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Guitar, Gas, Phibes…

Hey, Everybody,


So another update on the M&M Chronicles. We have continued to seek out fun things to do, here in town and elsewhere.


This week (I’m writing this on April 28) we had a couple of interesting excursions. Specifically, we went to two different musical events -- small concerts, that is. The first wasn’t bad at all. The second was...depressing.


I’ll do the fun one today and the not-so-fun one next time.



Nothing to do with the story, but great ice cream.


So, we went to see the guitarist Richard Smith (https://www.richardsmithmusic.com/home). He’s an Englishman by origin who has become (somewhat improbably) a great advocate and practitioner of the Nashville style of guitar “picking.” He appeared here in Georgetown courtesy of the Williamson County Guitar Society (https://www.wilcoguitar.org/).


Honestly, I had not heard of either Smith or the Society until I happened to notice a poster about the concert ...at, amusingly enough, our local Firo Pizza parlor. But, he was quite good...very talented, indeed...and is, I’m told, one of those musicians who is not famous except among other musicians.


I’ve encountered such people before, and I’ve always sort of wondered about the fact that there can be a disconnect between great talent and great fame. Something to consider if one should be, in the deep dark night, considering one’s own relative obscurity. It is comforting, in its strange way.


Anyway, Smith has played with some guitar greats, like Chet Atkins. He also works extensively with Tommy Emmanuel, who you may or may not know. I have only learned about Emmanuel in the past year or so, and then by a rather curious route.


The route in question begins with the fact that I’m a fan of the piece “Classical Gas,” by Mason Williams. “Gas” is a guitar piece, but...or so I’m led to believe by real musicians...not one easily performed by a solo guitar. According to one of Mason Williams’ own websites, it was meant as a collaborative effort between a guitarist and, well, a whole orchestra (see http://www.classicalgas.com/home.html)


But, that hasn’t stopped guitarists from figuring out ways of making it a solo piece. And, one day, while I was cruising the web, I ran across a clip from the cartoon “American Dad” in which a character (a space alien named Roger. No. I’m not making that up) plays a solo guitar version of Gas. I’ll spare you all the weird details about how that came to be, but suffice to say that he did, and it was one of the most successful solo versions of the piece I’d ever heard (you can see it here: https://youtu.be/7ZPT103UUDs)


A helpful remark in the comments led me to the actual musician playing the piece -- to wit, Tommy Emmanuel. And, of course, Emmanuel’s performance of “Gas” is on Youtube as well (go here: https://youtu.be/S33tWZqXhnk). As I say, it is astonishing. As God is your witness, you’d think the London Philharmonic was involved, but, no...all the sound is coming out of one guitar, and ten fingers.


Which, you gotta confess, is a pretty convoluted musical experience -- a cartoon alien to “Classical Gas” to Tommy Emmanuel to Richard Smith...and back again. All that’s missing is Scooby-Doo doing Bach on the Mighty Wichita Wurlitzer while somewhere in the background The Abominable Dr. Phibes snarls, “and I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.”


Of course, if you’re not of “a certain age,” that may not make a wit of sense to you, except the Scooby-Doo part. So I will throw in a couple more handy links:


On the Wurlitzer: https://www.wichitawurlitzer.org/post/why-the-wichita-wurlitzer-for-starters


On Dr. Phibes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Abominable_Dr._Phibes


Anyway...


That was the fun one.


The other, not nearly so much.


More to come.



***


About the photo. As per norm, it has nothing to do with the story here. It is a recent snap we got with the assist of a kindly passer-by while we were enjoying ice cream at our local Dairy Queen. Drop in if you’re in Georgetown. It’s the Mayfield DQ just off the highway. Can’t miss it. And here’s the website https://www.mayfielddq.com/



***


Care to help out?


I provide these blog postings for free. That’s fine and I’m happy to do so. But, long ago and far away, I was told that if you give away your material, that means you don’t really think it has any value.


So, to get beyond that, I’ve decided to make it possible for you to leave me a “tip” for my posts.


If you like what I write or the videos I produce, and feel you could make a small contribution to support my efforts, please go here:


https://michaeljaytucker.gumroad.com/l/lzumj


That will take you to a Gumroad page where you’ll have the option of leaving me a few pence by way of encouragement.


Again, I don’t mind if you don’t. I just want to provide you with the option so that I won’t feel quite so much like I’m just tossing my works into the wind.


Either way, thanks hugely for dropping by the blog :-)


~mjt






Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker



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