September 16, 2011

Free For All Friday, September 16, 2011

Food Fight!

Hey, kids! Welcome to Free For All Friday, where we throw random stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s like a musical food fight! What’s on the menu today, you ask?

Today’s selections include:

1 – A Custom Shop 9/11 tribute by Fender
2 – Led Zep trivia for musical geeks
3 – The infamous music reading dilemma

Let’s get it on!




Fender Remembers 9/11 with Three Tribute Guitars

911 Fender tribute guitars

Of course, this month marks the 10-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, which will easily go down as the most horrific event in my lifetime. I’m sure many of you feel the same. But I came across a very cool, feel-good type of story that I thought you would enjoy. It started with a pretty neat convergence of relationships – 9/11 firefighter Tommy Clarke, his longtime friend and guitar legend, Eric Clapton, and the Fender Custom Shop – and ended with a series of guitars made in tribute to the heroes of that tragic day. Here’s a blurb from the press release:

“On the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the Fender Custom Shop offers its own sincere tribute to those who fell that tragic day with a special offering—a remarkable trio of custom Stratocaster guitars commemorating the events and the heroes at the World Trade Center complex.

The trio of uniquely-adorned Stratocaster models honors each of the three major organizations that paid such a terrible price in rushing to the aid of those trapped at the World Trade Center complex that fateful day—the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Each guitar has a custom graphic finish depicting imagery related to each agency and to the events of that day.

Also, inlaid into the custom finish of each Stratocaster are various commendation pins and badges of each agency; several related specifically to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Among these are three specially commissioned badges—one for each guitar—noting the number of fallen officers, firefighters and paramedics that day—23 for the New York City Police Department, 37 for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and 343 for the New York City Fire Department.”

In honor of the 9/11 heroes, Eric Clapton will be playing these Strats in his fall 2011 tour. To read the full story – which is very cool and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face – follow the link!

Fender Custom Shop Remembers Sept. 11, 2001, with Three Tribute Guitars


Whole Lotta Zep Trivia

Led Zeppelin

I don’t know about you, but I am a total geek for trivia, obscure factoids, etc. about my favorite artists and bands. Just makes me happy to know utterly inconsequential things, like the real meaning behind “Day Tripper” (conflicting stories) or how many units of Appetite for Destruction were sold in Zimbabwe (I’m thinking, very few).

Anyways, for all you Zeppelin fans out there, here is a fun article that features 10 “semi-obscure facts” about the greatest rock band ever with which to thrill and amaze your friends and neighbors. Enjoy!

10 Semi-Obscure Facts About Led Zeppelin

Bonus section! Purely as a public service, I leave you with a short list of Zeppelin essentials. Any self-respecting rocker should have these in his/her collection, as they represent the Holy Grail of ROCK. Live ’em, learn ’em and love ’em.

Essentials: Led Zeppelin I, II, IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti. On DVD, highly recommended is Led Zeppelin box set, which features classic performances at Royal Albert Hall, Madison Square Garden, and much more. Holy Grail indeed!

Second tier (in my opinion) but still very good: Led Zeppelin III, In Through the Out Door, Presence, Coda.


To Read or Not to Read; That Is the Question

musica notation

This is an age-old question, and one of my musical mentors, Jamie Andreas, writes a terrific essay on the topic. She covers all the bases here, including one of the most infamous points espoused by guitarists: Will learning to read/understand music theory hurt my creativity?

I’ve always found that to be a laughable idea, as if knowing more about a subject can actually hurt you! I get the idea though. Will knowing more encourage me to overthink things and get away from that place of musical innocence that makes me such a genius? (insert sarcasm as desired)

Only you can decide if you’re overthinking things; as for me, give me knowledge any day of the week so I can solve my own problems and explore my options. And personally, I think a lot of the anti-reading sentiment stems from laziness and intimidation. Given decent instruction (even self-instruction), a little time and patience, and a modicum of focus, anyone can learn to read music well. It’s also very interesting that players of other instruments almost never question it. Only guitarists. Go figure.

Check out Jamie’s article and be smarter for it!

Learning to Read Music: Who Should, Who Shouldn’t


See you next Friday, kids!

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Jim Bowley is a professional guitarist, teacher and blogger. A native of Baltimore, he has over 30 years of playing experience and an advanced degree in Music Education from Towson University. Jim lives in Bel Air, MD where he maintains a thriving private lesson studio and performs with his band, Remains of Radio.

© 2012 Jim Bowley All rights reserved.
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