Category Archives: America

Remember Live Aid?

I was on You Tube and came across this performance by Queen, seems an age but it is judged as the best performance amongst all the artists who appeared that day on both sides of the Atlantic, I can’t disagree with that, plug plug I have a channel on You Tube as well 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/user/brandyandcoke?feature=mhee

How to make a guitar …. the Gibson way.

A few years ago I visited America and was fortunate to see Graceland and then the Gibson guitar factory in Memphis. The girls in our party went off shopping which left me in peace for a few hours. As well the guitar factory in Memphis there is a Rock n Roll museum which absorbed me for about 2hrs you get a pair of headphones and a kind of Star Trek type gadget so that whichever particular piece of history you looked at music from that time was played through the headphones, cool.

But the Gibson factory was something else, I play guitar, to what level I will let my neighbours argue over 🙂 so this was a great place to immerse myself in. It was a guided tour and our guide had some good stories to tell about the various rock n roll stars who visited the place. The one I liked as a certain very well known guitarist of one of the biggest Rock n Roll bands of the era visiting and just pointing to each guitar on show that he liked, he ended up with 12, then left his entourage to pay the bill.

So how is a guitar made? With care and precision, we were told that you could, at one time, get a slight seconds Gibson guitar, there might have been an imperfection somewhere so you got a great discount and a great deal. Some new owners took over and stopped all that, each guitar that left the factory had to be perfect, no seconds allowed, pity I might have come home with 12 guitars 🙂

Our guide started off with a supermarket trolley load of ‘bits’ as he called them.

A wider view of the factory.

The many ‘bits’ laid around.

The guitars take shape.

Then of course meticulously sprayed.

Now they are something more recognizable.

Then the finished articles, but before they get to this stage they are checked, by hand, we saw a woman with a pair of gloves on who had been doing this job for years. She checked the paintwork by moving her hands over the guitar body for blemishes or other imperfections, remember, no seconds. We never saw them being strung, or at least I didn’t so maybe I missed that bit.

One of the many variations of Gibson, Gibson Les Paul and Epiphone guitars in their shop.

I had to be dragged out screaming from this shop my wife came back and said no you can’t have one 🙂

The nearest I’ll come to actually having one of these I think, although the guy in the shop offered me a very good deal, including shipping to the UK, just a pity my wife came back before I could hand over my credit card LOL.

 

 

Las Vegas – Nevada – America

(Addendum: This is a blog written on 23rd February 2012 but I’m including in this new blog)

For anyone from the UK who has not visited the USA it must be difficult to fathom out what all the fuss is about, and for those Americans that live in the USA they must have the same feeling as they see it everyday. The first thing people say in the UK is the flying time, lots of people do not like flying, simple, and the thought of being on an aircraft from anything up to 13 hours, fills them with horror as 2 hours to Spain in enough for them.

America has been everywhere for as long as I can remember, from TV shows (I Love Lucy) to music (Elvis, Ray Charles) so we have grown up together and oddly enough not with our near neighbours, Europe. I don’t recall many European TV shows, (I can’t think of any at the moment) but certain music from Europe has had a foothold in the UK, Johnny Hallyday was popular with the girls if I remember but the main European group was Abba.

So came the day I thought could never happen, a holiday/vacation in the USA, it was surreal, I was going but not believing it even when sat on the plane. Even more strange was the fact that when we were going to land at McCarran (Las Vegas) airport it would be at an earlier time from when we set off from the UK. On the plane itself was a revelation, little screens in the back of the seat in front where I could watch movies, listen to music, or watch a picture of the terrain we were flying over.

We were well fed, often, but drink was kept to the usual English type, tea, I’m not a big alcohol drinker when on a plane, I once had a couple of drinks on a short trip to Spain years ago and felt dreadful afterwards and vowed never again, so I don’t. Then we came into land, yes terra firma, in the USA, Chicago actually as we had to catch a connecting flight, it wasn’t direct. We had to collect our cases and make our way to the connecting flight, but first get through immigration.

Photographs, fingerprints, forms and more forms, questions and more questions, this was pre 9/11 by the way, do you want me to visit your country? Eventually we were through, but not before my wife was in a state that we were going to miss our connection, and the fact that our two friends whom we were traveling with, had sailed through immigration, two women traveling seemed to have had an easier time with things than my wife and I. Collect cases and on to find the TED airline desk, I was in a daze taking everything in, I was thinking Al Capone, Eliot Ness, was that really Chicago, the windy city, I could see?

The TED flight was uneventful but we had spent a long time on airplanes and just wanted to get to our destination, and even though sat down most of the time it was tiring. Finally we could see Las Vegas come into view, it was night time so everything was lit up, an explosion of colour in the desert which not only woke us up but also dazzled us with its spectacular entrance into this traveling experience.

So lets live the dream, collect our cases, the case carrousel being in amongst the slot machine then find a cab. Get a grip man, you are in the USA, still not believing I was traveling down Las Vegas Blvd. Excalibur, New York New York, MGM, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, wake up man you are actually here stop day dreaming. Then our hotel Imperial Palace, check in, 16th floor sir, 16th? So make our way to the lifts, pass the slot machines, a fact of life in Vegas, card tables, dice, spinning wheels, and some familiar faces.

Was I seeing things? Madonna? Roy Orbison? Tony Orlando? Elvis? (well there had to be an Elvis) …….. even a Dolly Parton, and they were all dealing cards, I thought I had discovered a secret second life for all of these stars and as some people say Elvis wasn’t really dead but a card dealer in Las Vegas. I wasn’t seeing things they were, impersonators, dressed just like the real people did and not only that, as I was to find out, they actually got up onto a small stage and sang.

Sometime later we were to stop and see these people deal cards one minute then get up and stage and really rock the place, they were no karaoke singer, but pretty good. We may have been awake for nearly 2 days but we were suddenly alive once we found our rooms, freshened up and changed, it was time to hit the strip. Maybe more some other time.

MGM with live lions in the foyer, now retired.

The Paris hotel I believe this replica of the Eiffel Tower is 1 third size of the original.

This is when I think Las Vegas comes alive, night time is a magnificent spectacle

The Luxor is based on and Egyptian theme.

Our hotel, Imperial Palace based on an oriental theme, well sort of LOL.

For those with more money than me ….. the Venetian, luxury.

For those with a bit of history, downtown Vegas Fremont Street and Binion’s.