Frank Zappa - Hot Rats // Musings on guitar players and music

Good day!
Yesterday I received one of many emails I get from sites I frequent and subscribe to. American Songwriter is a cool website which has a lot of information for people interested in craft and music in general. I've bought their magazines in the past and sometimes when I run into it on a newsstand which is rare here in Spain.
The email talked about the 50th anniversary release of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats, an album I don't really know. Maybe I'd heard "Peaches En Regalia" before, or had a guitar transcription in one of my magazines in the 80's but wasn't really familiar with it. (Here's a link to the article - )

Last night I put it on. After the album played, I put on (this is all Spotify, btw) the Hot Rats sessions which is over 7 hours of outtakes from those sessions and moved on to organising my books ( which as I look around now, there's still a pile on the floor, more on that later). After a few hours of the sessions as background music while I organised books and put some titles on my Goodreads account, I decided to go to sleep. Still, I left the Zappa sessions playing in the background. Which after that finished moved on to Zappa based radio, and lots of interesting things have come up.
It was interesting to listen to Zappa giving his musicians cues. Apparently the album, which came out in 1969, is a cut and paste affair.  Passages were played until they were to Frank's demands and then put together.

I definitely find it easier to listen to this music passively, and by that I mean while doing something else which could be just walking the dog, or reading. Things tend to stand out more and catch my attention when it's actually focused on another task. Sort of, and maybe this has something to do with it, the way when I was a kid in NY I would do homework while watching TV or listening to the radio.  How many of us read at the table while having breakfast? It's normal.
Actually, that's something I've tried to stop doing, because living here in Spain, sitting at the table and eating with company is a communal thing. I don't like it when I'm sitting with someone and they pull out their phone for example. I think a lot more people are moving away from that. That being said, when I'm alone I rarely sit to enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal without doing something else as well, like reading or watching a clip on youtube or checking out some new album. I definitely love to cook with music on.

I've been listening to a lot of music that's new to me lately. I've put on a John Scofield playlist on Spotify with over 4 hours of music and I've already heard it a couple of times. Discovered some pretty cool tunes on there. Scofield has an album called Country for Old Men which is really nice. Beautiful guitar tones. In particular a track called "Bartender's Blues" really stood out, which come to think of it, I haven't looked into to see if it's a cover of something cause he also has some interesting takes on "Jolene" and surprise, "Still the One". Yes, the Shania Twain track.

He actually does some really nice playing with the melody, warm tone, gentle but with a bit of drive. 
I decided to check Scofield out cause I realized that a lot of guitar players that my guitar playing friends are really into, I only know superficially. I mean, I'd heard of John Scofield, I'd seen a few clips here and there, heard some recordings, but I'd never actually listened to him the way I'm doing now. And so on, ... also, this all started by the way cause I was listening to Al Di Meola after practicing a guitar lesson of his in a book I've owned for almost 30 years called Hot Licks. His lesson was something I'd never focused on but a couple of weeks ago decided to give it a go.
from Hot Licks, a collection of Guitar Player articles and lessons.
The lesson focuses on picking using a Di Meola tune called Electric Rendezvous which of course took me down the rabbit hole when I started listening to it, and watching clips on youtube. Wound up finding a video from a performance in the 80's on German TV from some festival which I knew about because there's also a great video of Paco de Lucia playing "Monasterio de Sal" solo from the same event.

Here, Paco's playing it solo but it's an awesome track with full band also, on his album Entre Dos Aguas. 

So, listening to all these great players has really gotten me into practicing and learning new songs, composing riffs etc. I've been focusing a lot on my picking, specially skipping strings, flatpicking hence the Di Meola lesson and the one after by Mark O'Connor who I found out is a hell of a fiddler also, based in Nashville I believe. Here he is playing fiddle on a new take on the Charlie Daniels classic, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia".

and here on TV with Chet Atkins -

Anyway, let me stop cause if I keep going this post is going to have 100 videos. So I'll end with a picture of Mark's lesson and of the Hot Licks book cover.

\\ M //  \ m /


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