Archive for December, 2016

Hammys on Sunday / Off until New Year’s Eve

No Friday gig and the Drunken Monkey cancelled Saturday night, which left us with Hammys on Sunday. It was a cold afternoon but we had a pretty good crowd. A lot of people were there to watch the Packer game. We started after it was over, of course! While getting ready at home, I was thinking about what guitar to play and I thought about Paul’s guitar, but decided on my Les Paul. I turned around in the basement and hit my head on a low spot on the ceiling (which I’ve done before) and took it as a sign – to play Paul’s guitar, which I did. Yes, sometimes I need a hit in the head to understand things. Dawn put a couple videos on Facebook. It felt good to play again and we had a responsive crowd but it was a long drive home!

Holly had a birthday on Friday and we decided to go for a birthday lunch due to the snow that was coming that night. Holly, Erin, Erin’s mom, and I had a good time and I headed back to work afterwards.

The band is off now until New Year’s at the Moose Club.

I have a gig with the “Mary Jane Gang” in Sturgeon Bay on the 23rd. I might have passed this up if I had looked at a map first! The bass player and I are riding together so it might not be so bad. I also be hosting the Lucky Chance jam in West Allis the first Monday of the month. The 1st one was good, but we’ll see how this pans out.

We hope everyone has a good Christmas and New Year. We’ll see you in 2017!


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Paul Chitwood

Paul Chitwood passed away recently in Yuma, AZ. I never took guitar lessons from Paul, but he taught me more about musicians, bands, playing and attitude than anyone I ever knew. Paul, and his then wife, Barb, were “on the road” musicians for 5 years. I was a teenager studying jazz at the Conservatory in Milwaukee when I heard his band was coming off the road and playing in Janesville – at the old Daily Double. I watched and listened and at first was not all that impressed – after seeing jazz musicians go up and down the guitar neck in a blink of an eye. Later, after talking with Paul I realized that when he played, everything sounded good: his playing of the song, his tone, playing fluid and smooth, and a command of many styles of music and guitar playing. After a rethinking of what it meant to be a “band guitarist”, it hit me that Paul was a fantastic player and doing exactly what needed to be done on every song. His approach to band playing became my model and it turned my head around. Paul also taught me “common sense” issues about bands that Rainbow Bridge has been modeled after. We use to go to their bar, the Raintree, every chance we could to see the band. I always sat right in front and studied everything he did. His fake pedal steel, mandolin style tremolo picking, and quite a few of his licks are things I use to this day. Getting to know him and seeing him play changed my musical life.

Paul also did guitar repair at the Bandwagon, which was owned by Voight Music. The pickup routing and the toggle switches on my red Les Paul are his handy work. I use to hang around after giving lessons on Saturdays just to listen to Paul and other players talk shop.

In my twenties, I wanted a motorcycle and Paul let me borrow Barb’s Honda 350 to practice. “Ride it around the yard, and when you’re comfortable enough, take it out in the street”. Barb, who had just passed the test, took me down to the DMV and ran me through the motorcycle road test. I practiced as much as I could and passed on the first try. Another debt I owe to both Paul and Barb.

Paul developed the reverb units that were used in first Peavey amps. He and an investor started O.C. electronics, just outside of Milton, to make the reverb units and ship them to Mississippi. Both Cyndi and her mom, Linda, worked there for a while. The early Peavey amps had a sticker in the back that said, “Built by the beautiful girls in Milton, Wis.” This is one of the main reasons I have stayed loyal to Peavey amps and play one to this day.

Paul went back to school later in life and became fluent in Spanish. He moved to AZ, where the band had played for years, and became a school teacher until his retirement. Before leaving for AZ, he gave me a guitar that he and friend, Fran Shackelford (RIP), had built. Fran told me to be sure to “take it out for ride once in a while.” I lost touch with Paul over the years but always called him on his birthday in January and we’d chat for a while.

I remember being a youngster taking lessons at the Gould School of music. One night, Paul and another local guitar legend, Lance Massey were in the building, along with local country legend, Jerry Dabson. I remember Jerry leaning over to me and pointing at Lance and Paul. He said, “If you ever get to where you can play like those two, you’ll be all right.”

Jerry was right and I’m still trying.


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GMB Combo / Susie’s Bday / Countryview / GMB @ Boundaries / Holly’s Bday

Busy weekend that started on Friday night at Merrill & Houston’s in Beloit with the Gary McAdams Combo. This included Gary, Pete Olig, Tim Pogorelski, and myself. We had to fit in a tight corner and play soft, but it sounded good and was a great time. I really enjoyed the musical challenge of being the only solo instrument. Cyndi and Bryan stopped out and there’s a video of Cyndi singing “The Christmas Song” on Facebook. The strange part of the night was Gary, Pete and I all wore red shirts, which actually looked quite professional!

We played Susie’s 60th birthday on Saturday afternoon at the Moose Club. This was in a different room but was very nice. She had a good turnout and it was a great time. Happy birthday and thanks for having us.

The snow was starting for our evening gig at the new Countryview, formerly the Countryside. I think a lot of people stayed home not knowing how bad the snow was going to be later. Actually, I’m surprised we weren’t cancelled. The remodel job was really nice and we had a fun night. The place is really worth checking out and we have more dates booked there.

Still snowing and an afternoon Packer game, but Boundaries went ahead with the Gary McAdams Band on Sunday afternoon. This time it was Gary, Cyndi, Pete Olig, Pat Betts and myself. The band sounded really good and it was a great time. Pete and Pat are amazing players and it was grooving all afternoon! The crowd was a little thin and we wrapped things up a little early. I didn’t mind as it gave me a head start back to Milwaukee.

I was supposed to host a Monday night jam in Dundee, Wis that somehow got double-booked. Given the busy weekend, I didn’t mind, but I was really looking forward to playing with (a different) Pete on bass, as we really clicked at the Lucky Chance jam.

Holly’s birthday is Friday, the 16th and we just happen to be off, so we’ll be able to celebrate that night. Musicians are used to celebrating events on odd nights due to gigs, but this time it worked out.

I haven’t written my tribute to Paul Chitwood yet but will get to it soon!

The band is at the Drunken Monkey on Saturday night and then back at Hammys on Sunday afternoon. Stop out and say hello!


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Moose / Janesville Country Club / Sad News / Busy Weekend

I decided to wait a day as I had a jam here in West Allis on Monday. RB played Friday night at the Moose Club and had a good night. Gary brought Jerry Dabson along and Jerry sat-in for a few. Jerry sounded great with the band at such a nice volume.
Bob had some major trouble at work and planned on going in once we were done at the Moose. He informed us at Saturday’s setup that they had it under control, although one of his cats passed away Friday night and he didn’t get a lot of sleep.

We had a company Christmas party at the Janesville Country Club on Saturday so we made two trips and set up early. It’s a bit of a hassle but the people appreciate not opening the doors and letting the cold in while they’re eating! We had nothing but good remarks but the place cleared out early and they let us stop. This was helpful for me as I was driving back afterward. We had a good time and a good response. No gig on Sunday.

The Lucky Chance in West Allis, moved the jam to an every other Monday night schedule and last night was first one. I was surprised at the good crowd but have to wonder if it’ll hold its own. The bar is going to rotate hosts and we should be back the 1st Monday of the month. It made for a long Tuesday but it was a good time.

A busy week for me coming up: Friday – Merrill & Houston’s with the Gary McAdams Combo.
Saturday afternoon at the Moose – a birthday party for our friend Susie, who is turning 60. That night we’re at the Countryview (formerly the Countryside).
On Sunday afternoon, the Gary McAdams Band, with Gary, Pat Betts, Pete Olig, Cyndi and me, returns to Boundaries.
On a sad note, Dave “Wichita” Wilson passed away today. Dave played bass with Jerry Dabson for many years. I had the chance to do a few gigs with him and it was a real treat. Dave was one of the nicest, friendliest people you could ever meet. I feel so sad for Jerry, and Dave will sure be missed.

I also found out this week that Paul Chitwood passed away in Yuma, AZ. Paul was one of my local guitar idols and mentor when it came to bands and being a musician.
Nothing has been said on Facebook, but I plan on writing a post here soon dedicated to Paul. Losing Dave and Paul in the same week is heartbreaking.

I guess the show goes on.

Again, busy weekend coming up so stop out and say hello!


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