Guitar Gathering 2018 — Friday Workout and Johnny Hiland

Friday morning, Steve treated us to another brain workout…this time all around scales. You can get all the basic material and more from his Major Scale Mastery videos (available from his Storefront). The scales he references are in the pdf material that comes with those videos.

Then the incredibly talented Johnny Hiland spent a little over an hour playing, teaching, demonstrating, and reminiscing about guitar. Some great takeaways from his master class:

  • Guitar Playing (and practicing) should be fun)
  • The most important part of the song is the melody (seems like a duh!, but I know players who get carried away with shredding the solo and completely lose the thread of the melody…).

That doesn’t begin to touch all the high points. Watch the video…you’ll be educated, entertained, and amazed.

Guitar Gathering — Contemporary Fingerstyle Masterclass with Christie Lenee

Wednesday, Christie Lenee gave a great masterclass on Contemporary Fingerstyle Guitar. In addition to being an incredible guitarist and songwriter, Christie quite obviously knows what she’s doing, why she’s doing it, and when to do it…and is able to explain it all in terms that even I can understand.

Christie has quite a few videos on her own YouTube channel. You can also find CDs and  a link to her Fingerstyle Guitar for Songwriters Truefire course on her web page:

Guitar Gathering 2018 — Why does Steve Hate Us?

Well, that is what I asked him after the Wednesday Warmup. Wow. One of the most strenuous mornings my fingers have seen since…well…last years Guitar Gathering warmups. He replied that he didn’t hate us. It is just tough love.

There are some great tips in this video for improving finger strength and finger flexibility. Steve makes it painfully fun. If you find this helpful, you should check out his full Speed and Agility Workout video.

Guitar Gathering 2018 — Acoustic Night

As promised, GG2018 Acoustic Night with performances by Steve Krenz, Collin Hill, Joe Robinson, and Christie Lenee.

Steve Krenz was introduced to many of us through the Learn and Master Guitar course. Many others through weekly Live Lessons podcasts. You can connect with Steve and the rest of the GG community at

Collin Hill has been coming to Guitar Gatherings for several years. Originally from California, he and his family moved to Tennessee 3 months ago to put him closer to where the guitar action is. I’ve got a couple of other performances on my YouTube channel definitely worth checking out. You can also find his videos in his own YouTube channel. One of the youngest members of our gathering, he’s also one of the best players you’ll find in the group. Maybe Steve is better. For now.

Joe Robinson grew up serenading the cows on his family farm in Temagog, Australia. At 16 he won Australia’s got Talent and he moved to Nashville shortly after, at the invitation of Tommy Emmanuel. This is the first time he’s joined us for Guitar Gathering and, in addition to this incredible performance he also gave a great Master Class on Guitar Technique and Musicianship (look for that video in the coming days or weeks…). He frequently tours…if you see he’s going to be near you, definitely worth going. You will be wowed. He also has a courses on covering Fingerstyle Guitar techniques (Fingerstyle Synergy: Bass & Melody).

Christie Lenee is the 2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion. She is the May, 2018 Guitar Player Magazine centerfold, and her latest CD, Stay, was a finalist for “Best CD of 2016” for Best Lyrics (Indie Acoustic Project Awards). She plays intricate, percussive, emotional and unique original songs. Her performance at GG 2018 will leave you spellbound. This is also her first time to join us for a Gathering, and earlier in the day she discussed Contemporary Fingerstyle technique in her Master Class (video to come).

Ok, so this ended Day 1. I got back to my hotel exhausted and inspired.

Throat/Guitar Blog — Trip to Nashville

Well, Saturday week ago I headed to Nashville for an annual event I’ve been going to for several years. Guitar Gathering brings a group of beginner to advanced to performance-ready guitar players together for 4 days of intense guitar experience. Days are filled with master classes in music theory, fingerstyle, blues, rock, and more. Then, evenings feature a concert given by some fantastic talent. Watch here and on my Youtube page, as I take plenty of videos of the main events and post them as I get them edited.

But, not getting too far ahead of my self, first I have to get to Nashville. I normally take 1 or 2 days. It is about 9 hours of driving, which under normal circumstances, would not be a problem. But, as I headed out I was connected to what I lovingly refer to as my “poison pump” which gives me continuous doses of Effudex for 4 days. Effudex tends to knock me down a bit. So, first leg was to Hot Springs. By the time I got there, I was really having to fight off falling asleep. Got a hotel, got unloaded, took a nap.

In Mansfield, there is a restaurant I go to 2 or 3 times a week: La Gondola. It is a jewel of an Italian restaurant, serving up incredible Italian food hidden cleverly in a strip center. It was started by Sal, who had previously partnered with Jamal to run the Italian Villa in Arlington. When they sold Italian Villa, Sal started La Gondola, but Jamal moved to Hot Springs and opened J&S Italian Villa, there. So, while I was in Hot Springs, I decided to check it out. Jamal’s son, Sean, now runs the restaurant…I sent him regards from Texas and sat down to Pollo Rolotini (aka “Roly Poly Chicken”). Chicken breast wrapped around Italian sausage. Yummy.

Back on the road, I made it to Memphis on Sunday. It was a pretty short drive, but enough for one day. I wandered up and down Beale street, had lunch at B. B. King’s, and bought a hat (it matched 3 of the shirts I’d brought on the trip).  Beale street is a hopping place on a Saturday night…Sunday noon, not so much. Still, some live music, some good barbecue, a nice stroll, then I was ready for the hotel.

Monday I made it into Nashville and got checked in. Actually stayed down in Mt. Juliet…hotels closer in get really expensive. Didn’t do much on Monday other than rest and recover from the drive. Tuesday I got up and noticed that the bag of Effudex looked really flat. It wasn’t due to actually stop running until a little after noon, but I was pretty sure it had pumped all it could. I ready for a while, at the same time watching a few little bubbles that were in the IV line. When the pump hummed, they’d move about a quarter inch toward me, then immediately return to where they were. After watching this for an hour, so I was very certain that there wasn’t actually any drug still pumping, I disconnected everything, unplugged the line from my chest, and headed out to the meet and greet.

The event is primarily held in the music building at Trevecca Nazarene University. Said hi to some previous attendees, met some newcomers. At about 4pm, things broke up and I headed back to the hotel, intending to take a short nap then go to dinner. Well, the short nap ended up going from 5pm to 4am. So much for dinner.

Wednesday through Saturday were filled with all things guitar. I’ll talk a bit about each event as I post the videos.

Saturday we met at Columbia Studio A. This is where Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Elvis Pressley, and more recorded hit after hit in the 50’s and 60’s. Actually much of it was recorded in a studio called the Quonset Hut (which, oddly enough, was built in a Quonset hut). Got a great tour of the facility, which is now part of the Belmont University campus. Then student showcase, where 16 of the folks here for the event got to play and, in some cases, sing in the studio where magic had happened. I’ll be posting those videos, later (but some may be private, at the request of the performer).

Drove an uneventful drive home. Took two days…and I felt good enough that I could have probably made it farther each day than I actually did. Stopped overnight in Lonoke Arkansas then finished the trip on Sunday.

So, now, here I sit connected to yet another poison pump (just for a couple of hours, today). Then, into the office. I completely disconnected from work email on Wednesday…too busy during the day and really ready to crash after each night’s concert. So, I expect there to be a pile of emails to handle (well, I peeked and I have 90 unread work emails), a gazillion forum posts to read, plus whatever my bosses put off for “until Paul gets back from vacation.”