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Today would have been Cliff Burton’s 51st birthday. He was, in my opinion, one of the best bass players who has ever lived. One night while I was still in high school, I was hanging out with my band’s drummer watching

    Cliff ‘Em All

. We started talking about how good he was and how we wished we could meet him. Our living room had a table lamp that had a touch sensitive dimmer pad connected to it. There was no slide or button. You simply touched it and slid your finger up or down to change the brightness. Right after we stated our desire to have been able to meet Cliff the lamp got brighter and brighter and then went off, and then got brighter and went off. It did this 3 or 4 times before I felt the need to touch the dimmer pad to see if I could make it stop.
Now, I want to be clear. I do not believe in ghosts or spirits, but I love this story and at the time I definitely felt like Cliff had reached out and said hello.

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After an extended holiday break SKOM is back with a new interview. This week we are joined by Julie Gibbs. Julie is a multi-talented multi-instrumentalist who is multi-awesome!


JulieBlonde2You took piano at a very young age. What prompted that?

Julie Gibbs: That was my mom’s idea.  She started my lessons in kindergarten, but they only lasted through first grade, then again in fourth.  Now I realize how valuable those lessons were.  They helped me learn how to read both bass and treble clef at a young age, which saved some trouble later in life when picking up the saxophone and bass!

How did you get interested in sax? 

JG: In 3rd grade, we had the option of learning a string instrument.  I learned the cello, but wanted to try something new.  When we had the option to play a woodwind or brass instrument in 4th grade, I tried the saxophone, and it felt right.  To this day I go into mini depressions if I go long periods of time without playing it.

Was learning klezmer music influenced by your family background?

JG: Yes, definitely.  I actually never heard of the genre prior to the klezmer ensemble at Berklee College of Music (my alum).  Once I found out that it was music of the Eastern European Jews, I had to give it a listen.  The sound was instantly appealing.

Tell me about Cats on Mars. How did that start?

JG: The singer and songwriter of the band, Tommy Pedrini, is a friend of mine from Berklee.  We were both in the Film Scoring major, so we had many classes together.  When I moved to L.A. (from N.Y.), he asked me if I wanted to play with him.  He is a very talented songwriter and downright awesome person, so I couldn’t say no.  We are in the process of finishing up a few tracks for an EP.

You also play bass in Haskala. How did you get hooked up with that and what has that been like? 

JG: Believe it or not, half of Haskala responded to a craigslist ad.  When I moved to L.A., I wanted to find a klezmer band to play with.  I typed the word “klezmer” into a search, and the ad for Haskala popped right up. I met the singer Steve at his place, played a few songs, and it was Haskamagic from then on!

It’s been a blast playing with HaSkaLa.  What I love most about playing with them is that we’re all talented musicians without the ego.  They’re just a great group of people to play with and I’m thankful to be part of the whole experience.

You also have an interesting double album you have been working on for sometime. What inspired that? 

JG: Oh goodness, haha.  Well, it started over 3 years ago when I was still in New York.  I had spent a lot of time listening to The Barry Sisters Greatest Hits CD, and thought that some of their tracks, specifically “Chiribim Chiribom”, could be updated into a really cool, funky tune.  I lack the computer and editing skills but have a forte in arranging, so it all started from there.  At the time, I recorded a few Barry Sisters remakes.  After moving to Los Angeles, I had this burst of creativity, and started writing lyrics.  The songs collected over time, and it eventually got to the point when I realized that they all needed to be recorded.  Since the recording process has been dragged out for so long, I currently have 24 tracks to record.

How is that coming along? Is there an end in sight? 

JG: I’m happy to report that as of now, the drums and bass are completely finished!  I’m taking it step by step, layering the guitar, keys, horns, and vocals one after the other.   Hopefully the album will be in its final stages by June.  Stay tuned!

What do you hope to accomplish/get out of that project?

JG: At this point, I just want to get my music into the world.  One of the greatest feelings in the world is hearing people say that they enjoy my originals.  Therefore, I release music, and people are happy.  It’s a win-win! 🙂

What has been your favorite live show you have played so far?

JG: Well, I was very fortunate to share the stage with Denis Leary and some friends for a show at the Nokia Theater in Times Square back in 2006, playing sax.  I got to hang out backstage with Breckin Meyer, Tom Morello, and Slash.  It was a trip.  This gig occurred one month after I got laid off from a job, so it was a fantastic pick-me-up, to say the least.  And what a rush playing in front of thousands of people!

Where can people see you next?

JG: Cats On Mars is MIA at the moment due to recording, and Haskala has a gig at Molly Malone’s on Wednesday February 13th, 9:30pm sharp. Also, be on the lookout for Felix Goldstein (my stage name) at an open mic night near you in Los Angeles!

What is your favorite dessert and why? 

JG: This may be a bit predictable, but most certainly cupcakes.  Since I’m lactose intolerant, I have to search for vegan or dairy-free versions, or make my own.  Thankfully vegan cupcakes are prevalent in Los Angeles, and thankfully the vegan versions are moist and delicious!  Thank you for asking.

JulieCupcake


I can’t thank Julie enough for the interview. You can keep up with her at all these fine locations:

Demos at Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/julie-gibbs-1

Cats On Mars https://www.facebook.com/catsonmarsmusic?fref=ts

HaSkaLa https://www.facebook.com/HaSkaLA?fref=ts

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Mrs. Muffin hipped me to this.

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Necessary info:

MechBass was the outcome of my Engineering honors project at Victoria University of Wellington in 2012, more info about Engineering at VUW:http://ecs.vuw.ac.nz

Design and Implementation details:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/93343429/MechBass.pdf

Video footage thanks to Patrick Herd (http://patrickherd.blogspot.com)

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So I was very lucky to see Eric Johnson last night thanks to my good friend, Ted (he’s also my step-father-in-law. What? that’s a thing.) I’ve only seen him live in concert once before. Eric Johnson, not Ted. I’ve seen Ted live lots before, though not in concert… I was 16 ( again referring to Eric Johnson not Ted), it was in San Diego at Symphony Hall, and an as yet unknown, at least to me, Sarah Mclaughlin opened for him. This time around it was at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Or. First let me say it is a great venue. Everyone I talked to said a version of “not a bad seat in the whole place” and they are right.

It was a great show. Eric was backed by Chris Maresh on bass and Wayne Salzmann II on drums. Maresh and Salzman are amazing!  Really interesting thing, they seemed to be their own opening band. They played a 45 min set and then took a break and then came back for a full set. I almost wish I had written down their set, but honestly I was too engaged in just enjoying the show and letting it wash over me.

Eric Johnson was one of my early guitar heroes. He has it all. Amazing tone, great technique, dedication to writing songs that fit his perspective of what is great, and he also has one of the two right hands in guitardom that I would want, the other being James Hetfield’s. Seriously, EJ can pick like nobody’s business and finger pick, and do a combination of both.

Check out the Fenders and Marshall and EJ’s pedals!

The Show 

The opening 45 minute set was tight and rocking great energy with some crowd favorites. After the break EJ was solo on the stage with an acoustic and played a few songs that blew me away. His technique is insane. For those of you who do not play let me tell you it is easier to shred on an electric than an acoustic and EJ played flawlessly on his acoustic and did shred, but in a tasteful way. Yes, yes he did.
Maresh and Salzman came back out and the band got to rocking again. Then, about halfway through the second set they played “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” and this was the first wrong note for me. Now, let me be clear-I. Love. That. Song. But, it came after an incredible version of a Coltrane song that highlighted everyone’s talents. Side note: Salzman owned those drums and Maresh made me consider giving up the bass.

Chris Maresh’s pedal board

Back to my point. It may have been that “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” came after such an amazing performance, but EJ also seemed to be a little off his game at this point. His phrasing was a little stuttery. THAT may have been due to the fact that they just got back from Europe and had been awake since 6 a.m. But I think there is more to it than that. When they played some other songs off of “Ah Via Musicom” I noticed the same thing, but when they played newer songs or covers EJ seemed to be more on. To clarify, not bagging on him, it was still better than 95% of guitarists out there when EJ was off. So no “Eff you dude” and no “Yeah he sucks.”

There was one encore and it was great! They closed with “Wind Cries Mary.” And then it was over and I didn’t want it to be over. But I scrambled up front to get some pictures, which was difficult because there was still a grip of people at the front milling about.

Drums and bass rig

Final Thoughts

Eric Johnson is stil the man at 57. The newer material is stronger than one might expect and my observations on the “Ah Via Musicom” aside he is still vital. I look forward to seeing him the next time he comes around. Also, I still need this jacket ↓

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So I was changing the strings on my bass the other day and then BAM! the tuning peg broke. Not cool. Especially since I was looking forward to playing. But these things happen. I was able to track down the tuning machine I needed at Twelfth Fret, a local repair shop. Piers Munro was super helpful. He found a machine that would fit the bass, but wouldn’t be right for the side I needed. He noticed that the machines already on there were able to be adjusted so they could fit on either side. I also needed a new E string. I got the tuning machine and the string for a grand total of $20. Perfect. He showed me what I need to do to switch the one tuning machine so it could fit on the other side and told me to come back if it didn’t work. Well, it worked beautifully. Below are some pics of the process.

The offending tuning machine

The offending tuning machine

Removed tuning machine

The new tuning machine

Twelfth Fret

Not broken machine removed

Not broken machine reversed

All back together (back)

All back together (front)

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I’m sad to say I don’t remember these guys, but you can bet I’m going to see this movie. It’s in theaters right now. More info here: http://www.anvilmovie.com/

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