Jim Guittard’s Place

February 16, 2003

Posted in Life by guittard on February 16, 2009

So it has been six years since an eventful night in my life.  I can still remember quite well.  I was living in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles at the time.  For three years, I was hitting the pavement in hopes of being a known musician.  But something knocked me down.

What knocked me down was a robbery.  It was in my Los Feliz apartment.  The place was ransacked and trashed and death threats were written all over the walls.  Why did it happen?    Because of shady contacts.  Yep!  Los Angeles has quite a bit.   The cops were called and the chips fell.

I was not in the apartment at the time of the robbery but had been there right before and left to go to a hotel in Pasadena because of a funny feeling.  I thought about taking my guitars but I didn’t and so three were stolen.  My apartment was broken into and a 12 String Guild acoustic, Electric Fender B-Bender and a Fender Jazz Bass were stolen. 

I was betrayed in a big way.  I now forgive the people that were responsible.  I never got the guitars back.  They may be around Los Angeles somewhere.  My Rickenbackers survived the robbery.  I guess they are a bit holy. 

It is good for you to be stripped of your possessions at times.  What is it anyway?  Property and meaningless.  I picked up my guitars again after recovering back in Texas from the whole ordeal.

 The door was busted open and it said something like “West Side Gangsters” written on the inside of the door.  Straight into the apartment ahead was my bedroom, the door was shut but hanging on the door was a note of some kind saying something like, “We know where you are and will kill you.”  My entrance was the second door on the lower level as the picture will show. 

Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California

los-feliz-los-angeles-california

 I remember rightfully being paranoid while inside and found a suspicious looking thing that I didn’t know what it was.  It almost looked like a handmade bomb.  I called the police out again and this was in 2003 you know and the cops came out with their dogs to see what it was.  It was nothing.  They taped off the whole street and I sat on a wall down the street and played like I knew nothing.  It was embarrassing.  Old ladies were being escorted across the street and I just said, “must be a terrorism scare or something” when people would ask what was going on.

So for a week, I stayed at the Westway Inn across from the Pasadena City College.  It was a new low and I wondered what to do next.  I had actually put a down payment down on a new apartment that was cheaper and in Van Nuys, California.  When I got on the phone with mom, she said it was time to come home.  I got a U-Haul and got out of there.   I maxed out my Discover Card and lost the deposit on the both apartments.  I hadn’t even moved into the second one.  Let’s just say I was depressed as everything.  

Back in Texas, I didn’t pursue charges.  It wasn’t worth it.  I had been through enough and so had the person I was trying to help.  God knows what happened and I let it go.  I think I made the right decision. 

The Pasadena Westway Inn

westway-inn-pasadena-california

 I wrote a song around this time about the thing I was dealing with.  It’s called “Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs.”  The song is country-rock and I was listening to a lot of Johnny Cash at the time so it came out this way. 

 Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs

The lyrics are:

Confusion, Lies, Guns and Drugs

I woke up this morning half past two.
My only problem is where are you.
You ran off with another guy.
I don’t know why.

Confusion, Lies, Guns and Drugs. 2X

We’ve been through this many a time.
It’s starting to be a crime.
Give up the jerk with the gun.
Let’s have some fun.

Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs 2X

I just don’t know what you see in him.
It seems like it’s just a whim.
He doesn’t like you for who you are.
It’s just a game.

Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs 2X

Ya gotta clear your mind, choose the Way.
It’ll be a brand new day.
Give up the junk and soon you’ll see.
I promise you.

No more confusion, lies, guns and drugs. 2X

Feel free to download my “California Daze” album for free that I did in 2002 here:
California Daze

Introducing the Ragas Art by Henry McGuinn

Posted in Music, The Arts by guittard on January 30, 2009

Here are some paintings done by Henry McGuinn.  They are quite colorful and much like the “Yellow Submarine” cartoon of the Beatles.  During that time, Henry and I watched the Yellow Submarine a thousand times.

Jim with 12-String Rickenbacker and Korg

jim-guittard-with-rickenbacker-by-henry-mcguinn

 The Ragas at Topanga Beach

the-ragas-playing-at-topanga-beach

 Jim Sleeps In Bush On PCH Near Malibu

jim-sleeps-in-bush

 The Car Chase

the-car-chase1

 3 of Clubs in Hollywood

jim-at-3-of-clubs

 Jim Drinking Stout for Breakfast at Neptune’s Lounge – Topanga Canyon

jim-at-neptunes-lounge

Thanks Henry.  The art is rad and really sums up my life in 2000.  Cheers.  Jim Guittard

Listen to a live show of the Ragas. 

The Ragas Live 2000

Modern Psychedelic Influenced Bands

Posted in Good Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic by guittard on April 27, 2008

First of all I recommend a band called the Beachwood Sparks. They take the torch where Gram Parsons and the Byrds left off particularly with the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. I’ve seen them live numerous times and have never been disappointed. They are the best especially with
their extended Space Echo freakout endings. They have 3 albums out and the first called Beachwood Sparks is my favorite. I hear that the BWS is getting back together (coincidentally on Roger McGuinn’s birthday), July 13th in Seattle for the 20th year for Subpop label. I wish I could be there.

Beachwood Sparks 2000

Beachwood Sparks

The second band I recommend is called the Tyde. This band has mutual members of the Beachwood Sparks. The Tyde is more Bob Dylan or Lou Reed sounding with much reference to surfing. I’ve seen them live, too. They have 3 albums out. I like Once the best.

The Tyde

The third band that I recommend is the Quarter After. This band is Byrds influenced with chimey Rickenbackers and groovy lyrics. It is lead by brothers, Rob Campanella and Dom Campanella. Incidentally, Rob records and produces many of the bands I mention here. I was
fortunate to sit in on a Quarter After session a few years back.

Here’s my somewhat humorous review for their debut album:

The Revolution Is Coming Down!!!

I dig the Quarter After live and on record. They are nice
outstanding citizens who are dedicated followers of the
Revolution effort. If you don’t understand, look up the
Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Their song ‘Too Much to Think About’ can put you in a
trance if you are not careful. It takes you back to 1966
with some Raga-Rock influence. ‘Know Me When I’m Gone’
is my favorite track on the album. It is modern psychedelia.
Dominic’s singing is much like Roger McGuinn’s. Byrds fans
will love the Quarter After. Or any fan of the ’60’s or good music.

Quarter After is authentic and not cheesy. They do not
overdo it. Dominic’s 12 String Rickenbacker work is great.
Good harmonies too by Rob and various personnel.

The Quarter After has recently put out their second album. I have not got my hands on it yet but will review soon.

The Quarter After

The Quarter After

And last but not least is the band called the Brian Jonestown Massacre. These guys are pretty outstanding and have had a documentary about them already called “Dig!” This band is the one
that really should take credit for this revival in psychedelic sound. They have at least a dozen albums out. They are very prolific.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I hope you will check these bands out. They really cook.

“Good” Musical Genealogy

Posted in Rock and Roll History by guittard on April 24, 2008

Good music has its roots and can be tracked like a family tree. The long historical tree will show exactly where the influence of good music was handed down band to band, or artist to artist. It is naive and incorrect to think that any certain band just appeared and came up with “good music.” There is much tradition.

The Byrds are a great example of “good music.”

It has been written that the Byrds took traditional folk songs and put a Beatle beat.

With Bob Dylan’s philosophical mathematical poetry, the Byrds flew high. They pioneered the folk-rock, country-rock, and jazz-rock genres.

Bob Dylan 1964

But prior to the Byrds and Elvis, the pre-rock and roll genre started in the late 1940’s. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and others all waited in line for their open door. If it had not been for pre-Rock and Roll, then the Byrds, Beatles, or the Stones would not have been ready. It is all connected.

In my head, I have imagined all these famous guys all standing in a line waiting their turn. Elvis’ opportunity came when DJ Dewey Phillips played his “That’s Alright Mama” on his Memphis radio show. Callers just couldn’t believe that this guy was white.

Elvis needed to give much credit to the sounds he heard on Beale Street. He is linked to such black artists as: B.B. King, Arthur Crudup, and Rufus Thomas. These guys pre-dated the invention of Rock & Roll.

Now the big controversial question is: who copied who? “To some, Presley had undoubtedly “stolen” or at least “derived his style from the Negro rhythm-and-blues performers of the late 1940s.” Some black entertainers, notably Jackie Wilson, countered, “A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis.” Blank, Christopher (July 15, 2006). “Elvis & Racism – Elvis Presley Legacy is cloudy through lens of race”.

So whatever you believe, Elvis is generally the one known for opening the doors for artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard. I guess it is like the old adage “what came first: the chicken or the egg?” I tend to lean toward the opinion that Elvis really was not the original rock and roll pioneer. He was the one that got the most press and made it popular and in style.

So after Elvis, there stood the Beatles, and the Byrds waiting close behind. Here is the important shift. Elvis was a singer-entertainer but the Beatles and Byrds were songwriters and musicians. The bands of the 1960’s migrated towards songwriting.

Roger McGuinn, who was in the Byrds at that time, waited patiently behind Bob Dylan and the Beatles. As Dylan was making waves, the movie Hard Day’s Night soon came out. The door became wide open for the Byrds. McGuinn, Clark, and Crosby quickly formed their jangly poetry beat sound. It became classic and the door was wide open.

Others were to follow through the Byrds-Dylan door. The Turtles, Sonny and Cher all followed copying Dylan and the Byrds’ jangly sound. Arthur Lee with Love fits in there.

During this time the Beatles and the Byrds also got into a little egg/chicken situation. It has been written that George Harrison heard the Byrds’ “Bells of Rhymney” song and was influenced to write “If I Needed Someone.” It was through a mutual public relations man Derek Taylor that Roger received a pre-released copy of “If I Needed Someone”. The bands had a healthy relationship.

The Byrds - 1965

Both bands are linked to the 12-String Rickenbacker guitar and to Ravi Shankar. We know that John and George were already into Rickenbackers but the question is – who was the first band to turn on to Ravi? It has been argued that David Crosby introduced the Beatles to Ravi. But of course, the Beatles probably got more credit for this link after their Indian trip in 1968. It is much like Elvis getting the credit for being the original Rock and Roll pioneer.

So Ravi Shankar is standing in line next to the Beatles and the Byrds in this pretend line-up.

George and Ravi

Fast forward twenty plus years and the line after the Byrds and the Beatles includes bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Beachwood Sparks, the Tyde, the Quarter After, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Where do the Ragas fit in the line-up? Hmm?

The Ragas

All the best,
Jim

My Connection With Rock & Roll History

Posted in Rock and Roll History by guittard on April 18, 2008

February 2000, Los Angeles, California

I drove up to the Sherman Oaks, California Guitar Center on Ventura. I had grown tired of the Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd and all the tourists. It was so loud. On this particular day, I walked in wearing my John Lennon T-Shirt that said New York City.

John Lennon - New York City

I had gone in to look for a new amplifier. I looked around the store quickly and decided that I had seen enough. I walked out the front door and down the street and decided, no I was going back in.

Inside I found a white Fender Stratocaster and got a power cord and plugged into a Fender amp. I began playing jazz chords. After a few minutes and while I was still playing a guy came up to me.

This was Henry McGuinn. He said, “Hey man. I like your playing. What’s happening? Do you like the Byrds?”

I said, “Yeah, I guess so. I don’t have any of their albums but I like Mr. Tambourine Man and Eight Miles High. That’s all I know.”

Henry said, “My dad’s Roger McGuinn, who started the Byrds.”

I said, “Yeah, man, that’s cool. Can I see your ID?”

Roger McGuinn - Rock and Roll Hall of Famer

We talked in the store for about twenty minutes. We spoke about the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. I finally found someone I could relate to with this type of music. My meeting with Henry left me with renewed purpose. I seemed that I was just waiting around a bit in Hollywood to find the right people. I figured sooner or later I would find someone. I left the Guitar Center stoked, thinking of the possibilities. I guess I was a bit star-struck, too.

The next day, I went to the Warehouse on Sunset Blvd. to look for some Byrds music. I found and bought 5D. It was the Byrds 1966 album that had Eight Miles High, Mr. Spaceman, and I See You on it. I listened to the album a few times and decided to call Henry.

I left a message and an hour or so later he called from a pay phone.

Henry, “Hey, what’s happening? This is Henry McGuinn.”

I said enthusiastically, “Hey, Henry, yeah this is Jim. I met you at the Guitar Center.”

Henry said, “Yeah cool. I’m out by the beach just loving it.”

I said, “I bought 5D. It’s really cool. I haven’t ever really listened to the Byrds but they are really hip.”

The Byrds - Fifth Dimension

Henry said, “Yeah, they’re all good, especially ’65-’68 era. Well, so you want to get together?”

I said, “How bout tomorrow? We could have lunch and then jam.”

Henry, “Yeah, I just want to meet and see if we have chemistry, you know.”

Boy I was excited, the chance to play with someone that liked the same music I did and the fact that his dad is a rock star is totally rad!

The next day I met him outside at his truck. We brought up his guitar and then we walked to a Sandwich shop right up Las Palmas in Hollywood. We ate and talked music and began to get to know each other. We seemed to be on such a similar wavelength. It was kind of amazing chemistry really.

After lunch, we opened up our guitars. He brought out his acoustic 12- String Martin guitar. At first, I just listened to him. He sang a few Byrds tunes. He sang Tambourine Man and You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere and I believe he sang the Christian Life as well. At the time I had never heard the Christian Life and I was stoked on it. I was really inspired to start playing.

The next few times that we met, we listened to Byrds music. At the Tower Records, I loaded up on all sorts of music that he recommended. I was really into it. I bought several Flying Burrito Brothers albums, some Gram Parsons and Lovin’ Spoonful.

Our music was finally coming together. We were playing some Beatles, Byrds, and Dylan covers and some of our new stuff. He played me his cool song called Summertime that he wrote at the beach inspired by George Harrison and What You Say a song about running away and pure Byrds. I loved it. I added some rhythm guitar to it while he did his fingerpicking style soloing inspired by his father.

One day Henry brought over his 12-String Guitar Instructional Video that his dad had done. On the video his dad went wild on the 12- String Rickenbacker playing his old classics. I was again blown away.

McGuinn 12-String Instructional Video

Now prior to that point I had always thought that the Beatles were my number one group but I now believed that the Byrds were up there with them. It was great to learn more about music. I did not feel bad about buying a lot of records. I considered it an investment: The Who ’65, The Zombies, The Association, Beach Boys Pet Sounds, The Kinks, Gram Parsons, and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

The next thing I did was to buy the Johnny Rogan Byrds biography. Henry had been talking about it. It was the only complete Byrds biography written. I found it at the Book Soup book store on Sunset Strip right across the street from Tower Records. Henry and I considered it our manual on how to live a Byrdsian lifestyle.

I met Henry in February 2000 and in March South by Southwest music festival raged in Austin, Texas. We found out that Roger was playing at the Cactus Lounge on the University of Texas Campus. We felt it was a good excuse for a road trip.

Before we left, Henry and I made a trip down to the Rickenbacker factory in Santa Ana. At Rickenbacker, we both waited in the reception area. Shortly after, John Hall, the CEO, came out and I was introduced.

Henry told me stories of John Hall and the Beatles. John Hall had been to the Beatles’ Hollywood Bowl show in 1965 as a teenager and had met all the Beatles and the Byrds. John Lennon and George Harrison both played guitars that were given to them by Rickenbacker and Crosby and then Jim McGuinn would run down to S.A. for Rick customizations . Needless to say, Rickenbacker has had great influence on Rock & Roll. Henry’s father worked with Rickenbacker in designing a custom signature 12-String guitar with an on board compressor. What resulted was the wood colored (Maple Glo) Rickenbacker 370 Model. Henry is totally proud of his father.

While Henry talked with John in his office, I sat down and looked at magazines. We were there for Henry to interview for a job with Rickenbacker. I sat and waited for fifteen minutes and then Henry returned, full of hope for the future. We said our good byes to John Hall and Henry told John that he would get back in touch after our trip to Austin.

I felt on the in-crowd a bit. Rickenbacker had worked with all sorts of artists: REM, Tom Petty, Susana Hoffs, Carl Wilson, etc. I have a Rickenbacker FG 330 from those days. Henry on the 325Byrd and me on the 330 is some of the best noise ever! All the best bands play Rickenbacker.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Henry McGuinn and Jim Guittard - Austin, Texas SXSW 2000

Henry and I put up a website for our band the Ragas. You can check it out at:

www.myspace.com/theragas

The Ragas Press Packet

Posted in Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic by guittard on March 17, 2007

I am putting in a bit of my history.  It’s been about five years since I was living in Los Angeles.  Today, I can only think that I am really fortunate to have experienced, firsthand, the 1960’s music revival in its re-birth.  The following is the letter Henry and I used when contacting clubs. 

May 24, 2000

Booking
Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA  90046

RE:  Booking

Dear Club:

The Ragas duo was formed in mid-March 2000 after discovering a major musical chemistry between us.  I moved to Los Angeles from Texas to pursue my musical passion.  Henry was born here in L.A.  Henry is the son of 60’s icon, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.

We are influenced by the Beatles, the Byrds, Bob Dylan, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and incorporate 12-String guitars, and vocal harmonies in our songs.  We play both cover songs and original songs.  We focus on musicianship rather than cool grooves or beats.  The old school sounds are what we are focused on.  Our songs range from jazz rock, country- rock, folk-rock, psychedelic, and raga-rock to name a few.

At present, we are searching for a bassist and drummer to complete our band.  In mid-June, we will have two English fellows visit us to most likely join the band.  We switch off with lead guitar.

We are so excited to be involved in the music scene in Los Angeles.  We can be reached at 323-###-#### and at our address in Hollywood, California.

Please find our demo tape included.

Thanks For Your Consideration,
Jim Guittard and Henry McGuinn

Here’s one of our setlists that I scanned.

The Ragas - Setlist
*The starred songs are the ones we played.

We did not play too many shows back then but we sure went to see a lot of shows by the Beachwood Sparks, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Quarter After, Sunstorm, smallstone, the Tyde, the Belle Isle, Whiskey Biscuit, the Snakes, and the Warlocks. Many of these bands are still around today.

Smallstone evolved into the Electromagnetic led by James Ambrose. The Belle Isle disbanded and Cliff Magreta now leads Minutes Til Midnight. Beachwood Sparks unofficially disbanded in 2003 and other groups were formed in its wake such as All Night Radio with sometimes BWS drummer Jimi Hey and BWS lap steel and organist Farmer Dave. Mystic Chords of Memory was formed by BWS leader Chris Gunst and Frausdots was BWS bassist Brent Rademaker’s. Brent continued to play in the Tyde with his brother Darren.

I am hopeful in seeing the Beachwood Sparks get back together. We’ll see.

The Ragas – June 2000 Los Angeles, California
The Ragas - June 2000

You can listen to the show here:

The Ragas Live 2000