Saturday Concert

Here are a few photos I took as they were setting up the stage, before soundcheck. I enjoyed the performance. Mistakes were made but there were also some fine moments. The conductor Roberto Minczuk, a Brazilian, did a great job with the orchestra. Jon’s arrangements were wonderful and I took the time to enjoy the intros he wrote for Waiting in Vain, Snakecharmer, and Barcelona Nights. And it is always a huge pleasure to play at Popejoy, which sounds fantastic.

Short Video I took while Jon and the conductor were going over the score.


Walked to Jon’s studio this morning, openly carrying my white guitar case over my shoulder. We decided not to play with the full setup, through IEMs, in favor of sitting in the same room. This way we could hear ourselves acoustically and could easily talk about finer points of the arrangements. We set up in a circle. Jon used a very small amp, placed behind the chair he was sitting on, for his fretless bass guitar. Robby brought the cajon and used Jon’s hi-hats. Super simple and so much fun. While we played, Jon would sometimes talk us through the arrangement. He would announce the violins, then the cellos, and here come the basses. I told him he should have a microphone and do that for the concert. At least he will wear a mic and do that for the rehearsal with the orchestra tomorrow afternoon. :-)

We worked through the whole set list for two hours, but there was a fair amount of talking and laughter, too. At one point I said how much fun it would be to have recorded the rehearsal… the music, the stories that bubbled up. I wonder how long it would take to forget that a recording is being made. Because, if one couldn’t forget that, the magic would probably be lost and one would perform rather than just hang out and work.


When practicing a particular form, especially when I am not at home, I use a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Any pair that has a transparency mode will do. I listen to the piece I need to learn on the headphones and play along. With the transparency mode I can hear the guitar I am playing alongside the music from my phone. Right now I am learning the arrangements for the concert with the NM Philharmonic orchestra, next Saturday.


Binding is a term neuroscience uses for the brain’s ability to construct a reality out of separate occurrences. As we all know, light travels really fast, sound travels merely fast, and arms move downright slowly. So, when one plays baseball, for example, the brain will bind events together so that it appears as if what the eyes see, what the ears hear, and what the hands do, happen at the same time. The brain does this by delaying events, and thereby gaining the time needed to create the illusion that all of the things that come together when hitting a baseball – seeing, hearing, and touching – happen at the same time.

There is a fun experiment that was devised to study this. Participants sat in front of a button, that was connected to a light bulb. The wiring from the button went through a timing apparatus that controlled the exact time when the bulb lit up, in the millisecond range. Push the button… light goes on. Next, a time delay was introduced. The participant pushed the button, but there was a 20 millisecond delay until then the blulb lit up. Apparently the brain will continue to assume that the bulb simply has to light up when the button is pushed and will bind those events together. This can be pushed until the delay is about 200 milliseconds, which is a fifth of a second. Here is where the fun started: once the participant had been “trained” to experience the bulb lighting up when the button was pushed EVEN THOUGH a fifth of a second elapsed between the events, the delay was removed and the bulb lit up without delay. Now the participants experienced something interesting: they reported that they saw the bulb lighting up BEFORE they pushed the button!

I have been thinking about this all day, wondering how it relates to playing guitar. When I sit on a stage and play a note, the sound travels from the guitar to the microphone and then, in form of an electrical impulse, through 100-200 feet (and sometimes a lot more than that) of wiring to the front-of-house mixing position, then, after processing, another 100-200 feet in the opposite direction to amps that increase the signal and send an impulse to the loudspeakers, which then have to move the air, which has to travel to your ears… It is clear that a concert is basically a group hallucination. LOL

La Luna

This performance of La Luna was recorded at the Boulder Theater in 2004. In addition to Jon Gagan and me Robby Rothschild is playing cajon, djembe and congas and Ron Wagner plays tablas, dumbek and various other things.