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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Interpol on Letterman

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Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler took his Gretsch along to perform “Barricade” on the Late Show with David Letterman on July 29. The song is featured on their upcoming self-titled album, due out Sept. 7.

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Neil Young on the Twisted Road Tour

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The legendary Neil Young played back-to-back sold-out shows the last two nights at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Rob Williams provided a thorough review of Young’s Twisted Road tour return visit to the city where he lived as a teenager.

“He’s an iconoclast who follows nobody,” writes Williams. “He does what he wants, when he wants and remains an unpredictable artist who has managed the rare feat of continuing to be fascinating, diverse and relevant for more than four decades while never latching on to a trend, fashion or fad.”

That’s not entirely true, however, as Young has latched on to a few select instruments, including his Gretsch White Falcon, which Williams mentioned in his review.

“He strapped up on his Gretsch White Falcon as he dismantled the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young staple “Ohio,” and rebuilt it from the ground up sans harmonies, giving it a slight menacing vibe before another new one, “Sign of Love,” a melodic love song built on power chords.”

Read the full review here.

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Sting is Full of Surprises

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Sting recently performed “Next To You” on The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno
, with the aid of a Gretsch Black Falcon.

Sting is currently in the middle of a world tour with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, performing songs both from his own enduring solo career and hits from the Police songbook, but with a new “classic” twist.

In speaking to the Today Show about the new arrangements, Sting said, “I always want my fans to be surprised by whatever I do. That’s the whole element — surprise and novelty, (I’m) all about it.”

The summer Symphonicity tour, heralded as “one of the must-see concerts of the year” by the New York Post, came about after a one-night performance in 2009 with the Chicago Symphony.

“They asked me to do an hour and a half of my own music for an orchestra,” said Sting. “I had never thought of that before. It worked so well. I loved it; The musicians loved it; The audience loved it. I thought, ‘Let’s take it on the road.’”

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New Album from Skinny Jim & The Number 9 Blacktops

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Skinny Jim & the Number 9 Blacktops are set for a mid-July release of their new studio album Daredevil Action, an appropriate title for a southern Illinois trio that dared to stretch its rockabilly wings on their latest effort.

“It’s faster and more aggressive compared to our last album (Horsepower! Horsepower!),” says frontman Jim Rotramel. “It’s still rockabilly by all means but the tones are more aggressive and there’s more of a driving tempo. I’m not ashamed to say that this album is hard-hitting rock and roll, but with pop melodies. It still has the same rockabilly beat behind it — the walking bass line, the Gretsch/Fender amp tone — but I think it breaks the mold and is not the monotonous stuff that’s been done a million times before.”

Carving out a niche in the rockabilly world is tough to do. As Rotramel notes, “It’s all been done before so you have to break the mold. You can’t just play a song that’s G-C-D because it’s all going to sound like ‘Rock Around the Clock’ or ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’”

So Rotramel blended his wide-ranging musical influences — Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Brian Setzer and the Black Crowes — with a tempo borrowed from his childhood exposure to bluegrass music to create a brand of rockabilly that’s been dubbed “hot-rod rockabilly.”

“I have always considered us as being right down the middle between rockabilly and psychobilly bands,” says Rotramel. “Most rockabilly songs are going to be in this I-IV-V progression whereas psychobilly bands don’t really have walking bass lines. They are doing all the crazy punk rock stuff. A lot of our songs have that bluegrass tempo that’s on the 2/4 count.”

Rotramel’s bluegrass guitar tempo preference was influenced by his father, who introduced him to Bill Monroe and John Hartford while he was still a young boy.

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Dirty or Ambient?

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Check out the video clips below to achieve an Ambient Gretsch or a Dirty Gretsch sound.

In the first clip, Rick Heins plays a Gretsch White Falcon into a Super-Sonic 22 amp set clean, with a higher Treble setting enhancing the warm tone of the pair of Filter’Tron pickups. A TC Electronic Nova Delay is set to 417 milliseconds, in tempo with the pick + finger chord playing.

In this clip, Heins plays the White Falcon, set to the bridge pickup, into a Super-Sonic 22 amp. He’s on the BURN channel with a fair amount of preamp gain dialed up, which adds nice harmonic content to the simple, rootsy chordal style. A TC Electronic Nova Delay, patched in to the effects loop for cleanest performance with preamp distortion, is set to a 454 millisecond reverse delay. The clip ends with some nice feedback & Bigsby vibrato bar wiggle.

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