Friday, March 24, 2017


Poinciana - Song of the Trees

POINCIANA - Song of the Trees

I thought "Poinciana" was an Ahmad Jamal tune because of his iconic version from At the Pershing. I never looked for an earlier version until a couple years ago. Turns out it's from 1936 and was based on a Cuban folk song, "Song of the Tree." There are lots of great versions of this, including ones by the Four Freshman, Frank Sinatra, and one by Vulfpeck that's all on vocoder.

Ahmad Jamal trio guitarist Ray Crawford used to play his guitar percussively to imitate the sound of congas, which is another thing about Ahmad Jamal that I didn't realize for a long time. I thought he was switching off and actually playing a percussion instrument, but he was hitting his guitar. Even though Crawford was out of the band by the time of At the Pershing, I included some "conga guitar" at the top of this arrangement as a tribute.

#poinciana #ahmadjamal #raycrawford #congaguitar #guitar #sologuitar #sologuitarist #telecaster #atthepershing #crestonguitar #songofthetrees #songofthetree

Posted by Nick Millevoi on Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Your Cheatin Heart


The first time I played this song was from a copy of a handwritten chart of Bill Frisell’s that Dan Blacksberg brought back from a summer program in college. I realized that learning country tunes was just as cool as learning jazz tunes and went on a bender learning songs by Hank and Willie.

I just learned from Wikipedia that “Your Cheatin Heart” was the B-side to “Kaw-Liga,” which seems completely ridiculous now (if you don’t know that song, give a listen and you’ll get why). This song was recorded in September 1952 and released in January 1953, shortly after Williams’ death on New Years. The original recording features Chet Atkins on lead guitar.

I have a real thing for jazz and r&b versions of country tunes. I really dig the Ray Charles version from 1962: and the James Brown version from 1969’s Soul on Top: “Can ya feel it?”

#hankwilliams #yourcheatinheart #guitar #sologuitar #telecaster #countryguitar #twang #twangy

Posted by Nick Millevoi on Friday, March 17, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

20 Creative Songwriting and Composing Prompts Courtesy of 'Every Song Ever'

Here's my newest article I wrote for Flypaper that comes from a lesson I've done with a few of my students that's based on Ben Ratliff's book, "Every Song Ever." As I mention in the article, that's probably the best book I read in the last year and I think there's a lot of wisdom in there. 
Let me know if this helps you write some music!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mr. Sandman

Here's something I posted on my Facebook page that I thought was worth sharing over here:

Mr Sandman solo guitar
MR. SANDMAN for solo guitar, some context:

In 1955, Chet Atkins had a bonafide hit with his version of “Mr. Sandman.” I got to thinking about what that means while putting together my article on country guitar, which included this song (it ran on Soundfly last week). These days, there are more solo guitar players around than you can shake a stick at, but none of them are scoring any hits. It’s underground music. In 1955, however, this was a pretty novel idea and it resonated with a mainstream audience. Obviously, the relationship that we, as a culture, have with music, particularly instrumental, is way different today than it was in 1955. I’m not ready to get too deeply into that here, but I’ve just been thinking about it and “Mr. Sandman” got stuck in my head as I kept playing it for students and talking about this.

Also, it should be noted that, in thinking all about this, I realized that there has been a hit instrumental song in the last 4 years: “Harlem Shake.” Sure, that’s a very different song, but I was glad to realize that instrumental hits are still possible in this day and age.

More context: I worked at a guitar store for 9 years and for about half the time I spent there, a Chet Atkins compilation was playing. I had a hard time paying attention to Chet’s playing for a while since it just made me think about standing around and waiting for students to show up, but I’ve gotten past that now. Maybe this is meant to throw a bit of appreciation to Chet after taking his playing for granted.

The arrangement in this video goes through the tune twice. The first time is basically Chet’s first chorus arrangement and the second pass, after the key change, is mine.

#sologuitar #instrumentalmusic #chetatkins #countryguitar #countrymusic #1955 #telecaster #crestonguitar #mrsandman
Posted by Nick Millevoi on Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Check out my new article for the Soundly blog, Flypaper, entitled "9 OF THE MOST RIPPING COUNTRY GUITARISTS WHO ADVANCED THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR INSTRUMENT." 

This was a lot of fun putting together and there's about a half hour of videos in this article. Dig in!

Monday, January 23, 2017