Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rocky Mountain Pig Roast

My acoustic blues duo played a private event - a pig roast - last Monday, up in the mountains South of Denver. After it got dark it was COLD!

I didn't use an amp (I never do in the acoustic duo) but this pic shows my Shure SM57 microphone with wind filter. It sounds a LOT darker than a SM58, much better for harp. Also in the pic is the machine head of Scott Huntington's Ovation guitar. This is the musician's eye view of a pig roast.

This photo does not do justice to the beauty of the setting. This was WAY off the beaten path, in a little valley ringed with stands of aspen and pine up in the Pike National Forest. The food was great and the party was fun. We got invited back for next year.

Gear Notes: We did have electricity -- from solar power. We used my Mackie 808M powered mixer and two Yamaha S115V speakers. The sound was good.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Clay Kirkland's Fender Frontman 15

It was an amazing performance. At one of the Denver prelims of the International Blues Challenge, Clay Kirkland blew everyone away with a harp performance that rivetted the audience. His band was only three pieces (harp, guitar, bass) amid a roster of big blues power bands, some of which were among the cream of the crop of Denver blues acts. The room was filled with the Denver blues heavyweights, yet they gave Clay Kirkland two standing ovations during his 25-minute set, and he walked away the winner.

All that is pretty amazing, but here is the really amazing part. His harp amp was a Fender Frontman 15R, pictured above. That's right... He won the day with a cheap little solid state amp that is bundled with a Squire Strat in a $200 "Guitar Starter Kit" at Wal-Mart. It isn't even the new model of the
Frontman 15 that sells for $79.99. It's a late-90s version that sold for even less.

Clay's tone was awesome: both sweet and nasty. His mic was a cool old Shure PE585V, the mic he's been using since he saw James Cotton use one in 1970. He ran it through an
Ibanez Delay Champ, a pedal long out of production. He played a long slow tribute to SBW and James Cotton that had the audience hanging on every note. His closing song was one of the best versions of "Help Me" I've heard, with dynamics that swung from you-can-hear-a-pin-drop lows to crashing crescendos. It was quite a performance.

One of the bands Clay beat that day was mine, and I have zero shame in saying I was rooting for him to win. Dude was G-O-O-D! He made that cheap little amp sound better than most big expensive boutique amps I've heard.