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Peter Hodgson

REVIEW: Adelaide International Guitar Festival

The Adelaide International Guitar Festival is a unique monolith on the Australian guitar landscape. More like the great European festivals in terms of its approach rather than a G3-like celebration of electric guitar power, it pays homage to the instrument by celebrating the broad palette of sounds it’s capable of, with particular emphasis on world-class virtuoso guitarists outside of the well-trodden rock realm – while also drawing in some of the best that the rock guitar world has to offer too. Over the years the event has included the likes of Ralph Towner, Jorma Kaukonen, The Assad Duo, Pepe Romero, The Atlantics, Richard Clapton, David Lindley, Kaki King, Vernon Reid, Bob Brozman, Xavier Rudd, Adrian Belew, Hoodoo Gurus, The Derek Trucks Band, Lior, Troy Cassar-Daley, The Party Boys, Slava Grigoryan, Ash Grunwald, Grinspoon, Guy Pratt, Manuel Barrueco, Yamandú Costa, Dhafer Youssef, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Christa Hughes, Ben Fink, Karin Schaupp, Oscar Guzmán, Tommy Emmanuel, Jeff Lang and many, many more. This year’s event featured a great assortment of guitarists from a wide range of genres. My girlfriend is from Adelaide and we thought it would be fun to make a huge road trip out of it (stopping at lots of fun tourist stops along the way for the benefit of our 7-year-old… who am I kidding, I just really wanted to see the Big Lobster), so here are my highlights: Continue reading

Sébastien Giniaux. Whoa.

Lloyd Spiegel with Tim Burnham Live @ Pony

Lloyd Spiegel with Tim Burnham Live in the Studio at Pony Music for Guitar Gods and Masterpieces. Enjoy!

Ooh! Jackson Swirl and Tigerstripe DK2M Pros!

Jackson Swirl

Check out what Jackson Guitars posted on their Instagram: a pair of DK2M Pro models, one with a green swirl finish and one with a Tigerstripe vibe. Jackson says these will be coming this fall to an authorised dealer near you.

Pure Pop Records To Move

Pure Pop RecordsI don’t often post about stuff that’s super-local here, since I Heart Guitar has readers from all over the place, but Pure Pop Records is a place that’s quite near and dear to my heart: a record store with a comfortable, homey vibe and a great supporter of live music. Today they’ve announced that they’ll be moving on from their longtime home in Barkly St, St Kilda following a long-running battle against noise level regulations (as St Kilda residents will know, all it takes is one grouchy new resident to move in to a long-established live music area, make a complaint, and decimate an entire creative ecosystem…), but Pure Pop will find a new location. Below is the message that was sent out: Continue reading

REVIEW: Gibson 2014 Les Paul Standard

Gibson Les Paul StandardDon’t let the name throw ya: the Gibson Les Paul Standard of 2014 is a very different guitar to a 1959 Les Paul Standard, the guitar that launches a million riffs. But in a way the use of the name here makes perfect sense: there are all sorts of design enhancements on the 2014 Standard which represent what a guitar can be in 2014, rather than 1959, in terms of tone, playability and tuning stability, and Gibson has seen fit to apply the Standard name to this new evolution of the instrument. So what exactly is so different?  Continue reading

BOSS Introduces Waza Craft Series

bossthumbBOSS pedals have happily occupied pride of place on hundreds of thousands of pedalboards for decades, and for the past 15 years or so a lot of folks have made quite a name for themselves developing mods for popular BOSS pedals like the Super Overdrive and the Blues Driver. And BOSS has now introduced three pedals which seem to be the ultimate in customised BOSS tone. Each starts with a popular design and then builds upon it with two switchable modes – Standard and Custom. The pedals are the SD-1W Super Overdrive, BD-2W Blues Driver and DM-2W Delay, and you’ll find plenty of information about them in the press release below. Personally I’m most excited about the DM-2W Delay. My guitar teacher had one of the original delays when I was a kid and I was really into that sound, and now BOSS has recreated and expanded that original pedal’s capabilities. Continue reading

INTERVIEW: Debashish Bhattacharya

Debashish BhattacharyaDebashish Bhattacharya has an international following not only for his playing but also his extraordinary instrumental arsenal. But more than that, Debashish is a voice of pure inspiration, helping to bring Indian classical music to the masses and tirelessly sharing his love of the form and his passion for life itself. Seriously, a 20-minute interview on the phone with Bhattacharya is like a session with a therapist, a music teacher, a learned scholar of sociology and a kind, trusted relative all rolled into one. His distinctive, idiosyncratic instruments include his lap-slide chaturangui, the 14-stringed gandharvi and the anandi, a four-string slide ukulele, but although it’s fun to dwell on the technicalities, all it really comes down to is that Debashish Bhattacharya has tapped into a whole other musical realm, and wants us all to join him there. He’ll be performing at the Dunstan Playhouse in Adelaide on July 18 as part of the Adelaide International Guitar Festival.

You play guitar like a beautiful voice, and that’s something that everyone can relate to whether they’re familiar with Indian classical music or not. 

That’s something I’ve been doing for the last 30 years: performing for both sides. The people who know the kind of music I do, but I am also very much accepted by people from places where Indian music has never been heard.  Continue reading

Hey. Stop Trying To Justify Music Theft, Alright?

grandpa simpson rantI was just reading some stuff over at The Guardian about Robin Thicke’s new album. It turns out The Guardian is mistakenly reporting that Thicke’s new album Paula sold ‘less than 54 copies’ in Australia during its first week. It seems that their assumption is based on the fact that it didn’t appear in the chart of the top 500 albums in Australia, #500 of which was a Blondie compilation which sold 54 copies. But the truth is that Thicke’s album hadn’t even been released in Australia during the week that that chart covered. We’ll get the real results on Saturday at 7pm.

But that’s not what this post is about. Nope, this is about a little exchange in the comments that really pissed me off:

Commenter 1: Who buys albums anymore? Doesn’t everyone know that music is free on the Internet?

Commenter 2: Music lover’s who want band’s to be able to exist to carry on making music . What you are is a thief. Music is rarely “free”, just because YOU don’t pay.

Commenter 3: Except it’s music lovers who bother to download and as such are the ones who are more likely to purchase merchandise and concert tickets. Not only that, but many unknown bands gain national and worldwide attention from being illegally downloaded, launching their career with essentially free marketing. Not only that, but when you listen to Spotify be sure to remember that Spotify pays bands next to nothing for us to listen to their songs for free.

Now, you can probably guess where I’m going with this, if you haven’t already slammed your laptop lid or phone down in disgust. Cos I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you’re a musician who values music for its own sake, and as a creative endeavour, a creative necessity, an integral part of your being. But I find that third commenter really frustrating. Dear Commenter 3, sweet Commenter 3, nobody is going to invest in music if there’s no return. And when you don’t invest in music, you don’t get music. You certainly don’t get well-executed, well-recorded music. You don’t get music by bands who were given the time to find their sound over the course of a career. We’re seeing so many bands falling apart or band members quitting because they can no longer make ends meet. Not every band has the huge following or commercial appeal to be a big enough live draw to shift thousands of tickets and t-shirts, but that doesn’t make their music any less valid to those who do love it. And by this commenter’s logic, those bands who used to focus all their creative energies into the recording studio rather than the stage, well, I guess they think those artists shouldn’t bother.

Let’s use an extreme example. Remember The Beatles? Bunch of dudes from Liverpool, snappy dressers, had some hits. Those guys stopped playing live in August 1966. After that time they confined their creativity to the studio and gave us Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album (and Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be, for that matter). Is that commenter saying these albums should just have been given away? For what? As free publicity for a tour that would never eventuate? Should they have just stopped, if they weren’t going to tour?

“Oh but you can make an album on a laptop or an iPad, so you can do it for like no money.” Yeah, you can, but you shouldn’t. We’ve already devalued music to the point where most people don’t pay for it, and we’ve devalued the sound of that music by listening to it in a low-resolution format (MP3, streamed audio, shitty YouTube videos). Think of this: unless you’re using a service like the brilliant HD Tracks, the average punter is listening to music in the worst sound quality since the days of mono vinyl. Cassettes sound better. Vinyl records sound better. CDs sound better. Everyone jokes that, hey, it’s 2014, where are our jetpacks? Well y’know what? Fuck the jetpacks. It’s 2014, where is our unprecedented level of audio quality? Why isn’t everyone listening to everything in the highest quality ever experienced by human ears, instead of on laptop speakers or those Apple earbuds that have no high end so you can’t hear the horrible compression artefacts living up there beyond 5kHz?

So yeah, you can make an album on a laptop by yourself, and it’ll probably sound just fine alongside all the other laptop albums out there, especially through a squished, compressed, neutered format like streamed audio. But go sit in the dark, close your eyes and listen to a well-recorded album crafted in a professional studio by musicians and engineers. Go remember what it’s like to be immersed in an album for its own sake, not as a hypothetical free advertisement to a concert you might or might not end up going to because, eh, you just downloaded Season 4 of Game Of Thrones and you’re going to have a binge this weekend.

I understand that people are used to not paying for music. The whole Napster thing was a very long time ago and for most people, music is a free thing that you just go to your computer or phone and listen to. And while I have some anti-Spotify friends who will kill me immediately after reading this sentence, I use Spotify too. I pay for a Spotify Premium account every month because I know that even though Spotify pays very little to artists, at least it pays something and in a very real way I’m contributing to that something. I see no problem with wanting to have the entirety of recorded music right there at your fingertips, but I do have a problem with devaluing it to the point where you don’t feel you need to contribute to the ongoing creation of quality music with quality sounds and presentation. And y’know what else? I buy more music now – on CD, mp3, vinyl and DVD – than I ever did before. Not because Spotify encourages me to go and buy more music (although I have bought a few albums after first hearing them on Spotify) but because I fucking love music. I always have, I always will, and I consider it my duty as a musician and as a music lover to support music as an art form and musicians as a community.

Mesa Cab Clone Makes Life Worth Living

Mesa Cab Clone

Aaah, that’s the stuff. Mesa Engineering has just announced the Cab Clone, a guitar speaker cabinet emulator and load box which lets you record your screaming, wailing cranked tube amp silently or to send a nice clean signal to a mixing desk via the balanced XLR output, plus a 1/4″ uncompensated output for sending your signal to a slave amp rig, cabinet emulated etc. Plus there’s a Thru output for sending the signal on to your speaker cabinet for ‘real speaker’ monitoring. It also has a compensated headphone output so you can get your groove on in your head without getting evicted/divorced. You can select between open-back, closed-back and vintage voicings, and there’s a DI level control for optimising the signal for mic, instrument or line applications. There’s also a Phase Flip switch and Ground Lift.

Win Tickets To Guthrie Govan’s Oz Clinic Tour!

Hey folks! I’ve got a free double pass to give away to one of Guthrie Govan’s Australian masterclasses in the city of your choice (excluding Adelaide) thanks to the fine folks at Thump Music. To enter, email iheartguitarblog AT gmail DOT com with “Guthrie Comp” in the subject line, and tell me which city you’d like the double pass for. Each entry will be assigned a number and the winner will be drawn at random using random.org on Friday July 18. And you can whip yourself into a guitaristic frenzy by reading my interview with Guthrie here.

Dates are:
PERTH – 21st of July – 7.30pm @ Hale School
BRISBANE – 23rd of July – 7:30pm @ The Princess Theatre
SYDNEY – 24th of July – 7:30pm @ Wesley Mission Theatre
MELBOURNE – 27th of July – 12pm Midday @ Gas Works Theatre

Hutchinson Guitar Concepts: Smashing It

Hutchinson Viking Explorer

Y’know how the other day I posted about how Carvin Guitars are, y’know, utterly smashing it lately? Well y’know who else is totally smashing it? Hutchinson Guitar Concepts. The first Hutchinson guitars I saw were mind-blowing, but each successive guitar gets even more mind-blowing, to the point where I’m not sure I have any brain matter left to be exploded by Hutchinson guitars. And yet they keep coming, such as the incredible Viking Explorer, created using an ESP Edwards Explorer as the foundation. Following are three Hutchinson press releases about three new products: the Viking Explorer, the Oxidizer Overdrive and the Cafe Racer. Continue reading

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Guthrie Govan

Peter Hodgson Hi! I'm Peter Hodgson. I write for Gibson.com, Australian Guitar, Australian Musician, Mixdown Magazine (including my instructional column, 'Unleash Your Inner Rock God,' which has been running since 2007), BluntBeat (including their weekly hard rock/metal column Crunch) and The Brag. And I'm Assistant Social Coordinator with Seymour Duncan. I've been playing guitar since I was 8 years old, and I've been writing for magazines since I was 18. I've also worked as a guitar teacher (up to 50 students a week), a setup tech, a newspaper editor, and I've also dabbled in radio a little bit. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and my hobbies include drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much Mexican food. You can check out my guitar playing at Bandcamp or on YouTube, and feel free to email me at iheartguitarblog@gmail.com

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