Guitar Heroes: Yes, I’m a Boy.

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I’ve been a music lover forever. Jimi Hendrix is Chairman of the Board looking down over my daily work, thanks to my son, Travis, gifting me the poster many years ago. He knew how much Jimi, and my 60’s rock and roll roots, along with Chicago jazz and blues, influenced my internal playlist. My musician wife, Maren, thinks I missed my calling, and that I should have gone into music production in some way, due to my encyclopedic memory for band, song and musician connections.

We take daily walks that include a stop at our neighborhood library. Initially, I was surprised by the library’s extensive music collection. There is so much I haven’t heard before, but now, with a library card in hand, I can take CDs home, no charge, and give them a listen. That includes boxed sets only super-fans would ever buy, not to mention the library’s online music collection.

So I thought I would switch-up the blog a bit, and drop some of my music-loving ramblings on you. Let’s start with rock. I’ve always loved intricate rock guitar riffs, solos, jams… you know the type. I was 17 when I heard Hendrix, after picking up his first album randomly in a record store, just based on its cover. One listen and I was hooked. Others like Clapton, Beck, and Gilmour were in my first ring of rock heroes in the late 60’s. Now, the local library has given me a chance to explore and fill some holes in my musical past.

So here are just a few guitarists, past and present, that I never really got to know well before. I tried to keep this list down to solo rock/blues guitarists, and to live jam material as much as possible. Not meant to be a “Best Of” or Top Ten, just a random sampling of new treasures.

The first two were born in the ’50’s in the first wave of rock guitar heroes. Both died in their mid-20’s, and were forgotten quickly, but their music is worth a listen. The other two were born a quarter century later, lean more toward the blues, and are largely self-taught, solo artists.

Paul Kossoff played in a short-lived English band called Free (“All Right Now”) from 1968-70. His solo album, “Back Street Crawler”, 1973 has some real gems on it, and the Deluxe Version, 2008 has some extended jams that are superb. In particular, the piece called “Tuesday Morning” has seven different versions that all have different styles, like blues, boogie, and piano jam.

Tommy Bolin played with rock bands Zephyr, The James Gang and Deep Purple, as well as jazz fusion musicians Billy Cobham and Alphonse Mouzon. Fortunately, two remastered albums of his solo work exist, “Great Gypsy Soul, Deluxe Edition”, 2012, and “The Ultimate Teaser”, 2012 with sixteen minute “Flying Fingers,” being my favorite cut.

New Yorker Joe Bonamassa opened for B.B.King at the age of 8, and he is a blues/rock master. I saw him days after hearing my first album of his. From the first note, his style was unique and breathtaking. Saw him again 2 years later, a venue 5 times the size of the first, and he had only gotten better. I would recommend starting with “Live from the Royal Albert Hall”, 2009 for a taste of his live performances, with a great duet with guest Eric Clapton, on “Further On Up the Road”. He has many live recordings and collaborations.

Blues/rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd is from Louisiana, started playing at age 7 after meeting Stevie Ray Vaughn at a concert his father was promoting, and had his first single at 18. He has played with most of the blues legends. But I had never heard of him until my library visits. “Goin Home”, 2014 has some great guest performances, like Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes and Keb’ Mo and “LIVE! In Chicago”, 2010 gives you a fine taste of his live concert, with an amazing 11 minute “Voodoo Chile” closer.

Many thanks to the Multnomah County Library System for expanding my musical spectrum. Who are you listening to?

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Bill Giobbi (bgob1) is founder and owner of Linea Forma Design, a 38 year old design firm specializing in creating graphic content for print, web and video. He is a graphic designer, industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and a digital 3D content creator/animator, with a love of all things design.
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