A 1952 Telecaster and a 1967 Flying V make for an interesting tonal pairing. Jim Weider and I did a so - called Master Class for some appreciative folks in Bethel Connecticut this week. It was a fun filled 3 hours hosted by Mike Piera of Analog Man Pedals fame. We had Americans attending of course but also there were some Brits which I was amazed about . One gentleman came all the way from Hong Kong ( he had other business Stateside, it’s true ). Oh yes, and surprise, surprise, an old friend from the past Jol Dantzig of Hamer Guitars, turned up out of the blue. More about that connection later.
Jim Weider is a great guy and he and I were both born in the early ‘50s so it was fascinating for the audience and both of us, to compare our notes about growing up on different sides of the Pond with this infatuation / addiction for guitars. Jim is of the Scotty Moore, James Burton school of playing and can chicken pick with the best of them. 30 years playing in the Band and later alongside Levon Helm in his band has given him an amazing perspective. He gets his bluesier side from Roy Buchanon and that’s where he and I converge by way of a little surf guitar à la Ventures and in my case, the Shadows. So that afternoon, we kicked things off with a version of Walk Don’t Run and then went into the blues idiom with Jim’s piece Blue Feeling, before working on Wishbone Ash instrumental, Bonafide as well as snippets from all sorts of other songs, Blowin’ Free naturally being just one of them.
I definitely learned a few things and judging by the great questions from everyone, the audience did too. It’s a fun thing to do - hanging out with a bunch of like - minded souls in air conditioning during a heatwave. I guess I could compare it to car nuts or train spotters - but a bit more sexy. Guitars just are. Folks bought along their own axes and some pretty exotic ones at that. Speaking of which, over a fantastic Japanese dinner with Jim and Mike, Jol and I later shared memories of the good old days when he and Paul Hamer would turn up at these festivals we’d play in the Mid West, driving some huge old behemoth of an American car with a giant trunk, choc - full of vintage beauties.
I shared with him that I still have the 1919 mandolin that Paul Hamer sold me in 1972, but that sadly, the 1959 Korina V is now in the treasured collection of one, Rudolph Schenker. At least it has a good home. You’ll remember that Hamer built the crazy black Explorer - style bass guitar that Martin Turner used back in the day when he was vying for a wacky shaped guitar like my V. Hamer became a world reknowned guitar company and the rest is history. These days, Jol builds unbelievably beautiful bespoke guitars like ‘the Crow’. He’s gone right back to what inspired him in the first place; hand building great guitars. He’s a luthier and true artist. See www.dantzig.com
It’s the same for Mike Piera. His company has simply become known all over the world for giving musicians what they are always looking for - tone. He works directly with musicians like Jim Weider. Mike is an electronics guy who actually listens. Firstly, he is a great player himself so that helps. It’s not just all theory. His signature overdrive pedal, the transparent sounding, King of Tone, can’t be beat but he produces so many more different types of effects units like the Analog Man ARDX20 Dual Analog Delay and the Analog Man Comprossor. He has also produced a great book on effects and the best way to use them; Analog Man’s guide to Vintage Effects. Check out his website www.analogman.com
And finally, back to Jim Weider. Project Percolator is his current band and album. An all star line up Featuring RODNEY HOLMES - Drums (Santana & Brecker Bros), STEVE LUCAS - Bass (Steve Kimock band), AVI BORTNICK - guitar (John Scofield Band ). Jim simply lets his guitar do the talking. It’s so refreshing to hear instrumental rock alive and well with some of the coolest grooves on the planet supplied by his band. Check them out on www.jimweider.com