Category: General Music Archives - Page 2 of 5 - Jim Bowley

October 11, 2012

Revenge of the Six-String Critic. This time it’s personal.

you suck

You’re hangin’ at the local music store.

You take a shiny new electric off the wall and plug in. You unleash your hottest blues licks and the guitar just screams. You don’t have a care in the world except for how you’re gonna convince your wife/mom/significant other that you must buy this sweet new axe. ‘Cause she’s a beauty.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see him. He slowly approaches – cue Jaws theme – and stands uncomfortably close to you, staring at you as you play. This goes on for awhile. The vibe gets weird.

Then he says, “Dude, that was pretty good.”

(The guitar critic always says “pretty good”, never just “good”. They have to keep you in your place, you know.)

And because that wasn’t enough, he follows up with, “You just need to get your heart broken a few times. Then you’ll really know how to play the blues.”

By now, the vibe is no longer ‘weird’ – it’s flat-out awkward. Like ‘time to smack a stranger’ awkward. ‘Cause it just got personal.

Or did it? (more…)

September 24, 2012

Unsung Guitar Hero: Paul Jackson Jr.

Paul Jackson Jr

Paul Jackson Jr. is a phenomenal guitarist that you likely do not know by name. However you have surely heard his guitar work hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

Currently guitarist for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and American Idol, PJJ is one of the most in-demand guitarists in Los Angeles. He has also done stints in other TV show bands, such as Don’t Forget the Lyrics, America’s Got Talent, and Grease: You’re the One That I Want, but where Paul Jackson Jr. really made his mark was as one of the top session guitarists in LA during the session scene heyday of the 1980’s.

A top LA studio musician (and colleague of Steve Lukather) with over 1000 credits, PJJ is a fantastic all-around guitarist who can play in virtually any style and has been in constant demand since the early 80’s.

But although he can solo like a beast (witness his work with the Tonight Show band and this video of him playing “All Along the Watchtower” at the PRS Experience), PJJ is mainly known as a world-class rhythm player. Basically, he brings the funk like nobody’s business. (more…)

August 31, 2012

Sticking To It, Sully-style (a mini-Student Success Story)

by jim — Categories: General Music, Student Success Stories5 Comments

Ryan Sullivan

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge


Ryan Sullivan – or “Sully” as his friends call him – is a beginner guitarist. He’s an adult student in his mid-30s, has a family, and owns his own business. Earlier this year he decided to take the plunge and fulfill his dream of learning to play guitar, so he called yours truly. (A brilliant decision, if I may say so. :)

Anyway, Sully and I have been powering through private sessions since the spring but it hasn’t always been an easy road. Although he loves music, he had never played an instrument before and had no real idea how lessons worked. Much to his surprise, Sully also didn’t seem to be particularly “natural” in the music learning process – as he would admit to you, everything was a struggle, from the fingering of chords to strumming in rhythm to understanding TAB notation on paper. He thought it would come to him much more easily, but every day was a battle.

What Sully does have in his favor, however, is serious determination and an inordinate amount of self-confidence (more…)

August 20, 2012

Student Success Stories: Alex Fang and Harry Foard

Harry Foard

Although I live a pretty awesome life – I really can’t complain about much – this summer has been a tough one for me in one particular way: I’ve had to say goodbye to some long-time students as they’ve graduated from high school and are preparing to go off to college and embark on the next chapter of their lives. It’s an exciting time for them, but I’m still sad to see them leave.

Although one of these students just started lessons in 2012, most of them have been with me for years – some for 5 years or more. You get to know someone pretty well when you meet with them every week for a few years. You learn about them as people and you grow to be friends. I’ve been blessed to make some terrific friends in recent years, who started as 7th- and 8th-grade goofballs and are now on the cusp of adulthood. They’re also pretty darn good guitarists.

In this installment of Student Success Stories, I want to feature two former students, Alex Fang and Harry Foard – who happen to be long-time friends, as well – that have taken the leap from guitar student to guitar major at the college level.

I reserve a little extra pride for the guitarists who have the requisite passion for music to pursue it in college. It’s certainly not for everyone, and quite a few of my guitarists are capable of playing music at the next level. But these two guys have actually taken the leap and I couldn’t be more excited for them! (more…)

July 5, 2012

The Wrecking Crew

WreckingCrewLogo

A few weeks back, my wife surprised me with tickets to a film festival. This was not just any film festival, mind you; it was a music film festival at the University of Pennysylvania featuring a documentary that I had been waiting to see for a handful of years: The Wrecking Crew.

So, on that sunny Sunday afternoon, we made the road trip to UPenn and were treated to a terrific and poignant film, full of some of the most glorious pop music of the 20th century. Of course, that glorious music was played in large part by a virtually faceless group of musicians that came to be known as “The Wrecking Crew”.

Since it was uncommon at the time (and for marketing purposes, often unwise) to give credit to studio musicians on the record jacket, the Wrecking Crew was unknown to the general public. But in the heyday of the Los Angeles session scene – the 1960s through the ’70s – they dominated the recording studios, churning out hit after hit.

By then, the rock and roll sound had taken on a much greater role in pop music, and those who could play it well started to infiltrate the studio scene, eventually replacing the veteran session players of previous generations. Apparently the older players thought that the young cats would “wreck” the music business, hence the nickname.

Little did they know that The Wrecking Crew would go on to become one of the most important groups of musicians in American music history. (more…)

April 24, 2012

Six Steps to Awesome: #4 – Be Consistent

punch clock awesome consistentIf you ask the average person what it takes to be awesome on a musical instrument, they would undoubtedly say, “Practice.”

And they would be right. Consistent practice is one of the keys to greatness in any skill.

Notice I said, “consistent practice”. The consistent part is pretty important.

Guitarists that practice haphazardly are likely to get haphazard results. If you wanna be awesome, you have to punch the clock regularly and get down to business.

[If you haven’t yet checked out the first three of the Six Steps to Awesome, this would be a fine time to do so. They can be found here, here and here.]

In the fourth installment of our series, we’re going to explore why consistency is so important to your success, both mentally and physically; why short but frequent sessions always trump marathon practices; and why keeping your guitar in plain sight is one of the hidden “tricks” to guitar progress. (more…)

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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