Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Corpse of Discovery, Saturday, July 10th, 7:00 PM at Old Style

Corpse of Discovery with Bryan Zimmerman will perform this Saturday, July 10th at Old Style. 7:00 PM. Not to be missed. This, the third in an ongoing series of free events at Old Style, celebrates the release of Mr. Zimmerman's new disc. (Extremely) limited to 300 copies on vinyl, this record will soon be more valuable than your first pressing of Oar. A lavish production, the record jackets were silkscreened (marble-ink monoprints), letterpressed, and "oil-foil" stamped on uncoated chipboard. Bryan will also be handing out used phone cards found on NYC streets with a code for a free download of the record. A very rare West coast appearance.

Also performing alongside Zimmerman this Saturday will be Laura Ortman (who also performs with Bryan as The Dust Dive), Patrick McCarthy, and Travis Millard.

Corpse of Discovery was recorded and co-produced by Jason Loewenstein who is best known as a member of Sebadoh as well as Fiery Furnaces.

More info about C.o.D. HERE on the Free 103.9 website.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Points North with Richard Reed Parry

Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square

This, to my knowledge, is the furthest point North one of my guitars has ventured. Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland. About 60 degrees North latitude. Almost as far North as Wasilla, Alaska. Fiddlesticks! To put things in perspective, New York City is at approximately the same latitude as Madrid or Rome.

Another handsome one-piece outfit on Mr. Parry and I love how much Win Butler's vocals sound like Neil Young. -Prob has something to to with the mic on the videographer's phone. I dunno.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Style Reviewed !!

Not to be confused with (field tested and approved by a couple sexy seniors I know), has just posted a review of Old Style. Check it out!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bete l'orange a Place Longueuil

Richard Reed Parry rocks it Old Style in a smart white jumpsuit and curly guitar cord!! This was my first guitar with black sharpie sides as a stock option! Arcade Fire's new LP (out early August) is entitled The Suburbs and I'll presume this free show in a shopping mall parking lot is in reference to the album's title.

No results when I entered "Longueuil" into a French-English online dictionary so I'll guess that it is a surname. Place Longueuil, a much more elegant name for a mall than most American shopping centers. I have a theory that housing developments and shopping malls are usually named for the former landscape features that were 'tamed' to make way for a Hot Topic, an Ann Taylor Loft, or clusters of duplexes on cul de sacs. Some American faves: Millcreek Mall, Sawgrass Mall, Woodfield Mall, Green Acres Mall, Oak Park Mall, Oakbrook Shopping Center, and Jordan Creek Town Center.

Looking forward to the new disc! It's gonna be Mall of America big!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The National Live! at Old Style

from farmer9999's flickr photostream

Sandwiched between two sold-out shows at The Wiltern, The National gave a special in-store performance at Old Style on Saturday, May 22 at noon. Some video here. A YouTube vid from Coreypet's iPhone here. More to follow. The performance took place in the alley next to Old Style which has a loading dock at the far end and made for a perfect approximation of a venue. The performance was announced several times on KCRW by Jason Bentley and Anne Litt and I went to bed the night before with thoughts of fatalities and lawsuits running through my mind. I think most either took it for a hoax or the Old Style blip has yet to appear on the municipal radar. Perhaps the latter. In the end, my wishes were granted and my ideal sized audience of about 40-50 National friends and fans showed up.

Matt, Bryce, Aaron, and Scott (Scott invoked his brother with the occasional tambourine or maracas accent) played a set of about six or seven songs to a slackjawed audience that couldn't believe they were seeing The National in such an intimate setting. -Just moments after releasing a top 5 record no less. The only thing missing was your surly uncle grilling burgers and putting out a grease fire with a spatula while he smokes a Pall Mall. Like an early Slint show, and as time passes, many will claim to have been there that actually weren't. It was a magical experience.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Forget the Beaujolais Nouveau..

...handmade guitar cables from Divine Noise est arrivee! (Well, don't forget the Beaujolais entirely. It was Duke Ellington's favorite wine, you know. ) Divine Noise cables are made one at a time, by hand, by Gil Divine in Portland, Oregon. Learn more about Gil in a post from March 8th. See and hear one in action here.

Old Style is the only retail outpost in the known world for Divine Noise cables and we're stocking them in 10, 15, and 20 foot lengths. Patch cables are also available. Mr. Divine builds his cables with silver solder and lots of love. They sound great and will last forever. Folks like Lucinda Willaims, Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Eric Bachmann, Jack White, and others use Divine Noise cables and now you can, too.

The echt kuhl Divine Noise logo was designed by amazing Scott Devendorf of The National. The band's brilliant new record, High Violet, hits stores on Tues, 11 May on 4AD.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Endless Boogie's Focus Level -The Last Three Copies On Vinyl

...can be found in Old Style's vinyl section. Second floor, next to the rakes and bow saws. They are sandwiched between a first pressing of "Songs of Leonard Cohen'" (Columbia stereo two-eye. $25.00) and Antonio Carlos Jobim "The Composer of Desafinado, Plays." On Verve, $10.00. -Received these this week from Endless Boogie's bass player, Mark Ohe who tells me a second CD edition is being pressed but this is it for the gatefold double-vinyl. Get those hot-stampers while they're hot!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Harmony Conversion

A just-finished project for Joel Shearer. A 50s or 60s (let's just call it old) Harmony arch top acoustic 'lectrified with a pair of 1962 (!!) P-90 pickups. Neck reset, new tuners, Gibson-style tailpiece, single volume control and three-way toggle.

These Harmony guitars are of special interest to me as it was really the first, or first kind of, guitar I ever wanted. One of my high school teachers, let's protect her identity and call her Twinkle Quesenbury, had practically an identical instrument. Thousands and thousands were manufactured so not too difficult to imagine. I coveted Ms. Quesenbury's Harmony guitar.

Twinkle was my first "cool" teacher. (The crown for greatest "cool" teacher of my youth belongs to Michael Matros, English teacher at the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics. Matros once told me that the unrequited guitar of his youth was a Gretsch Country Gentleman so I'm sure Matros will be worked in to a future post.) After delivering a lesson, Twinkle would talk about music and art, literature and cinema. This interval between the end of the lesson and the bell was called Twinkle Time. Actually, it was called something else that would alliterate with 'time' but we're protecting her identity here. And before you get too worked up into a lather, there was no hanky panky. Just some booze adventures and Twinkle might currently be teaching second grade somewhere. Who knows.

Anyway, this is rural Western North Carolina. It's the 80s and it's wintertime. Not much is happening. Twinkle would often have students over to her house to hang out and play music. This was about the same time I got my first guitar, a Washburn acoustic. Now that I think about it, Twinkle was a little stingy with her booze and never offered me any of that jug Gallo. The gatherings were great fun and I was learning my first chords and, more importantly, learning why folks get together to play music. I have a vivid memory of being taught the chords for "Stray Cat Strut." Good times.

Twinkle weighed about 95 pounds and it didn't take much of that Gallo, discreetly sipped from a Solo cup, to get her tipsy. After one shambolic evening of chord progressions with some friends, including fellow photographer Kai McBride, Twinkle decided she would save my parents a trip and insisted upon driving me home. -Pretty sure it was a 1981 Toyota Celica but not certain. Maybe not that exact model or year but the same area code. Her next car, a clearer memory, was a red Ford Festiva which she said, "looked like a Converse high-top."

One the ride home I was scared shitless as Twinkle was using the yellow line only as a vague reference point. We were in the North Carolina mountains 4100 feet in elevation where the roads are very curvy. Lots of sharp drop-offs with no guard rails. With audible exhale we reached my parents' driveway but I wasn't out of the woods yet. Ms. Quesenbury decided that it was imperative that she come in to say hello to my mother and father. Twinkle plopped sideways down in a cozy chair in the living room, legs over one armrest, back against the other. The only reasonable thing for me to do now was run and I made a B-line for my room. Much time passed. Twinkle eventually headed home (safely) and I was spared any parental wrath.

I'm told Ms. Queasenbury was more or less run off by the school for being "too radical for the academy" or for perhaps being gay or for simply not just grinding through the lesson plan. These were the Jesse Helms 80s. Luckily, I had the pleasure of being her student before the Macon Co. school system moved her along and have Twinkle to thank for being an early guide on a path in life that I very much relish. The following year, I scored an archtop guitar from the same secondhand music shop where the coveted Harmony was purchased - a 1968 Lake Placid blue Fender Coronado for $225 which I still own. Twinkle....if you're out there....

Monday, March 8, 2010

OS interview with Gil Divine

photo from photophonic's flickr page

Hi Gil. In addition to being the first Old Style interviewee, I'd like to invite you to be on the Old Style Advisory Board. There is no pay, only glory. Board members do get a holiday gift, though. Not sure what kind of name Divine is but Gentiles get a Black Forest ham from Schreiner's Deli in Glendale for Christmas and Jews get a gift certificate at Nate 'n Al Delicatessen in Beverly Hills for Hanukkah. Larry King has a breakfast/coffee klatsch there every morning. Do you accept?

Of course I accept! The glory will totally be enough! I suppose that I am closer to a Jew than a Gentile since I don’t really dig pork. I have Hebrew tattooed on my arms and I participate in Hanukkah with Yo La Tengo. But I am Jewish on my fathers side, so I am not really Jewish.

Tell me a bit about yourself. My wife Miwa, has worked with Yo La Tengo for years, and I've seen you many times lording over the band's great collection of guitars at their shows. What other artists have you worked with? You're not a very Google-able guy. Things like "Gilberto Gil-Divine and Marvelous" and "so is Gil divine or what?" turn up when I search your name. You've mentioned working with Lucinda Williams so I'm sure you have had some really interesting clients.

Well, I am 35 years old and I live with my wife Nicole in Portland OR. I am a high school drop out. I have never had the desire to obtain a GED or any kind of formal education. I am more of a figure-it-out kind of guy. I was a horrible student and I hated going to school!

I have kind of tried to keep my internet presence low - no Facebook or MySpace stuff for me. I always have people offering to make a website for my shop, but I don’t really have any interest in it. I kind of like the whole word-of-mouth thing. Plus my life isn’t really that interesting!

I have been with YLT for the last 6 and a half years. As far as clients that I have had, I have toured with a bunch of bands, such as Yo La Tengo, Lucinda Williams, The White Stripes, Cat Power, Super Furry Animals, ...and you will know us by the trail of dead. There are a ton that I am forgetting about....maybe intentionally...
When I am not on tour, I do guitar and amp repair in my shop that is in the back part of my house. Those clients include: Britt Daniels, The Decembrists, Adam Selzer (M.Ward and Norfolk and Western), Laura Veirs, and my favorite....Eric Bachmann!

What was your point of entry into the music business? Front door? Back door? I have a dim memory of you telling me that you went to guitar school?

I think that I entered through a wrong door looking for the bathroom and found it! I had no intention of being a guitar tech. I served as an apprentice to become a luthier with my friend Lloyd Tripp because I was always broke and couldn’t afford to pay anyone to work on my guitars. I made friends with Lloyd when he worked at the guitar shop in Oakland, CA (where I lived at the time) where I used to go. -So I would do repairs on my own guitars as well as friends guitars. And when I was touring with my own bands, I would set-up other bands guitars to get some extra cash. It was nothing that I considered doing for a living but was just something that I did when I needed cash or was bored.

You've worked on one of my guitars. -One I built for Eric Bachmann, then of Archers of Loaf, that I consider my first 'good' guitar and the guitar that I like to think sired Emo. At that point I really knew nothing about wiring a guitar so I'm a bit embarrassed that you've gotten into that rat's nest. When I was building the guitar I sent the DeArmond pickups to Lindy Fralin in Virginia because I thought they needed rewinding. He called me up and said, "Uh, run a ground wire to the bridge." I was pretty clueless. I haven't seen that guitar closer than 20 feet in years. Looks like tune-o-matic bridge replaced the original Jazzmaster-style bridge which seems like a better choice. Did you do that? What else did you do? Caustic sweat drips from Eric's hands - it must have been like putting a boat in dry dock.

That thing was a rusted wreck when I got it! He had been traveling / touring with it in a gig bag for all of those years. There was a three inch hole in the bottom by the jack that I repaired. Restoring that guitar was a labor of love for me since it helped make some of my favorite records. I thought that you did a hell of a job building it. I remember that one of the volume pots were so rusted, you couldn’t even turn it! I also remember taking off the wood back-plate to access the electronics and there was a grocery list written on the back of the plate in pencil. I thought that was cool and a sign of a one of a kind guitar. The grocery list should still be in there, underneath the shielding that I put in. I did so much work to it over the course of I think like 6 months - whenever I had a spare moment. It needed a ton of love from all of the years of constant use. I know that I did a mill and crown on the frets, rewired the electronics - keeping the old DeArmonds of course. Shielded the pick up and electronic cavities and fixed the hole in the bottom. There was just a ton of things. Oh ya, I put a set of strap locks and took off the layers of duct tape. The coolest thing that I did was having a case made for it since finding one was impossible since the body is so different. When Eric came to pick it up I made him promise to take good care of it. I even gave him guitar cloth to wipe it down after playing it. It has been a few years ago and is probably back to being rusty mess !!

It is amazing the things you learn while you learn a trade. I can think back to so many things and think “What was I thinking ?!” It’s all a learning process. No one comes out of the womb knowing everything. If you knew everything, what fun would life be? When I first started to solder, I had no idea why it was so hard for me. I couldn’t do it! Well, as it turned out, I was using a cheap Radio Shack soldering iron. Once I got my first Weller, I learned that having nice tools makes a difference in the quality of work and makes you able to do it with much more efficiency.

I'll be opening up a guitar shop this month and have slowly been building guitars to create an inventory for when the Old Style guitar shop materializes. Describe a guitar and I'll build it. It'll be the Gil Divine Pro Model. -Or we could call it "Gil's Divine Creation" or "Divine Intervention." Something like that. Components can be new or vintage. And I've recently found a pretty good lumberyard in Pasadena so tell me what kind of wood you would like me to use.

I love those old Kustom K200 guitars. I used to play in a band with a guy that had one. They have the DeArmond Rowe’s in them. Since this is probably the only time in my life that someone wants to make me a custom guitar, lets do this shit up! First off, let’s find some kind of rare tree that lives in the Amazon rain forest. Cut that shit down and boom, there's the body! For the neck, let’s make the fret board from ebony with block inlays made from the ivory of a Black Rhinoceros. (we will call it the ebony and ivory model!) I am sick of using cow bone for nut material like a chump. let’s get some bone from the cutest baby seal ever! This is turning into some kind of bullshit Ted Nuggent model of guitar. -Scratch that. let’s just do a K200 homage. That would totally be cool !

You are on the road for a good portion of the year. What survival skills have you developed to keep the read weariness at bay? How's your road diet? The artist and sculpture prof. Niki Logis once said that American supermarkets should only have three aisles - sugar, salt, and fat. What aisles do you find yourself spending the most time in when you are on the road or do you go out of your way to find fruit and cruciform vegetables? Is there reading material in tow? iPod road tunes?

I sleep as much as I can! Naps are great. Anyone who has ever toured with me knows that I love me some naps!

I try and have time to be by myself. When you're constantly around people, no matter how much you love and respect them, there are times where you want to choke the shit out of them. I don’t care who you are, when you live with and are constantly around the same group of people for weeks on end, you get to a point where you think to yourself, “Why the fuck wont this person just shut the fuck up?!” or “Why is this person telling me the same exact fucking story every goddamn day and why can't he remember already telling me?!” You keep those sort of thoughts to yourself, and they only happen once and a great while, but I'll bet you anything that even nuns ride each others nerves once-in-a-while! I am sure people have had those thoughts of me. It’s just human nature.

The most important survival skill that I have is my ability to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously. I always try to find the humor in things . Having humility is also important. I try very hard to keep myself humble. -Like I said...I try, but I am not always successful at it.

My diet on tour is absolute shite! I sometimes eat once a day, and that meal may consist of a burger and fries from McDonalds. Pizza is a staple and those stupid energy drinks are like a monkey on my back! Cookies are a great source of something or other...right ?

I listen to my iPod pretty much only on flights and tend to go for more mellow stuff. I usually put on Lambchop’s OH (Ohio) record or YLT’s Summer Sun. (..And no, I'm not getting paid to say that.) Since I hear live music 5 days a week, silence can be golden!

You can usually find a book with amp schematics in my bag. That’s about it as far as books go.

OK. I've got to ask at least one boring, tech-y question. What kind of tool-kit do you travel with? Is it a small tool-box or one of those huge road cases on wheels with your name stenciled on the side? Any tools you travel with that get you hassled by airport security?

It all depends on the situation and the band. I have 3 different cases. James Mcnew has named them the following:
  1. Lil’ Gil- a large briefcase-sized tool case for short tours or one off’s. It’s about 50lbs.
  2. Gil The Case- it is a bit bigger than a guitar flight case. I use it for tours over two weeks or longer. It is about 100lbs.
  3. Big Gil- A HUGE workbox -about 500 lbs. It is basically a guitar and amp repair shop on wheels.
I usually get harassed by TSA for adhesives and 3-volt lithium batteries. The TSA seems to think that the 3-volts can arc and set the plane on fire. I highly disagree. One time I got to the first show of a tour, only to find that the TSA had confiscated all of my adhesives. I was pissed! Since then, I have covered all of the bottles in black gaffe tape. They have left me alone once I started doing that.

Speaking of tools. I have a couple, like my (non-dial) Vernier calipers and 19th century awl, that were my grandfather's. If I were to lose them, I would survive, but it would be a dark day. Any tools of your own that you are particularly attached to? Tell the truth - and please don't say Dremel.

I do own a Dremel, but I hardly ever use it (honestly!). I would have to say that I get attached to these small pliers that I have picked up over the years. A couple of years ago I picked up this small electric screwdriver that I love. I probably use that everyday! -But nothing as cool as a 19th century awl! I just love tools. I have found the coolest tools in bargain bins at electronic stores .

Finally, I'm really keen on pickups. New, vintage, expensive, cheap. Whatever. Pickups are like viticulture. -Something so basic but with endless variety. Squeeze a grape, let it rot a bit, and you've got wine. Pickups are just wire wrapped around a magnet. Guitar pickups haven't mystified mankind as long as wine grapes (here I'm assuming that all the world is captivated by guitar electronics) have but both have a simplicity that yields to a complexity. What are a few of your favorite types of pickups? Have you ever made your own?

Like you, I do love them DeArmonds! I have always been a fan of old Gibson PAF humbuckers. I do like the Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups or the Seth Lover model that they made a while ago. I was never too big of a fan of strat single coils until I started to work with Ira Kaplan and his main Strat - that thing sounds amazing! I am really not much of a gearhead when it comes to stuff made in the last 30 years. I have never made my own pickups. I have thought about it, just like I have thought about becoming a cop or a dentist.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brett Brubaker, Pickup MD

Like an elderly relative on life support that you just can't pull the plug on, Old Style has a propensity for extending guitar components well beyond their expected life spans. And why not, the stuff sounds so good when it's up and running and the sails are in trim. What follows is a couple touching stories of close calls with the Grim Reaper.

The pickups below were actually declared legally dead for a period of five minutes after a horrible car accident. A Ms. Emma Goo from Northern Los Angeles was adjusting her GPS and lost sight of the yellow line. The aircraft engineer and pickup expert, Brett Brubaker ( was called in to spare them from the cold, cold ground. Under his care, both have made a full recovery.

The first pickup is a 1953 DeArmond 'guitar mike' that had no reading on the multimeter and apparently wasn't moth-proofed. Looks like two magnets and a spacer to soften the B-string. Or...three magnets. Will have to ask the doc. Have never met Brett, we just have an email relationship (he hails from Indianola, Iowa), but looking at this work I can tell he's not a heavy coffee drinker.

The second repair was on one of my all-time favorite pickups (after the DeArmond Stratotone 'Hershey Bar' and Jason Lollar's Chicago Steel), the DeArmond Dynasonic. I'll guess a vintage of mid-60s by the shape of the bezel. -Kind of like the bezel on the Dynasonics manufactured for Martin electrics and electric acoustics. The pickup is so heavily worn it looks fake-old, like those guitars people attack with battering-rams and claw-hammers to make them look old. Brett fabricated replacement bits for the cracked off sides and solvent-soldered them on and rewound. Note the subtle invocation of the new Vampire Weekend record by the graph-paper background.