Interview: Dave Beegle

Dan McAvinchey: Dave, tell us a little bit about your upcoming collection, "Clear The Tracks". What was your purpose in releasing it at this time?

Dave Beegle: It basically came about as a result of my brother Morris wanting to compile some of my more recent work with different projects along with some of the stronger Fourth Estate material. I've been wanting to do a solo acoustic CD for the last 3-4 years and its been delayed due to a
variety of different reasons. When this idea came about for a compilation, it allowed me to include several of the projects I had been involved with over the last couple years that didn't release full length recordings. Morris put together a limited CD-R release called "The Some-what Definitive" which further developed into "Clear The Tracks". I think it will be a good precursor to my solo acoustic CD that is now scheduled to come out in September. "Clear The Tracks" gives a pretty good representation of what I've done in the past, where I'm at now, and where I'm heading in the future.

Dan McAvinchey: You are also involved with a number of other projects as producer and/or guitarist. What do you feel are your strengths in this area?

Dave Beegle: I like to take another artist's song and vision and take it to another level. My experience with Fourth Estate, as well as contributing to many other projects and playing in countless cover bands, gives me a broad perspective in which to approach working with a variety of different artists. I am also very picky about sounds and tones and I think that translates in most of the projects I've produced. My latest producing/guitar playing role is a project called Jay Road which allowed me to be the pop guitarist I've never had a chance to be. I got to use all of my cheap Danelectros and Silvertones along with playing Hammond and Wurlitzer. There's so many things I appreciate about all musical styles that really fuel my enthusiasm in working in different producing roles.

Dan McAvinchey: Let's step back in time a little. What were some of the things that influenced your musical tastes and led to your interest in the guitar?

Dave Beegle: My father was a great boogie-woogie/jazz piano player and he encouraged my to play music. I started playing piano at age 5 and guitar at age 13 when playing Iron Man on the piano just wasn't cutting it anymore. Some of my early influences were Tony Iommi, Michael Schenker and Ronnie
Montrose. Later on I was really inspired by Allan Holdsworth, Phil Keaggy and Paco De Lucia. Years ago a student gave me a tape of the newest Van Halen album and on the other side was a Carlos Montoya recording. I immediately connected with the soul, passion and fire of flamenco guitar and I began exploring all the different complexities of the music.

Dan McAvinchey: For all the gear heads out there, tell us about your equipment setup.

Dave Beegle: My main Fourth Estate setup is: my trusty '64 Strat, a Transperformance self-tuning Les Paul which enables me to play in multiple tunings, and a modified early 80's Kramer Baretta. Amps include old Marshall's - '68 Plexi Super Bass, '65 Plexi JTM45, '66 Plex Super PA, and old basket weave 4x12 cabs. I also use some late '60s Laney amps (I think they were owned by Black Sabbath at one time).
My rack set-up consists of SPX 90, Quadreverbs, ADA MP1 and a Lexicon LPX1. I also like old stomp boxes including the Fuzz Face, Tube Screamers, MXR Dynacomp, and a TC Electric Chorus pedal.

Lately I've been into using a variety of amps and guitars including Danelectros and Silvertones, Kays, and a Fender Electric 12. My all time favorite recording amp is a '65 Vox AC30. I also like Tweed Fenders and
use a '58 Deluxe, '57 Super, and a '60 Princeton. I have this funky 10 watt Marshall combo that's from about 1970 that just sounds great and has the coolest tremolo of any amp I've heard.

For acoustic guitars, I have a flamenco guitar that was made in Madrid by Manuel Contreras in 1967. It was owned by a dentist in California and was virtually brand new when I bought it 2 years ago (it doesn't look
very new anymore). I also use a 1947 Martin D28 which sounds great, a newer Martin 000C, a funky old 1920's Parlor guitar. When I can, I like to borrow Olson acoustic guitars. I think they're the best acoustic
guitar made. When I can afford one, I'll get one.

Dan McAvinchey: You've cut a number of excellent solos on Fourth Estate albums such as "Finesse And Fury" and "See What I See". What goes through your mind when you are preparing to record a solo?

Dave Beegle: I try to approach things from a melodic and emotional perspective and try to view a solo as a composition with dynamics and movement. Note choice is sometimes secondary and technique hopefully is there to serve the song. I'm pretty picky about finding the right sound that will inspire creativity and take the notes to the next level.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you think you are still developing your guitar playing?

Dave Beegle: Absolutely. I only have to pick the guitar for about 5 minutes to realize all the work I have ahead of me to get to some level of expression I'm trying to attain. There's also so many so many other musical styles and influences I'm trying to assimilate including all of the flamenco stylings and some of the middle eastern and Bulgarian folk music I love to listen to. If I can ever attain to some of the expression I hear in Bulgarian folk music, I will die a happy man.

Dan McAvinchey: What process do you go through to compose your music?

Dave Beegle: Some songs come really quickly. I wrote "Reflections" (from "Finesse and Fury") in 2 days. The verse section came to me in a shopping mall and I wrote it down on a paper bag. The chorus section I wrote in my sleep that night and translated it to guitar the next morning. Other songs such as
"Kara Kum" (from "See What I See"), I dedicated myself to about 10 days of studying Bulgarian music, particularly vocal stylings and gadulka melodies (Bulgarian folk fiddle) and going through countless
arrangements, adding and deleting parts until I felt the composition was complete. In general I'll get an idea or melody and the work comes in refining it to a completed song, which can take quite some time.

Dan McAvinchey: Have there been songs in the past that you've written specifically as guitar vehicles?

Dave Beegle: Yes. "Sorefinger Road" (from "Finesse and Fury") came about as I was playing around with capoed sounds and electric finger picking. "Routier" (also from "Finesse and Fury") was written based around open chord harmonics and the tuning changes of the Transperformance guitar. When I stumbled upon the tuning change heard in "From Here To There" (from "See What I See"), I thought that was just about the coolest thing I had ever heard and immediately set about writing a song based around that.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you still listen to CDs, and are there any of your contemporaries
that you really admire?

Dave Beegle: Yes, a lot of my new music comes from people I produce. I really enjoy a lot of that music. I still listen Eric Johnson's "Venus Isle" all the time and I think it's one of the greatest records ever. I really liked Shawn Colvin's last record and I buy every Phil Keaggy record that comes out. I also buy all of Paco De Lucia's music I can find. I really liked Shawn Lane's "Power of Ten" CD, not just for his guitar playing, but I thought the compositions were outstanding. I still go back and listen to all my Max Webster/Kim Mitchell records, old UFO, Yes and Rush.

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Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little about your label, Hapi Skratch Records, and your near-term and long-term goals for the company.

Dave Beegle: Hapi Skratch is my brother Morris's label. It is set up quite a bit different than a typical label. He calls it an 'artist development company', which is exactly what it is. Hapi Skratch is not out there financing a bunch of CD releases, instead, it is providing essential services necessary for bands and artists to grow and develop. Services include consulting, studio coordination, CD manufacturing, artwork and package design, publicity, marketing, web design and hosting, and distribution. All projects have budgets and Hapi Skratch is geared at providing the best overall finished product for the budget available.
Projects that work hard and prove themselves over and over again end up getting some extra push and thus become more experienced and knowledgeable about the music business.

I myself have produced about a dozen CDs that Hapi Skratch has released over the last 3 years. I am an independent producer who is hired by bands, solo artists, or Hapi Skratch to arrange, record, mix and master their records. Hapi Skratch in turn takes it from there, and the push it gets is relevant to the seriousness of the band. What most bands don't realize is they have to work extremely hard and sacrifice a lot of time, money, and energy to get recognition for what they do. Even if they have a label, manager or marketing company behind them, they'll only be as successful as the work they put into it themselves. That's why less than 1 in 10 CD releases ever sell more than 1000 copies, because musicians often can't get the initiative to get out and promote themselves. Hapi Skratch is kinda like boot camp in that they will help bands with everything they need, but the final outcome is still determined by the band or artist.

As far as goals, Hapi Skratch has been working hard to get a strong catalog of titles and a viable set of distribution channels. That is basically in place now. There are around 45 titles in the catalog now and
another 20+ on the way before the end of the year. Hapi Skratch is also in the midst of an investment deal that will allow them to focus on better, more effective marketing campaigns as well as more personal care
and representation of a lot of the artists. I think the possibilities of partnering with some major labels on certain projects will be pursued as well.

Generally, Hapi Skratch is a good home for musicians who want to work, grow and learn about making and promoting independent music.

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Dave Beegle, guitarist for the Colorado instrumental powerhouse Fourth Estate, never stops moving. It's not as if he needs to add any beef to his impressive musical resume--he's recently contributed guitar tracks or lent his production skills to projects by Keith Rosenhagen, Danny Oertli, Martha's Wake, Reconcile, Skratch Trax, Liquid Playground, Indica Gypsys and Danny Masters. But ready to be released this summer on the Hapi Skratch label is a new collection/retrospective entitled "Clear The Tracks", which will feature Beegle's guitar playing with groups such as Artifact Symphony, the Beegle-Olson-Quist Trio, Fourth Estate and Blinddog Smokin'. In addition, Beegle has a new acoustic CD due out late August/early September. He will also be at NAMM in July in Nashville demonstrating the Transperformance Automatic Tuning Guitar, and he is scheduled to start doing national guitar clinics shortly after that.

In the midst of all this activity, Beegle was able to give Dan McAvinchey a first look at his latest projects, as well as his approach to guitar playing and song production.