1. What Henriksen Amp do you play and what settings do you use?
I have a Henriksen BUD and a JazzAmp 110ER. For my solo performances and work around Los Angeles, I have almost exclusively been using my new BUD amp. Ill use the 110ER when I have to play larger rooms, gig with my Baritone guitar, or perform in my guitar ensemble, the New West Guitar Group. Both amps sound very similar, and its great to have both the portability and flexibility of the BUD amp!
My settings on the BUD typically start with a flat LOW, HI-MID, and PRESENCE. Ill boost the LOW-MID about a quarter turn up from -0- and take down the HIGH a quarter turn down from -0-. Ill use the Tweeter if I’m in a very boomy room, or need to cut a little more through a big band, but for most solo work the tweeter will be in the ‘off’ position.
I feel these settings give a mid-presence boost for my L5CES, and focus the low end which can sound a bit boomy/tubby if totally flat in any amplifier. I love how the BUD amp naturally can contour the sound of my L5 and really enhance the sweet acoustic tone through the speaker.
As for my JazzAmp 110ER, Ill often have a similar mid-presence setting, but a little less drastic since the 10″ speaker naturally is very mid-rangy. If adding an extension speaker and needing to turn down on the gig, Ill also cut some of the low end.
2. What instruments do you play?
I’m a professional guitarist and vocalist in Los Angeles. When I was younger, I studied a little piano and also played a variety of woodwinds in high school including Clarinet and Bassoon.. Today, I’m hired as a session guitarist and also lead several bands including a guitar trio called New West Guitar Group.
I have played a Gibson L-5CES almost exclusively since 2004 which I had custom made for me by the late Jim Hutchins of the Gibson Custom factory.
I also recently acquired a beautiful handmade semi-hollow electric guitar by Stephen Marchione (www.marchione.com), which I’m starting to use on more gigs and recordings sessions. I had met Stephen at a guitar show a number of years ago and was always interested in his archtop guitars. He has such a unique way of making instruments, and I love the incredible consistency across the entire neck of his guitars.
In 2010 I took delivery of a beautiful Jeff Traugott Model R acoustic guitar (www.traugottguitars.com). Jeff and I go back to the early 2000s when his nephew and I went to college together. Traugott’s flattop steel-string acoustic guitars are the finest I’ve played, and they sound remarkable with the tuning of the BUD amp. Ill sometimes add a QSC K10 PA speaker for outdoor performances.
As for other guitars, I often perform with a Eastwood Sidejack Deluxe Baritone Guitar, Epiphone Casino, Fender Highway 1 strat, and a Takamine acoustic-electric classical guitar. For classical sessions, Ill use a vintage Japanese made Hirade Classical Guitar.
And lastly as for other gear, I travel with Calton Cases and Mono Gig Bags. Pedaltrain pedal boards and Radial Engineering DI boxes are very important parts of my rig, and at home I record with an Apogee Duet and AEA Microphones.
3. What styles of music do you play?
I work primarily throughout the jazz scene in Los Angeles, but I also am often hired by songwriters needing some extra guitar skills for their albums. I love meeting new songwriters and learning about new music. I grew up playing mostly folk music and as a result, the music I compose reflects both modern jazz harmony but contained in a rootsy atmosphere.
Every day I shed bebop and I’m always trying to learn new standards. I feel really lucky to get to work as a jazz musician today and I enjoy mentoring students throughout Southern California. I have been doing private teaching and ensemble coaching for over 10 years since graduating from the USC Studio/Jazz Guitar Department in 2006.
4. What, if any, warm ups do you do before a gig?
There’s so many parts to warming up – primarily there’s a physical and a mental component to getting ready. Physically, I like to do some simple stretches and major/minor scales across the neck. I try not to warm up too fast– if anything, I’ll intentionally set the metronome below 92BPM and work my way up in basic subdivisions from there. When I teach or play casual gigs, I’ll often use the first few songs as my warm up. If its a more serious performance and something I’ve prepared a significant amount for, my warm up might consist of excerpts from the set which I know could hang me up.
Mentally, I’ll try to visualize myself on stage before I play, imagining following through with everything from rhythm guitar parts, ensemble lines, and improvised solos. Sometimes traveling can be very stressful and exhausting, so Ill try to mainly channel a positive attitude before each gig…..my flight was late, a bag was lost, we couldn’t check into the hotel, I hadn’t had enough to eat, we arrived in a snow storm, I had just shlepped my 30lb calton case through 10 subway stops….etc…etc…etc. Regardless of these challenges,I think its important before each performance to realize its a privilege to perform for any audience whether 1 or 10000, and just as many suggest the key to a successful marriage is never to go to bed angry, I think the key to a happy career is never to go on stage in a dark mood.
5. What’s the most interesting (good or bad) gig you’ve ever played? Give us the details.
One of the good: I played a birthday party for a music columnist, and when he hired me he had said there would be a few musicians there and it would be a fun hang. My trio arrived and began playing standards for a small crowd of about 10 people there who I didn’t know. Next thing, I looked at my drummer to call a tune and he just had this stunned look on his face as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Jack DeJohnette walked in the door. Following them was Steve Miller, Billy Joel, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, and producer Lenny Waronker (former head of A&R at Warner Brothers). The party was only about 30 people and we had such a great time. Everyone was so gracious and kind. Wayne would walk up to us after we played a tune and start scatting back jibberish from our solos. They were super kind and really funny. Joe Walsh mentioned he hadn’t done a casual gig in 40 years and wouldn’t remember the changes to Autumn Leaves to save his life. I don’t think I had been so nervous since playing Iron Man at my 5th grade talent show.
One of the bad: I played an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet at a casino near Palm Springs. The instructions were to walk around the tables with a wireless rig and play “Italian” music. Naturally I played “Thats Amore” and anything Joe Pass had ever played. I ended up playing about 30 rounds of “Happy Birthday”. They provided a sort of costume and vest for me to wear. Funny thing was I had played the Hollywood Bowl for 17K people the week before with Spencer Day. It was a good lesson in the ups and downs of what we do as musicians.
6. Whats the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten at a gig?
In Berlin I had Eisbein — broiled pig. They brought the pig out on a huge platter and it hadn’t been carved yet. I grew up in Eastern Oregon and used to do a lot of bird hunting, but I had never carved a pig. Now in the rider we include “if serving pork, please have the ham pre-carved”.
7. What’s your favorite place to play (country, state, venue, anywhere)?
I love the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville, Oregon
*BONUS: If you could eat one Crayon from a box of 64 what color would it be?
Of course it would have to be the SHOCKING PINK crayon!!