David Grissom Knows How It Feels to Fly

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Photo by Jason Wolter
David Grissom at Under the Volcano, October 2013
David Grissom is a guitar geek's dream, an inventive player who combines power, finesse, theory and good taste into a disturbingly virile mix that straddles the line between beautiful abstraction and full-tilt boogie. Grissom is, for the most part, always turned up to 11.

Now coming up on 30 years in Austin, Grissom has released four albums of his own material, the most recent album being How It Feels To Fly, a half-studio, half-live recording that he releases Wednesday night at Under the Volcano.


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5 Guitarists Who Got Started on Christmas Presents

Categories: Guitar Zero

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Photo by Prokopenya Viktor
Odds are those of you reading this are music fans, and if not, congratulations on having been driven here by reading everything else online! It's also possible that you're musicians yourselves, and since any instrument besides your voice, hand claps, and armpit farts is generally a major purchase, I'll bet at some point an instrument or an accessory to an instrument was wrapped underneath your Christmas tree.

The thing is you're not alone at all. Many of the greatest guitar players in the industry began just as the rest of us did, by having mom or dad shell out some dough for a high-end toy that in all likelihood would be forgotten by Easter. The difference is of course they kept up with it and now they're famous.

Who owes their career to a willingness by parents to brave a music store during the holiday shopping season? Well...


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5 Badass Custom Guitars (That Can Be Used For Murder)

Categories: Guitar Zero

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You would think that guitar players could be content shredding awesome solos while holding one of the most worshipped musical instruments on the planet. Jim Morrison certainly didn't give head to Ray Manzarek's organ on stage. No sir, he went down on the all time greatest phallic symbol this side of a firearm.

Still, for some strummers that just isn't enough. What if you want to not only kill a room, but actually kill a room? The good news... if that's the correct way to think about such things... is that the option to go on a murder spree immediately after nailing a blistering lick is totally on the table.

What I'm saying is, clap, you monkies. Clap and cheer, because no guitar player in the history of the planet has been praised for their fine impulse control, and now they're armed.


Masaki Kyomoto Special Has a Sword Built Right In

Assume that you're actor/guitarist Masaki Kyomoto, and for the purposes of this article we'll also assume you're completely insane. There you are, on stage musicing the living shit out of a song when some drunk hurls a beer bottle at you to express their meatheaded displeasure for you guitar, which incidentally looks like it was painted by Van Gogh while he was getting a hot pork bath from H.P. Lovecraft.

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Marisa Miller's Boobies Are Not Rated T For Teens

Back in 2008, supermodel Marisa Miller filmed this commercial for an edition of Guitar Hero, but it was deemed too sexy for television. Maybe it was the gratuitous cleavage and ass-shaking by a half-naked Victoria's Secret model that pushed the censors over the line or their sworn allegiance to the performance of Tom Cruise in the film Risky Business that scuttled the ad.

Marisa Miller playing Guitar Hero is hot and all, but it would have been a lot better had they let Megan Fox play Guido the Pimp.


Guitar Zero: Taylor Swift? Really?

Categories: Guitar Zero
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I don't want this thing to become a weekly screed about the younger folk and how they need to remove themselves from my front property, but every lesson has now become a regular reminder about the relative age gap between me and not just most of the other students (one 10-year old is already writing her own goddamned songs, apparently), but my instructor as well.

Don't ask me how we got on the topic, but as we were tuning up the discussion turned to our respective musical crushes (of the female variety). Robert started us off:

Robert: I think I have a crush on Taylor Swift.

Pete: Wow, seriously?

Robert: Well, not so much her music.

Pete: Yeah, that would be a little suspect.

Robert: There's just something about her.

Pete: I dunno man, she's awfully young.

Robert: Nah, she's almost my age.

Pete: ...how the hell old are you?

Robert: 21.

Oy vey.

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Guitar Zero: They're Making It Up As They Go Along

Categories: Guitar Zero

Oh, you guitar players with your improvising and shit.

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My musical background is brass. Low brass, which is a section that doesn't invite a lot of creativity. During marching season, we could usually rely on being the only instruments not required to perform some elaborate footwork, which meant lots of early dismissals from practice so we could go home and watch Galaxy Rangers.

There's also a limited amount musically you can do with three valves. Trumpet players have a more flexible range and a few tricks they can use to wring interesting sounds from their instruments, but we were pretty much only left with the option of putting one of those covers over the bell of our sousaphone or not.

This week, after Robert and I briefly revisited our theory discussion from last week (and with the unspoken assumption that I'm probably going to be grilled on it in the near future) we moved on to another of the songs I'd like to learn how to play.

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Guitar Zero: Music Theory Can Be Fun... Supposedly

Categories: Guitar Zero

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An important element of the teacher-student relationship is the instilling of confidence. That little nudge of encouragement that allows the learner to go forth in self-assurance with his newly acquired knowledge and use it for good (or, as is the case with finance majors, to destroy society as we know it).

However, this aspect of instruction must be handled carefully, or the opposite may happen, and the student may emerge from his lessons crippled by self-doubt and hampered by misgivings (or, as is the case with liberal arts majors, become freelance blog writers).

I found myself roughly halfway between these two philosophies this week. We finally shelved the Goddamned Beatles Song (which, in my defense, I have practiced to the point where I don't need any more hand holding) and turned to the task of learning some basic music theory.

Now, I'm not a complete stranger to the concept. I was in band in high school, after all.

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Guitar Zero: Should My Instructor and I See Other People?

Categories: Guitar Zero

If you've ever been in a relationship, you know how the cycle works. The first month or so is that period where you make exciting discoveries about each other, where every experience is new and - more often than not - rewarding. Then, unfortunately, the second month rolls around, and most of us decide that's when it's time to bail.

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Chances are you've either given or been on the receiving end of the "I think it's time we saw other people" speech. And it can either be heart-rending or liberating, depending on where you're standing during the exchange.

My instructor Robert and I had a similar moment this week. On one hand, his recommendation that I start seeking out some tab and chord charts on my own in order to start applying what we've been working on in my lessons (and attempt to branch out beyond that Goddamned Beatles Song*).

To be fair, I've pretty much mastered the fingerings for that particular nightmare, except for the bridge, and I don't think my kids are too concerned about instrumental breaks in their nighttime listening. So apart from smoothing out my transitions, there's not much else to work on, and Robert's advice was sound.

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Guitar Zero: Who's Never Heard "Copperhead Road"?

Categories: Guitar Zero
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One of the joys of attempting to learn a new skill at an advanced age is that little nagging concern in the back of your head that makes you wonder how much of a dipshit your instructor thinks you are. My particular sensei - this guy, in case you'd forgotten - has, like every other person who works at Rockin' Robin, been playing since he still thought girls were "icky."

I'm 20 years past college, which makes me keenly aware how unlikely it is I'll ever achieve the skill level required for an invitation to sit in and jam with a bunch of folks camping at the Old Settlers Festival. On top of that, we had to skip last week's lesson. And thanks to a variety of other factors, I didn't really get to practice much in the interim.

Robert is nothing if not laid back, however, and we continued the seemingly Herculean task of trying to get me to learn "Blackbird" by the Beatles. I actually had the intro down pretty well, but the rest is taking a little work. Apparently the Fab Four were pretty decent musicians. If you don't count Ringo, that is.

Even so, I'm already playing better than this dude:

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Guitar Zero: Crossing the Bar (or Barre)

Categories: Guitar Zero

If we were measuring Guitar God status by how enthusiastically my children responded to my playing, I'd already be somewhere between George Lynch and Chet Atkins. Unfortunately, six-string success isn't determined by infants giggling at their dad playing the "Peter Gunn Theme" at half speed, so to my third lesson I went.

The fact that I'm one of the older students there isn't lost on me, and occasionally I find myself annoyed/intimidated by these kids a third my age (or younger) slinging their "axes" around and playing shit that's months - if not years - ahead of my current level. That I can drive myself to and from my sessions and have had actual sex with women means nothing as I listen to them dutifully working on harmonics while my instructor Robert once again, and with infinite patience, tries to keep me from using my index finger for every fret position.

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We started by working again on "Folsom Prison Blues." I'm not overlaying strings as badly as I was - thanks mostly to my newly discovered ability to contort my left hand like the gypsy from Drag Me to Hell.

And it was at this point that the guitar world bestowed one of its greatest gifts upon me to date: the bar chord.

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