5 Questions with Stew Cutler

1) For those not familiar tell us a bit about your career?

I am guitarist / recording artist living in New York.  I have 5 CDs out either on the Fountainbleu or Naim labels- the last recording, “After Hours”,  I released independently. I have played a lot Blues, Soul, Jazz and Gospel music with a wide variety of artists. I have been fortunate to have been able to work and travel as much as I have in my career.

2) What do you see coming up for the future of music?

As for what I see in the future in music- I guess Stew Cutler at Montreux Jazz Clubthere is already a bit of a divide between the “product” that gets churned out by the major record companies, some of which is great, but a lot is nonsense – and actual heartfelt music which will find its own audience. Kinda like fast food or factory farmed food, which gets pushed on us versus organic food which people want and have searched out to the point that organic and non GMO foods have become an industry on their own.

3) What role has music education played in your life?

As far as my own music education I am a self taught musician. I did have many people help me in an informal way, notably guitarist James Clark, but there have been many others. If you are following this path, keeping your mouth shut and ears open is a good rule to follow. It would be nice to see music education make a bit of a comeback in public schools.

4) Why are you using Mooer pedals?

The Mooer pedals are light weight and great sounding. They are especially great if you are traveling, as we all know air travel is becoming more difficult! But I use the pedals in the city too, On gigs on sessions etc, they are really nice sounding. (Ed note: Stew uses the Mooer Yellow Comp, Trelicopter, Ana Echo and Flex Boost)

5) What future projects do you have coming up?

I have a steady gig ay a place called Arthur’s stewcutler guitarTavern here in NYC. I want to record that band, maybe do a live disc, I also want to do a “family band” recording with my wife who sang on ‘So Many Streams” my third disc, my son who is very busy as a bass player in New York and plays on one song on “After Hours” and my daughter who sings and plays with a group called “Small Wonder”, as well as doing her own gigs under the name, “Yours are the Only Ears”.

Thanks for reading our interview with Stew. We really appreciate you checking out our site and your interest in Mooer pedals. This weekend use this code MOOERSC and get free shipping (US orders only) on your purchase of any Mooer pedal. Click below to start shopping.



Exclusive Interview with Mike Bendy

Mike Bendy Ultra Strap

1) Tell us about your musical background?
Since I heard Jimi Hendrix play the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at the age of 4, I knew music was IT for me. My brother John Bendy started playing guitar a year before me; when my father asked me what instrument I wanted to pursue, to not totally copy my brother, I chose the electric bass.

My first bass hero was Cliff Burton of Metallica and about a year later I was introduced to Mr. Les Claypool. Things changed when I was 13 and discovered Jaco Pastorius… I haven’t been the same since. Through Jaco, I was introduced and inspired by a multitude of music from Jazz to Caribbean and everything in between. Being influenced by so many different styles of music and musicians, I developed my own personal identity as a musician.

2) What are you working on now?
Currently, I am a part of a slew of ideas and projects. I am working with keyboardist and composer Sean Wayland as well as an up and coming heavy metal band, Resolution15, which replaces the guitar with a 7-string electric violin. Besides my steady gigs with the Bendy Effect, and the Felix Pastorius Group (Hipster Assassins), which feature musicians such as Felix Pastorius, Julius Pastorius, John Bendy, Chris Ward, Kenny Grohowski, Michael Purcell, Ian Rapien, Devin Collins and William Tatge among many others. In my spare time, I compose as much as I can and am inspired by my amazingly beautiful and creative wife, Kate Bendy.

3) What is the role of education in music?
I do not have any formal education in music besides for my band teacher, Paul Myrusky, who taught me how to read music and theory. My music education began with my brother and I bouncing ideas off each other and starting numerous bands in our teens. From there I made a musical pilgrimage down to Florida to visit the grave of Jaco Pastorius… While I was down there I located his house in Deerfield Beach… When I finally garnered up the courage I knocked on his front door and Felix answered. Felix, Julius and I met a year before at Bass Day 2000 up in NYC, so we immediately connected from where we left off. Then soon after that Ingrid Pastorius took me under her wing and had me move in with the family… While living there I had the blessing of studying Jaco’s hand written charts and began my lifelong relationship with Julius and Felix. The other huge part of my music education was going to see both the Wayne Krantz Trio and David Binney Group weekly at the 55 Bar in the west village!!! Those groups really changed how I see, hear and play music.

4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?
It’s show business… so there’s obviously gonna be a lot of bullshit surrounding the real meaning… creating and performing MUSIC. It used to bother me, now I know what is real and what is illusionary. You have to be true to yourself and as honest as possible when playing, all the other things should fall into place… EVENTUALLY 😉 Keep on improving and strive to be better every day.

5) Why do use Ultra Straps?
Ultra straps are extremely balanced and comfortable. Even with some of my heavier basses… everything is comfortable and easy on the back/shoulders. Why not use Ultra Straps??

Exclusive interview with Henry Black

Henry Black Pickboy endorseeWhat are you working on now?

School is over and I am enjoying a lazy summer. We just played a great House of Blues show and now I am busy writing more music.

Tell us about your musical background?

I started playing the guitar early but didn’t love playing until I was eleven.Something just hit and I it stayed with me.Its almost as if its an extension of me at this point. In the beginning I would pick one artist and immerse myself in their music. I lived and breathed in succession Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn , The Black Keys, John Lee Hooker and many more. A recent obsession is Freddie King. We are so lucky at this age to have access to artists that would have been impossible to find fifteen years ago.

What is the role of education in music?

I was truly disappointed in my musical instruction in Elementary school and in Florida that is where it ended. There was so much structure and little appreciation.I have be blessed with amazing guitar teachers and mentors. I am a better player and musician because of them.

How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?

The Current state of the music industry is so very sad. There are a handful of artists that saturate the airways and very little diversity on the radio .Live performances and ability to play and sing seem to be an afterthought .I have been told on multiple occasions that I could have a more marketable sound if I would just be like….seems everything is pigeonholed with little room for something new.

Why do use Pickboy Picks?

I use Pickboy because they are smaller than traditional picks and give me more control so I can attack the strings better.

Zak Loy Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you give a brief retrospective on your musical background?

Well, from my first live performance at 13 years old until today, it has been the ultimate roller coaster ride, really high highs and some lower lows. I got my first acoustic guitar when I was 8 years old in a boarder town in Mexico and I have never looked back. My cousins, brother and I grew up playing and writing music together. My brother is older and was the lead vocalist of our group which lasted over 10 years. During that time we worked and toured with a lot of different producers and musicians which is how I met Casey the lead singer for the group I’m in now, ALPHA REV. Casey originally asked me to just help him showcase some of his new songs at a SXSW music festival in Austin, it turned out to be the start of an 8 year relationship with Casey and ALPHA REV. But, I have had the opportunity to perform and record with a lot of very talented people of the years and for that I feel like a very blessed individual… Music is such a great inspiration to have in one’s life and I can’t imagine mine without it…

What do have going on presently in your musical journey?

I am currently making a new record with ALPHA REV. This will be Alpha Rev’s 2nd national release, which will be coming out later this year on our new record label which we recently signed to called “Kirtland Records.”

What is the role of education in music?

When I’m not making records or touring with Alpha Rev I teach guitar and have done so off and on for the past 6 years. I really enjoy it and there is nothing more gratifying then sharing your own love and knowledge of music with another person and then to see them use it and take off on their own musical journey. So I am huge supporter of musical education and I think everyone should at least give it a try and see where it fits into your own life…

What do think of the current “State of Music”?

Sounds, music and the music business is and always has been ever changing. I’ve seen major changes just in my career. But I honestly am very excited about the current “State of Music,” it seems to that more so now than ever artists are seeking and not afraid to try new sounds, instruments and stray away from the mold of how songs have been structured for so many years. I also feel like all the major music fans are ready and excited about feeling new music and hearing new sounds… So I cant wait to hear what comes out in the next few years and I know we can’t wait to get out new music out for our fans to hear…

Why do you use Pickboy picks?

I use PICKBOY because like no other picks they last longer and they don’t take away from the natural sound of your instrument they only complement it. If you haven’t tried them you need to and you will never go back… Thanx a lot Pickboy, you have made my life that much easier.

Editors Note:

You can buy Alpha Rev’s CD, “The Great Thing I’ve Ever Learned” at iTunesa.

This is a full concert stripped down set Alpha Rev did at Saxon Pub in Austin in Feb 2012.

Reggie Washington Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you give a brief retrospective on your musical background?

My parents were avid music fans and gave us the opportunity to learn an instrument; my brother Kenny (drums), my sister Yvette (violin/viola) and me (cello/bass). My father had a huge record collection and played music every day before and after work. I excelled in my private studies and got scholarships to study with highly regarded cellists and bassists from the American Symphony and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. When I switched to bass (age 12), I studied with Paul West (jazz) and Victor Venegas (Latin/Afro-Cuban). At this time a young Marcus Miller was coming to my house to learn about jazz from my brother. I became a “sponge” listening and learning all genre of music.

When I got in my 20’s I started playing out on the streets of New York during the day with a band called “Moment’s Notice” and hitting the jazz club jam sessions and after-hour bars to get my gig and road chops together. I wanted to learn and play all the tunes in the Real Book! Saxophonist John Purcell recommended me to drum legend Chico Hamilton’s band in 1982.

From that start I’ve performed/recorded/toured with Lester Bowie’s Mini-Fantasia, Kenny Kirkland, Mike Mainieri & Steps Ahead, Steve Coleman & 5 Elements, Branford Marsalis & Buckshot LeFonque, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Don Byron, News from the Jungle, Screaming Headless Torsos, Meshell Ndegeocello, World Saxophone Quartet, Cassandra Wilson, Ute Lemper, B-52s, Chris Joris & Bob Stewart to name a few.

What do you have going on presently in your musical journey?

My 2nd CD entitled FREEDOM on JammincolorS Label! I’m very excited about it! I’m hoping this CD will present listeners with a complete idea of me and some of the things I’m about.

I’ve noticed over the years that in today’s music business it’s getting more and more difficult to express yourself and be true to yourself and your art. This is where the title came in. It was my “FREEDOM” to play with whom I want, play the music I want to play and be happy doing it as well as creating a strong CD!

Check out our website www.jamminocolors.com for more info, future concerts, tours and workshops!

What is the role of education in music?

Education is super important.

It just depends on who’s the “giver” of the information. The way I was educated is almost non-existent now. Those nurturing places (jam sessions, weekly workshops, older musicians, etc.) are now gone or are so expensive a lot of talented kids just can’t afford it. Gigs are so scarce that older established musicians don’t want to give info to the younger cats because some of them don’t seem to care about the heritage/history of the music and are only thinking about making some dollars!

What do think of the current “State of Music”?

It’s harder than ever to do what we do. I won’t point fingers; but we need to all get on the same page (promoters, club owners, managers, artists and the music media) to save and revive the art! In the immortal words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?” Or else we’re headed towards “virtual concerts” & “hologram acts” on our stages!! That will indicate the beginning of the end! I personally won’t let that happen as long as I can breathe and have the Most High’s gift of music in my heart and soul! I just WON’T groove w/a hologram!!

Why do you use R. Cocco Strings?

It was always a great fit for me, my bass and the music I was doing when I was with Richard Sr. back in 1995. Nothing much has changed. I still desire top quality, craftsmanship, superior tone and durability. R.Cocco strings fits the bill for me… again!

Editors Note:

Reggie’s second CD, “Freedom“, can be found at Jammin’colorS.

And here is a new Youtube video about Reggie’s new release:

Jeff Allen Interview

Artist Spotlight

Tell us about your musical background?

Well going all the way back I played clarinet back in the 2nd grade and learned to read pretty early on. By 7th grade I discovered the group Kiss and then started playing electric bass at the urging of my friend the great rock-n-roll drummer John Webber. We never put on the make-up but I started learning those riffs along with songs by Van Halen and Black Sabbath. That snowballed into playing upright bass and eventually got into and graduated from Julliard. Now here I am, a season Pro some might say!

What’s going on for you now?

Right now I’m on tour with a German violinist David Garrett who does a classical/rock crossover thing. I’m thrilled to be working. We’ve been in Scandinavia, London, Paris and now here in Italy. Back in New York I’m subbing on Broadway and doing a fair amount of TV and commercial session work. I’m just doing all the things a musician has to do to make a living these days.

Where do you see the future of music going?

It’s a very exiting time. More artists have control of their own destinies. You have to do more administrative work. It’s less about somebody else doing it for you. You have to be willing to work harder and travel. I’m not a naysayer. I don’t believe in the doom and gloom. Just because the record companies are crumbling doesn’t make it bad for music. It’s quite the opposite. How you get your music to the people is the trick, whether in the corporate environment on not. That’s still the thing!

What role did music education have on your career?

Well, in a nutshell it helps to know what you’re doing and sometimes it helps not to know. It helps if you can read and play in different styles. If you play different styes you makes yourself more valuable in different ways. Obviously you can make more money. It’s good to know when to step up and when to stay in the background. Having an education has been helpful. Sometimes you have to forget about you ear training class at Julliard. If you are channeling the energy of an 18 year old guy playing in his garage you leave that at the door.

Why do you like R.Cocco bass strings?

I love to use R.Cocco strings. They last forever. I use them on my many different basses. Those instruments sound like they are supposed to sound. With R.Cocco strings I get the sound that’s in my head. That’s helpful.

Hermann Utz Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of your musical background (gigs, tours and recording projects etc)?

My name is Hermann Utz and I am the guitarist of the German alternative rock band Stereostoned. In the past I´ve done a lot of different styles of music… blues, prog rock, metal, crossover, funk and some jazzy stuff. I started playing guitar at the age of 17 (I started on drums when I was 12 years old) and my teachers were the records I loved at this time like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, RHCP, Hendrix…….. I have done live and studio work for the last 15 years. I own a small record studio where I record bands and work on my own stuff. My work also include guitar teaching, performing and recording I am endorsed by Pickboy, Spectraflex, Pyramid Strings and SPL.

What do you have going on now?

Our CD “Stay Sexy” was released on 27 January 2012. At the moment I am doing a lot of promo work for the album. We are also planning our gigs/tour for Summer 2012. I also work with different bands in my studio, teaching, write songs for the next Stereostoned album and doing pre-production for my solo album.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?

I think it’s difficult to be a musician today. It has never been easier to promote your music all over the world via internet but it has been never been harder to sell CD´s because of the internet download thing. I mean nobody can change this and you have to see the chance in this situation. I think the good thing about that is that bands have to be real good live bands; that´s the only way to survive as a musician or band. You must be a real band and know how to perform.

What role did music education have on your career?

Technical/theoretical knowledge is the foundation for a lot of things. It´s the speech of musicians and it makes it much easier to work with different kinds of musicians. But the most important aspect of making music is your attitude and your talent. After you learned a lot about technical things….forget all you know and try to feel music ;—) That´s what it´s all about. The sound was much earlier than the note ;—)

Why do you like Pickboy picks?

I spent a lot of time checking out equipment like guitars, amps, speakers, cables……but picks were only picks for me for a long time. Until I had the chance to play with Pickboy picks. I tried a lot of them and they are all pretty cool. But when I found the Polycarbonate Pos A Grip 1.00mm. Wow !!! These picks were the missing link between my fingers and the strings. The shape is perfect, the grip is awesome on stage and the sound is great. Since I found them, Pickboy Pos A Grip 1.00mm are the only picks I play live or in the studio.

Vashon Johnson Interview

Artist Spotlight

For those of us not hip to the Vashon Johnson Experience please give us a brief overview of your musical history?
I am a multi-faceted musician and bass player. I have had the fortune of having a wide variety of musical experiences, from Black American Music Legends, to Broadway, to Pop and R&B, to Big Stage Artists such as Miley Cyrus. I’m Happy to say that I have a very “versatile” resume and have had a very broad musical career.

What projects are coming up for you in the future?
I am currently writing and working on a solo/collaborative effort with Lenny White and others.

What do you think of the of state of the music industry?
Speaking predominantly a sideman, I can say that there is not as much work as there used to be. There are also a lot more really good players out there now. I’ve had the fortune of developing good relationships with some of my predecessors and mentors and we have these conversations from time to time. They share the same sentiment. I think technology is also a factor – a lot of “todays” music doesn’t even require musicians and it seems that a lot of times we as musicians are dealing with people who are not musicians and are therefore less inclined to think musically when it comes to live music and the well being and prosperity of musicians.

How important is music education?
Music education is very important. I think it’s important to continue to educate and inspire generations to learn how to play instruments and be musicians. As I said earlier, technology has had a dramatic impact on the music industry, all the way down to sidemen who are no longer needed for session work. I think education is a good way to keep music alive so that musicians can continue to be inspired and not only create music, but also be able to play music.

Why do use R. Cocco strings?
R. Cocco strings let my Bass be itself and me be me. They feel like a natural extension of my bass. With so many factors involved in achieving my sound (amps, speakers, etc.), I’ve found R. Cocco Strings to be “honest” and make for one less obstacle when striving to create music with my bass.

Cris Tian Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of your musical background (gigs, tours and recording projects etc)?

I’ve been into music since a young age. I learned accordion and keys at the age of six. But since playing keys in my first cover-band at 14, I wanted to play another instrument, so I switched to guitar. Since the first day of playing guitar I felt that I found the perfect instrument for myself.

What do you have going on now?

At the moment I am on tour with the Austrian band “Serenity.” Visions of Atlantis is preparing the next record now, so there is a lot of song writing action at the moment. Above that I am going to open my own music school called “Learn to Rock” in Germany.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?

That’s a not an easy question. I hope that there will be more rock again, especially in Germany. At the moment, all we just have is this Hip Hop, Pop and Dance s**t. The Rock, Punk and Metal music is missing completely. So let’s hope for a return to Rock. When I look at my students I really get the feeling that it will come back – most of them want to play rock, so it has to be this way!

What role did music education have on your career?

I haven’t studied at a real music university or school. I learned a lot from private teachers, from very good musicians and from playing music on my own. You have to feel it and you have to go into the music you really like, then I think you are on the right way for getting educated. And that’s also something I try to teach my students. Learn and play what you really want to play, step by step and try to feel it, then you are into music better than getting taught only theory. I think theory is very important but sometimes it stops us from feeling the music because you play more with your mind than with your heart.

Why do you like Pickboy picks?

Since I started to play guitar I tried to find a pick that supports my style of playing, that creates the tone and the attack that I want to have in my playing. So one day I tried PICKBOY and I fell in love – completely!. Great feeling, great attack – everything that I want in a pick!

Al Turner Interview

hand-made, hand-selected music products

Artist Spotlight

Can you tell us a few highlights from your career?
I am currently Music Director and bassist for KEM. In addition I tour and record with Earl Klugh and Bob James. I have also recorded with, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, KEM, Oleta Adams, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle and Nancy Wilson just to name a few. I’ve toured the world over, performed at the White House twice and recorded two solo records.

What do think of the state of music today?
I feel really good about the state of music. Technology has allowed us to make music in a different way. Real musicians are still the key for me. Great songs are being recorded daily, which always stand the test of time.

What do you think the role of music education is?
I love the fact that there are young musicians around the world pursuing music as a career. Music Education is very important and we need more of it in the public school systems.

What’s coming up in the future for you?
I have a new record coming out and I am very excited about that. In addition, I am writing and producing for other artist. Tours to follow in 2012.

Why do you use R Cocco strings?
R. Cocco strings are simply Great!!! They sound wonderful in the studio or live and last a very long time. I love them!