Five Tips for Enlightened Soloing

OurStage, Guitar Player magazine, and Ernie Ball are teaming up this summer to offer aspiring guitarists a chance to win the ultimate Grand Prize. Enter the Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition by August 17 for your shot to win your very own feature in Guitar Player magazine, a year’s supply of strings and accessories from Ernie Ball, and more! Throughout the competition, we’ll be bringing you exclusive editorial content, fresh from”enjoy!

Certain people are very mental, ” says legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, “they need to have rules and concepts and directions and scales and theory in order to play. But that’s not what music is about. Music has the same significance as beams of light coming out of the clouds and giving information to plants. Every note should be like a beam of light. You’re giving information to the listener, and you’re reminding them they also have light and significance. That’s improvising to me. The other stuff is just like going ˜da-da-da-da-da.’ It’s nothing.

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-Published by Matt Blackett, Guitar Player magazine


President Obama Sings The Blues

While having musical talent is certainly not a prerequisite for being President of the United States, it definitely makes you way cooler, in our book. The White House has been absent of musical talent since Clinton was rocking out sax solos on the Arsenio Hall Show. But fret no more, music lovers: turns out our Commander In Chief has a set of pipes! Last week, President Obama surprised a Harlem audience by singing the hook to the famous Al Green tune Let’s Stay Together at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater. Yesterday, he showcased some more of his talent by joining B.B. King, Mick Jagger and Buddy Guy for a few lines of his hometown anthem, Sweet Home Chicago.

Obama had hosted a night of performances dedicated to the blues, featuring musicians Jeff Beck, Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews, Gary Clark Jr., Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, and Booker T. Jones. President Obama was encouraged to sing by Buddy Guy, who told the President, You started something, you got to keep it up, referring to his Al Green impersonation. Obama joined the all-star cast, singing come on, baby don’t you wanna go, then having B.B. King chime in with same old place. Obama took the mic back and finished out the song with sweet home, Chicago before flashing the camera his signature smile and exiting the East Room to cheerful applause.

You can check out the full coverage of the event here.

10 Minutes With Scott Seabock: Ernie Ball Blues Channel Winner

The only thing that most guitarists enjoy less than changing strings is having to pay for them.  When you add it up, all of those packs get expensive!  That’s why we teamed up with Ernie Ball to give one lucky artist a year’s supply of free Ernie Ball strings.  The lucky recipient, bluesman Scott Seabock, sat down to chat with us about his influences, the future of blues and how he’s going to put all of those strings to good use.

Biggest blues influences: Greg Allman, Paul Rodgers, James Brown, Ray Charles, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson.

“I come from mostly a classic soul and R&B background so I’m not a died-in-the-wool blues afficianado like some others. I really learned to love the blues starting with rock music and working backwards.”

Favorite blues guitarists: BB King, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan…”the list is endless”

“I have to say BB is still my all time  favorite. The way he sings a line then twists that one pull-off note with that vibrato just does me in. It truly is like he’s having a conversation with his ‘Lucille.'”

OS: How does it feel to win the Ernie Ball prize in the Blues Channel?

SS: It makes me feel really great. As an indie artist who is pretty much a do-it-yourself musician you wonder sometimes if all the effort and passion you put into recording and marketing music is having any affect on people. This prize lets me know that people really are listening and I am truly blessed to be part of the OurStage community and able to share what I do with others. Also much thanks to Ernie Ball for the generous prize of guitar strings. Again as a struggling musician without an endorsement, this prize will assure that I’m making music for quite awhile.

OS: What do you think the future holds in store for the blues? How do you see it being incorporated in modern music?

SS: One reason I really dig the blues is that it crosses generations more than any other genre I know. You can have a gig at a club where there is an eighty-year-old harp player, a fifty-year-old organist and a twenty-three-year-old guitarist and it’s just rockin’, you know. Everybody is just into the groove and not what kind of haircut you have or if the lasers are working right. It’s music that is just  about the music if that makes any sense. To me the blues is like some kind of disease that keeps showing up and infecting new generations with that mysterious mojo. Even today, the blues is never that far off the radar of pop music. Take, for example, that Adele song “Rolling in the Deep”. Huge hit but not exactly your typical drum machine synth driven dance hit is it? And yet there is in the vocal delivery, lyric and arrangement of that song a great example of what the blues are all about: yearning, pain and passion. Even though it is not a typical twelve bar blues progression, the soul and essence of the blues are all over it. To me it sounds like an old Johnnie Lee Hooker stomp it’s so raw. Or even futher back to like the Pentacostal Church or something. It’s just so free of all the cliches and safeness of today’s pop music.So yeah, I think the blues are alive and well all across the land

OS: Anything you’d like to say to the fans that judged or shout-outs you’d like to make?

SS: I often hear friends of mine or different people talk about how there is no good music anymore. “Radio sucks blah, blah, blah.” Whenever I get a chance I tell them they are right, that the major labels for the most part are putting out crap year after year. I tell them if you really want to hear great new music you have to go underground to places like OurStage where there are tons of artists writing and producing incredible music all the time. So again I think all who judged and voted for my song just helps validate what I and many others are doing. That is, contributing to a great body of independent music that needs to be heard by the masses. My heroes are the ones who are raising a family, working a day job, fixing up the house and all that, and still find time and energy to get together with their bandmates and rock out. Whether it’s for a stadium full of people or a backyard barbeque with five friends, it’s the music that matters, not all the other stuff thats attached to it. God bless all of you at OurStage who listen,write,vote and keep doing what you love to do. Peace and Love!

Ernie Ball Sponsors The Blues Channel In May!

May is the by far the perfect month to help you shake off those winter blues. The sun is back out, the weather is warm and if you’ve been cooped up all winter”strumming on your six-string and singing about your long lost love”we know a little spring break is always welcomed. Luckily, Ernie Ball is stepping up to the plate with a big cure for all you blues players out there; a year’s supply of free strings and accessories! Whether you get down to the electric blues of artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King or the old school acoustic blues of Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ernie Ball’s got you covered. ENTER your best track by May 23, 2011 for your chance at this sweet prize package.

In case you had any doubts about how cool this prize really is, you can hear it firsthand from February alternative country winner Coles Whalen. We asked the Colorado songstress about what it was like to win the free strings, she commented “Awesome! So thankful to the people at OurStage! The Ernie Ball strings sound and feel amazing.” Ernie Ball has hooked up some truly exceptional OurStage artists with free strings and Whalen is no exception. Her music has been described by critics as soulful, powerful and straight from the heart, and after listening to her Ernie Ball winning song Go Child we think that description pretty much hits the nail on the head.  To hear a little more music from Whalen, check out the playlist below. If you dig what she’s doing, head to her OurStage profile and show her some love.

Scene & Heard: Memphis, TN

When you think blues, you think of a couple places. We’ve already been through Chicago, so the other obvious choice for blues music is Memphis. Sure, Nashville seems to garner most of the state’s music coverage with its strong grasp on the singers and songwriters of country music. But, heading across the state to Memphis offers you a whole new flavor of southern rock, country and blues.

Proclaiming itself the Home of the Blues, we recommend you start your Memphis visit on Beale St. This famous strip is home to some of the best venues and clubs that Memphis has to offer. You’ll find everything from the famous Hard Rock Café to B. B. King’s Blues Club to Alfred’s. The sound of Memphis Blues slowly became a staple of the street  in the early 1900s with artists like Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie and B. B. King. himself. In his earlier years of performance, B. B. King was even dubbed the Beale Street Blues Boy.

For a more standard rock club lineup, we’ll head over to the Hi Tone Café. Here, you’ll find acts like New Found Glory, Wavves and The Tallest Man On Earth. You’ll also find OurStage folk/country/blues act Star & Micey. These guys serve up a helping of true southern folk/pop with strong blues/soul influence. The band’s music is everything you might hope for in a current indie act coming out of Memphis. Check out their performance on a Memphis trolley bus, supporting the communal qualities and southern hospitality inherent in the city’s music.

“It affects us daily. We are always meeting someone new who, whether they mean to or not, humbles us,” commented guitarist/vocalist Joshua Cosby when asked about the music scene in Memphis. “[It] reminds you that you’re on the right or wrong path.” After watching that video, it’s clear that the southern blues/traditional country feel of Star & Micey fits perfectly with these sorts of interactions.
When we asked Cosby for some advice for acts that would like to play in Memphis, he said, “Play only if you enjoy it first, because the people here (and everywhere) respond to that more than anything. Those are the kind of fans you want to meet.” He also recommended that a visitor go to the Buccaneer Lounge on Monroe Ave. He even specified an artist who does enjoy playing for himself: Dave Cousar who plays at the Buccaneer.
Star & Micey’s southern-influenced, soul-driven acoustic songs hit home in a big way. They perform throughout Tennessee quite regularly and currently have a very extensive upcoming tour schedule. Be sure to check out their OurStage profile in order to keep an eye on where you can see them next. Who knows, you might find yourself on a trolley in Memphis next to Joshua Cosby and the rest of the guys.

Hightide Blues, high-class americana


Hightide Blues is as powerful as they are upbeat (something that tends to be rare). Their country influences meld so perfectly with their blues rock sound that this band will bridge the gap between those Alt Rock Kids and the Country Lovers. In fact, I think they are so good, you will like them after just one song.

Since their first show back in 2006, Hightide Blues has played at hundreds of venues all over the Southeast and taken the stage with such artists as Sara Bareilles, Graham Colton, and Jason Isbell. They treat their recordings with that same high level of class and recently completed an EP (“Love Come Easy“) at House of David Studios in Nashville, a recording studio that has hosted such legends as Elvis, Neil Young, B.B. King, Joe Crocker, and Roy Orbison. Up next, the band has announced that they will be playing the SXSW music festival in Texas . With a resume this strong, I’d say they are bound to be one of the best blues/southern rock bands to grace the Country genre in a long-time.

There are a lot of reasons to like this band. You may be impressed by their star-studded collaborations or their impressive studio rsources. Maybe it’s just their stage presence or their unique, alternative country sound. Whatever your reason, now that you’ve heard that one song, shoot on over to the band’s fanclub and listen to the rest of their tunes. You  won’t be disappointed.