I’m often asked what kind of guitar I play. I find this is less because people are interested in my guitar than that it gives them an excuse to talk about their own instruments. Today, therefore, I’d like to turn the table and discuss a couple of my guitars.

My main guitar is my 1963 Gibson ES-120T. It’s the bottom of the line of Gibson’s ES series, but that’s like graduating last in your class at Harvard. It’s not terribly expensive for a vintage instrument – some used copies on Ebay are as low as $1300 – but it anything happens to it, they’re not making any more!

I used it when I played with Seann Clark and Brenna Bone at the “Nashville Next” competition at Doc Holliday’s back in September. It’s one of those smoky, “beer and a shot” places where you feel a fight might break out any minute. When I had to go to the bathroom, I took the guitar with me!

To prevent this sort of thing from happening again, I recently purchased an Epiphone Dot Studio. It plays and sounds beautifully… and if anything happens to it, I’m only out $200.

The Dot Studio made its debut last month when I sat in with Seann and Brenna’s other band Sonny’s Fugitives. Their lead guitarist Tony Kellogg and I have been friends for years, but this was the first time we’d ever played together onstage., unless you count open mic at the Villa (and I never count open mic at the Villa).

Brenna – who more or less swept the Rock Erie Music Awards a couple of years ago (Best New Artist, Best Country Artist, Best Original Song) – recently relocated to Nashville, but I’ll be playing with her and Seann at the Edinboro Hotel Bar on Thanksgiving Eve. If you’re in the area, you should check it out. If things go for Brenna the way I think they will, there won’t be many more opportunities to see her in a small venue.

Since I left my old Chicago band Childhood’s End in 1991, the other three guys have been recording under the name The Vinyl Goods. I played bass on their 1994 album Coming Home.

Earlier this year they revisited the master tapes for that album and made some tremendous sonic improvements. Don’t have Coming Home? Buy it at their website https://www.vinylgoods.com/store. Already own it? Buy it again. It’s that good.

It gave me the idea to go back to my 1999 album Foul Weather Friend to see what could be done to it. First off, I’d like to record new drums. The bass guitar parts are basically mud. There are also some out-of-tune guitars, and my singing throughout the disc is pretty poor.

So, I’d have to redo bass, guitars, vocals, and drums… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? If I’m going to do all that, I might as well record a new album from scratch.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do! This way, I wouldn’t be bound to any particular tracklist, and I’d be able to transpose the songs into keys I can actually sing them in.

Why do I want to do this? I’d like to have a decent sounding representation of the songs I wrote between 1991 and 1998 (something I don’t have at the moment).

So, in conclusion, thanks again for your support. If you’re driving anywhere for the holidays please be careful, and remember to always make time for music.

In New York City, there are three Broadways. There’s the “main” Broadway, which runs the entire length of Manhattan. But there’s also a West Broadway (in Soho), and an East Broadway (in the Lower East Side).

The latter two were named by shop owners as a ruse to divert customers looking for the main Broadway. A pretty mean-spirited trick; a person on East Broadway, in particular, would find himself pretty far out of his way.

I never dreamed this would be a problem where I live, but last week I played a gig at the 215 Restaurant in Jamestown. I was so excited to get the gig that I neglected to emphasize that it was in Pennsylvania. As a result, a couple of my friends drove out to see me in Jamestown, New York.

So… aside from that, what’s new? I was delighted when, two months ago, my music was given a positive review by no less an authority by Goldmine magazine:

http://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/cornucopia-new-cd-reviews

If you are unfamiliar with this publication, I urge you to make your acquaintance as soon as possible. Among other things, the reviewer John Borack (author of Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide) stated that “Marzano’s songs… would sound pretty darned good in a small town bar on a Saturday night.”

Sadly, there are no bar owners in northwest Pennsylvania who agree with this sentiment. But, the farther I go out of the area, the better my music is received. Since the last newsletter, I’ve played very successful gigs in Greenville and Titusville, PA, and have future gigs scheduled in Jamestown, PA and Conneaut, OH. Check www.frankmarzano.com for details.

Getting back to New York City… I’ve been visiting the Big Apple every year since 2001. One of my favorite things to do there is partake of the city’s live jazz offerings. (The West Village, in particular, is a “musical Disneyland”.)

More recently, I’ve gathered up the nerve to talk to some of the jazz musicians there. I was nervous at first, but once they saw I was serious about music they opened up like a book.

One of the questions I usually ask is, “What’s your favorite place in NYC to see music?” To a person, they reply, “Smalls”.

Having been to Smalls, I can understand why. The focus is on the music: no pool tables, big screen TV’s, or kitchen. People talking too loud during the music are actually shushed.

If you were to ask a Cleveland resident that question, the response would probably be, “The Barking Spider”. This was my favorite place in the tri-state area to see music until they shut their doors last year.

This was a particularly great disappointment to me; aside from being one of very few places willing to book me on a semi-regular basis, it gave me an opportunity to interact with Cleveland audiences – a different breed from northwest Pennsylvania audiences. One man told me he said to his wife, “Let’s go see someone we’ve never heard before.” There aren’t too many people in this area with that attitude!

Since the Barking Spider closed, I’ve been trying to find someplace else in Cleveland with a similar vibe. But it hasn’t happened. The Barking Spider was a unique and special place precisely because of the unique and special people who ran it.

Finally, I’ve been continuing with the guitar lessons I mentioned in my previous newsletter. Someday, I’d like to be good enough to play unaccompanied instrumental guitar. Of course, that might take twenty years – and, indeed, that day may never come – but that’s okay. If the only thing I get out of this is that I learn more about music, I will still consider the money well spent. In music, there’s no such thing as wasted effort.

 

 

 

 

 

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