Front and Center

By Victoria Moon

Okay, it's January. The holidays are pretty much wrapped up, the parties are over, and you're sitting there with a post-holiday hangover and a piece of paper with a bunch of resolutions on it you don't really remember writing, but feel slightly obligated to follow anyway. Well, my friend, you're in luck. Instead of valiantly trying for three hours to keep every resolution and then spilling Coke all over your list while collapsing of exhaustion, I've decided to lend a hand in making you a better human being by the year 2000 by helping you keep those resolutions. So go grab yourself a big cup of coffee and a couple aspirins, while I take a minute to look at that list of yours.

First of all, I think we need a healthy dose of realism here. Let's scratch off the resolutions to "bring about world peace by next Christmas" and "get in shape by summer" because you and I both know that these have been on your list since 1965 and they are just not going to happen in this lifetime.

Moving on down the list, I see this resolution to "pick up the guitar again and really learn to play it this time." Now here is something I can work with. "But Vic," you say, "I spent my last penny buying 40 Furby's for all my loved ones. I can't afford lessons!" Yeah, I figured you'd say that. And, while I question your gift-buying sense, I have to tell you that there is still hope for your resolution list this year, and that hope is the Internet. The World Wide Web. The Information Superhighway. C'mon, bud, let's get surfin'!

Our first stop on this trip is http://www.essentialguitar.com/. Here you will find "The Essential Guitar Guide," with lots of practical music theory for you to explore and apply. In the introduction to the site, the author declares "what I have attempted here is to get to the root of fundamental music principles and relate them to the guitar in a way that will make sense, be useful and allow you to develop your own playing style. There are no ego-inflating descriptions of 7th scale harmonized minor scales here, and no '101 Essential Blues Licks' to learn. Unlike many books and magazines, this one does not promise to make you able to suddenly play country, jazz, blues or swing. It does not promise to give you a shortcut to acquiring faultless technique or divine musical knowledge. What it will give you is a good basis for applying a practical hands-on approach to music theory that directly relates to guitar playing in a working band situation. It will hopefully arm you with enough information to support and improve your existing technique and give a quick reference guide at your fingertips to improve your musical awareness and increase your creativity."

Sound good? Now, I know you-you'll jump into this thing with both feet and your guitar and about fifteen minutes into it, you'll realize you aren't Eric Clapton and your mind will begin to wander a bit. Rather than lose you entirely, I'm going to give you a couple of sites to check out to show you the sort of rewards you can reap if you keep working.

First, if you get good enough, you'll eventually want to dump that Hondo your Dad bought you for your fifteenth birthday and get a real guitar. So head over to http://www.rickenbacker.com/ for a look at some of the sweetest Rickenbakers you've ever seen (and some great history of the guitars as well!). If a Gibson Les Paul is more to your liking, check out http://www.gibson.com/. For Fender fans, check out http://www.fender.com/. If this isn't enough inspiration, visit http://spot.fho-emden.de/guitar/ecguitar.htm and learn how to play guitar like Clapton himself.

Now let's move on to that resolution to "write a hit song for Garth Brooks and retire on the royalties." Again, I have to inject a little reality here, but that in no way means you can't start working on your songwriting skills right now. Some wonderful songwriting resources I've gone back to time and again include these three:

http://www.lyricist.com/

http://www.songpro.com/

http://www.zapcom.net/~glade/songwriters.html

Later on, when you get a couple songs with potential written, you might want to explore copyrighting and all that other fun business stuff related to the music industry. When you do, the official ASCAP site is located at http://www.ascap.com/ascap.html, the BMI site is located at http://bmi.com/main.html, and the SESAC site is located at http://www.sesac.com/, all with enough information to get you thinking like a pro.

For copyright information, the US government has kindly provided an only-slightly-confusing website at http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/.

Finally, let's look at that resolution that just warms my heart: "Get out and support local artists more often this year." Such a noble ambition must be achieved at all cost, so I'm going to give you the tools you need to be at the heart of local music. Now, I'm assuming that you read the concert listings in Louisville Music News every month with great concentration. However, the Internet can again come to your rescue to help jog your memory and ensure you get out to these shows.

Http://www.when.com/cgi-bin/gx.cgi/AppLogic+Login leads you to the wonderful world of When.com, a free, personal calendar that also allows you to keep track of concerts and events happening in your local area and add them to your calendar so you don't forget them. For instance, a search on January 15 reveals that Alan Jackson and Danni Leigh will be appearing at Freedom Hall. Neat, huh? For other concert searches, try http://concerts.calendar.com/. which allows you to search for concerts by place or a specific artist. Take a look, too, at WFPK's site at http://www.wfpk.org/htmlweb/htmlframeset.cfm. Though it looked like the concert listings were still being worked on, there were a lot of great links to other sites there, including http://www.justgokentucky.com. This site allows you to search for concerts and click on the venue links for maps and club information as well.

So, you now have no excuse: go pick up that guitar, write a song, and then plan to go hang out with the best of Louisville's musicians all without having to leave your comfy chair or spend a dime. Welcome to 1999.