25 Jan

Early version of the logo for a new social network I’m building for Daniel Day Lewis:



Look-Alike Musicians

20 Jan

Celebrity look-alikes are awesome! There are lots of really good “doubles” out there, and even more creepy people who think they look exactly like their favorite star. Take me for example. As you can see, George Clooney and I are practically identical twins:


I heard George recently changed his Facebook profile photo to a picture of me, even after I told him the whole Doppelganger thing was SOOOO lame.


Have you ever seen famous musicians who look alike? I can’t believe I never noticed it before, but Beck and Paul Gilbert are nearly identical. See for yourself:

Paul Gilbert (left), Beck (right)

Paul Gilbert (left), Beck (right)

I wonder if they’ve ever met? If so, I wonder if they’ve ever talked about looking alike? The conversation would probably go something like this:

Paul Gilbert: Hi Beck.
Beck: Hey.
Paul Gilbert: You look awesome.
Beck: Thanks, so do you.
Beck: You’re a rad musician.
Paul Gilbert: Yeah, so are you.
Beck: Thanks.
Paul Gilbert: Cool. Well, see ya later.
Beck: Bye.

Stop playing with the LightSwitch

25 Aug

If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I just got the sudden urge to totally geek out. Oh, who am I kidding? Here’s my latest techno-nerd-babble:

(FYI: It’s not a groove, it’s not slightly transformed, but it is a bit of a break from the norm.)

Yesterday I installed the new Visual Studio LightSwitch (Beta 1) app. After playing with some samples, I tried to create a simple app that calls an external web service and displays the data. I read somewhere that this isn’t possible unless you first call a WCF RIA Service, which could itself call the external service and send the result back to LightSwitch. Kind of like driving from Kansas City to St. Louis to get to Denver.

So, I added a WCF RIA Services project to the solution. To this project I added a service reference to a free web service I found which takes a given year and returns the date Black Friday took place that year. Delightful! And almost completely useless. But hey, it’s free.

I created a service method in my RIA service that simply calls the external service five times with five different dates. I wanted multiple results so I could return an IEnumerable<T> back to the UI. Next, I went through LightSwitch’s Add Data Source wizard and chose “WCF RIA Service”. After waiting an eternity (they take the word “Beta” very, very seriously at Microsoft), I was finally able to complete the wizard and add a reference to my RIA service.

Finally, I added a simple screen to display the data in a grid when the app loads. I hit F5 and…hey, it worked! That was both fun and educational. Maybe I’ll post screenshots if I get something interesting built with the production version of the tool. In the meantime, I better quit playing with the LightSwitch before I start a fire.

Right…like THAT’S really gonna happen, Dad.

The Windy Blues

20 Aug

I was laying in bed last night talking to my wife’s sister. On the phone.

Then I listened to the Wes Montgomery story on NPR’s Jazz Profiles podcast. The first part of the story features a sound clip of Wes’ version of “Windy” by The Association. I forgot all about my sister-in-law and fell asleep with the melody line in my head.

This morning before work, I grabbed my guitar and played the melody in the key of D. If you start in 5th position, it turns out that melody can be played on the top three strings, all on the same frets. That’s a huge bonus for a lazy guitar player like me.

Since I was in 5th position, I realized the notes in the melody line also fit into the four-chord of the blues in the key of A. By swingin’ the rhythm and adding in a passing tone to the melody, I ended up with a new jazzy-60’s-inspired blues lick.

Here’s a diagram:

Who's peekin' out from under that IV chord? Windy!

I was so excited to discover this little idea (maybe I should talk to my wife’s sister in bed more often), but I quickly realized the limited range of it. It’s not a lick you would want to reuse in every song. It is, however, the kind of lick that’s really hard to get out your head. I’m going on five hours now.

REVIEW: Guitar Center Sessions – Paul Gilbert

22 Jul
Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert - Photo: Guitar Center

If you’ve been playing rock guitar seriously for any amount of time, then you know about Paul Gilbert. If you don’t, well, then you’re old. Either that or you spend a lot of your time under rocks.

The tuned-in among us know why Paul’s instructional videos and performances on YouTube are so popular: besides being an amazing player, he’s an excellent teacher. His explanations of even the most technical ideas are so incredibly clear that after it sinks in, you’re left thinking “why the hell didn’t I think of that?” Bottom line is watching and listening to Paul will make you a better guitar player. Period. Yeah, he’s THAT good.

On July 17th & 18th, the Kansas City area was fortunate to have Guitar Center host not one, but two of their “Sessions” events in Independence, MO and Overland Park, KS, respectfully, both with Paul as the featured artist. These Sessions are meant to be less of a clinical experience, and more like storytelling around a musical campfire.

I attended the Sunday evening Session in Overland Park with over 100 of my closest guitar-playing friends. This was my first Session event and I have to say it had a really hip vibe. The formula of “education, conversation, inspiration” plus Paul’s super-cool stage presence made the night feel like a guitar show-and-tell with the room hanging on every note the cool kid played from the head of the class.

BTW, a bazillion thanks to Jason Martin (he runs the Sessions program for Guitar Center) for 1) being dialed in on the artists people want to see, 2) making this FREE Session happen, and 3) taking the time to talk with me afterwards. Jason did a fantastic job MC-ing the event, warming up the crowd, and preparing us for the awesomeness that was about to take place.

Soon after taking the stage, Paul introduced two local, highly recommended, and very lucky musicians: Tyson Leslie on bass and GoGo Ray on drums. These two guys created such an incredibly tight rhythm section that most of the time I felt them more than I heard them. And at this event, in this setting, behind this guitar player, that was a good thing. This was also the first time I’d seen Paul live so seeing him do normal stuff like plugging in, testing sound levels, and tuning up took away any doubt that he is a guitar playing android stuck in “melt your friggin’ face off” mode. Good thing too. I was starting to wonder.

Here’s a quick rundown of the gear Paul was using:

After a few introductory, albeit lower-frequency words (he had a serious frog in his throat), Paul and the group proceeded to work down the set list which included a mixture of classic rock, blues, J.S. Bach, and of course, Johnny Cash.

I got a PG clinic RSVP! For reals!

14 Jul

So a few days after my last post about not getting invited to either of the upcoming Paul Gilbert clinics, I received a phone call from Guitar Center in Independence, MO. They said someone cancelled and that I was next on the list for an RSVP! This is it! I can’t believe I’m going to see my guitar hero in person! I’m really lucky. Yeah, I mean, people should be envying me, you know? I do. I envy me.

Still, I’m a little surprised at the lack of information Guitar Center has about the clinic details, especially four days before. It’s also weird that I’ve never set foot in the Independence store and I still received an invitation. But hey! Who’s complainin’?

After rapid-firing questions at the poor Guitar Center guy, here are some things I’ve learned about the event:

  • UPDATED: Two local musicians, Go-Go Ray on drums and Tyson Leslie on bass will be backing Paul up. Thanks to flying-dyno for the info!
  • Their rehearsal is going to be private at an undisclosed location.
  • Per Paul’s request, audio and video capture devices are not allowed. Still-image capture only. They weren’t sure if I would be allowed to bring in my wife’s kick-ass Nikon or not.
  • They weren’t sure if there will be any picture-taking, autograph signing, or hand shaking going on afterwards.
  • They didn’t think Paul would be playing out on the town Saturday or Sunday night.
  • They weren’t sure if he would have any copies of his new album Fuzz Universe there for sale.
  • They thought the format would be the same as his other GC Session clinics: playing songs and then discussing technique/pedals/being awesome in-between them.

Anyway, I’m sure Paul’s playing will be amazing. In fact, I’m not even going to bother wearing socks to the clinic; Paul’s just gonna rock ’em off anyway. Who knows, maybe he’ll even whip out some crazy stuff like this:

Paul Gilbert à l'Autre Canal - Nancy 2008 by Nancybynight

“You want me to play that lick with my teeth? Not a problem.”

(I wonder if he still writes “Applause!” on the back of his guitar?)

As you can see, Paul Gilbert has a serious ax to grind with not being amazing. Read that again, it was a compliment.

So, yeah I get to go! I am so f’n happy to be out of that parallel universe where I didn’t get to see PG, and back safely in this one where I do and the Cubs are still under .500. I’ll bet the parallel me is sooooooo jealous right now, you know? I would be. I would be jealous of a parallel me who gets to see Paul Gilbert.

Check back later, I will be posting an in-depth review of the clinic.

Keeping Up with the Jordacheians

13 Jul

OK, I am totally sitting on the next big reality T.V. show idea: “Keeping Up with the Jordacheians – Re-living the most bodacious decade in America’s fashion history through the lives of two modern-day, teenaged social outcasts”. Seriously, this is gonna be big. Here’s the show poster:

Hot. Reckless. Totally righteous!

The show focuses on two rebellious teens, Tiffany and Brad, who refuse to dress with the times.

Rockin’ a teased up ‘do, Tiffany is a bad girl who likes to live her life on the fringe. Literally.

As Tiffany’s annoying and awkwardly effeminate little brother, Brad longs to be just like the older guys (hence the beard stubble he’s been growing for the past six months).

Day or night, join us as we follow these two fallen angels “with the look that’s right” on their adventures in life, dating, and their pursuit for the perfect pinch-roll.

It’s gonna be…………..(collars up)………………WAY COOL!