Tommyfest 2011

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Tommyfest 2011

Postby George Beasley » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:55 pm

Hi everyone.

I got into Etown KY yesterday afternoon to see the Friday and Saturday shows at Tommyfest. Tommy was on fire last night as usual. I took a couple of low quality videos of Initiation and Angelina, and as soon as my computer stops giving me fits, I will upload them.

In the meantime, I sat in on Saturday workshop with Tommy. It was three hours of Tommy talking, playing, explaining things, and taking questions. A lot of fun. I snapped a few pics this morning, and thought I would share. Enjoy.

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Thanks,
George
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby Dave » Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:52 pm

Nice pics! Man that guitar is starting to look like Willie Nelson's... how long before he wears some holes in it ? :P

Any topics stand out in the workshop?

Dave
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby George Beasley » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:18 pm

Well, I asked him about playing cleanly, and avoiding finger noise, and he said the biggest issue is just being aware of it. He said to record yourself playing, and listen to it critically, and that will help you improve. He did say that there is a certain amount of finger noise and ambient sound that is just part of the instrument. He also said that he will sometimes rub his fingers on his forehead to pick up some natural oil, and that helps some.

He talked about playing with a metronome in order to develop good timing, and that he still uses one

Someone asked to hear a tune he is working one, but not yet finished, and he played a tune inspired by seeing the new "True Grit" movie one day, and watching the original the next day, and deciding to write a tune for John Wayne.

He talked about writing "Lewis and Clark",and broke down some of the themes in the song, and what the represented to him.

He talked about Travis, and demonstrated some of Travis' chord voicings, and talked about how a lot of his Travis stuff he learned from Bresh and Eddie Pennington, whom he considers to be the best players in that style.

He talked about stealing licks, and using them in different places....including a diminished Chet run that he put in on a song on the latest Michael Jackson album, though they ended up not putting it in the final mix.

The list goes on and on...we were in there for three hours non stop. As I remember more, I will try to post them.
Thanks,
George
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby George Beasley » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:27 pm

Oh, by the way...that guitar in the pics is "the Mouse". It is one of two guitars that are beat up like that...and it was done intentionally. He said when he received that guitar, the first thing he did was rip off the pick guard, and put sandpaper to the finish to rough it up, so that it would make a sound when he rubbed on it when doing his rhythmic stuff. Both of the beat up guitars have two input jacks with an additional mic or sensor attached to the underside of the soundboard to pickup the sound of the guitar. That guitar is alive...you can hear the strap squeaking against the body when it moves!

He says all of his other guitars are in perfect condition.

He also says that he changes the strings about 45 minutes before a show, because new strings have overtones that he likes, and that they are gone when he finishes playing a set. He said the overtones in those new strings are picked up, and you brain tells you that something is going on RIGHT NOW. I can't argue with him...he sounds amazing.
Thanks,
George
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby George Beasley » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:14 pm

Another thing that Tommy talked about was listening to a variety of music that inspires him. He said that for a long time, he had has cd player set up to play Vivaldi's Four Seasons, followed by Stevie Ray Vaughan, followed by, etc., etc. He said that he still does that. On the drive up to KY, he said his girlfriend asked what he wanted to listen to, and he wanted to hear Joe Satriani. He talked about how much he likes Joe and Steve Vai, and said that even though they are playing a lot of notes, they never lose track of the song.

He also spoke highly of Larry Carlton, and said they hope to put out a recording together in 2012.
Thanks,
George
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby John Knowles » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:59 pm

I drove up to Etown on Thursday to hear Tommy. George, I wish you had been able to get there. I would have loved to have compared our Sand Guitars to see how they are maturing.

Anyhow, Tommy got me up for soundcheck and we ended up playing a few tunes during his show. We closed the show with Struttin'. It's one of those tunes we both know and we each have a few variations we throw in. We don't have a duet arrangement so we just count if off and go. I wouldn't try that with anyone else but Tommy's energy and spirit get the best of me. He is more fun to play with than anyone I know.

Check out Tommy's tour schedule. There's a god chance he's playing near you in February.
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby Tompicks » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:42 pm

Thanks George, this is a great report.
Tom Redmond
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby George Beasley » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:23 am

John,

It was my plan to get there for the Thursday show, but mother nature had different plans for me: 15 inches of snow in Peoria by the time it quit on Wed. I was dug out on Thursday, but the roads were pretty bad In places, and I knew ice had fallen around Champaign, so I decided to give them another day to clean off the roads before I made the drive down.

Tommy spotted the JK Sand guitar as soon as he got to the workshop this morning, and was playing it before he ever took off his jacket. He played it for about five minutes....he played Happy Again on it, then used it to play some warmup exercises on it. He said the neck on mine felt smaller than your guitar, and I told him I had Kirk make it with a slightly shorter scaled, and the nut 1/16th more narrow, and he said he really liked the feel. He said he loved the tone, and the intonation was spot on. Of course, he made the guitar sound much better than when I play it. I mentioned to him that I had just put on a set of Nylgut strings for the first time, and was not quite sure what I thought about them, but he said they felt good to him.

Not sure when I will be back in Nashville again...maybe Easter....but I will definitely be there for your pre-CAAS warmup. If I make it in before July, I'll give you a shout.
Thanks,
George
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Re: Tommyfest 2011

Postby keener » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:16 am

George,

Thank you for putting this together. Very informative. Gives useful insights into Tommy's playing and what he considers important. Great pics, too.

And, in mentioning that he did warm-up exercises, it's another impetus for me to get into the habit of regular and purposeful practice. Here's a picker at the top of his game, who plays more in a day than I do in a month, and yet he goes through warm-up exercises. (As apparently did Chet, and, from what I am reading as I research finger exercising, as apparently do all the greats.) Anyone like me who has fallen away from regular and purposeful exercising and practicing should really take note of this, as should younger guitarists who are just starting out.

I envy your Kirk Sand, George. Sounds like it's a real sweetheart. Congratulations on it.

Bruce
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