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The Mob Museum

Another trip to Vegas. Didn’t do well at the poker tables, but that’s another story. I visited the Mob Museum in downtown Vegas, and I enjoyed it and recommend it. (Stop at Banger Brewing for a beer afterward, and at Pizza Rocks for a slice — downtown Vegas is so much hipper than the strip!) […]

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Nickel strings on nickel-plated guitar?

It sure sounded like a match made in heaven, nickel strings on my nickel-plated National. But after trying them, I am going back to the Gore-Tex-coated bronze ones! I know, I’m a traditionalist about a lot of things, but as my buddy Blind Boy Paxton says, “Sometimes the new things are better.” He’s the one […]

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Blues and brews at the Dude Ranch

I had heard (from Upright brewer/owner Alex Ganum) that there had once been a jazz club on the site of his brewery, where I play on Sunday afternoons. Alex was tickled to find out about the club, because he is a huge jazz fan. In fact the name of his brewery, Upright, is a tribute […]

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Guide to Portland Waterfront Blues Festival 2012

Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, coming up July 4-8, is one of the world’s biggest blues festivals. It also is the biggest annual event in Portland — an interesting idea, for any city’s big party to be a blues festival, and especially a Pacific Northwest city without a blues tradition of its own. First let me […]

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Vegas good and bad

OK, this post has nothing to do with the blues. I traveled to Las Vegas recently to compete in a big poker tournament. After failing to cash in the tournament, I was feeling — OK, blue — and started getting annoyed by a lot of things about Vegas. But as the sting of losing wore […]

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Yawning as warmup

Go ahead and yawn. Do it a few times.  Feels good, eh? People often try to hold back or cover up their yawns as they would with belches. Don’t be shy about yawning! It is good for you (maybe belches are too but we’ll leave that for another discussion). Recent medical research shows that yawning […]

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Getting the lyrics

After reading my last post about the importance of listening (and avoiding visual stimulation that distracts you from listening), one student apologized for having asked for the lyrics to a song. True, reading lyrics is a nonmusical activity. That’s why I stopped handing out lyrics before playing the recording of a song we’re about to […]

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Seeing, hearing, playing music

A lot of my music students seem obsessed with seeing. They want to SEE if they are in tune, by checking an electronic tuner, rather than listening. They want to SEE the CD cover or lyrics to the new song we are working on, rather than listening to the recording as it plays. Perhaps worst […]

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T-Model Ford as inspiration

T-Model Ford is a terrific bluesman with a warm and engaging personality. Check out his performances whenever you get  the chance, or pick up his recordings. But he also is notable as late bloomer supreme. Ford took up music at age 58, after his wife bought him a guitar as a gift. Just learning to […]

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Heading back to Mississippi!

This will be a rather quick trip, but I will be in Oxford, Miss., March 2-3, playing and speaking at “Music of the South: A Southern Studies Homecoming.” This event features professional musicians who are alumni of the Southern Studies program at the University of Mississippi. Yes, I am in that category. And so are […]

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