Lonnie Spangler's Music Blog
The end is nigh for Groove Digglah!
The alias, not the guitar slinging idjit you’ve come to know and love (or at least tolerate).
The nickname started years ago as sort of a inside joke and it was kept alive in Shag Wagon Deluxe. We thought it would be fun to have stage names and over the top personas on stage. It was fun… but that band has been defunct for a few years now and I feel it’s time to move on.
So I’ll be phasing out the “Groove Digglah” moniker from my pages. From here on out I will not be sending messages as a “persona”. For better or worse, they will come from the “real me”.
If you haven’t yet, take a minute to check out my new cover of “White Room” by Cream. If you like it, please share it!
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Thanks for reading!
So, what’s new? Glad you asked.
There was a bit of a set back with my old dinosaur PC that runs my studio, but thanks to some advice from Rob and some guy named Harish at Microsoft, I’m back up and able to continue polluting the internetz with noise.
My life is a pretty dark place without being able to have laboratory to try new things. Something about writing/recording/practicing quiets the manic voices in my head and my humble studio PC is a big part of that. Thank (insert chosen deity here) that it is working again.
Other good news?
• Rob is working on the drums and bass for a new song we are doing together called, “Two Ton Soul”. I’m really excited to hear what he comes up with for that.
• I am furiously writing 5 new songs and loving it.
• I’m also recording some covers to use as a demo.
• “One Step” is now available as a free song download on ReverbNation. Just click here become a fan and swipe a new tune.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you like the first song I posted, “One Step”. It’s the first song that I wrote with “El Mysterioso” after the demise of our old band Shag Wagon Deluxe. Thanx to the wonders of this new fangled internetz and digital home studios we were able to finish recording the song even though we are on opposite ends of this great land of ours. Pretty groovy, right?
I’m working on an improved mix of that tune, so hopefully we’ll have a new improved version soon with even more sonic retsyn!
I’m also happy to announce that E.M. and I talked on the phone the other day and have begun hash out the details of recording some new songs, I’m pretty pumped for that! El Mysterioso is one of those guys that always seems to instictively know the perfect thing to play to serve the song. He was a huge part of what made the SWD so much fun to be a part of.
And speaking of that I figured I’d address the question, “Why a Groove Digglah page? Why not a Shag Wagon Deluxe 2 page? Or a Mysterioso/Groove page?”
Well, after SWD broke up I realized that I had worked hard to promote, maintain pages, and build an email list for a band that didn’t exist anymore. Then I thought about all the effort I have put into bands in the past that last a year or three, only to have to start from scratch. So I decided that I would build a page that I could use to promote anything that I am doing and keep that ball rolling until I’m pushin up daiseys.
So the things I post here may be a collaboration, something I did by myself, or shows that I’m playing with… whoever.
Well, that about all I got to yap about for know. Thank for reading! More importantly, thanks for taking an interest in the music!
Spread the word!
So I went into my man-cave and plugged in my trusty strat “Pablo” with the intention to work on my alternate picking skills. I had decided that if I worked on that area for around 15 minutes or so everyday, I would see results. Brilliant plan, right?
An hour and a half later my beautiful wife, wondering if I was done, knocked on the door. “Lost” was on, we still needed to eat dinner, and we hadn’t spent any quality time together. Even worse, I had a beast of a paper due for one of my English courses and I had to be to work the next day at 8am.
The problem was… I had lost an hour and half and I didn’t get 15 minutes of practice in. I did get an hour and a half of text messaging, Facebook, emails and only a tich of actual pickin’-and-a-grinnin’. Sound familiar?
Behold the glorious solution! The holy egg timer! This inexpensive device has been my savior. I use one to keep me on track for just about everything I do (almost everything).
When practicing, I decide what I am going to work on and for how long before I even start. The timer keeps me on track because it never lies.
I use it for my less productive stuff, too. If a play a video game or surf the web the timer keeps me from burning valuable time that I need for things more important to me.
When I have mentioned using a timer, people often react as if it would be too restricting. Nope. It gives you control,allows you to do what you need and want to do while minimizing the amount of sacrifice involved.
If you don’t want to spend your hard earned dough on one you can use this one for free.
This is a phrase I’ve heard a lot. Hell, I’ve said it a lot. But the truth is… that’s a load of crap.
It is easy to say we don’t have time to work toward our dreams. It lets us off the hook. We tell ourselves that if we only didn’t have to work our soul-crushing jobs we would be able to shred on the guitar, write a great book, script, or song, finally get in shape, or follow any number of the passions lurking in our hearts.
But here is something I discovered… Sometimes it is easier to accomplish your goals when your schedule is packed.
When I returned to school I told myself that there was no way that I could juggle a full-time class schedule, a job, a marriage, and music. When a musical opportunity knocked on my door that caught my fancy I HAD to make it work. I find that when the work day is done and the homework is finished, you find the time to spend with those you care about and work on your craft… if you want it bad enough.
However, when you have a lot of time on your hands it is very easy to fall into procrastination. Nothing is urgent.
When my schedule was ridiculous I found I got a lot more practicing done during the work week than on weekend days that were mostly free.
The change comes from asking yourself “when and how can I work this into my day” …instead of waiting to retire, win the lottery, or be “discovered”. Do something today to get you closer to where you want to be. Your busy life could be just the kind of structure you need to keep you on your path.
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One of my fav musical authors, Bobby Owsinski, wrote in his book How to Make Your Band Sound Great that “art is something you do for yourself. Craft is something you do for everyone else.”
His point is about gauging how you might want to balance the two. Stand on the far edge of the “art” definition and your work might limited to a very small group of people. Jump to the extreme of “Craft” side and you run the risk of pleasing many but you might not be taken seriously by your peers.
Hmmm. Something to think about, huh? I’ve had this argument with myself and others when choosing material. Where is the line between trying to reach out to people and “selling out?” (Is anyone really able to sell out anymore?)
Seth Godin has his take on being an artist too. In his book Linchpin Seth takes a lot of time to describe what qualities make someone an artist. He is coming from a different angle (and trying to make an entirely different point.) He believes that all true art contains a “gift” element.
I think I get what he means. You can buy a cd, for example and you purchase a craftsman’s (craftmen? Craftwomen? Craftpeople?) work. If a song on it plays while you kiss your wife-to-be for the first time and now every time you here it you feel the exact same emotions, or if it helps you to see the world in a new way… that is a gift and that is ART! I think that the disc, the sound, is the craft. The way the listener interacts with it is the gift (and, in my opinion, what makes it art).
1. Chuck Berry-Johnny B. Goode- I must have heard this song a bazillion times when I was growing up. Looking back, the lyrics are kind of heroically mythic. I remember seeing Chuck on Mike Douglas when I was like 6. He was doing the duck walk and I was thinking “that is the kewlest guy in the world!”
2. Some Elvis live album on 8-track- My family was definitely an Elvis family, and my brother played this one particular live 8-track over and over again when we were kids. I think when you are a kid listening to music like this, it just kinda seeps in, becomes a part of you, and comes out later in life, usually in ways that are surprising.
3. ZZ Top-El Loco- Like everybody else in the 80′s, I first heard ZZ Top in Videos. (Friday Night Videos, that is, we didn’t have that fancy Mtv crap!) I asked for a ZZ top tape for Christmas and got El Loco. It had a different sound than Eliminator, but I really liked it. I wouldn’t find out zactly what that difference was until later. It is spelled BLOOZE! I have been a fan of the great Reverend Willy G ever since.
4. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band-Live Bullet- I think people don’t have enough respect for Bob. He was a bad mutha f-er, dripping with soul, back in the day. This album is a perfect example of a high energy live performance. Bob and his guitarist (Drew Abbott?) obviously understood the mojo that Chuck Berry’s music can sling around. To this day it makes me laugh, because if you tear off some of Chuck’s guitar licks, many modern musicians will yawn and begin to clean their fingernails, everyone else in the room will go “heeeeeeeeeeellllllll yeah!” The “Everyone else” people are right.
5. Van Halen-1984- Yeah…. Eddie made me obsessive about guitar. It’s all his fault. I went through a period where I listened to nothing else and treated his interviews in guitar magazines like they were the bible. I think the way his influence changed my life was by selling me the idea that a poor kid, who built his guitar in his basement out of “scratch and dent” spare parts, could become the greatest rock guitarist in the world… through hard work and dedication. Think what you want about his music, but before Eddie, I thought being a talented musician was about being born with an “either you have it or you don’t” ability and being able to afford a $3000 dollar guitar that looks like a coffee table.
6. Van Halen- Live Without a Net concert video- I watched this 24/7 when I was in high school.
7. U2- The Joshua Tree-I got turned onto U2 late. I had friends in High School (Hi, Laurie, Sarah, and Matt!) that loved them, but at the time I mostly listened to shredding guitar players. I think this is one of the first albums that really moved me lyrically. It made me want to write good lyrics and think that great songs should have meaning.
8. Stevie Ray Vaughan- Couldn’t Stand The Weather-My high school principle, Mr. Freeland, brought this album in on vinyl for me to listen to. I was blown away! I felt a nagging suspicion that blues-influenced music was really the path for me, but I think my teen-aged mind decided to go the route that had the best chance of making me seem cool. See, I did get something out of high school.
9. OK not really an album, but that Crossroads Movie with Ralph Machio- Yet another clue that I should have been playing the blues all along. I wore this movie out when I was a teenager. It was like guitar porn.
10. Any Led Zeppelin Album- Much to my parents dismay, these albums would lead my friend Matt and me to spend hours in my bedroom screaming into an echo drenched microphone “Waaaaaaaaaayy Dayooooown in syyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeedah! It also made me think that the best songs start quiet, end heavy and are at least 8 minutes long! LOL! Still… no band touches Led Zeppelin, IMHO.
11. Derek and the Dominoes- Layla and other assorted Love Songs. When I was in High School, I had read that Eric Clapton wrote the songs on this album, while strung out on heroin and because he was deeply in love with a woman that he couldn’t have. At age 16, I was pretty sure that I felt exactly like this…. every week. So I got the tape and would blast it through my headphones, while trying to pick out the guitar parts and abusing a very dangerous substance… Mountain Dew…. in the green glass bottles of course. Oh how my heart ached! “Why didn’t anyone understand?! Surely no other teenager ever felt this way! At least I have my music!” LOL. This was my version of what I think people today are calling an “emo phase”… I am guessing that it might have been a bit tougher for Eric to kick heroin than it was for me to lay off the Mountain Dew. I still miss those glass bottles though.
12. Jimi Hendrix-Axis Bold as Love- To me this album is the ultimate mix of virtuosity, songwriting, and soul. Anything I do, musically, is really the result of a failed attempt to be this good.
13. Stevie Ray Vaughan-Live at El Macambo Concert video- I rented this from the video store in the late 90′s just to revisit one of my favorite guitarists, but what happened to me was more like a religious experience (to use the words of one my roommates at the time). Something just clicked and I knew, as far as my personal musical identity, I was done with the whole modern hard rock/ metal thing. It felt less like a change and more like trying on different clothes that fit really well.
14. Albert King-Live Wire/Blues Power- Incredible! This is where Stevie Ray Vaughan got 80% of his licks. I love it when guitarists say things like “John Mayer is just ripping off Stevie’s licks”. Please. Everyone is stealing something from someone else. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
15. Dutch Henry-1973- This is great album by a band from West Michigan. I stumbled into The Radio bar in Grand Rapids one night and thought it was a huge mistake until these guys took the stage. They had great harmonies and guitar playing, but what really surprised me was that I was humming the melodies to their songs for days afterward. I bought their cd twice because I lost the first one. Seeing these guys, who are roughly the same age as me, out on the scene, playing incredible music, really inspired me to do something with music again. For that reason, they are at least as influential to me as the other artists I have on here. I’m am still not sick of this album after tons of plays. The last band I was in, Shag Wagon Deluxe,got to share the stage with them a few times and it was always a great time. Check ‘em out sometime… http://www.dutchhenry.net/
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I remember walking to the music store on a beautiful summer afternoon. My knees were shaking. I had slaved on several farms, for what my feeble math skills lead me to believe, equaled about one hundred hours, to accumulate the $300 I needed to buy an item of unimaginable power. King Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone and I was this lanky teen who was going to pull his weapon right off the wall of the music store.
My mind swirled with worry. What if I am robbed on the way to the store? What if someone already bought my guitar? Something was bound to go wrong. I had dreamt of this moment for too long; today was too perfect.
I made my way through the small store, past the “church-lady” organs, kazoos, and band geek instruments to the sanctum; the place where my guitar waited for me. My hands were shaking as I reached to pull it down from the wall. Again, worry crept into my mind. I had to play it again before I forked over my hard-earned cash, to be sure it was still the right one. “God, please don’t let there be something wrong with it.” The white enamel paint gleamed under those special music-store lights as I clumsily tried to sound like my pantheon of guitar gods. I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt like I had finally come home.
I tucked my smile away and tried to disguise my eagerness “Well, Dad what do you think?” My father was an experienced musician and I held my breath, longing for his approval.
“She looks like a keeper to me”, he said, “Git yer money.”
I saw my future in that guitar and it excited me. I practiced constantly. It was the early 80′s and Eddie Van Halen was king, so you had to be able to “shred” as we called it. Shred translates to playing fast, for those of you that grew up outside the world I lived in. I would spend my weekends cut off from civilization, practicing scales and speed exercises, reading about my heroes, and trying to look cool in front of the mirror.
After about a year of obsessive practicing, I replaced the rhythm guitar player in my Dad’s band. I had to trade Van Halen for Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I would get to play in bars; and at age 15, that was very cool.
In my Dad’s band, Southbound, my guitar and I wedged our favorite rock licks into our small town shitkickin’ set list. My Dad cringed but those drunken farm boys seemed to love it. I was a huge show off. I loved ripping off Jimi Hendrix’s signature stage moves, especially if there were women watching. That’s right, I said women. There were no high school girls at the bar! I’d play behind my head, with my teeth, and behind my back. The band did well and soon we were booked solid every weekend, through most of high school.
Time passed quickly and after graduation, I joined the Army. Recruits in boot camp were not allowed to bring personal effects with them, so I was separated from my instrument. I missed my guitar almost as much as I missed my family and friends. Sometimes, on Sundays, we were allowed to go to the recreation center where you could sign out electric guitars and amps. I was always excited to get a chance to play, but the guitars there felt like primitive hunks of wood in my hands. Luckily, when I moved to Fort Gordon, Georgia to complete my training, I was able to bring my guitar.
It kept me sane to be able to jam with other musicians. All day I would be treated as if I were less than nothing by some monosyllabic drill sergeant; but at night I could grab my guitar and head to the rec center. The musicians that played there were all different military ranks, but when I played I gained their respect and it felt good. The more the Army tried to make me like everyone else, the more I wanted to retreat to that room where I was “authorized” to be me. Music was a much-needed reminder that I was still an individual. It even went with me on deployment in Honduras. I was even bold enough to disassemble my baby and smuggle it in my backpack when I went to the Persian Gulf.
I left the Army full of dreams of being a rock star. I played in a number bands, had good times and bad, but the fame and riches never came. Over time I came to realize it was never about of those things. That guitar was more than a possession to me. We were a team. I gave her my passion and commitment. She gave me a sense of accomplishment and a way to express feelings that I couldn’t find the words to say. Sometimes she was like a therapist. When I felt like the world was crumbling around me, I could channel those feelings into my playing and I instantly felt better.
Time has taken its toll on my old friend. Twenty-one years of blood, barroom smoke, Honduran humidity, middle-eastern heat, and beer can take a lot out of a person or a guitar. Even though she does not stay in tune as well as she used to, I can’t help but take her out of her case and sit alone with her playing the old songs.
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I stumbled across this book and decided to look into it because I noticed that in my last band nerves sometimes affected by performance. It seemed to take a few songs to get to a place where I felt comfortable and I rarely felt that I played as well on stage as I did at rehearsal or at home.
This really bugged me because I had begun playing live at a relatively young age and really didn’t seem to have any issues with nerves after my first gig. Why now? I think a large part of it was that I now had a more realistic understanding of my playing. When I was a teenager, I was pretty cocky. I certainly was nowhere near as good as I thought I was, but I think that cockiness worked like armor to some extent. I found the idea that one has to be cocky to perform well to be less than useful.
Right now I’m about halfway through the book and there are some intriguing methods described. I’m looking forward to testing them out. I’ll post some results at a later date.