A Night To Remember

August 18, 1965 at 8:15 I was sitting in the Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta Georgia waiting to see The Beatles. That’s right, The Beatles. The story I recount below is pulled from the dusty memories of an impressionable 11 year old.

Original Beatles Ticket Stub

The stadium was completely sold out. Walking to our seats below the stands, the noise rose in volume as we approached the gate to our seats on the field level. As we moved through the gate into the stands the sights and sounds were astounding.
Girls, mostly late teens into their 20’s, were standing in their seats screaming at the top of their lungs. The Beatles were an hour and a half from playing. Hands over their faces, some tearing, hugging the person next to them as in disbelief they were there. I am sure they were.

The stadium formed a circle around what was normally a baseball playing field. Immediately inside the perimeter guardrail separating the seats from the field were 3 concentric rows of police officers locked arm and arm around the entire circle. Behind the three rows of police were several random groups of officers moving around. In the center of the field was the stage flanked by two walls of speakers maybe thirty feet high by twenty-five feet wide.

My memory is faded a bit here, but I remember a warm up act took the stage first, mostly consisting of dancers in pink costumes, dancing to generic recorded pop music. The screaming continued at the same deafening level as when took our seats during the entire warm up show. When you thought it could not get any louder, the stadium light screens consisting of lighted bulbs would flash the names John or George or the other Beatles and the decibel level of screaming would rise fifty percent.

Finally a garage door to the right of me across the field opened and a black limo entered the field and pulled behind the stage. “The crowd went wild”. It was totally deafening, totally chaos. Girls now were standing their seats screaming louder than I thought possible. You could not hear the person sitting next to you, my aunt by the way who took me to the show.

Beatles Album Cover

As they took the stage one notch below total pandemonium set in. Many girls left their seats and ran down the isles toward the field and jumped the guardrail into the rings of police. The police would grab them, as they struggled to break through the police line to the stage, by their hands and feet, swing them and throw them off the field back into the stands. The show started and the screaming was absolutely deafening and you could not hear one note of music coming from the walls of speakers. If Paul or George blew a kiss to the crowd hundreds of girls would faint and fall into the seats in front or back of them banging their heads and would be bleeding and passed out. Paramedics would rush in pick them up on stretchers and carry them up the aisles and lay them out on the floor below the stands. Medics would then run for the next one.

The Beatles played for about twenty minutes and I never heard one note or sound from the stage. My impression watching them as they played was they were in some ways enjoying it, but at he same time terrified for their lives. I believe absolutely if the police lines had failed the girls would have rushed the field and literally ripped them to shreds. The Beatles seems greatly relieved rushing off stage and into in the limo: they were alive.

On our exit we walked past rows of girls laying or sitting on the ground having been attended to by the paramedics recovering from the show. Walking out we spoke to a man walking with his son and they said, “this was nothing compared to Shea Stadium!”

I remember thinking before the show, ‘I wish my aunt had purchased tickets to the Beach Boys.’ After the show I remember thinking , ‘This was for all time: I just saw the Beatles!’

This article was submitted by our guest blogger Hugh Davis.  Hugh, lives in Palm Beach plays bluegrass guitar and is currently a fretmentor student.

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SIRSY – One of a Kind Duo

SIRSY’s Melanie Krahmer & Richard Libutti

The other night I met some friends at a local gathering spot in Jupiter, Florida, known for its music.  Every so often, should the urge hit me, I will head out to listen to new bands.  My friend invited me to go listen to a band called SIRSY and although I never heard of them, I trusted my friend for her musical instincts and good taste.

Melanie Krahmer

The band is actually a duo out of Saratoga, New York.  Yet, the interesting thing about SIRSY (named after Melanie’s childhood nickname) is the audience is treated to the sound of a full band.  I am all too familiar with trying to put a band together with all the essential pieces: lead and rhythm guitar, bass, drums and of course, great vocals.  It is hard to pull it off sometimes without a tight rhythmic section and a good band is only as strong as the lead singer.

It is refreshing when you hear a band that is both original and pleasing to the ears.  I was surprised to hear this duo perform their own arrangements and do so with a charismatic and energetic approach on stage.  Melanie Krahmer is the lead vocalist and percussionist.  To say this lady has strong vocals would be an understatement.  Melanie can flat out sing.  She utilizes a sampler pad for bass parts with her drum stick and incorporates flute in certain arrangements.  Her ability to sing while playing drums at the same time would make many bands jealous.

As for the rhythm and lead play, Richard Libutti puts it all together with a blend of his Rikenbacker electric guitar solos and his effects pedals.  His styles vary from reggae, blues and rock rhythms.  He makes fine use of special effects on his pedal board,  that compliment each arrangement and plays bass with his feet.

Richard Libutti

SIRSY plays its own mix of blues, rock and alternative tunes. Whether you prefer the original upbeat tunes such as “Lionheart” or “Revolution”,  to a catchy ballad  “Brave and Kind”, there is something here to please everyone in the audience. Most importantly, what these two musicians do together is have fun playing music.  You can see it during their performance. So in addition to buying their latest CD, you might want to see them live when they come to your area.

Check for their tour schedule at www.SIRSY.com.



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Memphis Blues

Memphis is the home of the delta blues sound and here I was, walking with my ten feet off of Beale. Walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?

Memphis, Tennessee

While on a recent business trip to Memphis, Tennessee,  I was able to experience Memphis itself, including my tour of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, the Gibson guitar factory,  and finally the home of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley’s mansion at Graceland.

While many business trips are rather mundane and not very musically inspiring, little did I realize I was in for a treat with this trip to Memphis. I had heard and read about Memphis and the famous Beale St. in my study of the Blues.  After all, WC Handy, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Minnie and many other artists laid the foundation for Blues and Rock and Roll from this very place that is still being built to this day.

A Modern Juke Joint in Memphis

Very fortunate for me, I was about a 40 minute walk from my hotel to downtown Memphis. The city itself is very easy to navigate around, either by foot, or by old school electric trolley.  Old buildings and architecture reminiscent of an earlier age make up most of the buildings, preserved in time for me to enjoy today. I was kind of taken back by the security cameras, and dark alleys and old buildings.  At first I had wondered what was I doing, walking in this strange city, a blonde headed surfer from Florida. I kind of felt like a fish out of water.  I also noticed the heavy police presence , but I soon  realized the people here were friendly and inviting. My sense was that the locals had pride in their city, and wanted to preserve its mid-south feel. I could hear the sound of a lead guitar in the distance, I continued to walk in the direction of the source…. Beale Street.

Beale Street

Beale Street in Memphis, TN

The one way I could describe Beale  is that it was like a very large block party, loaded with street performers and live music. Places with names like Pee Wee Saloon, Silky O’Sullivan’s, The Blue Note, Rum Boogie Café Blues Hall, Blues City Band Room, and of

Silky O’Sullivans

course BB King’s Blues Club, all have stages where live blues bands perform. (And a rather large security person at the front door).  Duck in, have a beer and a burger, and listen to a live blues band. The music was every bit as smooth as the titles of some of these clubs. (and as smooth as that golden lager going down!). It doesn’t get any better. One could easily spend hours here, and lose track of time watching live bands perform, and street performers working for tips. Beale was closed to vehicular traffic during my visit, which made navigating both sides of the street safe and enjoyable.

BB King’s Blues Club

Another thing Memphis is famous for is their barbecue. BB King’s Blues Club serves up good Memphis style barbecue, I sampled their beef brisket which was awesome. While the sound of smooth blues guitar massages your ears, your nose will be equally pleased with the smell of various smokers churning out ribs, chicken, and brisket. Don’t go there hungry, it will be a hard choice! I guess a juke joint that serves up good blues and Memphis dry rub would be my first choice! But definitely go at night,  that’s when it comes alive!

Sign Outside Pee Wee Sullivan’s Saloon

When most people think of a musical type of vacation, they might think Nashville. But for those of us who love rock and blues, Memphis must be high on the order for a visit. I know for a fact I could go back again, and not be bored, and likely learn something new.  In my next installment, I will describe my visit to the Blues Hall of Fame Museum.


Our guest blogger, Dave Lamont, has been playing guitar for 11 years, and is a student of The Fretmentor, Dave enjoys blues, classic rock, and Christian Contemporary. Dave currently plays acoustic and electric guitar with the West Pines Baptist Church Worship Team. Dave’s favorite rock bands are Boston and .38 Special. His favorite Christian Contemporary bands are Casting Crowns, Third Day, and Mercy Me.

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The Minstrel Show & the Banjo

This morning, I watched a segment called “Blackface” on the Sunday CBS Morning Show.  The show accurately portrayed this time in history as “Unmasking the racist history of blackface”.  It reveals the sad and disturbing portrayal of racist stereotype in arts and music in the early 1900s.

Minstrel Show Program from the Early 1900s

I was inspired to write something further here, since I have spent many hours studying the history of music and the origins of music.  With the permission of selected public libraries, I was able to utilize a digital collection of historical sheet music  Those galleries can be viewed on my website’s classroom at www.fretmentor.com.  In addition, you can take a history tour of the origin of the banjo and guitar and some of the artists who have played these instruments.  Of course, this vast subject matter is a work in progress.

Old-Time 4 String Banjo

The history of “blackface” and the minstrel show was a disturbing and unacceptable portrayal of how blacks were perceived to live in America.  The minstrel show “blackface” actors were both white and black. The CBS program reveals that black minstrel performers dressed in “blackface” masks were given a platform to perform that was acceptable to the white audience.  Acceptable today?  absolutely not.  Yet, it was a part of our history and something that we all should learn from and maintain an open dialog about.

As a banjo player, I find it ironic that many of today’s great banjo players are white Americans and many people incorrectly believe the banjo to be a traditional American instrument .  The banjo originated in northwest Africa and through the slave trade was brought to the United States via the Caribbean trade route via the West Indies.  It transformed from a frailing or old-time style playing style to the three-finger style that Earl Scruggs and others have made popular today.  However, the banjo is a black ancestral instrument.

Old Novelty Banjo

Rhiannon Giddens, a founding member or the Carolina Chocolate Drops, provides a succinct explanation of the history of this wonderful instrument and it’s origin in a clip entitiled “On the Lost History of the Black Banjo“.

You can also learn more by watching David Holt’s interview with Ms. Giddens.

The Minstrel show era ended long ago in the 1920s and the banjo was one of those instruments used in those productions.   Today, thankfully the banjo lives on.

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Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder

Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder

Approximately one year ago, we had a hurricane named Irma but there was no thunder in that storm, Kentucky Thunder that is.  On September 7, 2017, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder had been scheduled to perform at the intimate setting provided by the Lyric Theater in downtown Stuart, FL .  Yet, Hurricane Irma was on track to blow through a couple days later so the Kentucky Thunder was absent.  Fortunately the show was rescheduled for November 1, 2017 and the thunder roared in the Lyric that night.

Mr. Skaggs and his band, featuring Paul Brewster (rhythm guitar), Scott Mulvahill (bass), Russ Carson (banjo), Jake Workman (lead guitar), Mike Barnett (fiddle), and Dennis Parker (guitar) performed many classic bluegrass standards.

In addition to playing songs such as Heartbroke from his country music days, the set list included:

How Mountain Girls Can Love

Carolina Mountain Home

If I Lose

Bluegrass Breakdown

I Heard My Mother Call My Name In Prayer

Uncle Pen

Ricky Skaggs

Jim Mills, former banjo player in Kentucky Thunder, is reported to have said that no matter how fast the tempo was Mr. Skaggs was always pushing to pick up the pace.  That mindset was definitely evident that night at the Lyric.  The band was tight, the tempo was driving and the audience was motivational.  Besides the music, many a personal stories were told about his childhood and his performing with many bluegrass legends.

The Bluegrass community should always remain grateful that Mr. Skaggs decided to return to his roots and remain one of the living links to the Founders of the bluegrass genre.



Note:  Our guest Blog writer, Randall Cameron,  is a Research Biologist for the USDA, Agricultural Research Service. He  has been “playing” the banjo, for better or worse, a total of about three and a half years interspersed over a much longer period of time

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Es Mi Suerte – Alan Munde & Billy Bright

Since I started playing the banjo, I followed the career of Alan Munde.  I fist purchased his tabs and learned his arrangements some 45 years ago.  I also had the honor of hosting Alan at one of my fretmentor workshops here in Florida.  An interview we conducted then was published in issue #37 of the Fretboard Journal. Let’s just say I can’t get enough of Alan and his music.  His latest collaboration with mandolin player, Billy Bright, is a gem.

Es Mi Suerte By Alan Munde & Billy Bright

Recently, I acquired Alan Munde’s new CD from the master himself.  On the CD titled “Es Mi Suerte”, Alan Munde on banjo and Billy Bright on mandolin, together offer a selection of unique songs that are sure to thrill you all. Dom Fisher plays upright bass throughout and Dennis Ludiker (fiddle) and  Trevor Smith (banjo) make an appearance as well. Not only are 8 of the 10 songs originals but the listener gets a mix of tradition and progressive bluegrass, 1950s folk, Texas waltzes, a blend of Tex-Mex-Cajun and a tinge of country gospel.  One could call this album a journey into all styles of acoustic roots music.

Banjo Legend Alan Munde

There are certainly some wonderful compositions on this CD.

Jenny’s Desire – inspired by a line in Mother Goose’s nursery rhyme.

Wild Heron – A Billy Bright original inspired by a lake where Billy married his wife.

Mom’s Waltz – Another Billy Bright original that is a tribute to his mom and moms everywhere.

Oklahoma Bound – Alan’s musical tribute to his Norman, Oklahoma roots.

Es Mi Suerte – The title song which means “It is my fate”.  This tune is a tribute to Alan’s great friend and producer of many of Alan’s albums until his death in 2015.

Dapple Pattie – Another Munde original named after his wife’s late dachshund.

Munde’s Night Waltz – Alan’s research of fiddler’s found that they love to make up their own chord patterns, so Alan, Billy and Dennis Ludiker on fiddle, did the same.

By The Side of the Road – A cover written by Albert E. Brumley, Sr., is a gospel song about lifestyle choices.

Going Bodmin – A Munde original in which the title is also a Cornish colloquial phrase signifying someone has gone crazy.  Trevor Smith adds harmony parts and take a crazy banjo solo on this selection.

Goodnight Irene – A song credited to Huddie Ledbetter, aka Leadbelly.  Both Billy and Alan recorded it with a casual late night campfire feel and later overdubbed the  accompanying guitars.

Es Mi Suerte

Es mi Suerte is available for purchase on most digital music platforms, including AirPlay Direct, Spotify and ITunes.

I highly recommend you add this album to your collection of music.


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David Benedict’s “The Golden Angle”

Throughout my many years of studying, playing and listening to music, I always searched out new artists to add to my album or CD collection.  After listening to some of the original compositions by mandolin player, David Benedict, I was pleasantly surprised by his recent album “The Golden Angle”.  This 2018 album was produced by David Benedict and Grammy-nominated mandolinist Matt Finner.

The Golden Age

From up tempo tunes such as “Dorrigo”, “The Golden Angle”, and “Lawnmower”, to slower compositions like “Waltz for Griffen” or “Madrona”, this album offers a nice diverse blend of mandolin sounds.  However, no album is complete without a great supporting cast.  Other artists on various tracks include: David Grier and Ross Martin on guitar, Mike Barnett and Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Wes Corbett on banjo, and Missy Raines on bass.

Take a listen to Mr. Benedict’s new CD and judge for yourself.  David is sure to have a promising career as a mandolin virtuoso.

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A Musical Journey In Phoenix

Martin Guitar Display

Martin Guitar Display

A trip to Arizona for spring training baseball offered my buddy Jim and I the opportunity to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix last week. It was our first visit there, but certainly not our last. Located just north of Scottsdale, the museum sits off the freeway in an otherwise isolated area. One is immediately struck by the sheer size of the building itself, much larger than one might think.

Largest Upright Bass

Largest Upright Bas


After paying the entry fee (one day for $20, two days for $30), you are given a receiver and set of headphones to access audio samples at various stations throughout the exhibits. The first room we entered on the lower floor centered around the tallest bass I’ve ever seen. My buddy Jim Delfel is not a short man, but he was dwarfed by this towering structure

Moving up to the second floor, the museum groups exhibits geographically in large rooms that flow naturally into the next.


Our time there was limited so we spent the majority of our time in the USA-Canada, Europe and Latin America rooms. If one were to see the entire museum, it is strongly recommended to get the two day pass. You will need it.

Banjo from the 1800s

Banjo from the 1800s

Being a bluegrass banjo player, I had wondered if there would be any banjos. There were many, from the early gourd banjos to the open backs to the resonator banjos commonly used today

Resonator Banjos

Resonator Banjos


There was even a electric tenor banjo, built in 1938 by Gibson. This banjo was part of a collection loaned to the museum by John Jorgenson.

Electric Banjo

Electric Banjo






A number of instruments on display were played by well known musicians crossing many genres and time periods.


John Jorgensen Collection

John Jorgensen Collection

There was Tommy Tedesco’s telecaster, lead guitarist for the Wrecking Crew. Hundreds of recordings that are a part of the music of the 1960s and 1970s came from this guitar. The very drum set that The Who’s Keith Moon detonated on national TV in 1967 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.   I recalled watching that as a young teen and here was that drum set.

Tommy Tedesco's Telecaster

Tommy Tedesco’s Telecaster

Plenty of other celebrated instruments were on display; Hank Thompson’s and Marty Robbins’ guitars and Nudie suits and a guitar played by the great John McLaughlin

Nudie Suit

Hank Thompson’s Guitar & Nudie Suit


An area devoted to jazz had the clarinets of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, as well as the trumpets of Harry James and the great Miles Davis. Herbie Mann’s flute, along with a video of him in concert with it was a treat to both the eyes and ears.

Electronic music was represented in part by a Prophet analog synth donated by Peter Wolf, a mini Moog and a

Marty Robbins Guitar & Nudie Suit

Marty Robbins Guitar & Nudie Suit

theremin dated somewhere from 1929-31.

A fascinating display area created by Martin Guitar Company (see our cover photo), showed guitars in the various stages of construction, along with an explanation video and photos of the members of the Martin family who have overseen this company since the 1800s.

You will notice that I have not yet left the USA-Canada room. This portion of the trip took over two hours, and I have only touched on the highlights.

Benny Goodman's Clarinet

Benny Goodman’s Clarinet



Time was running short so I blasted through the rooms devoted to Europe and Latin America. I never entered the areas for Asia and Africa. But I was resolved to return next time I am in Phoenix.

Any lover of music will find a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum enjoyable. Musicians and instrument builders will find it a must-visit. And if you visit once, you will plan to return.

Herbie Mann's Flute

Herbie Mann’s Flute



Al Price contributed this article.  Al plays and teaches banjo in Auburn, Washington.  He works by day in sales and marketing for Nechville Banjos and plays banjo for the Rusty Hinges Bluegrass Band.

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To Pedal or Not to Pedal – Part II

To Pedal of Not To Pedal – Part II

A Pedal Board

A Pedal Board

This is part 2 of our article on purchasing and setting up a pedal board (See Fretmentor’s Blog entitled “To Pedal or Not To Pedal Part 1”, where we talked about putting a pedal board together and the power supply required for the board.  Next, we look at some more details when making your purchase and constructing the right Pedal Board that meets your needs.

1. Start Small

Chorus & Overdrive Pedal

Chorus & Overdrive Pedal

Don’t run out and buy $500 worth of pedals. Start with two or three pedals. One overdrive or distortion pedal, one modulation pedal (like chorus) and one ambiance (reverb or delay) is enough to get started. Get used to them, play with the settings, the tone the level and experiment with using them in combination. Once you had a taste, you can start thinking about adding more pedals to your chain.


2. There are no Rules

Finally, there are no rules. With that said, here are the rules. Certain pedals are generally considered to sound better either in front or behind other pedals. The general order is still just a consensus opinion. For every one of these rules, you will find some famous guitarist that bucks the trend and uses a particular pedal in a different order to get a different sound. So, while these are the rules, feel free to break them at any time.

Wah Pedal & A/B Switch

Wah Pedal & A/B Switch

Expression pedals usually go first. So from the guitar, usually the first pedal is an expression pedal, like a wah pedal or other pedals that amplify or add sound. These allow you to run other behind the expression pedal and control the intensity of the effects from the other pedals further back in the chain.

Next usually comes pedals that change the tone of the guitar. These are overdrive pedals, distortion pedals and compression pedals – the bread and butter of your pedal chain. The order of these pedals is your preference. The compression pedal is commonly put in front of the overdrive and distortion pedals to increase the signal to these pedals and improve their sustain. Since the drive/overdrive and distortion pedals change the tone, they are usually put in the front so that the altered tone can be modulated and altered through the pedals later in the chain. Multiple tone pedals are common. Overdrive pedals like the BOSS Blues Driver create a very different tone and sound from other types of drivers like the OCD pedal or the Tube Screamer. Also, your tone pedals can be pre-set to different tones. You can keep one overdrive pedal fairly clean, one really dirty and one in the middle, and switch between them without spending time reseting the pedal before starting a different song.

The tone pedals produce a lot of noise and can create a fair amount of feedback and hissing from the amp. Especially if more than one is running. So, a noise suppression pedal is often placed after the noise-producing tone pedals and before the next pedals in the chain. Some people put the noise suppressor at the very end of the chain. You will need to try it both ways to see what works for you.

Digital Delay Pedal

Digital Delay Pedal

After the tone pedals come the modulators. These are pedals like flangers, chorus phasers and rotary pedals. These pedals take the sound, altered by the overdrive or distortion and modifying it.

Finally, comes the ambiance pedals. These are delay and reverb pedals. These are the last things that should happen to the sound before it reaches the amp. While most people put the delay before the reverb, I’ve been experimenting at both. I’m still not sure which sounds better.

I recommend starting with these rules, and then experiment moving your pedals around in the chain – especially the noise suppressor pedals and the reverb/delay pedals. The variations are endless depending on your taste and the type of music you want to play. Your pedal board should alway be a work in progress. That’s what makes it fun. So, good luck!

Andrew Baumann, a fretmentor student and attorney by trade, contributed this article.

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Are Community School Music Classes For Me?

Fretmentor Group Classes

Class Instruction for students.

Class Instruction for students.

Its that time of year again.  A new year, new year resolutions, and proud new owners of musical instruments acquired from the holiday.  Now the hard part.  How do you learn to play guitar, banjo or mandolin or another instrument?  Where do you go for instruction?

There are many means of instruction.  Some are free; such as free online tutorials.  Others are an investment; such as private instruction.  A good bargain that fits somewhere in between is your local community education programs, which are taught at a neighborhood high school.  For instance, starting January 22nd, I will be offering many cost effective music classes at the local high school here in Jupiter, Florida.  If you are in the area, I would encourage you to sign up for these classes.

Palm Beach County Community Education brochure

Palm Beach County Community Education brochure

Here is the itinerary for this term:

Fretmentor.com Presents:

The following fretmentor music classes are being offered through the Palm Beach County Community Education. Classes will be held at Jupiter Community High School on Monday and Tuesday nights. Registration can be done in person at the school or online at www.pbclearn.org.

Jupiter Community High School:
Register online (at pbclearn.org or in person) starting January8th Classes are for 8 weeks 1/22 – 3/13 2018

  • Playing Bluegrass & Acoustic Music – Mon 7:00-8:00pm
  • Learning 5 String Banjo & Mandolin (combined class) – Monday 5:30-7:00PM
  • Children’s Guitar – Tuesday 4:35-5:35
  • Adult Beginner’s Guitar – Tuesday 5:45-6:45
  • Music Theory & Appreciation for all instruments – Tuesday at 7 PM
  • Blues & Rock Music for Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin & Fiddle – Tuesday at 8PM

There are many benefits for the student and the instructor when teaching in a classroom setting.  The students get to meet others, learn an instrument in a cost effective manner and get valuable playing experience.  The teacher, on the other hand, has the opportunity to develop a network of music students upon which to grow a business.

More detail can be provided in a later Fretmentor’s Blog, to further explain the pros and cons of classroom teaching.  Until then, have a wonderful new year.

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The Avett Brothers at the Paramount Theatre

Avett Brothers

Avett Brothers


Best time of my life!  The Avett Brothers show at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Cedar Rapids was like a dream come true.  With seats in the middle orchestra section Row C – yes, Row C! – it was a very personal experience with an up-close view of the energy and soul Scott and Seth bring to the stage.


Paramount Theatre

The Paramount Theatre is not too shabby either.  We were told it had recently been restored after flooding destroyed much of it and wow, what a beautiful place!  With seating for just under 1700 people, this was the type of intimate setting I’d been dying to see the Avetts perform in.  And they did not let us down!

The fantastic set list (see below) included several of the True Sadness singles but also included a healthy number of old classics including “Slight Figure of Speech” and “February 7” which I was thrilled to see for the first time live.  Other special performances included Seth singing “In the Curve” (beaming in the spotlight in what felt like was inches from us!) as well as a visit from sister Bonnie performing “Swept Away” during the encore.  And speaking of the encore, how great of the guys to kick it off with a tribute to Tom Petty singing “You Don’t Know How It Feels”.  Awesome.

Avett Brothers

Overall a fantastic, unforgettable show that I’m so thankful to have attended.  A big thank you to Angela in Minnesota who was gracious enough to sell us her tickets without some ungodly fees like the brokers were going to charge.  Thank you, Avett Brothers for a great show!  Keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll see you in St. Augustine!

Avett 10/6/17
Satan pulls the strings
Live and die
Morning song
Distraction #74
Go to sleep
Le Reel Du Pendu/Les Bars De La Prison
Die die die
True sadness
Ain’t no man
February 7
I Wish I was
In the curve
Laundry room
The Prettiest thing
Head full of doubt/Road full of promise
Living of Love
Murder in the city
When I paint my Masterpiece
Slight Figure of Speech
No Hard Feelings


You don’t know how it feels
Swept away
You are mine
I shall be released



Note:  Kristi Johnson, from Tequesta, Florida, contributed this review for the Fretmentor Blog.  Kristi is a student of the guitar and an accomplished singer.

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Leo Fender – “Quiet Giant Heard Around The World”

A Memory-Filled Journey Into The Life Of Guitar Legend Leo Fender

On November 1, 2017, a new book entitled “Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World” will be released.  I have had the chance to briefly review this book.  The 180 page paperback gives an intimate portrayal of the life of Leo Fender.  There are many intimate family and personal photos that have unlikely been seen by the general public before.  This book is easy to read and it provides a useful summary of the life of Leo Fender.


So here is a little background on the man who is the father of the Fender Stratocaster guitar:

Fender, one of the first innovators of the electric guitar, grew up in Fullerton, California, where his interest in electronics lead him to open his own radio repair shop in 1938. It wasn’t long before musicians and band leaders turned to him for help in repairing their equipment. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Fender’s revolutionary guitar, the Fender Stratocaster, has been the preference of world-renowned musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Jeff Beck — to name a few.

While his name is synonymous with fist-pumping rock and roll sound, in reality, Fender was a shy, unassuming inventor who was nearly deaf and had one glass eye. In 1946 he founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company — the launch pad for his most iconic designs — and later on, G&L Musical Instruments.

Fender’s game-changing contributions to the music world have been widely recognized. He was presented with the Country Music Association Pioneer Award in 1981; was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock Walk of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His accomplishments were also acknowledged with a Technical Grammy Award in 2009. Fender died in 1991.
Today, Fender is a household name. But the quirky, shy inventor never lived large or flaunted his fame. He lived in a mobile home, even after selling his company for $300 million (in today’s dollars). His daily routines and obsessions made him truly fascinating, and thanks to his enduring instruments, Fender’s legacy forever lives on.


LEO FENDER: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World

Leadership Institute Press

Release date: November 1, 2017

ISBN-10: 0996793143

ISBN-13: 978-0996793148



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Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame

Hank 2_n

Hank Williams Martin D-28 Guitar

A Visit Down Memory Lane

My wife and I spent the weekend in Nashville for our anniversary. We live an hour and a half south and believe it or not, had never been to downtown for a visit. Aside from the great food and live music, we made time for a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame.


Johnny Cash’s Suit & Guitar

Tickets were 25 dollars each and were well worth it. As you walk through the doors, you get this sense that “wow, this is history!”. As we rode an elevator up to the 3rd floor of the 300,000 square foot facility, we were informed that while video was not permitted, we could take all the pictures we wanted ! Attached to this blog are a few of my favorites.

The tour starts with life size pictures and videos of musical performances going back to the early 1900s and large displays of early instruments including Martin guitars from the 1800s!.  By the time you make your way through the hallways of endless musical artifacts and memorabilia you’ve seen more than you can imagine. Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, to name just a few; all had extensive displays.


Earl Scruggs Gibson Grenada Banjo

If you have a favorite country star from the past or present, they are all there.  I would highly recommend that the next time you are in Nashville, you schedule some time to see the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Peg and Kirk_n

Kirk & Peggy Wickizer

Note:  Kirk Wickizer is a former high school classmate of mine and good friend.  He was a willing contributor of this Fretmentor Blog and submitted his review of the Country Music Hall of Fame, while on a recent trip to Nashville with his wife Peggy.  Kirk is a flat-picking guitar player and an accomplished artist.  You can visit his facebook page to see his artwork at the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Wickizer-Studios-494913113907169 /about/?ref=page_internal.

Below are some more photos taken by Kirk at the Country Music hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hank Williams_n

Hank Williams Boots

Help me make it thru the night_n

Lyrics For The Song “Help Me Make It Through The Night” by Kris Kristofferson


Bill Monroe’s Gibson F-5 Mandolin

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Meeting Alan Munde

An Interview With Banjo Legend

Alan Munde

Alan Munde & Dave Jakubiak

Alan Munde & Dave Jakubiak

On the weekend of January 28th, 2012, I had the honor of hosting banjo legend Alan Munde at my Fretmentor workshop for banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle players.  Additional instructors at this event included Byrone Berline, a fiddle legend, and Jim Hurst on guitar.

What made this a special event is that I have studied Alan’s banjo style since the day I first started playing the banjo.  That was back in 1970.  I read about Alan, studied his various musical transcriptions, and listened to some of the best banjo albums (such as Alan Munde’s Banjo Sandwich) that I have ever heard.  I never imagined at the time that I would be hosting Alan at my home in my lifetime.

Alan Munde's Thank You Note

Alan Munde’s Thank You Note

Now, as we adjust the clock forty two years later, I had the pleasure of sitting down and picking a couple of tunes with Alan Munde,  as well as Elliot Rodgers, one of Alan’s music partners.   In addition to the workshop, we had the opportunity to walk our beaches here in Jupiter, Florida and enjoy some of the restaurants in the area.  He was a great guest and one of the most humble musicians I have met.

AlanJupiterFloridaNext, we sat down and I conducted an interview of Alan Munde about his life and the impact he has made on the history of bluegrass music.  This idea came to me many years earlier, when I first saw a copy of the Fretboard Journal on the news stand.  I contacted Jason Verlinde, the publisher of this high quality quarterly magazine.  Jason was very receptive to publishing an article on Alan Munde.  He recognized how significant Alan Munde is as a musical icon and as a banjo legend.

It took awhile to get this article published but we finally saw the final product in print with Issue #37.  You can order a copy of this magazine by contacting the Fretboard Journal at their website.  You may also still be able to find a copy of this magazine at your local Barnes and Noble or other book store in the area in which you live. I highly recommend that you read the article on Alan, as well as subscribe to or order other issues that are available.

Fretboard Journal Issue #37

Fretboard Journal Issue #37

Finally, it was a thrill to get a personally signed copy today in the mail, from Alan himself which read “David, Thanks for all of your work – Alan Munde”.  In return, I have to say to Alan, thanks for the great memories and thank you for all you have done for the music world.

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Tuning Your Banjo Head Using A Drum Dial

What is a drum dial and how can you use it to set up your banjo head correctly?

A Drum Dial

A Drum Dial

Fretmentor student, Justin Lambert, explains the process of tuning your banjo head with a Drum Dial, in today’s guest blog.

Drum Dial & The Banjo

Tuning the head on a banjo is quite simple with the use of a “drum dial”. I bought mine online, though you can check your local drum shop. Your banjo head should be tuned to G#, this will help your banjo ring and have good sustain in each note. First, tune your banjo as close as you can to open “G” tuning and move the bridge to set the intonation. You can chime the #1 string at the 12th fret to see how close your intonation is to true. If your banjo is in tune when “open, or unfretted”, yet sharp when fretting at the 12th fret, you need to move the bridge towards the tailpiece. Move the bridge towards the neck if you are flat when fretting at the 12th fret. Once you have this accomplished, you can begin to tune your banjo head.

Tuning the Banjo Head

First, you need to calibrate your drum dial by placing it on a piece of glass and setting the needle to “0”.

Second, remove the resonator from your banjo by loosening the 4 caps or screws holding the resonator to the flange. Place your banjo on a towel or stand lying flat and place the drum dial about 1 inch from the edge. As you move the drum dial around your banjo head next to each hook, you might notice the dial registers 89, or 92. The number is not important, you just want the number to be the same at each “hook” all the way around the head. Go ahead and tighten, or loosen each hook working on opposing hooks all the way around the banjo. Do not work around the head in order, you will never get the numbers to be the same and most likely will damage the head. Tighten hook 1, then 12, then 6, then 18, then 3, then 15, etc. until you have the same number all the way around. Inevitably some hooks will be loose from tightening others, just snug these and keep moving around until they are all snug and you have the same number on the drum dial all the way around your banjo.

Drum Dial & Banjo Head Tuning

Drum Dial & Banjo Head Tuning

Third, you will have to retune your banjo and possibly adjust the bridge ever so slightly. You should definitely notice your banjo “ring”, especially when hitting the first string. If it isn’t ringing just yet, you can go back and slightly tighten each hook (paying attention to your drum dial numbers, and the hooks closest to the tailpiece).

Fourth, replace the resonator and then play your banjo, you should notice a difference in both the sound quality and sustain. I recommend checking the head with the drum dial again within the next few days to weeks as some settling in will occur. Simply follow the above steps to get your banjo ringing and sounding great.

About today’s author:  Justin Lambert is a ceramic artist specializing in one of a kind wood fired functional pottery made and fired at his home studio in Jupiter Farms, Florida.  He has wanted to learn banjo for many years, having played some piano as a child, and alto saxophone seriously as a teenager for many years.  He is a current Fretmentor banjo student.

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