Firecracker Female Guitarist: Alyse from EULA

20 01 2012

I went to go cover another band at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night and stuck around for the next act.  EULA is a 3 peice band found in Brooklyn and Alyse is their lead vocalist and guitar player.    She’s definitely an out of the box type of guitarist. She opened up the set using a beer can on her guitar instead of a pick.  I love the way she has her own way of playing and breaks many rules while still delivering catchy songs and a contagious style of  rock — all her own! Her bandmates bring the heavy to fill out the sound that much more! They opened for Mission of Burma last night.  Check the pics.

Alyse from EULA

Alyse from EULA using a beer can instead of a pick on her guitar.

Alyse from EULA

While opening for Mission of Burma





Female Guitarist Feature: Valerie Mize

3 01 2012

During an audition process in 2011, I met the lovely Valerie Mize.  The situation we were in at the time called for some serious cahones and I must say, Ms. Mize is not lacking in that department.  A powerful presence, who knows how and when to hold her ground.  I’d hang with her anytime.  I’m glad to have had the chance to learn more about her journey. I’d love for you to meet her too. Read on.

Sky Disco: When did you start playing guitar and how did your journey as a musician begin?

Valerie: My musical journey began with a tiny keyboard when I was four, teaching myself to play it, and singing in church, school, and professional choirs for many years. I was a late bloomer on the guitar, first picking it up in 2003 while studying abroad in the Netherlands. I bought the cheapest guitar in the village (a Chinese-manufactured nylon string for 90 Euros) and a chord encyclopedia, and spent countless hours in my room figuring out how to transfer my basic piano knowledge to this new instrument. Every time I learned new chords, I would write a song with them to immediately work them into my repertoire, and consequently I became a song writer.

Sky Disco: Describe your own personal rig (amp/cab/effects/axe)

Valerie: I have a few options to choose from, depending on the song/setting. I use an Eastman Archtop for jazz shows (Uptown Series Model AR 803), and I have an Eastman acoustic (AC722CE with built-in Fishman pickup). Both have a really fat mellow tone. They’re gorgeous instruments, hand made by a company in Beijing that began as a violin/viola/cello/bass manufacturer before expanding into really nice mandolins and guitars. On the road, I’m most likely to be seen with my red Ibanez Artcore Hollow Body. It’s sturdy and pretty versatile (and less expensive to replace if something happened to it). Pedal-wise I keep it simple: a Korg tuner and a Boss Equalizer G-7. When playing in NYC I used whatever amp was part of the house backline (heavy equipment and subways do not mix); on the road I bring a Fender Princeton Reverb amp.

Sky Disco: Have you played in several bands? Approximately how many would you say?

Valerie: When I moved to New York City, I founded a band under my name and produced my debut “Auspices” album with them. Before moving to the city, I had a brief all-girl project called Shyleaux (“Shy-Low”). I also fronted a 9 piece swing band, played around Tulsa in a couple jazz duos, and sang with a combo in college while getting my degree in jazz vocals. I recently moved from New York City to Nashville, so it’s back to solo shows until I build or join another band.

Sky Disco: What has been your favorite or most exciting parts of your experience with you NYC band?

Valerie : Recording my debut “Auspices” album with my New York band was such an awesome experience. The quality of musicianship and sound engineering on that record is top-notch (Antar Goodwin, Tomo Kanno, Greg Mayo, Ward Williams, Craig Dreyer, Jason Rosen, and Robert L. Smith). I love that when I listen to the songs I not only hear great musicians, I also am flooded with gratitude for the friends who worked with me to make it happen, and happy memories of the whole record coming together.

Sky Disco: What does your practice regimen look like and what motivates you to practice?

Valerie: Having a show in the near future and teaching other guitarists are two great motivators. Since I’m a vocalist as well as a guitarist, I have multiple chops that need to be up to par simultaneously. After warming up my vocals (using mp3s from Cari Cole), I like to practice my whole set plugged in, standing at the microphone, in front of a mirror, to make sure that I’m communicating the emotion of the lyric instead of staring at my hand or moving my head around too much while I’m supposed to be singing into the mic. I’ll frequently hit up the Internet for guitar lessons (www.justinguitar.com is a veritable gold mine of free and donation-based lessons), and get cover song chords and tabs at ultimate-guitar.com or somewhere similar.

Sky Disco: How many hats do you wear in life? (family, career, personal projects, hobbies, school)

Valerie: In addition to working as a vocalists (front person, backing vocals, session & demo work) and songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and producer; and aside from occasionally feeling like a professional mover (I grew up in Oklahoma and have lived in Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, the Netherlands, New Jersey, New York City, and now Nashville); I’ve also spent various parts of my life as a gas station clerk, cocktail waitress, Texas Hold ‘Em dealer for an underground poker ring, National Merit Scholar, opera and jazz student, business major, volunteer clown, camp counselor, sidewalk and subway busker, sister-in-law, best friend, ex-wife, guitar/piano/voice instructor, Academic All-State alumna, interior designer, web designer, unlicensed masseuse, and amateur sushi chef.

Sky Disco: What inspires you?

Valerie: Authenticity.

Sky Disco:  Future plans?

Valerie: Mentoring young women. Recording more albums. Hosting the GRAMMYs. Traveling the world. Helping people. Starring in a movie. Starting a video blog. Eating lots of vegetables.

******
You can begin cyber-stalking Valerie at her website www.ValerieMIZE.com — and she has many links to from there.




Female Bassist: Interview w/ Baassik

22 12 2011

I recently had the opportunity to jam with Pam “Baassik” Jennet, from NYC. As bassist of Lo Frequency, she has toured in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria,Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  Here’s a glimpse of our conversation! This is golden for any new players out there.

Sky Disco: When did you start playing bass and how did your journey as a musician begin?

Baassik: My great-grandmother, who raised me, and my elementary school music teacher, Ms. Janet Dunston, encouraged me to play music.  “Mommy” got me an acoustic guitar when I was ten. Around the same time, Ms. Dunston brought a new classical music curriculum to our school. Because of them, I played the violin, viola, guitar and trumpet. By high school, I was teaching myself acoustic guitar.

But I loved the sound of bass. And since I had very small hands & fingers, I thought that it would be easier to play bass guitar. (My hands are really small. I can still wear children’s gloves.) So, I begged for the $60 for the bass. “Mommy” finally gave me the cash and I ran down to the pawnshop and got the bass.  I still have it.

Sky Disco: Describe your own personal rig (amp/cab/effects/axe)

Baassik: Right now, I’m using:

Ibanez SR 505 bass (5 string)-My main bass these days and first stab at five string.

Fender Precision (MIM/4 string). One of the standards.

Schecter Stiletto Custom 4 string-I toured overseas with this. Nice lightweight bass.

Ibanez AEB, which is a huge acoustic bass!

I own a Mark Bass CMD 1×12 400w. Love that thing. Love the sound, nice and warm.  Worse-case scenario, I go direct and I’ll use a Sans Amp Bass DI box.

Effects:  I love effects and would have more if I could.  I’m a pedal-head that could easily hang with Bootsy Collins; he has massive gear and pedals!

I use a Korg Pitch Black tuner, Boss Bass Compression, Boss Bass Chorus.

Sky Disco: Have you played in several bands? Approximately how many would you say?

Baasik: Hmmm…. I would say five or six bands or artists.

Sky Disco: How did you become part of Lo Frequency?

BaasikWell, the original bassist, eYe serene, was leaving the band for personal reasons. She remembered me from when we performed at a show with one of my old bands.  (She performed alone; I was with my band at the time.) Being a pro, she didn’t want to leave the band without a replacement, so she recommends me and suggested that I meet Chen [Chen Lo], and the band to see if we fit. That was in 2008 or 2009. I’ve been with them since.

What people don’t know about us is that we have a teaching curriculum. We teach about the history of Hip Hop and its roots. We have a program where we break up the participants into groups and at the end, the participants have a new song that we all perform on the spot.

Sky DiscoWhat has been your favorite or most exciting parts of your experience with  Lo Frequency?

BaasikWe were one of ten bands in the 2010 Jazz At Lincoln Center Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program. We traveled and taught in six (6) different countries in North Africa & the Middle East. I had never traveled abroad before that, so I was really excited to do that.

Sky DiscoWhat are the challenges you have had to face?

BaasikAs a musician:  The music industry has changed and is still changing. So much so that the book is still being written. Finding paying gigs is another thing in NYC. It is who you know as well as how well you play and perform.

How many hats do you wear in life? (Family, career, personal projects, hobbies, school)

Baasik: I am the bass player/musician, carpenter girl, gear head.  I’m the official food test dummy in my house; my partner of almost twelve years, Des, is a great cook. And she can handle my ‘musician-ness’.

Sky DiscoWhat inspires you?

BaasikGrooves! The kind that make your head nod with some stank on it. I’m not the bassist who will do a crazy solo. I’m more into the groove.

Effects also inspire me. It opens your mind and ear to “that other stuff” sonically. I love genres such as ambient, house, hip hop…stuff like that.

Creative people and songs that make me ‘go away’ also inspire me.

Sky DiscoWhat type of advice would you offer to women that would like to do what you do?

Baasik: Learn as much as you can about the music biz. Go to expos, read and try out gear.

Talk to other musicians; most are nice and like to ‘talk shop’. Just don’t do that while they are obviously busy at a show.

If you can afford it, take music lessons, and then do your own thing.

Ask questions. And then ask more questions.

Learn about your instrument and its history; history, especially women players and about the gear.

And trust yourself. There are women out there playing bass and there have been since the beginning.

Sky Disco: Future plans?

BaasikI’m developing my sound, which is never ending, it seems. I want to have a space where I can go, safely leave some gear, and play whenever, whatever.  I also want to take some classes for music.

I want to teach women starting out on bass. I taught at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and would love to take that a step further.

I also have some bands & artists that I look forward to work with in 2012.  My next gig with is with Goddess Complex on January 15th at Littlefield in Brooklyn. This is the first time I will perform with an all-girl group.  The Lo Frequency is my main band, but I continue to work with others as well.

To see more of Baassik, CHECK THESE:

The Lo Frequency on Facebook

The Lo Frequency website

Meg Ramsey

BAASSIK on Facebook





Meet Michelle! I was her drummer this weekend. HA!

23 11 2011

Ok so I’m going through this major transition right now in my life that had me feel much less grounded than I usually am.  So this past weekend, I accepted the invitation to a sweat lodge weekend retreat with Big Heart Circle at Ashokan Center in New York. I had never been to anything like this before and I’m SO glad I chose to go.

“What is this major transition,” you’re probably asking?  Well…. I’m leaving my nice cushy stable J.O.B. of 4 years and diving back full force into the freelance/entreprenurial world – with full intent of filling my life with guitar gigs.  I have intensified my study and training to prepare for January 1st — which is when my transition is official.

I gained some incredible things out of this weekend.  Besides detoxing, I was able to connect with the elements of mother earth in a new way. In remembering that we are all ONE — once we break everything down to molecules and atoms, I bathed my feet in the grass/mud and breathed in the majestic icy air near Winchell’s Falls and mentally pictured mother nature flowing up through my fingers when I play guitar.  I’ll never forget it.  Though I didn’t play guitar at all during this retreat, when I returned to the city, my playing had noticeably improved because of it.

And during the weekend, I was so thrilled to have met Michelle Christine Garza, who had brought her guitar along and frequents the Big Heart Cirle community. She’s the type of person you just fall in love with immediatley. She’s so open hearted and talented.  She has the voice of a sweet bird and plays a finger style guitar that melts any soul.  She writes these spiritual tribute songs to life and nature and really makes a difference wherever she shares her talent. And the extra cool thing is, she writes and sings in quite a few different languages and even if you don’t know the language, you still understand.  Music truly trancends any language barrier.  Here’s her link. http://michellechristinegarza.com/.   I had brought my djembe drum along for the trip so it was awesome to be able to accompany Michelle on a few songs after the lodge in the Pewter House.  Joining with her, I felt like I was traveling to another land in drumming trance. And I knew everything was going to be okay.

Check Michelle on Facebook too!





Female Guitarist Feature: Felicia Collins from Letterman

1 11 2011

For the last 3 to 5 years, I’ve been doing google searches to find out WHO in heck the world believes are the greatest female guitarist EVER!!! (Dramatic music here)
Well it seems to me that many people only recognize the shredders. The super flashy, super fast, finger cutting type guitar playing that happens for about 30 seconds or less of any song out there. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to hear skillfull shredding, especially if it’s full of funk but I happen to be mesmerized by skillful comp’ing AND inventive personal style when it comes to rythm players. I’m still on the search for my own personal favorite female player though. It sucks how most of the names listed are women from decades ago, who still aren’t nearly as recognized as the many popular male guitar legends out there. What I wanna know is… which females out there are bringin’ the funk and soul? Yes of course, the plan is for me to fill that role but in the spirit of love and cooperation, I’m on the search for predecessors that I can honor and pay homage to.

Felicia Collins

Here’s one woman that discovered while on a trip for work to the Letterman Show . Her name is, Felicia Collins. I have to admit, I was wayyy more excited about hanging with my co-workers than actually seeing the show since I had never really watched it. I was psyched to see the live band rock and almost fell out of my seat when I caught a glimpse of ONE black woman in the ranks of an almost WASPy band. AND…. get this!… She had a guitar in her hand! Not only did she have a guitar but she also sang and played a hand drum. I was so inspired! This was a different type of rock star! She had a steady job! Ha! I decided to look her up and found her website and read more about her. www.FeliciaCollins.com

As I continue to practice my own funky riffs and build precision and speed, I get to appreciate those who have paved road before me. Thanks, Felicia!

And now this! It’s not shredding buy some really soulful and fab acoustic work by Felicia while accompanying Nona Hendrix in NYC.

And to see some of her solo skills, check this.





Notable Female Guitarist Feat. – Screaming Females

12 10 2011

So I went to see the Screaming Females play at the Bowery Ballroom this past Saturday night and the place was jam packed. Ever since my friend Liz showed me a clip from a documentary about them, I’ve been itching to witness with my own eyes the amazing guitar work of their front woman, Marissa Paternoster. Great Band AND she stuns on the axe! I’m definitely further inspired as I near the end of my self-prescribed 6 week guitar bootcamp w/ Eric Jayk of Wildstreet. He calls his guitar training, “The Shredfactory”. I wonder where Marissa learned to play like that. Gonna do some research and get back to ya on that. Check her out below and you should definitely watch the documentary about the “Starve the Beat” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a6k-FMtZVQ.





Guitarists: Are Men better than Women?

27 01 2011

Why are there so few famed female guitar players in the world? Is it because men are better or more capable physically? I THINK NOT!  Or is it, generally, that their natural approach to honing skills is different and more effective?

Here, I/We shall explore the difference between male and female guitar players OR for that matter, any occupation or skill that is traditionally viewed in society as a “man’s game”. I will share about my own discoveries on my journey to acheiving my goal in a male dominated arena.

Stay tuned for my first blog entry, followed by reccomendations and links for budding guitar players.

 








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