There were many highlights on the second day, including an appearance by guitarist Ronnie Montrose. Montrose revealed that he didn't start playing guitar until he was 17 years old. He talked about the dynamics of playing in a trio, which is a format that he's had a lot of experience with. With only three musicians, he explained, it's either going to work great of fall flat on its face. "You live or die with a trio," he said.
Mix's Gary Clark (L) with Ronnie Montrose (R).
photo: Dave Vann
Montrose also talked about how he's adapted to being an independent in his post-major-label career. "I've been fortunate that I haven't had to get a day job," he joked. He also stressed that even if your music has no commercial potential, it's still important to play and record it. "Music is play, it shouldn't be work," he said.
Montrose was followed by Dwight Twilley, considered to be one of the pioneers of "power pop." After years as a major-label artist, Twilley is now on DMI records, where he's released his latest CD, 47 Moons.
photo: Dave Vann
Another notable day-two guest was songwriter Jude Johnstone, who has had songs recorded by such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Tricia Yearwood, and Stevie Nicks, among others. Johnstone talked about her home studio (which is based around an old Ensoniq Paris hard-disk recording system); the songwriting process (she usually starts with a melody, and then adds the lyrics); and her new CD, entitled On a Good Day, which is out on Bojack records and features backup vocals from Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Rodney Crowell.
Also appearing on Tuesday was Waymon Boone, lead singer of the band Headrush. Boone is a transplanted New Yorker who's now based in Sacramento, California. Like many other artists we spoke to, Boone now records from his own studio using a Pro Tools system, and his recording training has been of the on-the-job variety. He recorded over 50 songs for Headrush's debut CD (on DMI), from which he had to cull the strongest material.
Later in the day, two of the members of Kinky–a band that's earned renown by mixing rock, funk, Latin, and electronica into a unique blend–appeared onstage to demonstrate Native Instrument's Guitar Rig software. With just a laptop, the Guitar Rig foot controller, a guitar, and a line out to the PA, they were able to produce a wide range of cool tones.
One of the highlights of the entire Musician's Hotel was provided by deSol, an up-and-coming band from Asbury Park, New Jersey, and who are signed to Curb Records. The six-piece group appeared onstage and rocked out with an acoustic set of their high-energy, Latin-influenced pop/rock. They interspersed the songs with explanations of the various Latin percussion instruments that their two percussionists were playing. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the band or the audience.