The Knucklehead Logs


  What is it that makes artists recoil from compliments? I’m talking about ‘true’ artists here—people who take Art seriously, who live their lives in subordinate servitude to Art; not those who are in it specifically for recognition, admiration or success. We of The Craft have a name for that latter type: Posers. And this [...]


  I've never liked cities---not one bit---so it was first with dread, then some trepidation, then eventually the inevitable resignation to the necessary, that I regarded the upcoming shows in New York City.  Upon arrival, I disembarked from the band's tourbus with all the enthusiasm of a lamb led to slaughter.  Upon setting foot to [...]


  I never bought into the zeitgeist.  Since early childhood, I was just never cut out for that.  Crowd psychology of every ilk struck me (then as now) as being pathologically dumb, the aspirations of society being based on fundamentally false premises and besides, crowds can't actually think at all.  My requirement for the culture [...]

My Workhorse

    People ask me a lot about my main workhorse solid body, that light powder blue custom Strat with the Mother of Toilet Seat face plate.  Having described its features a thousand times over the years, I'm finally wising up and putting the information into a hole in the world where I can send [...]

For the Vets

MAKING IT COUNT In the mid-late eighteenth century, a few cognoscenti among American settlers get tired of pretending to kow-tow to long-distance tyranny, decide that taxation without representation is bullshit, that sovereignty is a flawed concept of government, and declare independence from the monarchy of Britain.  They embark on an extremely far-flung venture, one of [...]


  Allan. Where to begin. In the early 1980s, the highly-stratified hierarchy of Southern California guitarists was abruptly and violently flattened by a very humble, painstakingly polite, extremely sweet and soft-spoken British genius named Allan Holdsworth.  Despite his genuine belief that he sucked, he was on a level so far above the entire community of [...]

Goodbye, Good Sir

NOTE: In order to be in the right context and to glean my meaning in this piece, please first read ***THIS ONE.*** ********************************** Allan has left us. I don't know why---maybe that's a fool's question---but it's hitting me hard, it hurts like hell and it feels a bit surreal.  It feels like some cosmic crime [...]

Reconnecting with Amazement

       I move to center stage on cue. The follow-spot reflects off of my Strat's hardware, shooting beams of light over expectant faces, as the crowd falls silent.  There's a hush of "...Well?"      Every generation contributes some performances that remain in the collective conscience, glistening above the waves of fading history like [...]


  It started out as a nasty, ragged, irritated darkness under the floorboards of my soul, accompanied by a sadness; the events in Charlottesville and the various spins on it were so unconscionable, so troubling to me that I had to stuff it back where it couldn't interfere with my job.  It festered there, untreated [...]


PART TWO IN A SERIES. Language warning---I've granted myself the luxury of profanity, uncharacteristic for The Knucklehead Logs.     I recently saw a facebook meme that said: “1944:   18 - 24 year-olds stormed enemy beaches, parachuted behind enemy lines, charged into battles and almost certain death. 2015:  18 - 20 year-olds need ‘safe zones’ [...]


      Joy. Sweet, loving, caring, nurturing, giving, talented Joy. Where to start. I guess her house is the most appropriate place. It was an extraordinarily welcoming place for sonically creative minds. Joy was a den mother to grown-ups. A wellspring of encouragement to musicians, composers and arrangers of the San Fernando Valley, her [...]

The Unlikely Deification of Tribute Acts

In a morning coffee response to a friend's facebook post regarding tribute acts, ("I don’t get it, why are tribute bands so popular?") I found myself exploring the weeds surrounding this strange phenomenon. I bumped into some interesting realizations, which I though might warrant further airing and discussion, to wit: I don't get it either. [...]

Thank You, Good Sir

Part Ken Kesey, part Thomas Jefferson, part George Carlin, part Mark Twain and 100% genius, John Livergood lived life in truer accordance with what he believed than perhaps anyone I've ever known. He was happily unapologetic and enthusiastic in his total rejection of America's public education philosophy; he itinerantly thumbed his nose at the status [...]

I Don’t Trust Pretty Guitars

     I don't trust pretty guitars. Especially my go-to designs, Strats and Teles. Any honest axe is battle-scarred, walks with a slight limp on cold mornings and has the experience to deftly handle whatever deranged suggestion has just been floated by whatever miscreant brain hired you.      Anything glossy and sparkly and virginal [...]

The Will to Shine

One sunny day a few years ago, I was driving through a fairly scummy district here in Los Angeles…the type of 'hood where the locals don't enjoy a lot of upward mobility. I was looking around feeling grateful that I didn't live there, and wondering what my life would look like if I did, and [...]

To Exist is Beautiful

I step outside to take Jesse on his midnight outing, my head looking down at things I need to look at, mind full of workaday minutiae. One more night in a week, month, year, life. Distractedly grinding the meal that comes along. Then the purity of the night air hits my lungs like a bucket […]

A.I. vs. Composers – Part II

     In A.I. vs. Composers part one, I outlined the horrible threat that A.I. poses to musical creatives, the differences between humans and software, and how there’s a path to where we can rise above the ones and zeroes.      The way I see it, this could be an opportunity to show the […]

A.I. vs. Composers, Part I

     I’m writing this on what might be the eve of human musical creativity receiving the final push off the field and into the sidelines by A.I.      It’s legitimately scary: Pretty soon here, we may be living in a world where all music is either A.I.-generated or assumed / suspected of being so, whether […]


"It comes from here" said my very good friend Kevin, tapping the teacher's chest on the left side, over the heart. The teacher had just asked where the sound comes from on a saxophone. Kevin was just trying not to let on that he really didn't know the answer, but in fact he really did. [...]


People become polarized too easily, too quick to abandon reason for the sake of defending their own side. A well-balanced, well-adjusted person can see an issue from every angle, seeing the faults and virtues of every angle, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of every angle. Polarity is good for football games and a necessary component of warcraft [...]


“‘I met a really hot guy at a fusion gig’–SAID NO FEMALE EVER.” Thus began a thread on a fellow (female) L.A. musician’s Facebook page. I thought about it for a beat or two and concluded that: 1) It’s true, Fusion is inherently written, played and listened to by males, and 2) This actually runs [...]


“Don’t tell me I’ve stumped you?” said Roni, framed in the doorway to my small-but-mighty studio, where I had been depicting family members musically in an impromptu command performance for her. She says a name, I improvise a musical depiction on my unplugged Strat…just a quick game we fell into to pass a minute. Hey, [...]


In response to a facebook prompt from my Daughter to write the 5 things I’m most grateful for—five being an almost impossibly small number—I wrote the following and thought I’d post it here as well, but for obvious reasons I’m going to allow myself to go past 5. 1) Existing at all, even for a [...]

On the Power of Music

Ever since I was a kid, I've pondered the effect it would have on early man to be introduced to modern music...just have a big stage and sound system suddenly appear at a tribe's central gathering place and start playing: Stravinsky, Hendrix, Brecker Brothers, Miles, Joni, Aretha...Kansas, Yes, Tower...what effect would each genre and piece [...]

Disorganized Arrows in the Quiver

     If you've played gigs with overly pedantic, pedestrian and predictable songs in the list, you may have experienced that embarrassing moment when a song is so similar to another that you actually take a left turn into the other song without meaning to. You might recognize the voice of experience here…many times I’ve [...]

Of Race Horses and Apple Carts

Whatever your plans were, your life has gone elsewhere and will continue to do so; best get used to that and accept it. The delightful twists and horrifying perversions of our best laid plans is what makes the ride interesting and keeps our days here on Earth challenging...otherwise, we'd all be pretty bored. But whether [...]

Bus Life

The tour bus grunts away from home with six musical cretins and enough instruments and gear in the belly to start a revolution...baggage of every metaphorical ilk is onboard, along with food and emerging hierarchies as I familiarize myself with the band. I've stowed my stuff and food without running afowl of any turf wars, [...]


  "The president has just told a joke. Everyone please laugh." Thus spake then-President Carter's Chinese translator to a large gathering in Beijing during Carter's diplomatic visit to further develop the recently-opened U.S.-Sinai relations. Carter had just told a joke that was innocent to Americans but would be very offensive in Chinese culture. It was [...]

On air Raid Sirens and Sustainability

With an audible thud, we drop onto the western plains from the Eastern Wasatch mountains, Eastbound on I-80 through the vivid greens and wildflowers of June 2015, on the way to play a show in Indiana. There is an overabundance of water everywhere in the entire country save for everything to the West and South [...]


  "It is easier to fool someone than to convince them that they have been fooled." -Sam Clemens You've been sold a bill of goods. Sorry to be the one to tell you, but there it is. All your life, the forces around you have conditioned you to steer toward safety and security, in all [...]


     I awaken in my bunk on the tour bus with foggy, cobwebbed faculties, not up to the task of chasing out the horrible song in my head by just mentally replacing it with something I like…I assuage the gods of morning tasks then brew a large java press of Peet’s Uzuri blend; the despicable [...]


Well, here you are...breathing and occupying a you-shaped space in the world by displacing air molecules with yours, not having asked to exist in this generally under-appreciated state, but which said state you nonetheless hopefully appreciate. Like all of us, you create thoughts, ambitions, regrets and gratification. You generate love and hate; you manipulate the [...]


    Music is a harsh mistress.  She gives, She takes; I’d have it no other way.  But if you're considering a career on Her wild technicolor carnival ride, you should understand that you don’t choose Her, She chooses you.  If you feel like you even have a choice, then breathe a sigh of relief, call it [...]

Divided We Fall

PART ONE IN A SERIES We ain't so different. Yes, the conservative mind is a bit paranoid.  There is an intrinsically suspicious, cagey mindset that makes people adhere to the “I got mine, go get your own, go to hell if you need help” doctrine at the heart of the conservative political agenda.  And yet, [...]


  Those of you who haven't lived the musical road-warrior lifestyle probably don't know about Mom.  Mom is that selfless, kind, giving soul who sets the tone of and runs the hospitality area backstage at most major venues, lavishing warmth and sustenance upon the musicians and crew.  Mom is usually a lone woman; she's usually [...]

Burning Electric Wheels on Auto-Tuned Horseless Carriages

  "Fercrissake Fry, don't be such a friggin' luddite.  Think of what your competition is doing."  The voice is my own, the words flitting through my head in the background of the unbridled chaos and cacophony of the 2016 L.A. NAMM show melee, where Thomas Nordegg and Don Ramsay have just handed me a guitar [...]