Aurora Guitarist Rick Washbrook Plays A Tribute For Lenny Breau
The Lenny Breau Tribute “A Gypsy’s Bed”
Q and A with Rick Washbrook Guitarist.
Q When did you first hear the music of Canadian guitarist Lenny Breau?
“The first Lenny Breau record I heard was “The Velvet Touch of “Lenny
Breau” – Live! I was 14 years old. His guitar playing just blew me away. My music teacher Ron Davidson at Aurora High School Ontario Canada told me about him. Ron said to me after music class one day “Rick if you really, I mean really want to learn to play the guitar, listen to Lenny Breau.” I was so attracted to Lenny’s sound and approach. For me his expression and feel were magical. What I loved the most was that feel of his naivety but depth of an old soul. He could make the guitar sound like 2 and even 3 guitars at one time. He had a big influence on me at a young age. I could not think of anything else but the feel of his guitar playing. I knew he had something special beyond playing the guitar. I played the “Velvet Touch” record so many times it developed many skips and I had to buy a new copy. Back in 1970 we did not have the internet or DVD’s to learn lessons. It was very common for the musicians to learn by ear from records or slowed down tape machines. I would lift up the needle on the phonograph player and place it on the groove to find the spot that I was learning by ear. If I had a really hard spot to learn I would go over it so much the needle would develop skips on the record.”
Q Are you happy with your Lenny Breau tribute now it is completed?
“I performed all the songs with the attitude they were photographs. The different takes all had a little something different. Most of the songs were recorded in one or two takes. Some were harder and I would go back to the studio, or record them at home. Trying to get a guitar to sound like a small-arranged band is rewarding. It can be spell bounding for both the player and the listeners. The more I practiced with Lenny’s records over the years it became more apparent to me that the right hands five fingers have to develop a sensitivity and control to be able to change the volume. The fingers independently make 3 parts sound separate, the top melody strings, the middle accompaniment chords or moving lines or counterpoint, and last but not least the bass. Simultaneously three parts are all interwoven with mood evoking changes mainly in the chord accompaniment and a sweet melody with sustain to notes or have hard and soft attack. The bass parts I tried to play even in volume. The guitar then starts to tell a story.”
Q What did you learn while working on the Lenny Breau tribute “A Gypsy’s Bed”?
“When I first set out in 1972 to learn by ear from Lenny Breau’s records I find it is still the same journey today. I really did it for the joy, love, respect, the mystery of Lenny Breau, and totally surrendering to the process. I always want to try to go that much further, and pull inspiration down from the muse. It is a constant search and a life time commitment. During the project I really realized different stages of responsibility I had set out to accomplish. I admit at times it was unnerving thinking of the task I had surmounted. The encouragement I received from many of Lenny Beau’s famous friends and brother Denny Breau gave me the push and the responses and quotes after hearing the pre production demos. The encouragement helped me to stay on the journey. As I got deeper into the project I worked out some of my insecurities in my heart. I had a big talk with myself and realized that people are not going to pick me apart or chop my head off at the guillotine because I did not play a Lenny Breau tune exactly note for note, just the way he would have done it. I felt others will hopefully recognize the place, the vibe, the path, the muse, the love I could see from where I was sitting. Lenny was my visionary guide. It took years of practicing, hours and hours, over and over. I am still doing it now with my new originals and new CD projects and with my private students, and will always be doing it over and over again.”
Q You sometimes refer to your music as spiritual expression and
testifying, what do you mean?
“For me it was and always will be a special moment when I made the shift understanding how music and spiritualism have a lot in common. They are one in the same for me or I feel they are of the same place. I am a servant to the music. It is really how you perceive reality. It’s important to keep life’s practical survival, food and shelter and the creative outlets balanced, but it can get real hard. You can get lost and really deep into the music that you let other things go. The way I feel is find the inner voice, and find a way to survive while doing it. At times yes, this business gets really hard and you feel your drowning, and you can loose site of other things. It has been said that your inner voice is your path to enlightenment. The voice doesn’t just jump out and tell you what your life’s purpose is. It sure takes a lot of spiritual work, and the right people to be around to help getting to know yourself. Find truth in yourself and not live any lies, understanding your faults, and qualities is a step in the right direction. We really are all children with the need to express and we really want to open up our latent potential. A lot of the time individuals are sitting right on top of their life path. First you have to recognize it and it will take some fine tuning to enjoy your own path in life. The mind sometimes has a reflexive reaction; it wants to take control in order to understand or rationalize what is going on. This really stagnates and holds you back from being a part of the synergy that can be shared from other gifted people and experiences. We are all special and all of us have our individual expression.”
Q What are some of the biggest lessons you can share to other musicians?
“I say that the music is in you. I feel it is important to always be
thankful and respectful to the music teachers and musical influences you have along your musical journey. When you practice for goals it is so important to have affirmations for yourself but don’t forget others. If you run an “I Me Mine” operation it will sink. Don’t forget others that are involved in your life or a project you are doing are all important. Treat everyone fair, believe it in your heart that you recognize the help of others. It will show in your face, actions, conversations, and playing, and the loving feedback you get from others is a good energy to have in your life.”
Q Do you have any advice for musical players starting out?
“I think it is very important to follow your instinct and your heart, but you’ve also got to be open to different kinds of music and different players who you find around you and on CD’s. You may play a different style than other music you hear in your town, but don’t forget to develop the insight. You have something to learn from everything. When you surrender to hear others with an open mind you could find the answer to the questions you have from not neglecting or ignoring others music. Practice at least once a week all the things you think you know. You can never practice technique and time awareness to much. Talk about musical things you know nothing about with other musicians. You will find out some very interesting discoveries when you have a green light conversation I call it. That’s when you talk about a topic with a friend or friends and share different opinions, and come to possible conclusions. The real thing in the forefront is you are communicating solo or with your band and an audience of people. It is the life. The dance of life is when you feel secure to just jump in and do your thing. It is truly awakening of feelings that are in your heart.”
Q & A By: Aaron Adamson B.Sc, Cert. Jour.
About the Author
The more one learns the less one knows. Rick Washbrook guitar lessons
private or globally. I can take you back to basics to see deeper.
A GYPSY IN HIS SOUL
RICK WASHBROOK BIO