This is the month that changed my life. A new partner and the decision to return to being a full time musician. The question is, why did I stop in the first place? Anyway, thats all history, now lets talk about our trip to the good old United States of America!
A couple of years ago I 'met', through my big mate and great guitar player Dave Lang, Jim Drake. He is a guitar builder from Colorado and we soon became online friends. One day he announced that he wanted to build me a signature guitar! Six months later the Drake C36 was in my hands. Unfortunately the shipping had damaged the neck joint so it had to go back.
As we were on our way to Nashville I thought a detour through Denver was a good idea as my Bludotone Bludodrive also needed a tune up.
Jim and Micky and family were fabulous hosts and even made us an Isle of Man cakes, complete with Triskelion chocolates! He showed us around his workshop and took my sick C36 in hand.
In the UK, curry is king but when in the US Mexican is the order of the day and Jim and Micky took us to their excellent local. Not great for the waistline, but certainly very tasty indeed as was the company.
Of course next on the agenda were jam's, guitar shops and the visit to home of Bludotone (which can be found in a separate post) but below is picture of the main man happy at his work :)
Of course any visit to Denver has to include 'Red Rocks' where U2 recorded their famous album. Totally inspiring!
This store boasts thousands of guitars but belied by its diminutive shop front. You ask for virtually anything and the helpful and friendly guys dart into the back and come out with what you need!!
I was looking for a Gibson EDS-1275 Double neck. I have always loved electric twelve strings and of course the image of Jimmy Page and his cherry red rascal was a factor in my learning to play guitar in the first place. They did have one, but the cream 'Don Felder' model and not my cup of tea.
However I was informed that they had just taken delivery of a brand new ES335-12. How could I resist! It sounded fantastic but more of that later on my equipment pages :)
We were at Wildwood Guitars for a fair few hours. Suzy went out for Ice Creams and one of the guys went into the back room and came out with a battered, dusty case. He opened it to reveal an ES335 and then went on to tell me that it belonged to Duane Allman. I picked it up, plugged it in. The pickups selector was dodgy so I ended up using neck pickup. What a sound! I asked how much, but didn't get a reply, just a wry smile :)
Suzy managed to balance her Ice Cream to shoot this quick clip.
Following a jam with Jim with his lovely friends and a visit to John Weeks' house to play some great vintage guitars, we left Colorado vowing to return as soon as we could!
This is not only the home of country music, but the home of music and reason for the visit.
When we arrived the first thing we did was look him up. A very messy Mexican lunch turned to a full day session and during our increasingly drunken ramblings, he suggested we go and see the Time Jumpers at 3rd and Lindsley.
We rocked up there to be spellbound. The image below is from before the gig as during it we were so captivated not further photographs were taken! They are an incredible band and probably the best musicianship I have seen at any gig...
Another great venue is The Basement where we spent a great evening of beautifully executed original music! One thing you get from being here is the standard of musicianship and professionalism, which is truly awe inspiring...
The tourist trap which is 'the strip' (Lower Broadway) has loads of very busy bars, all featuring music. There are great 'musos' playing here, but I get the feeling its very much a job to them.
Of course, when in Nashville you have to visit Gruhn Guitars, one of the greatest stores in the world.
Mandolin sir? What colour, age and model are you looking for!
Anyway, thats all for now folks. See you in April!
Blues at the Bay, 718 Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe TS16 0JE Stockton-on-tees, UK
Saltburn Blues Club, Markse Mill Lane, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 1QA, UK