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Slow Down!

June 28th, 2010

On Second Thought, Don’t

I can no longer keep up with the good stuff God does in my life. I just don’t have time to blog it all.

On Saturday, I cooked for our church’s Rhythms Lounge event. Young people come to the cafe and perform. Some play music, some recite, and others sing. This weekend, we had a guest performer: Zach Freeman, the son of two of our pastors. He plays guitar and sings.

What a show we had. We have a regular house band composed of church members; oddly, it’s not the same band that plays during worship. They jammed with Zach for maybe an hour. We heard a lot of blues and even a long funk session.

I can’t describe the quality of the playing. I had no idea these kids were this good. They were so tight, you would think they had been playing together for years.

Zach started off with his Strat and some effects, and he created an ambience you could almost swim in. I wish we had recorded it. Ordinarily I’m not a big fan of reverb and sustain pedals, but he used them to draw us into a world that did not exist before he started playing.

When the other players got going, we heard bass licks that started and stopped the show at will. The keyboard player, who claimed he couldn’t play blues, performed gymnastics that had everyone gasping. When it was over, the whole crowd started yelling and crying out. A friend of mine leaned over and said, “They’re praising God in Creole.”

I couldn’t ask for a better end to my first week of renewed guitar practice.

It gets even weirder. I have a new guitar! For a long time, I’ve wanted a thinline Gibson guitar with single-coil pickups and a Bigsby, but doubting that I would use it, I never gave in to temptation. This week I started reading up on Epiphone guitars. This is Gibson’s Asian line. Ordinarily, I won’t go near an Asian instrument; Japanese dreadnoughts sound like cigar boxes and have actions that tear up your hands. But I kept reading reviews, and I thought to myself, “If I get one of these things, I have 30 days to try it out, and if it works, it will be a fantastic asset, and the price will be so low, even if I get a better instrument later, I’ll be able to drag this one when I travel without worrying about what happens to it.”

I drove down US1 to buy some bird seed, and I was praying in the Spirit while I drove (good way to redeem the time), and I started thinking about Guitar Center. I felt I couldn’t stop myself, so I decided to go with it. I went in and found an Epiphone Riviera on the wall. I still didn’t intend to buy it. I asked the salesman a few questions, looked it over, and told him I would take it. I felt like I had to do it. I think he nearly fainted. I didn’t even ask to play it. There was no point.

This guitar was made in China. They get spotty reviews that go in two directions. Some instruments are written off as junk. Other buyers say they can’t understand how Epiphone can sell such gorgeous instruments at this price point. It looks like I’m in the latter group. This thing is virtually flawless. It sounds good. It plays well. So far, I’ve only been able to find one tiny imperfection in it. And it cost about 13% of what a new Gibson would cost. I could put a thousand dollars’ worth of upgrades into it and still be way ahead.

I don’t know what the story is. Maybe it was God. Maybe I just like shiny new stuff too much. But I try to walk by faith, and this felt like God’s urging, so I didn’t want to screw it up.

On Saturday, the music materials I ordered arrived. I got a copy of Tony Rice Guitar, plus Dan Crary’s Flatpicker’s Guide, plus a giant tablature book called The Big Slab of Tab. I used to play things from these books, many years ago. Back then, I had some trouble with a little bit of the Tony Rice stuff, but as I noted the other day, my practice habits were completely wrong. Fifteen minutes a day.

I got these books because I feel that God is restoring my life and undoing past failures (and also because I owed Tony Rice a royalty).

I’ve been working on the tunes, and it’s crazy, but there is a big long Tony Rice lick I could never conquer in the past, and after two days, I nearly have it beat. I figure I should be able to play coherently, with the correct super-heavy Dunlop pick, within a week. Maybe I’ll upload an MP3 when that happens.

To get back to church, I cooked for the first two services yesterday, and then I served as an Armorbearer at the last service, and I attended a meeting at which we welcomed four new ABs. Guess who one of them is? Zach Freeman. He goes to college in another state, but he’ll be here all summer. I spoke up and informed him of the rule that ABs have to give each other free guitar lessons, and he said, “I GOT you.” Ha!

I keep meeting remarkable people at my church, semi-ghetto though it may be. The background of the people is totally unrelated to their potential and the contents of their hearts. Some are from the neighborhood, which is pretty depressed. Some are from areas that are more affluent. But there are incredible human beings there, from all sorts of different areas.

When I met Zach on Saturday, I was looking forward to meeting a young man everyone admired so much, but he treated ME like a celebrity. He kept talking about my cheesecake and how great it was. I’m just the guy in the kitchen. He, not me, was the talk of the church. It’s wild, how God raises up powerful people and keeps them humble. With his help, an camel really can go through the eye of a needle.

I may have to make him pay off on that lesson thing, although when he sees how hopeless I am, he may wish he had kept silent.

Another new AB has a wonderful trait we needed badly: he’s Cuban. That means he can FISH. And we need that, if we are going to keep angling for my dad. We talked about dolphin fishing, and he told me a few things even I didn’t know. So I’m hoping we can get him on the boat in a few days. He’s also a professional photographer, so maybe we can preserve a few images.

We don’t get very many Cubans in our church. Strange. I know a bunch of Puerto Ricans, though. God tends to recruit from the bottom of society, and Cubans are at the top.

Today I got up, hoping to rest after a busy weekend, and what did I see on Drudge’s page? The Supreme Court has INCORPORATED THE SECOND AMENDMENT. At least, that’s my understanding of it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, but I haven’t read the opinion. I’m sure liberal judges and lawyers will do their best to interpret incorporation out of the decision. Anyway, Wayne LaPierre says firearms bans can no longer be enforced anywhere in the US. This is gigantic news. God has worked a real wonder.

For a long time, I’ve believed God was going to preserve and expand our gun rights, even as our government pushed farther and farther in the directions of sexual perversion, anti-Semitism, military weakness, weak boarders, and socialism. It looks like I was hearing from God, and not from my own limited mind.

An evil time is coming. When it does, people will remember the Jewish names Madoff, Stearns, Goldman, Sachs, Bernanke, Emanuel, Frank, and Geithner. I think these names will be used to justify a wave of anti-Semitic barbarism. In that day, Christians and Jews who have armed themselves, bought rural land, and learned how to use tools will be way ahead of the game. I strongly suspect God is getting us ready. This decision will certainly help.

What will God do next? I can’t even guess. The spectacle is exhausting me.

5 Responses to “Slow Down!”

  1. Charlie Bravo Says:

    Ephiphones: I can recommend you the Epiphone Firebird, I have one, and it’s an amazing instrument. I recommend it to you with the same vemehency I recommended the Russian sniper rifle.
    Pedals: I am old school. So I have the same Steve Ray used to have, a beat up distortion Boss D1 pedal, and a Crybaby wah. That’s all you need. Really. The tremolo in the Strat is really good for blues. That’s my main guitar, a Strat.
    Picks: medium Fender plays well. You might want to try holding the pick in such a way that you play with the wider part of it instead of the thin part of it, reversed. Never stop practicing finger picking, look at Jeff Beck videos.
    Another thing, tune at least one of your guitars half step down….

  2. Steve H. Says:

    The Blues Driver I have says “BD-2” on it. Don’t know much about it.
    RE picks, I am so used to a 1 mm Dunlop pick, I don’t think I could move down to a floppy medium plastic job.
    I don’t think fingerpicking would be much of a problem for a banjo player.

  3. Charlie Bravo Says:

    With your Blues Driver BD2 you can get a lot of tonalities, and that characteristic warmth of vintage tube amps of the bluesmen of yore. If you turn the dial down to the distortion side of it you can get a pretty nice Texas growl, in the vein of SRV or Johnny Winter. A wah pedal will give you a lot of versatility, I have had some, and my favorite is the Dunlop Crybaby -it just reminds me of the whining voice of Al Gore. The Vox is very good too, as it is the Morley. Never get a fancy one “modeled on the tone of so-and-so”, though.
    The thicker the pick the louder the sound, so go for it.
    Re fingerpicking, that’s a great advantage, because you can get a lot of different voices if you fingerpick with the tips of your fingers, or with the nails, or with your thumb. Many old bluesmen thumbed their way up to fame. Good luck and godspeed in your progress!

  4. Ritchie Says:

    It seems to me that common folk are gathering more faith, more knowledge, and more guns. The State is gathering more power and control.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  5. MikeC Says:

    I’ve got 2 Epiphones. An Acoustic and a Dot Studio Hollow Body, both are excellent. I don’t play well enough to justify the full price of the Gibsons, but the Epis were great for me.