To celebrate a lifetime of music, the Boston folk-blues luminary recruits like-minded friends to help out with two volumes featuring new versions of old favorites.

It would be weird for Boston folk-blues luminary Chris Smither to put out a greatest-hits compilation, because anyone familiar with the man’s breadth of solo recordings—which go all the way back to 1970’s I’m a Stranger Too!—understands that his music is too good for commercial radio. Even his best-known songs, “I Feel the Same” and “Love You Like a Man,” are best known because Bonnie Raitt covered them. But Smither’s new album, Still on the Levee, is nothing like a best-of compilation: Rather than make a mix of past recordings, he gathered some of his favorite musicians and friends to accompany him while re-recording gems from his back pages.

Having cut his teeth in New Orleans before relocating to Massachusetts, Smither naturally recruited got Allen Toussaint to tickle the ivories on “Train Home” and a noticeably more bouncy version of “No Love Today.” And Amherst trio Rusty Belle also joins in on the fun, most noticeably on a take of “Link of Chain” that’s rife with the festive vibe of friends playing a front-porch jam somewhere in the Deep South—Smither even sets the song’s tempo with the heel of his boot.

This video promoting Still on the Levee is raw and live—Smither says it was captured on the third take. His voice croons over a sweet blend of acoustic guitar boogie, junkyard percussion, and tube-warmed electric riffs, sometimes sounding like J.J. Cale’s next of kin. But when Rusty Belle’s Kate Lorenz adds in her silky vocal harmonies, the front-porch ditty blossoms into a song both as timeless as the hills and fresh as the wild daisies. smither.com

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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