James Valentine, Guitarist for Square
Photo by Jeanne Rice> Kara's Flowers. This LA quartet is one of the best bands I've come across. Their first album, Fourth World, kinda sounded like Weezer, but now they're sounding like Michael Jackson circa Off the Wall. If it were produced by Timbaland. And with Trey Anastasio sitting in on guitar.
> Jamey Abersol's play-along jazz books and CDs. It's a great concept—they record a jazz rhythm section playing a variety of jazz standards, but they leave out everything else so you can improvise along. They've got hundreds of books and accompanying CDs that cover everything from Miles Davis to Herbie Hancock.
> Jay Buchanan. The buzz about Jay is true and well-deserved. He has a knack for writing beautiful, haunting melodies and framing them with unique instrumental accompaniments.
> The Hub in Fullerton. Great place to go see bands for free, and they've got an air-hockey table. Carlo and Sean (the owners) are working on a new bar across the street that'll be the swankiest hangout in OC when it's done.
> Milano Music rehearsal studios/merchandising. One thing I like about living in OC is the sense of community among musicians. Milano Music is one place you can go to sample this. Their rehearsal rooms have a nice vibe, and when you're done, you can go get some buttons or T-shirts made for your next show or network with other bands.
> My Gibson ES-346. My custom-shop semi-hollow-body Gibson guitar is real purty. If you come to one of our shows and ask nicely, I'll let you touch it. Or we can just quietly listen to its sustain.
> Line 6 delay modeler/loop sampler. Lately, I've been experimenting with looping for additional textures and crazy sounds. This device allows me to start a loop and put as many layers on top as I want. Then I can slow it down to half-speed or reverse it. It also allows me to harmonize lead lines with myself, which fulfills my fantasy of being in the Allman Brothers Band.
> Steamers Caf. It's hard to see good live jazz, but Steamers in Fullerton does it every night. World-class musicians like Joey DeFrancesco and Poncho Sanchez frequent this establishment. Delicious sandwiches are a plus, too.
> John Scofield. He's my guitar hero. One of his first gigs was playing in one of Miles Davis' later fusion bands, and since then, he's released a slew of solo records. One of my favorites is one he recorded with Medeski, Martin and Wood called A Go Go on Verve Records. I had the chance to meet him when I saw him in San Diego at the 4th & B Club, but I freaked out and left. It was just too much for me to handle.
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