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The Guitar As a Songwriting Tool

Language of Guitar

Masters of guitar based songwriting.

We have been talking guitar Virtuosos for quite some time and it will continue. However, I want to address the Guitar in its own equal use, and its true value from the most important guitar application, songwriting.

Anyone can learn to play the guitar, but not everyone can become a great songwriter. It’s one of the most difficult, yet enjoyable and rewarding efforts. Everyone could be a songwriter with the proper effort and discipline but it often falls by the wayside. 98% of True writers employ either a guitar or a piano..and the craftsmanship of the song is first, without a song, you have zero.

There’s a more profound use in learning Rhythm, Chord arrangement, and the mastery of simple accompaniment to the lyric. You don’t have to be The greatest lead player, you need all the elements to make the silence your canvas and paint that picture through a pen, paper, your voice, and that guitar. Let’s look and listen to a few you should know.

Katie Martin

Alabama Born and now Georgia resident Katie Martin is the definition of The Great American Songwriter. She has a not-so-secret weapon that she is also one of my favorite guitarists ever.  In many settings, she can be one of the most unique and jaw-dropping lead players.

No fooling she is a Badass. However, we are talking about “The Song”. I met her in 2018 at Little Creek Vineyard in North Carolina as we both were performing there. We had a brief chat about music and related subjects and she handed me a cd of one of her solo albums..” Hope”

“When the Water Flows” – Katie Martin (Unplugged w/ Tonewood Amp)

Upon returning to Ohio I started digging for more material online and was amazed at the sheer volume of work she has done, and that there was nothing that made me say “That’s good but…” Because it was all so very good. One of the main points in relating to a song is does it move you? In her case They all do.

Katie works as hard as anyone in the world, on the road in the studio and at home to capture such amazing songs from the thing we call life.” When the Water Flows” is One of the best songs ever written by anyone, period. This particular performance moves me to the edge of tears every time and that is often. 

“Purpose” by Katie Martin

She is not one you can put in a box and Label. It’s just Katie Martin Music.

Fire in Our Hearts’ – Katie Martin + Larry Mitchell

She is not only one of the finest writers, vocalists, and Guitarists, but she is also an artist in every sense of the word. Put a pen or brush in her hand and she will create something special. Hand her a camera and she will bring beauty from it.

World Class, Humble and fascinating. I urge you to subscribe to her youtube and visit and purchase her work. She puts Soul in everything she does. 

https://www.katiemartinmusic.com/

Mike Webb

The advantage I’ve had in being a session musician is the people I’ve met. Some you put your time in and never see again, Some you leave having made a long-time friend.

I met Mike Webb in Chillicothe, Ohio’s Mike Webb when recording the Black Cat Mass album at Chilliworks Recording studio.

Mike was working on one of his many projects around the same time and one day I was called to do some work as a Lead player. I just wanted to know the daytime and style of music.

The reply was Honky Tonking and I thought well cool, I spent 15 years doing that so I dusted off a Telecaster and showed up to record “Where The Hell’s my Truck”. On Mike’s “Another Day” Project. A true friend was made that day.

BLAME IT ON EVE

By Mike’s recollection, he started writing about 50 years ago but got serious
About 30 years. In the years I’ve been in touch with him he has been the most prolific of writers. He allows no boundaries, It might be Country, Bluegrass, Rock N Roll, or any combination of those.

He Has lived the things he writes about and there are no 6 people in a room songwriting team. Give him his Guitar and a place to sit and think and he’s going to come up with something to make you know what’s on his mind, and often what’s climbing out of his soul.

No one Trick Pony here. His music can be tongue in cheek with his humor, or he can dig into the deepest well and make you think about the Human condition.

He’s also just a good man. He has often taken me to Dr.’s appointments. One particular evening he drove me down to the studio so he could sit silently in the corner while I was doing an interview with some other musicians.

Chilliworks owner Chad Uhrig and I had started the “Music on the Mountain” program but we just hit  4 episodes when I had to pause as Covid was escalating. I had been wanting Mike as a guest and Luckily we got there as it was the last one. I foresee it coming back when the time is right.

MUSIC ON THE MOUNTAIN EP 4

Visit Mr. Webb at https://paneintheglassmusic.com/mike-webb and find out about a very special fellow. 

Michael Boyle

I met Mike at the age of 15 when he allowed me to play a break during his sets at Taylor’s Stagg Bar in Chillicothe. I had no business being there and a high school friend was with me to take the drum Throne and we played LOUD! Surprisingly instead of being tossed out, we were told to play more. Mike has been my friend ever since and he is the reason I am a songwriter. We had countless years of fun playing together in planned shows and impromptu performances. 

One night he and I were talking about the fact I had written maybe three songs and I didn’t even know if I could call them songs. He explained to me that inspiration can come from anywhere, a line in the newspaper, or on the bathroom wall. You Just have to work at it.

michael boyle dont have to say goodbye

It took another 5 years but I began to take his advice and now I’ve written over 100 songs. In truth, I owe the second half of my music career to him. He always had my back, and in more ways than one. He has been an incredible friend. He is also the best-kept secret, a Gem of a writer. 

Little Miss Moonshine (2021)

Over the years He’s written staggeringly emotional songs, and each embodies his incredible versatility in subject matter and musical style. One evening he played me a song called “Bad Boy” and said he wasn’t sure he liked it. It spoke to me as it related to some wayward family members and the region was very specific. I asked if I could adapt it into my show and he once again was fully supportive. 

“Bad Boy” (cover by Jimmy Fleming) By Mike Boyle

I filled a lot of time Over the years playing a few more of his works and have always said he was our Bob Dylan. 

I plan to reconnect and expand further on Mike in a separate article soon but for now, know this Gentleman I owe a debt of gratitude to. He NEVER ceases to amaze me. 

Hit up his youtube and see where he goes next as he’s gonna treat you so many ways you will have to like one of them, or in most cases ALL of them. Bless ya Brother.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTXW45HeBdaarDLIjEqAVmQ/featured

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Jimmy Flemming