Hi, I’m Joel, and I’ll be your server today.
KnowYourMusic.com is a by-product of a lifetime of musical ingestion. As a child in Wisconsin, entertainment was primarily homemade music. Even though it was the 60s, we didn’t have a television (well, not one that worked.) My father played every instrument I ever saw him touch, and his brothers and sister were (and are) quite talented as well. I thought everyone played a musical instrument, and that they all wanted to be Woody Guthrie or Jimmie Rodgers when they grew up. No astronaut or cowboy dreams for me; my lifelong ambition has been to finally record the music that’s built up inside my head.
When we finally got a phonograph (for you kids, that’s kind of like a turntable and amp all in one, except back then, it only had one speaker, because the music wasn’t in stereo) the first four record albums my parents bought were ‘Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads’ and three albums by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (as I recall, they were ‘Recorded Live in Ireland’, ‘Hearty and Hellish’, and ‘Live at Carnegie Hall.’) As a result, I grew up thinking that ‘music’ meant country and western or Irish folk songs. The Beatles had a pretty good cartoon, but I distinctly remember the first time I heard ‘rock and roll’ – someone called ‘The Rolling Stones.’ I didn’t like it.
My musical taste has broadened a bit since then. On any given day I may listen to Chopin, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Led Zeppelin, Gordon Lightfoot, David Gray, and Moby. Oh yes; the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem are still favorites, and I definitely lean toward Celtic music.
After 20 years trying to teach me a few chords on the guitar, my father almost despaired of me. I learned a few years ago that I can play a few chords on the piano, and around the same time picked up a friend’s Washburn A10 bass and discovered that as long as I kept it simple, it came pretty easy. (I traded some web work for the Washburn.) Since then I’ve gotten a Fender Precision, which sees much more use than the old Washburn did. (It finally found a new home with a good friend.) When I am working on my writing, if I’m near an instrument, it’s the piano. Less trouble with chords on the guitar these days. It helps having a gorgeous Seagull six-string. I gave my Gibson acoustic to my daughter. She practiced every single day for over a year, playing it Hendrix style since she’s a lefty. I finally restrung it upside down for her since she was better than me by then.
I have a few other projects on the web. You can read about ’em at my personal site.
While my musical taste is broad, my musical influences have been few. My father instilled a deep-seated emotional response to music early in my life by making it a part of my childhood, and later in life, by allowing it to be a bridge between us when other bridges failed. Stan Black, the greatest guitar player I’ve ever met, and one of the best I’ve ever heard, professional or amateur, taught me that passion for music can sometimes be enough. I don’t know many people less ambitious than Stan, but when we used to play together, he’d reach a point where he was inside himself; eyes closed, head back and swaying, firing off slashing licks that only a Clapton or Vaughan could hope to best. When we played together, the music was enough.
I’m always interested in talking about music. Drop me a line; I love hearing from any music lover.