1/30/14

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.

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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.

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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!

Best,

Doyle

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

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?”

And why do we doubt?  Fear.  Let’s allow perfect love to cast out all our fears and go for something bigger and better in 2014.  I believe Jesus was probably thinking… “wow,  these guys are finally getting it!  I didn’t even have to tell him to get out of the boat!  He did it on his own!”

So,  what do YOU want to do this year?  If God gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:3-5) then,  I believe He will fulfill those desires.  However,  we do need to take the first step and keep our eyes on Him.

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to this year.
1. A new ‘Doyle’ CD.
2. A compilation CD.
3. Great success with new guitars and products with Guild, Fender or FMIC.  (coming sooner than you think.)
4. More exposure in media to reach more people.
5. A new writing project.
6. An increase in dates with more theaters, festivals and churches.
7. More international success with performances and instruments.

I have other goals and desires.  Some of these involve staying healthy and personal goals like that and others are about you who are reading this.  Mainly that you will see the loving God we serve and have a relationship with Him… daily.  Not just a Sunday mask thing or when you’re feeling spiritual or in trouble… but a daily walk with the Lord in 2014.  If you haven’t had a relationship with God… then it’s just Religion.  I’m not a fan of that at all.  Ask Him to help you this year and give you direction.  Take His hand.  Keep your eyes on him and surrender what you have to His purpose for your own life.  Ephesians 3:20 is a great verse to read.  I like it in the “Guitar Player’s Bible”… the Amplified.

“Now to Him, who by (in consequence of) the (Action of His) power that is at work within us, is able (to carry out His Purpose and) do Superabundantly, far over and above all that we (dare) ask or think (infinitely beyond our highest prayers, thoughts, hopes, desires or dreams.)”

Thanks for being my friend and for reading this.  I only hope the best for you and your family in the coming year.

Have a Blessed 2014 throughout the whole year!

Doyle 

Merry Christmas!

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.)

Doyle

Lord Henry Cobbold introduces Doyle at the Knebworth House concert.
Lord Henry Cobbold introduces Doyle at the Knebworth House concert.

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*Making the video for "Christmas at Knebworth (with you)."
*Making the video for “Christmas at Knebworth (with you).”

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As I promised… here’s more on the making of my new Christmas CD.

As I promised… here’s more on the making of my new Christmas CD.

Tech stuff…

First of all, I started working on my new solo guitar CD last year. I have a number of songs recorded for this project that my friend Eric Johnson also helped me with by allowing me to use his studio. His engineer, Kelly Donnelly has worked with ‘EJ’ now for a few years and I’ll have to say is a tremenous engineer and a great guy to work with. His expertise in mic placement and great ear has not only earned him his position with EJ but with other record and movie producers in which he has been very busy with in Austin. He has been a real blessing to me. Eric invested in some of the best microphones in the world for acoustic music, two of which are my favorites… the KM-58 Neumman mics. These tube mics, along with Kelly’s other mic placement magic, have created a sound on my new Guild guitars as well as Gretsch and Fender that I think is the best sound I’ve had yet. Thanks to EJ and Kelly for not only a great job but their encouragement and enthusiasm. Agree with me for a tremendous Christmas for them and all they do. They’ve both gone out of their way to help make this Christmas album as good as we possibly could.

Years ago when I was a youth pastor at a church in Jacksonville, FL I had a Tuesday night youth service called Power House, which grew to be as large as the church congregation, especially on some occasions as having in our special guests David and the Giants. David Huff and his brothers Rayborne and Clayborne and their drummer Keith Thibodeaux (who as a child actor played ‘Little Ricky” on the I Love Lucy Show) made up the band David and the Giants, and I had never seen a more dedicated and sincere group of musicians. I’ll never forget that even during set up time they were praying for God’s blessing on their concert and “HE” always did. Their Beatlesque style was captivating, and the audience always responded. Starting out as a rock band from Laurel, MS, they all became Christians (starting with “Little Ricky” who continuously witnessed to them) and continued on as a Christian Rock band. David Huff today is still a favorite singer, songwriter and musician of mine, as well as being a great friend. At the time we met, David Huff had no idea I was a guitar player, and through the years he saw my name around and reached out to me. He offered his great studio and expertise to me to be a blessing. He has since worked on my CDs and DVD projects such as Bridging the Gap, Live Sessions, The Lights of Marfa song and DVD and now Christmas with Doyle Dykes. His son, Tate, who ran the L.A. studio for The Dream Center mastered this project. I can’t tell you all what a blessing the Huff family has been to me.  Join me in wishing a very Merry Christmas to David Huff and Tate Huff and their family for prayerful and talented involvement in this project.

The Nashville studio was recommended to me by my guitar buddy, Sonny Thomas. Mark Thornton, the engineer and studio owner, worked with Jerry Reed the last ten years of his carreer.  Mark totally gets what I do and captured my tone on the Starfire on Winter Wonderland, the Del Vecchio, and Caleb on the Sand guitar and Jake’s bass and especially Haley’s voice and was quick and accurate, which really helps when trying to do your best. Mark was always available and has a great attitude. When I heard him pick up a guitar and start playing… I thought maybe ‘I’ should jump over and push the record button!  When he comes out with a solo guitar album (which I’m highly encouraging him to do) you’ll hear about it from me. That’s gonna be a must-have.

Aspen Pittman is one of the most talented and smart people I know. I first met Aspen Pittman in Frankfurt, Germany. I knew I had to do something at his place. I’m so glad it was this CD. He is the founder of Groove Tubes, which besides replacement tubes for amplifiers also included microphones, tube amplifiers, tube pre-amps and many other products. His studio was vibey and warm and his engineer, Brian Ascenzo, (whom I met in Michigan at Huber Breese Music) is a talented and friendly fellow who made recording there fun. Although Michael Lloyd actually engineered and produced Christmas at Knebworth (with you) at Aspen and Associates studio there in San Fernando, CA and mixed it at his own studio in Hollywood, Brian recorded What Child is This?, which also made the album. I’m so thankful to Aspen Pittman for his involvement and encourage you guitar players to try out his studio. His collection of mics and tube pre-amps make his studio unique and fun especially for a guitar player. Aspen has a collection of amps and guitars… as well as cars and car paraphenalia that almost makes you forget what you’re there for. Amazing place and amazing folks.

Last but not least here would be the album photos and layout. I don’t have a photo of Dan Miggler at Noiseland in Minneapolis, but I asked if he could get a feel of my favorite guitar album cover of all times. It was Chet Atkins’ Christmas album with the single cut Gretsch 6120 standing upright in the snow covered landscape. I still don’t know how they did that, but Dan went a little different direction to make our cover look a little cheesy, retro 50s look. Sort of like an old post card. The back cover is my White Falcon and a white and gold Nutcracker piece I found in Cologne, Germany right next to the Dome Cathedral.  Holli was taking photos of my guitars and I decided to take the Nutcracker out of my wife Rita’s curio cabinet and it just matched perfectly. With the right photographer and a great layout guy… it’s amazing what can be done. Holli took photos of my red and green 1961 Guild Starfire guitars which made the front cover. I already had the candy cane strap and the red Santa cap was given to me by a young man at First Baptist Church in Texarkana, TX a couple of years ago. He was probably 8 or so, and I didn’t want to take his Santa hat. He insisted so I gave him a CD. Things that are personal and simple also make things special. This may seem silly to some people, but I guess I’m sentimental enough that it’s all important to me.

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Doyle and Brian Ascenzo.
Aspen Pittman.
Doyle and Aspen Pittman.

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Johnny Tillotson.
Johnny Tillotson.
Michael Lloyd and Brian Ascenzo.
Michael Lloyd and Brian Ascenzo.

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Producer Michael Lloyd.
Recording "Ave Maria" at EJ's
Recording “Ave Maria” at EJ’s
Recording "White Christmas" on "Harvey"
Recording “White Christmas” on “Harvey”
Kelly Donnelly
Kelly Donnelly
Kelly at EJ's
Kelly at EJ’s
EJ's
EJ’s
EJ's
EJ’s
EJ and me
EJ and me
Eric Johnson in Austin
Eric Johnson in Austin
At Mark Thornton's in Nashville
At Mark Thornton’s in Nashville
Mark's in Nashville
Mark’s in Nashville
My (rarely ever used) Del Vecchio
My (rarely ever used) Del Vecchio
Haley and Caleb St. Mark's
Haley and Caleb St. Mark’s
Me with "Studio Tree."
Me with “Studio Tree.”
My daughter, Holli, the Shutterbug.  This made the back cover. Love this shot!
My daughter, Holli, the Shutterbug. This made the back cover. Love this shot!
My brother Aubrey recording keys at Mom's in FL.
My brother Aubrey recording keys at Mom’s in FL.
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David Huff (Studio Tree)
David Huff at GA Studio.
David Huff at GA Studio.

So as I promised, here are a few more stories and facts that I didn’t write in my liner notes. All the people and places involved in Christmas with Doyle Dykes also influenced the sound, feel and look of this record. I hope this has been interesting to you.

Today is the 5th anniversary of my father’s heavenly homecoming. I miss “Bubba” every day. My mother and I talk about him pretty much every conversation we have. They were true soul mates. My brother Aubrey and I talk about him a lot too. I wish Dad could’ve heard this record. Perhaps he has. He’s involved in it for sure. Every time I pick up a guitar and play it is a reflection of him. I miss my dad. As Chet used to sing… “No matter how hard I try, no matter how many years go by… no matter how many tears I cry… I still can’t say Goodbye.”

My Dad "Bubba"
My Dad “Bubba”

Merry Christmas!

Doyle

As promised…

Hi everyone!  As promised,  I wanted to give you a few more little stories and insights on my new CD… Christmas with Doyle Dykes.

First of all,  I will admit my goal was to have my new CD to debut at Huber Breese Music in Fraser, MI on November 15th.  Paul and Judy Huber and the entire gang there are very special people to me.  Every year for years, I’d call Paul a few days before Christmas and he’d bail me out helping me find last-minute gifts for the kids.  Especially for my son Caleb.  Our event for Huber Breese Music was also sponsored by Guild Guitars (Fender) and the sales rep for that area, Ron Mancuso, is about as fired up and spontaneously funny as any stand up comedian!  We (several hundred of us) all just had a blast!  Caleb also came and helped me play my very first Christmas concert.  This was also my first look at my new CD, as I had them sent there directly.  Sweet Baby James,  Paul and Judy’s new (and first) grandbaby, took most of the attention. We should also give Andrea a little credit for giving him birth.  Isn’t it amazing to see your friend’s children… having children?  Another Christmas gift.

Now, also… let me say how incredibly impressed I was with Frankenmuth, MI.  I had heard of this place back in the 80s from a friend of mine.  I had no idea how popular and beautiful it was.  My son-in-Law Jake Johnson’s best pal is Chris Zehnder of Zehnder’s Famous Chicken Dinners Restaurant, bakery and hotel in Frankenmuth.  Chris had moved to Nashville and was trying his hand at playing the guitar and singing and had formed a band called the Avery Set that Jake had joined before he and Haley were married.  I thought their music was great and very original.  Chris is very versatile and clever in his writing and brings a cool factor in his style of music.  I must say Jake’s bass playing added something different that other bands didn’t have.  They were all great players and Chris was the lead singer and a fine song writer.  He and Jake are also co-writers on some of their tunes.  Chris worked at a small restaurant in Nashville and seemed like a happy young musician living out his dream in Music City.  His family has owned Zehnder’s now for three generations.  His dad, whom I also met, is a very stately and gracious man and was very supportive of Chris’s endeavors to go out and see other places and play his music and fulfill his dreams. I wondered why he moved back to a small town in MI and now I know.  If you’ve never been there… you should go.  If you have been there, then go back to Zehender’s and realize the folks there are as nice and friendly and good as you hoped they were.  Maybe Chris will be playing around the area.  He and Jake are cooking up something for next year so more on all that later.  Maybe they’ll borrow a little of my Country Fried Pickin’ to go along with the restaurant.  Maybe not.  I must say it was a great weekend to debut my new Christmas CD.  I even bought some guitar-shaped Christmas lights at Bronner’s Christmas Store.  Google that up!

Chris Zehnder and me.
Chris Zehnder and me.
I always liked the song Auld Lang Syne, but not enough to where I wanted to play it.  It didn’t interest me until this past New Years’ Eve, I got a text from my friend Bob Taylor (of Taylor Guitars).  Bob says… “Do you know what I’d like for New Years?  I’d like to hear Doyle Dykes play Auld Lang Syne on the guitar just for me.  Maybe just record it on your iphone.  Do you think that could happen?”  I told him I thought it was very likely to happen.  Only thing was, I didn’t have an arrangment.  I made up something… recorded it and he said he and all his family gathered around and listened to it and they all teared up.  I played it on an old 20th Anniversary Taylor that Bob personally gave me from his own collection.  I did my best… but I didn’t think it was the best I could play it.  The song stayed in my mind for a month.  I started loving it so much that I would get teared up listening to it.

When I wrote, Christmas at Knebworth (with you) at my mother’s home in Florida,  I thought I would maybe play a Christmas song as an intro.  I did several versions but Auld Lang Syne just seemed to fit better than all of the others.  I loved the chord changes and melody so much that I came up with a whole new arrangement with a G on the 5th string and a C on the 6th which is the tuning I wrote Christmas at Knebworth in.  Auld wasn’t long enough for me so I made up an entire intro and an orchestral hook line that eventually turned into an entire movement on the end sort of like I do on Ave Maria.  When a song strikes me that strong and hard I often try to make it longer because I enjoy playing it so much that I simply don’t want it to end so quickly.

Auld Lang Syne was used also in my Christmas Prelude at the beginning of the CD, so it made it on the album three times.  So, thanks again Uncle Bob for the encouragement and inspiration to record Auld Lang Syne.

Well,  that’s the news for today on Christmas with Doyle Dykes.  Caleb and I dodged the storm tonight.  It should be passed over by now here in Michigan.  May the warmth of this Christmas Season permeate your spirit, and may the Love and Joy of it flow out to others.

Merry Christmas… in November.

Doyle