Saturday, May 13, 2017

GUITAR GODS: Nik West

Maybe you know her as a favorite of Prince...or her work with Dave Stewart...or from GLEE....or for her sizzling cover of "Back in Black"....or for that flaming, bass clef mohawk....or as the bassist on the cover of bass & guitar magazines or the AMS catalogue. Or maybe you saw her music video for her song (with Orianthi) "My Relationship"....or heard top-flight artists like Steven Tyler, Bootsy Collins, John Mayer, and Lenny Kravits singing her praises....or her new song "Bottom of the Bottle".

Or maybe you're only hearing of her now.

What is important, now that you know who she is, is that you get on that train and listen to her. Everything you can.

Nik West is an amazing bassist. One magazine said flatly, she is "bringing back the funk". But she is also an equally amazing vocalist and composer. Everything this young lady touches is gold.

But it doesn't stop there. Her stage presence is the stuff of legend. In fact, Prince himself said of her, "Great stage presence. She inspires me in the same way that Sheila E and Rosie did."

Her albums "Just in the Nik of Time" and "Say Somethin'" are stunning displays of the hardest rocking and heaviest funking available to mere mortals, with a depth of compositional agility and instrumental prowess not common in today's world. Simply put, you owe it to yourself to leap into this dense ocean of sound and...swim.

Friday, May 12, 2017

50 Years Ago Today: HENDRIX Changes the World

50 years ago today, the then-unknown guitarist Jimi Hendrix releases his debut album, "Are You Experienced?" (as The Jimi Hendrix Experience).

The world would never be the same.

The album is held in such high regard for a number of reasons: Its epic and fearless use of stereo imaging, its introduction to Jimi's other-worldly compositions, the (re)-invention of the rock guitar lexicon of techniques & licks, and so much more.

From the opening track "Purple Haze" (in the US - "Foxy Lady" was the opening track in the UK) to the over-the-edge psychedelia of "3rd Stone From the Sun" to the gorgeous "The Wind Cries Mary" to the closing title track, it was an 11-song game-changer; a veritable sonic & stylistic revolution.

Jimi Hendrix (guitar & vocals), Noel Redding (bass), and Mitch Mitchell (drums) created one of the most iconic rock albums in history, playing in a way few had even envisioned, much less attempted.

The album has since gone on to sell over 5 million copies in the US alone, and is a staple in the collections of all serious guitarists, as well as classic rock radio. In addition, it is listed on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" at number 15, with 4 of the songs on their "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" ( "Purple Haze" at 17, "Foxy Lady" at 153, "Hey Joe" at 201, and "The Wind Cries Mary" at 379), and the US Library of Congress added the album to their National Recording Registry in 2005, and it regularly tops lists of greatest guitar albums of all time (and has for over 30 years).

I could go on. And on. And on even more...but the best thing to do is stop reading right now, and go listen.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

GUITAR GODS: Adam Rafowitz

When guitar 10-time Grammy winning, #1 chart topping, platinum-selling guitar legend George Benson says "Listen to this", you stop what you are doing and you listen.

And then you listen again.

To quote Mr. Benson word for word: "Talk about fresh, energetic and exciting music, you have to experience Adam Rafowitz’s guitar playing. He is definitely worthy of your ears. His group “Arch Echo” will knock your socks off and make you glad at the same time. Trust me!"

There is no exaggeration in this quote.

Adam Rafowitz and his twin-guitar attack partner in the band Arch Echo, Adam Bentley (read his "Guitar Gods" interview HERE), are players of the highest order. Not just amazing, other-worldy chops, but amazing composers and players who demonstrate knowledge, depth, and passion.

Mr. Rafowitz attended Berklee College of Music (graduating in 2015) and first got national attention when he won the the first Strandberg Guitarworks competition with his song "Perpetual Motion" (a song then recorded by his band Sound Struggle).