Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guitar Legend Greg Howe circa 1985 with local band Duke

Circa 1985 Greg Howe w/ Duke, originally uploaded by biffybeans.

I would have been about 14... My God, 14 years old and going out to see bands?


Back in the mid 80's, there were several local underage clubs where we would go to hang out, dance, drink sodas, watch bands, and get way too deep into adult activities that would have turned our parents hair white had they known what we were up to.

Back at that time, Duke was a local cover band that did a number of current and classic hits, complete with a one hour Van Halen tribute show. The VH tribute show was typically performed as their last set of the night, and since I was still only 14, I had a curfew and only got to see it once or twice.

And boy, was it good. Greg Howe not only physically resembled Eddie Van Halen, he could play every song, every solo, every note, like the real deal. Greg's brother Al also matched Diamond Dave's vocals to a T. Close your eyes and it was really, really hard to not think you weren't listening to Van Halen in small club on the Sunset Strip.

The VH tribute show eventually went away, but they still liberally peppered their sets with loads of VH goodness.

They once did a showcase for some record company at the Empire Rock Club in Philadelphia. I borrowed a friend's driver's license, (because I was only 16 at this time) and hopped on the party bus down to Phila. to show my support.

I'd see them play dozens of times before they reincarnated themselves as a new band - Howe II. I remember Kjell Benner and Jimmy DeGrasso playing with them at various times. I didn't get to see Howe II too often, underage clubs were fewer at this time, and they had moved on from doing all cover tunes, and started to establish themselves with their own music.

Not too long after, Greg recorded his first album - and the rest is history. Now he's a fusion guitarist virtuoso. GregHowe.com

I worked at one of those underage clubs back in the mid to late 80's where Duke often played, and I will always remember Greg as being the nicest guy in the world. My cousin took guitar lessons from Greg for years and I believe they still keep in touch.

One of my fondest memories, (other than that sticker guitar) was one night at the club when the band was doing their sound check. (The club wasn't open yet) Greg was standing there all alone, soloing, and soloing, and soloing - and there were maybe 5 of us in the whole place. It's just burned in my memory....

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Watercolor Palette

My Watercolor Palette, originally uploaded by biffybeans.

07/28/08 - Update. I'm still using most of these colors, but I've since added Holbein Manganese Nova. I think I have too many paints on my palette. I tend to use the same colors over and over.....

I did the first wash with a #6 round brush, then once dry, went back over it with a #4 round to show a deeper shade.

Time to be In the Moment Again

In The Moment, originally uploaded by biffybeans.

Later this week, for the 3rd year in a row, I'll be heading to Loretto, PA to participate in Jim Donovan's Rhythm Renewal Workshop.

Jim Donovan was the drummer and one of the founding members of the band Rusted Root. Having moved on from Rusted Root, Jim now teaches music at St Francis University in Loretto, PA. He also travels locally to teach drumming workshops that are centered around world percussion and the djembe.

I've lost count of how many of his workshops I've attended. My favorite is a workshop called "The Yoga of Drum and Chant", which uses simple drum patterns and vocal toning (chanting) to help you find your center, balance your energies, and to be more in the moment. I've taken so much from his teachings and have applied them to my every day life. It's really good, good stuff.

I did this painting last year, during one of the amazing faculty jam sessions at Rhythm Renewal. I had taken a small palette of watercolors and a waterbrush and did this piece in a 4x6 sketch pad.
(That's Jim on the right playing conga)

Truly "In the Moment"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's time I started writing on my own blog.

I write all the time, so I finally decided to resurrect the Blogger account I created but never used. Hopefully now, I can get all my thoughts in one place.

For my 1st official 2008 post, I'd like to present the first of many mandalas to come.

063008 And this is my Reality.
Elemental Mandala Doodle

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about my mandalas. People asking what they signify, and if they are used for meditation purposes.

I once saw a hand-drawn mandala on Flickr, and it was described as a "Meditation Mandala." It was created in one sitting as a form of meditation. Since I generally have a hard time turning my mind off, I was quite intrigued with the concept, and started drawing mandalas from that point forward. Using markers, watercolor paints, fountain pens and ink, pens, pencils, pretty much anything I can get my hands on.

I usually create them in about an hour - such as this one. It's about 5x7 in size, and was done on Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper. I started to draw it with a Lamy Safari fountain pen filled with Private Reserve Burgundy Mist ink. I then grabbed a Niji Waterbrush, and painted the border a reddish brown. I accidentally got some of the ink lines wet, and I realized that I could use this to my advantage. All of the pink(ish) color you see was created by running the wet brush against the ink lines. I did a bit of outlining with a Pitt Artist pen, then went outside for a smoke.

As I was sitting there with the painting in my hand, a cool summer's night breeze blowing across the porch - it made me remember that the only thing in life I am absolutely sure of is the earth and it's elements.

"I may not know much and there might be many things I'm uncertain of, but the one thing I know for sure is that the elements exist. Fire, Air, Water and Earth. Nothing exists without them. I exist because of these things and to dent them is to deny your own existence. The sound of the wind, the warmth of a fire, cool ocean water lapping at your feet- these things I am certain exist. Not only in my mind but they are a part of me. I may never understand anything in my lifetime but this. And this is my reality."

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