King Henry VIII?

Warning:

I wrote this after getting injured shitfaced in performance of my duties.

I haven’t actually read it. I’m going to try to salvage it and edit it into something that will do. If I recall correctly, and I probably do not, it’s pretty long.

I have no idea how this is actually going to turn out, as I meander into editing mode and try to turn this into something you might be interested in reading.

I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not. If I were sorry, I’d have not done it in the first place!

Let’s give this a shot…


Gonna be completely upfront about this.

I’m kinda intoxicated. I am going to get more intoxicated.

They are currently tearing shit down to load the truck. This is called a ‘load out’ in our lingo. I don’t think any of us actually calls it ‘load out.’ No, we say stuff like, “Fuck. Time to load the fucking truck.” There’s no ‘load out’ in that sentence.

Side note: I usually try to avoid much jargon. ‘Snot fair to you and it’s not consistent.

Not me! I’m not lugging a damned thing. I made one trip to the car and I’m supervising while I type on a laptop. Pretty soon, I’m headed to a hotel. I’ll make one more trip to the car and that’s to carry my gear bag, one suitcase, and this here delicious beer.

For the record, I call this “supervising.” I ain’t actually paying attention to a damned thing. They know what they’re doing. That’s why they get paid! I do provide moral support and crack jokes – I also fetch beer!

Tonight’s show was lovely and, once again, the people are always way too good to us. Thank you, people!

Seriously… That’s truly the magic of it – and it’s not universally true, but it’s true more often than not. For all the pissing and moaning I do, I’m pretty sure I’ve at least partially deserved it whenever groups of people pelted the stage with objects.

Yes. Some venues are so horrible that they have that cliché chicken wire barrier. I haven’t played one of them in years – and you can’t make me. I’ve made my way to much nicer stages and audiences.

It’s for good reason that I like venues that provide security! (Ed Note: This article doesn’t actually improve.)

But, for the most part, our audiences are too kind to us. Sometimes, they stand outside in shitty weather, risk OIUs – and harming other people, drive long distances, spend money they can’t really afford, and things like that.

You know, alcoholics!

Sometimes, they even fight with their spouses and argue just to come see us. I suspect a few of them shirk their duties to their community, family, and job – just to come see us!

But, come to see us they do. And, for just a time that’s altogether too short, they invite us to give them an escape. They give us permission to help them emote and for them to forget about the stresses of life.

They generally want to hear two types of music.

They either want to hear stuff that’s modern, the same stuff they hear when they turn on their radio station, or they want to hear the music that helped shape them into adults. They want us to remind them of those youthful years, between 15 and 25.

We concentrate on the latter. We concentrate on the music that they remember mostly from their formative years.

I’m old. I’m tired. I’m not keeping up with Top 40 Hard Rock, Rock, Metal, or the umpteen other genres that get changed more often than I change hairstyles. I’m not adding the extra time that goes into keeping up with what is currently popular.

We, of course, have our own opinions about what we play and what we’d like to play. You can actually tell us what you want us to play when you hire us. If we don’t know it, we may consider learning it.

We reserve the right to refuse. There is shit that I refuse to play. There’s actually quite a long list of shit that the whole band won’t play – simply because one or more of us refuses to fucking play it. Even hookers have standards, or at least a sliding fee.

It’s at this point that I’m forced to admit that I’ve forgotten what it was that I was going to write next. (Ed Note: I’m pretty sure that’s obvious. Less obvious is I still have no idea what I was going to write about next.)

Once upon a time, there lived an old man named TheBuddha. He had a topic, and even a point, but he sometimes likes to drink.

Hotels…

That wasn’t actually what my subject was, but I’m gonna tell you about hotels next.

Universally, hotels suck. No, fancy five-star resort hotels suck worse. If there’s one place they won’t leave you the fuck alone, it’s a fancy hotel. They’re also far more likely to get suspicious if you’re dragging in hookers, obvious drug dealers, and leave the “Do Not Disturb/No Room Service” sign up for a week straight.

Econo Lodge, in the US, is pretty much as good as it gets, assuming you don’t mind transsexual hookers knocking on your door to ask if you want to smoke some crack with them.

I don’t mind that at all!

It’s a damned sight better than some idiot making jokes as he smashes that wheeled dolly with your precious instruments and curated collection of illicit substances into the elevator. Why no, no Mr. Bellhop! You may not take my bags out of my sight, thanks!

Bring on the crack whores!

Unfortunately, there are no Econo Lodges here. Instead, we’ll be going to some pretty normal looking, generic, hotel with a whimsical name and a very nice older gentleman behind the counter. Well, I don’t know if he’s still there. I already have the keys – so if the hotel is any good then I won’t actually need to see the old gentlemen again. In fact, that’d be ideal!

Also, I’m pretty sure if he sees us again tonight, he’s not gonna be very happy about that.

I did tell ‘em why we were there and that I’d do my best to keep it to a dull roar. He happily told me he didn’t much give a shit (though he used more polite vocabulary) ‘cause the place is pretty much empty. That is for the best.

It’s pretty awesome, but it’s still a hotel. Hotels suck, remember?

I like my bed. That’s why I bought it. I’m pretty partial to my house. I like my shower. I picked it out, just for that reason. I also really like poopin’ on my own toilet.

There’s just something weird about poopin’ on hotel toilets.

I like being able to go to my studio. I like being able to go to my study. I love being able to go pee off the front porch.

Which is why hotels suck. Even if you stay in it for months, it’s never home.

Huh… You’ve made it this far through the article? Weirdo.

This article isn’t going to get better.

No, it’s going to get much, much worse. (Ed Note: Truth.)

Today, we’re gonna talk about a little fella known as Henry, from the House of Tudor. You might know him better as King Henry VIII, the prick.

I warned you way up at the top that I’m getting shitfaced. You knew damned well what you were getting into when you opted to keep reading! I’m pretty sure you can’t place all the blame on me.
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Strings…

That’s the most low-effort title, ever. But, it’s accurate!

I thought I had all day today. I don’t. No, I have to go check out a venue – in person. Never let drummers be in charge of anything! I’m gonna make him drive me.

So, because of that, this is just titled “Strings…” Why? Because I’m gonna tell you about strings. Ain’t a word of it gonna be useful, either. None of it.

I’m grumpy! Telling you about strings is gonna fix my grumpiness.

I’m telling you right now, ain’t a damned bit of this going to be useful.
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Guitar pickup naming conventions are horrible.

You have no idea how hard it is for me to not write an article about bells.

Seriously…

Not only do I want to write an article about bells, I want to use my nifty new stamp of approval and stamp bells with it.

You know what, you’re getting a story about bells – but I’ll try to keep it brief. (Editorial note: I failed at that.)

They took a bunch of bells, of various sizes, and crammed them into towers. Some of these are the largest and heaviest instruments – in the world.

To ring these bells, they’d put as many as 16 people on one side – whose job was to hold onto a beam and step, in something approximating unison, on another giant length of timber.

At the other end of that length of timber were as many as 16 other people. They’d ring the giant bell, by smashing it with a log.

In the bell tower, there are many bells of varied sizes – meaning some of them had more than 100 of the burliest people they could find, bouncing up and down on logs and ringing the bells.

The bell ringers were shitfaced for this.

There’s a trend.

Eventually, they’d ring the bells from outside with ropes. This would require burly men and a trip to the pub. Because these were burly men, the chicks came and watched.

It pretty much turned into a drunken fuckfest, I’m pretty sure. We’re humans. We’ve been having sex pretty much since we climbed down from the trees. It seems pretty likely that where there was sex, alcohol, and fit people playing bitchin’ solos on bells, people were getting fucking laid.

It gets better…

They eventually figured out how to change the way bells are rung, by using a stopper and allowing the bells to have two stop positions in the upright position. Lots of bells…

Except, they don’t make music with them.

No, this is called “change ringing.” It’s an activity currently enjoyed by about 40,000 people, across England – and even in some of her old colonies.

They’re not making music.

Change ringing is a game that’s been turned into a competition. It also explains a bit about bell tolling.

It has fucking rules – and it’s actually based on math!

Trust me – it gets even better. It seems simple enough.

You can ring each bell only once.
You must then ring a bell that is adjacent to it.
You may not repeat the pattern.

And, it’s a ton of crazy math that determines the variations that can be generated using a particular set of bells.

4 bells may have just a few mathematical solutions but adding bells increases the number of solutions in an exponential manner.

And they’d eventually add bells until there were millions of possible combinations – they add up quickly.

Now… I told you that, just so I could tell you this.

The bell ringing turned into glorious drunken escapades.

They’d frequently lock the vicar out of the tower, get shitfaced, and ring them some bells until they were good and done with their bell ringing.

To complete all the possible combinations with a tower with just seven bells would take something like 30 years.

The bell towers have signs, some of them, telling people to not piss on the church roof. See, the bell ringers would lock themselves into the towers – and they’d be getting shitfaced and ringing the bells.

Yes, bell ringing hooligans existed – and they were unsurprisingly common. After all, who doesn’t want to get shitfaced and ring some fucking bells?

One story tells us about a bunch of bell ringers who were bell ringing hooligans and went to town on a set of bells – eventually angering them enough to throw them in jail.

Like 30 days later, the vicar came and bailed them out – at significant expense. Why? Well, someone had to ring the fucking bells and the bell ringers were all in jail.

In other words…

They were pretty much rock stars and had reduced the act of playing a bitchin’ solo (and they did have their favorite combinations) to math!

They used math to find a way to play bitchin’ solos, get drunk, get laid, get paid, and have themselves a hell of a time.

And they did it with the biggest fucking instruments known to mankind.

Bells get my seal of approval. I want to encourage all of you to get drunk, sneak into a local church, and ring the bell(s) like it’s the greatest bitchin’ solo that ever did solo!

Get out there and ring some bells. Get right shitfaced and do it. It’s a noble tradition and everyone around for miles has to listen to it. The buildings are special places – you can barricade yourself in there and they probably will let you play yourself out and then arrest you. It’s not like they’re going to just smash the door down, it’s a church!

You’ll be able to plead that down to a misdemeanor, disturbing the peace charge. You can frame your receipt for the fine. You will have a wonderful story to tell of the day you played a bitchin’ solo on the church bells.

You could ask ’em, and they might actually let you ring the bell a few times. But, where’s the fun in that?

Some conductor decided he wanted to play a bitchin’ solo with the bells – from multiple towers. It was a very complicated affair – but he figured it out and did surprisingly well with a Greensleeves arrangement. I’ll show you, at the end of the article.

He got them to play chords and ring bells simultaneously. That was unheard of – after all, they’d had rules for ringing the bells and he was making them make music and not ring them in a mathematical pattern.

They claimed it was the first time anyone had done that – and they further claimed that they’d never played the bells more than one at a time – except for some very rare instances when they rang them all at once.

Bullshit.

There’s no fucking way a bunch of drunk people didn’t ring those bells in all sorts of fashions and combinations – some of them spectacularly awful. I guarantee someone tried to even sing with ’em. They were shitfaced!

Hmm…. Bell ringers were kind of like punk rockers.

I’m as sure of this being true as I am of anything. There’s no way in hell they weren’t trying to play bitchin’ solos on bells. And, I understand – and approve.

Gotta tell ya, getting shitfaced and locking myself into a bell tower until I got bored with playing the bells sounds a lot like it’d pretty much be the best day ever.

I can’t actually think of a much better day, unless it involves things that simply don’t exist – like my imaginary flying boat! (In my imagination, a flying boat is pretty much the best thing since fire-breathing monster trucks taking sweet, sweet jumps.)

The only thing better than that would be playing an old-school pipe organ powered by people manually laboring at bellows. I can produce high volumes of music and move some serious quantities of air – but nothing like a motherfucking pipe organ.

I have no idea how to play an old timey pipe organ.

Not a clue.

Don’t care. Still want to play one. If you happen to have an old-timey pipe organ, powered by human bellows, specifically of the size you see in giant cathedrals – you should invite me to come play it.

Wait, no… That’s a horrible idea. You should not invite me to come play it – but I’d appreciate it if you did and I promise to do my best not to cause permanent damage.

You know, just in case once of my readers happens to own a cathedral…

I suppose, I should get to my point…

There are so many ways to be passionate about music. Sometimes, we musicians gripe about things, but that’s because we’re passionate. What’s more passionate than locking you and some drunk friends into a tower so that you can ring giant bells while shitfaced? Not much, I’ll tell ya that right now! I haven’t even done it – and I’m certain it’d be a fantastic time.

So, my next bit is going to be me addressing another gripe, but it’s because I’m passionate. To me, these things suck.
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I did some work, so let’s learn about the harp guitar!

I hope you’re sitting down for this. If not, you probably should be – and you may want to add a shot of whiskey to your coffee.

You’re not going to believe this, but I both did some actual work and I haven’t even smoked anything today. Yet… I’ve got to talk to a local radio station later and I should probably not sound like I’m mentally handicapped.

I’m not kidding – I did some actual work!

What did I do? Well, it goes a bit like this…

This site’s articles get to just a few other sites. I probably should pick different sites to submit them to, but I enjoy submitting them where I do and I don’t see that changing in the near future.

On those sites, as regular readers know – but we sometimes get strange traffic from other sources, I kind of keep their guitar communities active. I tried doing so for math, but people are far more interested in music. I enjoy the increased amount of feedback and participation with regards to music instead of math, so music it is.

It was on one of those sites where a user named Timmy posted a picture of their guitar that they inherited. I believe they said it was 100 years old, but we’ll get to that – as it probably isn’t quite that old. You’ll see. It’s a grand adventure.

It’s pretty awesome and fairly unique guitar.

The guitar is something called a “harp guitar” and I know a little about them but, given that I mostly do covers for money, I’ve got zero good reasons to actually own one. Until now…

Alas, I am not a harp guitar expert. That’s okay, there are experts!

I didn’t just fine an expert. I found the expert. This guy literally wrote the dictionary definition.

I’m not kidding and I’m so grateful that they’ve given us their time.

Who is this expert? It’s none other than Gregg Miner.

Seriously, check out his credentials! (Really, check them out because they’re extensive.)

That’s right… Someone posted a picture of a harp guitar and I then went to find what appears to be the foremost figure for harp guitars, and bugged them! (I ain’t scared!)

From what I’ve seen on their site, they’re all seemingly nice people with professionalism and a careful study of the harp guitar. They’re building an encyclopedia and use phrases like this, “the first serious organological approach to these instruments.”

They’re scholarly. We giggle at innuendo. They write about the history of a luthier. We write about bitchin’ solos. They have gatherings. We have parties.

I even told ’em that it was for this site and they still helped! I don’t know what they were thinking. I even warned ’em that I’d be linking to their site!

No, in all seriousness, I want to extend a special thanks for the time they’ve invested and I’d absolutely love it if you became interested in a harp guitar. I’m really sure they’d love it even more than I do.

I will say that I’ve never really been interested in playing a harp guitar – until just the other day, when this mystery guitar appeared and I started digging into it.

I will also say that the person who originally posted a picture of their guitar probably didn’t expect this to be the result. But, it’s a bit of a mystery piece and many musicians love a mystery instrument. I count myself as one of them.

So, let’s get this started…
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Don’t just sit there playing with yourself!

As the title may illustrate, to an observant reader, I’m pretty much a giant five year old. And, once again, I’m sure you can deduce my mental state!

I feel as though I should offer some sort of reason for my mental state – but it’s definitely not an excuse.

They took the fun out of weed and made it legal. Seriously, legal weed is like decaffeinated coffee.

Wait… That’s a horrible analogy…

Legal weed is like buying beer after you’ve long since reached the legal age to do so.

That’s slightly better.

Which is to say, some of the magic is gone.

The only rational way to put the magic back in it, is to find a way to make it illegal again. See? I’m a man of sound first principles!

I don’t want to be too specific, but let’s just say I decided I’d grow a whole lot of pot last year. To put this in perspective, I could have 12 plants flowering at a time – legally. I exceeded that amount, significantly.

Harvest season nears again and I have an unusual problem. I have more pot than I can possibly smoke. Some people have already harvested their early stuff and people seem to just give me pot. Granted, one look at me and I’d probably offer me pot, but it was a pretty strange trait to adjust to when I moved here.

It might be selection bias, but I’m pretty sure most of Maine smoked pot before it was actually legal. I don’t think I know anyone who realized pot was legal and said, “You know, I think I’m going to start smoking pot.”

Nah… They all smoked it before it was legal. It was decriminalized, long before I moved here.

I realize that this might be because of the people I generally associate with – but I associate with quite a few professionals – but I don’t actually know many people in my area that don’t smoke pot. It wasn’t entirely uncommon to see someone smoking or partake myself, while walking down the street at a regular festival – even before it was legal.

They had whole hemp-celebrating festivals, long before it was legal. I know this, ’cause I’ve been on the stage at a few of ’em. They don’t actually hide them – they advertised the hell out of them. “Come on in. We’re gonna do a bunch of illegal drugs and jam!”

Which, you know, is a pretty good party. But, it’s legal now. I haven’t been to one of their festivals since.

I should mention that selling marijuana is illegal without special paperwork. But… You can give away up to two ounces. A whole lot of bartering is frequently referred to as gifting. Someone gifted me a whole bunch of fresh stuff recently and I can’t even (realistically) gift enough of my own to my friends and neighbors.

It’s a very unusual problem to have. On this subject, I’ll add that every musician should be reasonably adept at hiding and security a decent stash of excess drugs. That’s actually a fairly frequent problem.

See? These are things you don’t learn in a music book!

By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. “Oh, TheBuddha is just stoned, again.” Which is true – but I have a point!

And, remarkably enough, my intro is even topical! You’ll see…
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A bit about musical notation, specifically tab.

So, as I was imbibing my early morning creativity booster, I read through my messages and responded to some. I read everything people send, but I don’t always respond – because I sometimes can’t think of anything to say.

Today, I had someone ask me a pretty good question in a private message. I’d share it, but it was specifically marked private – and I don’t need to share it in order to get today’s article done.

But, it’s from their message that I got the idea to write this article. I’m gonna tell you about musical notation.

Tab, sometimes ‘tablature’ or ‘tabulature’ has a pretty neat history.

When someone looks down on you guitarists for reading tab, just smile and say that at least your not the bass player!

More seriously, just ignore ’em and realize that they speak from a place of ignorance! And, I’m gonna teach you why!

Hmm… This is the shortest intro that I’ve written in a while. I’m pretty much done with the intro. This feels wrong! (I’ve written like 160,000 words for this site. I have a lot of words.)

Yeah… So, I’m pretty much done with this intro. I’m not sure how that happened.
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So, I’m still not done…

My creativity bone is still broken – but I’m pretty sure it’s nearly mended. I’m actually excited to write tomorrow’s article. (It will be Thursday, time for the guitarist better than Hendrix!)

So, I think my creativity bone is almost healed. I almost wrote a lessons about performing, but I decided fuck it… I’ve written a whole lot of them. I’ll finish the series soon, but I’m not writing one today.

This morning, I tried some herbal inspiration but then I had some phone calls to make and it just wasn’t helping.

Well, today, I’m going to tell you about a lovely guitarist and share a story about their guitar. That’s it…

I ain’t even sorry for this! You’re getting this story.
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And now, the conclusion of the story…

Alright… I’ve got a massive hangover and I didn’t even crawl out of bed until about 09:30. I smoked some herbal inspiration and my headache is subsiding.

The short version is that yesterday’s show was a postponed show from the week before. (As those playing the home game know.) Well, we were one of several bands to be postponed – as you may also know.

One of them was unable to make yesterday’s show and a number of other stupid things happened at the venue. Either way, that left a hole in the schedule. We were asked to fill it and they’d give us money. We like money. We did it.

However, they wouldn’t let us actually do two sets back to back and just move everyone up a slot. No, we had to do a partial setup, do a set, tear our stuff out, and then do that same exact thing later in the evening.

The only possible way to cope with this sort of stupidity is to get intoxicated. So, I did… Not very intoxicated, but drunk enough to deal with inept venue management. And, once you start a good buzz-on, it’s just not realistic that you stop.

So, I hung out at the venue long after we could leave and soaked in the atmosphere. Also, I got pretty drunk at that point. I spent zero dollars on booze, strangely enough. Everywhere I went, somebody already had a beer for me.

Gotta tell you, it was pretty much the best day ever. I maybe made three trips during the unloading process – and those were only from the front of the stage to pack my guitars into the cases. Someone carried them out from there.

For those who are performing musicians, that’s important!

This is pretty much as good as it gets, and only a little bad. I’ve played in dive bars and our only pay was what they made at the door. I’ve been playing at places where someone was shot in the parking lot and the vast majority of the bar stayed inside because they didn’t want anything to do with witnessing it.

I’ve paid my dues! I do, I admit, have it pretty easy. So, I’m really bitching about something trivial – but it was a good excuse to get inebriated. Either way, I stayed there really late and the drummer’s wife drove us back to my house. My car is still at the venue. I’m so not going to go pick it up today.

Anyhow… Where was I?

Oh, yes…

The story! I am telling you the story of a very wonderful guitar. She’s a beauty and I would possibly consider punching a nun if it meant that I could play her.

And, I’ve set the scene for the conditions when she was first brought into this world. For those of you who aren’t caught up, this is the beginning of the story:

Read this, before reading the next part. It’s important that folks understand the background of where this guitar came into existence.

Without further ado…
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The tale of a very famous guitar. Part one.

Well, it’s after noon and I am sitting here with my keyboard and unable to think of what to write. I’ve got lots of things to write about, but none of them really seem like they’d be all that fun to write.

I told you… My creativity bone is broken! It kind of sucks, as it’s making these articles often seem like a chore, instead of the joy that they can be.

But, I try to get something out to you every day. Today is no different, but I need to tell you one story so that I can tell you the second story. It’ll be too long for one article, so I’ve decided to smash it into two pieces and write it that way.

I also don’t have much time. I have a show this afternoon/early-evening. I probably will leave here in just about 3.5 hours! Fortunately, it’s pretty close and we’re doing just a single set. I won’t be gone very long and I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed tonight.

There’s something to be said for being a regional band and not actually trying to achieve fame and make it big. Nope… Those following the story know that it’s all about getting paid and making it a reliable career. That’s what I’m teaching the younger generation and, so far, it’s been pretty good.

Maybe tonight will see me writing about today’s show? I am not sure, as that after-show time is still a fuzzy schedule. We shall see!

Anyhow, I am gonna tell you a story – so that I can tell you a story!
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