Seeing Redd

Seeing Redd
Telecaster® master Redd Volkaert has two new DVDs out. Get them. Now.

No Stranger: Volkaert onstage.
Photo courtesy Redd Volkaert

If you’re unfamiliar with the incredible Redd Volkaert, either of two DVDs released this year would make a fine introduction to his world of Tele-slingin’ honky-tonkin’ good times. Live in Austin features a performance at the Continental Club in Volkaert’s adopted Texas home city; Stolen Licks is an instructional DVD with a dozen licks ripe for the picking. Either fantastic disc (or both, better yet) will have you seeing Redd in no time.

Probably best known as the most Roy Nichols-like successor to the great Roy Nichols in Merle Haggard’s famous backup band, the Strangers, Canada native Volkaert had no difficultly establishing his place among the country’s top Telecaster guitar slingers, and you’d have no trouble finding plenty of people who consider him the best guitar player in Austin today (check out Haggard’s 1999 Live At Billy Bob’s Texas to hear a great example of Volkaert’s work as a Stranger).

However, to call Volkaert a mere Nichols-like Stranger would be selling short his seemingly effortless ability to conjure up at will a vast array of complex guitar styles and techniques in countless genres and subgenres of country, rock, jazz, swing, surf, etc. Unlike many “jack of all trades, master of none” types, Volkaert (a 2004 Grammy nominee for best country instrumental performance) has indeed mastered the many guitar styles he plays in.

Stolen Licks is an up-close look at a dozen phrases and techniques that Volkaert has, well, stolen from his influences to create his own signature style, and it’s worth noting that some of them aren’t just from other guitar players, but also from fiddle, steel, and saxophone players. Volkaert plays each lick at regular tempo and at half time, and producer Terry Downs’ amazingly riffer-friendly over-the-shoulder camera angles and split-screen work makes learning the material a good deal easier. Further, the disc comes with a tablature book.

The complex licks aren’t impossible, but nailing them as effortlessly as Volkaert does will take some practice. Fret not, though—Stolen Licks is a terrific way to add some classic Telecaster licks to your repertoire.

Volkaert and Cashdollar burn down Ego’s, Austin, Texas.
Photo courtesy Redd Volkaert

The real lesson, however, comes from watching Live in Austin, a virtual Telecaster clinic in which Volkaert’s labyrinthine library of licks is well in evidence in just the first few tunes. The beauty of having both DVDs is that you can see the lesson licks in both instructional and live club performance settings, as most of the Stolen Licks material is put to good use on the live disc.

On Live in Austin, Volkaert and his band are joined by master steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar. Together, they rip through 17 country standards and Volkaert originals. It’s Volkaert at his finest—all over the fingerboard and using the monstrous tone that has influenced many (most notable, perhaps, Brad Paisley). Plus, you also get a tour of Austin, riding along with Volkaert in his hot rod as he tells his life story.

Volkaert’s DVDs go fast in more ways than one, so you should act now if you want to get them (his last DVD, 2002’s Live at Ego’s, sold out fast, and good luck finding a used copy); both discs and all his solo albums are available on the “Telehog’s Feed and Supply” page of Volkaert’s own website (www.reddvolkaert.net).

Volkaert can be found just about every night playing in Austin clubs. Despite such a to-the-gills schedule, though, Volkaert kindly took a few minutes to put up with a few questions from Fender News

FN: Any new music coming out in the near future?

Yes, I plan to release [some] by the spring of ’07.

FN: When will we see Redd on the road again?

I’ve got a few road trips this summer, but I’m thinking I’ll go out harder next year to push a new CD.

FN: We know you have an impressive Telecaster collection. What’s your favorite and why?

My favorite is a ’51 Nocaster®. It’s light as hell, rings forever and has a huge neck.

FN: What amps and pedals are you using?

I use a custom-made copy of my ’58 high-power tweed Twin®, with one JBL® D-120 and one EV®-12L. For pedals, I use Durham Electronics’ Sex Drive™ line booster, and their Mucho Boosto™ overdrive, with an old Boss® DM3 analog delay pedal.

FN: Who would you list as the top five Telecaster players of all time?

Roy Nichols, Jimmy Bryant, Don Rich, Thumbs Carlisle and Albert Collins.

FN: Who are your five favorite non-country players?

Albert King, Johnny Winter, Gary Moore, Oscar Moore and George Barnes.

FN: If you had to recommend a young guitarist, who would it be?

To listen to a new hot guy, I’d say Brad Paisley and Johnny Hiland; they pretty much do everything I wish I could.

FN: Any words of encouragement to beginning guitarists?

Listen to everybody’s playing! Don’t be narrow-minded.

FN: Did we forget to ask you anything?

Yeah—when is the new Fender RV model coming out?

Visit Redd Volkaert online at www.reddvolkaert.net.


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