Art Thompson: Ronnie Wood and Experience PRS

September 25, 2010
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 Wow, what week this has been. I got to interview Ronnie Wood on Thursday afternoon in New York, and what a cool guy to hang with. We talked about his new CD,  I Feel Like Playing, which is an excellent album with tons of great guitar playing—not only by Ronnie, but also Billy Gibbons, Slash, and Waddy Wachtel.
Before he was whisked away to grab lunch with Mick Jagger, Bill Clinton, and—rumor has it—Barack Obama, Ronnie talked a lot of about making this album and writing most of the songs for it. It was recorded over several months this year in variety of locations, and with a bunch of excellent players, including Ivan Neville and Ian McLagan on keys, bassists Darryl Jones and Flea, and drummers Steve Ferrone and Jim Keltner. Stay tuned for the whole enchilada in an upcoming cover story in GP.

Right after this, I hopped on flight to Maryland to drop in on the festivities at the annual Experience PRS event. That evening GP publisher Joe Perry and I were invited to Paul Smith’s house for a party, which was tons of fun, and the next day the formal event kicked off with some 2,000 PRS fans from all over the country and the world attending—we even ran into last week's Guitar Superstar winner and acoustic guitar master, Don Alder. What a cool guy, and such an original sounding player!

At the 12-hour event you could freely roam the PRS factory where workers were on hand to explain every aspect of how PRS guitars and amplifiers are made. You could also take in clinics, check out new guitar releases—such as the JA-15, a new hollowbody electric that Paul Jackson Jr. introduced—watch amps being built, and learn how to hand carve a maple top or even try your hand at staining woods to those beautiful shades that PRS uses.

The end of the day featured David Grissom doing shootout between Paul Smith’s fab sounding ’57 Les Paul and the new SC 58 Singlecut. Then British guitar slinger Davy Knowles took the stage to do a similar comparison between a Paul’s vintage Fender Strat and the new single-coil-equipped PRS DC-3. These guys are both great players and the results of their comparisons were very interesting. As Tom Wheeler pointed out in his introduction, Paul Smith deserves lots of credit for doing these live guitar comparisons for all to hear—and judge—for themselves.

Live music continued into the evening with performances by Martin Simpson, Davy Knowles, Paul Smith, Orianthi, and others. Overall, this is a fantastic event that anyone who digs PRS guitars (or any other guitars for that matter) should try to attend. In fact, I’m heading back there right now to take in some more of it! —Art Thompson

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