Boy, did I get blowback from that last newsletter. Four people unsubscribed! The main point of contention was the “bottom ten” list of songs that, given the chance, I would ban from ever being played onstage again:

  1. “Wagon Wheel”
  2. “Sweet Caroline”
  3. “Last Dance with Mary Jane”
  4. “Folsom Prison Blues”
  5. “Wish You Were Here”
  6. “Brown Eyed Girl”
  7. “Me and Bobby McGee”
  8. “All Along the Watchtower”
  9. anything by the Beatles
  10. Wonderwall”

My point was that everybody and their brother plays these songs, and that I was tired of hearing them. But I need to remember that I’m a breed apart from the typical music listener; I listen to way too much music.

For example, last month the band Salmon Frank – longtime readers of this newsletter – asked the crowd at Riverside Brewing Company if they wanted to hear “Wagon Wheel”. The response was an overwhelming “yes”. Sometimes, you gotta yield to the majority!

But on to new business... I’ve started playing at open mics again. Those of you who know me well know my opinion of open mics: I think they’re a ploy by which venues can have live music without paying the performers. Northwest Pennsylvania, in particular, seems to have a disproportionate number of open mics, with many occurring even on Friday and Saturday nights. But, with gigs not exactly cascading in my direction, I have to do something.

At one of these open mics I met a very nice young man who played electric guitar through an Eric Clapton “Crossroads” pedal. Have you heard of this? It has four knobs which, when turned to specific settings, replicates the guitar tones employed by Clapton on such classic rock staples as “Layla”, “Lay Down Sally”, and “Sunshine of Your Love”.

I did some further research on the subject… Turns out there are also pedals that mimic the guitar sounds of Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, and “White Album”-era George Harrison.

Personally, I think these pedals are overrated. Even if the Crossroads pedal does replicate Eric Clapton’s guitar sound, it won’t give you Eric Clapton’s fingers. But there’s a more serious issue at stake here.

With the increased availability of information nowadays, it’s easier than ever to emulate our musical heroes. A consequence of this is that musicians are less likely to create their own signature sounds.

Between open mic nights I’ve been steadily adding to my YouTube page. Most recently, I recorded a rendition of a Laurence Juber instrumental:

Juber is known to most people as having played lead guitar in Paul McCartney and Wings. Since then, he’s reinvented himself as a solo fingerstyle guitarist, on a par with Leo Kottke and Tommy Emmanuel.

Did I ever tell you about the time I met Laurence Juber? Well… sort of. In 1996, Juber gave a guitar clinic in Fairview, PA in conjunction with Lynch Music. During the Q&A part of the event, I asked Juber what he learned from working with Paul McCartney. He replied that he learned three things:

1) Be sure to look after the “business” end of things.

2) It’s okay to work with your wife.

3) Never try to smuggle marijuana into Japan!

This will most likely be the last newsletter before the holidays, so I hope everyone reading this has a very merry Christmas… or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just a day off of work. Whatever your notion of December 25 is, I hope it’s a very good day for you.

Rock long and prosper,







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