Tag Archives: acoustic guitar

Star Waltz

One day in the fall of 2012, I sat down to record a set of improvised songs with a Taylor dreadnought acoustic guitar. I improvised five original songs and two versions of Amazing Grace. With only one or two false starts, they were mostly first takes. The set was nothing really mind altering, but it had some cool songs with good vibes – so I considered it a success. It’s not the kind of thing I do often – in fact I haven’t done the exercise since, haven’t played any of the original songs again, and don’t consider it the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. Yet somehow it stands out in my mind as a creative milestone, a memorable event. Sometimes it’s important to break out of the mold with such experiments to reach a new frame of mind, a new level. This was the fifth song in the set, “Star Waltz.”

Recorded in Louisville, Kentucky, 9/29/12.

Magic Sands – Slack Key Guitar

Here is a slack key style tune I wrote a while back while hanging out around Magic Sands beach in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. I originally wrote it on an old nylon string guitar. While I have a recording of this song played on steel string already posted, I wanted to go back and do a recording with my nylon string Taylor as well. There aren’t many songs I like to play on both steel and nylon, but this is one of them for some reason. Hope you enjoy.

 

Saturday Song

One day in the fall of 2012, I sat down to record a set of improvised songs with a Taylor dreadnought acoustic guitar.  I improvised five original songs and two versions of Amazing Grace.  With only one or two false starts, they were mostly first takes.  The set was nothing really mind altering, but it had some cool songs with good vibes – so I considered it a success.  It’s not the kind of thing I do often – in fact I haven’t done the exercise since, haven’t played any of the original songs again, and don’t consider it the most incredible thing I’ve ever done.  Yet somehow it stands out in my mind as a creative milestone, a memorable event.  Sometimes it’s important to break out of the mold with such experiments to reach a new frame of mind, a new level.  This was the third song in the set, which I dubbed “Saturday Song.”

Recorded in Louisville, Kentucky, 9/29/12.

Henry Street Slack Key

Here is a demo of a song I wrote a while back called Henry Street Slack Key – named for what was then the still developing Henry Street, which runs between Kuakini Highway and Palani Rd in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The street had a lot of places I went to at the time – a healthfood store, a Border’s Books (with a great music selection, in the days when CD’s ruled), Wal-Mart (a place to run into people in small town Kailua-Kona), Safeway, several coffee shops, and a Korean BBQ. This is also one of the few recordings I made with my Larrivee parlor guitar – a rosewood / sitka spruce P-09, which I have since sold. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 8/26/07.

Punahele – Ray Kane

Here is another Ray Kane cover – this time his classic song Punahele. According to the Dancing Cat liner notes, Punahele (“favorite” or “pet”) came to Ray “one night in 1938 at Zablan’s Beach in Nanakuli. ‘Back in those days there were no cars, it was pitch black. So I sit there in the dark in the nice cool breeze and I hear the waves bouncing on the sand and see the moonlight flicker on the water. It inspired me, something so nice. So mellow. That’s what gave me my inspiration.’”
Similar to other songs Ray composed on the beach (Keiki Slack Key for example), this mellow laid back songs exemplifies Ray’s nahenahe approach that to me represents the archetype of ‘old style’ slack key. Like Keiki Slack Key, Punahele is one of the first slack key songs I learned, and has stayed on my setlists ever since. I recently improvised a few new licks into the song, and recorded a half dozen takes – some 5-6 minutes long. I think this short three and a quarter minute version gets the point across though. Hope you enjoy.

Home Abroad – Slide Guitar

From the vaults, here is a slide guitar song I wrote called Home Abroad. I used to play a fair amount of slide guitar, but I don’t play it much anymore. I figured I’d either have to go all in on the slide or not, but couldn’t just dabble with it – so I decided to work on other areas instead. This is a fun leftover from when I dabbled with it though. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/18/09.

Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór

Here is my arrangement of Si Bheag, Si Mhor (Little Fairy, Big Fairy), reportedly the first song composed by famous 17th century bard Turlough O’Carolan. This version of the song is played a little on the slower side of what you normally hear, but I may record a slightly more uptempo version later on. I think the song works well both ways to be honest, one of the many interesting things about it. Hope you enjoy.

Banks of the Ohio – Thumbpick / Bluegrass

Here is my Clarence White inspired arrangement of the Bluegrass classic, “Banks of the Ohio,” played fingerstyle with a thumbpick (rather than flatpicked or cross-picked).

Plaid Blues (Acoustic Blues Improv)

This little improv bit, dubbed Plaid Blues, was recorded between takes of another song I was working on and needed a break from.  Sometimes it’s good to switch gears while recording (especially when recording at home) and work on another song or just do some improvisation and see what comes out.  You may not always get a polished result, but you can return to working again on whatever it is you took a break from with a refreshed feeling.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game – Cubs Tribute

This fingerstyle acoustic guitar version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is posted as a tribute to the World Series winning Chicago Cubs. I’m not a huge baseball fan – I don’t really have time to keep up with sports in general – but the Cubs wining the World Series and breaking one of the longest droughts around was a great excuse to dust off and play this song. This version is based on one I heard in a TV commercial five or more years ago. Anyway, it’s a fun little song to play; hope you enjoy. Play ball.