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Easy Steps to Changing your Acoustic Guitar Strings

How to Choose a Capo?


by Chuck and Sandi Millar from Lesson Pros

How to Choose A Capo?

Choosing a capo is hard when there are so many to choose from.  How do you pick?  Well, here is a short list to help you narrow down your search.

Kyser Capo

We love these capos they are affordable at right around $20 it is a great value.  If clips right on the end of your guitar neck with is a huge plus.  This capo comes in many different colors: Red, Blue, Gold, Silver, White, Black, Purple, Pink, Yellow etc.  One tip do NOT buy the Red, White and Blue one that has the red rubber part.  This rubber must be made from different material and it doesn’t work as well as the others with the black rubber part. We highly recommend these capos to our students. One small drawback, our younger students hands aren’t strong enough to use them. They are fine for most teens and adults, but for our younger students we recommend the Shubb Capo.

Shubb Capo

This capo is great!  Another great value right around $16 to $20. Like we said above this is the capo we recommend for all our young students because they can actually work them.  It is adjustable too so if you have a wider guitar neck it will most likely work. We both used to have shubb capos, however they were always getting lost when we would play shows, we had to keep them in our pocket or on a mic stand, still a great capo but something to keep in mind when buying this capo.  

Jim Dunlup Capo

Another pretty good capo.  Comparable to the Shubb or Kyser  Good value around $15.  If we were to choose between the Dunlup and the Kyser.  We would pick the Kyser.  It is a little smaller and works just a little bit better with tonality.

D’Addario Planet Waves Capo

Staring at around $12.  This capo look very similar to the Thalia Capo.  It is shaped like it but the cool thing about the capo is it has an adjustable wheel on it.  We have not personally tried this capo so we can’t really give a recommendation either way, but it might be a capo worth trying for a must lower pick than the thalia

Elliot Capo

This capo is awesome however not in everyone budget starting at $120. We have several friends who have this capo and they say there is nothing like it out there. So if you are willing to fork over some cha-ching definitely go for it.

Thalia Capo

We support their huge kickstarter campaign and thought this was such a great concept.  However when we got the 3 capos we ordered we couldn’t even use them.  They were cheap either. When you squeezed the capo to move it to another fret, it it was to hard to use. They are pretty expensive too. Now about $65 to $200 Hopefully they have resign this capo to make it more usable.  We love how it is U shaped and how you can choose from so many different styles but again they just didn’t work.until they fix the problems with the capos and start getting better reviews consider waiting..

 

What a Guy! What a Guy!

Photo Credit:

Stephen Mougin

by Sandi Millar

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A Young Man with a Wise Soul, A Great Player and A Kindhearted Man

Photo Credit:

Lee Martin

by Chuck and Sandi Millar

 

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Wow! What a guitar Player!

 

Photo credit: Chris Luquette’s Website

Chris Luquette

by Chuck and Sandi Millar

 

 

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Interview with Lee Martin from the Bluegrass Martins

article Lee Martin

INTERVIEW WITH LEE MARTIN

(Mandolin player for The Bluegrass Martins) by Sandi Millar

SANDI: How did you get started?

LEE: I was surrounded by music from a very young age. As far back as I can remember my dad would always have music playing. In the house, in the van on the way to a bluegrass festival. As well as hearing the music my brother and sisters listened to when they weren’t practicing as a band. It was only a matter of time before I wanted to take part. I tried the fiddle when I was six, the guitar when I was ten and the bass when I was twelve. None of them really held my attention longer than a year. When I was fifteen I finally realized that I couldn’t play those instruments without being awed and inadvertently intimidated by my family. So I picked an instrument that could allow me to be a part of the band.

SANDI: Who was your Inspiration?

LEE: The music itself did all of the inspiring. My family, now my band, has always been extremely supportive of my musical growth. Listening to them talk about their music and seeing their passion really made me believe I could play. My brother Dale wins that race. He and I have spent, and still spend, hours out of any given day just playing and singing. As far as people I don’t know personally, watching Chris Thile’s musical progression really pushed me to come up with my own sound and learn the craft of mandolin.

SANDI: Who were your musical heroes?

LEE: In the beginning Adam Steffey, Chris Thile, Doyle Lawson, Dan Tyminski, John Mayer, Michael Buble, and my band. Later on I discovered B.B. King, Sean Costello, and bands like Rush, Paramore, and Soundgarden.  

SANDI: Have you played with other bands?

LEE: Only experimentally so far. Not professionally.

SANDI: Are you a full time musician? Do you do other things for work?

LEE:  I don’t understand the question. Is it my only source of income?...no. Sadly, not yet. But, music has saturated my soul. I work part time jobs as they come and go. Everyone must eat.

SANDI: What is the one thing or series of events that lead you to playing bluegrass full time?

LEE: Truck drivers use the term “Grandfathered” when someone has been driving so long that they don’t need to apply for a commercial driver’s license. I was “grandfathered” into playing and singing. It’s in my blood.

SANDI: If you could have done anything but music what would you have done?

LEE: I have never seen anything in my future other than music and entertainment. In the words of Gordon Lightfoot, a house carpenter.

SANDI: If you could play any stage that you haven't played yet, What stage? Why?

LEE: Austin City Limits. I have seen some of the greatest people play that stage. As well as people I have never heard of. A level Playing field. Where the art is all that matters.

SANDI: Favorite stage you have played? Why?

LEE: Every stage I put my foot on. No matter where, no matter when, no matter how many people, every stage on which I get the privilege of performing with my band is a thrill and a challenge. There was a show once where there were three people in the audience. In an amazing theater with five hundred seats. Three people. I gave them everything I had. Because the music is all that matters.

SANDI: What instruments, picks, strings, pickups, etc do you use?

LEE: Blue Chip Picks, D’adarrio Strings, Hinde Mandolins, Shure Microphones and ear monitors.

SANDI: Favorite hobbies besides music?

LEE: Besides smoking and drinking? Reading. I read mythology and Science Fiction. I am a sucker for a good story.

SANDI: Any mentoring workshops, instructional camps, etc that you give and/or do you teach private or group lessons?

LEE: None as of yet. I have an increasingly humble approach to my music.

SANDI: What instruments, picks, strings, pickups, etc do you use?  

LEE: I play a Hinde mandolin. Made by a man named Steven Hinde from New Hartford, Iowa. The instrument is as I am. It has a unique and independent sound. Unlike any I had ever heard. Then I discovered he made electric mandolins. Of course I had to have one. A beautiful instrument for branching beyond the traditional role of mandolin.

SANDI: Do you have any causes that you support?

LEE: I am a feminist.

SANDI: Do you ever or have you ever been nervous on stage?  Any advice for for those who do get nervous on stage?

LEE: Nervousness before performing is perilous. Nervousness during a performance is like an action scene in an over the top alien flick. I have learned that energy management before is very important. Relaxing before the show is the key. Watching tv, sleeping, and reading are great methods of distraction.

SANDI: What would you say to someone just starting their music career?

LEE: Stay focussed on the music. There is no shame in waiting tables. It takes a long time to learn one’s place with the music. Be patient yet persistent.

SANDI: Favorite thing about the Minnesota Bluegrass Festival?

LEE: At MBOTMA I visited a stranger’s campsite where they had set up a drum kit. I played the kit and connected with the owners. Later they tagged my band in an Instagram post. I was only being friendly and found a kindred spirit.

SANDI: If you could change anything at the Minnesota Bluegrass what would it be?

LEE: Only that it stop being “Minnesota Bluegrass.” Music should be shared. It brings people together from every angle of life.

SANDI: How long have you been with The Bluegrass Martins?

LEE: Six years.

SANDI: How is it working with the your family?

LEE: I was homeschooled with my sisters and brother. We have developed a connection that is more than just family. They are my best friends. The people who will pull me out of a tight spot. The ones I would help even if I had nothing. Playing music with them is the most natural thing I have ever done.

SANDI: Have you ever been interested in fronting a band?

LEE: Yes indeed. It will not be bluegrass.

SANDI: Favorite thing about being on the road?

LEE: Getting to leave. I thoroughly enjoy leaving. No matter where I am cabin fever sets in. I like to keep moving and traveling is the only way to satisfy that feeling. Waking up in a motel is home to me.

SANDI: Least favorite thing about being on the road?

LEE: It’s super hard to eat healthy. I am so tired of Subway.

SANDI: Are you a songwriter? How long? Favorite song you have written? Do you belong to any great songwriting organizations?

LEE: I am an aspiring songwriter.

SANDI: Who is your favorite songwriter?

LEE: Chris Cornell.

SANDI: What is your favorite thing about being a musician?

LEE: The satisfaction music gives. Nothing else on this earth can fill the void in my soul like playing, singing, and listening to music.

SANDI: What are your future plans as a musician?

LEE: I plan to make music. I want to lead a band. I want to back a band with my drums. And I want to produce albums. I don’t plan further than a week ahead. Beyond that...we’ll see what happens.

For more information on Lee Martin visit:

Website: www.bluegrassmartins.com

Email: Lee.elvin.martin@gmail.com

bluegrassmartins@hotmail.com

For more information on The Bluegrass Martins visit:

Website: www.bluegrassmartins.com

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Interview with Rick Faris from Special Consensus

article Special Consensus

INTERVIEW WITH RICK FARIS

(Guitar player for Special Consensus) by Sandi Millar

SANDI: How did you get started playing started in music?

RICK: My dad actually taught me and my three other brothers how to play bluegrass. My dad is a consummate musician on many instruments including fiddle which he played with Reba McEntire in the mid 80’s. Because of the friends he knew at the time I didn't know anyone who didn't play music until I was 5 years old. It's just what everyone did as far as I knew.

SANDI:  What other instruments do you play?

RICK: I play Guitar(my first instrument), mandolin, dobro and banjo.

SANDI: Who was your Inspiration?

RICK: Really it was the jams and other friends my age but also musical heros that picked and encouraged youngsters like I was then. I.e. Adam Steffey, Roland White, Kenny Smith and Ron Block. All those folks I met at festivals or at IBMA in Louisville, KY

SANDI: Who were your musical heroes?

RICK: My friend Kent Coffey who my dad played with in the Coffey Brothers bluegrass band was my guitar hero growing up. He is still one of my favorite guitar players. He also introduced me to the album Church Street Blues of Tony Rice and it changed my life.

SANDI: Have you played with other bands?

RICK: I played 12 years with my family and Faris Family and filled in with a group called First Impression out of MO while they went through personnel changes. Lots of fun picking with those guys.

SANDI: Are you a full time musician?

RICK: Yes, I am in the bluegrass band Special Consensus. I have been with Greg Cahill (band leader of Special C) for 7.5 years and have played mandolin and guitar with him all over the world!

SANDI: What is the one thing or series of events that led you to playing bluegrass full time?

RICK: I was looking for a gig. The family band had decided we would come off the road after brother Eddie Faris went with Ricky Skaggs in January of ‘09. I was asking some friends if they had heard of any band openings. Jess and Brandon Bostic heard that one of the Special C guys were leaving and I contacted Greg about an audition. I was asked by Greg if I played mandolin, he said he needed a mandolin player. I said, ”I don't play mandolin!” He said you've got two months. To which I replied, “If I stink I ain't even coming and wasting your time.” So I worked on the material CD for about 10-15 mins and gave up after the first fast song. I said, “What am I thinking...I'm not even a mandolin player and I'm wanting to audition for a band who plays all over the world on an instrument I don't play?!?!” My wife said in reply,” You've been working on this for 10mins and you can't give up!” She then said, “I will do all the housework and you just lock yourself in the office and learn to play that mandolin!” She was working a full time job as a walmart ZMS manager doing all the cooking, cleaning and everything else whilst also being 7-8months pregnant!!!  She is the reason I am where I am today. I could never have done this without her. She is amazing!

SANDI: If you could have done anything but music what would you have done?

RICK: I think I would have built guitars for a living. Maybe built cabins or been a logger or blacksmith. I also wanted to be a police officer as a kid growing up.

SANDI: If you could play any stage that you haven't played yet, What stage? Why?

RICK: Merlfest. I love that stage and have watched countless videos of my heros from that stage. The other one would be the Grand Ole Opry. Haven't played it yet. Definitely on my bucket list.

SANDI: Favorite stage you have played? Why?

RICK: Darrington Bluegrass Festival in Darrington, WA is the prettiest view of the NW mountains and a log cabin stage. Pretty cool!

SANDI: What instruments, picks, strings, pickups, etc do you use?

RICK: I play a Faris Guitar that I made of “wild grained” East Indian Rosewood back and sides with an Adirondack spruce top. It was my 15th guitar and the first Rosewood guitar I ever made and I love this guitar! I use a Bluechip pick CT 55. I don't like the sound of a pickup but I am about to install a pure mini western K&K pickup and a external clip on mic to run through a blender.

SANDI:  I know you make and repair instruments tell us about that? How you got started? What all you do?  Name of company? Website?

RICK: I started building and repairing guitars at the age of 15 because I couldn't afford a better one at the time. I apprenticed in a local luthier and fellow band mate of my dad's band, Original Recipe, named Leo Posch from McLouth, KS and we reverse engineered a ‘37 D-18 the best we could. It sounded amazing so I kept with it and haven't looked back since! I also had help going to other builders and music shops asking for critiques and opinions on what I could improve or change. That was a huge help! I am focusing just on building at this time and trying to get caught up on my 2.5-3 year waiting list for my guitars. You can find me on Facebook. Website to come soon.  

SANDI: Favorite hobbies besides music?

RICK: Music pretty much consumes my life. My favorite thing to do in my downtime off the road is being a dad and husband! I do love to run though!

SANDI: Any mentoring workshops, instructional camps, etc that you give and/or do you teach private or group lessons?  

RICK: I have taught hundreds of workshops now at festivals over the years and do enjoy getting to help people discover music in a new or different light. I also teach at music camps like Walker Creek Music Camp in California, 108 Mile camp in NW British Columbia, Sorrento Bluegrass Camp also in BC Canada, Nashville Mando Camp in Ridge Top, TN by Megan Lynch Chowing and Bluegrass Camp Germany in the Bavarian Alps. I also do give private lessons when I have time at home or abroad on the road. Just keep track of our schedule in www.specialc.com

SANDI: We talked a little bit about skype lessons, do you see that in your near future?

RICK: That would be fun. I would get to connect with many more folks than I get a chance to just happen across on the road or at the house.

SANDI: Do you have any causes that you support?

RICK: I am pretty partial to Autism fundraisers as my son was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. My wife and I have done several fundraisers and walks to help raise money for the various studies and pledge drives they have done. We have also don't some fundraisers with the Red Cross after a tornado or disaster has hit Kansas.

SANDI: What would you say to someone just starting their music career?

RICK: Keep the fire! It can be hard and discouraging sometimes. Keep learning. Even if you just learn one new song a week or a new lick or way of playing a scale that's a lot of learning when you sit back and look back at a years worth of that!

SANDI: Favorite thing about The Bluegrass Lakes Festival?

RICK: the camaraderie and fun shared by those who play music and also those who are just there to enjoy the music. I saw many friends and fans from Canada and the states that traveled 10+ hours to see us and share a moment with us. It's pretty incredible to share space and time with someone who really wants to be there in that moment and just exist together. It's really special at Lakes festival in that it's a lot like family. No matter how you feel about politics or religion or any other divider that is put upon us by our culture and current times there is always bluegrass!!! There's a lot of love in bluegrass, even if sometimes it's just the love of the music.

SANDI: If you could change anything at the The Bluegrass Lakes festival what would it be?

RICK: the rain. Ha ha ha. We had such a good time jamming and hanging in past years because it was so beautiful outside. Everything else is just amazing.

SANDI: How long have you been with Special C?

RICK: Since December of 2009 we immediately started the recording of the album 35 that month. I have been on 4 different albums as of August of ‘17. We plan to start recording this fall on another Special C album for a spring release in 2018!

SANDI: How is it working with your band mates?

RICK: It really is a lot of fun. We all like the same things(albeit different degrees) and really get along well. That wasn't always the case with this band. The current lineup I feel has the same goal in mind. We are all just having a great time trying to make the best music we know how to make. Nick is a train dork and we love that about him, bless his heart. Dan always has a line to make us laugh and we can all laugh at Greg, and that makes life fun.

SANDI: Do you ever or have you ever been nervous on stage?  Any advice for for those who do get nervous on stage?

RICK: I do get nervous on stage occasionally. I am able to overcome about 98% of it any given night. If you have the practice time spent to backup your natural talent than you can lean back and take solace in that. If you are focused on entertaining the crowd and not also having fun then it can be an uphill climb. I always try to clear my mind and be jovial before a show. Stretch my hands and arms to relax the muscles and limber up. Also focusing on something like breath control helps to calm nerves and gives you aiming to occupy your brain with.

SANDI: Have you ever been interested in just being the frontman of a band?

RICK: I have thought of it many times. I see Greg Cahill and his tremendous work ethic and think that maybe when I’m ready to take on the responsibilities all that entails(i.e. Making sure three or five guys can make enough money to take home to their families, vehicle breakdowns, keeping a record label happy etc.) that I might take on that labor of love.

SANDI: Favorite thing about being on the road?

RICK: I'm torn between two things on this. I love getting to see different parts of the world (Ireland is one of my favorites) and having time to read. It makes the time pass much faster than it ever has.

SANDI: Least favorite thing about being on the road?

RICK: being away from my family back at home. I miss them terribly but I get to see them usually anywhere from 2-4 days a week.

SANDI: Are you a songwriter? How long? Favorite song you have written? Do you belong to any great songwriting organizations?

RICK: I have written many songs and some I'm pretty proud of. I started writing songs when I was about 16. There were many of them recorded by the Faris Family. I fact the last studio album we did Black Horse Inn have I believe 6 originals by me and the family. I don't organize much on this aspect. I would love to write some cowrites and have talked about it with many other bluegrass songwriters. Skype sessions may be in the near future if I get some help ha ha.

SANDI: Who is your favorite songwriter?

RICK: I would have to say Chris Stapleton is right up their in terms of his bluegrass songwriting but I would have to say my favorite would be Keith Garret!! That guy writes from the heart and about some hard subjects sometimes. Can't forget Larry Sparks too! What a beast of a songwriter and singer.

SANDI: What is your favorite thing about being a musician?

RICK: Being able to put myself out there for people to know a part of me. I have always been introverted and had to work pretty hard to overcome being shy around folks. It has forced me to interact and grow as a person and musician. I would say also that music transcends language barriers and that is probably the most amazing thing about music. Even if you can't speak a word of English or any other language you can speak music as a musician. You can have so much conversation and never exchange a word. I love that!

SANDI: What are your future plans as a musician?

RICK: I plan to learn as much as I can about music and write more. I have found a lot of joy in that lately.

SANDI:  Last thing, any great road stories you care to share with us?

RICK: not any that are G rated. Ha ha ha We have too much fun. ; )

For more information on Rick Faris visit 

Email: farisguitarco@gmail.com

For more information on Special Consensus visit:

Website: www.specialc.com

Email: greg@specialc.com

Bookings: contact

Maria Nadauld

@ Above the Bay Booking

marianadauld@pacbell.net

510-828-6961

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Interview with Chris Luquette from Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen

article Chris Luquette

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS LUQUETTE

(Guitar Player for Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen) by Sandi Millar

SANDI: How did you get started playing the guitar?

CHRIS: Around the age of 10, I started noticing how often my Dad would put on the radio. Mostly the local classic rock station. While I loved all of the music, I took great notice of The Beatles and immediately had the desire to play the music myself. I asked my parents for a guitar and they happily obliged with a student grade nylon string guitar. At my first guitar lesson I learned some basic classical techniques and a few simple chords to start playing my favorite Beatles songs.

SANDI:  What other instruments do you play?

CHRIS: Mandolin, Banjo, Bass, Octave Mandolin, and drums formally. Though i love to tinker on all kinds of stringed instruments.

SANDI: Who was your Inspiration?

CHRIS: Once I dug into music, and realized how much great music and art there was in the world. I decided to take influences from as many places as possible. Though I do keep coming back to musicians like the Beatles, and the Allman Brothers, and Pink Floyd. Plus all of the great jazz artists, and almost any genre I can think of artists. Including bluegrass.

SANDI: Who were your musical heroes?

CHRIS:  Too many.  Duane Allman, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Bill Keith, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs...this list is endless really.

SANDI: Have you played with other bands?

CHRIS: I had a bluegrass band that had some success on the west coast called Northern Departure. At the same time I played in a folk band called Folk Voice Band that would play ethnic folk music from all over the world for different folk dances and festivals.

SANDI: Are you a full time musician?

CHRIS: Yep.

SANDI: What is the one thing or series of events that led you to playing bluegrass? full time?

CHRIS: Around 15 I was way into the Grateful Dead. While reading about their history as bluegrass and folk musicians, and digging all of the that music, I discovered Bill Monroe’s name. Whom Jerry Garcia and the rest of the band really looked up to. I went to a library and found a Monroe live album. The Bluegrass Boys at the time of this recording had Bill Keith and Del McCoury in the band. I was hooked after hearing the band rip through Rawhide. I knew I wanted to try and play this music.

SANDI: If you could do anything but music what would you have done?

CHRIS: I might have pursued a career as a national park ranger. I love the outdoors.  

SANDI: Favorite stage you have played? Why?

CHRIS: I enjoy almost every stage I’ve played on.  Though Telluride, and the La Roche Bluegrass festival in France stand out in my mind.

SANDI: What instruments, picks, strings, pickups, etc do you use? 

CHRIS:  I play acoustic guitars these days made by Preston Thompson Guitars. A company based in Sisters, Oregon.  I met them through a mutual friend. When I played their guitars I knew they had the sound I was looking for. Plus made in the Pacific Northwest, where I’m from. It just felt right.

On live performances I’ve been using Blue Chip Picks, and Elixir Strings.

SANDI: Any mentoring workshops, instructional camps, etc that you give and/or do you teach private or group lessons?

CHRIS: I teach a fair amount of private lessons across the country. Since I’ve been in the band Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen I’d say I’ve done on average of 3 music camps a year. I enjoy those a lot.

SANDI: What would you say to someone just starting their music career?

CHRIS: Follow your heart and passions. Don’t submit to others wills or visions for you. Take advice, sure. But at the end of the day, play the music you were meant to play and sing the songs you want to sing. Be you. No one else is.

SANDI: Favorite thing about The Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Music Association Festival?

CHRIS:  Good vibes. All around. Excellent hospitality and the bluegrass fans were very kind.

SANDI: How long have you been with Frank Solivan?

CHRIS: At the time of this interview, roughly 6 years. I did my first tour with the band in January of 2012

SANDI: Do you know how Frank came up with the band name?  What does it mean?

CHRIS:  Frank loves to cook. Most importantly, we all love to eat!  Frank wanted to capture the essence of what it means to be together with your friends and family around the kitchen table. We like to take that vibe with us onto the stages we play.

SANDI: How is it working with your band mates?  Dig deep on this one. Give us a little dirt on these guys.  lol

CHRIS:  We’ve got a great crew, Frank and I, plus Mike Munford and Jeremy Middleton. Best dudes I’ve known. On the musical front, I get inspired every day playing with these guys. On the personal level we have great hangouts and good times.  

Dirt? Hardly any….well, maybe once of us has a hankering for too much salty fried chicken. But what are you going to do?!

SANDI: Have you ever been interested in fronting a band?

CHRIS: Yep. Haven’t had the time or resources yet. But it’s not far off.

SANDI:  Do you have a solo record out or have you thought about doing one?

CHRIS:  I have one recorded and in the can.  Hoping for a 2018 release.

SANDI: Are you a songwriter? How long? Favorite song you have written? Do you belong to any great songwriting organizations?

CHRIS: I’ve dabbled in songwriting. I wrote a song with my friend Jim Faddis called Home To You, it’ll be on my record and I hope FSDK can start performing it soon.

SANDI: Who is your favorite songwriter?

CHRIS: Another long list. Roger Waters, Townes Van Zant, Bob Dylan, Kathy Kallick...many many.

SANDI: Favorite thing about being on the road?

CHRIS:  I’ve always loved traveling. Visiting the entire country, plus Canada and Europe, has been a highlight. An Australia trip is planned for November of 2017, that’ll be fun.

SANDI: Least favorite thing about being on the road?

CHRIS: 3am wakeups to get to an airport aren’t fun. Neither is not having a salad accessible after a late night gig isn’t fun either.

SANDI: Have you ever or do you belong to any music associations?  Could you tell us about them?  

CHRIS:  I’m an avid member of IBMA(www.ibma.org). I love what they are doing for bluegrass music. Anyone who reads this should become a member.

Also I’m a member of the Recording Academy which is the organization that hosts the Grammy Awards.

SANDI: What is your favorite thing about being a musician?

CHRIS: It’s an expression of yourself through sound. I’ve always enjoyed that.

SANDI: What is your least favorite thing about being a musician?

CHRIS: Sometimes there is no substitute for time spent practicing. Which I never seem to get enough of.

 

SANDI: I am sure all the ladies would like to know, are you married?

CHRIS: No

SANDI: Your favorite candy bar?

CHRIS:  I eat far too many peanut butter cups.

SANDI: Your favorite food?

CHRIS: Ethnic and spicy.

SANDI: What are your future plans as a musician?

CHRIS: Time will tell.  This is always a hard question to answer. With my influences being so diverse, it’s hard to pin down where I will head musically.

SANDI: Any great road trip stories you can tell us about?

We are preserving history right here right now Lol 🙂

CHRIS:   Gosh, another hard one. Before I was in Dirty Kitchen, a band I was in played a festival a few days after the famous Captain Phillips rescue from the pirates. My friend and I stopped for grub and saw a picture of us playing on stage on the front of the local paper at the cash register. My friend exclaimed, “Hey we are on the front page!”, when the waitress heard that, she looked at the paper, and seeing the story about the ship captain instead of our band, looked at us in awe and said: “you were on that ship??!”  We didn’t know what to say! We busted out laughing. Then told her and she laughed with us. Good times.

SANDI:  Is there anything else that you would like our members to know about you and/or the band?

CHRIS: I’m quite a fan of vintage film. Think Hitchcock, or anything Gregory Peck is in. I haven’t really seen many films made after 1990.

For more information on Chris Luquette visit (If applicable)

Website: www.chrisluquette.com

Email: chris@chrisluquette.com

For more information on Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen visit:

Website: www.dirtykitchenband.com

Bookings: Quicksilver Productions

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Interview with Stephen Mougin from Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen

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INTERVIEW WITH STEVE MOUGIN

(Guitar player for The Sam Bush Band) by Sandi Millar

SANDI: How did you get started?

STEVE: At about 5 years old, when my Dad took an interest in guitar and started playing. I wanted to be just like him!

SANDI: Who was your Inspiration?

STEVE: Early on I was blessed to have some amazing mentors. I’m from a small town in Western Mass, where there wasn’t much Bluegrass to be had. In some neighboring hill towns were some great pickers and singers.  Wayne Higgins was my first real Bluegrass guitar teacher at about 6 years old. Along with his mentor, banjoist Will Challet, they guided me down the rabbit holes of Bluegrass history and tunes. The Bear Bridge Band would always get me up on stage when they were playing gigs in the area and were tremendously supportive (even driving me to distant jam sessions).

SANDI: Who were your musical heroes?

STEVE: My first heroes were my mentors: Will Challet, Wayne Higgins, Dave Shaw, Robert and Lillian Fraker, and Tex Orlomoski. They turned me on to Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Doc Watson, The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and then to more modern ensembles/players like Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Lonesome River Band, etc. I ate it all up and couldn’t get enough. There was a time that I could name players to every major band on the circuit, including bands they formerly played for… just like sports enthusiasts, I suppose.

I was incredibly fortunate to be able to see a TON of amazing Bluegrass artists as they trekked to the Northeast each summer.

SANDI: Other bands you played with?

STEVE: Thunder Mountain Bluegrass, Valerie Smith, Melonie Cannon, Randy Kohrs, Audie Blaylock, Jim Lauderdale, Nedski and Mojo, and (since 2006) Sam Bush.

SANDI: Are you a full time musician?

STEVE: Yes, as well as an Educator, Producer, Engineer, Label Owner, etc.

SANDI: What is the one thing or series of events that lead you to playing bluegrass full time?

STEVE: Networking and being prepared and adventurous when opportunities arose.

SANDI: If you could have done anything but music what would you have done?

STEVE: I’m not sure. At one time, I thought I might be a Veterinarian. I ended up going to school for Vocal Music Education and began teaching as a public school choir director before I moved to Nashville in 2002.

SANDI: If you could play any stage that you haven't played yet, What stage? Why?

STEVE: That’s tough. I guess Carnegie Hall because Lester and Earl (and Buck Owens) did! There are so many fantastic stages across the globe.

SANDI: Favorite stage you have played? Why?

STEVE: Telluride. The setting is magical. You can’t believe the scenery until you’ve been there. During my first T-ride in 2006, I’m certain that I didn’t even notice the audience for a couple of songs because I couldn’t stop looking at the mountains. Also, since this weekend is my 12th Telluride, it’s fun to catch up with pals, colleagues, and hear amazing performances by friends and heroes.

SANDI: What instruments, picks, strings, pickups, etc do you use?

STEVE: I’m nuts about Collings guitars. I have a CJ35SB and a D2HA-Varnish that I tour with, both equipped with Fishman Aura Ellipse pickups and strung with D’Addario Nickel Bronze (medium). For picks I prefer the Blue Chip Tad 60, tuning duties are handled with a Peterson Strobe Stomp Classic or the D’Addario/Planet Waves Micro Soundhole Tuner

SANDI: Favorite hobbies besides music?

STEVE: When I have any “free” time: Fishing, Photography, Cycling

SANDI: Any mentoring workshops, instructional camps, etc that you give and/or do you teach private or group lessons?

STEVE: I teach at camps around the country, depending on the year (Rockygrass Academy, Alabama Folk School, etc). I also do quite a bit of Band Coaching, where I meet with a group and work on all aspects of band interaction from rehearsal techniques, sound issues, material selection, songwriting, singing, harmony, stage plot, and anything else you can think of! It’s really fun and bands come away with a bunch of concepts to build on and tools to keep growing.

SANDI: Do you have any causes that you support?

STEVE: I’m a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association and a big believer in the cause. From the Trust Fund to educational opportunities, there’s a lot of service to the Bluegrass community.

SANDI: What would you say to someone just starting their music career?

STEVE: Be yourself. Work harder than any of your peers. Take time to have conversations with folks in the industry (peers, heroes, beginners). Find a mentor (not too hard in Bluegrass, it’s a pretty helpful bunch of folks!). Be prepared for financial sacrifices (forget fancy cars, big houses, etc for a while). Try to find multiple revenue streams within or related to your particular talent. Be yourself. Work hard. REALLY hard.

SANDI: Favorite thing about the Blue Ox Festival?

STEVE: Blue Ox is FUN! The crowd is very enthusiastic and lots of our pals are playing the fest as well… what’s not to like!?

SANDI: If you could change anything at Blue Ox what would it be?

STEVE: I think someone needs to make sure there are Cheese Curds available onsite!

SANDI: How long have you been with Sam Bush?

STEVE: Since March of 2006, so this is my 12th festival season with the band.

SANDI: How is it working with Sam?

STEVE: Well, I get to ride around with, co-write, record, and perform with one of my childhood heroes. It’s amazing. He is such a great person, it’s been fun to watch how he handles his bandleader duties. There’s no micro-managing or scolding for wrong notes or mis-played parts. He really trusts us to self-correct and play as a unit as well as offering us a LONG leash when it comes to soloing. The band is unbelievable tight at this point!

SANDI: Have you ever been interested in fronting a band?

STEVE: I’ve done it some with pickup gigs and such, and I’m half of the Nedski and Mojo duo. At this point in my life, I’m having so much fun playing with Sam and the band, I can’t see trying to do my own thing. It’s always a possibility for the future, though.

SANDI: Favorite thing about being on the road?

STEVE: Seeing new places/scenery and trying different kinds of food. Well, and pickin’!

SANDI: Least favorite thing about being on the road?

STEVE: Lots of time wasted on waiting for stuff to happen. Even though there’s a lot of downtime, it’s not easy to make good use of the available hours.

SANDI: What is your favorite thing about being a musician?

STEVE: The moments when the entire band is hyper-listening to each other and feeding ideas back and forth, creating something that none of us would have played without the others. Once you’ve experienced that, it’s quite addictive.

I also get a lot of joy out of "people watching" from stage. It’s a magical thing to see stresses and troubles wash away from their faces as they take part in the musical experience. We are lucky to get to do what we do, and I never take that for granted.

SANDI: What are your future plans as a musician?

STEVE: Try to keep getting better. Continue mentoring others, as many did for me. Seek new and musically scary opportunities during my off time!

For more information on Stephen Mougin visit:

https://www.stephenmougin.com/

For more information on The Sam Bush Band visit:

http://www.sambush.com/

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