Television is going to be headlining at the Canadian Music Week festival, May 10 in Toronto. I've picked up tix for the show and I can't wait. This is a band I've been listening to for more than thirty years. Television also has some upcoming gigs in Knoxville, Boston, Tokyo, Barcelona, Milan and Bergen, Norway. Just in case you want to catch them all.
I managed to see legendary garage rock band The Cynics in Cleveland at the Beachland Ballroom. They were opening for The Sonics a 60's garage rock band that reunited a few years ago. The Cynics are an incredible band that has been playing for 30 some years. The sound has evolved through several lineup changes over the years, but at the core of the band are Michael Kastelic as front man and Gregg Kostelich on guitar. There was some small amount of irony with these two guys with similar Croatian names playing at was once Cleveland's Croatian Liberty Home and Ballroom, but I'll leave that aside.
The Cynics delivered a high energy 60-minute balls-to-the-wall set largely drawng on older material for an audience of long-time fans. The room was packed and people were singing along with many of the songs. I would have liked to hear a few slower numbers from the 2010 album "Spinning Wheel Motel" to mix things up a bit, but otherwise there was little to complain about. Vocals were good if not always loud enough, guitar was excellent and the rhythm section was a driving force. The drummer looked like he'd had a considerable workout by the end of the evening.
The Cynics also have gigs lined up in Austin at SXSW on March 15 and will be touring New Orleans, Atlanta, North Carolina, Virginia and beyond through april.
In the coming weeks, I'll post an interview I did with Michael Kastelic on the history of the band, his musical influences and songwriting.
- The Cynics: Facebook, Wikipedia, Bio, Tour
- The Sonics: Official Site, Tour, Wikipedia
- Amazon: Get Our Way, Spinning Wheel Motel, The Sonics
Guitarist Greg Studley, who plays with the Pink Floyd Tribute band House of Floyd, has published a great new book called "A Guitarist's Guide to Improvising with Knowledge." Although the title is a bit of a mouthful, it's a good book for any player who is looking to go beyond the usual learned riffs to develop a more dynamic style to improvisation.
Studley's approach is a thoughtful one and it's well-suited to anyone who has got stuck in the "Pentatonic rut" of playing same-sounding solos over every song using just one or two Pentatonic scale shapes. Studley has developed a consistent structure and naming approach to make it much easier to learn everything you need to develop interesting and melodic solos. He also ensures that your solos match the underlying chord changes and not just the oveall key of the song. This enables you to build on the natural tension that happens during chord changes to make things flow better with the overall song.
Studley provides a "three step method" and a series of exercises that focus on getting familiar with root notes, then the scales before you dive into the uncharted territories of improvisation. This structure ensures that you learn where to place your hands and you know what scale you're working from at all times and don't end up somewhere you don't want to be. Through the course of the book, the techniques get increasingly sophiticated, incorporating arpeggios, bends, slides, hammer-ons, triplets, vibrato, syncopated rhythms and more.
Here's a video that demonstrates some of Studley's techniques for mixing two different pentatonic scales:
The book weighs in at over 200 pages, so you get a lot more detail with exercises for each chapter. And you can practice along to the backing tracks which can be downloaded from Studley's web site.
And in related news, The House of Floyd will be touring Northern California beginning March through April, so if you're anywhere in the vicinity, be sure to check them out. They've really honed their chops over the years, in no small part to Studley's great guitar playing.