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JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT GIG REVIEW Currently touring throughout Europe, LGA reviewer, Paul Wood caught Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on their last UK date at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. Jason Isbell has been recording and touring with steadily...
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JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT GIG REVIEW
Currently touring throughout Europe, LGA reviewer, Paul Wood caught Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on their last UK date at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
Jason Isbell has been recording and touring with steadily increasing acclaim since his departure from the Drive By Truckers in 2007. His 4th solo album “Southeastern” earned him a clean sweep at the 2014 Americana Music Awards and follow up album “Something More Than Free” made top position in the Billboard rock, folk and country record charts.
Isbell’s latest studio album “The Nashville Sound” is credited to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and its songs are the centerpiece of tonight’s show.
The line up for the European tour comprises Jason Isbell (guitar), Derry deBorja (keyboards), Chad Gamble (drums), Jimbo Hart (bass), and Sadler Vaden (guitar). This is the band featured on “The Nashville Sound”, although Isbell’s wife, Amanda Shires (fiddle) hasn’t come over for the European dates.
The opening couple of songs had a full on rock sound with both Isbell and fellow guitarist Sadler Vaden on electric guitar. The opening sound (imagine a mix between Steve Earle in his rocky period and Bruce Springsteen) was probably a bit loud for the Symphony Hall acoustics and the keyboard was pretty much lost underneath the guitars and bass.
Here’s a link to the promo video (with lyrics) for the second song of the night “24 Frames”:
As the set pacing changed and Isbell switched to an acoustic the sound became much better balanced and the whole sound became clearer, even when it got rockier again later in the set. Here’s a link to Isbell’s promo live video of “Hope The High Road”
For quieter numbers, the band slimmed down to just leave on stage Isbell and whoever was needed, before the whole band was back again for the final series of numbers. Here’s a link to the promo video for his rather gorgeous song “Cover Me Up”
The main set drew to a close with some flashy guitar interplay between guitarist Vaden (an impressive player throughout the evening) and Isbell.
The set list was a good mix of the new album (8 songs) and favourites from earlier albums, “Southeastern” (3 songs), “Something More Than Free” (3 songs) and the 2011 album “Here We Rest” (2 songs).
There was also a nod back to the Drive By Truckers with “Decoration Day” and main set closer “Never Gonna Change”.
No two sets on the UK dates was exactly the same, numbers being added or dropped out, presumably to keep it fresh for the band and for the audience, a clear number of which had caught more than one show on the tour.
Here’s a link to Isbell’s promo video for “If We Were Vampires” which was played as the first encore of the night.
Looking at the set lists from other dates on the tour, Isbell has been playing a Tom Petty song in his encore selection and tonight was no exception, the audience being treated to a slammin’ version of “Refugee”.
The Symphony Hall was clearly (almost) full with Isbell fans. His last few albums have seen him make great strides in terms of commercial success and this was a good well paced show from a guy with a growing back catalogue of impressive songs. Jason Isbell is an artist well worth checking out on his next European tour.
- 24 Frames
- Hope The High Road
- White man’s World
- Decoration day
- Something More Than Free
- Last Of My Kind
- Alabama Pines
- Cumberland Gap
- Cover me Up
- If It Takes A Lifetime
- Never Gonna Change
- If We Were Vampires
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Guitar Week 4
|Week 4 article.
‘Good morning, afternoon, or evening! The first video we looks at a tasty Dorian inspired Steve Lukather Style lick.
Then we will be looking at pentatonic runs and making up patterns. Given the repetitive nature of these patterns, they lend themselves well to being played fast, as your fingers can learn the pattern fairly quickly; a lot of the fast runs you hear Joe Bonamassa play are repetitive pentatonic patterns . As always, start off slow and build up speed gradually. The examples here are to be used as a springboard for you to come up with your own runs. https://vimeo.com/224822361
All of these examples are in the first position of the D minor pentatonic scale.
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ALBUM REVIEW: SOULFIRE – LITTLE STEVEN
Last year at his O2 Indigo show in London, Little Steven announced that he was going to be back in 2017 with a new album and another European tour. The only UK date that’s been squeezed into his schedule was Manchester but the promised new album is now out and it’s a scorcher!
His first solo album for 18 years (“Born Again Savage” appeared in 1999), the new release marks a return to the sound of “Men Without Women” (his first album with the Disciples of Soul) and the first three albums for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, which he produced and provided a lot of the original material. So you know what you’re going to get – lots of brass, big production, classic 50s and 60s R & B and striking rock guitar
The 15 piece band includes top horns man Eddie Manion (from the Asbury Jukes) and guitarist Marc Ribler (the musical director for Darlene Love), and it’s primarily the band that played over here at the London Blues Fest.
It’s not what you would call a “brand new” album – most of the Van Zandt material has appeared in some form previously. It’s effectively Van Zandt pulling together a set of songs that can be seen as his story so far – and it makes you realise what a good songwriter/producer/arranger Van Zandt is.
You get Van Zandt’s take on 5 of his own compositions (or co-writes) which were first recorded by Southside Johnny – I’m Coming Back, Some Things Just Don’t Change, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, I Don’t Want To Go Home (the first song he ever wrote) and Ride The Night Away. Also featured is an update of “Standing in the Line of Fire” (originally recorded by Gary US Bonds)
The “old” songs are good and anyone familiar with the Southside Johnny versions isn’t going to be disappointed. “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” is the most changed version- it gets a “Byrds style” intro before the familiar brass parts kick in, and then the instrumental section goes for an altogether different sound which is strikingly different from the horns on the Jukes version.
Even more interesting are the less familiar songs –“Soulfire” the album opener is a co-write which was recorded previously by The Breakers – a band on Van Zandt’s own label. It’s a strong opener and sets out the tone of the album that follows – a big sound and Van Zandt’s trademark vocals and guitar.
Here’s a link to Little Steven’s Youtube site to hear “Soulfire”:
“The City Weeps Tonight” is a new Van Zandt original – and it’s a gorgeous piece of updated doo wop. “I Saw The Light” is another Van Zandt original (not the Todd Rundgren song) which has never appeared before.
There’s an excellent choice of covers – first up (track 3) you get the “Blues Is My Business” a strong blues rock number first recorded by Etta James. This is the track for all you LGA students to plug in the guitar and play along to. Clocking in at over 6 minutes there’s plenty of licks and riffs to get your teeth (fingers!) into. You can play along here at Little Steven’s Youtube site:
The album also features a cover of “Down And Out in New York City” – the James Brown track from the movie “Black Caesar”. Marc Ribler gives it the full-on ‘70s “Shaft” wah-wah guitar sound.
“Saint Valentine’s Day” is another Van Zandt original that was originally given away and recorded by The Cocktail Slippers. It also featured in a stripped down rocky format in the rock movie “Not Fade Away” but this version brings in the full band and horn section to keeps this version within the sound of the album as a whole.
You can hear it here:
If you like the “Men Without Women” album (or Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) this is definitely an album to go and buy.
- I’m Coming Back
- Blues Is My Business
- I Saw the Light
- Some Things Just Don’t Change
- Love on the Wrong Side of Town
- The City Weeps Tonight
- Down and Out in New York City
- Standing in the Line of Fire
- Saint Valentine’s Day
- I Don’t Want to Go Home
- Ride the Night Away
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s Youtube live footage from the current European tour with Southside Johnny joining Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul for a sing-a-long version of “It’s Been A Long Time” (written by Van Zandt and originally recorded by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes on their excellent 1991 comeback album “Better Days” )
Jazz Funk Guitar
This week I’ve faced my fear of speaking into a camera for the good of your jazz-funk education, enjoy!
The first half of this quick lesson teaches you an Am6 arpeggio, which gives you a bright, jazzy sound of a minor vamp or II chord in a progression:
I recorded the video with only half and idea of what i was going to do, and in demonstrating it, mixed up the arpeggio by starting half way up which sounded pleasant, so I’ve tabbed that out for you as well:
Next comes the rhythmic displacement, an impressive sounding phrase, but it’s a pretty straightforward; we’re just splitting up a ‘straight’ rhythm by adding rests between groups of notes. In this case we’re putting a 16th note rest between groups of 4:
Finally, I demonstrated how you can apply our displaced 16th note rhythm to a more linear blues scale run. The second one was the best, so here’s the tab for that:
Hope this is of use to you, explore the arpeggio and the rhythmic concept on your own, and I’ll do a follow up lesson looking a little deeper soon.
Kid Charlemagne Guitar Solo Transcription
Greetings, axe-wielders, welcome to my debut article. Here I’ll be writing weekly pieces on whatever pricks my interest. Whether it be a new lick, technique or transcription, I hope you can glean something from my ramblings!
I recently rediscovered a transcription of Larry Carlton’s solo from Steely Dan’s ‘Kid Charlemagne’ in an old university text book, and remembering how fun it was the first time around, set about relearning it. Carlton’s note choice is a brilliant blend of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ playing. Here I’ve broken down what’s going on harmonically, bar by bar. It’s a little dense, more than a little geeky, but important! Hopefully you can incorporate some of his ideas into your own solos.
Here’s my own effort…
… a backing track to try it yourself (8 hits and in)…
Guitar Solo Transcription
… the transcription…
… and my annotation …
NB – For the most part, we’re in A minor here.
The solo opens with a lick based around bending up to E, this is the 9th of Dm7 – the chord underneath – outlining a minor 9th chord, something which becomes a theme over minor chords as the solo builds.
Bars 2-3 are comprised of a II-V-I in Am. The tension builds in the harmony with the dissonant II and V chords, over which Carlton holds a common chord tone – D being the b3 of Bm7b5 and the b7th of E7 – before resolving to Am, where Carlton plays a run up the 2nd shape of the A minor pentatonic scale, landing on a C on beat 2 of bar 4 – the 5th of the Fmaj7 chord underneath.
This bar sets up a brief modulation to Em via its V chord – B7. Carlton outlines the change, ascending the D minor pentatonic scale over the Dm7, before sliding into D# – the 3rd of B7 – and bouncing back and forth between D# and F# at the top of what would be the C-shaped B7 arpeggio ( shown below).
Kid Charlemagne Transcription PDF
That transition lick leads straight into a bend from F# to G – the 9th and 3rd of Em7 – before lingering on the minor 9th as he did in bar 1. The rest of this lick is based in the E Aeolian shape (shown below).
Here we have a cool little lick in the D Mixolydian shape in bar 7 before a C major 9 arpeggio in bar 8.
This one’s really fun – the first eight notes ascend an Em7 arpeggio before then descending a D major arpeggio in the same position as bar 7.
Here Carlton lingers around the minor 9 again – flipping to and from the B on the 7th fret of the e-string over the A minor, before sliding up into a G major arpeggio, into which he adds the 13th (E on the 9th fret of the g-string) for a bit of colour.
These are probably the two most technical licks in the passage. The first, over Fmaj7, ascends the A minor pentatonic from G to E whilst alternately bouncing off a pedal note of E. This is tricky to pick. My recommendation, should you need it, is to alternate pick it, with the recurring 9th fret of the G string on the up strokes and the ascending line on the down strokes.
Bar 13 contains plenty of action. The harmony features a Bb7 which comes from a tritone substitution of Am’s natural V chord – E7 – so it’s the perfect place for adding some tension. The first three notes of the bar are the root, 9th and 7th of Bb7, but following these is a descending C major arpeggio, superimposed over Bb7. This gives us the 9th, 13th and #11, from the Bb lydian dominant scale. This peach of a lick is rounded off with a short chromatic run down from the 9th to the root via the b9, jazztastic!
Incorporating melodic minor sounds can be pretty confusing; the shortcut I’ve learnt from this lick, simply put, is to play a major triad a tone up from a dominant
chord to get the Lydian Dominant sound.
Bar 14 is two straight forward major arpeggios over F and G, with a slide from a leading note at the start of each. Both these arpeggios come from the same C- shaped major arpeggio.
Here Carlton continues his theme of hitting the 9th over every minor chord, bending up from the 10th fret to a B over Am. In bar 16, a four-note phrase is played twice, the final and longest note in the phrase is E which functions firstly has a minor 9th over Dm7, and then as a major 7th over Fmaj7.
The final lick starts at the end of bar 16, and is a run up the E blues scale into an F major 9 arpeggio with a chromatic passing note between the 9th and 3rd – frets 8, 9 and 10 on the B-string. This run ends on a Bb – the 7th of the C7#9 vamp the passage ends on.
More than I have time to get into, but in short:
– Hitting a 9th will jazz up any minor chord, extra points for bending up to it.
– A simple way to get the Lydian dominant sound is to play a major triad a tone up
from the dom7 chord you’re playing over. A nice trick is to play the triad of the chord you’re playing over, then shift it up a tone, and then back down again.
– Add 9th and 13ths to major arpeggios over dominant chords – as in bars 7 and 11. – Larry Carlton is awesome. I sorely hope this one was meticulously written and not improvised!
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GIG REVIEW – RICHARD HAWLEY
Richard Hawley played two special evening dates this month in the rather spectacular venue of the Devil’s Arse Cavern in Castleton. The cavern is basically the underground opening to the Peak Cavern, one of Castleton’s famous underground caverns. The Caverns are normally open to the public for walks underground but had been temporarily converted for this purpose to a music venue with temporary seating and a bar.
Your LGA reviewer Paul Wood donned his Parka coat and walking boots and was there to witness the first of the two nights on the 28th April.
Neil McSweeney was the opening act on the Friday night –I’d say it was his job to “warm up” the audience but the temperature was dropping pretty fast! His 40 minute set of self compositions was well received.
Hawley took to the stage to what was almost a “home crowd” (you can catch the bus from Sheffield to Castleton) and it’s clear that everyone there was a Hawley fan. Opening songs “As The Dawn Breaks” and “Ashes on the Fire” set up the typical Hawley concert experience, strong voice, melody and excellent guitar sounds. An up tempo “Tonight The Streets Are Ours” followed, before which Hawley quipped “if you think I’ve put on weight it’s because I’m wearing 50 layers!”
The intricate “Standing At The Skys Edge” had Hawley saying how difficult it was to keep the 12 string in tune under these temperatures and then Clive Miller was brought out to join the onstage band to add tasteful harmonica to “Nothing Like A Friend”.
Here’s a link to the official video for “Nothing Like A Friend”
The rest of the onstage band were long time Hawley cohorts Shez Sheridan and Jon Trier with an occasional drum machine added to give some of the songs a rhythm boost.
Here’s a link to the official video for “Tuesday PM” featuring Shez Sheridan and Jon Trier.
Closing song of the set was a rather aptly titled “The Nights Are Cold” before the band came back for a 3 song encore. Hawley dedicated the final song (a cover of Lee Hazelwood’s “Son Of A Gun”) to his father and grandfather who had first brought him to the Peak Cavern just over 50 years ago in 1976.
Here’s a link to live footage of Richard playing “Son OF A Gun” from the Union Chapel earlier this year
The whole Devils Arse show was recorded by liveherenow and CD recordings of the concert were ready and available for purchase as you left the show.
Richard Hawley – guitar, vocals
Shez Sheridan – guitar, backing vocals
Jon Trier – keyboards
Clive Miller –harmonica (selected tracks)
The Drum Machine
- As The Dawn Breaks
- Ashes On The Fire
- Tonight The Streets Are Ours
- Standing At The Sky’s Edge
- Nothing Like A Friend
- Tuesday PM
- Remorse Code
- Leave Your Body Behind You
- Just Like The Rain
- For Your Lover Give Some Time
- The Nights Are Cold
- Heart of Oak
- What Love Means
- Son Of A Gun (Lee Hazelwood cover)
BLAST FROM THE PAST
To give you a flavor of the unique atmosphere at the Cavern, here’s a link to video footage of Richard playing “Just Like The Rain” live at the Devil’s Arse Cavern at an earlier show in 2008