**Photos courtesy of Cindy Boulanger.
Hi everyone! What a way to start off the new year! I just returned from the NAMM trade show in Anaheim where Fender/Guild debuted two new models in my signature line for Guild. It was pretty cool to see some of the biggest stars and best pickers around picking them up to play and seeing smiles come up on their faces.
One is the Kirk Sand and Guild design electric nylon string. Kirk has made guitars for Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Jose Feliciano, Kevin Eubanks and many more! I’ve played Kirk’s guitars since my friend Darrell Owens introduced me to him in 1993. This guitar is very much like my Kirk Sand custom guitar but a little smaller and very focused on the upper mids. It is a great guitar for the fingerpicking style that I do and the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed stuff. I’ll have to say it cuts like a knife on the fast stuff and is as beautiful a sound that can be heard on the slow ballad and worship songs. I really love it! The pickup system is a new Barberra pickup with the LR Baggs pre-amp that has always been in my models. In fact, I’ve switched to this system in all of my signature guitars. The response is incredible on the nylon string as well as the six and 12 string models… which leads me to this.
The new Signature 12 string guitar is beautiful and sounds absolutely amazing! The playability is unsurpassed by any 12 string and with the smaller body, it’s easy to hold and is very focused for finger-style solo guitar as well as the wonderful full chords while strumming. Love this guitar! The two As and Es are also switched around to get a fuller sound while finger picking (the thumb picks downwards) as well as with the chording of the left hand as the two bass strings are easy to have one accidentally muted. With the bass on the top side the smaller or octave bass notes get muted first so the guitar actually has more bass while playing which gives a fuller sound which is very important to me.
All of these models have the same pickup system as mentioned and all have up-graded Gotoh tuners and are a slightly shorter 25 1/4″ scale which makes all of them easier to hammer out solo anthems and full bar chords. Guild has made it possible for people all over the world to own the best finger-picking acoustic guitars I’ve ever seen. I’m very proud of the team who made it all possible especially Ren Ferguson, Tim Shaw and of course Kirk Sand. I’m also proud of the Fender CEO Larry Thomas as he was the one who encouraged me to bring my friends into ‘the Fender fold’ which is how Kirk Sand, LR Baggs and Richard Barberra got involved. (KIrk introduced the pickups to us.) My input was simply to give them the ideas collected through the years that appeal most to finger-style guitarists and how to sound our best and play our best. These guitars will help you do just that. However, these guitars are also great for flat-picking as well as contemporary or pop music and now with the nylon electric, even flamenco and jazz. There really are no rules in this… just what sounds and feels good to you and makes you want to pick it up and play!
We also introduced two signature guitar straps for Guild which are very Nashville or shall I say… Texas as they were inspired by my boot making buddy C.L. Wallis from San Angelo. My signature strings will be out in the spring… “Spring-strings!” Did I tell you about my signature haircut and dental floss? Okay, please don’t misunderstand all this but it really is a dream come true to have such great things to share with you. Perhaps you should read my book The Lights of Marfa in the A Word From an Outlaw chapter and maybe you’ll understand even more about all this.
Another highlight was to have my good friend and Crooner Johnny Tillotson to once again share the stage with me at NAMM. Johnny sings so great and his song It Keeps Right On a Hurtin’ is always a crowd pleaser. One lady I saw was so taken by the whole thing she had this big continual smile on her face from ear to ear. She was a huge Johnny fan no doubt. Other people came and said how much it made their trip to hear him. It was wonderful for me too. Although he’s lived in Los Angeles for years, he’s still my ole Jacksonville, FL buddy! Our good friends (Producer) Michael Lloyd, (UK… Sound Technology) Robert Wilson and (Mr Groove Tubes himself) Aspen Pittman and Johnny’s wife Nancy were right behind us cheering us on. Crowds were tremendous….Fender’s booth was the place to be!
Just last night my friend Jimmy Capps was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. I was planning to attend this gala event (Duane Eddy even played!) but the weather kept us in very close proximity to our little town. It’s rare to have snow and ice here. It’s more rare to have a friend who’s played with everyone from the Louvin Brothers (who brought him to Nashville) to Chet Atkins to Kenny Rogers and a big percentage of some of the greatest hit songs that ever came out of Music City. Jimmy was the one who recommended to Bob Whittaker that he have me on the show. The show was the Grand Ole Opry. Jimmy was staff guitarist on the Opry when I was with Grandpa Jones in 1975. He still is. Hats off to our buddy Jimmy “The Sheriff” Capps for his years of great music and entertainment and for being consistent and a role model to many a player including me. Congratulations on being in the Musicians Hall of Fame! I love you Jimmy! (You too Michelle!)
Well, that’s all for now. Thats enough to make me wanna go pick a little bit tonight before bed. Happy picking and thanks for giving me some of your time!
For more info on this guitar, click here.
I truly hope you find great success and happiness throughout the new year! I believe it’s time to go for our dreams and live our lives as though this were our last year on earth. Most people don’t see success because they’re afraid of failure. If you’ll launch out into the deep or do as Peter did in the Bible when Jesus answered that he was who he was and he stepped out of the boat by faith. It dawned on me one day that it was actually Peter’s idea that he step out into the water. In Mathew 14:28 (NIV) “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” Let me remind you that the Christ… the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… the God who cannot deny himself even to the point of putting him on the cross simply said in verse 29… “come.” What else COULD He have said? If he said, “Oh, I don’t know Peter… you may sink!” Or, “just stay where you are… it’s bad out here.” Then Peter would have known it wasn’t Jesus. The thing I’m saying is… Peter had the idea that he could walk on the water on his own. Jesus didn’t say… “Hey guys… come on out the water’s fine!”
Negative people would say… “but Peter started sinking!” Let me say this… He got out of the boat and was walking on the water! That’s more than most people would do for sure! It was only when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the circumstances (remember they were in a very bad storm with huge waves and wind) that he began to sink. Verse 31 says “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Merry Christmas!!!!! I can’t tell you how exciting this Christmas season has been for me. I had a great time playing for the Guild Guitars’ employee Christmas party in New Hartford, CT, then Rapid City, South Dakota with Jake, Haley and Cowboy Emmitt with Tom Haggerty also performing on stage for Habitat for Humanity. Then… my wife Rita, daughter Holli, and I were off to England.
Robert and Mary Wilson hosted us on our stay 30 miles out of London. I played everyday I was there either in London or Knebworth Village. Lord Henry and Martha Lytton Cobbold opened their beautiful Knebworth House estate to the public for Christmas concerts where I performed over the weekend. The house was decorated so beautifully but the people there were the main attraction for me. I ended every “Christmas”show with “Freebird” (by request) as my encore piece since Lynnrd Skynnrd played there on the estate grounds with the Rolling Stones in 1977. I had a blast! Henry and Martha hosted a private Sunday afternoon tea for us and the Wilsons and a few close friends. It was a memorable experience to say the least.
To support the song I wrote “Christmas at Knebworth with you”, Lord Henry (who is also a producer and screenplay writer) decided to shoot a video of me playing it in the room. This is what I call the “Batman” room where Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger were dining as it was converted into a large dining room in the movie. If you see a painting resembling the room behind me it is in fact a painting of the room by none other than Sir Winston Churchill who visited the house many times and deemed it his favorite room of all. Besides all that, Rob had us riding around London in his Bentley. But, being a country guitar player… do you think I felt comfortable in all that luxury? Absolutely! It was wonderful!
I think one of the most memorable things that happened during all this was when I asked Henry to read from Luke chapter 2 and the true meaning of Christmas. The greatest story ever told never ever gets old but it just gets more precious to me. To be invited to play is an honor I never feel quite worthy of. To play my guitar and honor the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is even way more than that. It’s the reality behind my music… the foundation of Hope… and the substance within our faith that is the soil of any seed planted. Some plant and some water and we’re all one… and yet we’re all nothing but the good thing is… God makes the seed grow and brings the increase. (derived from 1st Corinthians 3:7)
My close first cousin Gid Giddens lost his soul mate of over 40 years this past Saturday. I had Gid and Linda on my mind all day. In fact, all of our family did. As I was taking a walk I was praying for Linda. I was hoping that she would make it through Christmas. I was telling my friend Pastor Ed Rae at the Calvary Chapel in Redlands of her faith in Jesus and her incredible positive attitude during her fight with cancer. It was right after my sound check around 5:15 in the afternoon. Pastor Ed and I were talking about our friend Roby Duke and I mentioned his ‘untimely’ death and Ed said when it’s His time it’s never untimely. I agreed. I spoke with Gid early Sunday morning and he said Linda had passed around 8:15 EST which was at the same time Pastor Ed had said that to me. Ed’s wife Rae Rae said “well, she’s having a whole lot better Christmas now!” That’s the reality of our Faith in The Lord. That’s the reality of our Salvation. That’s the true reality and meaning… of Christmas.
(In Loving Memory of Linda Giddens.)