About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It is 11 PM and I just got in from a wonderful evening at the Wellesley Island Hotel on Wellesley Island Alexandria Bay New York. I played guitar for Alan Young's 75th birthday. Al is a retired professor from Syracuse University. He and his wife Pamela also live in Wellesley Island. Before going to the hotel we spent an hour and a half or so at Al's home. We drink some wine and I played some guitar. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I play guitar at Ricardo's restaurant in Watertown NY 13601

Signa about me playing at Ricardo's Restaurant in Watertown.

I wish I could stay on top of this blog and report all of my activities. Tonight I played guitar at Ricardo's Restaurant in Watertown from 5:30-7:30. It went really well. It is a fairly small to medium size establishment. I used my Guild Mark V guitar and Fishman SoloAmp 220. I also uesd a small 30 inch by 42 inch by 10 inch high stage that that I constructed out of 2x10 pine planks and plywood covered with indoor/outdoor carpet. This allowed me to sit in my chair and play guitar with the same elevation as if I were seated on a stool. I had complete view of the entire dining room and all of the tables had a clear view of me. I think that is most important for both player and audience.
The evening went very well. The owner of the establishment came up to me and shook my hand saying, "You are great!" They asked me to come back August 6th. Of course I will be there.

Ricardo's Restaurant, Arsenal St., watertown NY. (Formerly Howard Johnson's).

I have not eaten there yet, but the Watertown Daily Times has rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fernando Sor étude # 17 from Segovia's 20 Sor Studies

Part of this morning's guitar practice consisted of playing this chord progression from Fernando Sor étude number 17 100 times with a metronome. The number 17 refers to the piece as published  In Andres Segovia's book and not Sor's actual opus number.

The progression is not difficult but requires quick shifting and positioning of the fingers. I tend to get lazy and thus is one of those spots where I have been sloppy in playing the piece. I should also mention that I practice such things in sets. I will do the progression five or 10 times in a row and then pause for a short bit before doing the next set of five or 10. It is much the same way as a weight lifter practices in sets to gradually build up strength, endurance and accuracy. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Contact from God today

The real purpose of this blog is more or less a diary. An open one where I make notes to myself about what is going on in my life. My thoughts and ideas. But, because it is open to the  eyes of the world I am not as candid as I would like to be. Especially about politics.
Also to simply record the daily comings and goings of my life.

I snapped the above photo at Ricardo's Restaurant in Watertown. I was listening to Tom  Gagnon  playing guitar and singing. 
I hope to play there myself soon. I feel I would be a perfect fit there.

Today on of my guitar students asked me to play for her Francisco Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra. So I did. I happened to have my new Alejandro Cervantes guitar with me. It was the BEST I have ever played that piece of music. It was unreal to me. I think God was contacting me.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 in Chaumont N.Y.

Members of the Cape Vincent American Legion at The Copley House in Chaumont, NY for Memorial Day 2014
Memorial Day in Chaumont NY was very pleasant this year. The weather was agreeable and there was a nice turnout of folks for the parade and the ceremony that followed it on the front lawn of The Copley House. The following are photos from the event.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Guitar concert/workshop at Carthage Library

Sign outside the library in Carthage, NY. 

Yesterday I did another mini concert and workshop at the Carthage Library, Carthage, NY. This one had a small turnout. It was 5-7:00 and at 10 minutes after five no one  had arrived. Then a woman walked in. Then a man. and another man. So I started. then a litlle later six more people arrived. So it was small. Consequently there was a lot of informal chat between me and the group. Many questions. Very attentive when I played. And this time I was less confident in my playing, and almost had some had shaking happening as well as a memory lapse  on one piece by Fernando Sor. As always it didn't matter, the people enjoyed it a lot. But it bothers me that there is this inconsistance within myself about how I do. One event I feel great about and the next one I am not so satisfied with my job.  However, I've heard that all performers, from soloists to bands to comedians, jugglers, magician, you name it, they all say "You have good nights and you have bad nights." That's the way it is.

10 year old girl that I showed how to properly hold thye guitar
 and how to pick strings with the right hand.

My new Cervantes guitar. This was the second event where I used it.
A month ago I bought a new guitar, a Cervantes Signature Series Master edition. What a fantastic guitar. One of the audience members aske me, "Is that a really good guitar or do you just have great technique?" Well, it's probably a combination, bu the fact is the guitar is phenominal and my techniques is probably average. What stands out to me s that I have never had anyone remark on my guitar before. So far, everyone that has heard this guitar makes a remark about it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A full day today. Guitar practice. Stacked 4 chord of fire wood. Mowed the Franklin St yard. Bought pair of brake calipers for the 2005 Dodge Caravan. Made some guacamole. Did a 2nd guitar practice session. Downloaded some collections of short stories by Anton Chekhov to my Kindle. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I play guitar at the H Lee White Marine Museum

Me playing at the H Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego.
Last night from 6-8:00 I play guitar at the H Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego, NY. It was the third year they asked me to play for their board of directors reception. It went really well. I used my Guild Mark V guitar and Fishman SoloAmp 220. The room is really great to play in. I have included a panoramic photo of it snapped with the iPhone 5. One of the people there said "You sound so good in this room I don't know if I would want to hear you anywhere else." Another man asked if I was free to play at his son'e wedding reception. That is always good.
iPhone panorama of the room I played at the H Lee White Museum in Oswego.  gary walts photo

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I was returning from Oneida, NY driving ln Rt 13 a bit North of Camden when I spotted this car in a farm pasture. I didn't bother to figure out what it is, but looks to me to be an early 50's. Chevy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guitar recital at Ives Hill retirement community, Watertown NY

Today I played a one hour guitar recital/concert at the Ives Hill retirement community in Watertown, NY.  It was one of my best performances ever. Overall I was relaxed, confident, and expressive. On the couple of tunes where I got into minor trouble (that in which only I knew what was going on) it didn't rattle me. As my mind wandered here and there to either negative or positive thoughts which were not related to the music, I quickly brought myself back to the music.
Here are the pieces I played:
Romance, the first piece.
Next I played Chet Atkins arrangement of Mr. Bojangles.
Then I played Matteo Carcassi studies #3, 7, and 19 ( probably the best I've ever done on the 3 pieces in a row).
From there I played Fernando Sor studies #2,3,4, and 5 from Andres Segovia's compilation 20 Studies for guitar by Fernando Sor.
Then I played selections by Francisco Tarrega: Stuides #1 & 2 ( from Isaisa Savio's book Ten Studies for Guitar by Francisco Tarrega).
Then I playe FT's Lagrima followed by Estudio en forma de Minuetto.
Then I went out on a limb and played FT's Estudio Brillante. (I did a pretty darn good job on that considering the difficulty level of the piece. I played at a slower tempo  which helped a great deal).
 At that point I wasn't sure where to go.
So I decided to play Estudio Inconcluso by Augustine Barrios Mangore.  Because I decided that on a whim I took off prematurely and fumbled the first beat of the first measure. Laughed it off, restarted and did a fair job of it.
I think that after that I played an arrangement of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline (arranged by  )
I then finished with Mason Williams' Classical Gas.
All told I filled up a solid hour with commentary in between many of the selections.

For this event I used my Guild Mark V guitar with a piezo electric pick up plugged into a Fishman Solo Amp 220. It all sounded great (at least from my seat.) I recieved many compliments.

What is important to me is that I am getting a grip on the stage fright, the performance anxiety.
NY City guitarist Peter Fletcher at Onondag County Library, Syracuse, NY. He was tuning his guitar to C#minor to play Koyumbaba. iPhone 5 instagram photo by Gary Walts

I attribute that to a couple of things recently. One is the series of guitar  performance/workshops I have been giving at libraries in Jefferson County. The other event, that was a real eye opener for me was going to see NY City guitarist Peter Fletcher performing at the Onondaga County library in Syracuse. There were only about 15 people there, but he gave it his all. I learned a lot just by watching him. I was familiar with much of the music he played. I detected a couple of points where he had a menbtal lapse, like he forgot where he was, but his recovery was so quick, so smooth, it was impressive. But I am sure no one noticed, and if they did it did not matter. Not to him, not to the audience, not to me. Nobody cares. And one piece he played I thought was really off from beginning to end. He is such a fine musician and guitarist he must have known. However, he just rolled along with it and seemed to be caught up in the reverie of the piece from start to finish, as if all he were doing were intentional. Maybe it was. Either way, the man handled it brilliantly. Watching him boosted my confidence immensely.
Here are two other observations: I sat in the front row and while waiting for Fletcher to take the stage a man sitrting next to me asked if I had ever seen or heard of him before. "No.", I replied. "Well, you are going to be blown away." he said. Mingling with people after the show a woman came up to me and asked if I was a player. I said yes, but that I was mostly a dabbler. " I could tell," she said, "by watching you I just knew you were a player."  How is that? I wonder what I was giving away about myself as I watched Fletcher's excellent performance?
So, what I learned was to give your "All" to the music, no matter what size the the audience or where it is. And secondly that the audience is far from critical or judgemental. Relax and give your best.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Classical guitar concert and workshop

This past Wednesday, April 16th, I did another one of the series of concert/workshops. I am doing a total of ten of them at area libraries. This one was at the Depauville Library.  Here is the poster they created. It depicts a steel string guitar as opposed to a clssical one, but that's OK. It gets the idea across.
The event went well. When I got to my selection of Beatles tunes I got hung up on All My Loving, simply lost a chunk of it out of my memory. No one really cared, we laughed it off.  There were 25 people in attendance. I also played my new Cervantes guitar that I bought a couple days earlier at The Classical Guitar Store in Philadelphia, PA. I have been getting a better handle on the stage fright issue. I am simply being more realistic about it. The new guitar was nice to have which also helped keep me focused on the music rather than on idiotic thoughts such as how people might be judging me. 

Weekend visit to Philadelphia, PA

Here are some photos from last weekends birthday visit to Philadelphia, PA.
The Lehigh Tunnel we passed through on way to Philly. 

My niece's house. This is a really cool, roomy house with a lot of character. 

Niece's husband P and their 1 year  old birthday boy L. 

Birthday boy L's grandfather assembling one of L's gifts. 
My great nephew L and I. We share the same birthday along with Thomas Jefferson. What a great time we had.

One year old great nephew L on his birthday. 
My great nieces at play. 

Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA. Thge Classical Guitar Store is on this street. 

The Classical Guitar Store,  2038 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA 19103

2038 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 567-2972