Me & Mr. Clapton

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The people we idolize when we are young can have such a lasting impact on our lives. Sometime in junior high school I discovered the music of Eric Clapton. This was a pivotal moment in my journey. Clapton was one of the first players I came across that used his guitar as an extension of his voice. I was obsessed with my new found guitar hero, and spent most of my teenage years studying every nuance of his playing and legacy. I've even owned two of his signature Stratocasters.

I quickly identified with Clapton’s persona. He seems a bit introverted and shy, and really lets his music do the talking. His stage shows typically have a pretty simple set up - not a lot of flash, and he is always diplomatic when it comes to sharing the stage. This is something I’ve always tried to embody as a performer. Surrounding yourself with excellent musicians and allowing them space to shine is one the greatest thrills of being on stage.

One of the first Clapton records I got my hands on was a live CD/DVD recording called One More Car, One More Rider. I probably watched that thing hundreds of times. Many members of his live band are some of my favorite players today - Nathan East, Steve Gadd, and Billy Preston - just to name a few. The first time I saw Clapton in concert I remember being overwhelmed to the point of tears.

Whether Clapton is your guitar hero or not, it’s hard to deny his impact on blues and rock music. I think his larger legacy is keeping blues music alive. Clapton has put the spotlight on so many blues artists that may have fallen by the wayside in their later years - B.B. King, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy , JJ Cale - the list goes on and on. He also paved the way for so many younger players from Richie Sambora to John Mayer. Clapton is largely responsible for introducing Bob Marley's music to American audiences as well. 

I imagine our childhood heroes are much like our first boyfriends or girlfriends. Even though we go on to experience other things, they always hold a special place in our hearts. I still find inspiration in Eric’s records today. I saw recently he will be playing two dates this fall at Madison Square Garden. I’ll probably grab a ticket -  it will most likely be my last chance to see my hero. 

Happy New Year!

I wanted to take a minute and wish everyone a Happy New Year! 2017 was a memorable one. Thank you for your continued support. This past year, shipments of my album were sent to Japan, Austria, France and Brasil - not to mention across the United States.  2017 brought some great moments - playing at Buddy Guy's club in Chicago, spending time with friends in Nashville, and of course hanging out at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. This was also the year I relocated to New York. It's all been a lot to process but I'm loving every minute of it.

I just got back to New York after spending some time with family back home in North Carolina. Over the visit I was able to meet with my producer and go over some new songs for my next project. Looking forward to getting that music recorded in 2018. Everyone stay safe and I hope to see you all in the new year! Cheers!

Pedals

 During my summer in Nashvile I decided to build a pedalboard. Warning: this is going to be a guitar nerd post. For those that aren’t guitar players but are still curious - a guitar pedal is a device that manipulates the sound of your guitar. Pedals can do anything from make your guitar tone distorted, add some reverb, or make it sound like a spaceship. A pedalboard is simply a board with the pedals mounted on it. I'm going to go through the pedals I decided on and provide links to more in depth descriptions.

 My rig

My rig

I’ve never been much of a pedal user, but had increasingly felt the need to have a few basic pedals so I could cover a wide range of material. After picking out my pedals I reached out to a custom builder in Kansas called Pedal Pad. They are fully custom down to the tolex (I opted for "black comet.") I chose to have the input, output, and power input all on the same side for easy set up. They make high quality boards in some unique designs so check them out here

The first pedal on my board is my Polytune tuner. This should be a requirement on everyone's board. Find it here.

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Next we have the Fulltone OCD. I fell in love with this pedal immediately. I’ve always been looking for a way to fatten up the tone of my Telecaster and this pedal does the trick. You can add some subtle dirt to your tone or crank up the drive for some thick overdriven leads. Find more information here.

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After the OCD we have the Boss CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus. This is really a few pedals in one. Most importantly (for me) you can get some of those classic chorus tones (think Prince’s Purple Rain.) It also works quite well with it dialed in at a low level, just to give your clean tones a little something extra. More information here.

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Last but not least - and perhaps my favorite pedal on the board - is a pedal by Hungry Robot called “The Wash.” In it’s most basic application - it’s a tap tempo delay. What makes this pedal special is the reverb circuit. You can adjust the levels to create some beautiful ambient and washed out tones. I use this pedal for a lot of swells. Dig it here.

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One last pedal that is not mounted on the board that I use is a Morely Mini Optical Volume pedal. I usually run this pedal between the board and my amp. I don’t keep it on the board due to space and it’s not a pedal I always use. I found it’s much easier to use a pedal for some of those ambient swells than the volume knob on my guitar. Link here

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As you can see, my rig is pretty simple. My goal was to put the necessities in an easy grab and go format. I highly recommend getting lightly used pedals. I bought every one of these pedals on Reverb.com.  Have fun!

NYC

Since I’ve last written an entry here, quite a lot has happened. I’m writing to you from my new home in New York City. Some of you know that I’ve been talking about making this move for many years - finally the timing was right. It’s been an incredible adventure so far. Everywhere I turn I find myself immersed in art and culture (and of course music). Whether it’s a subway performer (another role I can now add to my resume), or an art installation by Ai Weiwei - around every corner I find a moment of beauty.

Sometimes when my subway train crosses the East River it will stop on the Manhattan Bridge. This is usually due to some kind of delay ahead and brings groans from my fellow passengers. For me, it’s like being stuck momentarily on the top of a Ferris wheel - except the view is New York City. It gets me every time.

Exploring the city brings me as much joy as it did the very first time I ever visited NYC so many years ago. To walk in wonder the same way many of my heroes did brings me endless inspiration. When I walk through Central Park I imagine John, Paul, George, and Ringo strolling along. Sometimes in Greenwich Village I pass the same places Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan used to haunt. This is a special place and I'm excited to call it home.

If you’re ever in the city please reach out - I’d love to spend time with you!

 Jalopy Theater - Brooklyn - 10.17 (Photo credit: Rory Masterson)

Jalopy Theater - Brooklyn - 10.17 (Photo credit: Rory Masterson)

 Central Park Halloween 2017

Central Park Halloween 2017

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The Beatles - Central Park - 1964