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tête-à-tête: dusty redmon

About a year ago I got a really nice Facebook message from this guy I’d never met before. It was really complimentary and encouraging. It came at just right right time too. I was kind of bummed out and wondering if  anybody cared about what I do. Anyways. The guy that sent the message was Dusty Redmon. We kept in touch and now we are bro’s and talk all the time! He’s a great guy and a killer guitar player. He can play the heck out of some slide guitar. (that’s southern for “he’s quite an accomplished guitar player”). One of the best parts of what I do for a living is meeting people like Dusty.

I caught up with Dusty while he was out of tour with his band The Almost in support of their new Album “Fear Inside Our Bones”.

enjoy.
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Hi Dusty.
Oh. Hey James.

What are you doing?
Right now I am heading towards Spokane. It’s a day off. We stayed in Redding last night. No big deal.

Are you kind of famous?
I had quite the number of MySpace friends at one time.

I think you are kind of famous. Maybe.
You and my grandma think alike. In that case, you must LOVE the show “Touched By An Angel.” I think you’re pretty famous, James. And fabulous. I don’t think I’m very famous though. I think if we had a “Fame-Off,” you’d win pretty easily.

What’s a “Fame-Off”? Nevermind. You have a little boy! How do you like being a dad?
I love it. I’ve never felt more worth than I do in being a father. On the flip side, it makes touring SO much tougher. We’ve kinda spoken about it a little. I’d do anything for Dillinger, even if it meant never touring again. I think you’ve got such a cool gig now with your online consultations. For an influential player like you, it’s a dream for some people to be able to talk to you one-on-one. I don’t think I could do much with that, but I think it’s very cool that you’re doing it.

Tell me a little about how you got started in music. What’s the story?
I was inundated with a lot music throughout my young life.

Inundated. Good word! Sorry… go on.
Little DR jammed on stuff like Black Sabbath all the way to George Jones. In high school, some friends and I started a hardcore band called Beloved and after graduation, started touring and eventually signed a record deal. I toured ten months a year for a while, playing a lot of rad clubs, basements, theaters, churches, and dingy bars. Beloved broke up in 2005 and I started playing with a band called Dead Poetic after that for a couple of years.

And then you joined The Almost? How did that come about?  
Dead Poetic was about to release the only record I wrote for and recorded on, “Vices,” when my buddy Aaron (who I knew from touring with his band UnderOath for years when I was in Beloved) asked me if I would join his new solo project. I had to tell him no, and two weeks later Dead Poetic broke up. That sucked. By February, his guitarist quit and he called again. Talk about The Lord providing.

One thing I really like about you is that you are a really nice guy and you don’t seem to be jaded about the music industry, even though you’ve been around the block and I’m sure have seen a lot. I know people that haven’t done nearly as much as you that have the worst attitudes. What keeps you positive?
Man, that’s really nice. I act pretty grumpy sometimes, but I honestly feel lucky to have the smallest shred of success, albeit minimal. I’ve seen a lot of places with some of my best friends, gotten to take my wife with me sometimes, and been able to meet the most encouraging people.

Who are some of your influences?
You know I’m a Mike Campbell junkie. I think he’s really made me want to keep my playing simple. I love players who write parts that serve the song, not their shredability. Yeah, I literally just made that up. Pretty cool. Lead parts should always be about melody, and I think that’s why I reached out to you in the first place. Your work on “Economy” reminded me so much of Campbell that I felt compelled to let you know personally. I know you’re a big MC fan, but who else pushes you?

Yes, I love Mike Campbell. His style is so simplistic, but so perfect. He knows exactly what to play.  I love Joe Perry. I feel like Joe writes the absolute best guitar solos of all time. I just heard Angel on the radio this morning. That solo is so amazing. And clean! Such a good clean tone on that solo. I tell people all the time to learn a couple Joe Perry solos. It’s like going to music school.
I feel scared to like Joe Perry. I mean, don’t get me wrong- I loved Aerosmith growing up. They write incredible rock songs. Maybe it was just “Livin’ on the Edge” that got me scared of what my friends would think if they heard me jamming Aerosmith. “Love In An Elevator” is totally riff city though. I love all those ballads too, I guess.  Ok. Ok. My name is Dusty and I’m a Joe Perry fan.

Now that we are being honest, If you weren’t a guitar player what would you be doing?
I think being a barber would be awesome. Like a man’s barber. Spinning Motown records in a barber shop all day, drinking Cheerwine, shooting the breeze… I don’t think I could imagine you doing anything else…maybe being a tattoo artist.

I don’t have the attention span to be a tattoo artist. I’d ruin people’s skin. I’d probably try to be a writer. Or a Doctor. Doctors make pretty good money so that would be a good career for me. Because I think being rich would probably be pretty cool. Have you seen rich people’s houses? Their cars? Wow! What’s the hardest thing about being a musician?
Balancing the love of playing and performing with the reality of being a father and a husband who needs to provide financially for a family. Records don’t sell anymore, so touring is how I make my money. And I hate money, but I’ve got cute mouths to feed. It’s a really tough balance that I literally pray about daily.

What kind of gear are you playing these days?
I’ve got a couple of awesome handmade tele clones from James LeClair (leclairguitars.wordpress.com) out of Tampa. He cuts his own bodies and necks, and also winds his own pickups. They rule so hard. I’ve also started jumping on strats too. I’ve actually got two out with me now.  I run those through a bunch of pedals into a 1962 Fender Tremolux and a Bad Cat Classic Deluxe 20r. I’m pretty set on that blackface-style amp. Headroom makes all the difference in the world to me, and I think it’s hard to beat that outside of that blackface circuit.

Bad Cat makes some great stuff! If you could only play one guitar for the rest of the week… no, the rest of your life, What would it be?
I think a real 52 Telecaster could just about do anything I would ever need. If you asked me this ten years ago, I probably would’ve said something like a PRS or something. What would you shred on?

I don’t know… maybe a 60’s Strat. 1961. Black. Rosewood neck. Probably. But maybe a 1959 Les Paul. Because I could always sell it for $400,000.00 if I quit music.

If you were starting a supergroup who would you call first?
Um… Is this a cry for attention? You, of course. My old tour manager is FOH for Kevin Bacon, so maybe him.

No, it wasn’t a cry for attention. Kevin Bacon is in a band with his brother. The Bacon Brothers. That’s a real thing. The Bacon Brothers.

So the new record is out! Are you guys gonna be busy this year?
Yeah it’s already kinda gotten started. “Fear Inside Our Bones” came out on June 11, and we are in the middle of a short headlining run now. We just shot a video for our first single with our now-mutual friend Vitor Belfort. I get to spend five days at home before leaving on a Relient K tour in July.  Maybe an Almost All the Bright Lights tour soon? That could be our super group’s name.

Now we are talking. What are you doing later today?
I think we are going to see some movie. I dunno. Mind your own business.

Okay, Okay! Bye Dusty. Thanks.
Goodbye dear James. Thank you. Let’s get Pinky’s soon.

 

 

 

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hey y’all.

hope you guys have been enjoying the conversations. i’ve got some more coming!

i was in the studio again this week with matt redman. it’s been a really cool experience watching him write and arrange his songs. and it’s always fun making music with jon and jacob.

the guitar consulting has been going really great. i’m really encouraged with the results. i’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback. it’s been great watching people grow and improve.

i’ve got a lot of cool stuff that’s happening that i’ll be sharing in the future.

talk soon.

STELLA!

So, I told you I went to the Bad Cat Amplifier factory when I was on tour in California. I got to hang out with John and George and look at their amps and other cool things (they also are a technology company that builds things I’m not even smart enough to explain). Anyways, we talked about what I like/don’t like about my amps, their amps and other people’s amps. From important things like power amp/preamp tube types, to preferential things like power/standby switch placement, to personal taste things like tolex and knob colors. We talked about all kinds of stuff.

The result of those conversations is Stella

Single channel dual EL34 amp with an EF86 in V1 (I actually know what that means!).  You can switch the bass and treble controls off and use a 5 position tone knob also. You can switch off the master volume as well, and it comes with a half power switch. I didn’t want reverb or an effects loop. It’s a super simple amp that is extremely versatile. It’s got tons of headroom as well, which is important to me. It sounds huge. I even changed the look of the speaker cabinet a little. The Bad Cat speakers sound amazing, by the way.

I’ve used the same amp (my Matchless Chieftain) for years and years. probably around 15 years. It’s a huge part of what I do. So, I wasn’t looking for another amp. I honestly didn’t even think I was going to like any other amps. I usually don’t. But I played a Bad Cat Wildcat for a weekend while I was on tour in California and I was really blown away. It felt really familiar, but it was a much more complex (if that word makes sense) sound. So I talked with Jon, George and Donny and we came up with an amp that I feel meets all my needs.

I’m very impressed with Bad Cat as a company. They are really good guys, and they love what they do. I’ve played a lot of amps. Bad Cat is the real deal.

Oh, and the amp rules so much they decided to make Stella a production model! You can find out more from Donny at Tonesmiths and the Bad Cat website. Tell them Duke sent you.

Bye.

home!

i am back home now. 3 week tour. coast to coast, man. coast to coast! it was a good tour and it was a fun tour. i got to meet a lot of nice people. i think i only met one rude person. maybe two. the rest were all cool.

so the new ALL THE BRIGHT LIGHTS record is done! it’s called The Wind and The Waves. it will be out in november, god willing. it’s a pretty special record and i am quite pleased with it. i will post some artwork and a track listing soon!

when i was out in california i got to meet and hang out with john and george from bad cat amplifiers. they are really cool and really smart. way smarter than i realized anyone could be i think. i went to their factory and played a bunch of amps and got to tour the whole place. they do amazing work. great people, those bad cat guys.

i also got to hang out with frodo and jeffrey kunde. it was a grand reunion.

bye.

jacob’s well, coffee and finally waking up.

If I think about it, I’ve felt exhausted for a long time. More often than not. You know that headache you get behind your eyes? You take ibuprofen for it but you know the only thing that is actually going to help is if you close your eyes and go to sleep? I always have that headache. But It’s not just that I’m tired. Because I do sleep. I even take vitamins. I remember to take vitamins. I can’t remember my own phone number most of the time but I can remember to take my vitamins. Which makes me proud. It’s not my kids either. I mean, kids are exhausting. having children is sometimes like driving down a highway at 130 miles per hour (I’ve actually done that so I know what I’m talking about, bro). You can’t really relax for a second. Because the second you do and get distracted they are in the other room pulling every single record out of the sleeve and “cleaning them” with their gross, sticky hands on their dirty shirt covered in crumbs and lollypop residue. Or getting toxic cleaning supplies out from under the sink and spraying themselves in the face with them (true story).  I actually love being with my kids. It’s really no inconvenience at all. I can’t stand it when I hear parents complain about their kids. Like they can’t wait for them to grow up and leave so they can re-start their life and get back to what they really wanted to do in the first place. anways. It’s not my kids. I have a great wife. I have a great life. But there has been something going on around my head and in my heart for a long time and I could never put my finger on it.

 A little over a year ago, right around the 4th of July, I woke up in a hotel room like I do a lot. I got up and went down to the lobby to find some coffee. My brother, Jon, was sitting outside on the deck that was overlooking a really pretty river. Jon is NEVER up before me. He was listening to music and typing on his iPad. For a long time. If you’ve ever tried to type on an iPad for any length of time you know it’s hard. What I thought was even more interesting is that He had his laptop in his room. He could have just gone up and made it way easier on himself. But I got the impression that he didn’t want it to be easy. If it was easy he probably would have gotten bored and quit. He was going to type, and type, and type on that iPad until he was done. He was probably there all morning. He never really even looked up from the iPad in his lap. Of course I was curious as to what he was writing and to whom it was being written, but I didn’t ask. I wanted to, but I didn’t. The way he was so engrossed in what he was doing really affected me for some reason. I haven’t forgotten about it a year later. I think about it often. Wandering what he had to write that morning. Because it was like that. He had to write that morning.

I was working on my blog this morning. You know, just sprucing things up. I saw the link to Jon’s blog. He doesn’t really write much so I never go to it. I clicked the link anyways. He had a new post. Well, it was a year old. And he told the story about that morning. He posted it right after he wrote that morning on the patio of the Hotel. I never saw it until today.

Go read it here.

“Jacob’s well makes me not want to go to the airport. It makes me want to rush through recording sessions that I used to only dream of being a part of. It makes me want to be gone when I’m home and home when I’m gone. It leaves me parched. It does not give me fullness of joy. It drains the pleasure out of living my dream.

I think I spend too much time drinking from Jacob’s well and not enough time drinking from the one that offers eternal life.”

As I read that paragraph my eyes started to fill with tears. I looked up from my computer and saw my kids playing with each other and laughing. I realized that I was feeling exactly like Jon was that day. I spend most days allowing myself to forget how blessed I am to get to do exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I play music. I have a family. I have a home, cars, a dozen guitars and basically everything I need. But instead I try to sustain myself with mundane, temporary things that leave me bored, distracted, angry and bitter.

Proverbs 4:3 says “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”.

Sometimes reading “wellspring of life” might not really connect. Another translation says “for it determines the course of your life”

ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT DETERMINES THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE

I am guilty of not guarding my heart the way I should. I allowed loss in my life to wipe me out and shut me up. There was no life in my heart anymore because I let my heart die. The one thing that determines the course of my life is the one thing I ignore and shut off from myself, my family and my friends. I spent so much time feeling like I was walking in my sleep. Almost just waiting until I can get back in bed and be done with the day. I forgot to check on my heart. I didn’t take care of my heart.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate. It’s funny how we spend a lot of time feeling alone in our thoughts and feelings. But we really are all alike. We all need to feel alive. To feel needed and necessary. To know we are making a difference.

I spent a year wondering what my brother was typing that morning. I found out today we were feeling the same way.