My dad passed away last month, and rather than list facts here—that he was born in Kentucky to a German sharecropper and his wife, that he grew to be a successful man with a wife and six children, etc—I mention his love of music. I am grateful to my dad for many things, but I am most grateful for the love of music that he passed along to me.
In the earliest days of our family, Dad had an electric guitar and amplifier, and he enjoyed playing for fun. We watched Johnny Rivers on television and listened to Duane Eddy records on the stereo, and Dad thought Chuck Berry was the greatest. When I was six, he taught me to play “Secret Agent Man,” “What I Say,” and the Bonanza theme song on guitar, and I played those songs over and over. He sold that guitar one day and never played again, but he bought one for me soon after, and I’ve been playing ever since.
I recall the times Dad drove me and my musical equipment around to practices. I remember him taking a vacation day to watch my band play in a school talent show. I hear him singing as he walked through the house, and when I’m enjoying a tune, I tap my foot like he always did. I think of my dad every day, especially when I play guitar. Life’s better with music. Dad taught me that.
While visiting my brother last month, I played his Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar. For a few seconds, anyway, I felt like George Harrison. Note to self: Next time I visit Todd, be sure to take some Fender medium picks and leave a few there.
Yesterday I heard the new single by The Dandy Warhols for the first time. “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)” provides the perfect antidote to what seems to me to be a dormant time for good new music. In addition, the Dandys have created the video I’ve always wanted them to make—no goofy scenes or themes, just great music with the focus on what I consider to be one of the best bands around. March is in like a lion, indeed. I give the band bonus points for mentioning a Beatle in the song title. Give it a listen.
You don’t see a lot of Sears Silvertone amplifiers out in the wild anymore, but there are actually two in this photo from 40 years ago. To the right is the amp I’m playing through, and to the left is a guitar case with a built-in amplifier and speaker. I received the latter for Christmas when I was in the fourth grade.
My new “Fab Four Pedal Board” is a return to simpler days. The board itself is Pedaltrain’s new nano+, and I’ve loaded it up with my favorite four Danelectro Fab effects pedals (I also refer to the board as my dano+). From left to right:
Fab D4 Echo
Fab D6 Flange
Fab D5 Chorus
Fab D1 Distortion
Note that the distortion pedal is first in the signal chain. Like most guitarists, I prefer distortion before modulation and delay effects. For power, I use the Dan Electrode DA-4 Power Supply with the DA-5 Daisy Chain, which leaves me with an extra plug if I want to use it.
I’m loving the new stripped-down approach to my sound. As I use Planet Waves Micro Tuners on my guitars, I don’t even need to use a tuner pedal (my amplifier also features a built-in tuner if I ever need it). For now, when it comes to effects, this little pedal board is all I need.