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7 September 2013

Right in the Altoids!

Here are a few more snaps from my recent holiday to Lake Tahoe. The theme for this post is "Music"...

Big pants or small ukulele?

I floated the idea of  taking a ukulele away on holiday with me. Mrs Uke instantly shot me down. This is the picture I posted at the time as I pondered ways of sneaking one along without her noticing. All was not lost! Perhaps this would be an ideal opportunity for me to buy a new ukulele once I got to America! Of course, I never mentioned this idea to Mrs Uke ;-)

My dream acquisition would have been some sort of vintage plastic American uke like a Maccaferri, but I vowed to keep an open mind on my travels ;-) Unfortunately, in the end there were no ukuleles to be had. I  think I only saw one the whole time I was in America... A Lanikai, in a hock shop in Carson City. I checked CraigsList and everything else I could think of and nothing! What on earth is wrong with you America? Perhaps I should have done my homework before setting off?

The Fabulous Johnny Cash at the Radio City Music Hall

I couldn't resist a snap of this poster I saw in a sweet shop in South Lake Tahoe. I've had a couple of remarks that my recent cowboy music is reminding people of Johnny Cash. That's no bad thing, though I can't pretend that I'm doing it on purpose; I'm not as talented as Johnny Cash was ;-)

I have a guilty little secret! Yep! I love the Hard Rock cafe! I've been to 4 or 5 or 6 at various times in various parts of the world. Once I realised that there was one in South Lake Tahoe... that was it, I had to go! There were a number of photos that I would have loved to have got while I was in there (one notable one being of Bruce Foxton's bass) but I couldn't have done it without leaning over people while they were having their meals. The one picture I was safe to get was of Rick Nelson's acoustic Fender... It was hung right next to my table!

I would like to say that that I whipped Rick's guitar off the wall and knocked out a few cowboys tunes to much whooping and hollering, but of course, that would have resulted in a night in the cells. I'm badass, but not that badass ;-) Maybe next time.

A couple of pictures in this post are from the Baldwin Museum near Camp Richardson. This area is being cultivated as a reminder of the wealthy visitors that used to frequent the Lake in the early 1900s. They built what could almost be described as tiny little villages to house their armies of staff. It must have been something to enjoy the splendour of the Lake in the comfort they were accustomed to. Lucky blighters!

Here's a photo of a piano. The reason I took it was for the sheet music. See the song... "It is Spring at Lake Tahoe" by Mabel Hobson Betz... and there is a page entitled "The Legend of Lake Tahoe". I reckon I'm going to try and track down a copy of this to stick on the wall. If you've got one... you know what to do! Either that or I'll Photoshop up my own version ;-)

Update: I did start photoshopping a cover which you can see below. Then I found a copy online and I've only gone and bought it! Ha ha! I'm unstoppable me!

I saw this sign whilst I was on my way to the Pope Estate. YES! Unfortunately the banjo builder wasn't there the day I was. DAMN! This would have been right up my street. I didn't even get to see any banjos. BOO! I don't even know who the banjo builder is. If you have any details then please drop me a line.

This might seem like an odd picture to stick in a music-themed blog post, but hold your horses... it will all make sense soon... promise!

Good friend Daniel Hulbert is famous for lots of things, but one thing in particular is a ukulele he built incorporating an Altoids tin. He shared his plans and a number of you out there have built your own versions. Check out Daniel's recent addition to his blog where he's started to share "fan" videos.

Whilst I was on my travels, I spotted an Altoids tin and bought one thinking that I might have a go at making an Altoids uke myself. Chuffed to bits with my impulse acquisition, I posted the above picture on Google+ only to discover that Altoids are sold in the UK too. It's worse than that... They're actually made here! Ha ha... What a numpty! In my defense, they seem to be made and marketed mainly for export, but, yes, I am a fool! :-D

Don't be surprised if I start talking about my new Altoids project some time in the future. Here's what it might end up looking like...

Virginia City was one of the highlights of this holiday for me. I enjoyed visiting the sleepy little town so much that I did it twice! You might remember that it was one of the locations I sang about in a song I wrote earlier this year with Pancho called "Outlaw". It wasn't an accident that I mentioned it... I've been to Virginia City before... 16 years ago... and I loved it that time too! ;-) There are a lot more shops in Virginia City today compared to 16 years ago, but it's still special.

The picture above is a quick snap I took as I was pottering about up and down the main high street. It's a bit blurred, but you can make out that it's a picture of a 3 string electric cigar box guitar. That's nice, but what makes the picture for me is the cowboy hat. Do you think the two are a set?

The Hard Rock Cafe in South Lake Tahoe is situated inside the Harveys Casino. You have to wind your way through the gaming room to get to it. Just outside the Hard Rock there is a wall of casino memorabilia. This particular exhibit caught my eye. It's Elvis Presley's Karate top! Hiyah! Fantastic!

"Elvis Presley is the musician most responsible for popularizing Rock & Roll on an international level. He also became quite proficient in Martial Arts earning the 8th degree Black Belt. This Karate Gi was worn by the King of Rock n'Roll."

In other news, I just happened to spot this meme flow through my stream whilst on holiday. Brilliant!

I picked through all manner of books and magazines whilst in Lake Tahoe. This picture comes from one of those. It's of "The Sierra Go As You Please Musical & Comedy Company", a group that plied their trade some time ago in the area. I don't know who they are, but I think the picture has a certain charm to it. What do you reckon... is that a young Nick Cave second from left at the back? He seems a little distracted. I wonder what he's looking at?

Here are a couple of shots of a nice-looking mandolin. It's in far better nick than the one that was given to me last year. I'm no expert in mandolins, but looking at the inlay and tailpiece, I think that this might well be a Weymann Bowlback Mandolin, probably made in the 1920s.

Here's a sign of how poor the ukulele action was in America. I'm only taking pictures of One Direction Jewellery Holders in Walmart! How sad is that! Yep... exactly! They look a little bit like ukuleles... don't you think?

As an antidote to One Direction, I'm going leave you with a short tune that I recorded some time ago. In a post-holiday depression, I dusted it off and added a few snippets of an interview with Morrissey in the 1980s. Miserable... me... nevah!

And that's it for today's thrilling installment. Shout if you want more...


  1. Do you realize that your G-string is showing in the first photo ?-)

  2. I had just posted this on my Facebook page about BWJ and a cigar box guitar and then see your photo of a cigar box guitar -
    " Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1897 near Brenham, Texas (before the discovery of his death certificate, Temple, Texas had been suggested as his birthplace). When he was five, he told his father he wanted to be a preacher, and then made himself a cigar box guitar. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried soon after her death.Johnson was not born blind, and, although it is not known how he lost his sight, Angeline Johnson provided this account to Samuel Charters: She said when Willie was seven his father beat his stepmother after catching her going out with another man. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it, not at Willie's father, but into the face of young Willie".

  3. I've been checking out the musicians from the latest R Crumb book that I'm reading,
    "R Crumb's Heroes of Blues,jazz and Country".
    Blind Willie Johnson.

  4. It's also a bit of a sync is that in the book I'm reading "Earth Mother Dreaming" Scott keeps recommending cinnamon smelling incense to burn while meditating and I've never heard of this particular incense before.Then I find some being sold on line from Abracadabra in Bangalow where I bought some incense from last time I was down there,and I kept wondering if I should buy some and then I see your Altoids can (cinnamon flavour) so I guess I'll have to buy some cinnamon incense now ?

  5. There's more than my g-string showing in that first photo Daz ;-)

    Hopefully I'll be able to spin your CBG sync out a little further... I'm warming myself up to starting my very own CBG build. The problem is that my eyes are bigger than my belly; I have too many projects I would like to start and I won't be starting any of them unless I can see me finding the time to finish them!

    Did you know that only one photo exists of Blind Willie Johnson?

    I did get some comments about the cinnamon flavour of the Altoids. Apparently it's the best flavour. That can only mean that there are other flavours. The only time that I can ever recall eating cinnamon would be in pastries in America - it's not a flavour I eat much. I haven't tried the mints yet. I hope they don't send me into a meditative stupour ;-)

  6. Loved this post - gosh your holiday was musical!

  7. Thanks for the comment Zenobia. I keep an eye out for this sort of stuff ;-) We packed so much into this holiday that I think I'll be riding on a high for sometime to come. Mrs Uke is busy planning next year's. My vote is for Norway!