Sunday 21 June 2009

My kind of guitar - looks aren't everything

Following along from the idea of the ultra compact gigpig drum kit there comes the travel guitar with integral amp/speaker, digital fx and drum machine.
The Fernandes Nomad is a kidney shaped device that by all accounts plays extremely well and sounds very nice indeed. It has a little 5 watt amp built right into it and the deluxe version has a battery of high quality digitech digital fx. It comes in many gaudy colour schemes or just plain black, silver or wood.

Actually I should say it 'came' in many colours because it is sadly in the past tense. So it's over to ebay where they seem still to be available. A quick browse on youtube also yields some folks demoing the instruments. I think they're kinda neat and I would love to have one just to pick up and wander about with or to jam along with other acoustic instruments.

It's the immediacy factor that does it for me. I'm sick of cables and stands and hours of setting things up, I'd rather just pick up and play like you do with an acoustic.

Fernandes guitars

Here is a bass version too.


Saturday 20 June 2009

Gig Pig - My kind of drum kit.

About 25 years ago, before I had a car or could even drive for that matter, I decided I needed a portable drum kit for busking with friends. I based my design on a black plastic dustbin with a lid, several kids snare drums and el cheapo tambourines. The snare and hi-hat assembly strapped onto your leg via a big wide Velcro elastic strip while in the sitting position and the open/close hat was operated by a hoop and string mechanism hanging down to the left foot. The toms where attached separately by a wooden dowel to the short plank that held the snare and hi-hat. The whole lot fitted inside the bin which doubled as a very respectable sounding kik drum. I did actually busk this kit at the strawberry fayre in Cambridge with a couple of pals playing acoustic guitars. We called ourselves 'Colossus'! What a laugh, actually I thought we sounded pretty good. I think my portable kit fell apart shortly after that, but at least it lived for 1 legendary gig.
And now these guys have gone and taken my idea and done it properly. Cost you a grand, but I'm sure it will last longer than mine did, probably sound better too.
'Colossus' may rise again!

Gig Pig Website


Friday 12 June 2009

Panic Attacks - How to cure them.

I used to suffer from sporadic anxiety attacks during my teens that occurred usually for no real reason that I was aware of and at strange times like sitting in a cafe or a cinema. At the time I was like most people quite unaware of the underlying causes but suffered them blindly until they disappeared by themselves. Of course they never went away for good. I was relatively free of them until my late twenties when I began to have them more and more frequently until at the worst point I was living in what can only be described as a permanent state of anxiety that lasted for about 2 years solid. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I can see that my nerves where in tatters mainly because of being in bad relationships and stressful emotional situations combined with an unconscious suppression of my natural instincts in order to keep the status many people live in that kind of situation, be it a marriage/relationship, a crap job, a place you live, financial stress or just a general bad mix of them all? A place you don't think you can get out of. For me it was a nightmare, and I thought I was losing my mind. If you are suffering anything like this, then read on.

Luckily for me, the place I was staying at the time had an extensive library on healing and all things esoteric. Now I am not normally a great believer in the power of self-help manuals but this somewhat slim and simple book really did save me from this hideous state of affairs. No other book has ever had such a spectacular and direct impact on my life and I feel like I ought to share it with anyone who may be suffering in silence. Basically the good Dr Claire Weeks who wrote this book had the gift of speaking directly to the reader and explaining in simple and clear detail exactly what is going on and how to counteract the symptoms and get to the root of the whole deal. I'm not going to explain how it works except to say that it only took 2 reads of the book for me to be permanently free of the attacks..amazing but true.

Forget vallium or prozac, this book is what you need.

If you or anyone you know is suffering like this (quite often people won't admit to it either) then please get them to read this book.

"Peace from nervous suffering" by Dr Claire Weeks

Inner resting.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Folkstreams - folk roots documentaries from the big country.

This is a hugely fascinating site. It hosts an amazing catalogue of historic documentary films about old style roots american life. The archive includes everything from the most ancient all the way up to present day material on things like storytelling and youth culture. The subjects are diverse and range from outsider art to real blue ridge hillbilly music and Mississippi delta blues, quilt making, painting, letter cutting, chainsaw art, fishing, shakers, body art, aging, death and ritual. These films were all made, (quite often on 16mm film) by people who were real enthusiasts about the subjects they loved and they capture some real, gritty and beautifully honest portraits of old time down home life U.S style.

My personal favourites include;

Sonny Terry: Shoutin' the Blues

Homemade American Music
Stoney Knows How - An old school tattoo film
Final Marks: The Art of the Carved Letter
Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old
Cowboy Poets