Paul Pigat is a simply amazing player. He has a series of learn to play Rockabilly Guitar DVD’s/Videos, and tours/gigs constantly, mostly with his trio Cousin Harley http://www.myspace.com/cousinharley
I had the pleasure of trying to learn/cover his Guitar work on Boomchix disc “Surprise, Surprise” (I didn’t join the band until after the disc was released). Just watching him play is a lesson in itself. You can always tell who the Guitar players are at a Cousin Harley show cuz they’ll all be right up front with their mouths hangin’ open (me included).
1. How old were you when you started playing guitar?
I was about 10 when I started playing. My first instrument was the Standup Bass but it was hard to carry home on the bus at such a young age
2. Who was you’re first major influence while learning?
I must admit I was a bit of a rocker. Hendrix, Angus Young. stuff like that.
3. What methods did you use to learn (Mel Bay, H. Leonard)?
My first teacher was a young punk guitarist who was teaching at the local music store. First tune he ever taught me was a Ramones inspired version of “Ain’t she Sweet” (I think thats a Cole Porter tune?)
4. Did you study theory? Would you recommend learning theory and reading music(as opposed to TABs)?
I have a degree in classical theory from the University of Toronto. I think having a grasp of theory is really important to any musician because everything is easier if you understand where its coming from. Being able to read helps as well. It can open up the fingerboard.
5. What part of learning guitar was most difficult? (bar chords, arpeggios, bending)
I kinda think its all difficult at one point. the first time you try anthing its tough. you just have to keep working it!
6. Any advice for someone just starting out?
7. How long did you practice when you were starting? (avg)
I probably did a couple of hours a day. Its all about how much time you have to dedicate to it
8. What was your most memorable session/show? (good or bad)
I try not to think of the bad ones. Musicians don’t get paid enough to not enjoy themselves. If we wanted to be miserable and make more money there are tons of other jobs out there. I guess playing in Torino Italy for the closing of the Paralimpics a few years ago. never played to over a half a million people before.
9. How long did you take lessons for (in years), before you were good enough to play in a gigging band?
I think I was about 12 when I started gigging around Toronto. I continued to study for many years after that. I still am to some extent.
10. Is technical ability the most important attribute for a band-member? Can you comment on other aspects such as taste, creativity, communication?
When it comes to being in a band, i would say listening, cooperation and taste. Anyone can shred but to make music with other people is a different thing. I also find being friends with your band-mates helps. I’m not into tense dynamics!!
11. Any tricks that you’ve learned over the years to playing, or understanding theory, easier?
learn your arpeggios!!!! it will open up a lot of doors!
12.What does your live working set-up consist of? (gtrs, FXs, amp )
too many to list but I’ve got a bunch of old archtops, a couple of jazzmasters and a couple of teles as my electrics and a handful of parlour acoustics. as for amps i generally use an Ampeg GU12 but have some other older amps that come out of the closet once in a while
13. What new technology have you found useful? (eg. Multi-FX, robot self tuning guitars) I’m a bit of a ludite so new technology kind of baffles me. I’ve done some work with Ebows and Whammy pedals and they are a blast (ebow with a 1930s dobro is pretty cool) I’d love a robot guitar just cause I hate tuning
14. Have you designed or modified any of your own equipment?
I used to build electrics when I was a kid but don’t really have the time or space anymore. I do however buy most of my guitars in pretty rough condition and “restore” them myself so I guess I’ve modified them. on a couple of my archtops i’ve simplified the wiring to be more like a tele.
15. Have you seen any new up and coming players worth mentioning?
I don’t get the chance to see much music but I guess Kevin Breit from toronto rocks my world!
16. What are your plans for the near future? Trying not to Starve!
Here’s Cousin Harley at the Naniamo Blues Festival
Interview w/ JIMMY ROY
w/ R. Condo in Munich, Germany
Any fans of the Vancouver Rockabilly/Roots scene will recognize the name Jimmy Roy. He’s been THE hottest player in town for as long as I remember. His talent has taken him around the world with acts like Ray Condo, Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys as well as his own bands the 5 Star Hillbillies, the Knotty Pines, and currently the Do Rites. Jimmy also hosts the Famous Railway Rockabilly Jam one week per month. He is a master of the Steel Guitar and has played on stage of the Grand Old Opry.
How old were you when you started playing guitar? 13
Who was you’re first major influence while learning? Kieth Richards
Who has been some of your biggest influences over the years? for guitar ; Roy Nichols, Grady Martin, Eddie Bush, Chet Atkins, James Burton, early Roy Buchanon ( 50’s and early 60’s) ,Cliff Gallop, Johnny Meeks Chris Spedding, Jack Dekiezer and a long list of others. Steel Guitar; Noel Boggs, Vance Terry, Jerry Byrd, Kayton Roberts, Bud Issacs, Ralph Mooney, Jimmy Day , Buddy Emmons and all the others from that era.
What methods did you use to learn (Mel Bay, H. Leonard)? Listening to records mostly . PS recommend Mel Bay big time over H. Leonard
Did you study theory would you recommend learning theory(as opposed to TAB)? Not much until recently unfortunately. Definitely recommend learning as much music theory as you can get your head around at every step of your musical development. Tab is excellent for obvious reasons ( amongst others being able to play songs right away for a beginner or otherwise , learning to read may take awhile before you are able to learn your favorite stuff )but Tab is very limited, fortunately there isn’t too much involved in learning it .
What part of learning guitar was most difficult? (bar chords, arpeggios, bending) ans. Chord structure before playing in bands where someone else might know what was going on.
Any advice for someone just starting out? Give up everything else Chet Atkins recommended 4 hrs practice per day.
How long did you practice when you were starting to learn (avg)? 4 hrs per week
What was your most memorable session/show? (good or bad) playing the Grand Ole Opry ( good)
How long did you take lessons for(in years), before you were good enough to play
in a gigging band? I took only one lesson ( in grade 9) before playing in my 1st band and learned a finger picking version of “Blowing in the Wind” wish I could still remember it.
10. Is technical ability the most important attribute, for a bandmember? (is being a
good player all it takes, what about taste, creativity,
communication, listening, organization?) Yea being able to get along with your bandmates, not whining too much and all the above. Technical ability is very important , but so is being individualistic, technical skills are tools to build something you can call your own.
11. Any tricks that you’ve learned over the years to playing, or understanding theory,
easier? Barney Kessel recommended practicing in half hour intervals as you should be able to stay focused that long, otherwise one tends to just play the stuff you already know while your mind might be elsewhere ( bad habit) Learning reading music and understanding theory takes hard work . I would say the best trick to learning theory is to decide you enjoy doing it , just like you can train yourself to like certain foods if you think they might improve your health.
12.What does your live set-up consist of? (gtrs,FXs, amp(s) Telecaster knock off, Fender Deluxe Reverb , various steel guitars, Fender , Sho Bud, and home made Bigsby
What new technology have you found useful? (eg. Multi-FX, robot self tuning guitars) Boss tuner pedal, echo pedal ( danelectric echoplex simulator, doesn’t sound anything like an Echoplex but I can’t find anyone to fix my old Echoplex.
14. Have you designed or modified any of your own equipment? Just my steel guitars the Sho bud and the Bigsby
15. Have you seen any new up and coming players, worth mentioning? just Gord Smithers
16. What are your plans for the near future? working on the sight reading I didn’t learn back when I should have.
Jimmy’s teaching at Bonerattle Music, Monday and Tuesdays. You can schedule a lesson at 604 251 BONE (2663) The amazing Steve Nikleva also teaches there
Jimmy with Paul Burlison
Heres a Vid of Jimmy w/ Ronny Haywood and Pete Turland “Gotta Get it on”
Here’s J R with Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite boys
Scott Smith has been one of the mainstay’s of the Vancouver Roots/Rockabilly scene for the last 15 years. He was with Bughouse Five, the Surfdusters, and Bottleneck and is currently backing country singer Arron Pritchett , the Terminal Station Band and the Blue Rich Rangers w/ Rich Hope. Scott’s also fast becoming one of the best Pedal Steel players in town. On top of being a really tasteful, versatile player, he’s one of the nicest, most easygoing cats you’ll ever meet. Thank you Scott for answering these questions.
Who was you’re first major influence, while learning? Stevie Ray Vaughan What methods did you use, to learn (Mel Bay, H. Leonard)? Hal Leonard
Did you study theory, would you recommend learning theory(as opposed to TAB)?
I’d recommend both, but the most important thing to learn is to train your ear to be able to figure out anything.
What part of learning guitar, was most difficult? (bar chords, arpeggios, bending)
I’m still learning how to play fast bebop tunes – still can’t do it very well
Any advice for someone just starting out?
Learn to read and learn some theory – that way you have the tools to learn any type of music. When you’re young and want to learn rock and punk, Tab works great, but if you get into say Cuban music when you’re a little older, being able to read rhythms is very important.
How long did you practice, when you were starting to learn (avg)?I would usually come home from school and play till I went to bed, pausing for dinner.
What was your most memorable session/show? (good or bad)
The Aaron Prtichett tour with Toby Keith was memorable. Opening for Brian Setzer with Bughouse Five was a great show. I did a lot great shows with my band Bottleneck. Opening for the Venture with the Surfdusters back in the “old days” (the 90’s!)
How long did you take lessons for(in years), before you were good enough to play
in a gigging band? I took lessons for about 4 years before my highschool band started playing parties and dances.
Is technical ability the most important attribute, for a bandmember? (is being a
good player all it takes, what about; presence, taste, problem-solving, creativity,
communication, listening, organization?) Being a good player is less than 50% of it. All the other stuff is as important.
Any tricks that you’ve learned, over the years, to playing, or understanding theory,
easier? I don’t think there are any tricks. Most things I’ve learned, I’ve learned from playing gigs – lots of gigs.
What does your live, working set-up, consist of? (gtrs,FXs, amp(s))
1972 Fender Deluxe for blues gigs a 1965 Gibson ES330 for country a 72 Tele Custom for rock gigs a mid 70’s Les Paul a strat for slide work an MSA pedal steel nothing too unusual for effects
What new technology, have you found useful? (eg. Multi-FX, robot self tuning guitars) it’s not that new, but delays that you can tap the tempo are really useful
Have you designed, or modified any of your own equipment? no
Have you seen any new, up and coming players, worth mentioning? Adam Dobres is a great tele player Tim Tweedale and Aaron Joyce are really good dobro players What are your plans for the near future?My blues band Terminal Station is putting out a new CD soon and I’ll be touring a lot in 2009 with Aaron Pritchett. I hope to do even more studio work than I’m doing now. I’m going to be recording a pedal steel CD next year as well
Here’s a shot of Bottleneck outside the Grand Union. I wonder if they went in for a $2 pint?
Here’s links for the Terminal Station Band
Here’s track from Terminal City band Rollin’ All Nite