Is Rock and Roll Old-Timey Music?

Bo Diddley was a 50s rocker

Our band the Rockwells specialize in a mix of 50s and 60s rock and soul hits. It occurred to me recently that much of this guitar based music we play is over half a century old. That "Old Time Rock and Roll" is truly getting old, though aging well. We still have audiences of all ages dancing and bopping along to the music. And many younger people even know the words to lots of Beatles songs.

When I was a teenager it seemed to me that jazz was "old-timey" music. I loved it and in my twenties I frequented the few places that one could go see live jazz in Vancouver (R.I.P. the Hot Jazz Club, and that one that was in a former church that burned down, can't remember it's name it was so many years ago). I even formed a swing jazz band that played for swing dances for a few years in Vancouver.

I hear people in the jazz world frequently talk about "preserving the music for future generations." Will we be saying this about rock any time soon?

Sure there are still many rock bands out there, and "Hey Hey My My" rock is still very much alive. It's nice to think a musical style will be highly popular forever, but there is no musical genre that has ever maintained a high level of popularity forever.

Sure we still have symphonies, chamber music festivals, jazz festivals, and blues festivals, but these are not the genres that we hear most on the radio stations and it's not the music that sells most on iTunes. We don't often see people shelling out hundreds of dollars a ticket to fill stadiums to watch symphonies.

If you do a search for "rock and roll preservation" you'll see there are already some organizations calling themselves Rock and Roll preservation societies. You could say The Rock and Roll Hall Fame is just that on a larger scale.

We still do have big rock concerts, and I hope we do for long. The thing about rock is that it's so approachable. It's pretty easy for listeners to digest, even if you're not an expert on the genre. Most of it is toe-tapping, energetic, emotive, and not complex. A lot of rock music is also pretty easy to play which means many new and less experienced musicians try it out. All you need is a cheap guitar and some guitar lessons.

The guitar is the most popular instrument in the world because it's relatively easy to learn, it's inexpensive, and it's portable. So I'm betting the humble guitar in all its forms will still be popular at least when I'm 64.

If it doesn't, that's okay because I'll still be that guy on stage rocking out and talking about "preserving the music for future generations." And if needs be, I will form a Vancouver Rock and Roll Preservation Society.

Upcoming Shows for Spring 2015

We've been working on some brand new shows for this season and we'll be bringing back Tarantino Burlesque in April, and a brand new show: Elvis '68 Comeback Special live on stage!

You can check my website's calendar for all the dates on the shows: Blue Morris' Productions Upcoming Shows

Here are two upcoming shows this week:

Chris Murdoch Circus arts

Tues Feb 24th, 9pm
Guilt & Co. in Gastown

Our band The Rockwells will be performing our favourite rock hits from the 50s and 60s, backing up our favourite Vancouver circus performers.

The show includes circus arts from Chris Murdoch and Yuki Ueda, plus burlesque from Voodoo Pixie.

It's only $10 to get in to the show. Tickets are available at the door.

More info is available on the Facebook invite:

David Ward solo concert Vol. 1

Friday Feb 27, 8pm
Blue Morris Studio

I am hosting a concert at my home studio featuring my good friend David Ward, to celebrate the release of his upcoming new EP, "Transitioning."

The show is a solo show. David has an incredible voice and he's a brilliant songwriter. It's going to be a real treat to have him perform here in my studio.

David and I will also play a duet for everyone at some point in the night. I won't spoil it but I'm betting it will be a Beatles song.

Tickets are only $20, available on Brown Paper Tickets:

Skinny Love - Birdy Guitar Lesson

Skinny Love by Birdy album coverHere's a guitar lesson on how to play Birdy's version of "Skinny Love." I have the chords written out below which are the correct chords for the song (there are many incorrect versions online), and I've done it with CAPO 4 so that you don't have to use any barre chords.

A really nice way to play Birdy's version but on guitar is to use a simple arpeggio pattern to create the kind of piano sound she has on her recording.

To do this, hold down each chord with your left hand while your right hand picks out the individual notes in the tab below. Let each string ring throughout each measure.

Skinny Love guitar arpeggio

Em slash B chord on the guitarIn the chorus Birdy plays an inversion of Em. Inversion means that you have a note that is not the root note as the lowest pitch of the chord. In this case, the Em/B is an Em chord but with B as the lowest pitch. This is easy to play on guitar like this: x22000.

Here's how to apply the arpeggio pattern to the chorus. The C chord gets two measures so just repeat the pattern twice. The Em/B is one measure and since the lowest pitch is now B you get to pluck the same fifth string to start your arpeggio pattern for that measure.

Skinny Love chorus for guitar

Skinny Love Guitar Chords

And finally here are the full chords and lyrics for the song, arranged for CAPO 4 so you don't need to use any barre chords.



Intro: Am, F, C (2x)

Am              F                  C
Come on skinny love just last the year
Am              F                  C
Pour a little salt we were never here
      Am         F               C
My my my – my my my – my my my my – my my ...
                F       Dm                  Am 
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

Am          F               C
I tell my love to wreck it all
Am                F                C
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
      Am         F                C
My my my – my my my – my my my my – my my ...
                F  Dm             Am
Right in the moment this order's tall

   C                        Em/B             Am
I told you to be patient I told you to be fine
    C                       Em/B             Am
I told you to be balanced I told you to be kind
          C                                  Em/B            Am
In the morning I'll be with you, but it will be a different kind
           C                                     Em/B          Am
I'll be holding all the tickets, and you'll be owning all the fines

Am            F                   C 
Come on skinny love what happened here
Am           F                C
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
      Am         F             C
My my my – my my my – my my my – my my ...
          F  Dm                    Am
Sullen load is full so slow on the split

   C                       Em/B             Am
I told you to be patient I told you to be fine
   C                       Em/B             Am
I told you to be balanced I told you to be kind
    C                           Em/B               Am
Now all your love is wasted then who the hell was I?
Cause now I'm breaking at the britches
          Em/B              Am
And at the end of all your lines                                          

C                   Em           Am
  Who will love you?  who will fight?
C                   Em       Am
  And who will fall,  far behind?

Am              F       C
Come on skinny love ........

Am, F, C (1x)

      Am         F             C
My my my – my my my – my my my – my my ... (x2)

Outro: Am, F, C (2x)

Review of Nightmare Before the Nutcracker

Nightmare Before the Nutcracker Vancouver show

Vancouver Weekly posted a great reivew of our latest show. The show takes place again this coming Friday night (Dec 12th). As the review stated, "Had there been a block to line up around, it would have happened" so get your tickets in advance.

My favourite line from the review is this one: "It captures a similar tone of playful, childlike wonder that many Burton films employ. However, this one comes with perfectly blunt language, burlesque performances, and beer in the lobby."

Here are some more highlights from the review:

"If Tim Burton could be spiced up a bit, it would be with a little less Helena Bonham Carter and a few more tassels. The Nightmare Before the Nutcracker pulls this off pretty damn well, putting on a thoroughly entertaining show on Friday night."

"Clara was absolutely on point as the main character guiding us into the world. She’s adorable, naive, and wildly foul mouthed, delivering some of the sharpest lines in the show."

"As far as performances go, each one was a little unique. Sally [played by Voodoo Pixie], Clara’s friend and formerly inanimate doll, was mesmerizing with her two dance solos."

"The three jugglers, in character as Lock, Shock, and Barrel, were also thoroughly entertaining. Their talent was clear as they performed a wild routine with nine balls in the air, but what was equally impressive was how they pulled it off despite how chaotic it became."

"Lastly, the balancing act performed near the midway point of the show was incredible. The physical skill and flexibility it took to pull off those moves had the crowd locked."

You can read the whole review on the Vancouver Weekly website.

Teaching Guitar on the Via Mia show

A couple weeks ago I was invited to appear on the Via Mia show on Shaw Vancouver. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk about my guitar teaching philosophy and have some good laughs with Mia. Ringo also made his debut television appearance!