Butterfly Fingerpicks

I don’t remember when I began teaching myself different finger picking patterns, but I do remember buying a set of plastic finger picks. I tried them a couple of times, but they didn’t feel natural to me, so I put them in a box somewhere and forgot about them. Well, except for the thumb pick. That came in handy sometimes. I went back to my usual bare finger finger picking (try saying that three times!), not even considering grooming my nails to work for me. Lately, though, I’ve become more aware of the different sounds I can create using my nails. Problem is, my nails are extremely fragile and just one night of extended playing probably would trash them. Guitar players go to all kinds of lengths to have strong nails, including having acrylics and gels applied. I don’t know about you, but I hate the heaviness of fake nails, and they’re expensive, besides. What’s a choosy guitarist to do?

Last week I saw Butterfly Fingerpicks on Pinterest and I was immediately intrigued. Besides looking damned cool, the idea behind them seemed rational. Adjustable wires form-fitted to my fingers and nails? Hey! That sounded like those Indian water buffalo sandals we had in the Sixties! With those, all you had to do was put them on and stand a bath tub of water for a while, stretching them out, and then walk around in them until they were dried to a custom fit!.I ordered a set of finger picks, and they arrived today.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 1

First of all, they come in a really sturdy clear plastic box. Who wants to worry about them getting smashed by your gear? They come in three metals: gold, silver, and copper. I got the copper ones because I wanted a softer, less metallic sound from my 12-string. They also come in three basic sizes, small, medium, and large.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 2

When I took them out I thought, “Figuring out which pick goes on which finger might not be easy,” but I needn’t have worried. It was pretty obvious.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 3

All out and in proper order.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 4

When I first put them on, they didn’t fit at all, but I was prepared for that. I bought the small size, and they were just a bit too tight and a couple of them didn’t slide into place, but these are adjustable, remember? I went to the website and read the instructions on how to fit them properly.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 5

After a few minutes they looked and felt much better!

Butterfly Guitar Picks 6

With all four in place, I was surprised at how comfortable they are. You really could wear them for hours. But finger picks aren’t just for looks and comfort, you know. They have to sound good, so I tried them on each of my three guitars. On the Luna Trinity 12-string they were hard to use; all those strings so close together made picking a bit clumsy, but I suspect that with practice that’ll sort itself out. On the Fender nylon string they sounded great, a lot like when classical guitarists use their long nails. But it was on the Briarwood 6-string that they really wowed me. Nice action and even nicer tone.

The hardest part for me will be getting accustomed to playing with extensions. I’m used to my fingers being right on the strings and, without that sensation of skin-against-string, I feel a little disconnected. I’m going to work with them, one guitar at a time, until I’m comfortable using them on all three. If you’d like to give them a try, just go to Butterfly Fingerpicks. They’re really nice there and have the best customer service I’ve encountered since I bought that beaded curtain from a hippie catalog back in 2007.

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Self-Indulge a Little

Yves Saint Laurent

Would someone please tell me why I like these movies so much? Why am I drawn to them when all they do is piss me off? I just watched Yves Saint Laurent, starring Pierre Niney and Guillaume Gallienne. Now, I didn’t mention this to offer a critique. I’m here to ask (besides the question I already posed) why, when it comes to creativity and people of talent having breakdowns or indulging in self-destructive behavior, are women “train wrecks” while men are “tortured”? Does our society still actually buy into the boys-will-be-boys crapola? It’s insulting and it propagates the notion that shit happens to men while women create shit for themselves.

Believe me, if I tried to get away with half of the stuff depicted in this movie (which I really liked, by the way), even when I was young, I would have found myself alone with nobody to pick up the pieces. There’d be no one sitting beside my asylum bed stroking my forehead. But guys get away with it. They have their breakdowns, their flagrant infidelities, their addictions and their tantrums, and they’re greeted with people whispering, “Poor tortured genius.” When a woman succumbs to the same things, all we hear is, “What a loser.”

Well, I’m not about to go mad, but there was one scene that I related to. Yves and his friends are in a pool in Marakech, drinking, smoking dope and fiddling with each other, and one of the girls, a model, asks him the following questions. I thought they were rather good. I’ve edited a couple of them a bit, but not so as to change the context.

Who is your favorite real-life hero? Myself. I’ve surmounted more and maintained my love of life and people more than anyone I know.

Who is your favorite poet? Dylan Thomas.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? Gentle enjoyment of all the pleasures. I’m a hedonist.

What is your favorite quality in a woman? Kindness.

What is your favorite quality in a man? Kindness.

What is your main character trait? Creativity.

What do you appreciate most in your friends? Their complete lack of pretentiousness.

What would make you most unhappy? To one day find myself without my family.

What gift of nature would you like to have? Glowing good health.

How would you like to die? In my sleep. Seriously. I’m not being facetious, or frightened. I’d like to slip out while dreaming and think, “Wow. Something changed. I’m no longer attached. Cool. I’m going to go check out a few mysteries!”

What is your current state of mind? Productive and anticipatory.

Feel free to give your own answers in a comment, if you want.

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Tap, Tap… Are You Out There?

I think I’ve figured out what’s happened to blogging. It’s reverted to its childhood. When I began my old blog, Incurable Insomniac, in 2002, there weren’t all that many blogs out there. It felt kind of like a counterculture. Pretty quickly, though, there was a blogging boom and everyone and their uncle’s monkey started writing about their laundry, their kids, and their cats.

I made a lot of blog friends and we kept up on each others’ lives by reading through our blogroll, which was later replaced with Blogger’s Blog List. Then came MySpace and things started to slow down a bit. It wasn’t terminal, though. It was more like an extension to our blogs. But then Facebook laid siege to the web like Godzilla tearing through Tokyo. And then came Twitter and texting, and blogging as we knew it began to disappear.

I spent a large part of this evening paying visits to the few old blogs that are still active in an attempt to re-connect. It was shocking to me to find so many “recent” posts dated several years ago. And all those dead links! Man, I was lucky to find any surviving blog veterans at all. Those that I did, I added to my blog list, and I intend to keep up with them. Countercultures have always held a certain appeal.

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The Road Ain’t What it Used to Be

Me, 1978

Way back in the very long time ago, I used to perform at house concerts. We didn’t call them that back then, though. They didn’t have a name, actually, they were just private gigs. Fairly easy to book, no real planning, and they always guaranteed some free food, wine, grass, and usually a place to sleep for the night. Basic sing-for-your-supper affairs where I could pass the hat to cover travel expenses. The best part was that I sang for a lot of great people in an intimate setting, kind of like playing for friends I’d only just met. I didn’t have to drag my gear around and set up; all I did was plop myself in the most visible spot of the room, tune up, and go for it while someone kept my glass magically full. These days things are a bit different.

While planning my October 9th house concert (which I’ve dubbed SK Waller, A Retrospective), I’ve done a great deal of research on the subject and it seems that the old anything goes maxim no longer holds true. There are set guidelines that have been well-tested through the years so I’m taking heed. I can’t imbibe in anything while playing anymore, anyway. The best advice I’ve received is in Shannon Curtis’ eBook, No Booker, No Bouncer, No Bartender: How I Made $25K On A 2-Month House Concert Tour (And How You Can Too). A compact, concise, no-fluff, 58-page wonder, this handbook is invaluable.

My aspirations aren’t as lofty as the title promises, though. For one thing, I can’t set out on a two-month tour (we have only one car), and for another, I don’t have a CD to sell. I’m hoping to perform in the Oklahoma City-Tulsa-Stillwater Triangle and make enough to make said CD and buy some new gear: an amp, a mic and stand, and a small mixer.

A lot of the stuff Shannon lays out is stuff I did when I was younger and acting as my own agent and flying by the seat of my bell bottom Levis. I’m looking forward to getting back into that—the scene, that is. I still wear the Levis. Meanwhile, I have six months to get my repertoire in shape. Maybe I’ll even be able to somehow make that CD. I’m a firm believer in the idea that thoughts are things and that life responds rather than happens to us. Yeah. I can make this work.

Thoughts are Things

So if any of you who live in the area would like to schedule a concert in your home later this year or next year, let me know via the email form on the Contact page and I’ll be happy to send you the particulars. There is no cost to you, just a night of music shared by you and your friends. How’s that for a sneaky pitch?

Have a great weekend!

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