Jenn and I were driving through the rain drenched mountains above Santa Barbara today. We were doing what we usually do on long drives; that is, we spend a lot of time taking pictures and talking music. As I sat down to write this blog post, it suddenly dawned on me that the iPod shuffle never landed on one of my all time favorite guitarists, Michael Hedges. That is kind of strange actually. Not only do I have the complete Hedges catalogue loaded on my iPod, but I often think of him on days like this. You see, Michael died on a winding mountain road in a rain storm on a day not unlike today.
A quick blurb from Wikipedia states: "In late 1997, Hedges died at the age of 43 in a car accident along State Route 128 in Mendocino County, near Boonville (about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of San Francisco). According to his manager Hilleary Burgess, his car apparently skidded off a rain-slicked S-curve and down a 120-foot (37 m) cliff. Hedges was thrown from his car and appeared to have died nearly instantly. His body was found a few days afterward. After his death, his record Oracle won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album."
I know many of you don't have a clue who Hedges is in the context of "great" guitar players. Let me just say that he was a true game changer in regards to the instrument. Many a guitarist has come along and incorporated the "new way" of doing things that Michael brought to the table. In fact, some of the techniques he pioneered have become so commonplace in acoustic guitar circles that many of you will not even give it a second thought upon seeing this week's post. I would recommend that you put on your "remember when" glasses and take a trip back to the beginning of what Michael jokingly called "Heavy Mental." In my concerts I have often made thinly veiled references to this mindset by calling it "Guitar Geekery."
On an obvious personal note, my acoustic guitar playing life has NEVER been the same after seeing about 30 seconds of the following clip back in 1984. David Olivas and I were bored and scanning channels on the TV looking for something to watch. A random stop on PBS sent me on a now life long quest for the "new way of doing things." We were completely floored. I don't know if David remembers the exact moment, but I will never forget it. After the first 30 seconds, I took a hard turn toward first being an acoustic player... and then second an electric player. Enjoy :)
For more information on Michael Hedges: http://www.nomadland.com/
For more information on Christopher Burgan: http://www.chrisburgan.com