Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mandolin Win

It's a family affair at D'Addario when it comes to mandolin strings. We offer the widest selection anywhere, from stainless steel sets for a bright tone and excellent sound with a magnetic pickup, to ground round wound Flat Tops, traditional loop end to ball end.

We have strings to fit the entire mandolin family: mandolin, mandola, mandocello, octave mandolin and mandobass.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Big, Fat, Warm Sound of Tape

Bass players are an interesting bunch. There's a school that puts on a set on strings and leaves them on until they break. There are some who change strings between every take in the studio. Some like steel, some prefer nickel, some use round wound, some swear by half round, some only play flat round. Lots of flavors, and D'Addario offers sets in every popular gauge, finish and metallurgical compound.

Ever since the mid-sixties, the trend had been mostly towards a brighter, crisper sound, with roundwounds leaping over flatwounds in popularity and nickel plated steel and stainless steel winning out over the old school nylon tapewounds. In fact, it's been a litle difficult to find a quality tapewound string. If you were looking to recreate the sound of the early British invasion (and even Abbey Road), there were only a couple of brands that survived the fads and trends.


Luckily, D'Addario has been working on their own nylon tapewound bass string in classic black, and now it is here in our new ETB92 set. Throw these on your Hofner, Rickenbacker or P-Bass and feel the almost zero friction and the fat, warm sound - similar to an upright bass - coming from your amp.

If you've never tried them, be prepared for a smooth, thumpy string that tunes up quickly and stays there. Many players leave them on for years, since they sound "dead" right out of the box and don't seem to have a "lifespan" that starts out bright and gradually dies out. Definitely a sound to check out.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Refresh Your Music

Sometimes you just can't put your guitar down, sometimes you have to dust it before you strum a chord. I spent a lot of years as a teenager with a guitar draped around my neck for most of the day...couldn't get enough of it. Once I realized that I wasn't going to pay my bills playing it, but might do OK by selling/marketing/tuning them, I didn't play as often. I might pick it up for several days in a row, but I might skip a day or two or three from time to time.

I've been trying to get inspired lately, now that I'm 48 years old (at least for a few more months) fully immersed in the business and actually home on weekends these days...and I found a new way to do it.

Change your strings. Even if you just put a set on recently, try a different gauge or a different formula next time. Go 80/20 instead of Phosphor Bronze. Try a set of EXP Electrics and put some Flat Tops on your dreadnought.

If it's been a while, a fresh set of D'Addario strings will help re-kindle the old flame you have with your instrument.

Try some other things to get you started on new paths. Learn a favorite solo note for note. Make a vow to only play slide for a week. Take off both E strings and explore the inside set of strings for a month. You'll be amazed what you'll discover about your guitar, about music and about your own playing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Play Real – Beware of counterfeit products

It is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Unfortunately, today’s global market place has seen imitation taken to a whole new level. I am referring to the flagrant counterfeiting of popular brands of consumer merchandise from hand bags, watches, pens, jeans and yes, guitar strings.

Initially, counterfeit versions of D’Addario branded music strings were easily identifiable. The packaging materials, print quality and the quality of the actual product were noticeably inferior. Today, with the help of high-resolution scanners and computer software, the counterfeiters have mastered the art and science of duplicating packaging. In many cases, our own quality control staff has to use high-power magnification to discern a fake from an authentic D’Addario string package.

Distinguishing between the fake and the real strings is another story. The quality of the counterfeit strings themselves has not improved appreciably. They are still primarily hand-wound strings on unsophisticated machinery, made by unskilled workers using inferior materials. This poses a serious threat to our brand equity and our loyal customers. Most of the counterfeit strings we have tested cannot even be tuned to pitch and do not have any of the quality attributes of a properly-designed and consistently-manufactured music string.

Counterfeit strings are now finding their way onto websites and now into legitimate music stores all over the world. Recently, we have found fake D’Addario string sets in the UK, Germany, Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Romania and many more. A recent survey of over 100 retail stores in four Chinese cities indicated that many shops had genuine D’Addario strings, but a majority also had counterfeit versions. It is almost impossible for the consumer to discern the difference by simply looking at the packaging.

In response to this threat, we have been working diligently on many fronts to combat this illegal and unethical activity.

1. We have hired investigators and lawyers to identify and raid manufacturers (primarily in The People’s Republic of China at this time).

2. We have raided three string producers that were caught with D’Addario and other popular brands of musical strings and packaging in various stages of manufacture. We will continue this investigation and enforcement approach.

3. We have been in active dialog with the U.S. Commerce Department, the State Department, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the International Trade Commission. Recently, the Senate Finance Committee requested that the ITC investigate China’s intellectual property infringement policies and make a report to Congress on the economical impact their lack of enforcement is having on the U.S. economy. I testified at a hearing for this investigation and illustrated the effects that the counterfeiting of our product is having on our company, particularly in our ability to create and maintain new job opportunities and grow our share of the domestic Chinese music string market.

4. In the summer of 2009, we began converting all guitar string product over to a new inner package that includes a unique serial number on each and every set of strings. After one year, a majority of the inventory on distributor and retailer shelves now has this new serial number technology. This number resides in an accessible database so that consumers, retailers, distributors and customs officials can actually go to and determine if the set of strings they have in their hand has a legitimate ‘Play-Real’ serial number in our database.

5. We have begun a Play D’Addario/Play Real marketing campaign in selected markets to help raise awareness to the problem and to educate our users on how to identify fake D’Addario strings.

With over a dozen family members active in the management of our company, D’Addario has endeavored to set the bar for musical accessory quality. We pride ourselves on the consistency in quality that we build into the design of our products and the processes we use to manufacture them. We also stand behind our products and openly welcome our customers to return any D’Addario branded string or accessory they purchase that does not perform to their expectations.

In the past two, years we have seen an increase in the number of defective strings being returned that are in fact counterfeit product. In each case, we will replace defective strings at no cost to you (whether they are genuine or fake). We ask our customers to cooperate with us in tracking down the source of any counterfeit products we receive from them. This dialogue is a huge help to us and we encourage you to communicate with us if ever you have difficulty with any our products.

We also ask that you consider these points when making string purchases:

• Most counterfeiters supply their products online. If you see an unbelievably low price advertised for any of our products, there is a very good chance the products being offered are not genuine. Ask questions and report unusually advertised prices to us at so we can investigate.

• All D’Addario products you may purchase online from a Chinese source at low prices are invariably counterfeit. It is virtually impossible for a legitimate importer or retailer of D’Addario strings in Asia to offer lower prices than are offered in your native market place. On most sites, such as eBay for instance, the country of origin for the sale is available to you. Remember, the unethical business people making counterfeit products have no issue with putting Made and Printed in USA on their product, even if it is not. Do not be fooled by the packaging.

• Look for the D’Addario Play-Real serial number printed on the inner corrosion protection bag for all our string sets. If there is a number on the set, go online and check to see if it is legitimate. Help us by informing us of any sets with serial numbers that are not legitimately coded into our database.

We are never going to completely purge the global market place of the unethical and illegal practice of counterfeiting, but together we can probably control this menace.

We appreciate your cooperation and consideration.

Yours truly,

Jim D’Addario

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If I Had a Nickel...

Once you find a favorite guitar string, it's easy to fall into the habit of buying the same set over and over, never trying anything new or different. It's great when a set of XL110's works on every guitar you own, since one more variable in your tone chain can be on "automatic". That's a great place to be.

But I think that as comfortable as that is, from time to time you should experiment a little with string gauges and composition.

Try the EXL140 set if you are interested in hearing a bigger rhythm sound. Try a wound G string Flat Wound set on any Jazz-style hollowbody you might have.

Knock down some of the harsher high end from a Tele or Strat with a set of pure Nickel strings. The softer feel of the Nickel sets and reduced tension can make a stiff-playing guitar into a smooth machine.

Put some sparkle into dark humbucker with a ProSteel set.

Reduce fret chatter and friction on your slide guitar with Half Rounds or acoustic Flat Tops.

Get a broken-in sound fresh from the package and 3-4 times the string life with EXP strings for both acoustic and electric.

D'Addario has a full line and many options. Take a chance and experiment with the above suggestions, or click on over to our website and look around for yourself. You just might find the perfect strings for all of your guitars.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In The Studio With... Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs and Gordon Kennedy

Country and Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs is putting the finishing touches on his new record, with guitar monster Gordon Kennedy playing, co-writing and co-producing. I had the honor of visiting Ricky at his studio in Hendersonville, TN to drop off a few samples of EXP acoustic strings, Planet Waves capos and headstock tuners, and was treated to an impromptu fretless banjo demonstration.

Ricky is looking for some different gauged strings for the banjo and I wanted to document the banjo's sound as it is now and try to help determine where to start with outfitting such an odd-ball instrument. As always, a stringed instrument in Ricky Skaggs' hands is soon to be making deep music.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mr. In-Between

String gauges. Some players never get beyond "Light" and "Medium", never mind Custom Light, Light Top/Heavy Bottom, etc. But for those that do, there is a whole world of alternate and in-between gauge guitar strings worth exploring.

If you are interested in finding the right strings for your guitar - your particular guitar, as played by you - then a little research can yield great rewards. Acoustic players in general seem to gravitate toward one of two generic gauges, Light and Medium. Beginning players and those with tender fingers find lights to be easier to play, and when "producing good tone" is farther down the list than "switching from C to G", that's fine. Some less expensive guitars may even respond better to light gauge strings, as anything heavier will case the action to be uncomfortable.

Eventually, though, it's a good idea to try a hybrid set to see if you (and your guitar) like a heavier gauge. D'Addario makes a "Bluegrass" set in both regular and coated versions. The Bluegrass set is the Low E, A and D strings from a Medium set and the G, B, and High E strings of a light set.

In the Bluegrass world, this gives the player the ability to bend the top strings for solos and keep a fat rhythm sound when playing backup. I don't play Bluegrass, but I do play a lot of gigs backing up a singer/songwriter, where I am adapting electric lead guitar parts for acoustic and also trying to keep the drive of the bass and drums at least partly alive on the low strings. The EJ19 and EXP19 sets are perfect for that, and a nice bridge from Light to Medium.

Electric players have even more choices, with sets as light as .08 and even half-gauges like the EXL110+ set that has 10.5, 13. 5, 18, 28, 38, 48 gauges. In general, I like EXL115 on my Gibson-scale guitars and EXL110 on my Fenders, but some models just seem a little to slack or too stiff. The in-between options solve that issue nicely. Check them out if your strings seem just a little off, or if you want to have, for example, one Telecaster with 10s and one a little heavier with 10.5s

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who'll Stop The Rain

As you might have heard, Nashville, Tennessee suffered historic flooding last week and the city’s largest gear storage and rehearsal hall, “Soundcheck” was filled with 42 inches of toxic river water. Many guitars, amps, keyboards and drums were ruined by the exposure to the water, with only a few items that were on shelves or stacked high enough surviving.

After the water receded, many musicians moved their gear to an emergency storage facility far from the Cumberland to assess the damage and begin the drying out process. 20 volunteer luthiers and repairmen showed up to strip the at-risk guitars into necks, bodies and hardware (if possible) and clean them up with a 70/30 solution of distilled water and alcohol.

Electronics were dried out and sprayed with Blue Shower or De-Oxit contact cleaner in hopes that they might one day be put back in service. Many guitars, amps and keyboards were beyond rescue, and with flood insurance being low on most players’ priority lists, will be total losses.

My advice to anyone living near a body of water and to those storing the tools they use to make living near a body of water: buy flood insurance. Keep your really good stuff at home. If you can’t do that, put your really good stuff on a high shelf. Keep your really good electronic stuff in a Pelican water-proof case. I have a friend who had many microphones survive because they were in a sealed Pelican case.

An interesting side-note... While the cardboard boxes were soaked and ruined, the sealed packages of D'Addario strings were just fine once they got a soapy-water bath.

Photos courtesy Nashville Tennessean

If you'd like to help, here are some charities concerned with the flooding in Nashville:

Second Harvest Food Bank

Hands On Nashville

Salvation Army

Nashville Red Cross

Low Notes For Nashville

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Two-Finger Stringing Method

Getting the optimum amount of wraps around the tuner post when changing strings can be challenging for a beginner. There are many ways to string a guitar, and most of them valid. Try a few different ones to see which you like best.

Here's how I do it on a Fender-style guitar with slotted posts:

Step 1: Remove all of the old strings from the guitar.

Step 2: Beginning with the low E (6th) string, grab the string at the bridge and make sure it does not twist by sliding it through your fingers as you pull it towards the headstock.

Step 3: Place two fingers on top of the nut and pull the string snug.

Measure where to cut the string by stretching it to two pegs past the one you are stringing. For the low E string, you would use the D (4th) string's tuning post. Remove the two-finger bridge and grab the string as shown above.

Cut the string with a wire cutter. Planet Waves has a Pro Winder that is ideal for this job.

Step 4: Place the end of the string into the hole of the tuning post.

Step 5: With your right hand, keep the string taut while you wind the peg. You'll need some support for the neck. I'm using the Planet Waves Headstand.

Tune the string to pitch, making sure all wraps go under the previous wrap. This should give you 1.5 to 2 wraps on wound strings and 3-4 on plain strings.

Step 6: When you get to the B and E strings, measure by grabbing the string at the target post and pull it back by two pegs to measure, then cut.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Flat Tire In Paradise with Mountain Heart

It’s March 9, 2010 if I’m not mistaken. It seems I’ve lost all track of the date, time, and especially the fast paced lifestyle I’m used to. The Mountain Heart guys and I have been in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands for a week now!! We had yet another ridiculous day of travel on the way down with the airlines that I will touch on later because I wanna focus on the positives first :).

What they say about operating on "island time" is so true. I found myself waking up at 9 or 10 a.m. most mornings, and then lounging around on the beach until gig time in the evenings. The eighty-degree temperatures, midnight swims, amazing food, loyal music fans, and overall positive vibe on the island was beyond refreshing for us. Early in the trip I commented to one of the guys that, "it takes me about 48 hours to acclimate to everything on a trip like this and then, I’m golden." That was definitely the case this time. After about a day and a half of going through technology withdrawal, I finally felt comfortable having my cell phone off, my Facebooks, Twitter, and MySpace not updated :). I got my body hydrated enough to handle the heat, and most of all, I got used to having to ride in cars on the wrong side of the road with crazy Cruzans running 65mph into 90 degree turns! It’s amazing how much more you seem to get out of human interaction and life in general without all the unnecessary daily distractions. The conversations we had and especially the music that was created, was much more than a light connection between the individuals involved. Each encounter seemed to mean a little more. The amazing support of the crowds and all of our friends on the island just took this experience to another level. At least once a night, something very special happened on stage and I think the crowd knew it. I personally felt like my soul was spilling out in front of me..."it was like a mixture of Fergie and Jesus". :) I said all that to say that there’s something truly special about St. Croix and the amazing people that reside there.

Ok, back from Utopia and into the real world. Oddly enough, it seems all of our not-so-fun experiences on the road lately have been with one airline in particular. I’m not gonna reveal their name but if you fly often, you probably know the origination of the real Delta Blues :). This flight was no exception. After an argument between Jim VanCleve and the "gate-keeper" about checking his fiddle, running out of fuel OVER THE OCEAN, a flat tire on landing and a massive unplanned layover in San Juan, PR we finally made it to St. Croix safe and sound about 8 hours late. On a lighter somewhat-side-note, we were flying with two unbelievably talented musicians that were going to be gigging with us on St. Croix. The international finger-style guitar champion Tim Thompson and his super talented son, Myles had to endure all this fun on the plane with Jim and I :). The laugh of the evening was that we probably could’ve gotten in a rowboat and made the trek quicker than we would by waiting for the next flight. After all of this ever so familiar unusual misfortune with the airline, we landed safely and headed to the resort.

We were taken to The Buccaneer by a dear friend of ours, Brian Silber. He and his gal Denise are not only great promoters, they’re the most thoughtful folks you’ll ever meet, and they’re both very artistic. Brian is a respected violin player that we always bring up to jam with us whenever we’re near each other. Denise is an amazing painter and one of the deepest humans I’ve ever talked to. Not sure if you can tell that I like these folks??? :) This is my little way of expressing how much we appreciate them and their hard work and especially the relationships we’ve all created with them over the last year or so.
Arriving at the Buccaneer is amazing. The outside of this place viewed from the gates reminds me of the Eagles album “Hotel California”. Except, The Buccaneer is absolutely in the middle of paradise. I’ve stayed there twice and I’m BLOWN AWAY by the service and overall reputation this place has. When you’re in the islands and you say “I’m staying over at The Buccaneer”, people always stop and look at you like they’re jealous or something. Brian and Denise put together a VERY generous care package that they left in our rooms. Along with that, sat a bottle of some tasty Cruzan Rum that the hotel presented to us as a token of their appreciation for our stay and for the concerts we all brought to the island. I’m not going to go into detail about all the down time throughout our visit. Just know that the beaches were awesome and the fellowship among the guys in the band was something we’ve needed for a long time.

The second night there, Jim and I were booked as headliners in the exclusive concert room, The Brass Parrot at The Buccaneer. The show was a way for us to give back to the resort for all they’ve done for us. It was also an experiment for the band and Brian that turned into an over-sold audience who had an amazing dinner and rocked out with us for almost 3 hours. I had the lamb, which was stellar, and we featured all the guys in Mountain Heart, Brian Silber, as well as Tim and Myles Thompson at different times throughout the show. This was truly an amazing sold out night that no one involved will soon forget.

The next night, we played our main gig of the week at The Island Center. This venue was the nicest place I’ve ever seen on the island for a concert. We had Tim and Myles jamming with the Mountain Heart gang, 40 GREAT volunteers, and a top-notch sound company that helped us work quickly to adjust to all the rental gear that was flown in for the show. The show that night was insane! There was a massive storm coming through that dumped rain outside but these people didn’t care. They piled in with us and partied all night. There will be videos of this amazing night of music online soon.

The next evening, I was booked to play a few hours with Aaron Ramsey from the band on the other side of the island at The 19th Hole in Carambola. I love this area on St. Croix as well. Once again, thanks to Brian and Denise, Aaron and I had a standing-room-only crowd there to support us. Myles and Tim opened up the night with a ton of music that was soooo far over my head that I would have been afraid to set in if they had asked :). Check them out if you’re not already aware of how amazing they are. After a great dinner, we took the stage and played a very diverse group of tunes that included some originals, a lot of old soul tunes by artist like Michael McDonald and Donny Hathaway, and we even worked in a few bluegrass and rock songs with the rest of the Mountain Heart guys who were hanging at the gig that night. Talk about pressure, its tough having your partners pick you apart from the audience. After the gig, we all went back to celebrate another crazy success at The Buccaneer.

Last night, we played our fourth and final night on the island. Jim and I were booked as a duo in another area at The Buccaneer that accommodates live music. The common trend stood true there as well. About a half hour before the gig, the people started piling in to have some drinks, dinner, and party with us. The management and all of the staff really hooked us up again with a monster C7 Yamaha piano for me to play and once again the best food and service you’ll ever find. Lucky for us, Jason Moore and Aaron were still on island so they decided to join us for the majority of the show. This crowd was off the chain. Believe it or not, a lot of the folks in the audience were seeing us for the fourth time in four days. I was completely crazy. They supported us to the fullest every single night and I think we definitely connected with almost everyone there at some point. The Mountain Heart boys were having a blast, and once again I felt like I was weightless on stage. We went for things that we would never attempt in a controlled environment and although a few mistakes came with that, a lot of magic was left on the stage as a result. We played and sang and the entire audience stayed 4 hours. Management actually had to cut us off at some point because of the hotel’s noise ordinance and because of the rowdy friends and fans that refused to go home. Keep in mind, this was the middle of the of the night on a MONDAY! It was truly special and Brad, the general manager, and the outstanding staff there handled everyone perfectly and admitted to one of the best nights they’d ever had.

Today we were greeted with friends by the pool and some delicious lunch from Brian and Denise before we flew out. I simply can’t say enough about my second trip to St. Croix or the fantastic people there. Thanks again to The Buccaneer and to Brian and Denise and all of the very special people that helped that aren’t mentioned here. Everyone was so appreciated by us. We also especially wanna thank D’addario for providing us with strings down there in that hot and humid climate. Humidity can do a number on stings in a hurry…you guys are the best! I’ve probably developed carpal tunnel after all this typing, :) but the good news is I think we’re almost to Atlanta! Check out Facebook or our websites for pictures of this journey if you like:
Sorry to be long-winded, but this trip had so many dimensions that I just had to touch on. Until the next time….


Josh Shilling

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Perils Of A Traveling Musician

I'm on a flight with the Mountain Heart gang somewhere over Montana right now that’s bound for Nashville. We had a ridiculous call time this morning at like 3:45am to leave Seattle…. definitely not musician-friendly hours. Mountain Heart and lots of other great bands and D’addario lovers including Kenny and Amanda Smith, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Seldom Scene, and so many more, were performing at an awesome festival called Wintergrass in Seattle this weekend. We had three great shows with amazing crowds to play to, and I got to really enjoy my first visit and tour of the city.

We had some SWANK hotel rooms this trip and the overall vibe from the people was perfect. In case you were wondering, the rumors are true....there was literally a Starbucks in every direction within a hundred yards. However, I didn’t make it to the original one on Pike Place.

As nice as all that was, I do have to mention what a terrible time we had traveling out this week. I’ll make it brief so I don’t ruin anyone else’s day. Basically, it started when we were leaving the Nashville airport. After checking our bags and paying the $25 “luggage care” fees, we stood in a half hour line just to find out that we had a 3-hour delay. That was not the best news considering that put us arriving at like 3 or 4 am CST at that point. After finding that out, we had to stand in another half hour line to get on another connecting flight because obviously, we weren’t going to make it on the original flight to Cincinnati. During the ticket changes, Jim from the band, was handed a “seat request” that looks like a ticket and we got new baggage claim and tracking info since we weren’t flying via Cincinnati. He was told that he and I were seated together on the next flight to Atlanta and then to Seattle. The clerk said “that’s as good as a ticket” when we asked about the seat request thing…”I’m just out of ticket stubs for my printer but that will get you your seat.”

So we waited around and after standing in yet another half hour line to board the flight to ATL, Jim was told “sir, this flight is sold out and your seat request isn’t going to get you on this flight. At that point, obviously the airline didn’t have ANYTHING together and Jim was going to be 24 hours late getting to the gig and was going to miss 2 of 3 performances. After fighting and then begging for something to be worked out, the (obviously having a bad day) clerk somehow worked Jim on the flight. Relieved to finally be in the air, we took off with a sense of peace. We got to Atlanta and then hopped the connecting flight to Seattle, which was quite a bit longer that I figured. We landed there as scheduled and headed down to baggage claim.

After the 12-hour ordeal to actually make it TO Seattle, we quickly noticed over half the band had one thing in common. Keep in mind, there are 6 members of Mountain Heart and we flew on 3 different flights from 3 different cities. The obvious bad news was, half of us didn’t have any luggage…at all! We had a missing bass and all of our checked luggage including laptops, everyone’s stage clothes, some stage gear and even pile of D’addario strings were all MIA. Completely pissed off at this point, we had to deal with the lost luggage personnel who obviously also were having a VERY BAD day (see the trend), in order to track our stuff.

They found Jim’s and my luggage and of course as anyone would suspect, it had safely made it to Cincinnati on our original flight but somehow, it never made it to Seattle. However, Jason’s bass was not so lucky as it was completely lost. They offered us no answers as to where it was or even MIGHT BE or when or IF he’d get it back. The offered no apologies, or even seem to care either way. After all, it’s not their stuff right? No, I’m not sarcastic So, we filled out all of the paperwork to start the process of tracking and shipping our gear and then headed off in a shuttle to the hotel.

The next morning, of course none of our stuff had arrived and we were at this point forced to borrow instruments and wear dirty underwear and t-shirts on stage in front of thousands of people, which was pretty embarrassing. Then came the 2nd performance….still in the same dirty everything, still with no answer or explanation from the airline. Nearing the end of this trip and after EVERYTHING work or music related was finished, the courier service dropped all of our stuff off without notifying us in the middle of the night!

Thankful to have everything back finally and especially to have on some clean drawers, we wrote this one off as a lesson learned when it comes to this particular airline. Just an FYI, Jim and myself wrote a song about this experience titled “The Delta Airline Blues” and we performed it in front of 10,000 people Saturday night and yes, it’s already on youtube. I’ll try to attach a link below in case you want to help us raise public awareness of airline injustice. Funny thing is, we all just had to check everything they lost and returned again just a bit ago and pay the same insane baggage fees to have them “shipped and handled with care” or just lost, which is WAY more likely.

Traveling as a musician has its good points and its bad; I think it’s important to see both sides! Since this incident consumed the majority of our trip, we felt it needed to be shared! Every profession has its on-the-job hazards. The next stop for the band is home, albeit for only 24 hours. Then we’re off to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Jim and I have been before and I quickly learned to absolutely LOVE the vibe there along with the sites. We’ll fill you in next week on how everything goes. Clear blue water and skies, beautiful beaches, amazing food, 75-degree temps, and night swimming in the winter months, pretty much rocks.

As I’m typing this, I’m listening to one guy talk to his partner about this big sales job they’re in the middle of and how tough times are with his company. There’s a baby that WILL NOT stop crying across the isle, an old man that’s gently snoring, and a woman in front of me that’s obviously having some health troubles and has been in the hospital. All that being said, I just had a very calming feeling come over me as I think about why I’m on this plane. And it’s not for some job I hate or some family emergency; we’re traveling to bring our music to people across the world. That was simply a childhood dream and I’m getting to live it now.

So, I’m powering up my iPod to find something soothing to listen to and add to the little “positive bubble” around me. We’re very blessed to be able to survive doing what we do and it’s only possible because of all the great supporters out there. So, thanks to all the listeners and all the folks like D’addario that have helped myself and Mountain Heart throughout our careers. An update from St. Croix is coming soon!

Until the next time
Josh Shilling of Mountain Heart

Friday, February 5, 2010

In The Studio With Mountain Heart

I'm sitting in the A Room at Ocean Way studios in Nashville working on Mountain Heart's new record. Our engineer is working on a rough mix of a song as I type. I sang a ton of harmonies this morning, and I just wrapped up some B3 organ overdubs on a few songs.

This studio used to be an enormous church so, as you can imagine, the rooms have ridiculous ceilings and acoustics...I'm pinching myself as I think about so many of the greats that have cut in this place. Mountain Heart has been touring some, but for the most part the last few weeks has been spent in the studio and for me personally, writing songs.

In the next few weeks, I'm writing with some of my faves. Guys like Bryan White (yes the country singer), Jimmy Olander of Diamond Rio, and a known monster in Nashville, Marc Beeson. After all the writing and recording is over in February, Mountain Heart is heading out to Seattle for a couple of shows at the Wintergrass Festival. Directly after returning home from Seattle, we're all flying down to the Virgin Islands for a week where we'll be crashing at a swank resort called The Buccaneer on the island of St. Croix after our gigs. I lucked out and got to gig there last Spring, but this trip will be with the entire band so it should be freaking awesome. Until that nice dose of 70 degree temps comes, we're gonna be bundled up and hunkered down in Nashville working on the record.

The next thing on the agenda as far as recording is concerned is a few acoustic guitar overdubs. I'm starring at my guitar in the corner and thinking about the insane stuff Brian Sutton is gonna lay down shortly! The one common denominator that I see with all the axes laying around is they're all strung up with D'Addario strings. So, once again I'm saying “thank you” for the never ending support!

Until the next time,
Josh Shilling

Friday, January 15, 2010

On The Road With Mountain Heart!

Josh Shilling, lead singer of the alt-acoustic super-group "Mountain Heart" in partnership with world renowned instrument supplies maker D'Addario is pleased to present a new blog series directed at bringing the fans closer into the crazy world that is "Mountain Heart".

This blog will appear regularly on the D'Addario and Mountain Heart web sites and we invite you to read, share and enjoy. We hope this little glimpse into the life of Josh and his band mates will enlighten and amuse you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010:

It's Sunday morning, January 10th and I think I can speak for all the guys in Mountain Heart when I say that we had an AMAZING weekend out on the road!

Although Sundays are usually spent licking wounds for most musicians after traveling, today we're all celebrating yet another sell out show at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan Fridaynight. From what I was told, this was our 6th straight sell out at this intimate room which is also where we recorded our live record The Road That Never Ends in 2007. We had a line downtown that went on forever waiting outside in the snow and single-digit temperaturesto get in and see our show.

After we stuffed ourselves at our favorite Mongolian Grill just a few blocks away and hit up a Starbucks or as we like to call it Fivebucks, we suited up for showtime. The show kicked off with an electric crowd that actually seemed louder than the band at times! After multiple encores, we ended up on stage for over three hours playing every single request from the crowd. Michigan has become one of our favorite states when it comes to fan support, andAnn Arbor in particular seems to be addicted to live music!

After such a ridiculously good night in MI, we headed to Clay City, KY to play to another die hard crowd that also fought several inches of snow on country roads to party with us. It seems like our rock edge is rubbing off on even the traditionalists in eastern Kentucky. I noticed a lot of young faces and requests for Allman Brothers covers....CRAZY!
After the great show last night, we packed up the bus and scooted back down to Nashville for some recording sessions this week. Outside of touring, our main focus right now is writing new material and recording a new record. The only thing I can share aboutthe project thus far is that it's going to be the most creative and original sound I've ever heard!

As always, we are all so blessed to be using great gear in the studio and on tour so I wanna say thanks to D'Addario for their products and never ending support. With as many strings as we go thru in a tour we couldn't live without them!
Until next time...............

Josh Shilling

Josh Shilling is the lead singer of the alt-acoustic super-group "Mountain Heart. Both Josh and all the members of Mountain Heart are proud and exclusive user of D'Addario strings.

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