I Gotta Say…

…for the price ($80), the Jasmine acoustic guitar by Takamine is by far one of the best value (Q/P where Q=quality and P=price) instruments I have ever owned, and I own two (I keep one at my sister’s out in Colorado so I have something to noodle on during family holidays).

It’s a solid workhorse instrument that can take a beating and still perform. Because of the low cost, it’s a great travel axe. You don’t really care if it gets smacked around, and even if it does, it is still totally playable. The instrument at my sister’s place was accidentally skewered through the side by a construction worker and was none the worse for wear.

I offer up my Madison one to performers at the open mics I sometimes host because it’s a universally playable guitar and I don’t care how rough people are with it. I wouldn’t even care too much if someone stole it, because they are so easily replaceable and I have definitely gotten my money’s worth over the years.

Sure it’s never ever going to play and sound like a Martin or a Taylor or even a high end Takamine. But it’s got good action and a warm sound. I don’t use a capo and I can play bar chords on the Jasmine without much hand or finger fatigue.

Both of mine are acoustic only, without onboard electronics, and when I need amplification, I just throw a Dean Markley acoustic pickup in the sound hole and it’s good to go. I suspect the electronics in the acoustic/electric Jasmines is probably cheap and poor sounding. However, I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that the Dean Markley pickup generates a warm and balanced sound across the whole range of the instrument and is really all I need for my purposes.

I don’t know why I am telling you this. I guess I just felt like paying a bit of homage to the instrument that got me started as a solo singer/songwriter (she’s been through many FAWMs) and has been a reliable axe for years.

You Won’t Believe the Things Cactus Joe Has in Store for the Rest of the Year

I haven’t updated you here for a while, so here’s a quick summation of what’s up.

SKOOLNITE BENDER (90s hard rock cover band) is a new project I’m in with guitarist Derek Reynolds (the project’s brain child) and drummer Cody Smalley. The unbelievable thing about this band is that we have already performed three small shows that were amazing and we have yet to have an actual rehearsal (we call the shows “live practices” and do all our individual song learning at home based on a Youtube playlist maintained by Cody that ensures we are all working off the same versions of songs). Another amazing aspect of this band is that we are pulling off some pretty challenging cover songs by the likes of RHCP, Foo Fighters, and Green Day. As the old guy in the band (I have more years on Earth than Derek and Cody combined), I front on a couple classic rock tunes by Ozzy and David Bowie, respectively, and I’ll be singing lead on some newer rock going forward. This band is insanely good, so check out SKOOLNITE BENDER when you can. As of this writing, we are playing a benefit show at Knuckledown Saloon in Madison WI next Sunday September 18 (2-6 pm) and we’ll be part of the Holla Ween show at Funks Pub in Fitchburg WI on Saturday Rocktober 29.

I auditioned for the bass player slot in Kelsey Miles’ rock cover band, FIGHTING FOR. I think there’s a solid likelihood that I’ll get it. Kelsey is restructuring some of the song repertoire for greater crowd pleasing potential and, assuming I’m “in,” we will probably spend most of the fall and winter honing a hot rockin’ set of tunes before emerging in the spring, when both snow and faces will melt.

I’m subbing on bass occasionally with jock rock cover band YOUR MOM (“was great last night”) fronted by guitarist Phil “Why Does My” Dickert. I’ll be performing with them at Knuckleheads (not to be confused with Knuckledown mentioned above) in Eagle WI this coming Saturday September 17 and again on Saturday September 24 at the Headquarters Bar in Oregon WI. I also might be rocking with them on Rocktober 1 at the Badger Bowl in Madison WI, but I need to confirm that.

Those are the big projects currently. On the lighter side, I’m holding down the grooves for Wisconsin’s principle Wilco tribute band, WILCONSIN. I will be doing a CACTUS JOE solo acoustic show at the Bos Meadery in Madison some time in the next couple months (TBD). I am still attending the Funks Pub open jams most Sundays, but with football season firing up, that is less compelling for me because the owner often cancels the jam for Sunday night Packer games. I will probably begin more regular attendance at the Thursday night open jam at Christy’s Landing on Lake Waubesa, hosted by hard rock cover band PILOT. SKOOLNITE BENDER rocked it hard last Thursday, my first time at that jam. We even hooked up some possible future shows at that performance…but I digress.

Punk rock band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE is on hold for some personnel restructuring and who knows what else. GUPPY EFFECT has gone on indefinite hiatus as we all await the arrival of guitarist Stefan and his wife Kat’s baby. Once Stefan adapts to fatherhood, we’ll discuss plans to rock again. HIATVS is of course still on hiatus but I will let you know as soon as this fun rock cover band takes a hiatus from hiatus. You would think a band that travels time writing songs for other bands would be able to schedule a house party…

Other than that, I am living my awesome life, working on books and music and driving for Uber for scratch beer money. I’m always available for lifestyle coaching if anyone wants to learn how to have an awesome life too, or just make their pretty good one more awesome. Free consultation and my rates are low.

Anyway, that’s my update. If you read all of that, thanks. But I think you might get more benefit from, like, reading a novel or watching TV or something. That being said, make use of the above info and I hope to see you at a show soon. Leave a question, comment, criticism, or concern below and I’ll surely respond to each and every one of them (except spammers and trolls).

Happy Holidys and Whatnot

Hi Friends.

Have a jolly and jovial holiday, if you’re celebrating something, and a fun, safe New Years Eve.

Tell me about your New Years Resolutions, if any, in the Comments section.

I hope one of them is to get out and enjoy more local live music. There’s so much talent out there that you’ll never hear on commercial radio.



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