Sunday, March 9, 2014

My pawnshop guitar and some fellows from The Cure

Lol Tolhurst and Meghan Gohil

Little story about a pawnshop guitar, an Alvarez acoustic.

I picked it up at the pawn shop on South Grand in St. Louis for $75. I got a lot of songs out of that guitar, and then passed it along. My buddy Meghan Gohil was starting Hollywood Recording Studio, and studio guys love to have guitar options.

Now one of his steady studio gigs is recording Levinhurst, a project led by Meghan's good friend Lol Tolhurst. Lol was a founding member of The Cure, and Levinhurst is Lol's project with his wife, the equally talented Cindy Levinson. Really great stuff.

Michael Dempsey, a friend of Lol's (and a fellow founding member of The Cure), joined Levinhurst recently to record an e.p. at Hollywood Recording Studio. Michael took a picture of my old pawnshop guitar.

My pawnshop guitar at Hollywood Recording Studio
Photo by Michael Dempsey

"If you'll note, the high E string is removed," Meghan pointed out. "Michael asked me to take this off for the recording sessions, so he essentially played it as a five-string guitar. Most five-string players, like Keith Richards and Pete Townshend, typically remove the low E string."

Michael played my old pawnshop Alvarez on their record. Here he is working out a song with Cindy on it.

Michael Dempsey chording my old pawnshop guitar
as he and Cindy Levinson work out a Levinhurst song.
Photo by Meghan Gohil
Hollywood Recording Studio

"You can see three amps in the picture," Meghan notes: "the one on the bottom right is an old Sears Silvertone (my first guitar amp, bought out of the catalog for $79)."

The record these folks made with my old pawnshop guitar and Meghan's out-of-the-catalog amp is really terrific! I'd call it shimmering hypno pop. In the first of the three songs on the e.p., "Somewhere Something," the acoustic guitar establishes the arrangement and the texture of the mix. My old acoustic guitar, in Michael Dempsey's hands, is in very good voice. Check out their e.p. on iTunes.

"Somewhere, Nothing is Everything"

This week and next week, Meghan tells me, they're going to be broadcasting songs from the new e.p. on a show called "The Lopsided World of Jonathan L," an internet radio show that plays on stations based in Athens, Berlin, L.A. and Phoenix. (More on that also at

I asked Meghan for a video of The Cure back in the day where Lol and Michael are featured. The official video for "10:15 Saturday Night" has good looks at Lol on drums and Michael on bass, as well as of course Robert Smith on vocals/guitar. What a very great band The Cure was when Lol and Michael backed up the very young Robert Smith.

Lol starts "10:15 Saturday Night," with his simple stick on cymbal, and Michael closes it with an intense, unadorned solo bass figure. I really like the thought that the musician's hands that finished off this absolutely perfect piece of post-punk rock by The Cure have now voiced chords on my old pawnshop Alvarez.

The back of Meghan's $79 Sears amp
Hollywood Recording Studio
Photo by Michael Dempsey