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MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW 2019: SERGIO ERCOLE INTERVIEW

Posted in Artists, Interviews, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 29, 2019

Born in Florence, Italy, Sergio Ercole spent his early years in the Tuscan city where he first became enamored with the guitar. Inspired by his parents’ eclectic music tastes, Sergio had developed an interest in a wide range of music. Moving to Australia, his love for the fretted instrument grew and was steered in a classical guitar direction by a music teacher while at secondary school. Sergio went on to complete a Masters of Music at Melbourne University – studying under John Griffiths and taking masterclasses with world-renowned guitarist John Williams before taking further study in Italy with Oscar Ghiglia and Alirio Diaz. His talents are well respected within the music industry, performers including The Cat Empire, and Hollywood film writer and musician, Tim Davies have invited Sergio to collaborate with them on their albums and on stage. Sergio was also asked to compose and perform the title track for Frank Lotito’s romantic comedy Big Mamma’s Boy. Recent projects include working with the Grigoryan Brothers, Italian classical virtuoso Massimo Scattolin, and flamenco guitarist Valentino.  Over the last two years Sergio has performed at the Adelaide Guitar Festival, Peninsula Music Festival, Lorne Festival, the Murray River Music Festival, the Brunswick Beethoven Festival and the Melbourne Guitar Makers Festival. Sergio is currently Head of Guitar at Haileybury, and is also editor of LatinGuitarMastery.com and the Guitar Conversations podcast.

Sergio has performed at the Melbourne Guitar Show on several occasions and returns again this year to perform both in solo mode and also as part of Nick Charles’ acoustic guitar jam. Ahead of the guitar show, Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips spoke to Sergio about his music, his instruments and the guitar show.

Sergio, what are some of your earliest musical memories?
I remember first discovering the guitar. I was probably 4 or 5. I used to spend a lot of time with it on my lap, literally just plucking the strings on my dad’s really beaten up, dodgy classical guitar. That was when I was still living in Florence, so that and what my parents listened to. On one side there would be Wagner or Beethoven and then if my mum got hold of the record player, it was Bob Dylan or Cat Stevens, so I had this dichotomy of influences because my mum lived in New Orleans when she was a teenager in the 60s.

Who were some of the guitarists that inspired you when you got into the guitar a little more?
I started guitar when I was at school so really it was just through the school’s guitar program that I discovered more about guitar. Inititially it was a lot of the 80s repertoire. You know in the 80s guitar was king and there was so much music. When a song comes on the radio now and it is any riff from the 80s, I remember my guitar teacher teaching me that riff, it was very popular. Then I started listening to a lot of generic stuff, not necessarily classical stuff even though my parents had John Williams, Alirio Diaz, Segovia records. There was a bit of that going on in the background but really my attention was very much in the electric direction, so I was listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Steve Vai and these crazy electric players. It was virtuosic. So that rock element is what was interesting to me in my teens years, then I had a classical teacher in year ten who encouraged me into a classical direction. Then I started listening to classical guitar, flamenco and things like that.

Teachers can be very important and inspiring. You are also a teacher. What are the main things you try to instill in your students?
What I feel my biggest job is in teaching guitar is to open up a world, like a portal into the world of the guitar. Once I open that up and its many facets, then hopefully I can engage the students. So that is my first job, to reveal the beauty and the variety and intrigue and magic of the guitar and then enough that they feel motivated for me to show them how to understand music and good technical fundamentals. If I can get good fundamental musicianship in there and some intrigue and a bit of a spark then I think the rest becomes much easier.

Tell me about your main guitar.
The guitar I am mainly using at the moment is a guitar I bought from a luthier in Seville when I was there two years ago. His name is Antonio Álvarez Bernal. It is actually a flamenco guitar but it is a flamenco guitar with classical overtones. It looks a bit like a classical but the internals are flamenco. It has a really punchy, crisp attack that I really love, especially in the basses but not too woofy. The trebles are also quite sparkly but I can produce some sweetness out of it as well, so I really enjoy that variety. Other guitars that I have are much more in the classical luthiery style, they have a bigger, concert sound, more air and body but at the expense of some of that crispiness that I like.

How important is the choice of strings that you use?
I go through phases. If it is a really good guitar … I don’t put cheap strings on it but I don’t pay massive amounts. D’Addario Pro Artes usually do he job. If I want extra punchiness in the trebles I might go titanium on the trebles, especially on the 3rd string. I might experiment with those sort of things. I’m not overly worried about it. I play often live and that’s like an extra layer of confusion to me. It comes down to the quality of the mic and the pickup.

What’s the hardest thing about mastering Spanish guitar?
Spanish guitar … if I was going to define it, is a sub-set of classical guitar and it is very romantic, expressive music but it also has to have a lot of rhythmic integrity. It is one of those styles of guitar where you need to understand timing implicitly and lyricism and phrasing implicitly and you begin to tell a story where you throw all of those things out the window. It is very much one of those things where you have to learn the lines and then just have fun with it. You have to have a very high level of technical and musical proficiency to make that work.

How do you generally record your guitar? How do you mic them up?
It is really difficult, I am still struggling with that. I was recently at a studio, Pughouse in Preston. He had a couple of really amazing mics, a ribbon mic and a very long mic that they used in the big band era. Often times the mics just pickup so much of the top end, you get a lot of the nail clicky sound. To be honest when I am playing, I don’t notice it but all of a sudden you stick a microphone in front of the guitar and start noticing all of this extra stuff that the mic is picking up that you don’t want in the mix. It is somewhere between miking and then doing some EQing. I have spoken to world famous guitarists who are very much into recording a very natural sound and then EQing the hell of it to make it sound like it does when you are not listening to it through a mic, if that makes sense? So I still haven’t actually conquered that challenge.

La Dolce Chitarra I believe is your latest release. Tell me about that album, the inspiration behind it etc.
It was a leap into the unknown which was writing my own music. I still record other people’s music but it’s a revolving process but that CD was very much about bringing the elements of classical and Latin together. I did that with some solo pieces but also with the help of a bass player and percussionist. It’s my cookbook of guitars bringing different elements together and experimenting with various textures, which might be from a flamenco direction or Brazilian or using classical or Italian elements. That was a few years ago now and the next album that is coming out will be like the next passage and that’s what I will be playing at the Melbourne Guitar Show… my latest recipes!

What are some of the most memorable gigs that you have played over your career?
I love playing at guitar festivals, so 2 years ago I was in Treviso and that was at he invitation of Andrea Vettoretti, who runs this really amazing festival in Italy. That was such a highlight playing to an Italian audience, being Italian. The Italians are such a music loving community and they just got it, so that was a real thrill. Playing at the Adelaide Guitar Festival, which I have done a number of times and in 2016 I was featured artist, which was great. You know … the limousine, you get picked up from the airport and everything is top shelf as far as venue and audience. I have done some gigs with The Cat Empire a few years ago, they are always memorable gigs playing at the Myer Music Bowl in front of 8,000 people. I also just love doing my shows at the Paris Cat which is an intimate audience but always a thrill to play to people who really fall in love with your music.

You have played the Melbourne Guitar Show before, what was your impression of the first MGS you attended?
It’s a hive of activity. Rob Walker is a bit of a master organiser in that he manages to bring in a variety of elements. Obviously there are a lot of guitars on stalls on display to bring people there to try but then the extra element of having virtuosos and amazing musicians at hand is I think, a really great thing to have in Melbourne. There is some chaos involved (laughs). I love the acoustic jam, where last time it was me, Doug DeVries, Nick Charles and a number of other incredible players in their own right, finding a common ground. I think that really sets the guitar show apart, bringing in that variety of styles. People can enjoy a real smorgasbord of guitar so that is a great thing for Melbourne to have.

What have you got planned for this year’s guitar show?
Again I will be playing a lot of new stuff, my own solo repertoire. I have adaptions of the pieces I play with my trio too. I like to think they test me technically as well, so pushing the boundaries a bit as well as being evocative. I always like to add some classical repertoire too, so I will be playing a couple of Scarlatti sonatas. A lot of the classical repertoire draws from the keyboard repertoire. These are actually keyboard pieces as Scarlatti wrote essentially for the harpsichord in the baroque era but he lived in Spain and like many Spanish keyboard composers, was very influenced by Spanish guitar.

Apart from the guitar show, what else have you got coming up?
I try not to think too far ahead but I have a really hectic schedule as head of guitar at Haileybury College and with my blog guitarmastery.com. Performance-wise, I do a monthly gig at T’Gallant Winery on the Mornington Peninsula, a couple of shows at the Paris Cat in October and towards end of he year. I have a couple of side things that I also do, a solo recital, a few regional things, a concert in Marysville on 29th of September and then a gig in Clunes. I’ll also be finishing the album and getting that out and seeing what else presents itself.

Sergio Ercole plays the Melbourne Guitar Show on Sunday August 4 at 11.30am on the new Exclusively Acoustic Stage in the 1876 Bar on Level 2 and then joins Nick Charles in The World of Acoustic Guitar jam at 1.40pm on the Marsh Mezzanine stage.

www.sergioercole.com
www.latinguitarmastery.com

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ON-STAND ARTISTS FOR MGS 2019

Posted in Blog, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 26, 2019

Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall appearing on the Fender stand

We’ve already announced a host of amazing artists who will be appearing at the Melbourne Guitar Show in either performance or clinic on the main stages but don’t forget there are heaps more artists performing and chatting on the exhibitors’ stands. One of the most fun things about the guitar show is the ’artist-spotting’ aspect, seeing accomplished musicians on stand and in the aisles that you never expected to see. Three exhibitors, Fender, CMC Music and Music Junction have given us a heads up and listed days and times for their on-stand artist appearances this year. You never know who you’re going to run into or experience in performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show but here’s a good start!

SATURDAY AUGUST 3

CMC Ernie Ball Stand 28-29
11:15am Nicholas Simonsen of ‘Caution: Thieves’
12:15pm James Pownall
1:30pm Darlinghurst Band
2:15pm The Omnific
4:15pm Emilio Kormanic

Fender Stand 53
1.15pm Jenna McDougall (Tonight Alive) – Acoustic Set

Charvel/Jackson Booth 53
3.15pm Jeremy Barnes – Sat 3:15pm – Playthrough

Music Junction/Achilles Amps
10.15am
Dr Ric Wong
Ryan Lim
Kim Herrin

12.15pm
Dr Ric Wong
Ryan Lim
Kim Herrin

2.15pm
Dr Ric Wong
Ryan Lim
Kim Herrin

SUNDAY AUGUST 4
CMC Ernie Ball Stand 28-29
11:15am Nicholas Simonsen of ‘Caution: Thieves’
12:15pm The Omnific
2:15pm James Pownall
3:30pm Josh Ua & Daniel Lijnders

Fender Stand 53
2.30pm John Floreani (Trophy Eyes) – Acoustic Set

Jackson/Charvel Stand 53
12.30pm Chris Zoupa & Dean Wells (Teramaze)
2pm Josh Smith (Northlane) Meet’n’Greet

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MGS 2019 TRIPLE M JAM LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Posted in Blog, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 25, 2019

You’ve spent the weekend watching some of Australia’s finest guitar talent, you’ve picked up your dream guitar bargain, seen a cool demo or two and thinking life couldn’t get any better… BUT … we always save the best until last .. the Triple M All Star Jam at 2.30pm on Sunday August 4th on the Whammy Bar stage is where you need to be!

Last year year saw Jack Jones, Brett Garsed, Shannon Bourne and many others trading licks together. This year, jam regulars Simon Hosford (Fair Warning, Vanessa Amorosi) and James Ryan (Kate Ceberano) have put together a stellar band consisting of Mal Eastick (Stars) Michael Spiby (The Badloves), Pete Robinson (Russell Morris, Electric Mary), Dennis Jones (USA), Mick Pealing (Stars), Roger McLachlan (LRB, Stars) on bass,  and we welcome up and comers Kathleen Halloran, Charlie Bedford, plus Marcus Ryan on drums …. and you never know who else might join the jam.

The traditional Triple M All-Star Jam at 2.30pm on Sunday August 4th on the Whammy Bar stage. Don’t miss it!

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MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW SPOTLIGHT: TIMBERLINE HARP GUITARS AUSTRALIA

Posted in Acoustic Guitars, Blog, Gear, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 24, 2019


Australian Musician chats with Braegen Russell from Timberline Harp Guitars Australia ahead of the Melbourne Guitar Show.

If you’re looking for something different at this year’s Melbourne Guitar Show, stop by Stand A14a on level one and check out Timberline Harp Guitars. Harp guitars are not a new concept, dating back to the 1800’s but chances are, you’ve never had the opportunity to play and hear one live.

Timberline Guitars builds highest quality, hand-made solid timber guitars for prices below where guitars of this quality had ever been sold before. Their mission is to produce premium quality acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars that will make you want to play … at prices you won’t believe.

Timberline use no laminates or composites – all of their guitars are solid wood and hand–finished to an exacting specification. We bring to players the quality of construction and materials that could until now be found only in instruments costing thousands of dollars.
Just take a look at the quality components used – Grover® brand deluxe gold sealed tuning machines, Tusq® saddles and nuts, real abalone and Mother of Pearl – ebony fingerboards and bridges.

The finest and most intricate pin-striping and detailing – not just on their limited edition or premium models, but on every guitar Timberline® makes.

Quality tone woods, solid construction and sound design are the hallmark of every Timberline guitar. Beautiful to hear and see and responsive to the player’s touch. Solid Rosewood and Mahogany bodies, solid Sitka, Engelmann Spruce or Pacific Red Cedar soundboards, Macassar Ebony fingerboards and bridges. And every Timberline is notable for gorgeous Abalone and/or Mother-of-Pearl detailing.

https://www.facebook.com/TimberlineAustralia/

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MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW SPOTLIGHT: GEORGE EVANS AMPLIFIERS

Posted in Amplifiers, Gear, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 22, 2019


Australian Musician Spotlight: George Evans Custom Amplifiers.
Ground Level. Stand #42 Melbourne Guitar Show

By Eddy Lim

Guitarists are anomalies amongst the realm of musicians. We’re constantly searching for the next component to add to our signal chain in order to achieve our “dream tone” – and we have the bank statements to prove it. But most of the time, it simply ends up being a never-ending cycle of repetition.

Phil George and Tim Evans from George Evans Custom Amplifiers understand this sentiment completely. The company have a simple, singular mission: to produce quality, hand-built amplifiers that last a lifetime.

“We wanted to leave a legacy behind that no one else has achieved in Australia,” George says. “We wanted to build what we thought were the best amps out there – really versatile and extremely reliable amps. Something that you can take to a gig and even if everything else breaks, you’ve got a phenomenal baseline tone.” Evans agrees enthusiastically. “Our vision was to make some bloody good amplifiers!” he laughs. “That was our pure vision. It had nothing to do with money, it was purely to build some bloody good amps. Something to be proud of – and that’s it.”

Before the company’s inception, Evans was busy servicing amps and helming the esteemed Labsystems – a bass gear company he founded in 1986. As a touring musician, George was one of his regular clients, and the pair quickly became fast friends.
“I was always pretty inquisitive about different sorts of equipment,” explains George. “I’d always ask Tim about how I could get this tone or that sound, etcetera. We looked at a lot of different facets back then, but only really glossed over building our own amp at that stage.”
“And as you’d expect with certain clients, some of them you just connect with,” Evans adds. “Phil and I just became mates ever since.”

The conception of George Evans Amps began with George wanting a smaller amplifier for his more intimate gigs. Even when surrounded by a multitude of options, none of them seemed to tick the box for him. It wasn’t long till he proposed building a custom amplifier with Evans. However, the pair knew it was never going to be easy.
“When we first got together, I told Tim that I wanted to make a really nice combo,” George says. “I said to him ‘we should be able to do it, no problems!’ And Tim said: ‘Mate, if you think we can design something right off the bat that sounds good, you’ve got another thing coming.’”

“The complications in every design lies not in the design itself, but in the components,” explains Evans. “You can have a component that can work really well in one section, but simply doesn’t work in another. There’s a lot of variance that exists – and all of it critically affects the amp’s tone.”

“So, Tim and I put together a wish list and cherry picked the most feasible options for a smaller combo amp,” George continues. “But involving point-to-point hand-wiring, the old school way of building. We wanted to go back to the days of Fender and Marshall in the ‘60s; those vintage amps are still going strong today. In the same vein, we wanted to build something today that will still be running in 40-50 years’ time. We wanted recognisable, classic guitar tones, but not just another copy of a vintage amp.”

“We were looking for nothing short of perfection,” Evans adds. “We didn’t want just another guitar amp.”
It took several painstaking years of prototypes and revisions till the first George Evans amplifier was actually released. Much of the pair’s time was spent on auditioning individual components, ensuring everything they chose performed well with each other and lived up to their standards.

“It took years and years to finally get to a point where we were both actually happy,” George recalls. “We had to go through the whole thing over and over again from the ground up till we were both satisfied. The components we used and still use are all premium stuff. We can build a way cheaper amp simply by using cheaper components, but we refuse to do that. We’ve done the testing, and we know for a fact that these components we use sound better.”

“More importantly, it’s the philosophy behind it,” Evans interjects. “It’s not about which part is cheaper or more expensive – it’s about which one sounds the best. That’s really all there is to it.”
“But yeah, quite often the more expensive stuff sounds better,” George admits.

In 2008, the duo officially released their first amp – the Sonique 50. The 50-watt amplifier ran on four EL-34s, featuring two channels with a three-way gain selector switch for each. Both channels were further accentuated with a bright switch and boost option. To top it all off, an elegant laser-etched nameplate rested on its front panel. Slowly but surely, word began to spread about this custom-crafted beast. Interested customers began to show up at the George Evans workshop, and often left with a stunned smile on their face.

“There was no way we were going to send crap out into the world,” says Evans. “Labsystems had such great success and I’m very proud of it. George Evans had to live up to that reputation and now it’s really just gone above it.”

Other than the Sonique 50, George Evans Amplifiers also offer 30-watt and 22-watt models, which are all available in a single/dual speaker combo or head/cab configuration. If you’re dying to hear what they sound like – you’re in luck. George Evans Amps will be making a return to the Melbourne Guitar Show this year, where visitors will be able to demo their amplifiers and hear them in the flesh.

http://www.georgeevans.com.au/

The 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show goes down on August 3-4 at the Caulfield Racecourse.
George Evans Amps are on Ground Level Stand #42.
Tickets are on sale now, so make sure you don’t miss out!

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MGS2019: KEITH MERROW INTERVIEW

Posted in Artists, Interviews, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 21, 2019

Talented American studio guitar player, performer, songwriter, producer, engineer, recording artist and gear demonstrator, Keith Merrow is coming to Australia to perform a series of clinics for Schecter guitars, including two at the Melbourne Guitar Show. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips spoke to Keith prior to the tour.

Like most guitarists, Keith Merrow started out playing guitar in his bedroom. Also like many modern day guitar players, Keith began filming himself playing his music and uploading clips to YouTube. Fast forward to 2019 and Keith Merrow is now an established recording artist, including one release with his childhood guitar hero Jeff Loomis in a project called Conquering Dystopia. Schecter guitars has released several versions of Keith’s own signature guitar with more on the way, and his YouTube channel currently has over 18 million views. I wondered at what point did Keith first get blown away by how his YouTube clips were being received?
“That actually happened really early on,” he tells me. “I initially wasn’t even intending on being a YouTube guy or do anything on YouTube at all. I think the first time I was blown away by it was the first person who asked if they could buy or download my music. That totally floored me. It was one of those things where I didn’t expect any kind of reaction out of it. From very early on I was blown away and the bigger it got, it just felt surreal and I didn’t even know that it is now over 18 million and that blows me away right now.”

Rock ’n’ roll history is strewn with stories of decadence, such as wild parties in hotel pools or hot tubs ala David Lee Roth or Motley Crue. Keith Merrow has many pool and hot tub stories of his own but his are more of the maintenance kind, pertaining mainly to ohms and motor failures. You see just prior to creating music for a living, Keith was working with his pool contractor father in a pool supplies business. So does he know more about hot tubs or guitars?
“That’s a great question (laughs). These days I’d say definitely guitars. The hot tub thing, that’s a long story. My father was a pool contractor and I grew up working with him and worked in the pool supply industry to some extent and that what I was doing when I guess I was discovered. It’s been a decade and a half now since I messed with things like that so definitely guitars! You had to dig deep to find that one!”

Keith is now an internationally recognised recording artist, having released music with bands such as Conquering Dystopia and Alluvial, as well as acclaimed recordings under his own name, his most recent being Reading The Bones. It didn’t take long for the folks at Schecter to realise that Keith was becoming quite a presence in the progressive metal genre and they set out to work with him on his first signature guitar, the 7 string KM-7. Featuring an ebony fretboard, maple neck, glow in the dark side dot markers, Ultra Thin ‘C’ neck shape, arched top, swamp ash body and flamed maple top, with Seymour Duncan Nazgul and Sentient pickups, the KM-7 went on to become a popular selling guitar for Schecter. Keith’s current model is the KM-7 Mark III. Keith’s fascination with 7 string guitars first began almost two decades ago.
“I would say I first got into 7 strings probably around 2001 maybe 2000,” he recollects. “A lot of it just came from the fact that I was down-tuning six string guitars and I was sort of struggling with it. Trying to get down into the B, A range on a six string is sometimes a little bit tricky, although it’s a lot easier these days because the string options are better. I wanted a full range, standard E to E guitar but I also really liked the low B, low A range, so the answer to that was to just get both in a 7 string guitar. Initially it was that but what inspired me to tune that low and try and go with 7 string guitars were bands like Morbid Angel, Jeff Loomis with Nevermore, bands like that really pushed me in the direction of 7 string guitar.”

It’s always interesting to dissect the components of an artist’s signature guitar. Some are built from scratch, others are merely tweaks to an already established model in a range. I asked Keith what the starting point was for his signature guitar and what were the most important elements that they had to get right for him to be happy to put his name on it.
“They have actually got it right for many years for me but initially the goal with the KM7, the original version was to have custom shop specs on an import guitar at a price range that almost anybody could afford,” he states. “So as long as they got those things right I was happy. And they did, they definitely did. That first Mark1 guitar sold thousands of units and proved a point that it is possible to get custom shop style specs that people are really looking for in a guitar like that but at a price that people could handle. I think they nailed it for me right out of the gate and we’ve fine tuned it over the years to arrive at what it is now. In my opinion it is now a true signature guitar and it is everything that I have wanted in a guitar. Right off the bat when I first met the guys at Schecter, my main guy is Ryan Martin who is travelling with me to Australia, we just hit it off. We became friends really quickly and now he is one of my best buds. They are so easy to work with and have been so good to me over the years and it feels more like friends and family than they do a company I work with. We all work together and have common goals, common interests, we laugh and joke all the time and it is just a really good home for me when it comes to guitars. They have always encouraged me and motivated me to push myself and pushed me out there quite a bit.”

The original Schecter KM-7 model featured Seymour Duncan pickups, however recently Keith has been drawn to pickups made by Fishman.
“After working with other pickup companies over the years and helping to develop other pickups, I was introduced to Fishman. I tried their pickups and right off the bat I wasn’t actually sold on them,” he says. “It wasn’t until I was able to see their process for voicing pickups and then having the opportunity to voice my own pickups with them, when I was really sold. It totally blew my mind. The procedure for creating a guitar pickup and voicing it to the exact sound that you hear in your head is completely different to any other company out there and I was able to get that sound in my head very quickly and easily. They are so consistent that I can trust that it is going to be something that can be replicated over and over. Mainly it is the quality and the amount of focus that the company has and the amount of technology that they put into their products, that is really what sucked me in.”

And is he working with Schecter on anything new at the moment that he can tell us about?
“I am actually and I am not sure how much I can push out there because we have the 2020 guitar, which is currently in the prototype stage and it is a little bit different than the current model. It is still a Mark-III, it’s just tuned a little bit differently in terms of specs. I guess what I can say is that there is a new Mark-III coming and it is going to be a slightly lower price point than the current model.”

As mentioned earlier, Keith has collaborated with many other musicians on band recordings but it’s his solo projects that he’s really proud of. On his latest solo album Reading The Bones, Merrow manages to seamlessly blend ethereal ambience with hard edged, heavy metal power chords and sweet melodic note choices. I asked Keith where much of the inspiration for that music came from.
“That album took a while to make. My previous solo album was back in 2012. The songs on Reading The Bones are a culmination of the inspirations I have had over the last 4 or 5 years. A lot of the songs were written in different places, some as far away as Jordan in the Middle East, songs in Hawaii, all over the world. When it came time to compose and arrange everything and get the consistent vibe I wanted out of it, I went up into the forest and stayed in log cabin for a few weeks and polished it and got it the way I wanted it. So it was basically a lot of passion and a lot of travel that made those songs happen.”

Something that is always intriguing to me with artists who create instrumental music is to discover how they approach naming their tunes. It seems that Keith is quite methodical in regard to that task.
“Well the titles of the songs basically come about a couple of different ways,” he explains. “One way is that I think of some sort of scene or theme, I paint a picture in my head and then the song is like the score to that image or that theme. The music reflects the vibe that you are trying to portray in that scene. To a lot of people it won’t really have a whole lot of relevance but to me it is one of those things where I get creative in my own mind, paint a picture and then score music to that. A lot of the inspiration comes from different pieces of artwork or reading different books. There was a book I was reading during the creation of Reading The Bones, HP Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness and I got a lot of inspiration from that book in terms of imagery and titles and things like that. It is part of the creative process that isn’t super relevant to a lot of people but its hugely important to me in order to make those songs what they are.”

Keith first came to a lot of people’s attention when he recorded with Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis in Conquering Dystopia. The band hasn’t toured since 2014 and I wondered if that project could ever reappear in the future?
“It’s really hard to say whether Conquering Dystopia will tour in the future but I have a lot of confidence in making more music with them,” Keith tells us. “We have actually written more music since that last record. The issue with Conquering Dystopia is that everyone in the band is in another band and working a lot and traveling. To get all of us together at the same time to work on new material is like trying to align the stars manually. I don’t know about touring but I am pretty confident that there will be more music, whether that be an EP or full length I don’t know.”

Keith Merrow will be at the Melbourne Guitar Show on both Saturday August 3 and Sunday August 4, appearing in clinic for Schecter Guitars. It will be Keith’s first trip to Australia and he’s looking forward to catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
“I haven’t been before, it’s going to be my first time and it has been at the top of my list of places to visit for a really long time, so I am really excited about going out there. I have a friend named Peter Hodgson (who will be hosting the Meet The Players sessions at Cafe Corner) and he has told me a bit about it. When he heard I was coming he got really excited, so I am excited to be coming out and see some friendly faces. Really with this kind of thing, I just go with the flow and if people want to hear music, they’ll hear music. If they want to talk about guitar or career or life, I’m into that too. I’ll be playing some older songs that people seem to enjoy hearing and some new songs off Reading The Bones. It will be a bit of a mixture. I have a song from another project, Alluvial which I am no longer a part of but there’s a song that I really enjoy playing that I will bring out. Possibly also a Conquering Dystopia song if I can get it together in time.”

keithmerrow.com

Keith’s Australian clinic dates for Schecter
AUG 3 – Melbourne Guitar Show (VIC)
AUG 4 – Melbourne Guitar Show (VIC)
AUG 6 – Cranbourne Music Lynbrook (VIC)
AUG 8 – Guitar Factory Parramatta (NSW)

Schecter distributed in Australia by https://daddario.com.au/

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BUY YOUR MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW TICKETS NOW & GO INTO DRAW TO MEET JOE BONAMASSA AT HIS PALAIS, MELBOURNE SHOW

Posted in Blog, Melbourne guitar Show News, Win    //    Post Date - July 18, 2019


Blues-rock superstar, Joe Bonamassa, will be returning to Australia in September for four shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for his first headlining tour since 2016.

AND … we are giving one Melbourne Guitar Show online ticket buyer and friend the opportunity to not only catch Joe’s Melbourne show at the Palais, St. Kilda on Monday 23rd of September but also meet Joe in person before the show!

All you have to do to enter the draw is to purchase your Melbourne Guitar Show ticket online before midnight Friday August 2nd. And don’t worry if you’ve already bought your guitar show tickets, you’re in the running too!

PURCHASE YOUR MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW TICKETS HERE AND GO INTO THE DRAW TO WIN A MEET & GREET PASS TO JOE BONAMASSA’S MELBOURNE SHOW

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JOE BONAMASSA 2019 AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Joe Bonamassa is one of the most celebrated performing musicians of today. As a two-time GRAMMY-nominated artist who recently achieved his 21st #1 album on the Billboard Blues Chart, Redemption, Joe is only in his early 40s and has already become a living legend with an astounding multi-genre catalogue of music. Collectively, Bonamassa has over 30 albums to date with studio and live recordings, collaborative albums with blues sensation Beth Hart, and the adventurous side projects Black Country Communion and Rock Candy Funk Party.

“I always find a welcoming, kind audience,“Joe recently told Australian Musician about his trips out here. “Our records have always done really good there and it’s a blast. It’s been a real joy to go there for the last ten years and have a presence in Australia.” (Keep an eye out for our interview with Joe, which will be online next week)

Official Joe Bonamassa concert tickets are only available at the ticket links below. Any other sites could be resellers looking to coerce fans to pay more than the official ticket prices.

Tickets to Joe Bonamassa’s 2019 tour are on sale now and are available from jbonamassa.com.

Joe Bonamassa – 2019 Australian Tour Dates
Wednesday, 18 September 2019
QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane Qld
Tickets available from  jbonamassa.com

Friday, 20 September 2019
State Theatre, Sydney NSW
Tickets available from  jbonamassa.com

Saturday, 21 September 2019
State Theatre, Sydney NSW
Tickets available from  jbonamassa.com

Monday, 23 September 2019
Palais Theatre, St Kilda Vic
Tickets available from jbonamassa.com

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MGS 2019: JAMES NORBERT IVANYI INTERVIEW

Posted in Artists, Interviews, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 14, 2019


Multi-instrumentalist, teacher, producer and performer James Norbert Ivanyi plays an epic brand pf progressive rock, blending classic 60s and 70s rock sounds with modern day tech-metal and many genres in between. James Norbert Ivanyi … even his name is steeped in grandeur! James has released four acclaimed recordings including Denalavis, his most recent and much praised EP. He is considered by his fans, peers and industry to be one of the most original, commanding and versatile young guitarists on the scene today.

James took a break from working on his next recording to chat with Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips about his upcoming appearance at the Melbourne Guitar Show.

When did you first take notice of the guitar as opposed to just songs or bands that you liked?
I grew up in a pretty creative household. My father was a drummer and I actually started playing the drums. It was my first instrument and I was pretty serious up until I was about 17 when I first discovered the guitar. One of my friend’s sister had an electric guitar that was discarded in a corner of the room at their place. I just picked it up and started playing around with it and also around that time I was getting into classic rock music, Sabbath and Zeppelin. I realised that it was the guitar which made those bands sound so fantastic. I bought my first electric guitar from a hock store for $40 and it lasted me a good while and I wish I still had it.

Jimmy Page was a big hero of yours growing up. What appealed to you about Jimmy and his playing?
It was the mixture of the free rock attitude but backed up with all of his knowledge, being such a phenomenal session player and really diverse with his mandolin chops, his acoustic writing and really progressive electric guitar stuff. I was just really captivated by that blend of finesse and free experimentation, playing with a violin bow and the effects. I found it captivating and still do to this day.

Do you think the drums have had an effect on the way you play guitar?
Definitely. I mean I still feel like a drummer at heart and a pretend guitarist at heart. That’s the real truth. I’ve always liked the drums, it’s just that growing up in apartments it was never really practical to have a drum kit set up. I think that was the reason I started playing more guitar … because it was possible to do in apartments growing up. A lot of the musical ideas that I come up with usually start from a rhythm standpoint, so yes the drums are a big influence on my guitar playing.

Who or what inspired you to go down the prog metal path?
I don’t know that there was any single point where that happened. As I started to progress up the steps from classic rock to traditional metal to more modern metal and then progressive metal, I started to notice the chops involved, particularly from the guitarists. The bar was raised really high when you got into the progressive music like Dream Theater and those kind of groups. There was a level of virtuosity that exists in that genre that you don’t see in any of the other ones. So just in my quest to be always challenged and seek technically demanding music, I just ended up in the progressive metal garden. I have quite an eclectic taste in music and playing as it is. The progressive metal genre is exciting because you can almost express all of the other genres within in it and it still stays under that metal umbrella which I find really cool. You can’t just play virtuosic progressive metal in a blues band and and still have it remain a blues band, if you get my drift.

What are a couple of prog metal albums that you never tire of hearing and look to for inspiration?
One would be Scenes From A Memory by Dream Theater, that was probably the first large prog concept album that I really got into in a heavy way and I never tire of hearing that. Amazing songwriting and amazing individual performances from all the members. Another one would be Ghost Reveries by Opeth. I consider that to be a classic, progressive metal record because I hadn’t really been exposed to such extreme light and shade on an album before. Just really beautiful acoustic compositions all the way through to the heavier darkest death metal stuff. So those two are both closest to my heart even til today.

A lot of guitar players I talk to say they find influences in players of other instruments like sax or trumpet or piano. Do you find that as well?
Yep, definitely I grew up listening to all kinds of stuff and I get my phrasing from jazz stuff. My old man always had Bitches Brew, the Miles Davis record on repeat in the house growing up. There are a lot of free, eclectic lines in there that I guess crafted my ideas about melodies. I love keys players. I listen to a lot of funk. I love the phrasing of the moog players and the Hammond organ … that I try to bring into the guitar as well. I don’t think about guitar things when I am crafting, I’m more trying to express the ideas of those other instruments.

Tell me about the main guitars that you use.
I have been using Suhr guitars for the last 8 years officially. I recently got a new one, which in my opinion is the perfect blend between my two other main guitars, my Black Modern .. which I have taken out on the road for the last 7 years and people associate me with that guitar. It’s a wonderful guitar and I love it and will always use it but there were things I learned about it over the 7 years that I thought if I did another custom made guitar, I would address a couple of things, which I did with the new one. My other main one is John’s (John Suhr) take on the Stratocaster design, called a Classic S and I use that to record I would say 80 to 90 percent of the stuff on my albums. I rarely take it out it is my pride and joy. So those three would be my main ones, my old tobacco Sunburst classic and the two Moderns, the black one and the new one which is what is called an antique yellow, kind of a stressed white colour.

If someone is making a guitar for you, what is the most important element that they have to get right for you to be happy?
I couldn’t say that it any one thing like the neck or body, it is really the coming together of all of it to help shape the overall sound in the guitar. What I feel that I really nailed in the new one was the very classic looking guitar that plays like a modern machine. I have a very strange tonal demand on my guitars and I talk about this with the guys at Suhr quite a bit. I play and I write modern, heavy tones in music but I’m trying to do it with as classic a tone I can get away with. I go for a really thick neck profile and I love bent saddles. I love the sound of bent saddles, which is one of the things we did with the new guitar. It gives it that nasty, metallic kind of sound … and very low gain output pickups. It’s all the different things coming together, I couldn’t say that it is one part of the guitar that I look for. That’s the joy of being able to design guitars and have the knowledge base of a big company who knows your music and what you like and you can lock heads and build the perfect guitar, which I think I have done this time.

You haven’t been been to the Melbourne Guitar Show before but what have you heard about it?
I have heard that it is a really good time and a great hang. I always love a good hang, an excuse to get together, talk shop and nerd out. I have heard that it’s like a mini Australian NAMM Show, which is great. I have been to NAMM 7 or 8 times and I always have a good time there. I have had a few friends play there, Ro Stevenson from I Built The Sky and another Stephen Taranto, who had a really good time. I’m really looking forward to coming down and just hanging out. I like coming to Melbourne to hang with friends so it is a bit of a bonus that I can come and play and do some other things at the guitar show too.


What do you have in store for us with your performance?
We are going to be playing stuff from the very first album that I put out under my own name all the way through to the last album. We’ll be playing stuff from all 4 records, including stuff we haven’t played for 3 or 4 years, so we are feverishly relearning some old stuff at the moment. It’s the trio, Liam Horgan, myself and Liam Weedall. It will be good fun.

You’re also doing a session for Boss on how to get a great prog metal tone. How complex does your rig get?
My rig is actually quite simple. I don’t tend to get very complex but there are a few tricks that I will employ that tie in with having a full and present, large guitar sound, while shooting for a more authentic and vintage tone. That’s the kind of thing I will be spending most of the time on … how to dial in those textures from a rhythm setting through to a lead setting … designing tones for recording bursts … playing live, which is something that seems to be a bit of a mystery for a lot of people.

What’s happening in regard to your next recording?
I’m about to get back to it right after this interview. I’ve been working on a new record for coming up on two years and I’m now on the home stretch. That was a catalyst for doing the Melbourne Guitar Show, it will be a nice break from recording and placing some attention on the band and firing up the live machine again. It will be a nice final bit of inspiration to get this album done. I’ve been taking my time and trying out lots of different new sounds and song arrangements. I am hoping to have it done by the end of the year, handing it over to get drums done and that sort of stuff. Fingers crossed, early next year there will be a new record.

Any other plans heading into 2020?
I think NAMM is on the cards for January, so I plan on being there. The plan is to do a very heavy load of touring on the back of this record which is one of the reasons I haven’t gone out at all this year. There have been some good offers but I decided to wait and do it in a really heavy way next year, a Europe run, Australia again, US run… waiting for the new album to be out before firing up the machine.

Catch James Norbert Ivanyi and band performing at the Melbourne Guitar Show on Saturday August 3 at 2.15pm on the Marsh Whammy Bar Stage.
James will also appear in a Meet The Players session, hosted by Peter Hodgson at 11.30am on Saturday August 3 at Cafe Corner.
James will back on Sunday August 4 at 11.30am presenting a sesssIon for Boss: ’Tone design for prog metal guitar’ in the Winners Circle Workshop Room

https://jamesnorbertivanyi.bandcamp.com

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MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW 2019 PROGRAM REVEALED

Posted in Blog, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 11, 2019


The 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show program has been revealed. With five entertainment areas on offer plus the two exhibition floors (electric and acoustic) you’re going to need to plan your weekend strategically.

Note that everything is inclusive in your guitar show entry fee. In regard to limited seating capacity sessions in the Winners Circle Workshop Room it will be a case of first in will be seated.

Keep an eye out for competition giveaways too!

GROUND FLOOR:
Electric product exhibition
Meet the Players sessions, Cafe Corner room

LEVEL ONE:
Acoustic product exhibition
Marsh Mezzanine stage
Winners Circle Workshop Room

LEVEL TWO:
Marsh Whammy Bar
Exclusively Acoustic Stage

Check it out now and decide who you’re going to catch on August 3&4 at Caulfield Racecourse

Download a program PDF HERE

Purchase your tickets from HERE

 

 

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INTRODUCING DENNIS JONES: LA BLUES YOU CAN ROCK TO

Posted in Artists, Interviews, Melbourne guitar Show News    //    Post Date - July 10, 2019

LA-based singer, songwriter and guitar slinger, Dennis Jones is heading to Australia for a few select dates including a prime spot at the Melbourne Guitar Show. Ahead of his Australian trip, Dennis spoke with Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips

Dennis Jones is the epitome of cool. Laid back and smooth by nature but put him on a stage and the energy level of the room instantly becomes electric. Sizzling hot guitar solos, soulful vocals and a high-octane brand of blues rock is what’s guaranteed. Dennis’s feet are firmly rooted in the past, yet his heart and soul are connected to the present. He writes songs that seamlessly blend the best of both worlds, presenting a unique and contemporary style of American rock and blues. You can hear Dennis’ powerful concoction of blues rock on any of his 6 recordings, including 2018’s fabulous live album WE3 Live.

Born and raised in the small town of Monkton, Maryland (population 4,856) Dennis had a humble but loving childhood, with parents who encouraged his music making, buying his first guitar at the age of 13. Inspired by the instrument, Dennis had developed his chops to the point that he was playing in bands just three years later. Soaking up the sounds of the family record collection, the songs of Hendrix, Dylan, Joplin, Mahalia Jackson, James Brown and Al Green, were all infused into his DNA.

“There was music on at my house all the time,” says Dennis. “My older brother was into Dylan and Hendrix, Joplin, more of a rock edge. My mum would play religious music on Sundays, so you’d hear Mahalia Jackson, gospel music. During the week between my father and everyone else in the house we were playing a lot of soul music, a lot of Motown. You’d hear James Brown and Al Green. I didn’t really think about much until later when I left home but there was a lot of music on all the time. Different blends and styles of music and that is probably why I was influenced to write the kind of things I do. I wanted to be a drummer. When I was 13, for Christmas I wanted drums but they refused to buy them for me because they thought they were too loud. My second choice was guitar, so I got a guitar and two years later I had a Marshall stack and all kinds of Ampeg amps in the house that were so loud they were kinda wishin’ they’d bought the drums!”

With a thirst to learn and an appreciation of music history, later Dennis developed his own musical tastes and gravitated to the licks of The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Zappa and Rory Gallagher. “I’d listen to anything on the radio … a lot of Rolling Stones, Keith Richards stuff, Hendrix. I was also a big Zappa fan in the 70s. I just loved Zappa’s quirky sense of humour and his time signatures were nothing like I’d heard before. I was into blues but didn’t really know it at the time because I was into this British stuff, Led Zeppelin, they were a big influence on me. Later on it was Rory Gallagher and a few other people but I did reverse engineering on the blues, I listened to rock and found out where they all got it from and realised it was a lot of old black music from New Orelans, the south in the states and Chicago as well.”

While stationed in Germany, serving his country in the military, Dennis not only had the opportunity to play small European clubs but also had the chance to experience performances by some of rock’s real legends live in concert such as Clapton, Dylan, Rory Gallagher and Rufus Thomas, even the Bon Scott-era AC/DC, gigs which inspired him further.

As his playing matured and his reputation grew, so too did the learning opportunities. He’s opened for the likes of Buddy Guy and Dick Dale and not only enjoyed a support spot with another of his music heroes Johnny Winter, but also got to spend some invaluable one on one time with Johnny in his trailer, picking his brain and devouring the wisdom. Similarly, Dennis was granted time with Robert Jr Lockwood (The only known guitarist to have learned to play directly from Robert Johnson) at a Blues Festival on Catalina Island, a meeting in which Lockwood reveled in the chance to give Jones his personal insight into the blues. George Benson was another great who took the time to chat with Dennis and offer some great career guidance.

Dennis Jones has always taken that sage advice with gratitude and applied it wisely to his own career. With a strong work ethic and a passion for music, Dennis has been able to travel the world, playing to appreciative audiences in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, France, Poland and Italy, not to mention the thousands of miles he travels each year to gigs in his own country… and those gigs keep getting bigger. In September this year, soon after his Australian tour, one of Jones’ first spots will be on the acclaimed Big Blues Bender bill in Las Vegas alongside Gov’t Mule, Robert Cray, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, Allman Betts Band and Tab Benoit to name a few.

Not only is Jones an exhilarating guitar player, he also knows his instruments inside out … quite literally!
“The main guitars I use are Fender Strats,” he tells me. “I have some that are off the shelf but every guitar I have, I have altered in some way. Ever since I was a teenager I have always been tearing guitars apart and putting them back together in certain ways that I like them. And now that I have the ability to do it even better, I’m just buying necks and bodies and pickups, down to the pots and cables I use. I have got really good at it. I have made some for friends and sold a few as well. I really love the process of building guitars. Just being able to tweak it a certain way and knowing the values of a 500k pot, a 200k pot and how different the sound is, making the guitar darker or brighter, I really enjoy all that. I have a new hardtail that I built recently and I have never played hardtails before but I love this guitar. You can hear everything, good or bad, you’re going to hear it come out and I love that about that guitar. It’s not my number one yet but it is inching up there because I really love playing it.”

Naturally, Dennis is keen to nerd out on the array of gear that will be on display at the Melbourne Guitar Show but is more focused on delivering an intoxicating performance on the Saturday afternoon of he show. “Oh man, just being able to play my music … my original songs will be wonderful … I still do a few covers in my show because people expect it but I just want to introduce people to what I do and hope they like it. Also just the chance to meet some other musicians and network and you know, if anyone is coming through California, maybe I can help them out too. I just want to get my foot in the door so I can come back in a much bigger way next time.”

Jones’ August tour won’t be his first trip to Australia, he was here as a tourist in 1999 and has always wanted to return to play his music.
“I came to Australia with a girl I was dating in December 1999. I was there for a whole month and I stayed with her and her family in Melbourne. We went to the William Ricketts Reserve and that was pretty amazing. I went to the beaches, your beaches are amazing. I was in Sydney in early 2000 for the fireworks on the bridge by the Opera House. Let me tell you, you Aussies know how to party! The hospitality was amazing, the people I met were so friendly and I did take my guitar with me so I had a chance to play at a Melbourne Blues Society night. I got a chance to sit in and play and they invited me back the following night and it was a lot of fun. It’s always a place I have wanted to go back to. The quality of musicians there blew me away.”

The most recent album from Dennis Jones has been a live record titled WE3 Live, which was released in 2018. It’s a great starting point for those wanting to get a feel for his music.
“It was a one-off performance,” he explains about the recording. “We’d just done a few really good shows in Canada and were on our way home. It was the last show of the tour and the guy who owns this club has a band and they play there all the time. He had a full Pro Tools studio set up on the side of the stage. Everything is miked and he asked if it was ok to record us that night. I said as long as I get a copy of it, no problem. About a month later, he sent me the tapes. I was planning on recording a live album anyway, I was going to rent a club out. I took the tapes to my engineer and we put them up on the computer in the studio and we were both blown away by how good it sounded, it was done really well. I had to do a few little fixes here and there on the audience sounds because he didn’t really have a mic in the audience but I tried to make it as authentic as possible without changing anything of the music. There were some songs I didn’t want, others I did so I put it all together. We had a lot of material to choose from and I released it. I was surprised by it but I just thought, this is the way we sound so I may as well do it. It was a good show and it all came out well.”

Dennis is currently working on new material that he’s excited about and plans to record a new studio album next year. In the meantime, he’s preparing to bring his exciting brand of blues-rock to Australia. And the grand plan?
“I think the grand plan is to conquer the world man,” Dennis says enthusiastically of his long term plans. “I just want to continue to do what I do, build a fan base and write music. I wouldn’t mind becoming a household name in what I do in blues rock. I love being a songwriter. I love the guitar but without a good song it doesn’t mean much. I have seen a lot of great guitar players play and no disrespect to them but unless your songs are good, nobody is going to remember you. When people leave the clubs singing your songs, they have a melody in their head, that means way more to me than a great guitar solo. I do love guitar and solos and every aspect of it but I like to be able to write what I consider to be a good song. Basically I want to continue to play around the world and become more well known in places like Australia and Europe and even the United States too. I want to expand what I am doing and give people joy with my music, that’s my main goal.”

Saturday Aug 3rd, 2019
Melbourne Guitar Show, Caulfield Racecourse
https://australianmusician.com.au/melbourne-guitar-show/tickets/

Friday August 9th, 2019
The Fyrefly, St.Kilda
https://www.fyreflystkilda.com.au/shows/2019/7/2/dennis-smith-band-usa-

Sunday August 11th, 2019
Hepburn Palais, Hepburn Springs. 2pm show
https://palais-hepburn.oztix.com.au/outlet/event/374c1570-0103-4c4b-a74f-40c6cc83b3c4?Event=104674

http://www.dennisjonescentral.com/

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