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TabToolkit: Best iPhone App Ever


The hard working folks over at Agile Partners have come up with a steady stream of high-quality music apps for the iPhone.  But TabToolkit is in a whole other league.  It is by far the best guitar application for the iPhone.  Heck, this may be the best app for the iPhone period!

Despite the awkward name, TabTookit, is a real gem.  It enables you to display and play guitar tablature files on your iPhone with full musical accompaniment.  If you've ever used PowerTabs or GuitarPro on Windows or Mac, then you know how powerful this is.  In fact, TabToolkit can play any of those files or plane ASCII tab files. (Ok, you don't get music if its just plain text.)  You get to see the fret board as the notes are played and it sounds great.

This is an awesome application.  At $10 you might think it's expensive for an iPhone app, but believe me it is worth it.  On a PC or Mac you'd pay $50-$150 or more for this same functionality.  Best of all, it also runs on the iPad in full screen HD.  It's not always obvious on the app store, but if you buy this for the iPhone, you also get to run it on the iPad.  So in effect, you get both for the same price.   If you buy only one guitar app for your iPhone or iPad, TabToolkit is the one.  (And GuitarToolkit is a good second choice for tuner, metronome, chords and scales.)

No wonder these guys keep winning awards.

Keep an eye on Agile Partners.  They've also got an upcoming Amp Kit Link that lets you plug your axe directly into your iPhone or iPad.  Can't wait for that!

National Guitar Workshop 2010


Last summer, I attended the National Guitar Workshop blues core session outside of Chicago.  It was one of the most fun things I've ever done.  Nerve racking, sometimes, certainly intense as you try to learn and master a song within a week to play on stage in front of an audience.  But it was a hoot. If my schedule works out, I'll try to attend another session this year, rejoining some of my colleagues pictured above in Austin. 

Last year I kept a running blog through the entire week chronicling the experience.  Here are the links to each day's posts with video, photos etc:

I aklso did a couple of interviews with NGW guest instructors:

What really sets NGW apart is the instructors.  John Horne from Athens, Ohio, who taught last year's Blues Core course was a great instructor as well as an accomplished musician.  Here's a short video where John talks about the course.  John will be teaching several NGW workshops again this year.

If you're thinking of  attending a guitar camp, I strong recommend National Guitar Workshop.  No matter what your skill level, no matter what your age, you will come away as a better player and have a great time.

The National Guitar Workshop has sessions through the summer in Chicago, Virginia, Austin, Texas, Connecticut and Montana. 


Coco Montoya at Moe's Alley

I managed to catch blues guitarist Coco Montoya at Moe's Alley at a post Santa Cruz Blues Festival gig.  Coco and the band did not disappoint.  It was a nice mix of blues and smooth R&B.  Best of all, Coco was joined on stage by soul singer Sir Harry Bowens and guitarist Randy Jacobs of The Boneshakers.  They played some great classic songs as well as newer cuts from his latest CD, Dirty Deal.  Check out the videos below for a few highlights.  Don't miss the 5th track that includes an incredible  solo by Randy.

Coco Montoya first started out as a drummer and toured with Albert Collins, learning blues guitar.  He later joined John Mayall's Blues Breakers, following in the footsteps of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. The band is touring through the US and Canada in the summer, so be sure to catch this blues legend if you can.

The Hangover's 12 Songs Every Garage Band Should Know


I was googling for easy rock & roll songs to learn and discovered an excellent article over at The Hangover called "Songs Every Garage Band Should Know."  While I don't agree with every song on this list, I gotta admit, it's a pretty good start.  These are popular songs that most people will like and most of 'em are pretty easy to learn.  That seems like a good combination to me.  Heck, I know almost half of them already, so probably most of you can master these songs in a couple of hours.

Here's the list:

  • Louie, Louie (The Kingsmen) --Three chords and a crazy guitar solo
  • Wild Thing (The Troggs) --Basically the same as Louie, Louie
  • Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry) --The inventor of the classic rock & roll riff
  • Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley) --Not my favorite, but ok
  • Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones) -- A crowd pleaser for sure
  • Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison) --An easy riff that's immediately recognizable
  • Wipeout (The Surfaris) --Classic garage rock from the 60's
  • Allison (Elvis Costell0) --I love Elvis, but I'm not sure this fits here
  • I Walk the Line (Johnny Cash) --This seems like an odd one to me
  • I Wanna be Sedated (The Ramones) --The uber-punk garage band
  • Get Back (The Beatles) --A high class song that's not too difficult
  • Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon) --I wouldn't pick this, but many love it

As I said, it's a pretty decent set list for a garage band or bar band.  I might have dropped the Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello and Warren Zevon in favor of AC/DC's "Back in Black," The Sex Pistols "Pretty Vacant" and something by The Who or The Clash, but that's just me.  You can use the links to Chordie, FretPlay or TabScout to learn how to play these songs.

What do you think?  What are your top picks for easy to learn, recognizable rock songs?  Also check out The Hangover's other posts listed below.

Sid's Vicious' Bass For Sale

 Cruising through London's Denmark Street music shops a few weeks ago, I spotted a cardboard sign between the strings of a well-worn Fender Precision Bass: "Sid's Bass!" it said, with a picture of Sid Vicious from years gone by.  For the low, low price of only £20k.  More money than Sid ever got, that's for sure.  

Given Sid's brief tenure with the band (he didn't even play on "Bollocks"), I was surprised by how worn the bass was.  But knowing Sid's reputation as a musician, maybe that's why it's still available.