Every first guitar story evokes emotion. Whether it was a Silvertone ordered out of a Sears Catalog, a classic Martin bequeathed by a dead uncle or an old beater salvaged from the dumpster behind the McDonald’s, everyone has a story about their first guitar. My First Guitar presents some of the best.
Eef Barzelay is possibly the only Israeli-born left-handed-guitar-playing folk-rocker from New Jersey writing songs with both Emo melancholy and Hip-Hop sensibility currently living in Nashville.
Not that he feels out of place there. Since forming the band Clem Snide as an avant-garde jazz/punk trio in Boston in 1991 and morphing it into alt-country’s underground darlings in Brooklyn, Eef has been comfortable calling a vast array of locales—and genres—home.
We caught up with Barzelay at Big Club Hall before his show at the Duck Room in St. Louis, where he was on tour in support of his debut solo album, "Bitter Honey."
In a quiet moment, Eef revealed the musical highlights of his youth, from trolling suburban New Jersey with his friend’s boombox and dipping into his Bar Mitzvah money to buy his first axe, to his junior-high quest to learn "Stairway to Heaven" and the tribulations of being a lefty.
Music Heard in the Show
Moment in The Sun - The Ghost of Fashion
(Released 2001, spinArt Records)
Alan Jackson. Shania Twain. Toby Keith. Faith Hill. Brooks & Dunn. Waylon Jennings. Trisha Yearwood. Randy Travis. Jo Dee Messina. Conway Twitty. Chet Atkins. They sing the songs, so they get their names on the album covers. But when they need a sharpshooter on guitar, they all call Brent Mason.
A self-taught musician who learned to play guitar at age five, Brent Mason moved to Nashville in 1981 to pursue music full time. Just two years removed from high school, Brent was playing at the Stage Coach Lounge when Chet Atkins came to the club to hear the house band play. Several return visits and conversations later, Atkins asked Mason to play on his album, “Stay Tuned.” Joining Mason in his first master session were guitar legends including George Benson, Mark Knopfler, and Earl Klugh.
After holding his own with those heavyweights, Mason soon found himself a wanted man in the studio. Now, more than 20 years and over a dozen Country Music Association Musician of the Year nominations later, Brent Mason is the most in-demand guitar player in Music City.
In addition to his guitar chops, Mason is a bonafide singer/songwriter and composer whose solo and group albums put him on the map as multi-dimensional talent. His newest recording, "Smokin' Section" will be released for download October 14th, on his website, brentmason.com.
We joined Brent at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, to talk about growing up with a guitar in the corner of his room, the first guitars he ever had and the long-fingered chord book.
At once the musical heir to the jam-band tradition and the black sheep of the family, Keller Williams is a supernatural one-man traveling road show who combines virtuoso guitar playing with goofball lyrics, loops, electronics, and his own extraordinary brand of rhythmic percussion. From his home base in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Williams has built a loyal following with his wow-inducing studio recordings and his completely original live performances that offer the audience an unpredictable musical adventure every time he steps on stage.
We caught up with Keller backstage at The Pageant in St. Louis, and talked with him about his first words — and his first guitars.
The Bottlerockets exploded out of the same St. Louis alt country scene that produced Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and Nadine. Led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Brian Henneman, The Bottle Rockets have produced 7 albums, with an 8th on the way. They have toured the world as headliners and in support of artists such as Lucinda Williams and The Allman Brothers Band.
We met up with Brian and the Bottlerockets’ second guitarist John Horton at Big Club Hall in St. Louis to talk about their first guitars.