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December 2013
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February 2014

BeatBuddy Pedal Replaces Your Deadbeat Drummer

My guitar buddy Rob and I are always struggling to get a drummer to practice with.  So often we end playing to a backing track or more typically no drums at all.  Candidly, my rhythm is not particularly excellent, so I  prefer to play with a backing track or a drum loop.  But when you want to jam, those options often come up short.  The smart guys over at BeatBuddy have designed what looks like a perfect solution for anyone in need of a more dynamic style of drum backing: a guitar pedal that supplies a custom drum track.  

BeatBuddy looks easy enough to use.  Pick your drum style or song, lock in the tempo and then hit the pedal to start the drums.  Press the pedal again to add some fills, or hold it down to transition from verse to chorus or vice verse.  You can add a second footswitch to vary the tempo, move to next song, add cymbal crashes etc.   And unlike old-school looping pedals, BeatBuddy is smart enough to supply the transitions at even measures, even if your own rhythm is a little off.

BeatBuddy comes with 200 songs, and 10 drum styles including rock, blues, pop, and the ability to add more via USB port and SD card.  Personally, I will be happy if it has more than half a dozen good blues tracks and a dozen rock tracks.  So many of these drum loop devices just put two shuffles and a couple of standard rock tracks and then twenty pop or electronic tracks.  My guess is most of the buyers of this pedal are going to be focused on classic rock and blues. 

The project is being funded via IndieGogo.  While there's always risk of delays or a product that doesn't quite live up to expectations, this one looks to be pretty solid.  The price is $199 until Feb 4.  That's much less than the expected retail price, with delivery expected by end of April.  (Ok, I've never seen a crowdfunded project meet it's delivery date, so maybe just think "Q2 2014.")

Here's an up-to-date video on YouTube with more details:

After Hours Blues Machine - Live at Redhouse

Blues machine live cd cover

My other other band, "After Hours Blues Machine" had a successful gig last night at Redhouse Studios in Walnut Creek.  It was a showcase for half a dozen bands and things went pretty well.  We did a short set with some straight ahead rock songs, and hopefully it came across with a lot of energy.  I think things sounded pretty good.  There were a couple of minor mistakes, but I'm not sure how obvious they were to the audience.   

Here are some iPhone videos via YouTube:

 And here are a couple of MP3 files from our rehearsals as well as a live version of Black Magic Woman / Sweet Jane recorded with a portable Tascam recorder:

Blues Machine  - One Way Out

Blues Machine - Who Do You Love

Blues Machine - Black Magic Woman - Sweet Jane

It's been great playing together with Dave, Jeff and Marc at Redhouse.  And we were fortunate to have Assaf sit in on keyboards with just a few rehearsals.  

If you're in the east bay area, I highly recommend Redhouse Studios' workshops.  They've got a wide range of workshops they run for rock, jazz, Beatles, Stones, metal and more as well as lessons and regular concerts.  I'm gonna miss this place.  

Why I Love My Acoustic Guitar

Musician's Friend posed the question: Why do you love your acoustic guitar to some various folks in the websphere and they must have run out of interesting musicians because they asked me for my comments.

Admittedly, it's been a long time since I've picked up my acoustic guitar on a regular basis.  But I do love that guitar.  It's a slightly beat up Ovation from the 70s that I bought  used from a guy.  It was a lot of money at the time, but it seemed like a good deal.  Honestly, I thought the guitar was probably hot.  Still, I dove in and started learning open chords and then, rather painfully, barre chords etc.  It was my first guitar, so I still have a soft spot for it. 

You can read the full article over at Musician's Friend Hub.  There are also plenty of other good articles on gear as well as a great interview with Paul Stanley from KISS about his career and his line of Washburn guitars.