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dhanners623 last won the day on August 18 2017

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  1. The highs have included opening for Tom Paxton, Bill Staines, Garnet Rogers and Ellis Paul, and once being on the same bill with Ralph Stanley. The lows.... Back in the '80s in Dallas, a promoter named Joe Christ (he previously went under the name "Joe Danger") hired the acoustic trio I was in to play a great old supper club in Deep Ellum. What he didn't tell us was that we were opening for three thrash bands. We were the oldest people in the green room, and we weren't that old. After the show, we literally had to chase the promoter down the street to get our money. It was shortly after that that I gave up the profit motive in music. Last fall in Kuwait, I got booked to play a music festival at the country's ritziest mall. It was a two-hour set and paid great. The guys who booked me had booked me before, so they knew me and knew my stuff. I finished my first song and one of the guys is at the side of the stage and is frantically waving me over. I go over and he says, "We've had complaints from the mall about the noise." "You're running the sound. Turn it down," I said. "No. You can't sing." "Well, that's a subjective view, but...." "No, no vocals are allowed. The mall management isn't sure it has the correct permit from the government. So they just want instrumental music. Can you just strum your guitar?" "You want me to strum my guitar for two hours? That'll get boring fast. Plus, you guys knew I'm a songwriter when you booked me. My songs are about, you know, words. Stories." "Yeah, we know. Just strum." I thought a moment and said, "I'll do it for 20 minutes and then I'm out of here. And you're paying me for the full set." Figuring 20 minutes was better than two hours of silence, he agreed. So I strummed my guitar for 20 minutes. And I was right. It was boring. They paid me for the full set.
  2. You fortunate guy. Crowell is a songwriter's songwriter. He really works at the craft. It is great to see him back in fine form. My introduction to Steuart Smith was years ago with an episode of "Austin City Limits" featuring, ironically, Roseanne Cash. I've paid attention to him ever since. You're right; Smith can do it all and he does it with great taste and style.
  3. We've moved to Cyprus, where my wife has a job teaching. We've been in Nicosia since Tuesday and really like the place. The weather is great and our neighborhood is filled with narrow, winding streets and is so danged quiet. Kuwait was noisy ALL the time. The most constant noise during the day here are the cicadas. Reminds me of my home in East Central Illinois.The two guitars I brought -- the J-35 and my new Farida OT-22 -- made the trip in fine shape. But here's a yarn about that.We flew from Dallas/Fort Worth to Doha to Larnaca (the airport nearest Nicosia) and I carried the J-35 in a Gator lightweight case as carry-on and checked the OT-22. Taking it along was a last-minute decision spurred, in part, by the fact the local Guitar Center was selling Gator ATA-approved classical/00 molded cases for $51, marked down from $160. It seemed a sturdy case and has TSA locks, and the OT-22 is a perfect fit.We flew Qatar Airways (I’ve found them to be guitar-friendly in the past) and I had zero problems with the J-35 as a carry-on. No frowns from the gate agents or cabin crew, and it fit in the overhead just fine. (The DFW-DOH leg was in an Airbus A350-1000, while the DOH-LCA leg was on an Airbus A320.)Now for the weird. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow, TSA and/or Qatar Airways managed to twist the OT-22’s case. The neck part is noticeably out of alignment with the body.When I checked the guitar at DFW, the agent at the ticket counter suggested I take the case to the Oversized Luggage window; she said that path had “fewer loops” than the normal luggage conveyor. I took it to the window, where some TSA guy asked me if it was locked. I told him it was but that it had a TSA lock so he could unlock it and lock it back up. He seemed put out by that, so I unlocked it for him. The lesson here is to never assume, like I did, that TSA will go to the trouble of locking your case back up. I unlocked it and handed it to him and I have to admit he was not the least bit reassuring.Our layover in Doha was 15 hours, and Qatar Airways puts you up in a hotel if your layover is that long. Our luggage was checked all the way through from Dallas to Larnaca so we didn’t have to collect it when we landed in Doha.When we landed in Larnaca and made our way to baggage claim, the guitar was already in the oversized luggage area. The first thing I noticed was that it looked like the TSA used half a roll of their special tape to wrap the case shut. The next thing I noticed was the twist along the case's horizontal axis. Fearing the worst, I ripped off the tape and went to unlock the case, but it wasn’t locked. (Gee, thanks, TSA…) I opened the case and did a quick inspection. Everything was in one piece. No cracks or dings. The case did its job. But it's still has its twist and I have no idea how it got there.I was reminded of one lesson and learned one other. I was reminded that a real flight case is going to cost you more than $160. Ron Tracy at St. Paul Guitar Repair, where I have all my work done, said a passable flight case will start at around $600. He’s repaired plenty of guitars broken by baggage handlers so I guess he would know.The second lesson is that in the future, if I’m checking a guitar, I will gate check it instead of trusting it to TSA’s baggage people. I’m sure their job is a tough one, but I’m just not going to trust a guitar to them again. Gate checking avoids the conveyors and being battered -- and twisted -- by other pieces of luggage. Now, I just have to find out what the music scene is in Nicosia....
  4. Its not a square, but I string my J-35 with monels and really like the way they sound.
  5. I still don't understand why people would string a J-45 with lights. I've always felt a '45 needed mediums. But that's just one guy's opinion....
  6. The problem is, I'd probably miss either. The guitar will be in a controlled environment; I figure if I can take care of guitars in Kuwait, I can do it anywhere. (On the plus side, it does appear there are actual guitar-repair shops in Nicosia, where we'll be. There are NONE in Kuwait.)
  7. After five years in Kuwait, we're moving to Cyprus. My wife got a teaching job there and while Kuwait was nice from an economic standpoint, from a music standpoint, it is The Land Where Music Goes to Die. We're back in the U.S. for a brief visit before heading abroad, but I've got a conundrum. I have decided to travel light, meaning I'm only taking one guitar. I'll either take my '16 J-35 or the new Farida OT-22 I got this summer. It's a very good guitar and punches way above its weight, pricewise. It's an outstanding guitar. The J-35 needs no introduction, but earlier this month I did get an ebony nut installed (replacing the stock Tusq nut) and I had the electronics taken out. Both have had a positive impact on it. I'll be carrying the guitar as a carry-on, and both guitars have their pluses and minuses from a travel standpoint. So I'm wondering -- If you're on a Mediterranean island for a year or more, which guitar do you take? Why? What plus or minus haven't I thought of?
  8. I think it looks fine, or at least doesn't distract from the look of the guitar. Guitars age. And, yeah, don't leave anything (tuner, capo, etc.) clipped to your headstock. They'll screw up a nitro finish fast.
  9. The strap I use on my J-35 is one I've had since my junior year of college. That was roughly 1975. As I recall, I did have the leather ends replaced somewhere along the line. Took the strap to a cobbler and, using the old ends as templates, he cut new ones and sewed them on. if the holes for the strap buttons get too big from wear, Fender makes flexible hard-rubber washers that fit over the strap and button and keeps the strap from coming off.
  10. Since I'm only in the U.S. once a year, I save up my guitar repair and tune-up work for when I'm back in St. Paul. Last week, I took my J-35 in to St. Paul Guitar Repair (a great shop with a wonderful crew) and had them replace the Tusq nut with an ebony one (ala the original J-35s) and take out the pickup and electronics. I'm going all-acoustic. I got the guitar back today. I am very pleased with the results. For most folks, the change in tone and volume would be hard to notice, but after playing the guitar daily since I got it in the summer of 2016, I can tell you it sounds better -- and it was no slouch to start with. For one thing, the sound just kind of jumps out of it. It seems to respond more quickly. Maybe that is a result of it being lighter and not having a UST sitting in the saddle slot. One oddity in the pickup removal.... Ron Tracy, who did the work, said it all came out ok but he discovered the tone-and-volume control gizmo attached just inside the soundhole wasn't attached with double-sided foam tape. It was actually glued in. He said the gizmos are notorious for coming loose and it appears Gibson decided somewhere along the line to just glue it to the inside of the soundhole. Go figure.
  11. Thanks. The tune is "Let it Go," and it is one of mine. Wanting to breathe some new life into it, I recently changed it to first-person and liked the way it worked. This is the new-and-improved version.
  12. Yeah, I think if I were returning to Kuwait, I'd be nervous. (That said, my other two guitars did well there, although they were constantly humidified.) Later this summer, we're moving to Casablanca so I'll have the opposite problem. The average relative humidity there is 77 percent, and it doesn't appear there are any big monthly fluctuations. It always hovers a little above or below 80 percent. So that'll be a new challenge.
  13. Picked up my new Farida OT-22 yesterday. It is their take on an LG-2. I had ordered the guitar last week while I was in Texas and had it delivered straight to St. Paul Guitar Repair so they could remove the pickguard and make a lefty one, and do any other set-up work that needed to be done. I arrived in St. Paul yesterday and went to pick it up. After playing it last night and this morning, my first impression is, "Wow!" I don't have much experience with smaller-bodied guitars but I really like the sound out of this one. It is articulate, has great tone and powerful volume. The build quality is excellent, and Farida (unlike, say, Martin...) can actually nail a sunburst. It came strung with lights, but Elderly assures me it can handle mediums. After inspecting the guitar, Kevin at SPGR concurred that it would be fine with mediums so I had him set it up for them. Plays great. (He said it came perfectly set up for lights.) He's spent a lifetime repairing great guitars and he said he was impressed with the guitar, especially for its price -- $423. Aside from the pickguard switch, my only mod so far is I switched out the black plastic bridge pins for some ebony pins. Would've switched out the plastic endpin for wood, too, but after fiddling with it for a couple of minutes, Kevin couldn't get the darn thing out so I told him I'd live with it. Here's a test run:
  14. I'm not sure it is an issue of "right" or "wrong." The comment about being in a "minority" is merely a nod towards the popular acceptance of -- and critical praise for -- Springsteen over the years. Nobody is forcing you to like, or even listen to, Bruce, just as nobody is making me pop a Ted Nugent CD in the player, thank goodness. The thing I'm wondering, though, is who has changed -- Springsteen or you? As I see it, the guy is still writing about the things he's always written about in one form or another. He has stayed true to who he is. You used to like him. If you are the one whose tastes have changed, why fault Springsteen? There was a time I liked Charlie Daniels. I've seen him live and will be the first to admit the influence he's had on music; heck, the guy even played bass on Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" album. Undeniably, he has a place in music history. But his anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and xenophobic rhetoric really turned me off. Springsteen may have political views, but it isn't fueled by (nor is it manifested in) hate. You can't say that about Daniels and Nugent. Both have said hateful things. (Sorry, but telling Obama to suck on your machine gun is hateful.) Daniels is a pretty active blogger and I used to read his website from time to time to see what he was saying. I remember one time he wrote a column about how you couldn't be a Christian and believe in evolution. In the reader comments, I posted a comment (written respectfully and calmly) saying that was really a stretch and that there were plenty of people of faith who believed in evolution. I even cited the names of some scientists who had done important work in evolution who were also known for having strong religious faith. A day later, I got an ALL-CAPS email from the man himself, saying the theory of evolution was the "biggest lie ever foisted on humans." He went on and on. While I was impressed that he would reply personally, I was saddened that he took such a wrongheaded view. It was clear he saw things as either-or. To him, you could believe in science or you could be a person of faith, but you couldn't be both. So, yeah, he lost me on that one.
  15. Given that Springsteen still sells plenty of records, it would appear plenty of folks are just fine with what he has to say. Like I said earlier, you guys are in the minority, thankfully. Enjoy your bland artists. I prefer mine with some bite, spine, passion and compassion, so I'll take Bruce and Woody. School kids will still be singing "This Land is Your Land" decades after your bland acts become a footnote in history.
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