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Staff Picks: Bon Appétit

Preparing a good meal is a bit like making music: It takes practice and the right ingredients. Lukas Nelson and PG staff discuss guitarists they’d want to make magic in the kitchen with.


Q: What guitarist would you want to cook with and why?


Lukas NelsonPromise of the Real
A: I’d probably want to cook with Keith Richards. I heard about his recipe for bangers and mash, and after all his time in Jamaica, he must be a great cook. Nothing better than putting a record on in the kitchen, having a nice joint, and cooking delicious food.

Current obsession: I’ve been really into the entire sessions of Frank Sinatra and Antônio Carlos Jobim. I listen to them often and they put me in a really centered mood. Also, The Gentle Side of John Coltrane is a really great, mellow soundtrack to life.


Trevor VargasReader of the Month
A: I’d like to BBQ a massive chuck roast over oak with Low guitarist Alan Sparhawk. My studio is in the garage, so it would be fairly convenient. Sparhawk is utterly fantastic, always evolving. A master of minimalism, which makes his infrequent Neil Young-esque leads all the more humongous.

Current obsession: Delay pedals. I’ve limited myself to only two on my board at any one time. Right now it’s a Source Audio Nemesis for when I need something precise, and the Analogman ARDX20 when it’s time for some soup.


Perry BeanNashville Video Editor
A: Anyone who knows me is bound to be aware of my unwavering appreciation for Indian food. My pick is Freddie Mercury! Not only was he the most interesting musician ever, rumor has it he was also “Foodie Mercury.” Born Farrokh Bulsara, Freddie was Parsi (Indian of Persian decent), and loved to cook Parsi dishes. His favorite recipe for chicken dhansak was posted online by his former assistant.

Current obsession: Citizen’s As You Please. Mixed by Ken Andrews, this record has killer tones, amazing hooks … I haven’t been able to stop jamming it. This band masterfully mixes grunge-era grooves with post hardcore/shoegaze vibes to create some incredible rock ’n’ roll.


Ted DrozdowskiSenior Editor
A: Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy or both. Taj has a reputation for his Creole and Caribbean cooking, and Buddy’s gumbo is legendary. I pride myself on a few keystone New Orleans dishes—but being in a kitchen with those guys, cooking and talking music. C’mon! That’s like cooking with Yoda and Master Oogway.

Current obsession: Just had an LR Baggs Element pickup system installed in my old Guild D25C to replace a cheap-o pickup from the ’90s, and it’s amazing how much it sounds like itself when I plug it in. Rich, vibrant, and ringing. Loving it!


Tessa JeffersManaging Editor
A: I love Latin cuisine, so I’d want to cook with Carlos Santana. We could invite Badi Assad to impart a Brazilian touch to our feast. Then we could have an after-dinner, world-music dance party.

Current obsession: Hurray for the Riff Raff! On record, the New Orleans-based Americana group mixes Alynda Segarra’s Puerto Rican heritage, Bronx upbringing, and thoughtful lyrics with stripped-down folk arrangements. But live, they ignite the house with a fuller, sassier rock vibe that sends Segarra’s poetry ablaze. I love a band that jumps outta boxes. Pa’lante!

As he approaches his 80th year, Chris Smither remains a potent songwriter and guitarist whose work is truly timeless—carved from experience and a deep perspective into the human condition.

Photo by Jo Chattman

The veteran fingerstylist and songwriter—who’s had his songs covered by Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, and others—ponders the existential while celebrating the earthly. He also talks about the trajectory of his six-decades-long career, and how he learned to stop doing what’s unnecessary.

Now well into his sixth decade as a performer, with more than 20 albums behind him, singer-songwriter Chris Smither is doing some of his finest work. His vivid lyrics and resonant baritone on his new recording, All About the Bones, are elevated by his inimitable guitar style.

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The latest generation of Boss’ flagship digital amp is out to snatch the tones-per-dollar title belt.

Exceptional sounds throughout. Great high-gain tones. Off-the-charts value.

A built-in tuner would have been a nice touch.

$599

Boss Katana Artist Gen 3, $599,
boss.info

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Boss’ Katana digital amps are among the most successful amplifiers of all time. They’ve sold over a million units since the first one appeared in 2016. But that’s hardly surprising given the wealth of sounds most Katanas put on offer, their abundance of features, and almost unrivaled bang for the buck.

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“Bill Bass” Nelson’s playing on Fred Wesley’s Say Blow by Blow Backwards is distinct from that of his other P-Funk bassmates.

When columnist Bill Leigh played bass behind trombonist Fred Wesley, he got an up-close look at how P-Funk bassists helped define a sound.

Most of us are continually working to broaden our bass skills, from fretboard familiarity and technical mastery to specific musical competencies, like bass-line construction and development, walking, and soloing. Along the way, we may try to incorporate the tone and techniques of specific bassists into our playing, sometimes while learning their parts from songs they played on.

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