Saturday, December 24, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Varsity Strings!

We just want to thank everybody who has sung, played, drummed,
strummed, plugged in, unplugged, phoned us, put up with us, fixed microphones
and installed chrome pickups with us this year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, 
and may 2012 bring you 
everything you've wished for!

Here's a Hello Kitty Christmas Card to everybody!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas at Ronald McDonald House

The Kiwanis asked us to play at their big year-end dinner they host at Ronald McDonald House here in San Diego. We said YES, ripped out the Christmas music books and practiced!

I'm making sure I know how to play Hark The Herald Angels Sing on guitar:

Sophia it turns out is a Christmas Music Master. She's in her church choir, she knows how to sing 72642 Christmas songs and she can play them on piano too.

She's also getting a lot of fans by being the lead singer for the Jazz Ensemble at school, they just played the La Jolla Country Club!

Here we go. Fancy, huh?

This is their HUGE Christmas tree, sitting behind us.

More songs,

And lots more guitar...

There were gingerbread houses everywhere.

YUM. But why is the snowman guarding the front of the house????

The kids loved Sophia! They gave her one of their crafts.

The snowmen were not talking to us.

YAY! This was a lot of fun!

Sophia with her craft, and I'm doing an imitation of RAINBOW DASH. (Or Fluttershy.)

The whole place was dressed up for the holidays!

Thanks to Sandi at Ronald McDonald House, 
and the San Diego Kiwanis!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Max Plays the Squeaky Wheel Tour 2011

Here's the professionally shot hi-def music video of my performance at the Squeaky Wheel Tour of 2011. (I love the foot shots!)

Thanks to Jannel Rap, James and Maria Morris, 
Adam Turbiner fron Ovation (mine played GREAT!)
and Takamine Guitars!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

10 Reasons To Go To Guitar Center Los Angeles

The 1939 Electar Zephyr Epiphone guitar amp.

The amp's AMAZING arrangement on top - tone and volume with art deco 8-sided easy to spin knobs, 3 inputs (!!!) with the fuse right on top and simple to access.
They could make this now and people would buy it.

Taylor's baritone 8 stringed guitar.

The Gibson Robert Johnson era blues guitar....

Signed on the back "To my friend Nick Moro, from your friend Nick Lucas"

The Harp Guitar.

The Rickenbacher Lightshow.

The Red Reddy Von Reddenstein Fender Coronado.

More classic sunburst Rickies.

Polished Steel Resonator guitars.

Playing them!

And an extra bonus reason -
My mom gets to go to Hello Kitty shops like these;

Thanks to Guitar Center of Los Angeles!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Carl DeMaio Says IT'S DONE!

So I talked to Carl DeMaio yesterday!

Shook his hand and everything! He's a great guy, genuinely concerned about the city of San Diego, and we talked all about his new fee exemption for live entertainment at restaurants. He's really careful to call it an exemption - bars and nightspots are not exempted, just restaurants that close by 11:00 pm.

Again, this now means that any San Diego restaurants which close by 11:00 pm do NOT have to pay the $4000 yearly fee for any sort of live entertainment anymore. This is a REALLY big deal to us - we can play, have fun and hold fundraisers in any restaurant now. This summer is gonna be WILD.

He says it's a "DONE DEAL!" They're signing it this Friday, November the 18th. There will be a 30 day pause before it goes into effect, but basically it's law. He told me that some people on the City Council argued for a 100-foot sound perimeter to be maintained around the restaurants, but Carl literally asked "WHY?" Nobody could seem to answer this, so it goes into law for ALL restaurants, no conditions, BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

Carl was a really upbeat, terrific guy in person and amazed that I actually knew the details about the entertainment fee exemption - the Council didn't do it for the publicity, but because they really want to get live entertainment back into San Diego and make this a fun town again.

That's why Carl looks so happy! 
We're happy too! 
Thanks Carl! (Nice blue tie!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dr. Pepper Takes Over Varsity Strings

It rained for 24 hours solid here in San Diego. Today the sun is back out.
To celebrate, here's the greatest Dr. Pepper commercials of all time!!!

This one makes me feel like drinking a tanker truck full of Dr. Pepper.

(Make that 2 tanker trucks full of Dr. Pepper.)

And are you ready for this? Every single one of the happiest commercials EVER MADE:

Thank you Carol Kane, Godzilla,
David Naughton, and Dr. Pepper!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Snoopy is JOE COOL

Snoopy is Joe Cool. He has his own Beatnik jazz group -

When he isn't playing he just hangs out with his friend -

And he has his own theme song -

My dorm at UCSD is called... Beagle! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

BIG NEWS in San Diego!

The City Council of San Diego just removed the restaurant entertainment fee.

This means that restaurants or eating/drinking places that close by 11:00pm do NOT have to pay entertainment fees to the city anymore. Restaurants were paying the same price as bars and nightclubs - about $3900 per year to the police department, believe it or not, for a city permit to play music while people dined.

This means we can now play live music in ANY restaurant in San Diego. They don't have to fill out any forms or pay fees. They just pay us and everybody's happy!

This all happened when the entertainment fee was pointed out to be a ridiculous expense and killing most live music performances; the City Council listened and just did away with the fee. It's part of a greater effort by the council and especially council member Carl DeMaio (he's a great guy, check out his info below) to promote San Diego's job opportunities and eliminate red tape.

A second meeting is planned to officially approve the decision, then there will be a 30-day period before the permit exemption is enacted. It will undergo a 1 year trial period before it becomes permanent.

Councilmen involved (click to view) with this decision are:
Carl DeMaio


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Robert Plant and Roger Daltry Join Varsity Strings

Well, ALMOST. Turns out that Rob & Rog are devoting a lot of time to launching a new UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program. It's spooky how these guys are doing what Varsity Strings has been doing for years; playing music to support child and teenage hospital expenses.

It's nice to know you have Rock God confirmation that you're doing the right thing.

Daltrey announced "Every generation of rock musician will understand that we wouldn't be anywhere without the support of teenagers buying the records."

RIGHT ON, ROG! (Except they don't buy records anymore cause they don't make records anymore. And teenagers never bought the records, the parents' money did. And if teenagers really do make any cash working at Subway on the weekends they shouldn't be blowing it on records - they should be saving it for college or a new car. But we know what he means.)

At the press gathering were architect renderings of the planned UCLA Medical Center program; designed for teenagers, the rooms will have pool tables, easy chairs, a cafe, computer games and posters of Jimi Hendrix and our pals Led Zep.


After the announcement, Robert and Roger donated a blue Stratocaster to hang in the new center. As they joked in front of the crowd, Plant asked Daltrey, "Do you like guitarists?"

"I love 'em," Daltrey said.

"Me too," said Plant.

Well, if they want to join Varsity Strings, I'd have to ask Curly Max first, but I think they're in.

Strangely enough, here's Robert Plant's favorite song:

Thanks Rog and Rob!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew is a 2008 movie about the studio musicians who were behind most of the hit records produced in the 1950's, 60's and 70's. This is a historic and inspiring behind-the-scenes movie about the music business, and for strange reasons it will not be distributed in theaters or on DVD.

And a quick interview with the director:

Next California Showing:
December 10th 2011, 7:00pm 
@ PEPPERLAND - The Beatles Music Store!
850 North Tustin Street, at Hwy. 55 and 5
Orange CA USA
714 639-0909

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Melvis (Mormon Elvis) Visits at Halloween!

Melvis came to visit this Halloween. He's a member of the Church of the Latter Day Elvises. He takes two years off of his life to bike door to door with his guitar, singing songs to the people!

Here's to Melvis, Halloween candy, bicycles, and The Book of Elvis!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Butterfly Ball 2011

Sophia and I were invited to play at Fresh Start's huge Butterfly Ball.

It was SWANKY!!!!

It was FUN!!!

It was held right before Halloween at the Haunted Hotel Del Coronado...


Sophia is in fine voice -


Sophia got a lot of compliments -

And everybody liked my hat too -

This was a LOT of fun!

Thank you Baron Von Vordleck! Cheers!

As we gaze out over the sunset splashed Hotel Del, we thank Fresh Start Surgical Gifts for being here in San Diego and not Northern Minnesota...

Thanks again to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts!
And thank you Amanda!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Randy Disher Project

We'd like to invite Randy Disher to join Varsity Strings. Anybody know where this guy lives or if he has an agent?

Good luck RANDY! We love your work!!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Squeaky Wheel Tour 2011

My improvisation in the key of BLUEGRASS!

That's my new tie there, it's extra fancy, cost me 5 bucks -

The stage -

James Morris starts -

Jannel Rap tells us all about the Squeaky Wheel Tour.

Adam Turbiner from Ovation and Takamine Guitars explains his companies' support of the cause. Adam was really cool.

James Morris sings his new song, written especially for the tour:

Jannel sings a new song with her son, Elijah:

Kenny Eng was really good;

Thanks to Jannel Rap, James and Maria Morris, 
Adam Turbiner fron Ovation (mine played GREAT!)
and Takamine Guitars!

For more information about the Tour, click on:

Led Zep with Michael Winslow

Gotta Love This . . .

More Michael -

Crocodile Michael -

Now back to Varsity Strings!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Squeaky Wheel Practice

I was up pretty late last night because my roommate at UCSD was talking outside my door until 2:00am! Then he slept in until 12 noon the next day the LAZY SLUG! So I'm pretty beat. And I just did a math midterm the night before - but maybe that's what the blues is all about anyway.

Here's me improvising on an old classic...
Imagine this on an acoustic/electric Takamine, through a big amp,
with me dressed in my best Western duds and pick holsters...

See you at the Squeaky Wheel Tour, 2011!