Archive for the 'Guitar' Category

Oli Brown

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Oli Brown

2010 has sparked a renewed interest in the guitar for me. I have just bought a new Marshall Class 5 Amp (in British Racing Green!), ordered new bits for my Telecaster (Glendale bridge and saddles), and bought some smoking new music too (Joe Bonamassa’s The Ballad of John Henry). This new interest even made me leave my house on a cold, wet Monday in February to go and see a young blues slinger called Oli Brown.

I shuffled on down to Champions in Bournemouth to see 19 year old Oli, in an evening of blues hosted by the Bournemouth Blues Club. Supported by local combo The Reptiles, Oli Brown looked like being an interesting young blues musician, and I listened to his album Open Road on my way to the gig.

What really struck me about Oli Brown, is his fire and passion for his music. He is not just another hot shot guitar player. He is a great vocalist too! I think the mark of a great guitar player is their rhythm chops, not just how many notes they can fit in a bar. Oli really blew me away. His performance and that of his band was first class. Backed by Simon Dring on drums and Roland Bacon on Bass this three piece band rocked the place.

Oli Brown Blackstar amp

I was struck by Oli’s command of his Vanquish guitar. Using a Ernie Ball medium thumb pick he made his Blackstar combo sing. He doesn’t need a truck full of effects either: just an original Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer and a Boss OC3 Octave Pedal.

Oli Brown pedalboard

Oli Brown has just finished recording his new album with legendary producer Mike Vernon, who as well as producing the Blues Breakers album (The Beano Album) has also worked with: David Bowie, Duster Bennett, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, John Mayall, Christine McVie and Ten Years After! I can’t wait to hear it!

I urge you to go and see the Oli Brown band. I urge myself to go and see him too in May as part of the “New Blues Generation UK Tour” alongside the equally talented and young, Esquire touting Joanne Shaw Taylor and Virgil and the Accelerators. Watch out, this could be the start of a whole new British Blues Explosion! Bring it on.

Django Reinhardt

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Jean “Django” Reinhardt (January 23, 1910 – May 16, 1953) was an illiterate, Belgium born, gypsy jazz guitarist.

His unorthodox playing style evolved from a gypsy caravan fire in 1928 where Django suffered severe burns and partially lost the use of two fingers. Ironically his injuries were instrumental in making Django one of the most unique and admired guitar legends ever to walk the earth. After the fire Django locked himself away to convalesce for 18 months. Bed-ridden he dedicated himself to reinventing his guitar playing around his disability. Because of his disabilities he now played solos with only 2 fingers of his left hand, his third and fourth digits helped out only with his chord playing. According to some guitarists it is exactly this reason why Django was such an amazing guitarist. The theory being that Django was nano-seconds quicker simply because he only had to choose between 2 fingers in his lead guitar playing.

Reinhardt joined up with Parisian violinist Stéphane Grappelli In 1934 to form the “Quintette du Hot Club de France”. Joined by rhythm guitarists Joseph Reinhardt (Django’s brother) and Roger Chaput and bassist Louis Vola. They had no percussion section so , they would use their guitars as instruments of percussion as well as Djangos groundbreaking gypsy jazz guitar licks.

Django’s Guitar

Django would play lead and Joseph would provide the groove similar in a way to the brothers Young. Angus and Malcolm have the benefit of electricity and use their Marshalls, Gibsons and Gretsch Guitars to such great effect.

Django played mainly Selmer acoustic guitars strung with 10-46 gauge steel strings, and the thickest plectrums preferably made of tortoiseshell!

Django played a Gibson L5 with a DeArmond pickup for a short time during his tour with Duke Ellington.

“Before the advent of amplification, Selmers had the same kind of appeal for European players that the archtop guitar did in America: it was loud enough to be heard over the other instruments in a band. The “petite bouche” model has an especially loud and cutting voice, and even today it remains the design preferred by lead players in Django-style bands, while the accompanying rhythm players often use D-hole instruments. (This was the lineup in Django’s Quintette du Hot Club de France during its classic period in the late 1930s, and it remains the pattern for bands that emulate them.)”

I would love to build my own Selmer.

The influence of Django Reinhardt

Jimi Hendrix is said to have named the Band of Gypsys because of Django’s music.

John Etheridge played with Django’s old violinist, Stéphane Grappelli.