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Steve Hunter Releases New Tone Poems Live DVD

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Steve Hunter has truly left his stamp on some of the most beloved rock and roll tracks of the 1970s and beyond.

Not only did Hunter play on five Alice Cooper albums, but he also performed on Peter Gabriel’s debut solo album that included the classic “Solsbury Hill” and was featured on two of Lou Reed’s live albums (Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal and Lou Reed Live).

As one of the top session artists in the game, Hunter has also worked with David Lee Roth, Dr. John, Julian Lennon, Glenn Campbell and several other luminaries.

Last but certainly not least, Hunter, a.k.a. the Deacon, also boasts several solo albums, including 2013’s The Manhattan Blues Project, which featured cameos from Johnny Depp, Joe Perry, Joe Satriani and Marty Friedman.

Hunter’s latest initiative Tone Poems Live is a live CD/DVD that was recorded in the studio in Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, Hunter wasn’t even sure he wanted to move forward with Tone Poems Live.

“It wasn’t really my idea,” he explained. “One of the guys that had contacted us when I was doing the Kickstarter for The Manhattan Blues Project came to us later with the idea of doing a live video. When we first started talking about it, I wasn’t crazy about the idea. But it evolved into something where we could record it live, kind of like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.”

Hunter recruited a veteran list of musicians to help with the sessions in bassist Tony Levin, pianist Phil Aaberg and drummer Alvino Bennett.

“I’ve worked with these guys before, and they’re all brilliant artists,” said Hunter. “That made things move quickly once we rehearsed for a couple of days.”

Tone Poems Live was actually filmed in a single day, as the collective ran through each song twice, with the best version landing on the compilation.

“That’s the way they used to be done,” Hunter said. “I remember reading about groups like the Animals recording their entire album in a day for like $35. That’s the way things were done back then. As much fun as technology is to play with, sometimes it’s good just to get guys in the room and record it. It’s a different ballgame.”

For the session, Hunter used a trio of Gretsch Custom Shop CVTs built by longtime Gretsch Master Builder Stephen Stern.

“He’s a true master,” Hunter said of Stern. “They are absolutely superb guitars. His craftsmanship is a real art; it’s almost scary. You can inspect those guitars with a magnifying glass, and they’re perfect – all three of them.”

The trio of Custom Shop guitars have mahogany bodies and necks and rosewood fingerboards. One boasts a Black finish, one is in Lake Placid Blue and the other is in Sea Foam Green. Hunter said he is still making adjustments to some of the pickups, however, and he even asked Stern to put a Kahler tremolo on the Sea Foam Green CVT.

“I know there are Gretsch players out there who get all annoyed when you change something on a guitar, like you’ve committed the ultimate sin, but I’ve always personalized my guitars,” Hunter said with a laugh. “Brian Setzer did that, so have many others, whether it’s the pickups or knobs or whatever. That’s kind of what I did with the three that Steve made me. I’m still experimenting with pickups, but the ultimate piece of wood that Steve put together is just beyond words.”

Click here to preview or purchase Hunter’s latest offering, and check out a promo video below.

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Vintage Guitar Reviews Gretsch Electromatic Center-Block

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In its November issue, Vintage Guitar reviews the Gretsch G5655T-CB Electromatic Center-Block, which features a solid-spruce center block designed to cut feedback when things get loud.

The magazine reviews the instrument’s key feature set, finish and set-up, and also details some of the sounds wrangled from this little beauty.

“A Black Top Filter’Tron pickup near the bridge provides all the early George Harrison jangle and super-clean Chet Atkins single notes anyone could ever use,” writes Bob Dragich. “Beatles songs are channeled almost involuntarily through the ’Tron. And even though Tom Petty doesn’t normally use a Gretsch, the G5655T-CB is great for reproducing the rhythms of nearly every song he’s ever done.”

The guitar also held up well when it came to feedback testing.

“Feedback testing involved running the G5655T-CB through an early-’80s Fender Super Champ in a 15×15 room with an eight-foot ceiling. All-tube and point-to-point wired, the Super Champ dished out Paul Rivera levels of gain. Pushed to window-rattling, 911-calling levels, the little Gretsch refused to squeal unless it was aimed directly at the amp’s speaker, and then only in close proximity.”

Pick up the magazine to read the full review.

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Brian Setzer Gets the Party Going in ‘Let’s Shake’ Video

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Brian Setzer Let's ShakeBrian Setzer’s latest album Rockabilly Riot recently came out via Surfdog Records, and the former Stray Cats frontman has a few visuals to go along with it.

For the video for “Let’s Shake,” Setzer really revs up the party with several guest dancers and psychedelic backdrops, while the lyric video for “Lemme Slide” attracts the eyes with abstract angles and colors.

Check out both clips below.

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Train Delivers ‘Angel in Blue Jeans’ on Kimmel

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San Francisco-bred band Train was recently featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote  upcoming album Bulletproof Picasso, which is due out Sept. 16 in the U.S.

As the sun set in Hollywood, Train performed the record’s lead single “Angel in Blue Jeans,” which was produced by Butch Walker.

Check out Train in action below.

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Rock Crowd at Kimmel

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were recently featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where they performed a few tracks off new album Hypnotic Eye.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers were in  classic form with the single “American Dream Plan B,” which featured Petty slinging a sweet Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird.

Check out Petty and the Heartbreakers in action below.

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