Summer -TwoThousandFourteen.

Haven’t posted in a long time. About a year and a half ago I realized that my career as a guitar player, though very fulfilling, was not a financially sustainable career choice. I went back to the wine industry where I have several years of managerial experience. Now I am playing country lead guitar and bluegrass dobro for fun, and bills are getting paid on time.
So if you are out on a Sunday night in Nashville come on by Santa’s Pub for some goodtime classic country with Santa’s Ice-Cold Pickers. Or check out some high energy bluegrass from East Nashville-based group Off The Wagon at various venues around town. We will be at The Station Inn in September….

Off The Wagon Christmas 2013


Jazzmasters in Country…

Jazzmasters in country! It suprises me that there are not more Jazzmaster players in classic country. To me it seems a natural. Spanky bridge pickup tones, stratty middle, fat bell-like neck pickup… And the dark jazzy rhythm circuit….

There are a few though. Willie Nelson played one for a while in the sixties. Luther Perkins switched over from a telecaster in the early sixties. Country/Jazz badass Roy Lanham played one throughout his career. Wayne Moss cut a ton of records in Nashville on a Jazzmaster, most notably the uber-twangy signature lick on Waylon Jennings’s “Only Daddy that Will Walk the Line”.

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Here is an early video of my boss, the great Bobby Bare doing his huge hit “500 Miles”, featuring a Jazzmaster played by the lead guitarist. (I am carrying on this tradition as I am using my new Jazzmaster for my main guitar on tour with Bobby Bare!)

Here is a video of Roy Lanham ripping some country/jazz on a Jazzmaster.

The Jake Bradley Jazzmaster

Well! The Jake Bradley Jazzmaster is finished and I put it through its paces last weekend down on Lower Broadway. I had my telecaster as backup in case it didn’t perform. I am happy to say I played all four hours on the Jazzmaster. I played it through my 1970 Fender Deluxe Reverb, with a few pedals in-line, notably a new Nocturne Ubangi Stomp! Which is 60’s fuzzed out bliss…

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Here’s the run-down on the Guitar: Body- two piece medium-light weight poplar custom made by Jake Bradley. Finish- ReRanch Shoreline Gold. Pickups, Electronics, and Tremolo-Fender American Vintage Reissue. Bridge- Mastery. Neck- Musikraft 1 3/4″ nut, FAT C neck with rosewood bound board. The overall style is early Fender/CBS circa 1966-1967 with a bound neck, white witch-hat knobs, and replica early CBS decal…
All assembly, finish work, wiring and set-up done by Jake.
I have always considered myself a Telecaster player, but this guitar is giving me second thoughts!

The Jake Bradley Jazzmaster So Far….

I have owned many great guitars in my life, but I have never owned a Fender Jazzmaster… Being a fan of Pops Staples, The Ventures, Luther Perkins, J Mascis, Willie Nelson (!) and Nils Cline I have always been drawn to their modernistic look and versatility….

Willie rocking a Jazzmaster during his swinging 1960’s era…

I sold a couple guitars this year and I decided to have a Jazzmaster built for me.   I am a huge neck junkie and no stock Fender Jazzmaster has a large enough neck, so I started  with a Musikraft neck built to their largest stock specs which I love.  It is a big 1″ deep C shape with a 1 3/4 inch nut…

My East Nashville buddy Jake Bradley has started building solidbody electric guitars from scratch. Jake is a great picker and woodworker.  He has great way of building the body to suit the neck, making the neck pocket route off of the neck itself rather than a stock route from a template.  This insures a great neck to body fit, a very important aspect of making a great solidbody guitar.   I love how he builds, and assembles the guitar to make sure its a good one one, before the painting process.  I had the unpainted version at my house for about a week and could not put it down!  Its back to Jake for painting (mid 60’s Fender Shoreline Gold Metallic), finishing, and a few tweaks.   For now, here a few pics of the unpainted Jazzmaster…  (Guitar photos by Kathryn Johnson)

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It’s True! Sho Bud Made Banjos…

I was missing my trusty old Fender Banjo which I sold last year to get into my dream Pedal Steel Guitar, a Sho Bud LDG “Loyd Green Model”.   Coincidentally, I have been interested in building a Sho Bud instruments collection.  Though they are best known for pedal steels, they also made resophonics (Sho Bro), acoustic guitars and banjos.  When I decided to start searching for a Sho Bud banjo I thought that I would be in for a  long haul….  BUT one popped up on Craigslist literally a few days after I started looking.  So I got it!   I took it to banjo guru, Charlie Cushman, for a set up and a new Steve Smith bridge.  It now plays and sounds like a dream…

Here are some pics courtesy of Kathryn Johnson.

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Knut Bell – En tidløs stemme.

As far as I am concerned there is one great voice of traditional country music in the Pacific Northwest.  That voice belongs to Knut Bell.   I first met Knut in 2003 and was struck by how much we had in common:  Both of us are very proud of our Northwest Scandinavian heritage. Both us  grew up learning the folk songs of the region. Both of us have a high regard for real country music as played by Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Horton and Johnny Cash.  Both of us have a deep love for a Pacific Northwest that barely exists anymore; an area that belonged to the hard working people who shaped the region.  I have always considered Knut to be a kindred spirit.

Knut grew up in Skagit County, easily one of the most beautiful places in Western Washington.  It has shaped his songs and stories.  Knut has a thunderous deep voice and writes great songs that resonate with anyone who takes the time to listen.    He has just released a new record, “Wicked, Ornery, Mean, and Nasty.”  It is his best yet.  I never had the pleasure of playing lead guitar for him back in Seattle…   The timing was never right.

This year Knut and I got back in touch and arranged for him to come to Nashville, play a couple shows and conduct some business.  Knut brought his excellent drummer, Lewis Warren, who has drummed with me on many projects back in Seattle and is  a great friend.  Knut and Lew stayed for a week back in early April and the trip was successful to the point that he is coming back for a another show and a couple of sessions and business meetings this week.   So!  If you missed Knut last time through, you can see him at Derek Hoke‘s Two Dollar Tuesday at The 5 Spot, May 31st.

Knut Bell is completely worthy of any hype praised on him.   I cannot express to y’all what a pleasure it is to play with him and his huge voice.   I hope that y’all will come out to the 5 Spot this Tuesday Night.  Here is a some footage of his last visit:

(Thanks to Kathryn M. Johnson for the fine photos and video!)


I love me some Derek Hoke!  In fact one would have to be a real jerk not to love his jaunty blend of old school countrypolitan and indie pop goodness.  Call it Americana if you wish.  I call it super awesome!

In Nashville this week you have three chances to witness the musical majesty of Derek Hoke and his group (Steve Latanation- Drums, Ed Adkins – Bass, Big Smokey -Guitar (yours truly)).

Tuesday Night May 10th –  5-Spot -East Nashville.

Wednesday Night May 11th -Foobar -East Nashville.

Friday Night May 13th -Foobar -East Nashville.

Your ears will thank you!!

New Derek Hoke Video & Live on WSM 650 AM

Cool stuff from the Derek Hoke camp this week.  First is the release of his new video for “The Finer Things”.   Directed by the very talented James Weems.

Also, we are going to appear on The Americana Carnival live show on WSM 650AM (home of The Grand Old Opry) this Sunday Evening January 16th at 6pm-8pm.  Please tune in, or if you are in Nashville come on downtown as it is taped live from Roberts Western World (my favorite Honky Tonk!).  And as an added bonus we will be playing Derek’s originals and many classic country covers from 8-10pm.  Its no charge to get in the door but please be nice when we pass the tip bucket around!