Archive for January, 2011

January 30, 2011

Rebecca Gates Interview

Rebecca Gates emerged from the 90’s grunge scene with a sound that was unique — quiet, expansive, layered.  She was the front woman of The Spinanes, the band she originally formed with Scott Plouf, who would later leave the group to join Built to Spill.  She’s worked with Elliott Smith, Willie Nelson, Ted Leo, Laetitia Sadier, and The Decemberists.

Rebecca took time out from her busy schedule as a musician, artist, and curator to answer my questions.  You can see more about what Rebecca is up to at her website here.

When did you begin playing and why?

I started playing a little when I was a kid, my father had a guitar I’d mess around on, but didn’t really play consistently until I was 23 or 24.  As far as why, I don’t know, I just enjoyed it, making up songs, or trying to figure it out.

What was your first guitar, and how did you get it?

I received an Epiphone acoustic as a birthday present.

What equipment do you prefer now?  Which guitar?  What amps, cables, pedals?  Why?  Has this changed over time?

Guild guitars, I have an M-75, a Starfire IV and an F-30, tube amps (an old Epiphone and Fender Super) and various pedals.  I used to play without pedals, just plug right in, and I still love doing that, but do it less.

I’ve always played Guilds, they sound and feel right to me. In 1996 all my guitars (save one) were stolen, and I thought I might branch out, but ended up with all Guilds again. I do like a lot of different guitars. I’m a fan of Jazzmasters and Jerry Jones bass6.

What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing a new album and have a couple small projects I’m excited about. I’ve been working in different facets of sound art over the last years as well.

Name one or two (or more!) artists (musicians, writers, visual artists) you find inspiring.  Why?

So many, hard to say. Tons of artists, photographers, designers and writers. There are a number of female guitarists I find inspiring, including Kathy McCarty and Elisa Ambrosio. I’ll say Curtis Mayfield for classic, beautiful work to aspire to, Tim Rutili because I always want to play music when I hear his, Jeff Parker is an inspiration, and Chrissie Hynde because she’s…..Chrissie Hynde.

Rebecca Gates and Scott Plouf of The Spinanes

January 30, 2011

Rebecca Gates live on Youtube

And here is a really wonderful live performance

January 27, 2011

Fret 12 Interview with Jacqueline Mannering

I’m working on getting up some new interviews.  So stay tuned for more original content.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep recommending videos and other sites.

I originally stumbled upon the Fret 12 website while obsessing over Cooper McBean from the Devil Makes Three.  It is an amazing site, full of video interviews with musicians.  All of the questions have been submitted by fans.

They feature a handful of female guitarists, including Jacqueline Mannering.  Jacqueline is only seventeen years old, and shreds like a mad woman.  Check her out.





January 25, 2011

Kaki King Lesson on Youtube

In this very cool video, Kaki King explains how to play her song Pink Noise.

And if you’re never seen her perform the song,  you are in for a treat…

January 23, 2011

Curly red hair + guitar = awesome

I have crazy curly hair.  This is probably a weird vanity on my part, but I get really excited by guitarists who also have crazy curly hair.  And luckily there are at least three amazing women who fit the bill:

Miss Alex White

Cary Ann Hearst

And last but not least, the iconic Poison Ivy Rorschach

January 23, 2011

The Dream of the 90s is alive on cable television

Guitar goddess Carrie Brownstein has had a lot going on lately.  She is in a new supergroup called Wild Flag with Janet Weiss, Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole.  They’ve been signed to Merge, are touring the west coast, and are recording an album that is scheduled to come out soon.  Outside the realm of music, Brownstein’s new skit show, Portlandia premiered on IFC Friday.  She and Fred Armisen have been doing comedy for years together on the web at Thunderant, but now they’ve made it onto their own slot on cable.

Did you see the premiere? What did you think?

January 19, 2011

Double Nickels on the Dime Benefit

This post is for Chicagoans — and really anyone with a car (or a bus line)  that can get you to Chicago.  There is a very cool event happening on Sunday February 20th.  My amazing guitar teacher Nathaniel Braddock, along with some other very cool local musicians, has formed a Minutemen cover band.  They are going to perform all 43 songs from the Minutemen’s album Double Nickels on the Dime.

What could be cooler than that?  It’s a benefit for Girls Rock! Chicago, a camp that teaches girls ages 9-16 how to be in a rock band.

You are a loser if you miss this show.  I mean that!  Details and a link to buy tickets here.

January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Guess who was pals with MLK?  Joan Baez was!

I found some great photos of Baez at the 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Alabama Civil Rights March.

From Corbis Images


January 16, 2011

Interview: Marnie Stern!

Marnie Stern

She consistently pleases rock critics, and has been featured on, nymag.comCMJ — and Spin said of her, “Marnie Stern has the voice of a little girl grafted to the grizzled hands of Yngwie Malmsteen.”  She has long collaborated with percussionist Zach Hill of Hella to create albums that are frenetic, passionate, and rhythmic.  I started listening to her because she was the hot new artist on the Kill Rock Stars label, and krs consistently chooses interesting and talented artists.  Now, every time I hear the song The Crippled Jazzer, I get that rush of adrenaline that only comes from listening to a perfectly executed rock song.

Marnie was nice enough to answer a few questions over email.  So without further ado, the interview…

When did you begin playing and why?

I learned a few chords when I was 15 because my mother thought it would be neat if I learned to play the guitar.

What was your first guitar, and why did you get it?

I saved up at work to buy a Dan Electro because I saw that Sleater Kinney used them

What equipment do you prefer now?  Which guitar?  What amps, cables, pedals?  Why?  Has this changed over time?

It’s stayed the same because I’m too lazy and broke to go explore. I mainly use a Scott French custom made guitar and a Fender Jazzmaster. For amps I use a combo Ampeg or a Fender reverb deluxe. Cables it makes no difference. Pedals I use a SansAmp preamp pedal as my distortion pedal and sometimes a delay Boss pedal. I’ve got a really simple set up.

What are you working on right now?

Trying to come up with new songs. The usual!

Name one or two (or more!) artists (musicians, writers, visual artists) you find inspiring.

Yoko Ono

Bella Foster- Painter

Malia James- Photographer/Music Video director

Patti Smith

January 16, 2011

Great Marnie Stern video and more links

Youtube interview with Marnie.  Be patient through the intro, which is in German, I think.

And check out the Marnie Stern feature page at  They have a ton of live concert video and interviews.  Great stuff.

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