I've been playing with a lot of different folks lately. The most satisfying groups though have centered around keyboardist/singer/educator/radio personality, Robyn Wright . Lot's of talent and style here. Jazz, RnB, Funk, and other styles good for the soul. The core group includes Markeith Bolen on drums and vocals and Pablo Ortiz on bass. We've worked as The Robyn Wright Project as well as rhythm section for other artists.We were even the orchestra for a musical written and produced by our good friend and sometime musical compatriot, Robert King Jr .  

I'm not working with Jay Webber much lately. He's doing more solo stuff and trying different musical combinations. I think it actually helps the magic we can create having more space between encounters. I've filled in some of that space playing with Renee First semi-regularly. We had a house gig at Crystal Creek Distillery for a couple months earlier this year. Gave us a chance to get to know each other better. Renee's a treasure and you should catch her if you see her around; she's real. "Support Live music because dead music is creepy". 

Still doing occasional gigs with Flatbed Ford and Rough House which are always a hoot; rock without borders. A fun cast of characters...maybe more about the comradery than the music. Also backing up the Fabulous Ricke Bros from time to time for that old CSN&Y fix.  

And, finally, I'm still building guitars: #16 on the bench. But, no, Zee Guitars is still not a commercial concern. I will make an effort to sell some soon, er, maybe. Thinking about doing some videos to promote them. Maybe that'll get things rolling. Oddly enough, virtually every bass player I've played with for the last couple of years has asked me to build a bass for them. Bass players are so much more open to a custom instrument than guitar players. I don't get it. Guitar players tend to be technicians with pedals and amps, favorite pickups, strings, etc. Why would you not want a custom made instrument? 

At any rate, I have a bass guitar design I'm toying with and I've purchased some hardware and I've sort of promised a couple of my bass-playing buddies that I'd make one. I could be wrong but in my little pea brain, the difference between building a guitar and a bass is huge. I don't know if it's the engineer in me or what but it seems to me you could really mess up badly with a bass. That big old neck, got to be a trick to balance...all that string tension, how to keep it from folding up on itself. I'm probably over-thinking it...

August 26. 2017 

August 26, 2017

I launched my guitar-building website, www.zeeguitar.com. though I don't really know where I'm going with it, honestly. I'm building guitars but they're all for my own playing enjoyment so it's probably going to be difficult to part with any of them. In the back of my mind there's a nagging feeling that I should and will put some of them up for sale. Will anyone be interested in them? Hard to say. They'd be on the pricey side for an electric guitar just to my cover costs, never mind my time investment. Is anyone willing to spend $2-3000 for a handmade electric guitar? There's other builders out there getting that kind of money for their instruments, I just don't know how mine stack up to those.

I use high end components (tuners, pickups, bridges, and woods) in these guitars and I pay full retail price for them because I don't have any volume to ask for a quantity discount. I'm willing to discount my time considering that, in many respects, I could put less time into the build process if I spent more money on tools that helped make the process more efficient. Sounds a bit odd to offer to charge less for doing more but there are some things I do that are ridiculously and needlessly labor intensive simply because I don't have the workspace and/or am I unwilling to make the investment in equipment that would make things easier. I can't justify charging extra for no value added. At any rate, stay tuned; I'm getting closer to the moment I try to sell a few if for no other reason than it will allow me to keep building and perfecting without blowing the kids inheritance.

On the musical side of things, the last couple of months have brought a lot interesting opportunities my way. I've subbed in a classic rock group, Flatbed Ford - that was a great time - I haven't played that kind of stuff in decades. I backed up a country artist, Renee First, a Grammy-nominated songwriter. I hope to do some more with her (and drummer, Greg Webb). Also backed up a new singer/songwriter, Gordeaux Ricke, in addition to working with Jay Webber, Blue Gardenia, and Apex Explosion band. It's been a lot of fun lately with all the different genre'. 

And I'm seriously pondering starting my own thing. I'd really like to do something Jazz-related along the lines of Spyro Gyra, Fourplay, Rippingtons, etc. We touch on this kind of groove with Apex Explosion but just enough to get a taste. I'd really like to sit down to a full meal though. Throw in some updated Coltrane, Davis, et al. Just plain old good listening music with space for the musicians to spread out a little. I wonder if there's a local market and enough venues for a 5-6 piece ensemble doing this sort of thing. If you have an opinion, drop me a line.

Building/Playing Guitars 


I'm on one of those 'got to play everyday' things that happen every couple of years. It's one of those things where all I want to do is play and if I'm not playing I'm thinking about playing. I don't really know where the impetus comes from; what prompts this obsessive behavior but it just feels good to do it. I'm enjoying the guitar I just finished (a couple of pics on the Photos page). I'm also enjoying several other guitars so it's not just 'newness' driving my euphoria...though I have added a new Bugera amp for gigging. But that's more about wanting to preserve my favorite amp (a '63 Vibroverb that I've had almost since new) that is just too valuable to drag around and get beat up or worse yet, stolen!

The gigs have slowed a bit recently after a busy April - only a couple in May. That's a little sad given that I'm on a playing roll. Oh well. I'd like some more electric gigs really. I always enjoy playing acoustic with Jay Dubbya immensely (and it's his birthday today by the way!!) but I feel like I'm ready for a whole new level on electric with larger ensembles. Actually kind of thinking of doing my own thing and/or pushing myself out there for fill-in work. But I'm also a bit hesitant for fear of too little time. April was a taste of Busy, having to be somewhere musical 3-4 nights in a row. That gets hectic - I need to be retired from a daily routine to maintain that kind of schedule. It's a difficult balance otherwise.

At any rate, I need to go play some.


New People, New Tunes 


Just an update or two....

Lately I've been playing with some new folks in addition to my regular thing with Jay Webber ( www.jaywebber.com ) and Dan Harris. I started playing with a project of Robert Earl Dubose III, a very talented tenor man, called Apex Explosion featuring Starchild. Robert and I worked together a few years back on a movie score, hence the connection. Starchild is Karen Aris, an exceptional young voice. The music is a blend of Pop, Jazz, Funk, R&B....etc - mostly original compositions. The cast of characters changes frequently with a few mainstays such as myself, Robert, Starchild, Dan Terry (keyboards and sounds), "Ice" on drums, and Cass Pierce on guitar. Bass, piano, and backup vocals are fluid positions. Challenging music and interesting characters make this a lot of fun.

I also began playing recently with an all-female blues group called 'Blue Gardenia'. Some old school covers, some original compositions...a nice mix of tasty tunes and these folks are a blast to play with...plus I get to wear pearls and pumps in public! How great is that?! The lead singer, Timeca Seretti, is the driving force behind this project and is a close personal friend. When Timeca asked me to fill in for a recent date, I told her I'd be happy to be a 'doo-wop' boy for her. They asked me to hang around after that. I guess they needed some eye candy.....The rest of the characters are: Becky Austen (bass), Robert King Jr (backing vocals), Abbe Waldeman (guitars, harp, mandolin), Sybil Watson (drums), and Robyn Wright (keys). I'm looking forward to doing more dates with these folks soon.

The Jay Webber Group continues to do it's thing. We finally closed out Sundancer Grill after nearly three years at that venue. We've picked up 827 Rays in Lakeway as a part of our monthly rotation - an exceptional restaurant with, believe it or not, superb acoustics. Redfin Seafood Kitchen has opened their music season recently and it looks like that will again be a regular spot for us - one of the better outdoor venues. Winery music season is starting back up also and West Cave Cellars and El Gaucho Winery have put us on the schedule - more great outdoor gigs on weekend afternoons; always great food, wine, and crowds.

See you soon.