NAMM: Fender Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Stratocaster

hitmakerLemmie tell you a little bit about me. Whenever I’m feeling down, the best cure is to put on David Bowie’s “Modern Love” and just jam out on rhythm guitar along with Nile Rodgers. Nile is, of course, a hugely influential figure in popular music. Just think of the albums he’s had a hand in: Let’s Dance, Family Style, Like A Virgin, Original Sin, Cosmic Thing, Random Access Memories… and then of course there’s Chic and Sister Sledge, with whom Nile practically defined an entire genre and showed us what it really means to play the perfect part for the song. The Fender Custom Shop is paying tribute to Nile with a guitar that recreates the Hitmaker, the legendary Strat with which Nile has sprinkled musical gold dust over all sorts of tracks. It’s been a long time coming and here’s hoping that it leads to other more affordable versions too that tap into the same magic.  Read More …

Chic Featuring Nile Rodgers

NileNile Rodgers is one of the most important guitarists ever. Guitar as we know it just wouldn’t be the same without the influence of his soulful, funky rhythm playing, nor would music in general sound the way it does without the influence of his production on albums such as David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Nile has a huge discography, and some of it has been funnelled into the compilation Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic Organization – Up All Night (The Greatest Hits). It covers plenty of classics by Chic, Sister Sledge and many more. And if you’d like to check out some great Nile-related music outisde of this compilation, might I suggest Family Style by the Vaughan Brothers, Cosmic Thing by The B-52’s, Your Filthy Little Mouth by David Lee Roth, and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (which features Nile on three tracks including Get Lucky). Nile has been talking a lot on Twitter lately about a forthcoming official Fender replica of his famous ‘Hitmaker’ Stratocaster, so I can’t wait to check that thing out!  Read More …

I Miss You, David Bowie

I never had time for David Bowie.

That changed when I was 16 though. I read an article in the newspaper, an interview with Bowie about his then-new album , 1.Outside. It was a concept album, planned to be the first of a series, one to be released each year until 2000 or something like that. (It didn’t quite end up happening like that. 1.Outside was the only disc released from the project). In the interview Bowie talked about his creative process and his assumption of different characters and stuff like that, and as a teenager struggling with his sense of identity and coming to terms with what it meant to be a creative person, I was intrigued. Accompanying the article was a competition: you could win the album by phoning up and answering a trivia question or something. I did, and I won. So my first Bowie album was possibly his most impenetrable, his darkest, his moodiest. The one with a graphic depiction of a disembowled cadaver in the booklet.  Read More …

INTERVIEW: Keith Strickland of The B-52s

There’s only one B-52s. Sure, they’ve had their stylistic changes, and they weathered the tragic death of original guitarist Ricky Wilson, but whether slamming out quirky angular guitar pop (“Rock Lobster,” “My Own Private Idaho,”) radio-friendly chart megahits (“Love Shack,” “Roam”) or danceable, electronica-tinged club-ready tracks (“Funplex,”), there’s no mistaking who you’re listening to. And a large part of that sound is Keith Strickland. Originally the band’s drummer, shifting to guitar after the 1985 passing of Wilson, Strickland is a lifelong multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, and one of the nicest chart-toppers you could ever hope to meet. B-52s have just released With the Wild Crowd: Live in Athens GA, an 18-track live album, with a DVD and Blu-Ray to follow next year.

I understand there’s some special significance attached to the timing of the concert that became With The Wild Crowd?

We did that this past February in Athens, Georgia. A booking agent had booked the show and then we realised it was close to February 14th, the anniversary date of our very first performance. It was a few days later but we thought ‘Let’s make this an anniversary show!’ And it was also a benefit for the Georgia Theatre, which is this venue in Athens, a theatre that had been converted into a performance place. It had burned down, so a portion of the proceeds went to rebuilding that. So it was just coming full circle. We played the Georgia Theatre in our early days before we actually recorded our first album. It was also interesting because we realised, ‘Wow, 34 years and we’re playing Athens again…’ But it really wasn’t set up that way. It was just, well, here it is! We turned it into an event celebrating coming full circle, so to speak.

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