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Talking Guitar by Jas Obrecht (2017)

Talking Guitar Jas Olbrecht

Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians
Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music

by Jas Obrecht
University of North Carolina Press, 2017

Guitarists love to hear other guitarists talk about their craft. Jas Olbrecht, former editor of Guitar Player magazine, has had the honor of speaking with some of the most famous guitarists in history from diverse genres, and a number of those interviews are collected in the volume Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music. From the blues guitar of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown to the rockabilly stylings of Ricky Nelson, the philosophy of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia to the two-handed tapping of Eddie Van Halen, Talking Guitar has a little bit for everyone.

The Van Halen interview is especially interesting as it was an unscheduled sit-down with the up-and-coming guitarist after Olbrecht was blown off by Pat Travers. After playing a game of one-on-one basketball and explaining his predicament, Van Halen said, “Why don’t you interview me? Nobody has ever wanted to interview me?” He introduced himself, Olbrecht started recording, and Eddie Van Halen’s “first major interview” was underway.

Johnny Winter went on record about open tuning and slide technique, Carlos Santana speaks to the importance of tone and emotion, while Tom Petty talks about understanding rhythm guitar and how important Mike Campbell’s lead work was so important in Petty’s success. Talking Guitar also features interviews with Nick Lucas, Ry Cooder, Barney Kessel, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, Carol Kaye, Stevie Ray Vaughan, James Gurley, Gregg Allman, Neil Young, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, and Ben Harper.

Also included is an audio CD that includes excerpts of the interviews, including Eddie Van Halen explaining how “Eruption” ended up on the debut Van Halen record, and James Gurley explaining how John Coltrane influenced psychedelic guitar.

Talking Guitar is a fascinating collection of interviews, highly recommended for aspiring rock stars.

Learn more about University of North Carolina Press.

Purchase Talking Guitar by Jas Obrecht.

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Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir by Joe Satriani and Jake Brown (2014)

Joe Satriani book review

Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir
by Joe Satriani and Jake Brown
BenBella Books, 2014
320 pages

Rock history is replete with fantastic guitarists, but some are so innovative that they will be remembered forever as geniuses with their instrument: Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. In Satriani and Jake Brown’s new book, Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir, the virtuoso chronicles his exploits in the studio, detailing the thought process behind the recording and producing of many of his greatest songs, including the equipment used and the struggles in finding just the right sound. There are no backstage stories of wild parties during the Mick Jagger tour, or even personal stories about how Satriani met his wife. The focus is almost entirely on the studio work of one of the greatest six-string instrumentalists of the past thirty years.

Several other musicians add their own voices to Satriani’s memoirs, incuding Vai, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, and Satch’s bandmates in Chickenfoot: Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, Chad Smith, and Kenny Aronoff. Black and white photos are scattered throughout the chapters, and 32 pages of color photographs grace the center of the book.

Satriani is a humble man and, despite knowing how great he is at his craft, shows a vulnerability as he writes about his creative process. It is inspiring and encouraging to know that a man with such immense talent struggles with doubt even at the height of his brilliance, giving hope to budding musicians still trying to find their way. With a great deal of technical information, some of Strange Beautiful Music‘s content might be lost on the average reader, but rock and roll fans will enjoy stepping into the studio with Satriani through the years.

Learn more about BenBella Books.

Purchase Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir by Joe Satriani and Jake Brown.

New Chickenfoot video

The supergroup featuring former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, has a new album on the way. The first single is “Big Foot,” and the band has produced a music video to promote the release.

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Sammy Hagar. I absolutely love his work prior to joining Van Halen, and absolutely loathe everything after (with the exception of Balance). This song is doing nothing to change my mind, which stinks because Joe Satriani is amazing with an electric guitar.

If you are turned off by Sammy’s voice like me, skip to 2:23 in the video to hear Satch wail for about 20 seconds.

Chickenfoot III is set for release September 27.

Do you remember when CD’s were expensive?

I sure do. And they still are, if you buy them new. There are a ton of used CD stores around though, including Book & Music Exchange in Owensboro. That’s where my parents-in-law live, and every time we go to visit I have to stop at that store. They always have some bizarre deal, and this time was no different. All CD’s with an orange sticker cost $2, or 20 for $10. Yep, fifty cents each. I didn’t look through every stack, but I found 20 that I wanted. Some alternative, some pop, some punk, and a few “hard rock” that are usable for my radio show.

I picked up the following, and got them all for a 10-spot.

  • 24-7 Spyz This Is…24-7 Spyz
  • Gilby Clarke Swag
  • Culture Club The Best Of
  • EMF Schubert Dip
  • Saigon Kick The Best Of
  • Saigon Kick The Lizard
  • Richie Sambora Undiscovered Soul
  • Joe Satriani Joe Satriani
  • Semisonic Feeling Strangely Fine
  • Sex Pistols The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle
  • Tommy Shaw 7 Deadly Zens
  • Shaw/Blades Hallucination
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd Trouble Is…
  • Britney Spears …Baby One More Time
  • Britney Spears Oops!…I Did It Again
  • Britney Spears Britney
  • Spin Doctors Pocket Full Of Kryptonite
  • Stuttering John Stuttering John
  • Toadies Rubberneck
  • The Zoo Shakin’ The Cage

I think I got a pretty good deal…what do you think?

Congratulations, Joe Satriani!

Your song, “If I Could Fly” was selected as the 2008 Song of the Year by Grammy voters (even though it was released in 2005)! However, they are sending the trophy to Coldplay, who stole the melody and added lyrics, renaming it “Viva la Vida.” Hope you don’t mind!

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