Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nashville Flooding Destroys Irreplaceable Guitars

I posted an article covering my National Guitar Workshop experience and mentioned how guest artist David Grissom keeps a complete setup stored in Nashville when coming to town for studio work. This was the first time I heard of this practice but it makes perfect sense unless your storage warehouse is next to a river 12 feet over flood stage.

It started raining on a Saturday and did not stop until Sunday evening. By the end, we had encountered the worst flooding in the area since the 1930s. The toll of this disaster was over 20 dead along with loss of homes and the irreplaceable memories within. Nashville also lost part of its music heritage at Soundcheck Nashville, the largest storage facility in town located next to the Cumberland River.

The river flooded the facility and destroyed thousands of guitars and amps. Many of these were museum pieces worth $100,000 or more. Local guitar repairer Ed Beaver summed it up in The Tennessean; “This is the music version of the Louvre Flooding.” This story hit a bit closer to home for me as I got my guitar hobby start with lessons at the Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

“The Musicians Hall Of Fame And Museum is the one and only museum in the world that honors the talented musicians who actually played on the greatest recordings of all time.” Joe Chambers, the hall’s proprietor, had to vacate his location to make way for a new convention center and had his collection in storage at the Soundcheck Nashville facility. You can look in this video as he surveys the damage and get an idea of the kind of instruments and history destroyed by the flood waters.

This flood also has interrupted musical heritage yet to be born as Gibson’s Nashville factory is also closed. If you plan to buy a Gibson electric do it now as supplies are running out. The plant expects to be back in operation in July.

Rebuilding continues but part of Nashville’s musical heritage is lost forever.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Expand Your Guitar Horizons with Lawson Rollins

I take advantage of annual “Top 10” lists as one mechanism to discover new music. These lists offer plenty to choose from since they are broken down according to Critics Picks, Reader/Listener/Viewer Picks, Genre, and everything between. One fulfilling discovery this year is Guitarist and Producer Lawson Rollins. He has renewed my excitement about this blog’s favorite musical instrument.

Rollins’ style is the Spanish guitar as characterized by his playing as one half of Young & Rollins. A look at his video The Fire Cadenza on YouTube expresses much more than I can say in words though. I did a double take at first because I could not fathom how such depth comes from such economy of movement. You can download the Guitar Tab for this piece on iTunes courtesy of transcription help from Guitar World's own Andy Aledort. How cool is that?! I downloaded Infinita, Rollins’ first solo album during this same iTunes visit and there is much more going on here than just Spanish guitar.

Infinita is a World Music tour traveling through salsa, samba, and Latin jazz. Rollins throws in some blues, the bossa nova, and flamenco for good measure. He provides virtuoso guitar playing and writes the songs and basic arrangements. He achieves an improvisational feel on the tracks by leaving space for the other players to create their own interpretations for the album. Rollins’ digs deeper into the roots of world music on his second solo album Espirito, which just came out January 19th.

Espirito’s world tour takes on the characteristics of the Amazing Race as it digs into biguine, reggae, son, and swing rhythms. He takes me beyond Spain to hit styles of India, Persia, and the Arab world. This is definitely off the beaten path and worth checking out if you want to expand your horizons or even as music immersion in the event you are scheduled to visit some exotic locale abroad!