Fragile Balance have blown us away again with their new video for their original song Second Chances. The song is about getting a second chance in life to right your wrongs. Starting out as high school friends in Texas, Cruz Lujan and Nico Cooper have taken their playing to the next level here. They really show what can be accomplished with some creativity, two acoustic guitars and undoubtedly a lot of hard work.
There really is a fragile balance in this composition. The song starts out with calming resonate bass tones which are balanced out by shimmering smooth highs. The tempo is steady and rhythmic, letting the song stand out, this performance is expertly executed. The song is ripe with unique twists and turns, including an impressive rhythmic riff with quick and repetitive rests that is really catchy.
The video is well shot as well adding to the dreamy music. Watch it for yourself right here. Do yourself a favour and listen to this on some good speakers or headphones. Thanks Cruz and Nico, you’ve pushed your music to a new level with your Stonebridge Guitars, we can’t thank you enough!
Sion Russell Jones first caught my attention when Roger Schmidt showed me his fantastic song Lost No More. What a fantastic tune. During the intro and verses, nuanced finger picking rises and falls like the breath of an animal. Coupled with a subtly anthemic chorus of, “Close your eyes, float away, face the truth, another day, fading youth, stay away, falling skies, on the bay,” Sion has struck a beautiful balance in this song. It’s probably fitting that his next album, slated for a March 2014 release, will be called Lost No More.
So I lied, or forgot something. I had actually seen one of Sion’s videos last summer prior to seeing lost no more. It’s a really circus-atrical (new word) video. It’s a new word to describe something that’s circus like and theatrical. Just watch the video:
Q & A With Sion Russell Jones
Luke: You’ve played a few festivals before, which did you have the most fun at and why?
Sion: The best festival I’ve played at so far is SXSW (South by south west) in Austin, Texas. The atmosphere and spirit of the event is an awe inspiring thing to be a part of. The shows that I played were all incredibly well received and the audiences were plentiful and tentative. The experience was truly something that I’ll never forget and I hope I get the opportunity to return again one day.
Luke: You went to university for music in Wales, how has your music education helped you in your singer songwriter career?
Sion: University helped a huge amount but not in the way you might think. The best education a singer-songwriter can attain is life experience and there was plenty of that in university. Meeting new people and the social aspect provided a lot of inspiration. My first album was written and recorded during my time at uni and there are a lot of lyrical references pointing at the experiences I had.
Luke: I noticed you have a cover of The Tallest Man On Earth on your YouTube channel. Very nicely done, I’m a fan of his songs too. I recently found out he plays a Furch guitar for certain songs, were you aware of this?
Sion: Yes I was! I am a big fan of TMOE and I noticed a while ago that he was using a Furch guitar in some of his videos. They are beautiful instruments and it’s no surprise at all that he would choose to use one. The versatility of these guitars opens up a wide spectrum of eclecticism in terms of the genre they can be applied to and I can produce all of the sounds I’m looking for with the models I use.
Luke: Any plans to tour US and Canada for your new album?
Sion: This year, I’m focusing predominantly on Europe. I have shows lined up in Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany. There are also some talks of me heading over to Japan for a few concerts as my new album ‘Lost No More’ may potentially get licensed for distribution over there. I toured America and Canada back in 2012 and the experience was incredible. Depending on how things progress this year I may get the opportunity to head back next year. Fingers crossed!
Luke: What led you to Stonebridge guitars?
Sion: These guitars were recommended to me by a friend who is a very talented finger-style player. As soon as I looked into the instruments I was blown away by the build quality and overall tone they seemed to have. I was actually able to play music with a higher level of complexity as soon as I committed to buying one. Today, my guitar travels everywhere with me and I have used it on every album, EP, live recording, radio session and concert since getting it. So as I’m sure you can imagine, I was ecstatic when Stonebridge offered to endorse me!
Luke: What Stonebridge models do you own?
Sion: I have two Stonebridge guitars that I use regularly during my performances. I tend to keep one in standard tuning while the other I use for songs with alternate tunings such as DADGAD and open G. The guitar that I keep in alternate tunings is a G23SR-C – this one has a cutaway with a large body so its ideal for playing higher up the neck or using percussive styles while maintaining a rich tone. The main instrument I use for the majority of my set is an OM32SM Bluegrass series. I have owned this guitar since 2009 and its literally my pride and joy.
Luke: Coronation Street is quite a big hit TV series on CBC here in Canada (where I live). What season and episodes was your music featured in? I’m going to stream that episode online tonight. Tell me something about having your music in the show.
I’m not exactly sure which particular episodes the songs were used on but it was a surreal experience hearing myself in the background of such a widely viewed television show. Currently, my songs have been used on a lot of soap operas and dramas and it’s been a great help in exposing my work to a larger audience.
Canady Rat records artist Ewan Dobson has created a massive following for his virtuosic and unique fingerstyle technique.
How massive you ask? This video alone for his song Time 2 currently has over 14 million views:
It’s easy to hear the influence of classical, heavy metal, trance, techno and video games in his playing. It’s an unlikely combination, and bewildering to imagine how he translates all of those influences to the acoustic guitar. His playing simultaneously represents all these influences with ease.
The first time I saw him perform was at an open mic of all places. It was at Covernotes Tea and Coffee House in Richmond Hill, Ontario, his hometown. Nobody had any idea what they were in for. I had never even heard of him at the time. I happy I was introduced this way, because it was shocking.
Ewan knew what he was doing. He stepped onto the stage and set up his digital delay pedal with his acoustic guitar. He wasn’t wearing his signature hat though. As soon as he started playing, the audience was mesmerized. I don’t use this term lightly, and I’ve been to a lot of concerts. We were almost hypnotized. Why was this happening at an open mic?
At the end of his 5 song set Ewan mentioned he had CDs for sale. I’ve never seen an audience flock to this request before or since. But I swear, each person left with 2 CDs.
When he introduced the tune The Legend of the Brown Goat I was thinking, “Seriously??? Really??? What is this about?” It turned out to be my personal favourite.
Check the song out and then read on to see the Q&A I did with Ewan:
Q&A with Ewan Dobson
Luke: What are you looking forward to the most about you upcoming European tour?
Ewan: The most important thing is to deliver performances to the best of my ability. The audiences in Europe support what I do and I am no longer simply playing to satisfy myself. I am more concerned than ever with not letting down my patrons, who are spending their hard earned dollars to come hear a night of guitar music. I look forward to giving these shows the best I have to offer.
I always have some nervousness, but it helps keep me grounded. The nervousness is something that can be channeled into awe, or respect, for the tasks at hand. Being too sure of one’s self in the face of obligations can cause complacency. In other words, I see the importance of focus and the necessity for respecting the audience that wants to hear a good show.
I am also looking forward to visiting these countries that I have never been to or played in before.
Luke: How do you come up with song ideas?
Ewan: It either starts with a chord progression and out of that progression emerges a melody to match, or a melody comes first then I must find the appropriate progression to fit underneath it. Other times, it is a riff that I come up with and I expand on it the best I can. Sometimes the songs are shorter because I can only come up with so many developments. In other cases it becomes a longer song if I can develop it further.
Luke: How do you translate those ideas into compositions, do you have a method to the madness?
Ewan: As I touched on in the previous answer, I will expand on an idea until it is clear to me that it has reached its limit for development. I sometimes use a bluegrass or traditional melody approach to writing music, having A and B sections with a variation to keep it interesting.
I prefer to call them musical ideas rather than compositions. I find the word “composition” so very formal and I imagine it being more applicable to writing music without an instrument in hand, on a 12 staff score with a fountain pen. I am just coming up with ideas on guitar, putting them together in a format that I think works, and playing them the best I can.
I don’t apply the same seriousness that is found in classical study to what I do. A lot of it is done in the spirit of fun and experimentation. I very much enjoy simple melodies and embrace them without worrying. I convey the simplicities with intricate techniques in some cases.
Luke: Of all the guitars out there, what led you to use Stonebridge Guitars?
Ewan: I was fortunate enough to win a Stonebridge guitar at the 2009 Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition. I primarily use the Stonebridge for my flatpicking acoustic metal/rock. The D23CR I have has good string spacing and neck size for the material I play with the flat pick. The tone is perfect for my heavy acoustic picking.
Luke: Tell us what Stonebridge models you own?
Ewan: I have two Stonebridges, a D23CR 6-string and a SJ24SR 12-string.
Luke: One of my favourite tunes of yours is The Legend of the Brown Goat. Tell me the legend in your own words.
Ewan: It is open to interpretation and imagination. Perhaps it has something to do with the attempt to be sure-footed in the mountainous ups and downs of life. It is often the case that my whimsical song titles are questioned for their deeper meaning, where in most situations there is no deeper meaning in the title itself.
Ewan is heading out on a European tour this February with dates in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey and Slovakia. Check out the dates here: http://ewandobson.com/shows.html
Ewan Dobson’s Stonebridge Guitar
If your interested in checking out a Stonebridge D23CR guitar like Ewan Dobson’s, contact your local dealer or send us a tweet.
It’s been a great start to 2014 for Dave Gunning. It’s thrilling to see an artist we’ve been following for a long time make such an impact. This past weekend, Dave Gunning’s winning Song Quest tune, “A Game Goin’ On”, made it’s national television debut on CBC-TV’s Hockey Night in Canada.
For winning the competition, Dave received a “hat-trick” of prizes. ”First, Gunning (along with co-writer David Francey) re-recorded the song with Juno Award-winning producer Joel Plaskett at his New Scotland Yard Studio. Second, Gunning performed “A Game Goin’ On” live at the Stolen from a Hockey Card Concert in Lloydminster, Alta. And now, his song has been immortalized in a highlights video montage. It opened tonight’s Montreal/Toronto game.” (Taken from http://music.cbc.ca/#/Hockey-Night-in-Canada-Song-Quest)
The song contains some classic references to Canada’s favourite pastime. The opening line sets the tune up nicely “Down to the rink, to the pond, to the river, there’s a game goin’ on, goin’ on forever.” Gunning and Francey have done well to conjure up memories of playing hockey for fun on makeshift outdoor rinks and ponds. The line ”Let’s play until it’s dark, until we have to go back in!” really strikes a chord with me. Since the song is meant to serve as an intro to Hockey Night in Canada, these reminiscent feelings are then tied nicely to the idea of tuning in for Saturday night hockey. These two have hit an important vein in most sports fans, the fact that we all used to play, and pretend we were a famous hockey player. For me it was Gretzky.
I tweeted at Dave to ask him who his favourite players were growing up and he said, “guys like Bob Gainey, Wendell Clark, Larry Robinson and of course Gretzky”.
Dave owns three Stonebridge guitars, a Grand Auditorium, the OOM20, and Dreadnought 12-string – all Cedar tops, with LR Baggs dual systems and Elixir strings. I was interested to know why he choose the OOM20 for the Hockey Night performance and he said, “I like how the little one stands out in a full band situation.” That makes sense, I could hear how it cut through in the video montage.
Listening to the song and check out the video montage here http://music.cbc.ca/#/Hockey-Night-in-Canada-Song-Quest
Jesse Terry recently sat down with CMT Edge to talk about his new album Stay Here With Me. It’s a great interview. The unifying theme of the songs is that everyone is struggling with something in their lives, whether they appear to be on the surface or not. The songwriting is polished and you can tell it comes from real personal experiences. There are some great videos up from the CD release show. His band sounds great too! Especially behind his beautiful G23 Stonebridge.
Check out the videos:
I listened to the whole album this afternoon while restringing some guitars. You can stream the whole thing here:
Check out the sound of Calum’s G24CK Stonebridge in this video. This guitar features a cedar top and koa back and sides. The sustain, balance and clarity is astonishing. You can see it’s a pleasure to play.
Candyrat Records recently recorded this amazing video of Calum Graham and Don Ross playing Calum’s composition 12:34.
It’s the title track from their recently released collaborative album. Calum is really taking his playing to new heights with his Stonebridge G24CK. Way to go Calum and Don!