Riff Notes: A New Series

This Fall, Hal Leonard Books will release three new publications as part of the new Riff Notes series. Acoustic Guitar Basics, Electric Guitar Basics and Guitar Strings Basics are designed to teach readers all they need to know about choosing a guitar or guitar strings strings and how to perform proper maintenance on their equipment. Authors Phill Dixon and Chris Jones tell us more!

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Many shoppers can be overwhelmed by the size, selection, and noise level of a guitar shop. New players and even experienced players can sometimes be unsure about which questions to ask, or are hesitant to ask too many.   Just curious about guitar strings? Interested in the acoustic guitar, but maybe just the electric? Riff Notes offers a simple but thorough introduction to each topic, giving the reader enough information to help him or her feel more confident but not over-loaded.

Authors Phill Dixon and Christopher Jones have years of experience at Guitar Center helping thousands of new and continuing musicians explore, play and take home their first, second, and ultimate dream instruments. Riff Notes puts that knowledge into writing giving readers easy, quick-to-read expert advice in a series of short and fun, topical reference guides all about guitar-related musical equipment.

Designed to easily fit in guitar cases or gig bags, these booklets introduce the guitar world with simplified terminology and explanations, practical applications and tips, and are written in an easy and conversational tone to engage the reader. Perfect for both novice and experienced players alike, the series includes shopping advice, fun facts, and trivia to engage readers of any playing level. Coming this November: Riff Notes, published by Hal Leonard.

Bill Wyman’s Vox Amplifier

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this top-notch Vox amp! Read this excerpt from the book about how the band used to worship these amps!

Solid Senders

Bill Wyman officially joined the group on January 5. Apparently, Mick, Keith, and Brian had finally decided that Bill was in after what could best be described as a trial period. Bill explained: “They didn’t like me, but I had a good amplifier, and they were badly in need of amplifiers at that time! So, they kept me on. Later, when they were going to get rid of me, I think I clicked or something and I stayed. I must have just fitted in.” Ian Stewart later commented, “There is a certain amount of truth that Bill was taken on for his equipment, but Bill was very good.”

VoxAmpThe group immediately incorporated Bill’s amplifiers into the backline. While the Watkins Westminster, a 10-watt amp
that came with an 8-inch speaker,
two inputs, a volume control, and a
tone control that also acted as an on-
off switch, was a nice addition, the 
real prize was Bill’s Vox AC-30.

Keith, more impressed by this 
particular amp than he was with 
Bill, later commented: “Bill had
 amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped.
 A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was 
beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” Watkins, later WEM (Watkins Electric Music), was a London-based company started by Charlie Watkins that specialized in amplification.

The Vox AC-30 was considered the best and loudest guitar amplifier on the market in England at the time. Bill’s AC-30 was tan or beige, commonly referred to as “fawn-colored.” The official model name for the amp was the Vox AC-30/6 Twin Normal; “6” meaning six inputs, “Twin” meaning two speakers, and “Normal” meaning the guitar rather than bass version. The AC-30 was equipped with four EL84 power tubes, five pre-amp tubes, and a single GZ34 rectifier tube. Jim Elyea’s definitive book Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years states that: “Bill’s original ‘fawn’ AC-30 was built in approximately February 1962 and was purchased from the Art Nash Music Shop. Bill’s is a Normal model with a brownish copper panel with no Top Boost circuit. The two original leather handles have been replaced with newer Vox SBU handles. The amp is equipped with a pair of Celestion Blue T.530 12-inch speakers and has a sticker inside the amp indicating that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne.”

The Vox factory was located in Dartford, where Mick and Keith
grew up, and the primary Vox amplifier showroom was the Jennings
 music shop on Charing Cross Road in central London. Jennings Musical
 Industries was established by Tom Jennings in 1958. In 1962, the
 operation further expanded its horizons with the introduction of Vox 
guitars The company’s Vox amplifiers were devised by JMI’s chief design
engineer, Dick Denney.. Denney, who was also the creator of the AC-30,
started the Vox amplifier line with a 15-watt unit. He then reasoned that
what musicians really needed was a twin-speaker amp with six inputs.
Denney remembered Tom Jennings’s reaction to the concept: “He said to
me, ‘Well, you do what you like Dick, but if it doesn’t work, your head’s
on the chopping block.’ As it turned out, the AC-30 became the jewel in
 Vox’s crown; it’s what put Vox on the map. I made the amp so that it
sounded good to me. It was old technology, and I think old technology
still prevails.” One of the design oddities of the AC-30 was the situation of its control panel at the back of the top of the cabinet. Denney explained that his fellow guitarists at the time often sat behind their amplifiers, which projected a reverb-type effect into the hall from the front and a “dry” sound from the open back. Wyman’s Vox AC-30 amplifier cost £105, about $300 then, the equivalent of about £1,340 ($1,870) today.

On January 14, 1963, Tony Chapman was fired at the end of a gig at the Flamingo Jazz Club in Soho, London. The January 14, 1963, entry in Keith’s diary reads simply, “Tony Sacked!” Bill Wyman remembered: “Tony was told that his services were no longer required. He was furious and said, ‘Come on, Bill, let’s go and start a new band.’ I told him I was staying with the Stones, and Tony just upped and left.”

C. Eric Banister on Cash

On this date in 2003, the legend that was Johnny Cash sadly passed away. Johnny Cash FAQ author C. Eric Banister reflects on the legacy of the Man in Black and how, even after his death, his artistry continues to have a powerful impact upon his fans.

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It seems odd to say someone died in their prime at age seventy-one, but it’s true of Johnny Cash. It might be more accurate to say it was one of his primes, since Cash had a habit of fading away and then making a comeback of sorts. When he passed away on September 12, 2003 his newest album, the fourth in the American Recordings series, was not a year old yet and was on its way to a #2 peak on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart (and #22 on the Billboard 200). Just after his passing the boxed set Unearthed was released, and along with the two remaining American Recordings albums released in 2006 and 2010, showed that he was still in a creative upswing even though his health was in a down period.

The sales numbers of these final projects showed that Cash still had legions of fans and the world would miss him immensely. Even now, eleven years after his death, Cash still claims large numbers of fans. In March of this year a “new” Cash project was released in the form of Out Among the Stars. Based on recordings made in 1981 (and 1984) with legendary producer Billy Sherrill and later shelved, the album wasn’t what fans of American Recordings had grown used to, but the fans took it to #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #3 on the Billboard 200.

Cash’s legacy remains a driving creative force, as evidenced by the recent release of Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited. Fifty years ago, Cash released the masterpiece Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It was a bold move for a country musician and one that saw him shift a bit in the eyes of many to a more folk-centered singer. It didn’t matter how others saw him, Cash was doing it because he cared about the cause and he liked the songs, many of them from the pen of Peter LaFarge. At a time when many were picking up the banner for civil rights, Cash did so as well. Except where many picked up on the struggles of the African-American in the South (and rightfully so), Cash was drawn to the “Red Power” movement.

Even with the shift in tone for Cash, the album still topped the Country Albums chart and broke the Top 50 of the Pop chart. Its lone single, “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” peaked at #3 on the Country Singles chart, but it was a battle with disc jockey’s to accomplish that. (Cash famously put an ad in Billboard calling them and other industry folks out for cowardice).

Throughout his life Cash was often compared to Hank Williams, both in terms of artistry and in self-destructive behavior. Like Williams, Cash’s creative art will continue to inspire musicians even another fifty years from now. Eleven years gone, and never forgotten.

Q & A with Bobby Borg

Bobby Borg recently met with Tom Lohrmann of Tom Lohrmann Music, a  musician, writer and marketing consultant from Washington DC. Here, Bobby answers some key questions about his brand new book from Hal Leonard, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician. Click here for the rest of the interview!

00124611Tell us about Music Marketing For the DIY Musician. Where is the book available?

“Thanks for asking, I’m really proud of the new book. It took years to write it. Essentially, the book is a step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. The goal is to help artists take control of their own destinies, save money and time, and eventually draw the full attention of top music industry professionals. It’s ultimately about making music that matters and gets heard! Right now Music Marketing For The DIY Musician is available at Hal Leonard’s website under “Trade Books”. Eventually it will be on Amazon in both physical and digital form and on my website. ”

How is Music Marketing For The DIY Musician different from other industry books?

“The biggest difference is that it is written specifically for DIY musicians by a musician with DIY, indie, and major label success, making it a more credible, focused, practical, and relatable resource for artists. It also covers the complete marketing process—from vision through execution—with handy templates and samples in each chapter to help artists create fully-customized marketing plans. Finally, it introduces sophisticated business and research tools (SWOT, SMART, AIDA, and PFB Charts) not found in most music marketing books, enabling artists to choose confidently and even scientifically the right strategies for their own career path.”

Could you provide one crucial tip from the book?

“Do not create music in a vacuum with the intention of just throwing it out there and hoping for success. Hope is not a strategy! Instead, have a clear sense of what you stand for, while also trying to uncover where the world is going. Look for ways where you can be unique and do something that has never been done before. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “The key to success is to skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.””

Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Jessica Glassberg

It’s a whole new week, which means we have a brand new video for Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! Here is Jessica Glassberg reminiscing about the traumatic days of adolescence in her monologue “Always Awkward.”

 

 

To see more from Jessica, check out her website.

And don’t forget to follow her on twitter!

 

In Memory of Joan Rivers

Yesterday, the world lost a talented comedian, activist, and pioneer for women in Hollywood. Joan Rivers will be greatly missed. Here is an excerpt about Joan from the Applause publication Comediennes: Laugh Be A Lady. Joan was a “comedy factory” like no other.

 

Besides a mainstream comedy boom, the ’80s gave us cable networks ONTV and Select, video games by Atari, and musical groups with big hair wearing tight pants. There were jiggle shows, goofy sitcoms, lawyer dramas, funny Bette Midler movies, and unemployed traffic controllers. And then there was Joan Rivers.

JOAN RIVERS

She had to compete against all of that. No problem. She’d cut her comedy teeth in Chicago’s Second City and comedy clubs in New York’s Greenwich Village. As Johnny Carson’s go-to guest host, the raspy voiced comedienne who’d been plugging away since the ’60s was finally getting some serious attention. So much so that in 1986, the newly christened FOX network beckoned Rivers over to do her own late-night talk show.

Being a pioneer means sacrifice. Not only did Rivers’s show die a rancid death, after attempting to fire husband, Edgar Rosenberg (who was the producer), FOX ended up firing them both. Three months later, Rosenberg was found dead from an apparent suicide. Joan blamed FOX. Several years later, she found success on a daytime talk show. She also got daughter Melissa in on the act by co-hosting the E! Entertainment network’s Golden Globes pre-show and Academy Awards pre-show and ripping celebrities a new one.

“I like people that don’t really give a damn and just say whatever. Sometimes I wish I had balls like that, but I’m too scared to hurt people’s feelings.” —Nikki Carr

Joan Alexandra Molinsky from Brooklyn didn’t have time to care about other people’s feelings. She was too busy trying to get ahead. After graduating from Barnard College with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and anthropology, she worked a number of diverse jobs: tour guide at Rockefeller Center, writer/ proofreader at an ad agency, and fashion consultant.

Rivers began her show biz career in the theater and New York comedy clubs and landed on The Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar. She was a gag writer for Candid Camera, as well as a plant to sucker participants into doing wacky things. It was during the ’60s that she made her first foray into the talk-show format with a daytime talk show of her own. Her first guest was Johnny Carson. She also released two comedy albums during this decade.

The 1970s saw a Rivers expansion. She appeared on variety shows (The Carol Burnett Show), participated in children’s programming (The Electric Company), and did game shows (Hollywood Squares). She wrote the Stockard Channing movie comedy The Girl Most Likely To . . . and wrote and directed the Billy Crystal film Rabbit Test. She also introduced herself to Las Vegas audiences as singer Helen Reddy’s opening act.

By the ’80s, Rivers was headlining Vegas. She took her growing cache and wrote a bestselling humor book, The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz. Her popularity was such that she found herself initiating a lawsuit against drag queen Frank Marino for doing her stand-up material as part of his impersonation of her. This was also the decade she became estranged from longtime friend and mentor Carson after jumping over to FOX and directly challenging him for viewers and precious ratings. Once that whirlwind of missteps and tragedy subsided, Joan stepped back into the daytime talk- show arena with The Joan Rivers Show and got an Emmy and a five-year run for her efforts.

The only thing that was getting more attention than Joan Rivers’s own biting self-deprecating wit was her multiple plastic surgeries. She’s never shied away from the fact that she’s had some work done, having popped up on three episodes of Nip/ Tuck playing herself and as a vagina that’s had too much plastic surgery in the animated adult show Drawn Together.

The new millennium found business-savvy Rivers being omnipresent. She had an $8 million deal to do TV Guide’s red- carpet show, leaving E! holding considerably less. She had a line of baubles called, what else, The Joan Rivers Collection being hawked on the QVC shopping network. She was one in only four Americans invited to Prince Charles’s wedding and won Donald Trump’s NBC reality show hit, The Celebrity Apprentice. Joan Rivers is no mere comedienne. She’s a comedy factory.00314938

Hal Leonard and Groove3 Announce Strategic Partnership

Music Industry Leaders Team Up to Create and Deliver the Future of Online Tutorials

 

MONTCLAIR, N.J., and AUSTIN, Texas – Hal Leonard Books, a division of Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, the leading publisher of books and digital content on the music business, audio technology, and instrument history, and Groove3, the audio community’s best source for informative and effective online tutorials, announced today a long-term strategic partnership to develop and deliver authoritative content to the world.

This collaboration will transform Hal Leonard’s industry leading content, including series such as Music Pro Guides and Quick Pro Guides, using Groove3’s proven online video delivery system and subscription model, while expanding Groove3’s reach beyond the robust community the company has built over the last 10 years, addressing all aspects of the music-making process, including recording, production, engineering, mixing, songwriting, DAW guides and more.

“Groove3 has always had the end user’s best interest in mind and is dedicated to delivering the best tutorials about today’s audio tools and recording and production techniques. Now having the opportunity to partner with Hal Leonard and offer their first-class content along side ours, it’s a match made in heaven for all audio professionals and hobbyists alike around the world,” said Groove3 Vice President Antony Livoti.

“Groove3 is the most trusted and time-tested online quality resource for training videos for musicians, and bringing Hal Leonard’s reputable brands and content into their community will be a huge benefit to all musicians interested in learning online,” said John Cerullo, Group Publisher of Hal Leonard Books.

“Hal Leonard has been a pioneer in offering digital content to active music makers for decades, and the Groove3 partnership, along with our many other recent digital and web based initiatives, will allow us to continue to offer the best in music instruction for years to come,” added Hal Leonard Corporation President Larry Morton.

Groove3 currently offers more the 850 hours of top-notch online training. The new, exclusive content from Hal Leonard will include product by world-renowned recording, audio, and music experts from many fields, including the Hal Leonard Recording Method by Bill Gibson, the Bruce Swedien Recording Method, Rikki Rooksby’s series of books on songwriting, and much more. Additional courses and products will be announced and released in the coming weeks.

In addition, the partnership allows for the development and offering of customized online programs for traditional resellers, such as musical instrument dealers, and licensing programs to audio-trade outlets, secondary and higher educational institutions, and industry organizations.