Thursday, November 9, 2017

I will taking another break from blogging in December . . .

Well . . . I just got the word.  I'm getting not one, but two new knees for Christmas.  

It's time.  The latest x-rays confirmed the right knee is now as bad as the left knee.  Too many years of dealing with old sports injuries, arthritis, and just plain being too tall and too big.  Bone on bone.  The pain is getting worse.  I can't run, and my knees affect my sleep.  I've lost my balance a few times. Too many people, who watch me walk, have started asking me if I am OK or if they can help me to a chair.  I've began using a cane a few weeks ago.  So far, every place I have left it has called me to let me know to come get it.

And . . . it's become painful to carry my guitar and equipment into the venues where I sing.

The truth is, I can't walk a straight line sober . . . let alone in any other condition.  All because of my painful wobbly knees.

So, in the middle of December, I will enter the hospital and have the left knee replaced, and the right  knee replaced a couple of days later.

Prayers appreciated!  The healing and rehab time will be about 3 months.  I'm grateful for my regular gig venues understanding my need to do this.  I'm also grateful for my family, and their encouragement to get this done, even if it is during the holidays.  The church will be taken care of on an interim basis by a retired pastor.

I will post a few more times before the big day, then probably not at all through the rest of December and part of January.  My focus nee\ds to be on healing, rehab, and then engaging life once again with a lot more enthusiasm, energy, and physical ability!

It's all going to work out

God's graces still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to set up a small space for singing . . .

Here is another photo of how the room and space were set up for my recent performance for the Golden Eagles Senior Adult Fellowship.

Thanks to Donna Barton for taking the pictures!

God's grace, and my getting to sing, still amaze me . . . ><>

Saturday, November 4, 2017

This is a good crowd . . .

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoor
I posted this picture as a way of sharing the size of the "audience" I usually sing to.

I think there were about 12 -15 people in attendance.  Because of bad knees, I try to sing on a stool or raised up chair of some sort.  The smaller the audience, the closer you can get.  The closer you get, the less important it is to use a sound sytem, PA or amp.

The guitar I am playing is my Guild F-512 12-string.  The guitar in the stand is my every faithful Martin J-40.  Both are genuinely loud guitars, which means they can be played softly as well, or really dug into as needed.

This is the audience size I am most comfortable with, although I have sung for several hundred people while standing on a stage with amp and PA.  The therapeutic nature of what I do "works" best with a smaller group.  It's a time of "singing together" rather than a performance.  However, my guitar playing and singing both need to be at a contant performance standard from start to finish.

Thank you Donna Barton, for taking and sending me the pictures!

God's grace, and people who want to hear me sing, still amaze me . . . ><>

Friday, November 3, 2017

Thank you Golden Eagles of Crowley FUMC . . ..

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

I'm not sure what word or sound I was making, or what song I was singing . . . but I had the wonderful privilege to perform for the Golden Eagles Senior Adult Fellowship on Thursday, November 22nd.  Once a year I provide "Pastor Rick's Musical Review!"  I personally had a blast.

I will be performing for the residents at our Crowley Nursing Home on Thursday, November 16th.  On Friday, November 17th, I will be the entertainment for the Annual Thanksgiving Lunch at the Crowley Senior Center.

I will be out-of-pocket the middle of December through March recovering from long-overdo surgery on both knees.  Hope to be back singing regularly by April.  Looking forward to as well to adding a couple of new venues where I hope to be performing once-a-month.  More to come.

God's grace, and funny faces, still amaze me . . . ><>

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Goodbye Tom Petty . . ..

It was confirmed last night that Tom Petty died after being found in his home unresponsive and in full cardiac arrest.  Tom and the Heartbreakers has just finished up their 40th anniversary tour.  Tom was planning to spend more time at home with his new grandchild. 

Everyday is precious.  Live each day as if it is your last.

RIP Tom.  Thank you for the music!

God's grace, and cherished memories of people that made great music, still amaze me . . . ><>

Monday, October 2, 2017

The mystique of Martin Guitars

I have two Taylor guitars, both BTO's.  I have two Guild jumbo's (a six and a12 string).  All of these are just the best guitars in all the world.  Outstanding instruments.  Others who are betters players than I have played them, and I sit in awe of the music this instruments produce.

Desite all this . . . I gravitate to my Martin guitars.

Enjoy this video from a few years back.

If you have a favorite guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace, and a fine guitar, amaze me greatly . . .  ><>

Friday, September 29, 2017

Singer-Songwriter David Wilcox Plays His 1996 Olson SJ

David Wilcox is a master song-writer and storyteller.  Although he mainly tours with his signature Rainsong Jumbo guitar, he has a long-time love and appreciation for guitars made by James Olson.   This is a great story.

David's website is

If you have a favorite guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace, and great stories, still amaze me . . . ><>

Tommy Emmanuel Talks Maton Guitars with Tony Polecastro

Tony Polecastro is one of the internet's best guitar teachers.  Several years ago he did this interview with Tommy Emmanuel about his Maton Guitars, which are Tommy's long-time favorite concert guitars.  Maybe there is something to say about loyalty to a brand?

Tony is not with the Acoustic Letter anymore, but there are tons of videos on their sites with various acoustic guitar comparisons and run downs.

Tommy's webpage is

Tony's webpage is

If you have a favorite guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace and my favorite guitar (Martin J-40) still amaze me . . . .,.><>

Monday, September 18, 2017

Would you life to share share about your favorite musical instrument?

What is your favorite guitar or other musical instrument?  Please let me know.  I'd like to interview you about your relationship with your favorite instrument.

I am interested in talking with, and getting to know, everyday people who make music.  That's the kind of person I am.  I'm an everyday kind of guy, and I love to sing and play guitar for everyday people. 

Although I have too many guitars, several ukes, a couple of old banjo's, a bunch of harmonicas and several Native American flutes, I am interested in stories about other instruments as well.  I have it in my mind that this blog will probably feature more stories about guitars and singer-songwriters.  However, I am open to stories about people and their love for other instruments.  So, if you play the accordion, piano, pennywhistle, drums . . . or can crack your knuckles in time to music . . . I want to hear your story.

All inquiries from interested, or from the curious as well, can be sent to

God's grace, any my musical instruments, still amaze me ><>

Friday, September 15, 2017

Jason Mraz - Rocket Man

I was driving back from a hospital call when I heard Jason Mraz's singing Elton John's Rocket Man."   Traffic was heavy so I couldn't make a paper and pen note to add this video to my blog.  I had my digital recorder  . . . but didn't need it.  I haven't gotten this song out of my head (size 8 by-the-way) all afternoon.


CLICK HERE to go to Jason's website.

If you have a favorite guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace, and great remakes of long time classics, always amaze me!  ><>

Ed Sheeran - Castle On The Hill

I believe that Ed Sheeran has definitely established himself as one of our new and upcoming singer-songwriters.  Gifted is too restrained of a world to define his talent. I enjoy listening to him sing and play.  His passion for what he does is evident.

Ed has a long relationship with Martin Guitar, and has designed several Martin travel guitars.  All of the proceeds for these guitars (Eds share) have gone to a hospital charity in England which Ed has supported for some time.

For more info on Ed's signature Martin guitar (3rd edition) CLICK HERE.

I enjoy listening to his song, Castle on the Hill, when I hear it on the Coffee House channel on Sirius XM radio.


BTW . . . CLICK HERE to go to Ed's internet homepage.

If you have a favorite guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace, and passion for music, still amazes me greatly!

Rachelle Plas - HOHNER Masters of the Harmonica

Why don't we venture over and talk about harmonica players.  I have a bunch of harmonicas.  I was given an entire collection by a friend.  They belonged to her father and she wanted to give them to someone who would appreciate them as much as her dad did.  She knew that I played harmonica "behind closed doors / solo that no one could hear me" every now and then.  I have a couple Golden Melodies.  In the collection were about a half-dozen unused harps.  I was a happy man that day.  Still am.

I enjoy playing harmonica, but I enjoy singing more.  I have tried the Bob Dylan / Neil Young thing of trying to play guitar and play the harmonica at the same time.  No success so far.  Truth be told, I can't even walk a straight line sober anymore.  I do love to hear the harmonica being played, especially southern style blues/rock.

Rachelle Pass is one of my favorite harmonica players.  Her energy on stage high-octaine.  In this video, she shares about her favorite instrument, the harmonica.

If you have a favorite harmonica, guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace, and favorite musical instruments, amaze me greatly!  ><>

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Glen Hansard talks about his well-worn Takamine Guitar

There is little doubt that the most famous guitar in the world, or at least the most famous Martin guitar, is Willie Nelson's guitar, "Trigger."

Another famous guitar is Glen Hansard's Takamine guitar, which he has played so much, on a daily basis, that it is even more worn than "Trigger" is.

The relationships certain performers form with their favorite instruments is truly fascinating to me.

Please enjoy the video!

BTW - CLICK HERE to go to Glens website!

If you have a favorite guitar, uke, bass, flute, trumpet, violin or any other instrument, and would love to share you story, then please contact me by email at

God's grace, and favorite insturments, amaze me greatly! ><>

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Enjoying Satellite Radio . . .

One of the benefits of driving a somewhat newer pickup truck, in my humble opinion, is the Satellite Radio feature.  For some time I've been enjoying the Coffe House channel on Sirius Radio (Channel 14). 

The Coffee House Channel features acoustic artists in a solo settings, and often features them putting their musical spin on classic hits from the past.

Since I am and olf folkie and acoustic rocker at heart, one can understand how I enjoy listening to the Coffee House Channel.  The quality of music is wonderful, and I've learned a thing or two to try when I sing and play for area senior adults.

Give this channel a try.

God's grace, and new singer songwriters, continue to amaze me ... ><>

Friday, September 8, 2017

Vince Gill's Guitar Collection

I'd like to share a YouTube video of Vince Gill talking about his guitar collection.   Vince has more than earned his share of fame and fortune.  He does communicate well his love for guirars, and that his motivation for collecting them is not driven by making money off of them.  A refreshing perspecctive.

I can only imagine what it was like to loose 100-150 guitars in the great Nashville flood several years back.  He puts that into perspective as well.

God's grace, and the love people have for their musical instruments, still amazes me . . . ><>

Martin J-40 Acoustic

I have written before about my fondness for Martin Guitars.  I have two Taylor's and I also have two Guild Jumbo's.  But the two guitars I play most often are my Martin J-40 and a D-18 Retro.

When I perform at nursing homes and rehab centers, I am often performing in the community cafeteria or dining room.  Most often, I do not have access to a sound system.  So I do what I do best . . . I project.  I'm a big guy and I have big lungs.  I'm a preacher for crying out loud.  If anyone knows how to project . . . it's a preacher, right!

I needed a gutiar with volume and tone to match.  My Guild Jumbo's do just fine, but they were not giving me the Martin sound that always brings a smile to my face and a joy to my ear and heart.  I knew one day, I would see if acquiring a J-40 would work out.

I've only played two J-40's before coming to own the one I have.  The first was a J-40 owned by a guitar playing friend, Floyd Marshall.  I had never seen or heard of a Martin J-40 before.  After playing Floyd's J-40 during an afternoon jam session at Floyd's house, I befan to wonder why guitar stores didn't often stock them.

The other J-40 in my life was the one owned and played by my late adopted big brother, Joe Laughlin.   He played mostly fingerstyle, and enjoyed playing Travis style on his J-40.  In the picture of Joe (in the right column of this blog page) you will see that he is playing his J-40.  It is probably well over 20+ years old.  When in tune and with good strings, I remember that it sounded magnificent.  I played it last before I packed it up for Joe's wife, Riva, after Joe died.  I haven't seen or played it since.  I think there has been something missing in my life as a result.

It's my dream to acquire Joe's J-40 some day.  Perhaps that time is not far off.  Perhaps it will never happen.  Who's to know?  But I know it would mean the world to me to play something Joe created some wonderful music with.

Martin calls the J-40 a jumbo dreadnaught, but it's not as big as my Guild Jumbo's.  It is very close in size to my Taylor GS.  It's actually a 0000 Martin scale body design.  Mine is naturally loud, but it's also very clear tonally.  The highs, mids and low are very balanced and clear.  I use medium guage phosphor-bronze strings (Martin Lifespan SP's) and Dunlop nylon picks (.73mm).

I love the boominess and bass drive of my Martin D-18. It's a absolutely great guitar.  But all in all, it's my humble opinion that the Martin J-40 is the best all-around guitar that Martin manufactures.  You will notice I am holding and playing my J-40 in the picture at the top of this blog page.  Some will not like a J-40 due to its size. It's not a small guitar.  But for the singer-songwriter in a solo situation, I think it's a guitar that can't be beat.

What is your favorite guitar or other instrument?  Please let me know.  I'd like to interview you about your relationship with your favorite instrument.

CLICK HERE to check out the J-40 on the Martin Guitar website.

God's grace, any my guitars, still amaze me ><>


Willie Nelson and His Famous Guitar: The Tale of Trigger

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Yeah, I'm back . . . and it's time for the music to begin again!

For the past 5 years, I've been dealing with thyroid cancer, moving to a new church as pastor, the death of my "big brother" Joe Laughlin, and the recent death of my mother, Ann Hudson.

Oh . . . and my new grandson, Brazos, was born this past March!

During this time, I pretty much lost the desire to write, and moreso, I lost my purpose of why I write.  I've been very busy . . . and my focus was honestly on other things.

Last week, I receieve the "all clear" from my oncologist following my 5th annual thyroid cancer scan.  I'm done.  It's over.   I will miss the staff at my oncologist's office very much.  There last words to me were . . . "go live again!"

During these past 5 years, I've been more mentally and emotionally focused on having cancer than I was aware of.  It had an effect on me.  I wasn't singing as much, and I haven't written much about what I love most . . . sharing about people and their relationships with their musical instruments.

Well, I'm back . . . and so is Rick's Song Bag.  One of my daughters is helping me set things back up, which will include another possible name change and for sure a move from Blogger to WordPress.

I will keep everyone informed.

For now . . . if you have a suggestion about a blog article featuring some individual, known or unknown, who enjoys playing their favorite musical instruments, then please forward that info to me at

Oh, the email address will probably change as well.

Back to the music!   This feels so good and so right.

Back to the music!