1.Where were you born?
I was born in Albany, Georgia. I was there only six weeks, but it was apparently long enough for me to become a south-paw…I am left handed (though I play guitar right-handed…normal).
2. Life as a child?
I grew up in Newfane, NY, which is in Western New York, near Lake Ontario about 20 miles east of Niagara Falls. I was shy as a kid. I started playing the saxophone when I was 8 or 9 years old. I was a concert and jazz sax player long before playing the guitar. Following my Junior year of high school, I was selected as a saxophonist for “America’s Youth In Concert” a concert group that toured Europe after a performance at Carnegie Hall.
3. First rock album you was into for and why?
My first album as a child was Meet the Beatles, their U.S. debut release. I can play back all the details in my mind. In high school, I heard Sabbath’s Paranoid, but I wasn’t really interested in rock as much as jazz/fusion and didn’t start playing guitar until I was 18 after high school.
4.When did you start playing an Ibanez Guitar?
My first good guitar was my ’73 Les Paul Custom. After playing an Aria Pro II for a while, I became interested in Ibanez. My first was my new JS1000 that I got in 1998 in Singapore, from the Pei Lee Music Store. I had never before played a guitar with tremolo/locking nut system. That one is called Black Moon. My newest JS is the oldest, a white ’91 JS1 which I call Ice Cream Bar.
5. Your favorite Guitarist?
I never came from the Hendrix direction. I got turned on to the guitar immediately after being completely astonished by Ted Nugent at Buffalo’s War Memorial Auditorium. It was different than the saxophone. It was powerful and, totally unlike the sax, you could play more than one note at a time which seemed so cool. And he played with such command. Then in the late 80s I discovered Joe Satriani and have always felt he is the best rock guitarist on the planet. I listened and listened and burned to play at that level.
But back to your question: Don’t take this the wrong way. There are always better guitarists…but I am my favorite guitarist.
6. What bands do you play in now, what do they do for you?
Salter has been together for four years and is the best and most successful bands I’ve been in. Aside from being great musicians, it’s a band that you can really cut loose in because you so trust the guys to be there at the big moments. I’ve also played with Cybil and the Beast for a few months. The band has a great sound and we’ve played a number of concert style sets on some of the areas bigger stages. The satisfaction with Salter is how tight the band is and that it requires parts to be right on. Cybil and the Beast is purely 3-piece with Cybil fronting, so there’s more (musical) space to operate in being the only guitarist, which is likewise a blast!
7. Salter, your band….give me some details?
Other than above, Salter is Kenneth “Pops” Jones – Lead Vox/Rhythm Guitar, Cary Touchette, Bass/Vox, and Brian Whitcomb (Drums). Salter is a great cover band and also released a full length album in 2013, entitled “Revolution”.
8. What are you up to nowadays?
I gig with both bands pretty regularly. I’ve gotten to know so many musicians in the area and that’s been great.
9. Any new material you’ve wrote?
I just finished my solo instrumental album “Gleaming”. It’s full length with 9 songs and was recorded at Pearl Sound Studios in Canton, MI and produced by the Grammy-winning Chuck Alkazian. It will be released in January 2016. I’m alway writing in my home studio and I’ll go to work on another demo over the holidays.
10. Advice for up and coming guitar players?
Train your ears every bit as much as you train your fingers. So many instructional videos are about showing you hand techniques. Of course this is important, but in order to really excel, you must also be able to hear. Playing smooth 1/64 notes over a pentatonic pattern is technically impressive, but what audiences want at a rock show (or the movies for that matter) is to be emotionally moved. You must sing to them through the guitar, and that takes finding your own voice on the instrument. There are blues players that can make an audience cry with a single note.
As part of training your ears, go on the web and find and listen to the Seven Modes of the Major Scale. The modes are really just different emotional colorizations of music. Understanding what they are, how they sound, and how you can employ them is huge.
Embrace your own sound. Every human is different. So, since we make sound on the guitar by directly touching the parts making the sounds, everyone will sound different. I use pedals and different amp channels, but my “tone”, just like yours, comes from the fingertips.
Always practice. Because you can keep getting better, whatever your age or level.
If you’re going to play the guitar onstage or anywhere else, play it like you mean it.