Many Miles

Old Guitar Case

20+ years. Thousands of Miles. Countless Memories.

The guitar lives on but there isn’t enough duct tape in Louisiana to keep this case on the road.


Sometimes Old is New

1930s Gibson L-00

1930s Gibson L-00

This beauty recently came into my life. She has had a tough life and has the scars to prove it. But she also has a deep and resonate soul. I played her for the past month so we could get to know each other. Now she is on her way to Athens, OH to Dan Erlewine’s Guitar Shop for some long overdue TLC.

It has been a long time since an instrument inspired me to play like this one has. It sucks not to be able to play her for the next few weeks but I know that she will be an even better instrument when I get her back.

Travel safely and come home soon!


The 8th Ward Pickin’ Party

I’ve wanted to post something recently about the Monday night pickin’ party at the Hi Ho Lounge. We’ve been doing it every Monday now for well over two years. I’ve met and played with some great people and it has created its own little community of players and regulars. It has helped me hone my skill as a player but more importantly it is just a fun and comfortable place to play music and shoot the shit with friends.

Each week it happens and each week I’m still surprised that people show up. Who would have thought? Bluegrass and Country music on St. Claude Ave?

But each time I think about writing about it, I feel as though I can’t quite capture the feel. So I was pretty happy when Ian McNulty wrote this piece about it. I think he captured the quirky improbability of the whole adventure.

Thanks Ian!


First Glass Slides

image of my first three glass slides

I’ve been working on my slide playing lately and have been fascinated by all the mystery and folklore associated with slide guitar. The choice of a slide seems to be one of those things that brings out the curiosity, the experimentation, and the tinkerer in all sorts of people.

Get people talking about their slide and you quickly find yourself in arcane discussions of metal vs. glass, copper vs. steel, wine bottles vs. medicine bottles, store bought vs. old craftsman socket wrenches.

All the discussions got me wanting to try out various sizes, shapes, and materials of slides. Only problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any good local outlets for them. It makes sense, I guess. We are talking about a category of good that generally sells for $5 to $20 (generally — they can be MUCH more expensive!), has hundreds of permutations and variations, and very few people will walk in to your store and buy one in any given month. So everyone seems to stock the same few middle-of-the-road options.

Of course, there is always the internet. But given the very personal nature of the quest you can go through a lot of options before finding that right fit. And since — so far — there is no Zappo’s for guitar slides — you order it, you keep it.

So today I dug through our mound of recycling looking for glass bottles that might be converted into slides. New Orleans is no longer picking up glass and K doesn’t want to throw it out so I had a pretty good selection to choose from.

After some internet research — again countless methods for separating wine bottle necks from their bottles — I got ready to try the most promising options. I started using a method of scoring the neck with a glass cutter and then running hot water on the score, shifting to cold water and then tapping the neck to break the score. This method didn’t work for me.

The successful method involved scoring the neck, then rotating the scored neck above a candle flame until sooty all the way around. At that point, you put the bottle under cold water and it pretty much snaps right then. While this method works fast and easy, the results are still what you might expect. The break is simultaneously amazingly crisp and clean and still more jagged than you would like. I don’t know if this can be improved with technique. Or do you just do enough bottles until one breaks perfect?

After the break, I used the dremel tool to ease the edges to make sure there were no sharp points. And voila! My first glass slides.


A Weekend of Projects: Large and Small

A great weekend, even if the temperature dropped 30 degrees. K and I managed to get a lot accomplished and still have time to watch Young Frankenstein.

On the large project front, we are taking the next big stab at the back yard which involves busting up the concrete slab where a lean-to shed used to sit. Been a while since we had a reason to pull the sledge hammer out of the attic so we made the most of it.

busting up the old concrete in back yard

And for a project of a much smaller scale, I took some time on Saturday to work on a guitar pick. Talking with John Rankin the other night about my tendency to drop my pick during complex rhythm playing, he suggesting several modifications to my right hand technique as well as some mods I could try on my picks themselves. These included gluing sandpaper to the pick, getting some grip tape for the picks (taking me back to my skateboarding days), and drilling holes in the pick to increase its friction.

I opted to try drilling holes in the pick as well as easing the upper and lower edges of the pick just a bit with some sandpaper to assist the pick in crossing the strings. Results so far are promising.


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