Smoky Hill Music

Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Ukulele Lessons Aurora CO

march 2021 Newsletter

My Favorite Guitarist

Eddie Van Halen - He created a style of playing that blew our minds when we first heard it, and likely influenced millions of guitarists. His two-handed arpeggio tapping, extreme whammy bar dives, melodic phrasing, speed, Phase 90 and Marshall "brown sound" tone brought extreme technical virtuosity to the forefront, and inspired and influenced a whole new generation of guitarists who were too young to catch the psychedelic guitar trip of Hendrix in the Sixties. 

Eddie says Eric Clapton was THE ONLY guitar player who influenced him, but you really don't hear any of Clapton's influence in Eddie's playing.

Eddie Van Halen died in October 2020 after a long battle with cancer.

My student Emmari G. is 9-years old. She loves to play all the cool classic rock songs. Her rock star room has posters of Eddie Van Halen, Joan Jett, and Lita Ford. 

In This Issue:


- March Lessons Schedule

- Who's the BEST guitarist of all time?

- Rock Star Jam Spaces 

- March Music Flashback

Gov't Mule - Full concert

Jimi Hendrix - The first "most innovative" guitarist of the rock era. Hendrix was primarily a blues player who added unique new tones and style to the rock guitar lexicon.

His playing utlized wah pedal, early fuzztone, whammy bar dive bombs, and a theatrical style of playing and showmanship that had never before been seen in a guitarist. He influenced an entire generation of future legends, including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Prince, who styled their playing, swagger, and their stagecraft after Hendrix. 

His bombastic performance of the Star Spangled Banner to a sleepy and dazed Monday morning crowd at Woodstock is the defining moment of the concert that defined a generation. Here's an interesting article that explores Jimi's version of the national anthem.

March Lessons Schedule


5 Lessons - $125

Mondays

Tuesdays

Wednesdays


4 Lessons - $100

Thursdays

Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

The final student jam sessions at Smoky Hill Music took place the weekend of March 14 -15, 2020. The students were socially distanced, a sign of what the year was about to bring us. 

Lessons Payment is due the first week of each month. 

Please make your payment on time.
If you are renting an instrument from me please make that payment as well.

1. Pay with Zelle.  No-fee payment method offered by many banks. 

My Zelle payment ID is lessons@smokyhillmusic.com

2. Mail a check payable to SMOKY HILL MUSIC. Check the date. It's 2021 now.

5681 S. Versailles St.
Aurora, CO 80015


Please fill out the check properly, using dark ink and legible handwriting. 

I've had a lot of your checks lately refused by my bank for things like sparkly pink ink, (why??) and unreadable handwriting in the 'amount' areas. I use my mobile app to deposit checks, and it's very picky.

Please don't lick the envelope. 

You may also drop off a check in the box at my front door.


3. Paypal. 
No account necessary to pay with credit or debit card. click here to make an online payment

Clapton was a meme long before there were memes. This grafitti contributed to Clapton's legend status in the 60's, and was copied all over the world on walls and highway overpasses.

A website crunched the numbers on ten different TOP TEN GUITARISTS lists in 2019. The compiled sum of ten published lists:

10. David Gilmour

9. Keith Richards

8. Chuck Berry

7. Stevie Ray Vaughan

6. B.B. KIng

5. Robert Johnson

4. Eddie Van Halen

3. Eric Clapton

2. Jimmy Page

1. Jimi Hendrix

Attention: Some of you have not made your payment for the previous month.
So your payment is very much 
PAST DUE !
Please check your records and add that amount to this month's payment.

Student band members Carson, Seth and Jake G. - March 2020

A Year of Covid

Rock Star Jam Space


Do you have a dedicated space to rock out and practice your guitar every day?

The kind of area that inspires your inner rock star to shine?

Rock posters on the wall? Cool decor? Groovy lighting? Instruments and gear? 


Send me a pic of you in your jam space and I'll share it here in the newsletter!

(just make sure you tidy up first, k?)

Jake W. and Grace at the last jam session, March 2020

Allman Brothers Concert.

I'll go first. This is the student rehearsal space here at Smoky Hill Music. It features a professional sound system, 24-channel digital mixing board, Roland digital V-drum kit, lots of amps, effects, instruments, microphones, stage monitors, and LED stage lighting and ProTools studio software for recording rehearsals.

It's been empty for one year now because of Covid, but it will hopefully be back in action soon! 

Did you notice they are all blues or blues-based guitarists except for EVH?

Who is YOUR favorite guitarist?

And what do you like about them?

March 1995 - on tour with my band. Somewhere near Lake Huron. We found this house across the street from a Coast Guard lighthouse, and the nice folks let us shoot our band photo on their porch. I'm the long-haired dude with the beard.

Online Lessons Reminders:


**Some of you continue to have Wi-Fi issues/ poor signal/ video or audio lag.

If you have these problems, be sure nobody else in the house is streaming, online gaming or Zooming or anything else that could be using up bandwidth during your lesson time. *



1. Please tune your instrument before your lesson. You should be doing this every day anyway. Use a tuner or the easy-to-use Guitar Tuna app. Or whatever your favorite tuning app is. Just use it. Before your lesson. :) thank you.


2. Original Sound. A very important ZOOM setting.

 Turn it on. If you don't know how, watch a tutorial specific to your device (tablet or computer). And make sure you have the latest Zoom app update installed.


3. Pages. Didn't get the lesson material yet? Send me a text to remind me if you haven't gotten it within a day. 


4. Frame your shot correctly. PLEASE make sure I can see your hands on the guitar. Keep the guitar in frame. If I can't see your hands I cannot help you play correctly. 

Who's The BEST Guitarist of All Time?

Eric Clapton - Often called the greatest guitarist ever, Clapton was at the forefront of British rockers who took American blues, cranked it up and sold it back to America as a brand new sound. Clapton was a guitar legend long before the 60's even ended due to his work with bands like the Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, and Cream, and he went on to great acclaim as a solo artist for the next several decades. 

True fact: His epic "Layla" was written as love song to Pattie Boyd Harrison, the wife of his best friend, Beatle guitarist George Harrison. They remained friends, even after Pattie married Eric.

True fact #2: The famous piano coda of Layla features some beautiful slide guitar work from Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers

The Strachan family rocks out in their amazing basement jam space, complete with PA system, drums, keyboard, amps, guitars and stage lights.

My all-time favorite guitar player is Warren Haynes. He was in my favorite band The Allman Brothers for about 25 years, in addition to fronting his own project called "Gov't Mule." 

They are a Colorado favorite and pre-covid played the Denver area at least once a year. I've seen him play many times with both groups. 

Music Flashback - March 1995

Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule at Red Rocks.

I was at this show. August 2019.

Have you ever had this discussion with your friends? A debate over which guitarist is the Greatest or the Best? 


I was recently asked my opinion on this topic. I'm sure my answer was less than satisfying and didn't clear up anything for the parties involved. 


It is a question that cannot be answered because there is no way to measure the qualities that go into making a guitarist great.


Do you simply measure it by speed? Who is the fastest? A local guitarist from Parker set the world's record for speed at a Guitar Center event about ten years ago. He played Flight of the Bumblebee at an astounding 600 BPM. A representative from Guinness Book of World Records was on hand to document the event. The record has been broken several times since. While it's mildly entertaining, in no way is this sort of speed playing even remotely musical. A blur of buzzing noise that shouldn't place anyone on a "Best Guitarist" list.


So while speed can be quantitatively measured, is speed the true mark of a great guitarist?


No. It is not.


A better way to frame the debate might be to ask which guitarist was most influential? Most innovative? Most unique style? 

There is no definitive answer to these questions either, but they make for a fun debate. 


Which guitarist is best is a matter of personal taste and a judgment of whatever one values in a guitarist.


I don't even have my own opinion of which Guitarist is the BEST. But I do have a favorite guitarist


Here are a few of the rock guitarists who usually place near the top of most people's lists, due to their huge contributions to guitar playing innovation and their massive influence on millions of players.

Now here we are, ONE YEAR since the beginning of the Covid lockdowns. I've not seen any students in person. No visitors. I live alone. The isolation has been tough.  


I have not gone anywhere since last March, so it DEFINITELY feels like it's been a year. Maybe two years.

(I wonder if my car will start.)


I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and healthy.


Let's all hope this thing ends and we can rock out TOGETHER very soon!


Peace and love to you all!