Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guitar Workshop: Rick Cunha

Last week, our Guitar Workshop series focused on the Mason Williams composition “Classical Gas.” There were a number of artists associated with some of his albums, as well as his road tour. One of them has had their own composition made more-or-less famous by The Smothers Brothers, when Tommy's not-so-secret passion is featured. Unfortunately, those two clowns can't stop flapping their gums long enough to actually do the whole song. The first clip is an example of such gum-flapping. Just a basis for comparison; please bear with them.

“(I’m A) Yo-Yo Man” was released in 1974 on the GRC label by folksinger-songwriter Rick Cunha, co-written with Marty Cooper. There were two versions of it, the better-known of which was played on middle-of-the-road AM stations that same year, which is how Yours Truly first heard of it. An earlier and lesser-known version of the same tune was featured on the 1971 Mason Williams album "Sharepickers." The GRC recording is featured in the second clip.

Cunha went on to record several other albums, but other than looking on eBay for old copies, little is written of him. He had another tune entitled “Poor Little Robin” which was also featured on the "Sharepickers" album. Whenever I hear it, I am reminded of being back home in Ohio as a boy, on a lazy summer afternoon. I'm lying in my room, or playing in the back yard. Or something. Don't ask me why.

This last tune is a good exercise for intermediate-to-advanced players who want to work their way up and down the neck. As a kid in college, I got about halfway through the intro before giving up.

But I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now.

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