Friday, April 29, 2011

RIDE...The inspiration of the CD title song (from the website).


    Trying to be creative on for spouse’s birthday can be fun, but it can also be terrifying. After 21 years together you start running out of ideas on how to be spontaneous, meaningful and impressive. Her love for horses is unquenchable, but she’s only gotten to ride a couple of times in the past 21 years, regretfully. I couldn’t get her a horse, but I could get her something ‘like’ a horse.

     The ‘something like a horse’ was just that; A painting of a horse. A white horse on a big canvas running as if it was going to run straight out of the wall; with eyes affixed on who ever is standing in front of it. This is a cool painting; she’ll love it …what else can I get her? .......a sword (yes! a real sword); a song and poem to tie it all together. This birthday was going to be extraordinary.

      Setting my busyness aside, I began again to think of her, who she is and what she is to me. Thinking of the battle with a life threatening disorder when she was merely a child, then after we met, standing together to battle another condition. We listened to a doctor tell us what would shatter the heart of any woman, stating she will be left barren of children from this complication. I watched her rise above even this until it dissipated and vanished. I was with her the three times she bore a child; the last two all natural (that was something to witness). I have watched her since then be there for our family everyday and in every way through every phase; there for her close friends and even not so close acquaintances. She deserved to be honored in a way to make sure she didn’t forget who she was, what she fought through, what she fights for now and what she means to me and the kids amidst the fray of life.

    So, here’s how the birthday gifts stack up:

    The horse picture is to help keep her dream alive of riding in the face of the wind again and experiencing what she believes in her heart is the closest thing to freedom under the sky.

      The sword is heavy and means business; reminding her that strength, courage and the willingness to persevere resides in her heart, and it shows without pretentiousness, without effort, and without ears for the opposing opinion of others.

       The poem is in a frame on the wall along with the sword and the horse painting.

       Also there are words of encouragement from her lovers heart, written to keep her aware of her value to him, their children and the life they share together.

       I recorded "Ride" back then on my 6 string and played it back on a boom box, reciting the poem while she held the horse painting that birthday night. It was spontaneously deliberate, meaningful and she was without a doubt, impressed.

     Images of her riding the white horse as hard and fast as it can go across some field of broom sage are with me every time I play it. Maybe she will get a horse someday.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gettin on with it,

.....speaking of adversity, here's a problem needing to be solved early in the instrument development: Many people have asked me about the 3 suns around the acoustic sound holes. Being middle-aged I'm legally far-sighted (starting to lose that, too.). That's OK until you wanna see something up close! Envision for a second looking straight on to 27 strings; that's a span of about 14 inches across the strings where I play. When you set it on your leg and look down on the strings from the players perspective it's reduced to a much narrower field of vision. 2 1/2 inches to be exact. How am I going to see enough to know where the strings are at when it's time to play? First thought was to draw up a Celtic knot pattern and do the inlay around the sound hole to use as a sight reference. That was until I found myself sitting in the Doctor's office looking at a Field and Stream magazine and spied a picture of a garden being watched over by this very cool ornament...a cast metal sun. It wasn't that particular shape that interested me as much as the concept of sun flames. Later in the evening I drew up 3 sizes of a 3D raised sun with flames to make out of a dark ebony to contrast the top; they sit in such a way in the acoustic sound hole to rotated freely, giving me the variables I needed, while in the playing position, to dial in the suns under the strings once the instrument is strung up. So it goes like this; certain flame-points fall under particular strings that I hold to memory and it keeps my eyes and hands synced together while playing. I still have to wear one reader contact lens in my left eye to remove the blur. Before the contact lens, I was wearing 2 pairs of reading glasses while learning how to play it. The lady who cuts my hair (if you can imagine that) told me about doing the 1 contact lens (mono-vision thay call it), and being sold on the idea solely that she had been cutting my hair for years with 1 contact lens..........

Friday, April 1, 2011

Clear as mud..

OK! Just to pick up from the previous post, when I say, "do my own thing" the meaning is in a broader sense, simply, "doing what I do, because I have no idea on how to do things most people know how to do in the same manner as they do it." (Clear as mud?) But, Dad would say to me, " Dammit boy, if it's worth doing, then it's worth over doing." And, speaking of 'over doing' the aforementioned father & son philosophical assertions brings me to the attached picture. This is the first sketch that I can remember drawing up that started this whole thing; a monster of a guitar that would keep me challenged for years to come (circa, 1977-78 A.D.). I have wagged this piece of paper around disguised as a book marker and apparently may have used it as a pizza napkin somewhere in those early years; quite frankly, I don't know how I kept up with it, but glad I did. (you may have to refer to the previous post for a little more description if you're just joining us.). More tomorrow.....

Thursday, March 31, 2011

One of these days...

"One of these days I'm gonna _________." I've been filling in the blanks on this list for sometime. We all have a similar list that goes something like this milling around in the back of our minds. "One of these days I'm gonna": "wash the car, trim the hedges, get my wife some flowers, go to Italy, exercise, start a special project, lose 10 pounds, learn how to speak Greek, take a vacation"...... you get the idea. All the intentions that find themselves on this list share different fates though. The outrageous ones may linger for awhile but you finally concede, eventually, that you'll never 'learn to speak Greek' or get an opportunity 'go to Italy.' No matter. There are new things that appear on this list that keep us hopeful and encouraged; more in our realm of reality. And, that seems to be what the primary purpose for the 'List' is anyway, to have a starting point for a Hope and some Encouragement; something to look forward to.. When inspiration hits one of these items a dynamic takes place; once began and completed you are left with a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment, contribution and in some cases, Surprise! Having said that I'll share one thing that landed on my 'list' 30+ years ago. Here's a little of the story to begin with. Like most youngsters, I too, possessed my own ideas of what I saw, heard and how things were to be interpreted. Got in trouble for it, too occasionally. Not trying to be difficult or even different it was simply how my perception was geared. Well, I never grew out of it much. Many times in the late 70's sitting around with friends discussing and solving the problems of the world, sharing dreams and ideas; in one of these improv rap sessions the discussion arose, "what would be your ultimate hot rod if you could afford it?" You know the banter, just read the following like Garth from Wayne's World...."yeah dudes, I want a 69 Roadrunner 440+6, painted teal with flames on the front fenders..with..with traction bars and shackles a Hurst shifter and a tac on the a set of Mickey Thompson wide tires with Keystone rims and functional hood scoop with a huge super charger stickin outta the top of it, larrrge on duuuudes." Then, in natural progression on to the ultimate guitars. Typically, images of guitars in shapes of spiders, fighter jets, AK47's, some hot rod part, skulls, devils, you name it, if you could get 6 strings on it then it was tossed in the kitty. Out of one of those rounds of intense discussions it occurred to me that what I was hearing musically was more than I could manage on the guitar. Most of that problem is that I had no knowledge of reading or writing music. Never learned. If I could write it down like writing a letter to grandma then I could get someone else to play it. Near that time I started to own up to the apparent musical imbalance and came at it by sketching up something I could play in a format more familiar and get in touch with other music I was hearing. You know, those melodies you hear driving down the road while the radio is off, you hear after an extraordinary night out with your significant other, you hear in the shower when you think nobodys listening, you hear, when, you hear, nothing else. It became less of what it was supposed to look like externally and more of what it could do to inspire and explore the musical journey internally. The first sketch attempt was the multi-neck guitar. 4 necks to be exact. 1-12 string, 1-6 string, 1-fretted bass, 1-fretless bass; but on the top bout I drew in a 12 string harp, straight from the hands of Cupid. Cool! (I still have the sketch; will post it up later) But once while watching Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin play his 1275 double neck, I realized quickly that you can only play one neck at a time and with 4 necks and a harp it would probably weigh in at about the same as the 440 engine out of the Roadrunner; the sigh of discouragement over took me (you know, that reality thing again). A few years later I saw this guy, Michael Hedges, play a trippy looking guitar with 5 bass strings on the top. A guitar from the 1920's built by a man named Dyer. Hearing him play that instrument helped me define more of the design movements I needed to gravitate toward. The broadness of sound, the musical color, the melodies, the dynamics he conveyed were over the top. Suddenly inspired, I couldn't wait to draw up some new sketches. The excitement grew and I would spend time thinking about it, drawing on it, changing it up; then soon disappear behind the reasonable (let's be reasonable; this is over you head) and schedules ( face it; you don't have time). In short, the idea would come and go over the years. Side note: I believe that if an idea withstands the time endurance test in a persons heart they need to take a more serious look at that idea; it may reflect back to you a vision with enough detail to get your head around. Just saying! It wasn't until I began to listen deeper to the music I was hearing, and playing it in my head, the design character of the instrument started to take shape......time to do my own thing (whatever that proves to be). more later.