The Morning Star – May 2012

May 26, 2012

Greetings from Austin!

Hello from Austin, Texas, to all of you my friends and musical journeyers. I’m here with Jimmy Buffett and the band rehearsing for this year’s Lounging at the Lagoon Tour. This is an amazing city to live, work and play in. We’re camped out here for two weeks getting the tour ready. Then we head out for two weeks of dates to Charlotte, Houston, Atlanta, and …oh yeah, we start here in Austin. It’s been an incredibly busy spring with many different shows and projects going. We played in Atlanta for a festival of Homiletics last week and will be in St. Louis with the PMG next month for two shows. We look forward to seeing you all again very soon.


What took the cake of late for me was celebrating my son’s graduation from Boston University just last week. We had a great weekend in Beantown. It was good to have brother Jim come to celebrate the milestone too. Best wishes and Godspeed to all of you out there who are going through the same rights of passage. We hope to see you soon down the line.


As always, all our best to you,


Peter Mayer Group June Dates

Peter Mayer Group will perform at Concordia Lutheran Church, Kirkwood, MO June 14, 2012

$12 tickets in advance/$15 at the door

Purchase advance tickets at 1-888-71-TICKETS or

Benefit proceeds are for Humanitri, who provides housing and human services for homeless, ex-offender and underserved teen mom populations:


Peter Mayer Group performs at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville, IL June 15, 2012

$12 tickets in advance/$15 at the door

Purchase advance tickets at 1-888-71-TICKETS or

Benefit proceeds are for Unity Lutheran Christian Elementary School, a mission school in East St Louis.


Please visit for news, tour and merchandise information!

For The Record: The Ballad of John Steele (from the “Spare Tire Orchestra” CD)


Here’s to your celebration of the Memorial day weekend this year. We remember those who have given their lives in service of this country.

I was on a TWA flight many years ago when there was still a TWA airlines, reading an article celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-day. It told the story of a paratrooper, Private John Steele, who fell down into the town of Ste-Mère-Église in France, by mistake. The town center was full of German soldiers and townspeople trying to put out a fire when from the sky fell two planeloads of American paratroopers. The descending troopers were an easy target for the German soldiers, but Private Steele was lucky/unlucky enough to get his parachute caught on a church steeple. He was left dangling two feet from the ground, playing dead for two hours, while many of his fellow soldiers perished. He was later taken prisoner by the Germans and later escaped to rejoin his division. He was later awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery. This story was so full of both tragic and comedic twists and turns, it seemed like a good metaphor for the music business, life and love’s ups and downs, and maybe your line of work too.


“Fell from the sky June 1945

To fight the good fight was my mission

A hero I’m gonna be oh Lord have mercy on me

A dead or alive one is the question


Down to the fields of France into enemy hands

Quite a hopeless proposition

But I never hit the ground,

got caught on a steeple like a circus clown

Another unjustified crucifixion


I miss my baby back home

Caught in the crossfire I’m so alone

I keep holding on tryin’ to be strong


Let me down let me down

Put my feet back on the ground

I’m a Danglin’ dancin’ clown ..Let me down

Let me go let me go

Caught between heaven and earth below

Take my life or let me know let me go”

Something Old

Something Old: The 1963 Stratocaster, my first dream electric guitar

Something New

Something New: My new Triggs New Yorker Model Archtop with Mac McAnally playing

Something Remembered

Something Remembered: A wonderful moment with our friend Ralph MacDonald playing my Tacoma Classical Guitar. We miss you Ralph!

Play On Your Blue (and black) Guitar

What can you make with a hole and a string? Anyone who has fallen in love with the look, the sound, the feel of a guitar knows; from rock n’ roll, folk, the blues, sweet classical melodies, from samba to slide, finger tapping, pick, playing it with a bow, or your teeth, it is the instrument that, with a few chords under your fingers you can change the world or get a few people dancing. My first concert only got the Crestwood police called… we decided we’d change the world by playing out on our patio at full blast. The thrill I felt, when I first saw George Harrison, or Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Jeff Beck and Wes Montgomery had sealed my fate forever. I had to get my hands on a guitar. The first one I ever played was our family’s Yamaha 160 Acoustic that sat in the living room or up in my sister’s room waiting for someone to pick it up. When I needed an electric for band practice I’d go up the street to my girlfriend’s house to borrow her fancy three pickup model. Our dates ran concurrent with the days that band practice was scheduled. She caught on after a while and I was thrown out on the street to work summer jobs to save up for my first electric. I worked all summer to pay $100.00 dollars for an Electra three pickup Les Paul copy. It was terrible. When the band I joined threatened to throw me out unless I got a guitar that played in tune, I got my first Fender Stratocaster, a black 1963 model that belonged to the brother of the guitar player with Dan Fogelberg. The Stratocaster is the guitar that Jimi Hendrix and a host of other players like Sonny Landreth have played to get that special tone. To this day no other guitar I have played sounds or feels like that instrument. It was used on all the early PM music, “Piece of Paradise,” and I use it on the new Live Album “Under Your Spell” on the song “Heaven Help Us” for the slide part and on “BB’s Got the Blues.”  

Not everyone has the where-with-all to own a world-class guitar, but with just a few dollars for a garage sale beginners model you can get started. A few important life lessons I’ve learned from these six strings:1) What’s missing is as important as what’s there. The hole’s as important as the string. Without the resonant space, you would have no tone. In the case of some electric guitars that don’t have sound holes, they still have resonant space in the wood, it’s just miniscule, so we have magnetic pickups and amplifiers to make it bigger. It reminds me when I’m having a conversation or playing music, it only resonates when I shut up sometimes, otherwise it’s a lecture, not a conversation.2) The good news and the bad news is that without hands to play them, all guitars sound the same. This is a contact sport, a tactile art, and one that requires you to pick it up and spent your spare time on it. The bad news is that you will suck for a while. Do you give up? That’s not the solution James Taylor came up with. Russ Kunkel used to tell me that when James first came to commercial recording sessions, often times his guitar parts would sound really rough. James would go over it till he got a tone so good that no one else could capture it. Guitars can teach you how to play, but you need to put your hands on them and listen closely to get the lesson.3) Lesson number three, everyone has a voice. The finish to the James Taylor story is that he was fired by Russ’ band for not being the quick study in the studio. With time on his hands, James took his time finding his voice, writing incredible songs that we’ve come to know and love. When he got a record deal and needed a band, he called the only band he knew, Russ and Leland Sklar, the very guys that had fired him.


Send us a note if you play, have a favorite guitar, or guitar story you want to share. We’d love to hear about it.

Keep on playing,



  1. Luckily for me, back in ’74 my freshman college roommate brought with him a steel-string and the James Taylor book. The book was priceless to me as it showed how James did it, in both standard notation and tab. I devoured the information, and I’m still playing, as well as writing and occasionally pitching songs. The guitar and banjo have been my magic carpets through the years, carrying me to some wonderful musicians and music.

    Gary Reynolds on June 18th, 2012

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