2016-02-02 00.37.37

2016-02-02 00.37.24

These are basically four note chords. Open strings to be played are indicated.

Okay, I feel like bragging. I’m gonna just put it out there. This is something I’m proud of. Whether I’m wrong or right – life is too short to not want to make a few mistakes now and then; too short to not want to have the dialogue. So here goes…


I’ve been brushing up on my mandolin and guitar a little bit, recently.

For many years I played the guitar as a ‘lead’ instrument – meaning, for me, that I’d play mostly single note melodies, patterns and riffs.

When I realized what huge dimensions of the instrument I’d been missing – as accompaniment; or even as a more rhythmic, chordal or harmonic instrument – I was crushed. Crushed, I tell you! I pretty much put it down for some more years.

And, you know… it seems like any simpleton that ever actually tried to go out and interact with other players would’ve long since realized their limitations. It shouldn’t have been such a shock…

When I saw how beautifully some piano playing friends of mine accompanied singers, it really opened my eyes…

I was more of a loner; trying to do it all on my own. I was kind of ashamed when I realized how much of a loner I actually was!….

I don’t know. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.
The way we shame ourselves


For me, then, trying to learn the mandolin – after years of that kind of guitar playing – was counter-intuitive. It seemed like a completely different instrument.

Be that as it may – or not.

Eventually, having a nice mandolin around; learning to appreciate it’s portability; listening to other mandolinists; trying to dig what their ‘thing’ is; and, well, just trying to grok the instrument – gave me a slightly more engaged perspective.

My guitar playing has also since been evolving into a more harmonic, chordal and rhythmic style.

So recently… having both mandolin and guitar close at hand – I found that learning things on the mandolin, just plinking around – opened up the guitar for me in a nice way, too. When you have to re-learn where to put your fingers on the new instrument, it brings a different focus on the first instrument, too.

That’s really all I want to say about the mandolin! Don’t let me confuse you! I’m really talking here about the kind of things that inspire me! The muse


I have my guitar sitting out in my room. That’s supposed to be important; having your instrument close at hand for when the spirit hits you.

This morning I glanced over at it and visualized or heard a three chord progression. I picked up the guitar and tried to play something resembling what I had imagined. And – voilà – there you have it. (Although it demanded the fourth chord for resolution.) I’m not sure if this is exactly what I heard… But the fact that I could come up with something from out of the blue was very satisfying.

Don’t ask me what these chords are. I just think they sound nice together.


Mandolin signed by Tom Rozum (top); David Grisman (Dawg, center); and Chris Hillman (bottom). Three of my inspirations, for sure!!

Mandolin signed by Tom Rozum (top); David Grisman (“Dawg”, center); and Chris Hillman (bottom). Three of my inspirations, for sure!! At Wintergrass, Tacoma, Washington, February 2001

One of my favorite David Grisman albums is Mondo Mando. It’s really atmospheric. It reminds me of a fall day – nice traveling music! Check it out.

Tom Rozum’s work with Laurie Lewis – The Oak and the Laurel and others – as well as his solo Jubilee – is very emotive.

D’oh!! [slaps forehead] And, oh! Ry Cooder’s mandolin playing is not to be missed!

Steve Earle! Don’t forget Steve Earle!!

Here’s something else I found inspiring – it’s a Josh Homme tutorial on YouTube featuring the man himself. I found the section from 2:27 minutes to 3:05 – about his use of octaves – to be especially interesting. There’s also some humorous comments – with a lot of humility, too – talking about guitar players’ ‘styles’ from 8:25 to 9:05

Paul Westerberg

This is a fun list I took part in for Facebook.

Hmmm, now who did I forget? LOL Okay, yeah, I obviously took longer than 15 minutes, and there’s more than 20, but it was so much fun….


The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Twenty guitarists that will always stick with you.  List the first 20 you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in what guitarists my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in new notes, cast your picks and tag people in the note – in the tag line).

1.   Ry Cooder – rocked Bumbershoot 1974 with just a mandolin! Yeah!!

2.   Sonny Landreth  – amazing, unique slide technique & tone

3.    Johnny Winters   – the fastest blues guitarslinger, back in the day – a great body of work

4.    John Fahey  – tortured avante-folk & blues genius, fingerpicking, alternate tuning & slide

5.     Leo Kotke   – genius folk & blues finger picker & slide

6.    Tony Rice  – quite a bluegrass flat-picker

7.    John Frusciante  – Red Hot Chili Peppers, solo

8.    Andres Segovia   – classical

9.    Clarence White   – the Byrds, bluegrass/country

10.   Bob Dylan – what can one say? Yep!

11.   John Cippolina    – Quicksilver Messenger Service

12.  Richard Thompson – great to see live!

13.  Don Rich   – Buck Owens’ 60’s guitarist

14.   Jorma Kaukonen – Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna

15.   Paul Westerberg – The Replacements, solo

16.   Tommy Stinson – Replacements, Bash and Pop

17.    Albert King   – “Born Under A Bad Sign”

18.    Jerry Garcia  – The Grateful Dead, other – so much listenable music

19.    Ronnie Earl    – bluesy jazz

20.   Brother Oswald – dobro guitarist

21.    Neil Young – I love “Powderfinger”

22.   Dick Dale  – surf-guitar pioneer/king

23.   Dave Alvin    – The Blasters & various

24.   Lowell George   – Little Feat

25.   Hubert Sumlin  – Howlin’ Wolf

26.   Johnny Thunders – NY Dolls; invented whiny-tone

27.   John Mayall – a father of British blues; prolific

28.   John Olufs – the Picketts, Red Dress, other

29.   Robert Cray   – soul-blues

30.  Bo Diddley  – soulful & rhythmical rock pioneer

31.   Jerry Douglas –  Dobro guitarist

32.   James Burton  – Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson

33.   Wes Montgomery  –  Classy jazz player – octaves & chord melodies

34.   Also must mention: Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Ron Wood, Robbie Robertson, Steve Cropper. I wish I was more familiar with the great soul/rhythm & blues guitarists.

added 4-5-12:

35. So good I had to count him twice, lol! Clarence White – Byrds;  influential bluegrass flat-picker and Telecaster player; co-inventor of the Parsons/White B-Bender (which allowed for pedal-steel type effects on the guitar); country-rock pioneer. Listen to one of my favorite tracks featuring his playing on “Tulsa County” by the Byrds. That guitar sounds like beautiful birds swooping around you! Inter-played with the beautiful accompaniment of Byron Berline’s fiddle.