List-o-rama: My Five Favorite Guitar Players

My Five Favorite Guitar Players

picture-014At some point in a young man, or lady’s life, they want to become a rock star. Which kid does not want an electric guitar? A lot of people give up when they realize it is mostly just a pipe dream. There are those who stick with it and actually learn how to play the guitar. I got the bug when I was fourteen, and picked up my first six string; an awfully indistinct Squire Stratocaster. I stuck with it for the most part, and twenty five some years later I still play and enjoy it. Every aspiring musician needs a hero. A player to aspire to. For me, I have many guitar inspirations. For the sake of not getting too carried away, I will keep the list of guitar players to a minimum. This list is not based on technical skill. Skill is good, but there are so many other factors that go into these decisions; look, feel, sound, and cool factor all go a long way. Here is my list, in no particular order.

139816178_iommi_467853cTony Iommi (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell)  This is the man that created heavy music as far as I’m concerned. Armed with his signature Gibson SG, Iommi’s guttural guitar sound changed popular music. His down tuned (one and a half steps) came out of necessity as he lost the tips of his fingers in a work accident. The looser strings were easier for him to bend. One of the first songs I learned was the Black Sabbath Classic Iron Man, and I still enjoy playing many of their other songs. As Sabbath winds down their extraordinary career, Iommi still goes out on stage every night and kills it. Not to mention this legend has been battling Lymphoma, and is currently in remission. So many bands and guitar players owe Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath for having the success they have.

6186089295_1bfcc46b85_bPepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity, Down) I love the dirty southern sludge guitar sound, and Pepper Keenan knows how to create some swampy stoner rock riffs. When I first hear Down‘s NOLA many moons ago, I fell in love with the sound. Soon after that, I discovered Keenan played a Gibson Firebird and I was sold. His playing fits in with modern metal, but he would also fit right in with classic southern rock bands like Lynard Skynard. He runs a lot of the same effects pedals that I use or used to use on my board. Pepper also owns a bar in New Orleans called Le Bon Temps Roule. This is one pretty cool guy, not to mention a hell of a guitar player.

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Buzz Osborne (Melvins, Fantômas, Crystal Fairy) King Buzzo! Perhaps the man responsible for the “Seattle sound” that came roaring into popular culture in the early nineties, this man, along with Melvins drummer Dale Crover, has been the one constant in sludge music for nearly three decades. Buzz is unique from top to bottom; his look, his playing style, right to his political and social views. Perhaps what I admire the most is the respect he receives from his peers, as he is always collaborating with other artists such as Mike Patton, Tool, and Jello Biafra. Just to add to his mystique, my friend Earl and I went to see a Melvins show a few years back. As we were coming into the club, King Buzzo was walking in. Earl got excited and grabbed Osborne by the arm (in a non threatening way). Buzz responded with one of the most amazing death stares I have ever witnessed.

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Matt Pike (Sleep, High On Fire) To put it mildly, Matt Pike is a beast. If this was an alternate universe, he’d be slaying dragons. He writes the heaviest riffs, and has the voice to match as the guitarist/singer for one of my favourite bands, High On Fire. I should mention that he is also guitar player for doom metal giants Sleep. He is all that, and does it never wearing a shirt while performing live. I have had the pleasure of seeing both High On Fire and Sleep perform in person, and they are among two of the best shows I can recall. If you are interested in getting your feet wet in the doom/stoner metal genre, listen to Sleep’s Dopesmoker. I feel it is a genre defining record, and Matt Pike is at the helm.

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Joshua Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures) There was a time about fifteen years ago where I kind of lost interest in playing guitar. I just wasn’t feeling it. Then I heard Queens of the Stone Age debut, self-titled album. I was suddenly interested again. I can safely say that QOTSA is my favourite band of all-time. Perhaps Joshua Homme is the biggest influence on my playing. Some people say he is arrogant, a little bit of a prick, but those people also haven’t made albums with guys like Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, or Iggy Pop. Homme’s sound is always evolving, and his song writing just gets better. In a sea of endless alt-rock and pop garbage, QOTSA and Homme’s other projects prove that rock ‘n roll still has a pulse. For a kid who played polka music on the guitar for his first two years of lessons, he does pretty good for himself. Oh, and he is also the drummer for Eagles of Death Metal. I’ve said enough.

T.

 

 

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The Daily Tonality – 01/24/17

The Daily Tonality – Your song of the day – January 24, 2017

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Electric Wizard Devil’s Bride (from the album Electric Wizard, 1995 Rise above Records) If you like your music full of heavy, grinding guitar riffs, Electric Wizard is is the perfect remedy for what ails you. These British purveyors of doom have been recording brilliant sludge for twenty years. Their lyrics speak of witchcraft, horror movies, and marijuana, which seems to be a common theme among bands of this genre. The song Devil’s Bride is no different as the band speaks of the woman whom Satan has chosen to bear his child. Bloody lovely. Electric Wizard came along when the doom, stoner rock scene was just beginning to pick up main stream awareness, but they have also managed to stay somewhat underground. This is one band that I have not had a chance to see live, but I would jump at the opportunity.

The video is accompanied by scenes from the 1967 film The Devil Rides Out.

The Daily Tonality – 01/23/17

The Daily Tonality – Your Song of the Day – January 23, 2017

 

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Yolandi and Ninja

Die Antwoord Banana Brain (from the album Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid, 2016 Zef Records)  If you know Die Antwoord, you have an idea of what they are about. If you are not familiar, they are a rave/rap electronic duo from South Africa. Members Yolandi Visser, Ninja, along with DJ God, incorporate the South African counterculture of Zef into their music and imagery. Usually this style of music is not my first choice, but there is something about this group that draws me in. Honestly, I enjoy the insanity that Die Antwoord represent. Although their latest album Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid is not their best record to date, Banana Brain, as well as a few other tracks are wonderful. This band may not be your cup of tea, but I promise you they are unique, and worth a watch.

 

Fun Fact – Both Yolandi Visser and Ninja appear in the 2015 Neil Blomkamp film CHAPPiE as jacked-up, ultra-violent versions of themselves.

T.

Song of the Day – 08/20/16

Song of the Day

“Till there are no stars shining up in heaven,
Till there are no stars any more”

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The Tragically Hip – Fireworks (from the album Phantom Power, 1998 Universal Music Canada) A lovely, legendary career was celebrated in Kingston, Ontario last night. The iconic band from my home land; The Tragically Hip (or if you are a Canuck, simply The Hip) played the final show of their Man Machine Poem tour. If you are Canadian, you know what this band has meant to this country. For those who don’t, it’s a shame you did not get antiquated. Thank you Hip. You embraced the character and culture of Canada, and in turn, we embraced you.

Riff of the Day 05/09 IGGY POP – American Valhalla

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Iggy Pop – American Valhalla (From the albumPost Pop Depression, Loma Vista 2016)

When I first heard that Iggy Pop was releasing a new record, I was glad to hear it. When I heard that it was a collaboration with Joshua Homme (front man and ring leader of my favorite band Queens of the Stone Age), I had to make sure I read the article right. This is a dream team for me. Homme also produced the record, and it turned out magnificent. In a world where rock n roll has taken a backseat to most garbage they play on the radio, the Queens of the Stone Age genius is doing his best to give it CPR and bring it back to life. Iggy Pop is relevant again. Not because he is a punk rock legend, but because he has made a beautiful album. Like most artists of his generation, Iggy Pop is not a novelty act. He is an artist that still records music that is influential. If this is his last record (we certainly hope it is not), he is going out on top of his game. From The Stooges, to The Idiot, to Skull Ring, Post Pop Depression makes a perfect bookend to Iggy`s legacy. American Valhalla is my favorite track on the album, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

T.

Riff of the Day BLACK SABBATH – Hole in the Sky

March 5, 2016

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black-sabbath-artist-page-pic-zumicBlack Sabbath – Hole in the Sky (from the album Sabotage, 1975 Vertigo/Warner Bros.) The inventors of doom were in town last night, and I missed them. I saw them a few years ago, but it still would have been great to witness Black Sabbath one last time. The band is one of the main reasons I play guitar and listen to heavy music to this day. Tony Iommi, in my eyes, invented doom metal on his Gibson SG. From Ozzy to Dio and in between, Black Sabbath went about their business and changed rock n roll.

Sabbath Factoid: The title of their sixth album Sabotage was named as such because the band were entangled in a legal battle with former management. According to Iommi, the band felt as if were being “sabotaged all the way along the line and getting punched from all sides“. This lead to the album having a heavier, more aggressive sound.

T.

 

Riff of the Day THE DOORS – 5 To 1

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The Doors – 5 To 1 (from the album Waiting For The Sun, Elektra 1968) I may have been seventeen or eighteen when I read No One Here Gets Out Alive; the Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins penned biography on the influential and polarizing Jim Morrison. Myself and a bunch of my friends were heavily into The Doors for a couple years, and the book was my bible for that period of time. I thought “if Morrison can do it, so can I”. There is remains a spot in my heart for this legendary group, and I still look upon the magnetic Jim Morrison as a hero. 5 To 1 is one of my absolute favorites of The Doors. I hope kids of this era are still discovering the bands that I discovered twenty or so years ago. It sure would be nice to get together, one more time.

For an amazing read on enigmatic Rock star, please check out No One Here Gets Out Alive.

Wikipedia – No One Here Gets Out Alive

T.

Riff of the Day: DAVID BOWIE – REBEL REBEL

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I was maybe six or seven years old when I came across David’s Let’s Dance cassette in my aunt’s collection. The name was familiar, but I was a little kid, and had no clue what his music was about. I listened to that cassette, continuously rewinding to hear the title song over and over. To a kid in the early 1980’s, music was Michael Jackson, Prince, Cyndi Lauper and such. I loved all of those performers, but now I am in my thirties (standing with one foot over the line that is forty). I still love M.J. and Prince, but Bowie is the only one who has been a constant influence in my love and creation of music. He could change his style in an instant, and still be relevant and classy. For parts of five decades, he was and will continue to be admired, in the highest regard, by anyone who can recognize talent and charisma. I was honored and blown away by the opportunity to see him perform in 2004. At sixty years old, he commanded the stage and captivated the crowd every moment. Men half his age can only dream of having the appeal and mystique of Mr. Bowie. He went by many personas over the years; The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Jareth The Goblin King (Labyrinth), actor, painter, and musician. To me, he is all of these things, in addition to one more persona; Hero. I am grateful to have shared the same time and space with a man who transcended life and was not afraid to be different.

Hot tramp, I love you so.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Bowie.

12 Riffs of Christmas PAUL McCARTNEY – Wonderful Christmastime

tumblr_mfeg2qauwx1qgd7tso1_1356124300_coverPaul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime (from the single Wonderful Christmas Time, 1979 Parlophone / Columbia) An unconventional Christmas song, and an unconventional song from the great Sir Paul McCartney. It`s not like the Beatles great to use a lot of synths, but this song is catchy and oddly beautiful none the less. I saved this one for last because Christmas is fun, just like this song. Also because Sir Paul is brilliant. I hope everyone has a lovely Holiday season.

shèng dàn kuài lè

vrolijk Kerstfeest

Maligayang Pasko

hyvää joulua

Frohe Weihnachten

mele Kalikimaka

Krismas ki subhkamna

buon Natale

merii kurisumasu

felicem diem Nativitatis

god jul

S rozhdestvom Khristovym

Mừng Chúa Giáng Sinh

feliz Natal

feliz Navidad

joyeux Noël…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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T.

12 Riffs of Christmas RAMONES – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

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Dasher, Dancer, Comet, and Blitzen

Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) (from the album Brain Drain, 1989 Sire)  There are certain bands that remind me or the best parts of my life. Simpler times; hanging out with friends, playing punk music, getting drunk at the park. One of these bands is the Ramones. Christmas is a time to reflect and be happy. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky and C.J. make me happy. These New York punk-rock legends only want one thing for Christmas, and that is for us to be happy. The Ramones want to wish you a Happy Holidays…three chords at a time. Although all the original members have passed on, the impact they left on music, and on my life, is undeniable.

T.