Category Archives: Music

St. Stephen’s #Cathedral in #Passau #MondayBlogs

A documentary about St. Stephen’s Cathedral with music from Quetsch-Bassiges GraZien Ensemble www.blasmusik-woelfl.com and thanks to Pia Olligschläger from the Passau Tourismus e.V. www.tourismus.passau.de

Situated in Lower Bavaria where the river Ilz and the river Inn join the Danube lays the city of Passau. Built on the highest point in the old town is the St Stephen’s Cathedral. St. Stephan’s as we see it today was built in 1668 after a devastating town fire destroyed the late gothic cathedral that stood here before. St. Stephen’s is well known for the impressive pipe organ, built in 1733 by Joseph Matthias Götz. It was considered the world’s largest organ until the organ in the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles took over that honor in 1990.

St. Stephen’s is a bishop’s cathedral and was founded in the 8th century. Since then it has always stood on this very spot. This is the fifth cathedral to stand here, the other four having been destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt. The plans for this cathedral were made by Italian baroque master Carlo Lurago. The interior stucco works and the frescos were also done by Italian baroque masters. The two towers of St Stephen’s shape the cityscape of Passau.

Passau, die Dreiflüssestadt or the City of Three Rivers.

Speaking of Guitarists… #electricguitar

     Terry Kath was the guitarist in the band Chicago. They called themselves Chicago Transit Authority for their first album and then shortened the name to Chicago in 1970. He was a multi-instrument musician and singer who impressed me with his solid, well-rounded guitar solos. He not only played lead & rhythm guitar, but also banjo, accordion, electric bass, and drums.
     I sit here and listen to ‘Free Form Guitar’ from the first album. This seven minute instrumental guitar piece was recorded in one take. According to a 1971 Guitar Player magazine interview, the Fender Strat he played had a broken neck held together by a radiator hose clamp. Can anything keep a real guitarist from playing? Sharp fret ends, bowed necks, chipped paint, dented tops, scratched backs? 
     Imagine this: Wikipedia says he actually had 20 guitars at one time! Is that all? If he was still alive, he’d probably have 200.
     Yes, the sad fact: on January 23, 1978, after a party, Terry Kath put a 9mm semiautomatic pistol to his temple, said to his buddy, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded,” and pulled the trigger. He died instantly. He was 31 years old.

If you’d like to see him in action:

I’m A Man: 
 
25 or 6 to 4:

https://youtu.be/7uAUoz7jimg

The full Tanglewood  concert:

Friday #FlashFiction @lauralibricz

The Venom Club

“Try this,” I said. “Drink some.”

He shook his head no and kissed the blonde girl as she sat back down on his lap. I lit a cigarette and passed it to the girl, burning her hair as she flicked her ponytail over her shoulder to conceal her left breast.

“Stupid woman,” she spat at me as she stood up and marched away, stiletto heels uncertain in the thick-piled carpet.

I held the glass out to him again. “Drink. You promised. Otherwise I would have left you two outside.”

His green eyes were clear and alert, so he’d had nothing to drink and was not under the influence of any other substance. His skin was healthy. What a suitable subject. He leaned forward, defiant, distrustful, but rising to the challenge.

Good boy, I thought.

He took the glass from me. “Why do you want me to drink it? You drink it.”

“I’ve been drinking just this all evening.”

He sniffed at the simple glass tumbler, recoiled, coughed. He leaned forward, coughed again and I almost hit him in the head with the pitcher of water as I tried to top up his glass. The contents of the glass went cloudy as the water mixed with the amber-brown liquid of my own design. I approved with a proud smile and a nod of the head. Years of work perfecting my concoction. He saw my reaction. He narrowed his eyes like a trapped dog.

I set the water pitcher down, picked up my own glass and filled it once more with the same amber-brown liquid from the crystal decanter I kept by my foot. I sipped at the brew like it was the finest cognac.

“Why would I want to harm you?” I said.

By the door, I heard his girlfriend arguing with my brother. I needed her out of here. She could ruin everything. My brother seemed to have heard my thoughts. The door opened, the girl protested, the door slammed, all was quiet.

He watched me closely and showed no reaction to the girl’s exit. As he raised the glass to his lips, I did the same. He allowed the liquid, the whole glassful–watered-down, yes–to flow into his mouth and swallowed without flinching. I did the same.

Warm tingling spread a numbness from my feet up my legs. I knew I could not stand if I tried. My fingers gripped the plush arms of my chair and I willed my eyes to stay open. I looked at the clock. I knew I must allow for this initial dread in order for it to clear again. My tolerance was great but I had drunk more this evening than ever before.

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back into the brown-leather chair. His head nodded to one side. I needed to monitor his every move, check his vital signs, to record his reaction. If only I could get up out of this chair!

Feeling returned to my feet and I slowly wiggled my toes. Ten minutes had passed. Elation replaced the initial dread and I knew I’d raised myself up to the next level. I leaned forward and touched his knee. He stirred. I took his hand and asked his name.

“Lasse,” he said and closed his eyes again.

“Lasse,” I said. “You have passed your first test.”

“What test?”

“You’re still alive.”

He opened his eyes and stretched his legs. Fifteen minutes it took him to regain his composure. My brother could not even recover that quickly.

I filled his glass and held it out for him. “Drink.”

“No.”

“Drink it, I said!”

“No.”

“You have a choice, Lasse. You drink it now, you drink it every day, you stay here with me and work by my side. I know you have no job, you have no perspectives. I’ve been watching you. Your girlfriend will never speak to you again after this evening. She didn’t want to come in here in the first place.”

Lasse took one of my cigarettes and lit it.

“And,” I said, holding up his glass. “And, you build up a tolerance to this stuff like I have been doing over the past year. It’s biological and organic, untraceable. I’ve distilled hundreds of gallons of this stuff. Enough to poison the whole city.

“Or, you become trapped in my web, doomed like the others. I plan to tap into the water supplied to the Manufacturer’s Building on First Street next Monday morning. Fifteen-hundred people working in there on any given day! And that’s just the beginning.”

He drew on his cigarette and flipped the hair from his face with the practiced head toss of a real guitar player.

“Then, no one can stand in my way! I’ve already sent anonymous threats to the city and still I get no press. They won’t even investigate. They don’t take me seriously.”

He stomped out his cigarette and stared at me.

“I will not die in obscurity! I am the real Black Widow!”

Guitar Solos #electricguitar

     
     

     The Creator rested on the seventh day. On the eighth day, he woke up and heard the angels he’d created on the fifth day to keep him company playing on their harps.“Listen guys, this just won’t do. You can’t expect people to want to get into Heaven when they realize they’ll have to listen to that all day.”

     So, on that eighth day, the Creator invented the electric guitar.

     I love guitar solos. And top ten lists. So what better way to end the week than with a top ten list of guitar solos?

     I can identify with singers because I love words and lyrics. And they’re usually the cutest one in the band. I can memorize lyrics and sing a tune, but I can’t make one up. I’m more like a parrot and not really creative with a melody. Even when I was playing the piano, I could only give back the melody as I learned it from sheet music. Which brings me to the conclusion that the singers and the lyrics are the mind of the song. But the guitarist is the heart and the soul.

     I often listen to instrumentals when I’m writing. If I’m trying to think in words, lyrics get in the way. Guitar solos are brainstorming. Or speed on the autobahn, shifting gears and changing lanes. Or rain pounding on the window or snow sliding off the roof.

     I could expand my top ten list to maybe twenty or fifty. If I was talking about my favorite songs of all time I would. But I will only allow myself a top ten list of guitar solos this weekend. Otherwise I would spend all day searching my musical archives. My choices are in no particular order of preference, because I like them all the same. And there are, of course, many more but these come to mind first.

     
1a. 25 or 6 to 4 (the long version)—Chicago / Terry Kath

1b. So We’ve Ended as Lovers—Jeff Beck

       1b2. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat—Jeff Beck

1c. Alive—Pearl Jam

1d. Free Bird (live)—Lynyrd Skynyrd / Allen Collins

1e. Little Wing—from Sting’s band, don’t know who the guitarist is.

1f. Lenny—Stevie Ray Vaughn

1g. Do You Feel Like We Do (live)—Peter Frampton

1h. Eruption—Eddie van Halen

1i. Brighton Rock—Queen—Brian May

1k. Anything played by Jimmy Page.

     I only put Jimmy Page last for effect. He’s my Number One Guitar Player, which opens up new possibilities for other top ten lists!

     If ten people comment with their own top ten list, I’ll be able to compose a Top Hundred List. So your challenge for today is… 

 

Have a nice weekend!

Headless #mondayblogs #electricguitar

Eddie van Halen-behaving—Photo courtesy of jeffbabicz.com

 

Speaking of Guitars:

      In 1976, furniture designer Ned Steinberger and luthier buddy Stuart Spector got together in Brooklyn, NY and developed a new electric bass called the Spector NS2. The ‘concave / convex’ body form, designed by Ned, became the distinguishing factor for Spector Basses. After that, Ned’s interest in the music industry grew and he pulled out all the stops. He went on to develop some of his more innovative designs. The headless bass was born and the rest is history.
     The unique construction of the Steinberger L-Series headless bass and it’s design made it a real eye-catcher. The neck and body were one solid construction molded out of carbon fibers. The body was then covered with a plastic face plate that also housed the electronics. The neck contained no truss rod, that metal rod inserted in the neck used to adjust the curve of the neck. The curve, or relief, was built into the neck and optimized with the frets. Because there was no headstock, the tuning pegs were incorporated into the bridge and string change was a breeze using the double-ball stings.
     In the early 80’s, Ned got some cheap factory space in Newburgh, NY and moved shop upstate. Shortly thereafter, a six-string guitar version was launched and Ned’s ground-breaking transposing tremolo system, the Trans-Trem. It was at that time, in 1985, that I started working in the fret department. The necks were pre-formed in a machine so that we could install the frets with little or no top-levelling. This procedure for ‘calculating the deflection of carbon graphite necks as they were displaced by the cumulative effects of installed fret pressure’ was developed by Ned and Jeff Babicz.
     Other new models were released. I transferred into the assembly department and worked on the P-Series project: molded necks bolted onto wooden bodies. Guitarist Mike Rutherford of Genesis inspired the M-Series, a molded neck bolted to a more-traditionally shaped body, built by English luthier Roger Giffin.
     Steinberger never officially endorsed artists. The artists just played the instruments. At this time names like Eddie Van Halen, Rick Derringer, Geddy Lee and many others were touring with their Steinberger guitars and basses.
     But, alas, every story has an ending. On my last day, in the summer of 1987, the big blond guy from Gibson came by and bought the company. At that point, the NY company was producing over 25 guitars and basses a week. Eventually, the NY factory was dismantled and the operation was moved to Nashville. 

Here’s some links for more infos:

Ed Roman’s story: Ed Roman’s Steinberger Story 
Jeff’s Website: JeffBabicz.com