Forty two is the meaning of life, at least according to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Why are we here? Well, I don’t know why you’re here, but if you just came upon this cold, it’s probably so far out of context that you should move on to find more interesting commentary.
If you stay, what I’m talking about is a new feature to supplement my infrequent blog posts. It’s about a new forum I created. The forum came about because I needed a place where I can kick back with some friends, talk about the blues, guitar playing and just general BS in a relatively stress free environment.
It’s no accident that this forum uses the same forum software and format as the Blues Guitar Unleashed forum. It’s that way so that if you have been on a forum using this software before, you’ll feel at home using it here.
Let me start by singing the praises of Griff Hamlin. I quit playing the guitar about the same time Griff Hamlin III was born. He is single handedly, the reason I’m playing the guitar for personal enjoyment, well into my 60’s. Griff’s teaching style is very measured and very well refined, from years of dedication to his craft. For the rest of my life, he has my undying loyalty for having helped me again find something that I lost so many years ago. If you haven’t ever seen one of his Youtube lessons, bought one of his courses or seen him play live you have missed something wonderful. I am extremely proud to call him my friend and a mentor to my guitar learning.
But into every life, some rain must fall. Which is why I started the OFWG – Friends of Blues Guitar forum. I want to have a place that is as exciting and as much fun as Griff Hamlin’s Blues Guitar Unleashed forum was for me when I joined it back in 2010. For any number of reasons, growth, change in my personal focus, and user conflicts, the BGU forum has for me lost some of the charm that first drew me to it. Before you go thinking I have written it off, may I assure you I have not. I’m still a member, and I intend to be for the foreseeable future. There is still much that is worthwhile to be had within the forum. For new members who weren’t around 4 years, ago, you have no benchmark with which to measure it.
I’m excited about this. There are some ideas I have that I’m going to try and implement over the next few months, but it’s the members of the forum who will really shape where this goes, if it goes anywhere at all.
It’s been called a “Good Old Boys Club” and in a way, that’s exactly what it is. Yet, the common bond isn’t a single axe to grind, but the love of the learning process and the camaraderie of a common interest, the blues.
Please drop by and check the forum out. It is a non-commercial endeavor and any information required for sign-up will be held in confidence. I won’t sell or share it with anyone. Oh… I even set the message post font size at 12 points for us old guys who don’t see as well as the young whippersnappers.
It’s at OFWG – Friends of Blues Guitar
If you drop by, I hope you like what you see.
As a result of my experience in Corona at BGU Live this year, I’ve discovered a few things both about myself and some observations in general that might be of help to anyone who finds they are experiencing similar fears.
I overanalyze everything and frequently suffer from analysis paralysis. In my remaining years, I need to live a bit more in the moment and a little less worried about what the future holds. This applies to a lot more than just playing guitar.
Not really. Well, yeah, I won, but the mad skills is just click-bait. I just had an awesome experience and in a unique break from my usual self-deprecating, lowered expectations style. I had an incredibly good time on a visit to California a couple of weeks ago.
The website has been largely ignored and that’s entirely my fault. This morning, I took a good long look at it and decided it needed a facelift. Right now it is in progress. It may change again according to my whim.
I always make the same promises… I’m going to try and post more. Maybe.
There has been some confusion about where this quote originally came from. It was used in Metal Gear Awesome, by Egoraptor back in 2006.
The quote actually came from an old “Reading Is Fundamental” public service announcement that ran during Saturday morning cartoons in the late 80’s. It’s one of those things that when you are a kid, sticks in your head and for some reason known only to you, it remains funny and one of your own personal inside jokes.
This gets a bit wordy, so if you’re into light reading, you might want to click away now!
My current interest is in the blues. If you’re playing blues guitar, you may never play a major scale in your life, but you should know what they are if you’re ever going to play in more than one key. The blues is usually based on some variation of a 12 bar pattern that repeats over and over. I’m probably not telling you anything new there.
No doubt about it, I’m not a kid anymore. You know that when people stop referring to you as “wet behind the ears.” I never knew what the meant anyway.
LIfe started out for me with a definite bent towards music. I played accordion for a number of years, until the accordion joined most Americans’ most hated list, right up there with bagpipes. Dick Contino, Myron Floren and Frank Yankovic notwithstanding, the Beatles and the British invasion of the sixties was the death knell for the accordion. Other than John West, playing the Cordovox in Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the sixties were devoid of any accordion heroes. So who was I to fight progress? I switched from being an “accordionist” to being a “keyboard player.” In the mid-sixties, other than Mike Smith, who played a Vox Jaguar for The Dave Clark Five, and Alan Price for The Animals, there weren’t many mainstream rock and roll keyboard players to emulate. My roots with the Natural Music Studios gave me an entré into the world of six stringers, which I immediately loved! I beat my first guitar nearly to death. It was a mid-fifties Fender Esquire, which was given to me by the studio owner so I could learn (and teach) guitar. Along the way, I owned any number of other guitars and basses as I slowly transitioned myself to stringed instruments from the keyboards.
So I’ve become somewhat comfortable manipulating various audio files around and Ardour is a really user friend and relatively easy to learn piece of software… at least relatively speaking. It’s still a beast, but it’s strangely addictive.
After working with Ardour for probably a month or so, I decided I wanted to add something new to the system. I wanted a MIDI Digital control surface. Simply said, it looks like a mixer. It’s a box with a bunch of buttons, knobs and sliders on it that connects to your computer with a USB cable. It is supposed to integrate into Ardour to allow the user to use it as a mixing console. The sliders are even motorized so that when you’re playing back a previously mixed recording, the volume controls will track the positions where you originally placed them. It’s a Behringer BCF-2000. If you would like to see one in operation, just go to YouTube and search on that model. There are a number of people who have done some pretty funky things showing the sliders moving around without human intervention. Pretty cool!Read more: Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part C)
So this new computer is happily running Linux and I’m starting to get used to it. It does pretty much everything I ever asked my computer to do. There is Bluefish, an excellent HTML editor, to replace an ancient copy of Homesite (for Windows) that has been on my computers for time immemorial. Open Office does pretty much everything to suit my needs. It opens and plays nice with all my archives from my antique copy of Office XP. Thunderbird is an excellent email program, which has been on my Windows computers for years after Outlook 2002 became outrageously flaky. Everything just works. However, it did take me considerably longer to get everything the way I wanted than it did with Windows.
Now comes Ardour and the ALSA/Jack audio part. I linked up with an excellent support site operated by the electronic music department at Stanford. The site is called PlanetCCRMA (google it) and is run almost entirely by one man, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano. The man is brilliant, both as a musician and a computer geek.?His best quality (from my viewpoint) is that he could explain the theory of relativity to Larry the Cable Guy so Larry could understand it.Read more: Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part Deux)