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Lurrie Bell Walks Out of the Darkness, Enters the Blues (Free MP3 Download!)

Sean McDevitt
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10.18.2007

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It’s true that the American blues tradition is replete with stories of struggle and loss, but for Chicago bluesman Lurrie Bell, those clichés became heartbreakingly real this year. In a year that saw life imitating art, the guitarist in January endured the death of his partner, photographer Susan Greenberg, the mother of Bell’s toddler daughter; and in May, he said farewell to his father, Chicago harp master Carey Bell, who died at the age of 70. “I’ve accepted the things that have happened with my family, the people that I love,” 48-year-old Bell says. “I figure it’s an act of God. It’s up to me to accept that and carry on. I just wake up every day, and I say, ‘Today is gonna be good.’ In a way, it all makes me stronger, because even with all the bad luck, I know I’m still hangin’ in there. And with this new record, I’m gonna be able to tell the people exactly how I feel.”
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Gretchen Wilson: The Gibson Interview

Ellen Mallernee
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10.18.2007

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Country singer Gretchen Wilson is a study in contradictions. Case in point: the title track from her latest One of the Boys, on which she gets to the heart of the matter, distilling her hands-on-hips tough girl exterior down to surprising vulnerability. “I know I don’t act much like a lady but I still need to be somebody’s baby,” she wails in the song’s chorus. “Yeah, you might find me making too much noise, but I’m more than just one of the boys.” Sweet and salty as the margaritas she sings about downing in Les Paul-fueled barnburners like “All Jacked Up” and “You Don’t Have to Go Home,” Wilson has written or co-written most all the tracks on her three albums, starting with her star-making debut, 2004’s Here for the Party. She calls One of the Boys her most personal disc to date, admitting that there are a couple of songs—the devastating break-up confessional “To Tell You the Truth,” for one—that she wouldn’t dare sing live for fear of crying.
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Minus the Bear’s Dave Knudson: Taking Innovative Guitar Playing to the Next Level

Jonah Bayer
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10.17.2007

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If you’re not familiar with Dave Knudson’s guitar playing, do yourself a favor. Stop reading this, go to iTunes and buy every album you can find by his Seattle-based indie rock band Minus The Bear. Although Knudson got his start playing technical mathcore for Botch, when he joined Minus The Bear in 2001 he set aside traditional riffing in favor of his own brand of two-handed tapping, looping and live sound manipulations that have made Minus The Bear one of the most innovative—and musical—acts in recent memory.
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Gibson Rocks Heavy Metal Box

Jerry McCulley
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10.17.2007

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Trying to imagine rock and roll without heavy metal is like pondering lightning without thunder, a pencil without lead, the Red Sox without Papi and Manny—what good is yin without some good, thrashing yang to get heads banging and ears ringing? Sprawling across four CDs and housed in a Spinal Tap-inspired box—shaped like a vintage Marshall amp top with a volume knob that can crank up to 11—the 70 tracks of Rhino’s lovingly compiled Heavy Metal Box not only chronicle four decades of what John Kay and Steppenwolf’s epochal hit “Born To Be Wild” first called “heavy metal thunder,” but often serves as a showcase for the crucial role Gibson instruments and artists have played throughout the music’s history.
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Vegas, Babies: Panic! At the Disco Conquer the World

Jerry McCulley
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10.17.2007

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Ah, Las Vegas—home of male Cher impersonators, faux world wonders, and $1.49 shrimp cocktails. Not exactly up there with Memphis, SoHo, Seattle, or even Cincinnati on the radar of pop pundits and assiduous rock scene chroniclers. Yet the town that Bugsy Siegel built is indeed the unlikely hometown of Panic! At the Disco, the young band whose A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out debut willfully mulched alt, emo, and punk-pop—along with most of the trappings of an American rock scene that seems to have traded one tired set of clichés for another. But while the September, 2005 release initially garnered little exposure or sales via traditional outlets and media, it built a muscular following on the web via MySpace and other music sites.
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Warren Haynes’ Top 10 Favorite Albums of All Time

Russell Hall
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10.17.2007

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There’s hardly a busier man in music than Warren Haynes. Dividing his time between the Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, and, on occasion, the Grateful Dead, the veteran guitarist uses an array of Gibson electrics, including a beautiful Custom Shop Inspired By, to accommodate his various projects. The latest Gov’t Mule release, Mighty High—a play on High & Mighty, the band’s 2006 release, consists of reggae and dub versions of classic Mule covers and original songs. Guests include reggae great Toots Hibbert and hip-hop pioneer Michael Franti, but Haynes’ incendiary six-string work remains the music’s driving force. Haynes’ choices for all-time favorite albums—as reflected in the list below—evidences the same eclectic spirit that fuels such projects as Mighty High.
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The New School of ES-335 Players

Aidin Vaziri
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10.16.2007

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B.B. King, Otis Rush, and John Lee Hooker may have been the first converts to the ES-335, but over the years the slim semi-hollowbody guitar that was first introduced in 1958 has become much more than the ultimate blues ax, transcending genres and generations with its rich, versatile tones. Just look at the latest line-up of guitarists who have made it their accessory of choice.
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Essential Gibson Album: Hot Water Music Forever and Counting

Jonah Bayer
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10.15.2007

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Chances are you haven’t heard of the now-defunct Gainesville, Florida punk act Hot Water Music--and that’s okay. Although the band were around for over a decade, they never had any real mainstream commercial breakthrough. Instead, they consistently sold-out midsize venues (and basements and VFW Halls), bringing their gritty brand of melodic punk rock to fans who made an emotional connection with the band’s technically proficient and painfully honest brand of punk rock.
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Fred Mascherino Parts Ways with Taking Back Sunday, Stays True to SG (Free MP3 Download!)

Nicole Keiper
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10.15.2007

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Taking Back Sunday’s MySpace page earned its share of brokenhearted fan sentiments over the past few weeks, following the announcement of guitarist and co-songwriter Fred Mascherino’s departure after four-plus years in the band. But Mascherino, who’s gearing up to release the debut LP from his new project The Color Fred at the end of the month, has his mind focused less on endings and more on new beginnings. “I’m very excited. I’m excited to get back out and do something that’s on my own,” he says. “I’m really happy with the new record—I think I made something that’s really honest.”
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Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign Turns 40

Sean McDevitt
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10.12.2007

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Albert King occupies unique terrain in the land of the blues. His signature guitar sound, which combined metallic tone with a ferocious attack, relentless string-bending and an inclination toward economy, was wholly original. The fact that the left-handed King frequently used right-handed Flying Vs turned upside-down—with the low E string closest to the floor—also contributed to his sound, namely since he was pulling on the same strings that others were pushing. King’s guitar style wasn’t the only thing that made him special: He also created music that looked forward.
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