Dang it, I couldn’t find the video I was looking for.
Where was I? So in 1996 or so, I was working at the aforementioned movie theater and The Great White Hype was playing. This was a bad movie. Just overall bad. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY came to see it. The theater that it was playing in was consistently empty so I’d wander in there from time to time to see if anyone was actually watching it.
I walked in one time and Brian Setzer had a cameo appearance playing “Danny Boy” all Brian Setzer styled, and things are starting to percolate in my brain. A bartender at one of the poolhalls I frequented said, “Dude, I just saw this movie that is so YOU.”
That movie was Swingers.
So I’m really getting it all together, and realizing that this kind of music is what I should be playing on guitar. The whole vibe and scene was just too cool – it was what I dug all along. Hot rods, low-brow, twangy guitars…..the works. I picked up the guitar again. It had been a few (ahem) years since I played it with any regularity in high school and many MANY years since the time I played it seriously. So I set to work. It sounds stupid to “realize” it, but a lot of my guitar playing years were stunted because of my ear.
I’ve got a good ear. I can hear something, match the key and then usually fake along (depending on how much I’ve been practicing lately). In elementary school, I played cornet. I couldn’t read music so they just sang the note to me and I played it. While it’s nice to have a good ear, ultimately I think it made me lazier. Especially on guitar. While it makes it easier to jump in, you don’t work as hard so you don’t retain as much information.
But my daughter was born in 1997 so while she was a baby I actually had PLENTY of time to practice. And practice I did. I tracked my original guitar teacher (in Houston) and started meeting up with him to start getting this rockabilly stuff down. I learned a lot of finger picking. I spent a lot of time running scales and learning songs. I was using my long-time guitar my Ibanez Destroyer (!).
Found a pic of one (although mine didn’t have the cherries).
Since I was familiar with the wide fretboard it was great to be pushing through on, but I ended up pickup up my first “rockabilly machine” Gretsch in 1997. It was a factory second out at Parker Music on I-45 (Houston).
After a while, I felt pretty confident in my playing. Over confident really. I set up to meet with this guy who played stand up bass. What a disaster. The guy was what I/we call a “purist“. He played the rockabilly records on a turntable (only). He preached the rockabilly superior. Original rockabilly artists only, etc, etc. He turned his nose up at my Gretsch (not a rockabilly guitar?!?) but oddly enough approved of the leopard print strap I had on it? He knocked me off-balance so badly that I couldn’t remember the chords to Blue Suede shoes (!) It was bad. It knocked me back for quite a while. Such a defeat. Now I realize he was just a…..jerk…..but back then I really took it to heart that I wasn’t a good guitar player.
–to be continued–