My theme song…..
My theme song…..
When my daughter was small, she would refer to Flamenco guitarist, Ottmar Liebert as “Oatmeal”. “Listening to Oatmeal again, Mom?” she would ask.
Last night, we were treated to two hours of this graceful guitarist’s skilled execution of some of the most incredible music I have ever heard. Liebert was joined by bassist, Jon Gagon and percussionist, Chris Steele. They had definite chemistry, and put on an ideal show in an intimate Portland venue in the Alberta Arts District.
© Stacy Alexander
Ottmar Liebert is what guitar playing is all about. He is in tune with his craft to the point that it seemed, at times, that he and the guitar were one instrument. He was graceful, and seemed comfortable in his own skin, playing, most of the time, barefoot, with his eyes closed, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, riding the waves of his own creations. I believe he was playing a small DeVoe guitar, but it didn’t have any markings on it that I could see, so I’m not certain that is what it was.
Since 1986 Liebert has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1992 he purchased an “alt-ranchette” just outside the city, with an adobe guesthouse he built as a recording studio. In May 2006 Liebert was ordained as a Zen monk by Dennis Genpo Merzel at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. He had a very strong presence….one of peace and goodness. Both John and I sensed this immediately as we watched him.
(I couldn’t get the video of Luna Negra to embed. This video (above) is an earlier performance.)
I have been unable to find a video of Jon Gagnon, his bassist, but will post one here, if i do later. He was simply put, rock solid in every way. Jon had a huge presence and voice on a 4 string fretless which sang like an baritone opera singer…or, at times, a French horn. I couldn’t figure out what one of his bass instruments was at all it. The one shown here was huge, and had a EB-like headstock and a body shape of something like a JP and a morsh. Its tone was full of mwah, but soulful and crying. The fretboard was coated with something shiny. I’d not seen anything like it before.
There is a video on YouTube that I couldn’t manage to embed here. Please look it up. It is called “Good Drums, Bad Turtleneck” by Chris Steele. This is the video to watch to really see this man’s talent. You can find it here:
The Alberta Rose Theater is a sweet little venue….very small and intimate, which was the perfect place to hear a trio such as this. John and I ate the venue’s delicious hand pies and sipped Perrier as we basked in the warmth and beauty that these musicians presented to us. We had such a nice evening. These guys are true professionals…plain and simple. They were tight, knew exactly what they were doing, and provided the audience with an amazing show. ’nuff said. Well…no….NOT enough said, actually.
As I was sitting there watching these incredible musicians, I though about my dear friend, another musician, and felt so sad that his life has taken the path that it has. It could have been him up there on that stage last night….but as they say…”When you lie with pigs….” He has made some not-so-wise choices. I’ll leave it at that.
This morning, I taught myself one of the little tunes that always brings a smile to my face….like…every day, in fact. I’m not a very good guitarist, but picking up this little tune was easy….and yeah…It DOES make me smile! 🙂
Feeling happy, loved and ready to face another day.
This is finals week, and let me tell you. The amount of work that I have to do is staggering…but I know I can do it. Just have to remain positive and focused. It baffles me why professors wait until the last week to pile on so much work. ugh. I must say, however, these classes have opened new portals for me, and I am smiling as I anticipate how this information will be used in my future endeavors. These classes have all been so interesting….ok…except for stat…but we won’t talk about that.
I feel happy, loved, excited and rearing to go! Isn’t it funny how the power of love can propel you forward in life? It gives me a reason to wake up and get out of bed every morning. I am one lucky woman.
It also feels very good to be organized and to have the time to creatively explore my various projects. This has not always been the case, but over the last few years, something just clicked into place with regard to getting organized. It all makes sense….and is easy for me, permitting me to do much more than I used to. I can simply bounce from one project to another without its being any big deal.
I have almost completed another mosaic, and I let little Ingrid work on it with me. I was amazed at her eye for design and the careful accuracy with with which she placed each tile. She really enjoys these kinds of projects, and I always have something for her to work on with me. Working on an entire guitar-themed installation. It is inspired! 😉
I completed all but 3 essay questions on my final for Psychological Testing and Assessments yesterday and plan to tackle those this morning. I still have to complete and polish up my annotated bibliography for that same class, but I’ve made a good deal of progress on that as well. Then, I have a discussion question for the Women in Leadership class which amounts to about 3 pages of substantiated discourse, plus my research proposal (6-9 pages) , and a journal entry about women being change agents….and as soon as I get all that done, my term will be complete!!! Yay! One step closer to my goal and I’m feeling so good!
Next term, I will be taking a forensic psychology course…You know…like on CSI. 🙂 That should prove to be interesting! I’m also taking a business consulting course. Then, it will be time for my final senior project (thesis) and I will graduate early July!! I am beside myself with happiness as I complete each step. I’ve never worked harder, but have never felt happier. Really. John wants to take me to Paris, but I want to wait a year before we go.
Have been invited for a night on the Oregon coast next week with three friends, so that will be my reward for accomplishing all of this. Also looking forward to a celebratory drink with Kath, if we can both manage to get away. (She stays as busy as I.) Of course, I’ll still be working, even during my “break”…but I’m thankful that I have the work.
Organic produce gets delivered today, so I will be spending some time working on my cookbook recipes as well. I have to stop and process everything the day it comes in, or else it will end up going bad. I rather enjoy it. A friend is coming over to help later. I have onion rings soaking in buttermilk in my refrigerator as I type this. They will be turned into oven-baked, panko onion rings later today. Really looking forward to testing this recipe. Have recently enlisted my cousin’s help with the meat portion of the book. She will send me meat recipes and I will convert them into vegetarian and vegan versions. This cookbook is for family and friends that have mixed diets, so everyone can have the same foods, but customized to suit their diets. Good concept? Bad concept? We’ll see….
Ok….back to work for me. Have a glorious day! xoxoxo
I finished sticking the tesserae onto my mosaic guitar last night. It is now ready for grout. I am still contemplating colors. Thinking of either doing a multi-colored, bright grout or charcoal gray. Will have to think about it for awile….but I think I’ll probably go with the dark gray.
And the back:
After the piece is grouted, I will be listing it on Etsy. Will post a notice here.
A special friend sent me this video this morning. You can see his reflection in my glasses.
Rene Best musician Rene Best guitarist
Rene Best musician
I have an old friend in Houston that plays in this style. This is Jon Gomm, a REAL guitarist. The first time I ever saw anyone play in a style close to this, it was when Kaki King played at the TED talks. Here are videos of both of them, and both are well worth a look-see. I adore this kind of playing. It is innovative, and not just the same ‘ol..same ‘ol, overworked, overused crap that 50 million other guitarists are playing.
I love a musician that thinks outside the box and carves new paths into the music world. These two do that. Jack White is another. Chris Whitley was another.
I’m really digging this new wave of talent. It is fresh, interesting, intelligent sounding. Pure.
I’ve long been a fan of the smooth guitar playing by Snuffy Walden. Listen to Snuffy’s velvet strings and the lovely and unique pipes of Sara Niemitz doing their rendition of the Yardbirds’ classic, “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
This is a great little video in which Jimmy Page talks about the making of the Led Zeppelin song, “Kashmir, one of the most original and distinctive songs Led Zeppelin ever recorded , hailing from the 1975 album Physical Graffiti. In this clip from Davis Guggenheim’s film It Might Get Loud (2009), Page explains the origins of the song to fellow guitarists Jack White and The Edge. Then Page demonstrates it by picking up an old modified Danelectro 59DC Double Cutaway Standard guitar that he played the song with on some of Led Zeppelin’s tours. (Watch Kashmir live here.)
In 1973, Page had been experimenting with an alternative D modal, or DADGAD, tuning often used on stringed instruments in the Middle East, when he hit upon the hypnotic, rising and falling riff. The song came together over a period of a couple of years. John Bonham added his distinctive, overpowering drums during a two-man recording session with Page at Headley Grange. Singer Robert Plant wrote the lyrics while he and Page were driving through the Sahara Desert in Southern Morocco. (Neither Page nor Plant had ever visited Kashmir, in the Himalayas.) Bassist and keyboard player John Paul Jones added the string and horn arrangements the following year. In a 1995 radio interview with Australian journalist Richard Kingsmill, Plant recalled his experience with “Kashmir”:
It was an amazing piece of music to write to, and an incredible challenge for me. Because of the time signature, the whole deal of the song is…not grandiose, but powerful. It required some kind of epithet, or abstract lyrical setting about the whole idea of life being an adventure and being a series of illuminated moments. But everything is not what you see. It was quite a task, because I couldn’t sing it. It was like the song was bigger than me.
I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am impressed!
Through the work I did when I lived in Texas, I knew Stevie Ray. This was back in the 80’s. I can’t say that I liked him very much, but I sure did like his playing! THAT, I miss.
René Best guitarist
René Best guitarist
A note before we begin. This is part 4 of a mosaic guitar tutorial. You need to search for the other 3 parts. Sorry, but the way WordPress is set up, I’m going to have to do some adjusting once this is all over. My plan is to carefully edit these tutorials and to put them in order and upload them to my art website….so what you are seeing in this blog is a very rough draft of the final product. When we left off, we had sanded and sealed the guitar, marked it up with a design idea, and now, we’re ready to stick some glass!
The ‘Ol Glue Trick
In order to achieve a nice, smooth, professional-looking edge, one should mosaic the sides of the guitar first. It is so tempting to want to get to the fun part….namely, the front and back, but no.
I discovered this trick awhile ago, and it works very well for sticking tesserae to curvaceous surfaces. I use Weldbond glue, and it can be a little runny. Couple that with gravity and one’s tile and slip and slide around. I simply squeeze a portion of glue into a container and allow it to be exposed to the air for about 20 minutes before working with it. This will cause it to be more tacky. Butter the actual guitar with the glue and stick the tiles into it rather than butter the back of each tile. You will have a little time to work with it to make adjustments. Just butter a small area at a time.
I have chosen to use 3/4″ mirror tiles for the sides. You can buy these pre-cut or cut them yourself, whatever you’re more comfortable with, and by no means, do you have to use perfect shapes. You can stick random shapes, use glass, tile…whatever you want. I’m going to be using all kinds of things on this guitar, but for the sides, I’m going to use mirror tile just for the reflective qualities and the look that I want to achieve in the end. You can use tile, metal….whatever you want.
Every once in awhile, I’ll stick either a textured mirror tile or a colored tile in to break the monotony of the surface. This really does add interest after the piece has been grouted. I do not care for perfectly aligned rows and perfect tiles. A machine can do that. I use wheeled nippers to cut the tiles into the sizes that work best.
Simply continue to cover the sides all around, working up to the neck of the guitar.
Next time, we will talk about the fretboard and the back of the guitar’s neck.
This one is for you, “Indra”. (wink!)
One of my favorite sounds.
René Best musician
There are simply no words to describe how much I love this band….and this song….
And P.S. – OMG! I had to watch this about 6 times before I realized that there are some Portland shots in here! 🙂
This is the second day of a course I am taking through the University of Rochester on the history of rock music. It is taught by John Covach, the bearded guitarist in the attached video. The lecturer really knows his stuff, and moves through history quickly, interestingly and with the same precision he uses to play his instrument. I have learned more in the last two days than I’ve learned in entire courses taught by other people. Am really enjoying this one! He goes through his video lectures at a pretty swift clip, packing each one with interesting facts and tidbits that a lot of folks probably aren’t familiar with. For instance, he talks about the invention of recording tape….how the Germans developed it so they could record Hitler’s voice and play it on remote radio stations to protect him from being assassinated. Then, he goes into how Les Paul got together with Bing Crosby when they recognized that recording tape was going to be the next big thing in music…and the rest is…well….history!
I cannot stop listening to this band!
In my July 21 entry, I started writing about how I create my mosaic guitars. Today, I’m going to talk about preparing the surface to receive the tesserae. (Tesserae is whatever the artist wishes to stick to the guitar….tile, glass, metal pieces, jewelry, wood, et al….)
The first tutorial left off with my sanding the glossy surface of the guitar, not necessarily to remove it, but to rough it up enough to receive a sealer. Skipping this step would result in the sealer beading up and floating on top of the guitar gloss. Once the instrument has been sanded, however, it can easily receive the paint. I am using Bullseye 1-2-3 by Zinsser for this project. However, I highly recommend a product sold by di Mosaico called Bonderizer by Garland and White. I just happen to be out of it at the moment. Bonderizer is used by pro tile layers to prepare surfaces to receive ceramic tile. It is a great product, and a little bit goes a long way.
The Bullseye is nice and thick, however, and acts as a good substitute if you can’t get Bonderizer.
Begin by removing the dust that collected during the sanding process, from the guitar. You can use a dry cloth or a soft brush….anything along those lines.
Once the dust has been removed, begin to paint one side of the guitar.
There is no need to keep the brush strokes uniform. In fact, inconsistencies help keep the surface rough, thus, making the tile or glass stick better. Just slap on a quick coat and don’t worry about keeping it neat.
Coat one side at a time and let dry for several hours. Only one coat is necessary. Once these steps have been completed, please join me for part 3 of the tutorial.