Just in Case

Max and I went out to the Bywater (the neighborhood between the Marigny and the Ninth Ward) last night to see a man about a guitar case. Turned out the case wouldn’t fit the Fender we got Max at the garage sale last month. Too bad, it was a solid case at a great price. So he still doesn’t have a case for the guitar, but it wasn’t a wasted trip. The guy was fascinating. We met him at his studio and it seemed like he knew most of the musicians who have ever played in town, had stories and advice.

The most interesting – and immediately useful – thing he said was about the case. It was a plastic shipping case, the kind you’d use if you were checking a guitar on a plane. Sturdy. Good locks. He said it had been used once – when the guitar had been shipped to him. There was no point in using it. A gig bag makes more sense when you’re playing clubs and bars all around town.

“Most venues don’t have anyplace to store a case,” he said. “There’s no place to put it. Use a gig bag and you can throw it in a corner, or under the drummer’s platform or anywhere out of the way.”

So that’s next on the list. Find a good gig bag.

Max, Poor Minn and the Holy Martin

Max takes guitar lessons at the Guitar Center. The last Friday of each month they hold a jam session, open to the public, where people just sign up to perform. Friday there were a couple of dozen people there, I’d guess, including three or four who were really good, the kind of guys who are always in at least one band, sometimes several at once, depending on the gigs.

They’re the kind of guys who, if someone said they were going to sing “Red House Blues” and not everyone knew it, they could huddle together for a minute and figure it out, then go ahead and play it.

Max jamming There were also kids, the students at the center. One 14-year-old girl who could really sing, just tore it up on “House of the Rising Sun.” And a kid about 8 or 10 who sat in at the drums and was really good. Another young guy who played keyboard for a while, just making it up as he went along, then switched to drums.

Max played guitar for a while, then sat out. Then he got up and sang, and – oh man!

My 17-year-old son sang “Minnie The Moocher,” Cab Calloway’s signature 1931 song! With growls and “hidee hidee hidee hi” and scat and everything. And unlike most of the people who sang while reading the lyrics on their smart phone screens, Max knew all the words! (I mean, really, how could you decide “I’ll get up and sing a song” if you don’t know the words?)

Kind of thing that makes a parent feel like it hasn’t all been in vain. Couldn’t be prouder.

Speaking of the Guitar Center

The Guitar Center is a great place for musicians, no matter what your instrument. LOTS of stock, a large staff of very knowledgable people who can’t wait to talk to you about the instruments and equipment. You can even rent rehearsal space from them.

In the back of the store there’s a small room, tastefully decorated and lit with guitars on the wall, each illuminated with its own track light. A hushed air pervades the place. We call it the church.

The cheapest instrument in the room is an $800 acoustic. In the picture below, the least expensive guitar you see is $3,000. The one in the middle, that Max is bowing down to, is a handmade Martin for $15,299.

“In the name of the Gibson, and the Fender, and the holy Martin, amen.”guitar church