MU Guitar Day

Looking forward to a reprise of my most popular lecture for the advancing guitarist. I’m really honored to be a guest artist and presenter for the MU Guitar Day at the University of Missouri – Columbia this weekend.

“Jazz for Classical Guitarists” is a topic I’ve been running with at conferences and festivals for about a decade and I’m so happy to be able to present it again.

MU Guitar Day is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC thanks to the director (and friend of the show) Anthony Glise and the MU School of Music. So come on down or share this with your favorite student guitarists.

AND… our the world’s greatest violinist, our friend and parter in The Nova Project, Ken Sugita will be stateside for the festival and a handful of shows! Can’t wait to hang and jam with Ken again.
MU Guitar Day, Saturday, April 26, 2014 — 9:00 AM-6:00 PM.

As with last year, the event is free and open to the public and is open to all styles of guitar.

Guest artists and activities this year will include:
- Ken Sugita, violin, French National Orchestra-Lille ([former concert master, Boston Philharmonic, et al.]
solo and ensemble coaching),
- Jason Riley (jazz for classical guitarists),
- Dr. Paola Savvidou, “Yoga for Musicians,”
- Final Concert (for the group concert, we’re doing 3 movements by Praetorious for 4 guitar sections; single-line
work and very accessible. Let me know if you need parts.

GENERAL SCHEDULE — MU Guitar Day, Saturday, April 26, 2014
University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Music – Fine Arts Building

9:00 AM Registration (Fine Arts Building Lobby)
9:30 Full Ensemble Rehearsal
11:00 Dr. Paola Savvidou – “Yoga for Musicians”
12:00 PM LUNCH (complimentary, courtesy of the MU School of Music)
1:30 Jason Riley – “Jazz for Classical Guitarists”
2:30 “Speed Lessons” *
3:30 Master Class / Coaching, Ken Sugita (French National Orchestra-Lille)
5:00 Concert

* “Speed Lessons” are our own invention. Like “speed dating,” these are five-minute lessons with one of our guest directors, upper-level players, and fellow students. These allow students to interact in a casual and fun situation while learning to coach each other before the whistle blows and the players change roles from being “student” to “teacher” for another five-minute lesson, then change partners, and start all over again.


Join the MU Guitar Society on Facebook.

Plunge for Landon

I come from a pretty amazing little town. The kind of place where the people will come together to help a neighbor in need. (In need of a hand, a shoulder or a cup of sugar).

I’ve seen a number of facebook posts of my friends and family taking “The Plunge for Landon” the last week or 2. You see, Landon’s just a little guy with big challenges but he’s got a loving family and a community of support (support from around the world actually).

So, I finally got my “Challenge” last week. I’ll take the plunge for Landon tomorrow and share it accordingly. My “Challengers”, Rick and Debbie Riley of Overton, NE will happily donate to the cause. I may then “Challenge” you to a quick, cold dip!

We’ll pick a couple of teams up to the challenge and donate on their behalf. What a great circle of giving!

Special thanks to Joshua Wright of Tarkio, MO for getting those waves rolling and to everyone who has taken the plunge to-date or yet-to-plunge.

“Plunge for Landon” on Facebook

You could probably donate without getting wet too but come on!!!

Hey, I’m proud of you Tarkio, MO and Atchison County MO for demonstrating that compassion mixed with action makes the world a beautiful place (even when wet).

Thank you to Landon and his family for reminding us.

Hoodoo @ The Voodoo ’14 – Soca Jukebox, Maria the Mexican & Under The Influence

Kick-off to Summer Party 2014 with Three of Kansas City’s Hottest Bands – SOCA JUKEBOX, MARIA THE MEXICAN & The Return of UNDER THE INFLUENCE!

This is a “Don’t Miss It” event. Superior Sound and Lighting, Special Guests and a Must-See Encore Jam.

Come Celebrate the Summer with family, friends and your favorite musical acts.

General Admission – Doors open at 7

“Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright!”

facebook event


Middle of the Map Festival with Maria the Mexican

Some 120 bands from all over the nation flock to KC this weekend forthe annual Middle of the Map Festival. You’ll find Maria the Mexican down for a set at Westport Saloon (in the historic Westport district) at 3pm Saturday, April 5.

Maria The Mexican at MidCoast Takeover

“My bags are packed and I’m ready to go” as John Denver put it. No jet planes for this one, just a “minivan full of rock” as Soca Jukebox would put it filled with the baddest players I personally know.

Maria the Mexican heads for the MidCoast Takeover (an unofficial showcase sponsored by the Midwest Music Foundation during the SXSW media conference in Austin, TX) featuring the up and coming acts from around KC. Really proud to say many of my students and friends were chosen for their original sounds as well!Screen shot 2014-03-08 at 3.34.52 PM for a complete listing.

MtM will be performing at the Shangi-La on 6th Thurs. around 430 and then Friday around 230 for the Songwriter’s Showcase.

The Festival used to be more about “breaking” those up-and-coming bands to the industry via showcases. As the conference has grown, already well-known acts seem to garner those slots once reserved for freshmen (you can see Coldplay, Imagine Dragons and Sound Garden thanks to the good people at Itunes). For sure, a majority of the media industry shows up to hang, party, see and be seen but the priorities of “discovering” new acts seem to have shifted. The whole music industry has shifted.

Regardless, I’ve wanted to participate in this event for a while (it’s been on my list of career “to-do’s” for more than a few seasons) and I’m really looking forward to seeing the other bands and meeting up with the homies in Texas (make sure to say “howdy”). Congrats to everyone that was chosen to come along this year and “We’ll see you there”!
Screen shot 2014-03-10 at 12.13.20 PM
On a side note, I found this which just seemed crazy but it’s for real. Flying Taser Drones launched and demonstrated at SXSW this year. Everyone… don’t… move…

Web Guru, Author, Family – Andrew Riley

Sometimes I get books in the mail. I like books, I like the library and I like to look for them but it’s really fun when they come to the door in a box or padded envelope. (Checks are also fun to find there if you want to send me a little surprise.)
Photo on 2014-03-07 at 09.11
After a long day in the city, I was very excited to get home and find a bound, first edition of the “The First Life of Tanan” from Andrew Riley in the new arrivals. Super fun to open it, hold it in hand and see Andrew’s personal note there.

What makes it a little extra special is well… Andrew’s my go-to web guru from Keen Meanie Design (responsible for everything at this dotcom and some of our others), he’s a Riley (responsible for corrupting AND encouraging me from my youngest days (( we grew up together, literally across College Street from each other in our little MO town))) and he was the first person to show me that “books are cool”. Thank you for all of the above, Andrew!
Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 9.58.31 AM

And now he’s an Author too. This is not a review. (hey, I just got it last night and I’m a slow reader.) This is a celebration of inspiration, creativity, ambition and quite frankly, just doing it. As I paraphrase the great Oliver Wendell Holmes… “(a great regret) that most folks go to the grave with their music (or book) still inside of them”. Paraphrase I said.

Thank you, Andrew for exploring what you love, making it tangible and sharing it with us. Grateful to be a part of your team. Peace from those Riley’s to “prose” Riley’s.

Purchase a copy of Andrew Riley’s “The First Life of Tanan” here…

Soca Jukebox, Stick It!

When you’re in the middle of an all out Drum War, you know the Sticks are flying. Now you can “Stick It” yourself with a Soca Jukebox… uh.. Sticker!


Happy Anniversary to a dear friend. We’ve had one heck of a ride together. I got my first guitar on January 27, 1985. Yep, I remember the date.

She was a Black Electric Lotus Les Paul Copy with a Peavey amp and I had no idea what to do with her at first. So I just kind of stared and held it. I was excited to introduce her to my friends. Your first electric guitar has got to be one of the most incredible things ever. Part mustang, part rattlesnake, part rocketship, all art with potential to pacify or instigate.

We fumbled, wrestled, fought, and in the end she taught me a thing or two. She’s still teaching me things.

Playing the guitar is one of the great joys in my life. It’s all art but you can choose to work in oils, clay, music or words (even profanity – like the dad from A Christmas Story!). It’s music really but the act of playing an instrument is a peculiar craft.
Thanks to my family for finally saying “OK. Let’s go get it so you’ll shut up. I expect to hear a song or two out of that thing.”
Everyone should play at least a little. A beginner can play one note and it’s mesmerizing to them. One little wire vibrating. Send that through a wah wah pedal and a speaker and welcome to heaven.

Ask Jason – Student Questions

Once in a while a get asked a few questions about the ‘ol career in music. Here’s some recent ones from a student that i thought i might share…

346How did you first get involved in playing music?
With friends and also in school band/choir. We had our own rock band from about 13 years old.
What instruments do you play?
Primarily guitar but play all fretted instruments, electric bass, mandolin, banjo, ukelele, I played percussion from elementary through college and studied voice.
What styles do you play?
i love all styles. i primarily play Rock, Jazz, Classical, Funk, Reggae but play Blues and Country and subgenres of all the above
How/why did you choose to play that kind(s) of music?
Guitar is important in so many styles, I kind of just go where I’m needed/wanted and do my best with that. I usually learn tons too.
Could you tell me a little about the band that you play in?
I play with several acts in different genres, all great musicians and performers. I’m lucky that way!
What is your favorite part about playing live?
probably just being in the moment, being there, being on stage, facing the audience, if they clap that’s nice too but hopefully they are uplifted by the music.
How has playing music affected your life?
Music is my life. its a metaphor for life. Life teaches you about music and music teaches you about life.
Musically speaking, what are your plans for the future?
i plan to play full tilt for as long and as hard as possible. This has been the best year ever and i expect next year will be even better. I plan to meet new players. I plan to learn new things. I plan to do my best. I expect that it will be tons of fun as i’m living the dream!!!!

If you’d like to drop us a question or comment we’d love to here from you…

2013 – The Year In Review

The numbers are in. At over 120 shows with 9 different musical combinations, 2013 made for some great memories with the usual suspects and some new friends.

We’ll be “sticking a stick in it” with Soca Jukebox at Private Soiree in Global Mystery for NYE.
Check out our year end highlights reel…

Here’s a few of my picks for the “Best of” moments in a truly memorable year.

Maria The Mexican Debuts “Moon Colored Jade”

Most Shows Played
1) Soca Jukebox
2) Maria The Mexican
3) JR Solo

Best Audience Participation
Soca Jukebox @ Cunningham’s Journal on Cruise Night

Best Hootenanny
The Beach Club @ Gulf Shores

Best Jam Moment
Maria the Mexican with Patrice Pike

Favorite Concerts (Tie)
“No Borders” with Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, Alejandro Escovedo & Maria The Mexican @ Knuckleheads.
The Black Crowes @ Wakarusa

Most Hands in the Air
Soca Jukebox (any show)

Favorite Venue (Tie)
Cunningham’s Journal-Kearney NE
Knucklehead’s – Kansas City MO

BIG THANKS to my whole family and to my brothers and sisters in music…
UTI, Soca, Pig Farmer, The Nova Project, Ed Daniels, Maria the Mexican, Bryan Alford, Larry at Awestruck, Joel at Element, Matthew Russo, Lisa at Chism PR, Backstory Images, The Regular Joe, Shea at the News Press, Rick Brown, the Music dept. of MWSU and Benedictine College, this year’s fairs and festival boards, all our agencies, Andrew Riley, Wegen Picks, Dean Markley Strings, Godin Guitars, David Burke, Photographers, Videographers, Sound and Lighting Crews, Fat Guy in a Women’s t-shirt and everyone on our select mailing list. You guys are the best and we wouldn’t be here without you.

Thank you for an amazing 2013.

Happy New Year!!!!!