Saturday, November 22, 2014

I've Got The Blues From All The Bad "Folsom Prison Blues" Covers

I try not to get too mad about things I can't control in pop culture.  I realize that modern music has gone to crap.  I accept that.  However, as a musician I can't stand it when someone covers a song, and gets the whole concept of it wrong.

Case in point, "Folsom Prison Blues," by Johnny Cash.  For those who don't know the song, listen to this.

Just so you know that this song can be done differently, here it is live.

So you can hear it's a little more upbeat in it's live version.  However, the mood is still dark.

Then you get crap from American Idol like this:

Really asshole?  I mean, Johnny Cash would shoot you in Hollywood just to keep you from playing his song like that.  What the Hell man?  Instead of solemn and sad, it's completely upbeat and exciting.  This guy isn't the only one to do this.

It's not just men.  Women can screw it up too.  I mean, do you not know what it means to "shoot a man in Reno?"  It's nothing to get happy about!

So I know what you might be saying/thinking, "Well, after a few years I'm sure Johnny Cash changed it up so as to make it more upbeat or different.  Well check this out from Johnny Cash near the end of his career:

Still, 40 years later, it's not that different from his live version all those years later.

Still, I see it in local bands when playing out.  I don't want to name names of amateurs, but I've seen too many try to play "Folsom Prison" fast, upbeat, and all happy like.  It's just very irritating.  Actually, I saw one guy play it with so much gain, I thought he was trying to play something from Social Distortion.  In other words, these guys:

It actually reminds me of something someone did to R.E.M.'s "Losing my Religion."  The guy, I should call him a genius, never changed a lyric, a beat, or the instruments.  He only changed one note from a minor to a major, and completely changed the song.  Really, listen to this.

See what going from a minor key to a major key will do?  It changes everything!  And that's the point I am making with all these "artists" screwing up Johnny Cash's best known song.

The only band I've ever known to sing it upbeat, and get it right is the Gin Blossoms.

I think the reason they got it right is they have the Tempe, Az. sort of rock going on.  They also sing songs about being depressed so it kind of fits right in with what they're doing. 

In closing I want to say that I understand trying to make a song your own.  But just destroying it to force it in your style is just too much.  Better yet, if you are going to sing karaoke, just skip "Folsom Prison Blues."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hunting Adventures, 2014

Every year I take pictures and video of my experiences out hunting.  I have been getting better at my movie making computer program, so I think this is my best yet.  It is also my longest yet.  I split it into three parts of about seven minutes a piece.

Part 1. 


Part 2. 


Part 3.


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Bass! Part 4,

Part 1:

Part 2:
Part 3:

So I had been waiting on the bridge to arrive, and it finally did. 

While it was not an exact replacement of the old one, the saddles lined up just fine.  And in the end, that's what's important.

I then had to deal with the pickguard not lining up exactly.  However, the use of a long screw took care of a, now, tiny problem.

As you can see, it worked out pretty good.  It holds rather nicely.

However then came a problem I did not forsee.  This happens with older guitar or bass necks.  With no tension on it, the neck is straight.  But with the strings at full tension the heal kicks up.  So I am torn between having insanely high action, or the frets not being playable from the 12th fret up. 

Now, the normal way to correct this is to yank out the frets below the 12th fret, shave the fingerboard, and replace the frets.  However, the fingerboard is maple, and if I shave it I will have to re-finish it.  Right now, I don't have time for that.  I have to make the bass somewhat playable for the next gig. 

Once we cross that bridge, I will go back and start work on it.  I might be able to shave the frets down, and make it playable.  But I'll deal with that when I get there. 

I knew I would be a pain to put this thing together, but I didn't think it would be "THIS" much of a pain.  I did a lot more work on this thing than I had planned to. 

But here's the result.  Not too bad.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How a Few Jackholes Ruined Halloween For My Entire Childhood

October is my favorite time of year.  I love it.  It's the time in Florida where it goes from 95 degrees to a more manageable 82 degrees.  It's the only time of the year that the humidity drops under 50%.  And of course there is candy.  So much candy.  Thank you Halloween!

Let's be honest, next to Christmas, Halloween is just the best holiday for kids.  You get free candy from all the people in the neighborhood.  To this day, Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I just absolutely love it. 

However, Halloween was ruined during my entire childhood due to a few jackholes.  Let me start with this.  I was born in 1976.  So I was in first grade in 1982.  So let me set up a few things that were happening in the 80's.  People were very concerned for the children.  It was all about the children.  Looking back, I don't know what is worse.  People overly concerned with children like they were back then, or how they let them run like feral dogs these days.  But I digress.

Stay at home Moms where concerned for the children.  First off there was heavy metal music.

And then there was Satanists.  (Really, it seemed to be a big thing in the 80's.)

On a side note, I've never come across a Satanist.  Not in the 80's, not now.  But for some reason, everyone was sure they were hanging around in the 80's.

But worse of all were the heavy metal Satanists.

But the absolutely the worst thing out there was jackholes putting needles and pins in candy.  Now, this legend had been around since the 60's.  The rumors were that people put poison in candy, however, no one actually knew anyone that happened to.  Even the news couldn't find anyone.  But the new thing was that evil, morally corrupt persons were putting needles and pins in candy. 

Again, it was mostly urban legend, until 1982.  You know what happened then?  Some murderer (and yes I use that word) laced a bunch of aspirin with poison and killed a bunch of people.  If you ever wondered why medicine has all those seals now you know why. 

Here's the Wiki page on it:

So let's set the stage.  Some waste of a human being poisons people in 1982.  Come Halloween 1982, and the fury of people worrying about people poisoning kids candy is full on crazy mode.

This is a true story.  I was in first grade, and my grade school teacher asks my class why you should have your parents look over your candy when you get it home.  I was the first (and I think only) one to raise my hand, and smartly answer that it was because crazy people were putting needles and razor blades in candy.  You know what happened.  The entire class laughed at me.  (True.  So true.)  I started to cry.  You know how it feels in first grade to have your entire class laugh at you? 

However, my teacher Mrs. Scott was a strong black woman.  That's the short way to say she didn't take no crap and was kind of a bitch to us most the time.  She immediately shut the class up, and told them in no uncertain terms that what I said was true.  And how would they like to bite down on needles and razor blades?  Basically she jumped all over them, and told them that they were going to have to get serious about checking their candy or risk dying.  That really did shut them up.

So you can now see how that sets the stage for trick or treating in the 80's.  My parents did what they thought was the responsible thing.  For me there was no costume.  There was no trick or treating.  There was no candy.  That's right.  I was not allowed to go trick or treating.  And we're not talking about just one year.  We're talking about every year except for one. 

And that one year I went to three houses.  My little old lady neighbor on the left.  My little old lady neighbor on the right.  And my babysitter.  That was it.  No other houses.  And you know what my Mom did when I got home?  That's right.  She went through all my candy.  All nine pieces.  And the funny thing, she found one Mini-Crunch bar that had a corner kind of torn, and she threw that out.  (Really, I can't make this stuff up.)

Other than that one Halloween, I never went trick or treating.  At the house, we gave out plenty of candy.  Lot's of people knew our family, and our house was on the main drag so people knew we were good folks to get candy from.   It really made me angry.  Here we gave out a bunch of candy to all these kids, a lot of them I went to school with, but I couldn't go get candy.  Year after year after dismal year this happened.

Now years later, and also thanks to Snopes, we know that most of this was urban legend and old wives tales.  Seriously, kids these days have the internet and have no idea about old wives tales.  But when I was a kid I'm sure they took up at least 15% of my day.  In all fairness I did have women teacher through grade school. 

Basically, it took urban legends combined with old wives tales, with just one or two "real" cases plus that jackhole who poisoned the Tylenol bottles to ruin Halloween for my entire childhood.  I realize every parent does the best they can.  My parents just didn't want to take the chance of me getting hurt.  I can't fault them with that.  I just lay the fault with the previous named jackholes. 

You'd think that would have ruined me for Halloween.  I mean, just by writing this post you can see just how bitter I still am over what happened during my childhood.  But no.  It is still my favorite holiday.  But still, the inner kid in my still wants to go trick or treating.

Editor's Note:  For those of you who think I am taking "artistic license" with this, take a read of this Snopes article.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bass! Part 3, Punk Rock Bass

Part 1:

Part 2:

So I have been having problems with the wiring.  Seriously, I've been working something like a week on it.  But instead of making a long story out of it, I'll just say this.  It seems one of the volume pots was bad, and not sending enough signal through to the tone pot.  That's why I couldn't get the tone pot to work.

I do want to say now that the volume is LOUD!!!  Now that I have a proper working volume pot, it's surprising just how loud these Dragonfire active pickups are.  I can't wait to get strings on this bass.

And simply put, I yanked out everything, and started with all new parts.

So after getting all the electronics working, I made holes for all the screws, and fitted the pickguard and output jack. 

Even though I don't have the bridge yet, I used my straight edge to get a proper angle on how I should shim the neck.  I used a rather thick piece of wood, and shimmed it.  It came out exactly how I wanted.  I may have to adjust it further once I get the bridge in, but it's a good start.

So onto the pictures!!!

So the bass looks very worn and punk rock to me.  It was a great bass to get some practice in on a few things.  More to come when I get the bridge in the mail, and get the bass finally set up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Bass! Part 2

Here's part 1.  It might make more sense to read it first.

So I am trying to get this bass up and running.  It's not as simple as putting parts together.  There are so many things I'm having to adjust, sand, cut, and rig, just to get it to somewhat work together.

First up, let me show some pictures so everyone knows what I am talking about.

Let's go over what I'm talking about.

1.  I had to cut some foam to put under the pickups.  I then had to drill the screw holes even longer so the screws could go in.
2.  I had to adjust the pickguard even more to get those P-Bass pickups to fit in.  It was a lot of sanding and such.  Just a lot of what I have been doing.
3.  I just did away with the pots that came with the Dragonfire pickups.  I have a whole box of EMG pots, so I used them.  They are mini-pots so I can use them without having to route out part of the body.
4.  Speaking of routing...  I routed the body so the pickups would fit better.  I also routed the pickguard so I can fit it in the truss rod hex adjuster. 

Frankly, it's just a lot of nipping things in the bud here and there.  Again, universal parts are not universal! 

Up next is wiring the active pickups.  This is kind of funny, but Dragonfire didn't include a wiring diagram.  Usually I can do these without looking at a diagram, but I haven't done an active set in a while.  So I downloaded the EMG diagram.  Since these pickups are supposed to be a copy of them, I decided to just go right to the source. 

After that, I will get the neck on there, and wait for the bridge to come in the mail.  That, of course, means more blogging.  Keep posted.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

About That Time Roxy First Heard Jackyl

For those who have read my blog from the beginning you know that Roxy (not her real name) was my girlfriend for about two years.  Since we broke up, I don't really tell any stories about her due to keeping private things private.  However, this is kind of funny so I don't mind telling it.

It was on our ill-fated voyage to West Virginia.  The trip up there took something like 22 hours.  Roxy had never had to sit in a vehicle that long, and was getting completely stir crazy.  Actually she was bordering on full blown, just give me an F-ing excuse, crazy.  Let's just say she didn't ride well.

Anyway, since we couldn't really get any rock stations in West Virginia, I had my I-pod playing.  It was then that this song came on:

That's right.  With chainsaw and guitars it must be, "The Lumberjack" by Jackyl.  She just looked at the radio with disgust and said, "Is this some sort of joke?" 

To which I replied.  "No, you've got to rock me, roll me, Jackyl me off!!!" 

It seems she had never heard of Jackyl before.  That, and using a chainsaw as a lead instrument. 

For those who want a good look at what Jackyl can do live, here's "Headed for Destruction" live from Woodstock 94'. 

If you want a band that just oozes Southern Rock, grab their first album.  There's not a bad song on it. 

For the record, Roxy did enjoy quite a lot of the music I sent her.  She didn't get to listen to the broad range of music that I did while growing up.  So she was always thankful when I would give her a mix CD.  On a side note, do you all remember making a mixtape for that person you liked?  I didn't get to do that, but once I got my computer set up I was the king of making mix CD's. 

Anyway, she was always thankful when I would make her a mix CD, or send her an MP3 via E-mail.  However, after driving for so long, and going stir crazy, she was just not in the mood for Jackyl.  And now we are no longer together, and I stand alone.

(For those that don't get the joke.  "I Stand Along" was Jackyl's biggest hit off their first album.)