How Alcoholism Saved Eric Clapton from Suicide

I’m always torn when it comes to admiring people who may be talented, but who should not be morally allowed to reserve our undying adulation.  Fame and adoration tend to clasp each other, and since most performers are broken, it becomes a difficult task to try to divine who deserves our public scorn versus who deserves our moral compassion.

It’s no secret that I’m an Eric Clapton fanatic — but there is no hiding from the facts of his life that he was an addict, an abandoned child and an abandoning father — and one of the greatest guitar talents of several generations.

What’s a fan to do?  Pity the man?  Admire the Guitar God?  Can we temper the person with a little bit of each, or are we not allowed to split the righteous baby when it comes to placing a talent in the history of time?

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Back to the Blues!

After a long and fulfilling experience playing fingerstyle Jazz chord harmonies on my Jazz guitars for the past few years, I have slowly been weaning my way back to the fingerstyle Blues that started me on this new musical journey in the first place.

I’m sure the Clapton Martin acoustic and Martin D-42 had something to do with this slow circling back to the center — but I do think it’s more than just that.

There’s a whole rush of intensity and emotion for me when I play the Blues.  I immediately feel connected back to a time of suffering and empathy that I do not always have while playing Rock or Jazz or Country music.

There is a deep and longing sadness in the Blues and it is in those marks of human sacrifice and resurrection that we learn to become kinder and more prescient human beings — at least during the melancholy life of a finger plucked Mississippi Delta Blues song.

So, I’m “Back to the Blues” — but not the “Boles Blues” started in 2009 — that great blog title and content will stay embedded here forever in Boles Blogs.

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JJ Cale Melodiously Rises from the Grave

JJ Cale was one of the greatest session players, performers and songwriters in the history of American music — and yet few people know the full stretch and depth of his influence on the songs we love and adore.

JJ Cale died unexpectedly this Summer at the age of 74.  Here’s how his website told the world the news of his passing:

JJ Cale Has Passed Away

JJ Cale passed away at 8:00 pm on Friday July 26
at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, CA.

The legendary singer / songwriter had suffered a heart attack.
There are no immediate plans for services.
His history is well documented at JJCale.comrosebudus.com/cale,
and in the documentary, To Tulsa And Back.

Donations are not needed but he was a great lover of animals so, if you like,
you can remember him with a donation to your favorite local animal shelter.

Continue reading → JJ Cale Melodiously Rises from the Grave

Eric Clapton and Andy Fairweather Low Unplugged Again — Deluxe Version

Starting today, you can buy a brand-new “Deluxe Edition” of Eric Clapton‘s bright and pleasing, March 1992, Unplugged concert on MTV.  Yes, you get a remastered CD, with six new songs and a DVD that curates the entirety of the MTV performance.

Every and all guitar players must purchase both the album and the video performance if you want to understand just how a light hand — a slowhand — survives in performance when blended with voice and rhythm.

Clapton is at his very best in this acoustic guitar showcase, and you really come to understand the genius of his playing.  He is an old-pro master and I don’t think he’s been more interesting in anything he’s done since that historic, six-Grammy-award-winning, performance.

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Fret Doctor Bores to the Fingerboard Rescue

The internet lives in mysticism and myth — especially when it comes to adding magical mojo to your guitars — but there’s one bit of medicinal shamanism for any non-sealed guitar fingerboard that you should know about right now; and that well-kept secret is a special bore oil formulation called “Fret Doctor.”

I am a wild and obsessive supporter of this miracle oil when it comes to preserving and bringing out the real personality of a rosewood or ebony fretboard.

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The Eric Clapton Martin Guitar 000-28EC Review

It’s been a long, long, time — over 20 years — since I’ve had a “true acoustic” guitar.  By “True Acoustic” I mean a guitar that was created not be amplified out-of-the-box and one that is made to sound right straight from the vibrating wood into your ear.

To my aesthetic, there is really only one acoustic guitar maker of merit and delight — and that is C.F. Martin & Company.  Since 1833, they’ve been building grand and beautiful works of Art that sound luscious in, and on, the ear.  My first guitar was a Martin HD-28 that I had to sell to make the rent, and I have been heartbroken ever since:

However, as time and tide crushed the standard of living the young artist’s life in NYC, years later I ended up having to sell my beloved Martin HD-28 to make the rent.  It was such a heart-rasping experience giving up that HD-28 that I refused allow the joy of a guitar back into my life for 20 years.

The lesson in selling a beloved to make rent is that there is no faster compression of time into space than the moments of the first of the month arriving twelve times a year.  You will run out of beloveds faster than you can delay the inevitable.  Confess defeat.  Preserve your joy.  Move on in your humiliation.  Your saved beloved will later heal your broken pride.  Unless, of course, you sold it — then you’re just left broken and empty and joyless.

Now, as a man of more modest means, I decided the time was finally right again to dip my toe into the acoustic Martin sea, and I knew I wanted my new guitar to be the Martin Eric Clapton acoustic — the “000-28EC” — to be absolutely specific.

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New Music Review: Sound City, Boz Scaggs, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix

There’s a lot of great new music hitting the streets this week, and I wanted to take a moment to stop and listen with you.  The first drop is “Sound City” — Dave Grohl’s tribute band to the old sound of rock technology in the pre-digital age.  Dave recorded this odd set of songs using an old engineering board from the former “Sound City” recording studio.  I think the idea to create new from the old is exciting, but the effort feels forced and unfinished, and I have always expected excellence and fulfillment from Dave Grohl.  So, for me, Sound City is a fine idea with middling success.

Continue reading → New Music Review: Sound City, Boz Scaggs, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix