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Monday, September 29, 2014

Trip to Nashville

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted anything. Looking forward to getting back to it thought.
I've been busy teaching and playing which is good. I also had a great summer of travelling one of which was a family trip down to Nashville Tennessee. Man I love that city. It's like New York for me in the sense of it being a serious recharge button musically. Music is such a big part of both of those cities and it always confirms that deciding to do this crazy thing called a music career was worth it.

Got to see the great dobro player Jerry Douglas and the Earls Of Leicester at the famous Ryman Theatre. This group is basically a tribute to the Flatts and Scruggs band. Amazing bluegrass playing.
I also lucked out and stumbled upon a great new restaurant/music club on Broadway called Acme Seed and Feed which just so happened to be presenting the first of a new regular series called "Trapped Above Ground" which is hosted by a great guitar player named Guthrie Trapp. It's basically him and his band with several guests per week that sit in. Great idea and Guthrie Trapp is a monster guitar player. Big session guy in Nashville.

I also went to the Grand Ole Opry and saw Connie Smith, the Whites and many others. Great time and it was nice to see the famous show. Another treat was being able to see Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. We not only saw Marty Staurt but his photography was featured. He has some great shots of people like Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Connie Smith, George Jones, Bill Monroe and many more. The band sounded fantastic with Kenny Vaughan along with Marty tearing it up on their teles.

On a tech note, D'Addario strings, who I have an endorsement with, has come out with a new electric string series called NYXL and they are even better than past D'Addario strings which is a hard thing to achieve. I made a promo video for them shot by my daughter Quinn Bray.

I've been listening to a real varied set of recordings which is pretty usual for me.

Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil (1965)

Amazing record that I have listed to hundreds of times over the years and it never ceases to impress and inspire. Wayne Shorter's tenor saxophone playing and composing is in top form plus Freddie Hubbard just tears it up on the trumpet. Love his playing. The rhythm section is also top tier with Herbie Hancock - piano, Ron Carter - bass and Elvin Jones -drums. If you don't have it buy it now. I mean it!!

George Jones - Cold Hard Truth - (1999)

I love George Jones who unfortunately past away recently. This is a great, real country record with well written tunes and features the great Nashville A-Team with Brent Mason on guitar, Glen Worf on bass, Eddie Bayers on drums, Paul Franklin on drums, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and the list goes on. Well worth getting especially if you are a fan of country music but have been a little disillusioned of late with the "grab a bud and hop on into my pick up truck baby" country. This is the real deal.

That's all for now.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Playing originals with different people.

Had a great couple of weeks playing music. The first two gigs were in Toronto with my trio "Sean Bray's Peach Trio" with David MacDougall on drums on both gigs and bassist Mark Dunn on the first one and bassist Chris Banks on the second. The first gig was at The Home Smith Bar at The Old Mill and Mark Dunn is the regular bass player in the trio and has been for a long time so he obviously knows the tunes inside and out and plays with beautiful  interaction with both Dave and me. The three of us have been a band for a while now and it really shows in the music.

The second trio gig was at The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar and Mark couldn't make it so I used Chris Banks on bass who is also a wonderful player. I have played with Chris a bit over the years and also played with him on Tracey Dey's CD "Tightrope Walker" so I knew his playing. When you hand someone an original piece of music to play you give some verbal description of feel etc but that's about it. The rest is the players interpretation of not only your description of the way the song goes feel and style wise but of what they react to when it is being played. Chris played beautifully and the sounds sounded slightly different than when Mark plays them which is great. Both sounded fantastic but it really shows you how great players will interpret and play a piece of music differently. Good players always sound like themselves.

The third gig was in Kelowna BC with a wonderful guitar player and old friend Loni Moger at a great club called The Mistrel Cafe and Bar. I hadn't seen Loni for probably 25 years since we both lived in Calgary Alberta. We bumped into each other at Wentworth Music in Kelowna this past December and both expressed how interested we both were in playing together so Loni set this gig up for us. Two guitars! Love that configuration if it's with the right player and it certainly was. We played standards as well as several of my tunes and with the same sort of verbal descriptions of the feel and vibe of the tune Loni played them beautifully but again differently which is great.

That's what I love so much about music is that the same song played by different players will sound different and each player will bring their own thing to it. Nice gigs for sure. I had just bought a '58 Fender American Vintage Telecaster so I got a chance to play it on the Kelowna gig. Wow what a fantastic guitar.

Here is that guitar on The Tennessee Waltz. Video and editing by my uber talented daughter Quinn.

I've been listening to:

George Strait "Twang" and "Love is Everything" which are the last two records he has put out. Great writing, fantastic singing by George Strait who is always the real deal and of course world class playing from Nashville's A-Team which of course includes the great Brent Mason on guitar.

Ricky Skaggs "Highways and Heartaches"which came out in 1982 and features the fantastic Jerry Douglas on Dobro and the great Ray Flacke on guitar. Fantastic record!

Robben Ford - "A Day In Nashville" which is his newest record. I love Robben Ford's guitar playing. He really nails that blues/jazz playing and this record doesn't disappoint. It was recorded in one  day in Nashville. Tracking 9 tunes in one day is really hard to do. Check this one out.

That's all for now!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life in the pit. Playing musicals.

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I've been busy playing and teaching which is good in this industry.

Just finished a run of the musical "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" here in Toronto and man was that fun. The band was in the pit which means we never actually saw the play. We would hear it above and behind us but I have never seen the musical "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"! It was a fourteen piece orchestra with strings, horns and percussion along with a rhythm section consisting of the usual electric bass, drums, keyboards and yours truly filling the guitar chair. Challenging charts with lots of stylistic changes. Country, rock, jazz, samba, and even a tango. That makes for an interesting night and keeps it interesting. I used my Fender Blues JR. tube amp with my Boss "63 Fender Reverb pedal, Boss DD-3 delay, Seven Sisters "Eve" tremolo pedal, Wampler "Hot Wired 2 " Brent Mason  Overdrive/distortion pedal and a volume pedal. The Wampler Hot Wired is basically two pedals in one with an overdrive and a distortion section plus you can blend both if need be for a "peel the paint off the wall" sound. Great pedal which I used to it's fullest on this show. I also used nothing but telecasters because I think they are the most versatile guitars and easy to switch between pickups and volume etc. Leo Fender really nailed it when he invented the Telecaster. I have 4 teles and used all of them for the show but just one per night. The butterscotch '52 re-issue (third from the left) I've had for twenty years and has probably been on almost every session I've done and countless gigs with the road scars to prove it. They are all great teles.

As far as listening goes, I have been really enjoying two Marty Stuart CDs "Tear the WoodPile Down - Nashville 1" and "Ghost Train" ,both with his band the Fabulous Superlatives". Marty Stuart is not only a killer guitar and mandolin player but a great singer. He used to play guitar with Johnny Cash in the 80's  as well as being a successful solo artist since the 90's. The band features Kenny Vaughan on guitar and this guy's fantastic. Chicken picking' at it's best! Great tele sounds. Harry stinson plays drums and Paul Martin on bass. Well worth checking out. No songs about "cracking open a Bud and sitting' on any pickup trucks", just good country music. You notice the best modern country artists like Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis, Steve Warner, Dwight Yoakam  etc don't feel a need to tell you they are country guys?

Also listening a lot to "Bakersfield" by Vince Gill and Paul Franklin which is a fantastic tribute to the Bakerfield sound (Bakersfield California) of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Paul Franklin is probably the best if not one of the best pedal steel players to ever touch the instrument and Vince Gill plays all the guitar parts on the record, and very well I might add as well as sings beautifully.

Check out all three of these great recordings if you like or want to get to know good country music.
Glad to be back in blogland!
Take care.