BillyRadd Music

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Riverwood Pottery Guitar Slides

Ceramic Guitar Slides from Dillsboro

Anita Gayle and I recently spent a few days in Dillsboro, NC to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and found a great pottery shop in our exploration of this beautiful little mountain village, Riverwood Pottery.

Brant and Karen Barnes, along with their daughter, Zan, produce amazing purpose-driven art like kitchen and tableware. The talented, inventive trio also produces decorative and functional vases, oil lamps, face jugs, and much more.

Of particular interest to me were beautiful ceramic guitar slides made by Karen that I use while playing my home-made 3 and 4-string canjos, one of which is the background of the pic above. I now own three of karen's slides and those babies work "real good". Hand-made to provide some beefy weight, but covered with a pretty glaze, they come in different sizes to fit the finger size and use requirements of any slide player. But, each one is a bit different which appealed to me as a crafter myself, and they will likely be around longer than I will.

If you ever get the chance to visit Dillsboro, don't miss stopping by Riverwood Pottery on the Craft Circle, a small group of artisan shops just a short walk over the bridge on Scott's Creek from downtown Dillsboro. Brant will likely be "throwing" pots on the wheel in his studio attached to their shop and, besides being a real kick to talk with, he might even give you a demonstration on the art of pottery that he knows so much about.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wicozani - Land of the Long White Cloud

Total Healing for All

Last night at Asheville's Dobra Tea, Anita Gayle and I witnessed a growing phenomenon - the well-deserved rising popularity of an eclectic trio of Western North Carolina artists/musicians that have dubbed their collaborative talents Wicozani, which is the Lakota Sioux word (an indigenous people of the Great Plains of North America) meaning total healing for all. As a fan of this group since they formed about a years ago, I can affirm that healing is what their unique sound is all about.

Wicozani performing live at Asheville's ARTery Gallery

Consisting of Linda Go with vocals, drums, and strings, Carl Peverall on his hand-made Magus Tone Drums, and Geri Littlejohn playing her own hand-crafted Green Grass Flutes, Wicozani weaves mesmerizing melodies that lowers blood pressure, calms the soul, and provides healing sound meditation to anyone fortunate enough to come within hearing distance of their mystical sonic synergy.

And now, anyone can experience Wicozani's relaxing musical musings through their new CD, Land of the Long White Cloud. Do your mind and body a soothing, centering favor and wrap yourself in inner connection and peace with Wicozani.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Knoxville Inspiration

Found this blank-canvas of a brick wall in an alley in Knoxville's Old City district. I'm musing about a new album of funky songs with the above cover art inspired by my one-day trip there. After all, a town with a main thoroughfare called Gay Street has to spur some original ideas, right? 

Comments? Questions? Discuss amongst yourselves. But, please remember, some of my best friends are streets.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Utah Plates Tenor Guitar

4-String License Plate Electric Tenor Guitar with African Lacewood neck
and Bare Flatpup Humbucker

Anita Gayle and I recently got our North Carolina drivers licenses (we both scored 95% on the written test, thank you very much) and a new NC license plate for Big Red, our Jeep Wrangler. Utah doesn't require sending back their old plates so I decided to recycle-reuse the the two I had "rented" from the Utah DOT and build a 4-String License Plate Electric Tenor Guitar. (More pics below)

In case you are unaware, a tenor guitar's standard tuning is DGBE, or the same tuning as the highest (or lower strings when you are looking at a guitar from the front) as a standard 6-string guitar. But, you can also use various other tunings.

I ordered an African lacewood neck, a set of gold-plated tuner machines with classic half-moon buttons in a nice mocha color, a brass tailpiece and gold strap buttons (that I thought would compliment the bright colors of the Utah plates) from C.B.Gitty in New Hampshire. I also bought a Bare Flatpup4 Humbucker from Elmar Zeilhof in Vienna Austria, a cool, thin (4mm thick) innovative electric pickup that is easily glued right on the surface of any guitar for low-profile amplification.

Last night I was finally finished building this personally nostalgic screamer and mounted a new set of strings, also made and supplied by Gitty. I plugged her into my trusty old Ampeg Portaflex combo amp and quickly discovered that my new build has sound/tone characteristics unlike any electric guitar I have heard before - kind of like an electric banjo/dobro, which I expect is because the two thin, metal license plates, attached together as the front and back with metal machine bolts, act as resonators.

I'm pretty positive that there has never been another tenor license-plate guitar with the letters Z41-1KA emblazoned on it so I think I have made an original.