Ho! Ho! Ho! Headbangers, and welcome to Premier Guitar’s year-end issue featuring our brand new end of year awards, the Premier Gear Awards. What a year it has been for gear and gearheads alike. 2008 will undoubtedly solidify its rightful place in the Gearhead’s Historical Journal of Tone Advancement, and will be long remembered as a fast lane on the path to your relentless pursuit of tone. Hope your journey has been an exciting one—it certainly was for us.
My personal best for 2008, amongst all the incredible gear we’ve been lucky enough to play, has actually been bearing witness to the growing passion in the “Sanctuary of Soul” for guitar players of all ages. From old dudes’ rock to the youthful rebellion, it seems like we are on the verge of a magical movement, possibly a historical revolution to reserve more rooms in the sanctuary hotel.
In the early eighties, I supported myself while attending college by giving guitar lessons in a local music store. Last weekend I received a call from a former student of mine who now has a 14-year-old son. Her son has formed his first band, and they were playing for a freshman school dance. This former student, now a mother of three in her late forties (and still playing guitar) asked if I would mind helping her son put together the P.A. for the event. Since this was the band’s first official show, they had not quite broached the P.A. issue yet. In fact, they had been rehearsing by running a High Z mic through a Peavey Mace amp. Man, do we all remember those days or what? I think that is where feedback originated from!
I was more than happy to oblige, because I was in a similar precarious position some 30 years ago. I remember all too well begging, borrowing and at times begrudgingly renting enough gear to put a show together. Piecing together old Altec “Voice of the Theatre” cabs that kept blowing the horns until I was enlightened to a cool little device called a crossover! Cerwin Vega Earthquake subs, remember those ball busters? Bridging CS-800 Power Amps to get some thump out of the quakes. Homemade monitors with Radio Shack 10” speakers and a piezo… sounded like poop, but we thought it ruled. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing and, in retrospect, it was just plain loud. To top it all off, we hauled it all around in my bandmate’s family’s horse trailer, hoping like hell it didn’t rain. But we were always able to put a show together, and the chicks dug it!
I did not want these kids to experience similar obstructions that may just leave them jaded forever. I have a smaller system that I have used for acoustic shows with a couple of JBL 15” powered subs with two Yamaha 12” Club Series tops. I busted out my Carvin RX1200 powered 12 channel mixer, two EV Force monitors, a collection of Beta 57 and 58 mics, D112 for the kick, a couple 31-band DBX EQs and compressors, a Crown CE 2000 power amp to power the tops, and threw up a couple trees with Par 64s for lights. We were ready to rock. I walked them through a sound check, dialed out some feedback in the monitors, and these kids were ready.
As I was getting ready to leave, they asked me if I could hang around for the first few tunes, in case they were to encounter any sound problems. I felt uncomfortably out of place as the rest of the kids started to shuffle in, I could just hear the remarks—Oh great, who brought their dad? I sat quietly at a stage left table, sipping on my lemonade and feeling like a skunk at a picnic when my solitude soon received an attitude adjustment.
As these cats hit the stage in their ripped-up jeans and skull and crossbone tee shirts, rockin’ their Green Day and Weezer covers, I could not believe the vibe. Sure they were a bit raw, a bit out of tune, but I felt my life pass before me in a surreal moment of déjà vu. The screams of the 13 and 14-year-old girls were deafening—literally the Beatles at The Hollywood Bowl. The smiles on their faces and the sparkle in their eyes was unbelievably rewarding for me; to momentarily live vicariously through that youthful excitement and energy will undoubtedly add years to my life. I guarantee these cats have the fever now.
I have witnessed an exciting growing community of younger bands starting up in my home town, and it is a growing trend I have not seen in quite some time. Hopefully you see it in your home town, as well. Support it, encourage it, invest in it—it is a wonderful thing, for somewhere in that generation is our next guitar hero that can hopefully fund our Old Dudes Rock retirement home. The Sanctuary of Soul has room for everyone, and does not discriminate. It’s about passion, fueled by inspiration and perspiration. Old dudes rock and young cats roll, and the chicks dig it. You gotta love it!
From all of us here at Premier Guitar, a very happy holidays to you and yours. Remember, life is short, so live it up, drink it down, laugh it off, avoid the bullshit, take chances and never have regrets. Hopefully everything you’ve done is everything you wanted.
Trent Salter, Publisher
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