Last night I ordered a new DMX light controller. This will give me more control over my LED par cans, enabling me to produce better quality light shows for my own band and performances, not to mention other performers I work with.
On Sunday, I set up a Facebook Page for my PA and Light Show Hire. I should have done it years ago, within 24 hours I received 1 booking, at Lynton Town Hall, for a Pink Floyde tribute band, and one very good enquiry for a festival in Bude. Looking good I think.
Please drop by and give my page a like https://m.facebook.com/PA-and-Stage-Lighting-Hire-133247160415564/
Music lessons are booming across the UK
Telephone 07866 650015 to book your guitar or ukulele lessons in your own North Devon Home or anywhere in the world by Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts.
Researchers have discovered music lessons boost young people's brain power
Find out more about my guitar and ukulele lessons here http://paulclews888.weebly.com/guitar--ukulele-lessons.html
YouTube guitar lessons are free. They are worth less than that. Let me explain that comment. I spend an awful lot of my time as a guitar and ukulele teacher correcting students who come to me having tried (some cases for years) this method of learning. They learn bad habits and incorrect information from YouTube. Consequently, time and money is wasted as I put things right again. Students find it harder to relearn than starting from scratch.
When I started to learn in the Stone Age, YouTube didn't exist. I'm not saying YouTube is all bad, but sorting the good from the chaff is really difficult as a beginner. Let me give you an example, I searched in YouTube 'how to play G on guitar'. The first 'lesson' I saw was this.
The smart ones amongst you will notice it's F. I don't think this would have tripped too many of you up. So let's look at the next video.
This time Justin explains how to play a G chord. He rabbits on a bit, has nice graphics. Further on down and you get this.
This guy teaches G completely differently. Which one is correct? Very confusing if you're a beginner.
If you hit the wrong version first, you could learn the chord the incorrect way, screwing up your guitar playing career before you have really got going.
Let me give you a clue, Justin has lovely graphics, but his guitar playing is not so lovely. It's the 2nd video on YouTube. Don't forget, F was the first one. Hopefully you get my point.
Here is another. This guy has got hundreds of lessons on his YouTube channel. He does not even know the basics. He does not know what the strings are called, constantly mixing up the top and bottom strings.
Please don't waste your time and money trying to learn on YouTube. Get professional advice from someone in the know.
I give guitar and ukulele lessons around North Devon homes and schools, Petroc and anywhere else in the world by Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts.
An article in the North Devon Journal, about ukulele workshops for Mother's Day.
Win a free half hour guitar or ukulele lesson by Skype, FaceTime or google hangouts. During #DevonHour on twitter, this week only (21/82013), 10 questions about me will appear under the hash tag #SoYouThinkYouKnowMe. Simply tweet the answers back to me. All the answers are in my twitter time line and blogs.
The winner will be announced shortly after Saturday 6 pm (24/8/2013) when the competition closes, here and on Twitter. In the event of a tie, I will draw a winner from the most correct answers. Anyone is eligible to play, except me. Good luck!
You must be able to get your hands on a guitar or ukulele.
No cash alternatives.
My decision is final.
My first electric guitar was a Harmony Les Paul Junior copy. It's the guitar I started to learn seriously on. I bought it from a shop on the outskirts of Walsall. I can't remember the name of the shop, but I'd seen the guitar in the shop window every morning on my way to work. I saved up, then went back one Saturday, parted with £50 (about 2 weeks wages). This guitar took me from knowing next to nothing, to bar F. I bought it purely on the fact that it was the cheapest electric guitar in the shop. This of course is not the way to buy a guitar (See my blog on how to buy a guitar. I've put a link at the end of this blog). It turned out to be not too bad a guitar, I've certainly seen far far worse guitars since.It was at the bar F point, I realised I needed a better guitar. With a little advice decided on a Fender Stratocaster.
By Christmas 1983 I'd saved enough. I sold my Sherpa mini bus to a karate club to raise the remainder, to much dismay from my parents. 'How are you going to get to work with no transport'? 'But you can't even play'! Were just a couple of their kinder comments they suggested to me. I had a dream, or an ambition, and they were dream stealers.
Anyway, I knew I wouldn't be able to get the best deal that side of Christmas, so I waited until the January sales. By the time I was ready to buy my second electric guitar, I knew all the guitar shops in the area, I took my friend with me and went guitar shopping. I was looking at all the Strats in all the shops. I ended up in a shop in Walsall on the ring road. Again, it's name escapes me, but not the same shop I'd bought the Les Paul Junior copy from. I asked the guy who worked there if I could try a Fender Strat that had caught my eye. In other words, the cheapest I could find. It was about £300, and I was having it.
'Before you buy that, try this' suggested the guitar shop assistant. He handed me a Tokai Strat. It's a copy I thought to myself, I don't want a copy, I want the real thing. I tried it. It looked, felt, and played just like the fender, but was only £210.
'Before you make your mind up try this'. This time he handed me a Gordon Smith. It was £250. I liked it, but not as much as the Strats. Insistently, I do own a Gordon Smith now, I've had it about 20 years. I ended up purchasing the Tokai on that occasion. I have used it almost every day since, and I am still using it today. If you see a picture of me with a red Strat, that's the guitar.
Buying that guitar turned out to be the best investment I could have done. It propelled my learning. The guitar was easier to play, sounded far nicer, and made me feel amazing. Without a decent instrument, it is really difficult to develop as a musician. Without taking that risk of selling my transport to work, parting with what seemed an unjust amount of money for me at that time, would I have managed to learn the guitar to the level I did? I suspect not, therefore what career would I now have? Who knows? But I love that guitar and the business it has given me! It has paid for itself countless times.
How to buy a guitar blog http://paulclews888.weebly.com/1/post/2013/02/how-to-buy-a-guitar.html
Information on my guitar lessons http://paulclews888.weebly.com/guitar--ukulele-lessons.html
Tokai Guitars http://www.tokaijapan.com/
Fender Guitars http://www.fender.com/en-GB/#/american-standard-stratLH
The Vaults Bar used to be underneath the Collingwood Hotel in Ilfracombe,
North Devon. It was an L shaped room with awful acoustics. As a young band in North Devon, it was a great venue. It could be hired, with the bar for £20. Bands would charge £1 on the door, and always get 100 or 120 people through the door. The ceiling was very low, the walls were a very rough texture, but despite the acoustics, the atmosphere was always electric. Sweat would be dripping down the walls.
The first band I saw there were Cut & Run. This was the tail end of 1985. I had not long moved to Ilfracombe, from Great Wyrley, Staffordshire. I thought they were great. I remember them playing Silly Thing on that occasion, still one of my favorite Sex Pistols songs. I later became friends with members of Cut and Run.
My own band, The Pyromaniacs From Outerspace played many gigs there, both as headline and support act. I have many videos of the gigs. Sadly, they are all on VHS, so consequently, have not been seen for years.
Some of the other bands I saw there were, Cult Maniax, Fatal Attraction, Beat the Retreat, Burning Fantasy, Blyth Power, The Gotham City Gangsters and The Stan and Eddie Chain. The first time ever saw Jive Turkey was at the Vaults Bar. They were a Torrington band, doing Stranglers covers. They went on to to become a great band with Radio 1 air play.The last gig I played at the Vaults Bar was with The Backtrackers. It was a party for the Sure Start. Someone stole my capo at that gig.
Of course, the Collingwood Hotel is now knocked down after a fire, and the Vaults Bar was closed years before that. Whenever I walked past the derelict bar, before the fire, I would have a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat. I could hear the muffled sound of ghost bands still bashing away. But they've all gone now, not even the ghosts can be heard.
There is nothing like it in Ilfracombe now. I do miss the venue and the great times I had there as both a performer and as a member of the audiences. What memories of the Vaults Bar do you have? What bands did you see gig there?
The Backtrackers http://paulclews888.weebly.com/backtrackers.html
This video contains some of the bands that played at the Vauls Bar. It was recorded about 1986, on Ilfracombe sea front, next to the Carousel Bar in the Victorian Pavilion. Also knocked down, and replaced by the Landmark Theatre. It was uploaded by Guy Roberts. See me with the Pyromaniacs From Outerspace at 1:55 with my Tokai Strat. I am still using it today. You can also see Eldon Evans on drums. Beat the Retreat, Fatal Attraction, and Burning Fantasy are also featured.
50 Dollar Bill
Never Say Goodbye Johnny Ray
Cult Maniax (do not watch if offened by strong languge)
No More Beach Boys
Road To Nowhere
The Amazing Adventures Of Johny The Duck And The Bathtime Blues
Poison Pen Letter
Cool Cats Dancing
Inside the Horse
The Bishop At The Gate
I've heard it said that learning to play the guitar is fun. Well, I completely disagree. I remember when I was learning to play some 35 years ago, the little fun that was to be had, was soon replaced with frustration. Many times, I could have happily just chucked the guitar out of the window. I believe, that anybody can learn to play the guitar, in this respect learning to play is easy. But not everybody will. What stops them? Why do people give up having started to learn?.
Motivation. I'll say that again, motivation. What motivated me all those years ago was 'to play in a band'. It was the age of punk. All you needed apparently, was three chords (not true) and a safety pin. The band was put together and named before any of us could even play a single note.
The band had two 'guitarists'. Neither of us could play a thing, so I use the term 'guitarist' loosely. We came to it from opposite points of view. He took all the strings off his guitar except the bottom two, cranked up his expensive amp, and sounded what I thought at the time, fantastic in about a week. He had tuned the two strings (what I now know to be a fifth apart), and played with one finger. Me on the other hand, started the long process of learning to play properly. It took me ages. The motivation was to play in a band. I kept the motivation bigger than the problems.
It seems simple doesn't it? Practice for 15 minutes every day. What's stops these well meaning people from doing this? The answer has many versions as wanna be guitarist quitters. What's your excuse? Too tired? Not enough time? We don't have any chocolate ice cream in the fridge? After all, one excuse is as good as another.
I somehow kept my focus. Once I had mastered the bar F, a momentous moment in any guitarists career, (ask any of them), It was a very short time after this, the band recognised me as the best guitarist. Not long after this, the other guitarist in the band quit. He'd given up on his rock star dreams, and I don't think he ever played the guitar again. Well, let's be honest, he never really learned to play anything.
Me on the other hand kept going. Wouldn't it be great to play that classic Chuck Berry intro to Johnny B Goode? 'It's the only lick I'd ever want to learn' I said at the time. Having mastered that, I thought Layla by Eric Clapton had a great riff. I didn't like the song much, but loved that riff. Mastered that, and so it went on. You never stop learning the guitar. In fact, that's true for any instrument, except the kazoo and maybe the triangle. You learn to live with the frustration. So what are the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument? For me, that first punk band was great fun. So have the 20 or so bands since. All have been tremendous fun. It has enabled me to meet and converse with some amazing people. When I moved from Great Wyrley, the village I was brought up and schooled in, to Ilfracombe, playing guitar enabled me to meet people, and make new friends. This list could go on for ever, but ultimately it has given me a career and business. This started, not with guitar playing, but recording other bands on my 4 track recording studio. I still record demo's, jingles and other similar things today, but the technology is far more sophisticated now. I ran Flipside for 7 years. This was a shop in Ilfracombe selling records, CDs, videos and of course, musical instruments. I play in a band called The Backtrackers. A function band playing weddings and parties all over the Uk. My main income is from teaching. All day long, 6 days a week, privately and in schools teaching guitar and ukulele.
Well, what a life playing music has done for me. From punk band to teacher, a fantastic, and in many ways unplanned journey. I didn't know back in the early 80's where I'd be today, but I'm glad to be here. I never made it to rock star status, but then again, I don't think I ever really want that.
So what is your motivation to carry on? What is your excuse to quit? I look forward to your questions and replies.
If you would like to book guitar or ukulele lessons in your home, school or by Skype.
If you would like to book The Backtrackers for your party, wedding, corporate event, or function.
If you would like to book time in my recording studio.