I played live music at the Flathead Lake Brewery tasting room in Woods Bay, Montana weekly for five years.
My brother-in-law, Pat Droll, wrote a poem about it which I put to music and expanded upon.
My friend and fellow guitarist, Chad Leslie, played the slide guitar on this demo of the song I wrote.
I recorded Chad and myself playing our electric guitars live in my studio, The Blue Spoon. I recorded our guitars out from our guitar effects pedals directly into LUNA, my recording software.
Later, I added the addition tracks for drums, bass, organ, and vocals. Playing the drums and B3 organ on my MIDI controller, playing the bass on an actual bass guitar, and singing the vocals direct in to LUNA.
I roughly mixed, balanced, and processed the tracks. It’s only meant to be a demo and I have not done any mastering to it (yet!) I designed the cover artwork in Photoshop featuring a photo of a heard of Buffalo I took in Yellowstone. I hope you like it!
Rodney was a really good friend of mine that I surfed with and played music with. This story is about our Jacobs surfboard that we donated to the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California.
When I was growing up I had a best friend named Rodney. We were surf buddies and both played music. I bought a new Jacobs surfboard and Rodney bought one too. We both had them custom made to our specs and they had creative applications of the Jacobs logo for decoration. They both had three redwood stringers. Rod’s was a nose rider with a slightly concave nose.
I sold my Jacob eventually as I had moved from California and wasn’t surfing anymore. Then one day I moved back to Oceanside, California. Rod still had his Jacobs and sold it to me as he wasn’t surfing any more.
I road Rod’s board now and then until I moved to Montana, when I donated the board to the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California. They were delighted to get it as it had become a classic and was in good condition. It also featured a rare surf license sticker on the underside that was once required by law in Newport Beach. You can see it in the photo of Rod next to the board. It’s the gray colored sticker just above the fin (which by the way is a fixed glassed fin).
Dig this… you had to buy the annual surf pass and put the sticker on the bottom of your board. Then, when the lifeguards came by in their jeeps the would use their load speaker and require us to turn over our boards and show them our stickers. And if you didn’t have one, they would have you paddle in and give you a fine. Oh boy! Us surfers where not happy, and needless to say it didn’t last long thank goodness!
One day Rod strolled into the Surf Museum and was surprised to find his Jacob on display since I add neglected to tell him about it. We had fun chatting about it and all the good memories of our days riding our Jacobs longboards. Those where the days!.
I had taken a bunch of photos when I donated the board, and Rod sent me some photos they took of him at the Museum. I put together this short video just for fun. The soundtrack features the Smoking Wood Peckers live at one of the Blue Jam Festivals, recorded and mixed by Eric Schwartz, second guitarist in the band.
You’ve heard of how musicians sometimes have moments when everything comes together and the magic happens. This was one of those moments when the band, Herb French, Eric Schwartz, David Klatt, Paul Holcomb and me were in sync and Paul locked in his drumming with me on lead guitar and we riffed back and forth together. I will never forget it! It was a special moment for me.
Paul was a dear friend, an excellent drummer, a beautiful soul, and a really good surfer too!
California Surf Museum and Rodney’s Jacobs surfboard video.
Better Days is the first Song Sketch that I recorded in my home studio, The Blue Spoon. I laid down the backing tracks first, and then sang and played the lead guitar licks at the same time live directly into LUNA, my recording creation software.
I decided to start recorded my original songs as sketches and build a database of my songs. The song sketches are rough demos of the songs and not intended as finished works.
Better Days was one of those rare songs that comes out of the air in a flash. It’s based on a true story (with creative embellishments). I woke up the next morning and wrote down the words in a stream of consciousness.
Well, well, well… after years of study, practice, and solo experiments… I am beginning to invite other musicians to come to the Blue Spoon recording studio and see what we can create. One of my first guests is Mike Dores. I’ve been playing music with Mike for over 20 years for fun.
So, as an experiment…
We recorded a cover of the song Different Drummer live in the Blue Spoon. Mike played my Taylor acoustic guitar and sang the song. I played my Fender Stratocaster.
Mike’s vocal was recorded with a Sure 57 mic through a Bose P.A. I played my Strat through thr0ugh a Harmonizer on a peddle board into a classic Peavy 50 Watt tube amp.
I recorded a mono track in LUNA using an LE condenser mike in the center of the studio. We had never practiced this song before. We did one run through, and then recorded the second time we played it straight through.
I mixed the track to clean it up, then added tracks of bass and drums. I played the bass direct into my Apollo interface through the Ampeg Bass Amp plugin in LUNA.
I played the drums on my midi controller keyboard with a drum kit in the EZ Drummer plugin in LUNA I mixed the new tracks and used some processing plugins and some effects bus tracks on them.
Finally, I mastered the mixed tracks and exported them to a final stereo track. Here it is:
Jeff Beck’s passing has touched me deeply. I loved Jeff’s masterful guitar music, magical fingers, and soulful creativity. Jeff was truly one of kind and a major idol of mine.
In his honor I am made this post. If features 2 tributes to Jeff. A video of me and my class mates in Jeff McErlain’s Advanced Rock and Blues workshop performing Freeway Jam on the Crown Of The Continent Guitar Festival stage, and an original demo of my song Woody The Wise / Jeff Beck that I recorded in Garage Band on my iPad while on the road and added some Jeff Beck inspired guitar to.
Jeff Beck’s Freeway Jam
Me and my mates in Jeff McErlain’s Advanced Rock and Blues Guitar Workshop performing Freeway Jam on the Crown Guitar stage in Montana.
Woody The Wise / Jeff Beck
My original demo recorded in Garage Band on an iPad while on the road. I added the guitar track playing my strat and using the whammy bar after hearing of Jeff Beck’s passing. So sad. R.I. P. Jeff. I love you.
I had the good fortune of hooking up with the greatest bunch of five guys who where all accomplished musicians in their own rights and forming The Smoking Wood Peckers Band (SWP).
SWP was a jam band that mostly played in our garages, sheds, or backyards and occasionally at private parties. We would gather every Friday or Saturday night to jam and have fun until late into the night and hardly missed a week for over 20 years!
The Smoking Wood Peckers Band members:
Paul Holcomb on drums
Herb French on bass & lead vocals
David Klatt on keyboards & lead vocals
Eric Schwartz on rhythm/lead guitar & background vocals
John Webster on lead/rhythm guitar & background vocals
We played mostly cover songs. Rock & Blues, with some originals by David or John. We had a surf set that was a fan fav!
Thanks to my SWP music brothers for all the great years we had together!
And special thanks to the wives, families, and friends who supported us! We couldn’t have done it without you.
Here’s a live SWP version of Europa that was a special musical moment for us.
Paul has that look in his eyes! Together with Herbie on bass, they are dynamite rhythm section and a joy to play with.
Europa performed live by the Smoking Wood Peckers
This song was such a special moment for me from beginning to end!
Listen to Paul’s drumming throughout the song and you will hear how he makes subtle changes or dramatic changes as the song morphs that perfectly fit the song. This song epitomizes the level of tightness we had achieved from over twenty years of playing together.
Here’s some pics of the Smoking Wood Peckers band.