Tag Archive: guitars

[Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six]

The rent on our upstairs apartment was $35 a month. I guess, with the house being in the neighborhood it was in, the owner just appreciated people who paid rent on time, took care of the place, and didn’t attract a lot of attention. That would change a bit, but that’s another story.

When any one of the four of us got paid, we would go to Spats in the West End for happy hour. Then we would pick up food and beer and head home. Joel and I – and anyone who happened by to jam – would play late into the night. When it neared three a.m. we’d head back to the store for more beer. Then the next time someone got paid, we’d do it again. But, with the exception of Spats, that was the routine on really any given evening. We worked at Deli Junction during the day.

One day we were running errands or somesuch. Joel was driving and I was drinking coffee in a styrofoam cup. We hit a bump and I held my cup up and didn’t spill a drop.

“I’m pretty good at that,” I boasted proudly.

Before too long, Joel stomped on the brakes. Of course I spilled coffee on my last clean shirt. And those were laundromat days. I was really pissed and couldn’t understand why he would do that just to be a smart ass. It didn’t take long for us to get past it, but I’ll never forget it. (I’m still pissed.)


Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.


916 Acklen Ave., in Nashville

[Read Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five]

Joel and I worked at a sandwich shop in Nashville called Deli Junction. We worked days so we could play or practice at night. One afternoon while we were working, Joel got a phone call. The look on his face told me something was seriously wrong. We couldn’t both leave. He said someone had broken into the apartment. He said he would let me know what had happened.

What had happened was that someone had broken in and stolen every music and sound device in the apartment. My Martin D35 guitar, cassette recorder, stereo, tv, radio, and so forth. Joel’s room was a small room to the left of the kitchen. His Martin D35 was still there in its case.

As we sat there in the den in silence that night, we figured it must have been somebody who knew Joel, so he didn’t take his guitar. As we talked, I thought about the tv against the wall under a blanket or rug – I don’t remember which.

“They probably just figured it didn’t work, so they left it,” I said. “Let’s try it to see if it works.”

We uncovered it, turned it on, and sure as shit it worked. We laughed and everyone looked at me.

“I didn’t watch Perry Mason for nothing!”

It took a while, but we replaced the stereo, the cassette recorder and so on.

Stay tuned for what I did about my guitar being stolen.


Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.





Ireland Casteel

I introduced Ireland Casteel to begin the inaugural TexasSelectRadio.com Monday night Shaun and Dan show at Guitars and Growlers on February 5. Ireland is one of the better and popular young teenage songwriters in the Dallas area. Her songs illustrate her experiences and the things she has learned. Without any pretense of being older than she is. Which helps her have insights – brought out in her songs – she would not have had otherwise. I have invited her to play showcases a number of times in the past couple of years and will continue to do so. You will know what I mean when you hear her songs – which will soon be in rotation on TexasSelectRadio.com.

Cat McGee

Cat McGee is a songwriter with intense emotion. Not just in her voice or expression, but the words themselves as well. As illustrated in the song, City of Steeples, which she wrote about Charleston, South Carolina on a tragic day as she watched the community respond with determination and faith. Cat was struck with the large number of churches, hence the title. Follow the link to hear that song and others and see where she is playing.

Bill Nash

Bill Nash followed McGee and displayed his penchant – out of necessity – for using capos and alternate tunings. With his MS symptoms, his hands sometimes are cantankerous – as it were – and the capos and tunings help him to keep playing guitar and writing songs. His songs are distinctly folk, which is not surprising given his 25 years of volunteering at Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse and decades residing at the Kerrville Folk Festival. He has a song he wrote as a Christmas song that friends talked him into changing into a song about Kerrville. “But it’s still a Christmas song.” Follow the link and check him out when you can.

Clint Sherman

With most of the younger songwriters I see being girls – which is a good thing – it’s nice to see a young man such as Clint Sherman write some nice songs. Blackland Fever is the name of his band and I wouldn’t mind hearing him with them. But he does pretty well by himself.

All in all, it was a great first TSR Shaun and Dan show. Come on out to Guitars and Growlers on Mondays and be part of a fun experience. We have John Mason, Gigi Gostas, and others next week. If you are a songwriter and would like to be on the show, send me a message and we’ll find a night for you. We usually keep a spot or two open for walk in sign ups, but they go fast, so it’s best to sign up in advance.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.


Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

As the title says, I am testing Martin’s new titanium core, nickel wound strings. They arrived a week ago this past Monday. I agreed to test them with no hesitation. But having used bronze wound, or phosphor bronze on my acoustics for the last forty years, I was wondering what these new strings would do to/for my sound.

When I had them changed and tuned, I played through a couple of songs. The sound was really bright. I was sitting down and I couldn’t tell if my perception was altered simply because they were silver strings and I was used to bronze.

So I went to play the Monday night open mic at Poor David’s Pub – hosted by Mr. Troll – to try them out live through a sound system. I don’t look at the strings much while I’m on stage, so I could concentrate on the sound. I could get the opinion of the musicians in the audience too.

The first thing they said was the first thing that had struck me – they’re really bright. What I began to notice then and throughout the next few days was that what was different from the  bronze wound was what I liked about the strings. Another thing – I’m used to my Martin being consistently in tune, except due to atmospheric changes. But these strings have hardly gone out of tune at all.

I’m playing out tonight, tomorrow night, and twice on Sunday in different environments. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll let you know.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.


Madalyn White, Grace Kuch, Grace Ritter

I worked the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Dallas International Guitar Festival (I still call it the Dallas Guitar Show – as it was for years – or, as above, the Dallas Guitar Festival). Naturally, there were hundreds of really nice guitars. There were some of the usual vendors, but some of the ones I was used to seeing weren’t there this year. Then there were the new, or non-yearly, vendors.  And of course the music on multiple stages. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of things to see and music to hear.

I was sitting at the DSA booth, talking with whoever was with me at the time, and watching people walk by. A good number of them came by the booth, but more just passed by. Since a lot of them weren’t songwriters, that made sense.

A group of younger girls and a guy walked by. I thought one of the girls looked familiar. As showcase director for the DSA, I try to promote younger talent, DSA or otherwise. But I just figured I was imagining things. They passed by at least once, maybe twice, when the girl I thought looked familiar walked intently toward me. She walked up and held out her phone.

“Is that you?” It was my website with my blog on the home page.


She said okay while still fiddling with her phone. She pulled up  this post.

“You wrote this about me a few months ago. I just wanted to say thank you. I really appreciate it.”

I always try to promote other musicians and songwriter. It was nice to hear someone say “thank you.”

The guy that was with them said that they were playing on the Young Guns stage. Jimmy Wallace and the staff of the Guitar Festival take entries from bands with members under the age of 20 for a chance to play the stage. I made a note of it.

G2 Band

The young girl was Madalyn White. The band was the G2 Band. I managed to get over to the stage soon after the start of their set. The lead guitarist and the drummer are Grace Kuch and Grace Ritter, I think respectively but I’m not sure. Madalyn played rythmn guitar. I didn’t have a chance to get the names of the rest of the band – keyboard player, bassist, saxophone player, and second vocalist.

At one point Madalyn said they were in a jazz band at school. They played mostly blues. But after Madalyn made that announcement, the saxophone player, bassist, and drummer played a very interesting piece with saxophone as lead instrument. A nice break from the constant blues through the weekend.

When G2 played the blues, their inexperience and naivete worked in their favor. It was refreshing – in contrast to the constant flow of standard blues licks mixed with doesn’t this sound like Hendrix licks or I can play Stevie licks, not to mention the I don’t know what I’m freaking doing licks throughout the weekend. I’m not referring to the bands on the stages.

I think that given another environment, with different audience expectations, G2 could relax and play music that comes more naturally to them. Not that they didn’t hold their own on the Young Guns stage. But they didn’t break loose either. I would have liked to hear a couple of jazz tunes. However, I was probably in the minority with that thought.

Check out Madalyn White when she plays solo and the G2 Band if you get the chance. You would be pleasantly entertained.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

ultimate-picksOn the weekend of the 15th, I was volunteering at the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Arlington Guitar Show. It was slower this year than it was last year – the booth and the guitar show. Bobby Montgomery and I were there for most of both days. Marcus Belmore helped out on Saturday with Harry Hewlett and Steve Sullivan helping out on Sunday.

There was plenty of time for each of us to wander around and see all the booths. As I tell people, if I bought another guitar I’d have to get divorce papers on the way home. So, while I look at the guitars while I’m walking around, I mainly concentrate on picks, capos, and accessories. I have impressive pick and capo collections.

Regardless of the collections, fortunately people are always coming up with something new. Despite the lower attendance, dsc08772there were more booths. At the same time, some of the regular booths weren’t there this year – V-Picks being one. So there wasn’t a whole lot of new booths. Then Gus Gustafson dropped by the DSA booth. He told me about the picks that he and Jim Cobb had created and told me to stop by his booth.

I stopped by the Ultimate Fingerpick booth at the first opportunity. I believe it was Gus’ brother, Bob, I talked to. He explained to me about dipping my fingers in water to get them to feel snug. The idea for them came from the making of prosthetics. With a couple of close friends with prosthetics, I was fascinated. And the picks – or “fingers,” as the case may be, felt comfortable.

I bought the show special which included two packages of two fingers (Ultimate Fingerpicks) and two one thumb packages (Pick Pocket Ultimate Thumb Pick). I liked the way the samples felt, and I was anxious to see how they worked. When my son, Cameron, and I got home, I tuned my guitar and put the picks on. The way the picks are on my fingers in the picture is not how I use them.

ultimate-fingerpickI wanted to illustrate the two ways you wear the fingerpicks. You can either wear them as extensions of your own fingernails or upside down – which is how I wear  them. You can also file the nails down to the shape you want. Gus said he takes his to the manicurist. If you’re picky (sorry), that would be the way to go. Particularly if you’re using them as extensions of your own fingernails – to keep the underside smooth. I use Cyndy’s bigass emery board. But it’s not easy or quick.

When you’re playing with them, they actually feel like your  fingers – as opposed to regular picks. With no chance of them falling, particularly the thumb pick. I used to finger pick with just my thumb and first finger because the fingerpick felt weird on my second finger and it just didn’t happen. When I was using these picks on Saturday night, it felt entirely natural and, of course, added to the sound. You can also use any regular shaped pick in the thumb pick. Just wet it a bit and slide it in. Wet your thumb before you put it on and it will slide on easier.

On Sunday at the Arlington Guitar Show, I went back by the booth. Bob was talking to a customer so I looked at the picks while they talked. I interjected that I had used them the night before and they worked great. Which I hope helped make the sale to the customer.

I tried them out in a live setting at the Poor David’s Pub open mic that next Monday, hosted by Mr. Troll. Overall, theyultimate-thumb-pick worked just fine, as expected. When I used the thumb pick as a regular pick – without the other two – it caught on the strings at times. But it was a blues tune, so it was more a matter of my not being used to them. As well as the fact that it was not designed for that. However, on one of my songs when I used the thumb pick alone on parts, it worked really well.

If you’re a guitar player and/or singer-songwriter, do your self a favor and try out these picks. The price is reasonable and it’s always fun to try new things. Who knows, it may even spark some creative juices to flowing and inspire a new song or style.

Peace be with you.

Tone Shop In case you don’t know, there is a new guitar shop on Midway, just north of Beltline, in Addison – Tone Shop Guitars. Co-owners Tommy Roberts, Grant Sheffield and staff will be happy to show you around. They have one of the few Taylor rooms in the country. For the uninitiated, they have a partnership with Taylor and have a room dedicated to Tayor guitars.

Tone Shop also has an extensive line of Martin guitars in a separate room with other guitars. Then there is the amp room. And the wall of electric guitars, as well as other guitars and basses hung around the showroom. You can see the layout in the pictures. They also have vinyl records.
Tone Shop 2
Having only been open a little over six months, their concentration is on guitars, basses, and amps. The accessories and sound equipment “departments” are works in progress. It is safe to say that they are, literally, just getting started. Tommy refers to it as a “Mom and Pop” operation (although I think “Pop and Pop” would be closer to the truth). Regardless, they are locally owned and operated. Which is a plus in several ways, one of which is the personalized service from a neighbor, who listens to what you’re saying and pays attention to what you need. The Dallas Songwriters Association will be working with the Tone Shop on a special event or two, beginning with a workshop.
Tone Shop 4
So drop in and see Tommy and Grant. Play a few guitars – there is sure to be one, or several, that you like. Test out an amp or two. Pick up strings, replace your humidifier or pouches, and buy that accessory you’ve been considering. Tell them I said “hi.” And follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Peace be with you.

[Re-posted from DSA blog]
Bobby Montgomery at DSA BoothThe second special event of October was the DSA booth at the Arlington Guitar Show on Saturday, October 17, and Sunday, the 18th. Bobby Montgomery set up the table on Saturday – and worked all day both days, God bless him! I joined him shortly thereafter – after waiting in line to park. I helped with the booth until about 12:30.

I was watching the booth when Bobby stepped out for a bit. I looked at my phone and saw a notification from Facebook. It was one of those “what you were doing last year” posts that Facebook does, with a picture from a year ago. It was the picture I took of Bobby behind the booth last year at the guitar show. It looked similar to the picture above, but I think the table looked better this year.

After a couple of hours I had to leave in order to host the DSA Showcase at the Farmers Branch Manske Library. I don’t know if any volunteers showed up to help Bobby after I left. I didn’t have a chance to browse the booths before I left. I did do one thing, but that is a different post.

On Sunday, Bobby and I opened the booth again with a little help from my son, Cameron. Then I had the chance to wander around and drool at the guitars, amps, and accessories. Among the wandering and drooling, I stopped at the Guitars for Vets booth. I met George Jordan, head of the Dallas Chapter.

George told me how the program worked. They give each vet ten guitar lessons. If the vet completes all ten lessons and shows interest, they give him a guitar. When I told him I was with the Dallas Songwriters, he got excited. They were trying to come up with something, after giving the vet the guitar, to keep the interest and effectiveness going.

I told him the DSA would be happy to support them in any way we could. We have worked with many veterans over the years. If music and playing guitar can help them maintain, then surely songwriting would help. Without a doubt, they have stories to tell. For several years, Dallas Songwriters distributed a cd entitled Songs from the Soul of Service: A Collection of Songs written by U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Surely telling those stories through song – or even spoken word over guitar – would be comforting in nature. I will be contacting George soon. Stay tuned for future development.

Dickey Johnson and Michael Brandenberger arrived at the booth before I left in time to get Cameron back home to go to work. We talked to quite a few people at the booth over the two days. We have two pages of names and emails to enter into the mailing list and into a drawing for a chance to win a free year’s membership. If you are on that list, you should receive an email from me before too long.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

20140503_171118 One thing I noticed while working the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Dallas Guitar Show is something I notice most of the time when I visit a music store. Naturally, there are talented guitarists at the guitar show or store. The majority, I would think. But then there are the new guitarists who do not want anyone else in the store to know that they have not been playing very long or cannot play very well.

So they play the one riff they can play well from their favorite band. Unfortunately, that is the only cover tune riff they can do well enough to be heard in Guitar Center, Sam Ash, or any music store that sells guitars, as well as guitar shows. So, rather than risk embarrassment, they play that riff over and over. They change the settings each time so it sounds a little different and gives the impression that they are actually serious about buying a guitar. Which would work if they were not there three times a week and had never bought anything more than strings.

At guitar shows, these guitarists are the same, but incredibly louder. Particularly at booths selling amps that purport to be louder than all other amps. Then it is just painful. And it is made worse by their insistence in hearing themselves over all the other guitarists who are doing the same thing. That and the fact that, for some reason, the sound men for the various stages seem to feel that good sound is not as important as being heard in the next universe.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, there was a dual lick. By that I mean that the lick I refer to was useful to guitarists and also those who wanted to “prove” they could play bass. That lick was from the song, Smoke On the Water, by Deep Purple. Whether you liked Deep Purple or not, you got tired of it quick – just because someone could play the riff did not mean they could do it well. These days, these irritating guitarists’ riffs span the scale of genres.

I was in a Guitar Center in the past week or so to pick up a couple of things. A guy was playing his favorite heavy metal riff. As the clerk was ringing up my purchase, the guy played it a couple more times, pausing for a few minutes between to change settings.

“I think you’ve got it down now,” I said outloud to the guy (who couldn’t hear me).

The clerk made a face that said he agreed with me.

“At least it wasn’t Smoke On the Water!” I said, and he laughed.

“Oh, he was in yesterday,” he replied.

It was my turn to laugh, but I was surprised that people still play that riff in public. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. The song is still played on classic rock stations. And the riff is relatively simple to play. The funny thing, though, is that most people play it wrong. Which makes the pretense of displaying their talent all the more sad.

Peace be with you.

Dans article - Texas Beat 1995I was working at the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Dallas Guitar Show last weekend. Cameron, our middle son, was with me for a while on Saturday. Across from the booth was a display of all kinds of music stuff – literally. There was one box on the end of one of the tables that had a sign on the side reading “Vintage Texas Music Magazines.”

“I wonder if any of the magazines I wrote for are in that box?” I asked myself offhand, talking more to myself than Cameron.

But Cameron went over and looked. He didn’t check them all out, yet he found a couple of issues of Texas Beat with my column in it from 1995. That particular column – Music As You Read It (one of which is pictured) – was a music book review column. I had different columns over the years.

When Cameron found the magazines, I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised that he found them. Somewhere at home I have some myself. But what surprised me was that when I was writing for magazines over the years, I never considered that the magazines would be classified as “vintage.”

My friends, you have before you the writing of a vintage writer, songwriter, guitarist. Sadly enough, it simply means I have been around long enough for my writing, etc., to achieve the distinction of being vintage – or even part of vintage. Which, when you think about it, is actually a good thing. I’m just not used to being classified under the term. But if vintage means good enough to hang on to, I’m in.

Peace be with you.

%d bloggers like this: