Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jan Seiden & the Rhythm Grooves: Live performance clips from Steel City Coffee House show

Click here for the YouTube playlist.

This past fall, I had the opportunity to perform with NAMMY-nominated ethnic flutist, Jan Seiden in an ambitious project melding various flute from around the world with guitar and a wide array of percussion instruments. We only had 3 practices to get the material together. I chipped-in a few of my originals, but most of the compositions were Jan's.

Backing us up on percussion were Nelson Rios (Santana, Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine) and Butch Armstrong (the Stylistics). The clips were filmed at Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville, PA. 

You can check out Jan and her music at

Friday, December 28, 2012

VIDEO POSTED: Watch Me Butcher ... "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse

Wow, it's been over a year since I posted my last Watch Me Butcher ... cover video. For those unfamiliar, Watch Me Butcher ... is a tongue-in-cheek series of mostly-cliched cover videos where I do silly vocal harmonies and point out all the mistakes I make. It started as a way for me to get familiar with Audacity and iMovie '09 but turned out to be moderately successful in its own right. 

In the lengthy YouTube descriptions, I take the role of a bitter, excessively self-deprecating musician and also provide tabs and lyrics for those who want to learn the songs. The original intent was to only cover easy songs that only required a few chords. Without further ado, here's the video.

The style was inspired by the way my good friend, Carl Pfanstiehl covers the song. I just put shameless vocal harmonies behind it in a way I'll never get to perform live. And for you gear heads:

Guitar: Martin GPCPA4
Pickup: K&K Mini Pure
Preamp: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3
Mic: M-Audio Nova

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Free stuff! (And some website changes)

It's been a long time coming, but I've been making some improvements on my website (

You can now watch my videos in neatly organized playlists without the clunky links on the side. I've also simplified and updated my discography. (This is where the free stuff is!)

The photo page was getting unruly. It still exists, but I thought I'd integrate the photos with my blog to make for a more organic and personal experience.

Yes! I'm offering lessons online now! On top of that, I'll be posting tutorials and helpful videos so you always have a resource to help you improve on your musicianship. 

This part has probably seen the most significant change. In addition to the merch, I've also embedded an Amazon store where you can purchase items I recommend at no additional cost to you! However, by going through my site, a portion of the proceeds will go toward funding my music! I'll be expanding the store to include a wider variety of items (including my music once the new EPs are available for sale), so keep checking back.

Guitar Maintenance: Cleaning & Restringing

I can't believe how long I went without properly restringing my guitar. My strings broke all the time, the guitar never stayed in tune, and taking the strings off was a chore. These tutorials are a fantastic way to care for your guitar. The first one guides you through cleaning and maintaining the body while the second focuses on the actual restringing and action adjustment. 

Cleaning your acoustic guitar
String multitool
Turtle Wax: Express Shine (or guitar polish)
Lint-free cloth (or polishing cloth)
Masking tape
Steel Wool #0000
Boiled Linseed Oil (or fretboard cleaner)
Paper towel
Wrench for headstock tuner nuts

Restringing your acoustic guitar

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pictures: Film Screening, Pittsburgh, Boston

Our (The Way Home') song Inventing the Game got placed in a film by Dennis Hurley called Once Again. Here we are preparing to perform a few acoustic numbers at the Philadelphia premiere! (Photo: Nick Hughes)
There was a piano in the back room of Hambone's in Pittsburgh where we got to play alongside Hero Jr and the Hawkeyes. I felt obliged to noodle around on it. (Photo: Nick Hughes)

Here we are in Boston performing at the Digital Bear Entertainment  Christmas party!(Photo: Malik Williams)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pictures: Wilmo Rock Circus 2012 @ The World Cafe Live at the Queen

We were honored to be among the performers selected at the Wilmo Rock Circus. It was an awesome opportunity for musicians and their fans to be exposed to an incredible variety of local rock bands. The photos were taken by our friends at Glimdropper.

Pictures: Boulder Coffee @ Rochester, NY

In mid-November, we traveled up to Rochester, NY and later Ithaca, NY. The photos below are from our acoustic performance at Boulder Coffee compliments of Shamus Clancey from  our long time friends, the Saturn Return.

Pictures: Harrisburg, PA

Right before Halloween, we swung by Harrisburg, PA and played to a packed audience at the Stage on Herr. Emily Yanek opened for us with a stunning solo performance. The photos were taken by Nick Hughes and our friend Julia Hatmaker.

Pictures: The Way Home promo shots

Earlier this fall, my rock band The Way Home did a photo shoot in James and Dan's home town of Rochester, NY. The photos were taken by Dave and Caitlin Drago and edited by our drummer, Nick Hughes.

New video! "Tadpoles & Ice Cream"

It's just like me to wait until the end of the world to record and upload some of those new tunes I've been claiming to have. Well, wait no further! After countless attempts to get my new music recorded, I finally found a setup and configuration that is a marked improvement from previous efforts. Let me know what you think!

I began writing this piece in the summer of 2012 when I was on a beach vacation with some friends. A hurricane hit as we entered the town of Salvo, NC. By the time we reached the beach home, our driveway had ankle-deep water. The next morning, we walked out to find hundreds of tadpoles covering our cars, an unexpected sight indeed! It rained throughout the vacation, and we made frequent trips to the local ice cream shop. This piece is dedicated to ridiculous yet fun time I had with those friends.

"Tadpoles & Ice Cream" is also one of a small handful of new tunes that utilize multiple capos as well as live de-capoing and re-capoing. I wanted to write something that was sweet, melodic, and percussive at the same time. I love how smoothly the music transitions between standard style and over-the-neck style fretwork as well as the two-handed playing. It's always a lot of fun to play!

For you gear heads, this also marks the video debut of my new guitar, a Martin GPCPA4 equipped with a K&K MiniPure pickup, Gold Grover 502 locking tuners, and a John Pearse armrest. I'll be writing about the guitar in a separate blog post some time next year. More info about what I used is posted at the bottom.

Until next time, be well!

Henry "Sheltered Turtle"

Gear List:
Guitar: Martin GPCPA4 (John Pearse armrest & Grover 502 tuners)
Strings: D'Addario EJ-17
Pickup: K&K Pure Mini
Preamp: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre

Camera: Panasonic DMC-ZS3
Video Program: Adobe Premiere CS6
DAW: Garageband
Mic: M-Audio Nova
Interface: M-Audio Mobile Pre USB

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How did we react to Newtown, and what does it say about our culture?

I've been living with a heavy heart since hearing news of the Newtown, CT shooting. Never could we expect that a fellow American, a fellow human being, could take an instrument designed specifically for mass killing and use it in the place where we send our children to be enriched and educated. Those immediately affected by this tragedy are going through unimaginable pain. And this event was truly unimaginable; I've been having a difficult time wrapping my mind around it, but that's okay, because there is no way I can reason the events to a point where I can say, "Yeah, that makes sense now."

Immediately following the shooting, the media took on its expected frenzy. Social networks also lit-up with conversation, opinions, and demands for a call to action. In it all, I felt a lot of passion and anger coming from people and not enough empathy and sympathy. The children, parents, and staff are most likely going to suffer from PTSD unless they get professional counseling. Even then, it's a long road to recovery, but the sooner the healing begins, the less profound the adverse effects will be. Instead of discussing the importance of mental well-being in the victims, reporters fought to get interviews with them. Honestly, aside from unsuccessfully sating our morbid curiosity, what are we to gain from hearing the words of someone who is still trying to deal with tragedy?

Next, I feel that despite all the arguments about policy, I've maintained that the most important policy is family. How many of us embraced our loved ones, and told them how much we love them? That should come long before a hopeless, anger-filled rant about how we need to make change. After that, we should write letters to the families and friends who are the immediate victims of loss expressing our love and support and NOT use them as tools to push a political agenda. These families no longer have the luxury of normalcy in their lives. While no amount of support can fill the void of a murdered child, we can stand proud as a nation of people who open their hearts to damaged families and let them know that they don't have to go through this alone.