Roy Clark

Tidbits IV

Roy Clark, one of the best entertainers ever known to man, passed away this week at the age of 85. Not only was Roy a SUPREMELY-Talented guitar player, multi-instrumentalist, and singer, but he was also an extremely funny guy and an absolute natural in front of an audience or the camera. His jokes, quips, comedic timing and facial expressions always made the awesome guitar prowess that would inevitably follow even more impressive. I wrote about Roy a few years ago in a post titled, Guitar Teevee in the 1970s. That post included the following clip that also featured the late, great Flip Wilson.

While Roy was known for the Hee Haw television show, he was all over television during the 60s, 70s, and 80s because he could be counted on to deliver a superb musical performance and very humane and engaging humor if the situation warranted. His likeability factor was completely off the charts. Over the course of a 60 year career he thrilled many a live audience with his renditions of Orange Blossom Special, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Malaguena, Ghost Riders in the Sky, Yesterday When I Was Young and I Never Picked Cotton. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009 and will forever be known as an outstanding musician and true gentleman of the guitar. Safe travels Roy!!

Last week I watched a few videos of The Aristocrats, a super-duper musical unit featuring guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller, and drum/percussionist Marco Minnemann. I guess they could be called a modern super-group of sorts because they have all played with major stars including Asia and Joe Satriani, and did a G3 tour at one point I believe. I don’t know much about them except for the fact that I’ve seen Guthrie online for years and marveled at his outlandish and otherworldly chops. But I like the sound and the chemistry these guys have and hear influences that include the best of 70s rock, Frank Zappa, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and maybe Blow by Blow-era Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin‘s Mahavishnu Orchestra. Everyone seems to be referring to them as “fusion” and I don’t know if that’s fair. FUSION can be one of those dirty labels that is usually uttered in disdain, or at least with a huge buildup of phlegm in the back of the throat. No matter…I’m gonna pick up their latest album for the holidays and give it a go…and then, of course, they’ll be a review…for you!

Another phenomenal talent that I’ve recently discovered is Muriel Anderson. She really rocks out on this cover of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition! What a great player! She demonstrates her abilities on a multitude of pieces, including some that involve harp guitar, which looks really hard. Her disc, Nightlight Daylight is available here and I’ll be picking this up as well. Not only does it look to be chock full of great music and some really special guest appearances (Tommy Emmanuel, Victor Wotten, Phil Keaggy, Stanley Jordan) but it is also, according to Guitar Player magazine, one of the top 10 discs of the decade and it has the first ever fiber optics cover. I’m really looking forward to getting this! So look for a review and more on Muriel (and The Aristocrats) real soon!

To follow-up on the last post, I watched a bunch of stuff on YouTube this week that featured the Ditto Looper, which I just purchased from Sweetwater. Since the launch of this blog in 2011, I haven’t spent much time talking about gear since I haven’t really acquired much in the last few years. Over the course of my guitar career I used a TON OF STUFF…and I still have some so I was thinking I will probably do a retro post on GEAR I USED! Brilliant!

Anyhow, there are some very interesting tutorials that provided some really great tips here, here, here, and here…as well as the video above this paragraph obviously. These links feature various tips and tricks and give a great overview not only on the functionality of the Ditto, but also how to use a looper pedal in general. While the pedal can be a great practice tool and also a great creative aid, it can also just be a lot of fun and there are also many nice demonstrations of people playing various musical pieces here, here, here and even the above-mentioned Guthrie Govan using a Ditto here!

This is a powerful pedal and a way powerful musical concept as well and I’ve already had some fun with it. Hopefully, I will post something of my own in the future, but right now we’re in the process of totally cleaning and clearing out the apartment of all manner of digital and analog stuff from 20+ years of accumulation. This will probably be a couple-month project, but it is very necessary to do it and we’ve already begun, so that will take up what’s left of this year. In the process we’ll be getting complete upgrade on computers and all software and this will hopefully result in some audio/video production that will be on The Guitar Cave next year. We’ll see how it all works out!

Guitar Teevee in the 1970s

Back in the day it was an everyday occurrence to see people with real talent playing a guitar on television. Sadly, that’s not true anymore, but through the magic of YouTube we can return to the days when variety shows, live concert shows, and even situation comedies had great music.

Roy Clark was all over television in the 1970s. He was a bonafide recording star, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and a proven marketable guy as Hee Haw, the show he co-hosted with Buck Owens, was on for over 20 years. He guest-hosted for Johnny Carson and also made appearances like the one above where he is plays a country medley with the always funny Flip Wilson on The Flip Wilson Show. It was awesome how these skits and musical numbers could show up anywhere and how live, well-played music was an integral part of many entertainment shows. Below Roy stars in an episode of the Odd Couple that includes his pop hit Yesterday (When I Was Young).

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Another country-type who was all over 70s television was the incomparable master of the 6 string, Chet Atkins. His performance of the popular song usually associated with Anne Murray, Snowbird, is a study in fingerstyle guitar wonderama. Check out the sweep picking he works into this performance! Unfortunately I don’t know what show this is from.

Speaking of Snowbird, like Stewie from Family Guy, I
💘 Anne Murray and this performance. Pretty lady, beautiful voice and a very poignant song. Always loved the harmony vocals too!

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This vid of John Hartford playing his song Good Old Fashioned Washing Machine is probably one of the oddest things on YouTube. It’s actually from 1969 and is one of Hartford’s “novelty” numbers. He gets a lot of help from The very bubbly and photogenic Lennon Sisters, Perry Como(?) and Jimmy Durante, who fell over after the song ended. Weird. In the old days television was geared toward a mostly rural and less er, sophisticated audience. In 1971 there was a “Rural Purge” of a lot of these kind of shows from the networks and the programming changed to more “urban” material (All in the Family and all of it’s spin-offs), shows dedicated to more controversial subject matter (MASH) and shows that appealed to a younger audience. This was the beginning of a new direction in television programming and was certainly reflective of all of the change that had occurred during the 1960s, and a new generation of viewers.

One neat-o thing that came out of this change was that shows that featured rock band performers started appearing and sometimes the bands really played and didn’t just mime their way through the performance like this great clip from The Doobie Brothers from a 1975 Midnight Special performance. As far back as the 50s when Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan put Elvis Presley on television, rock and roll was a big seller and it continued to be a popular way for bands to reach an audience in the days before video and MTV. Great performance of the always awesome Doobies in their prime!

Another show from this period was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Sometimes the performances were dubbed like this one with Bad Company. The vocals and harmonica (who’s idea was that?) are live but I don’t think anything else is. There were a lot of DKRC that were live and pretty killin’ though and a search on YouTube will turn up some good ones including Focus, The Ike and Tina Turner Revue, and a great 1975 set from Black Sabbath including Snowblind. Like how I’m working the snow angle today? Another great performance was the almighty George Benson playing his signature hit Breezin’ in 1977. George was playing his butt off!! during this period and still is all these many years later.

In England there was a show named the Old Grey Whistle Test that presented all kinds of great music from the era. I have a couple comps videos of all kinds of assorted performances and they were all pretty BOSS! Here is a very un-Priestly looking Judas Priest playing Dreamer Deceiver on the OGWT in 1975. They almost look like Lyrnyrd Skynryd. This song was later used as the title for the documentary Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest, which was the famous court trial where Priest were accused of putting subliminal “kill yourself” messages in their music that resulted in two “fans” shooting themselves. The band prevailed and the charges were dismissed once Rob Halford took the witness stand. Quite a long way from Roy Clark playing Mountain Dew, but hey…nobody ever said life was easy.