Friday, April 12, 2019

say NO to guitar pedals!

Last night, I played a show with Collette Savard and the Savants (see the post below this one) without any pedals whatsoever. Yes. You heard me right. No pedals! Not even a stompbox. As a matter of fact, the amp at the club didn't even have reverb. So...I played two sets of original folk/rock music with a tele and little fender tube amp that was distorting kind of nicely.

OMG!! Who knew how much fun this could be? I felt like all my ideas were clearer. I felt like my dynamics were better. ie no volume pedal...just using my fingers and my brain and my heart!

No digital delay. No multiple reverb settings. Just music. plain and simple. I had new ideas. I had spontaneous editing-type-ideas for some of my old parts. ie. what chords or notes are short vs. long etc.

Honestly, I had no idea it would be so much fun. The only thing that is worth noting is that our drummer was unavailable. (get better soon Marty!!!) This does make a difference. I have noticed that distortion, delay and reverb all work well with certain drums, cymbals etc.

If you think I am crazy, I highly recommend trying this at least once. It will change the way you see your pedal rack for a long time. I am not sure how I will change my guitar set up for the future but I know I have new insight into the whole thing now.

Try it. I dare ya!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Collette Savard and the Savants / Blow Your Own Horn (part 4)

Once a week I am listening to one of the five records I played on in the last year and a half and writing about it. It has been fun. I needed to get this one done today as the NHL playoffs start tonight and it will be hard to find time to practice music let alone listen to it. Ha!

I have been playing with Collette Savard and the Savants for a few years now. The lineup has been the same since day one and I am very happy about that. Part of the strength and allure of this band is the individuals. So solid! So fun. 

When I used to see bassist/producer John Switzer play with Jane Sibbery back in the day I never thought we would be pals and work together someday! I didn’t know Martin Worthy’s work in the past although I do remember meeting at festival once when he was working with Pork Belly Futures. These two guys make ups such a solid rhythm section where I can always feel so comfortable whether I am playing chords, soloing or playing an integral part to one of the tunes.

The tunes are great! My respect for Collette Savard as a songwriter started strong and continues to grow. She keeps bringing in great tunes to the band. She is also a fantastic singer. I remember being shocked in the studio how she was always in tune, even on the guide tracks. I think they even kept some of them (ie. first takes) on the record.

I get to play a fair bit of lead-guitar in this band. (I don’t play any banjo!) I have good laugh sometimes when people are surprised that I play guitar in addition to the banjo. (especially since I have been doing it for 45 years) 

John Switzer is a great producer. Very chill and then always jumped in to make decisions just when we needed him. I am glad he was there to make sure I didn’t “over-play” in the studio. He certainly brought out the best in me personally. (I will keep the overplaying for the live shows!) John also mixed this record. We are so lucky to have him in this project. I can’t wait to make another record with him.

Braden Sauder did a great job capturing all the sounds at his studio Marquee Sound. I look forward to working there again someday. Braden provided and even guided my choices with some vintage amps and cool pedals that he has in his studio. He and John have a great working relationship as engineer and producer. (John is Braden’s father-in-law too)

I had forgotten that I take guitar solos on the first three songs. I think it works. It is a very strong record. I think they made great choices for the first few tunes.

This intro for the fourth tune called Check was actually my idea. I like the way it sounds with just the vocals off the top. We don’t do it that way in concert any more. Even though Collette writes all the songs we all bring ideas for the arrangements. She is very receptive to peoples input and I have a lot of respect for her and that approach.

These three women in the band are so awesome. The group is built around them if you ask me. We are a girl-power folk/rock show! So smart and so talented.  They also perform as a trio sometimes.

Rebecca Campbell is one of the busiest vocalists in Toronto. She has a reputation as a first call backup/harmony singer but she brings even more to this band. She is a solid rhythm guitarist and percussionist (and more!) BUT, her onstage vibe is constantly inspiring. Upbeat, spiritual and simply joyful.

Megan Worthy is the third vocalist in the group. She too “brings-it” every night. There is great attention to detail in her piano/keyboard playing. She always knows when to bring her jazz piano vocabulary into the mix and more importantly; when to leave it out.  She sounds fantastic playing piano on the track Fire. She is fun to rock-it with every night. (AND she is Marty’s daughter!)

The Hardest Part is our dance tune on the record. Switzer rocks it off the top with a great bass line and people go crazy for this tune. I like my wah-wha guitar on this track. (I need to get that damn pedal fixed!)

People tell me they like Collette’s lyrics. "smart" is a word that is often used to describe them.  It is a bit of a running joke in the band that I don’t know the lyrics to the songs. Sadly it is true. I hope that someday on tour somewhere, maybe a long plane trip I will take the time to enjoy them too.

The last song on the record; Top of the Trees is almost like a secret track. (I can’t remember if it is on the vinyl version) It is a cute little jazz song. It is probably the eight bars that I am most proud of on this record. Those twenty years of focusing only on jazz guitar really paid off. Ha!

Make sure you come to hear the band live. I feel like you will get what you hear on this record but everything is just “amped-up” and rocks a little harder AND we have lots of great new tunes that are not on this record.

You can find our schedule at or just come to hear us the second Thursday of every month at the Tranzac in Toronto.

Please listen here:

p.s. I love the album cover by Barbara Klunder. Thank you Barbara!

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