarist. And just such a musician.

Jon began playing as a child, ultimately attended (and graduated from) Berklee College of Music, and then (in the same year: 1988)  both formed the Jon Finn Group and joined the faculty at Berklee. Since that time, in addition to teaching hundreds of students, he has played with such a diverse array of top-flight performers as the legendary Debbie Reynolds, progressive shredder John Petrucci, the jazz vocal ensemble New York Voices, country star Colin Raye, rock legend Dweezil Zappa, and many more.

Melissa McCracken - Painting Sounds

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" Pink Floyd
From her web-site:

Melissa McCracken was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1990. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from William Jewell College in 2013, but ultimately pursued a career in the arts post-graduation. As a synesthete, she utilizes her unique ability to see colors in the sounds she hears. Many of her paintings incorporate vibrant colors and lively textures to depict the movement of music.

Implementing the effects of both palette knives and brushwork, Melissa seeks to convey the swirl of colors embedded deep in her mind’s eye. Layered blossoms of color and streaks of white create cosmic-like scenes, evoking new perceptions of melody and rhythm in her audience. Through her work, Melissa strives to unmask the elusive areas of the world we encounter, allowing a refreshing experience of the familiar.
Bach's "Cello Suite #1"
"I paint music....."

Visit her ON-LINE to see her amazing work!

Music from Earth: 40 Years of Voyager 1

This year marks 40 years ago (exact date was September 5, 1977), that the Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched from earth.

On that spacecraft, NASA placed a gold record that includes greetings in 55 languages, a collection of "sounds of Earth" (includes babies crying, various animals sounds, "Per aspera ad astra" in Morse Code, sounds of nature, and the like), Ann Druyan's brainwaves, over 100 images....and music.