Sho-Buds; Mike Daly’s ‘Rock of Ages’

This is Bob Hempker. I remember when I was a kid taking steel lessons and the Wilburn Brothers came to town with a show. Sonny Burnette was playing steel for them at the time. I watched from the audience and I tried to figure out what kind of guitar he was playing.

It sort of looked like a Bigsby and I knew right off it wasn’t a Fender. It had a cluster of hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs on the front. I’d never seen any guitar like this before and it’s tone was magical. I was in awe.

After the show, the singers and musicians were up onstage signing autographs like they used to do. I went up to Sonny, introduced myself and asked him about his guitar. He said it was Sho-Bud and told me that Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons had gone together to build it.

Sonny said that it stayed in tune better than his Bigsby because the necks were solid wood and weren’t near as sensitive to temperature change.

Not long after that, we started hearing about Sho-Buds. They were building only custom guitars at that time and they had a waiting list as long as your arm. People would drive a couple of hundred miles just to see and hear one that they’d heard about.

In the late sixties, they started building the Fingertip Universal. They built that for a couple of years and then Baldwin started distributing Sho-Buds and they built the double neck six pedal guitar with a cast frame around it. It had a cross-over switch that would switch the pedals over to the other neck so the same six pedals would work both necks.

After a few years of building that guitar, they went back to building the original Permanent setup custom guitars. Then they started building the Pro I, Pro II and Pro III. By this time Sho-Bud was very much a prominent name in steel guitar.

Sho-Buds have always had a special place in my heart. I remember the store so well and the people that worked in the store on Broadway. They had the factory over on Second Avenue. I just have a ton of memories.

I love Sho-Buds for their warm tone. Sho-Buds have a character and personality about them. They have an aura that can’t be denied. We have a classic Super Pro and a classic Pro III on the floor and I know they’re going to make their future owners very happy. If you’ve never owned a Sho-Bud, you should. Every pedal steel guitar player should own at least one Sho-Bud in their lifetime.

Mike Daly’s CD “Rock of Ages” keeps getting more kudos, this time from writer Kent Burnside who reviewed Mike’s CD for the magazine “The Nashville Musician”. We thank the Nashville Musicians Union and Kent Burnside for allowing us to reprint the article for you.

Mike Daly Rock Of Ages

At some point in your life you heard “Layla” and probably thought, “That’s cool, but what it really needs is a pedal steel. And a reggae groove.”

No? You didn’t think that? Okay, neither did I. But Mike Daly did. And that’s just one of ten rock classics to receive a steel guitar makeover in this new collection.

Daly is a longtime sideman to artists such as Travis Tritt, Patty Loveless, and Hank Williams, Jr. Throughout Rock Of Ages he also plays guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, and percussion. Steve Holland is on drums, while bass duties are shared by Dow Tomlin and Doug Kahan. All are members of Local 257.

Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam” maintains the loping shuffle of the original, even incorporating a few of Beck’s trademark licks. Ricky Chancey solos first on blues harp, followed by Daly. His solo is nicely capped by some pick-and-thumbnail harmonics, making his steel sound remarkably Telecaster-like.

Beatles songs provide some of the high points of this set. Daly’s acoustic guitar and steel double the well-known segues into the dreamlike verse of “Sun King.” The overdubbed layers of pedal steel create a hauntingly beautiful chorus, and Kahan really captures the McCartney bass tone and vibe. “Let It Be” features Daly on Weissenborn guitar; it’s an inspired combination of thumping fingerstyle and slide, Muhlenberg County meets County Lancashire.

The Allman Brothers Band’s “Hot ‘Lanta” features excellent solos from Chancey and Jimmy Hall (on tenor sax) before Daly enters, pulling out all the stops; his virtuosic playing here calls to mind Buddy Emmons’s legendary Redneck Jazz Explosion. Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” keeps the monster riffs of the original, but sets it to a hoedown two-beat. Only in Nashville.

It’s a tribute to Daly’s musical ingenuity that he can breathe new life into that 1970s senior prom staple, “Colour My World.” The arpeggiated opening is performed on clean-toned steel, with the verse melody heavily overdriven for a smooth vocal quality. Intonation on the layered melody lines is flawless, no small feat for a slide instrument.

All in all a highly imaginative and fresh take on some well-loved music.

– Kent Burnside

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