As a guitar player starting out in the late 80s there wasn't a lot of good popular stuff to listen to. Sure there was Classic Rock radio stations and the occasional Blues or Jazz program or non-commercial radio, but you either had to search for music the old fashioned way (no internet!!) or get "turned on" to cool music. A quick look at my list of influences below will give you an idea of some of the music that inspired me to learn guitar.

I started on a Memphis Les Paul copy and a few lessons when I was 13 or so, but I didn't have the patience to "learn" to play correctly. Later at 16 I was living in Austin, TX. While listening to some of my Dad's record collection, I stumbled upon some really cool music of all types. Exploring the artists that I knew, I discovered The James Gang through Joe Walsh, John McClaughlin through Mile Davis, John Mayall through Eric Clapton. In fact, one day I was listening to John Mayall's "Beano" album with Clapton and I mentioned to my father something to the effect "Now this is what they mean when they say Clapton was great". Noticing that I was really into guitar music, and the Blues, he reaches up and grabs a Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album, "Live Alive" and says "Here, check this guy out. He's probably the best player in the world right now". Wow! I listened to both albums of "Live Alive" then "Texas Flood" and "Soul to Soul". All in one sitting. It was like a musical epiphany. A few years later I actually started learning how to play the guitar.

Now, many years leter I play in the band Corkscrew, check them out at

Corkscrew may be new to the scene, but they are turning heads where ever they go! Already having supported legendary performers such as Buddy Guy, Bob Weir & Ratdog, Los Lobos, Les Claypool, George Clinton & P-Funk, Dickie Betts, future legends such as Robert Randolph and the Family Band (who I had the pleasure of performing with, pic on the left, the audio >>HERE<<), up and comers like Rose Hill Drive, Live, The Radiators, Blue Floyd and Dark Star Orchestra as well as many regional acts, Corkscrew has honed their live act for the bigger stages to a fine tuned performance.
Breaking out of the common Jam band formulas, they are part of the sub genre moving towards progressive musical jams. Corkscrew's original music is song based, with emphasis on the songwriting and arrangement. Their covers are re-interpretations of the originals, rearranged for Corkscrew's groove and that is what they use as platforms for their innovative improvisational expeditions.
What is Corkscrew's style, who do they sound like? Each member brings a distinct musical style to the amalgam that is Corkscrew. Let's list some of their influences then. The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh and Friends, Gov't Mule, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, Nirvana, Sublime, Jimi Hendrix......

The first working band I was a part of was Red River Soul. I was in the band from 2001 to 2006. We've played hundreds of gigs all over the Northeast, wrote and recorded a bunch of songs, met thousands of people -and had a real blast doing it!

All the cool guitarists have quotes from famous musicians. Since I don't have any, I thought I would make some up:

"If I had to describe Frank DeNigris' playing in one word, I would"
-- Eric Clapton

-- Guitar World

"There are millions of good guitarists in the world and thousands of great ones. All of them lack the one thing that separates being great and being a true legend. I told Frank what that one thing was that he needed, looks like the dumbass forgot what I said.........".
-- B.B. King

"Frankie and I used to RAWK it at the BK Lounge all the time!"
-- Dane Cook

"I don't know Frank's playing at all, but it looks like he has great hair!!"
-- John Mayer

"Remember that night in Tunisia"?
-- Boutros Boutros Ghali

"Frank D-who? Oh yeah, Frankie Fingers, yeeow!!"
-- James Brown

"I knew him way, back. Long before he was a guitar god. When he was real stupid."
-- LL Cool J

"He's magical"!
-- David Blaine



I was born on a Valentine's Day back when most of my musical influences were starting or near the end of thier careers. Many were in their heyday, but many were gone, some were still honing their skills and a couple were not even born yet. It was fifty years to the day that Mamie Smith recorded the first Blues songs with vocals........

Click on the artists' name to go to thier websites!!

Jimi Hendrix starts off the year with four memorable concerts on New Year's Eve 1969-70 at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in New York. Only weeks after Jimi Hendrix and The Band Of Gypsys disband. Shortly after Hendrix, Mitchell and Redding announce the reformation of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, though they never record or perform together again. Seven months later he overdosed.

Led Zeppelin is on top of the world with both "Led Zeppelin II" and "Led Zeppelin III" reaching #1 in Amercian and British charts. They soon became "The Biggest Band in the World"

The Beatles last LP, Let It Be, is released in the United States. "The Long and Winding Road" becomes the Beatles' last US Number 1 song. The band officially broke up in 1970, and one month later Let It Be followed as their last commercial album release.

The Allman Brothers Band releases thier second, and more "radio friendly" album, "Idlewild South".

Eric Clapton leaves Blind Faith for a solo career and forms Derek and the Dominoes. releases "Layla and Other Love Songs" featuring Duane Allman. "Live Cream"

Bob Dylan releases the double album "Self Portrait". It consists mostly of covers, with a handful of instrumentals, original compositions and live tracks culled from a set he gave with The Band at the Isle of Wight festival earlier that year. The album was given very poor reviews when released. Dylan has gone on record saying he intentionally made Self Portrait far below the standards he set in the 1960s to get people off of his back, and end the "spokesman of a generation" tags; but he has also given other, contradictory accounts of his motives. Still, the album quickly went gold in the US, where it hit #4, and it gave Bob Dylan yet another UK #1 hit before it fell down the charts.

The Grateful Dead released "American Beauty". The sixth and mostly-acoustic album is beloved by fans as perhaps the highest-quality studio recording by the band who are known primarily for their live shows. "American Beauty" peaked at #30 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart, while the single "Truckin'" peaked at #64 on the Pop Singles chart and achieved considerable FM rock radio airplay. American Beauty was the group's second album released in 1970, after "Workingman's Dead". Both albums were extremely innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock and roll, folk music and, especially, country music. With the release of "Workingman's Dead" in late 1970, the group made a sharp stylistic shift. Produced by Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor and the band, the album features eight original songs written by Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter. The material reflects clear country, blues and folk influences; the arrangements are sharp and concise; the performances lilting and subtle. Workingman's Dead earned the Grateful Dead a whole new following. Containing their first radio hit "Uncle John's Band" the album also features some of the best known and most enduring songs in the band's repertoire. "Casey Jones," "Dire Wolf," "Cumberland Blues" (with guest guitarist David Nelson of New Riders Of The Purple Sage) and "Black Peter" all revealed new facets of the band's American musical roots.

Muddy Waters was busy, he released six albums that I found for 1970! "Goin' Home: Live in Paris", "New Rose Blues", "Vintage Mud", "Back in the Good Old Days", "Good News" and They Call Me Muddy Waters"

Miles Davis releases "Bitches Brew". Recorded mostly in three days in 1969 during the same week of the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York, Bitches Brew incorporated electric instruments, such as electric piano and guitar, and mostly rejected traditional jazz rhythms in favor of a looser, funk-influenced improvisational style. Instead of the mostly diatonic style of cool jazz, Bitches Brew often favored dissonance. Some jazz fans and musicians felt the album was crossing the limits, or was not jazz at all. Bitches Brew was Davis's first gold record, selling more than half a million copies.

After disbanding The Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa goes solo. "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is an album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The album was a posthumous Mothers release; having come out after Frank Zappa fired all but one of The Mothers. The album, like its counterpart "Weasels Ripped My Flesh", comprises tracks from the Mothers vault that were not previously released, as well as material from the Zappa/Underwood Hot Rats sessions. Whereas Weasels . . . mostly showcases the Mothers in a live setting, much of "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" features studio work and structured Zappa compositions, like the centerpiece of the album, "The Little House I Used To Live In," which consists of several movements and employs compound meters such as 11/8. Conceptually, "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" could be considered phase two of Burnt Weeny Sandwich. Both albums consist of previously unreleased Mothers tracks released after the demise of the original band. Whereas "Burnt Weeny Sandwich's" pieces generally have a more rigid and planned feel captured by quality studio equipment, "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" mostly captures the Mothers on stage, where they employ frenetic and chaotic improvisation characteristic of avant-garde free jazz.

Santana reached early commercial peak with his second album, "Abraxas", which reached number one on the album charts and went on to sell over four million copies. tops the album chart for the first of six weeks. Although it is a favorite of FM rock stations, it also yields a pair of AM hits in "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va".

Aerosmith comes together in Sunapee, New Hampshire, a summer resort. Although they are known as a Boston, Massachusetts band, none of the members are actually from the city. The three decided they would form a band together, and that Boston, Massachusetts would be the place to do it.

The Doors went back to the basics and back to their roots with a bluesier less experimental "Morrison Hotel". They start work on their landmark, and sadly last album, "L.A. Woman". Jim Morrison of The Doors is found guilty of indecent exposure and profanity because of his behaviour during a March 1, 1969 concert, and is sentenced to eight months of hard labour and a $500 fine.

On February 14 The Who in top form perform and record at "Live At Leeds" in Yorkshire, England.

On Friday February 13 Black Sabbath releases debut self-titled lp "Black Sabbath". "Paranoid" is the breakthrough second album by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released in 1970; it soon topped the British music charts. Widely regarded as one of the pioneering recordings in heavy metal, the album established some of the conventions of the genre. The album was originally titled "War Pigs" but the record company changed it to "Paranoid" because of sensitivity about the Vietnam War. However, the band's interpretation of a "War Pig" was still featured on the cover.

Howlin' Wolf recorded "The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions" with with guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and other British rock stalwarts. By the early 1970s Howlin' Wolf was beginning to slow down. He had already suffered a heart attack, and an auto accident in 1970 caused irreparable damage to his kidney and necessitated frequent dialysis treatments. Despite ill health, Howlin' Wolf continued to record and perform.

Neil Young reached his commercial peak during the singer-songwriter boom of the early 1970s with the albums "After the Gold Rush" and "Harvest" as well as with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Creedence Clearwater Revival releases "Cosmo's Factory", their fifth album followed by "Pendulum". It was also the final Creedence album with rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty who left the group shortly after this album was released. The group continued as a trio, but didn't last very long.

ZZ Top forms and their first album was with London Records and it was called "ZZ Top's First Album" is the debut album by American Blues-Rock ZZ Top, released in 1970. To me, the years at London Records were the best since I prefer a more raw sounding recording style to the later polished stuff.

This is a work in progress, more to follow.........

Frank DeNigris
©2006 Mad Cow Media