The Next Great Guitar God?
November 29, 2006 4:56 AM   Subscribe

Danny Sveinson is The Rock and Roll Kid. The 11 year old guitar prodigy from Surrey, BC, has already played the Apollo Theatre in New York, jammed with Les Paul, and opened for April Wine and Colin James. They say he's the next Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. They say he's the next guitar god. His parents say he has to be in bed by ten. How does Danny keep himself grounded under the pressure of fame and the spotlight? He watches birds.
posted by debralee (49 comments total)
Wow, this is exactly whats wrong with rock or at least rock guitar. Its a parody of itself. Irrelevant, tedious fast licks, same hackneyed tones from the 60s, etc. No wonder so many people have moved on to hip-hop. At least its a bit more creative than moldy cock-rock.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:15 AM on November 29, 2006

Not to mention, isnt the age of 'guitar gods' dead? The 70s fetishism of the guitar player is long dead and the idea of another Clapton or Hendrix sans the free love, counter-culture, and big festivals doesn't make sense to me.

I still wince at some of Hendrix's very 60's lyrics and how dated they are. Outside the context of the 60's/70's its kinda silly.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:20 AM on November 29, 2006

The giggle that this produced made the FPP worthwhile for me:

opened for April Wine
posted by srboisvert at 5:24 AM on November 29, 2006

i know it's only rock & roll but i like it.
posted by nola at 5:25 AM on November 29, 2006

He's good, but a prodigy? I dunno.
posted by chillmost at 5:36 AM on November 29, 2006

Irrelevant, tedious fast licks

Would you be so kind as to tell us what a "relevant" guitar lick might sound like?
posted by Greg Nog at 5:38 AM on November 29, 2006

The entire concept of "prodigy" makes me want to vomit. Whatever an art form gains by having young people with high levels of technical skill and low levels of interpretive skill is counteracted by the fact that probably 70% of these kids are going to burn out at puberty.
Not to mention the culture of goal-based child abuse it engenders.
I'm sorry- I don't want to diss on the post, which is actually really good in terms of sources, etc. I just grew up around a lot of "prodigies" who didn't get that way because of some God-given skill- they got that way because their parents locked them in rooms and made them practice, or beat them when they screwed up.
posted by 235w103 at 5:43 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

So his hearing will be ruined by the time he's 13 rather than by the time he's 23? I hope the kid uses ear protection.
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 5:52 AM on November 29, 2006

I think he's great.
posted by the cuban at 5:58 AM on November 29, 2006

No wonder so many people have moved on to hip-hop. At least its a bit more creative than moldy cock-rock.

More creative? I wouldn't say that. There is talent to be found, but the genre really doesn't matter, unless you're hung up on trends. Dissing an entire genre is hardly original.

Hip-hop originated in the '70s. It's barely less moldy that cock-rock.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:00 AM on November 29, 2006

The last rock 'n' roll guitar god who actually innovated was J Mascis. He was a guy the substituted complex riffs and leads for where we expected a chord progression to be. Not that it was for everyone (I love it), but it was at least something new and different.

The rest of is just blues-based wankery in the tradition of Clapton/Hendrix/Beck/Page/Van Halen/Satriani/Slash. Nothing new to see here. When I was going to guitar shops in the late 80s there were at least three prepubescent lads in there playing the same endless riffs. This went away for a while, but maybe it's making a comeback?
posted by psmealey at 6:02 AM on November 29, 2006

He could stand to tune that thing a little better. In that first YouTube clip, I thought he'd adjust his tuning before launching into whatever that was supposed to be, but no.

I will say that his playing sounds to me a little more inspired than the DDR/Guitar Hero LOOK HOW FAST I CAN FOLLOW DIRECTIONS style of playing that seems to be popular with the "prodigy" set. At least he wasn't shredding on Pachelbel's Canon in D.
posted by emelenjr at 6:04 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

damn dirty ape's replies are, like, WAY more amusing when read in the comic book guy's voice. But then again, what isn't?

Only hope this little dude's potential burnout isn't, like, hastened by a cynical internet jihad against him for daring to rock out in 2006, or even for simply being called a "prodigy". Any time the term is applied, deserved or not, locked-in-room or not, it's practically insta-froth.

Keep playing your heart out, Danny, please ignore the angry hipsters!

And buy a strobe tuner, please! They are not expensive!
posted by jake at 6:11 AM on November 29, 2006

chillmost, I would completely agree with you - the kid is good, but fairly far from a prodigy. His speed and accuracy seem OK - it's not like there's a ton of stuff up on his website to judge - but it's really lite in the emotional component. Listen to Hendrix as a guitar player, and you'll hear his soul. And damn dirty ape, I'm sorry to hear that you would put Hendrix into a 60s box, as many of us who play guitar can listen past the lyrics and focus instead on his technique and tone, which have really never been matched since his death. I'm listening to "Wait Until Tomorrow", and nothing about the lyrics or playing sounds even the least bit dated to my middle-age ears that also adore Radiohead, Chris Whitley and Wilco.
posted by dbiedny at 6:19 AM on November 29, 2006

and opened for April Wine and Colin James

Meh. Call me when he's opened for Glass Tiger, Helix and Loverboy.
posted by mendel at 6:20 AM on November 29, 2006

OK, I just watched the Youtube videos, and I'm even less impressed than before. This fellow has potential, but it sounds to me like he's concentrating on candy coated toppings, instead of foundation issues. Let's see how he handles a slow blues number, and we'll know something his abilities in regards to voicings and emotion.
posted by dbiedny at 6:28 AM on November 29, 2006

Damn impressive for an 11 year old. I can't wait to see what kind of music he's pumping out at age 20. Right now his style doesn't really interest me though, it feels very 70's ish.
posted by antifuse at 6:30 AM on November 29, 2006

Awesome for an 11-year-old! But on its own, it needs work. He's got a good start. Give him a few more years' practice, and he'll be amazing.
posted by katillathehun at 6:33 AM on November 29, 2006

Reading this thread is like listening to Grumpy Old Man in D minor.

Guitar stuff aside, he seems to have a pretty good eye for birds.
posted by peeedro at 6:47 AM on November 29, 2006

MetaFilter: Grumpy Old Men in D Minor.
posted by dbiedny at 6:49 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Grumpy Old Men in D Minor.

Nonsense. It's got nothing to do with teh old. Here's a joke that I learned at Berklee in 1992:

Q: How many guitarists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: 20. One to do it, 19 to observe him doing it and then later comment, "eh, I can do that better."
posted by psmealey at 7:09 AM on November 29, 2006

off topic: nice to see the Chris Whitley mention dbiedny. I first heard of Chris on metafilter and have been grateful ever since.
posted by sineater at 7:17 AM on November 29, 2006

you know who was a young guitar prodigy? Dweezil Zappa. Yeah, everyone worships him now.

(seriously, Dweezil is amazingly good, but being good at guitar isn't exactly a big deal in this day and age)
posted by JekPorkins at 7:17 AM on November 29, 2006

but being good at guitar isn't exactly a big deal in this day and age

Or any day and age. What is rare and a big deal is being tasteful, expressive and innovative.
posted by psmealey at 7:22 AM on November 29, 2006

psmealey, even that won't necessarily get you very far.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:29 AM on November 29, 2006

Good at guitar means tasteful, expressive and innovative. I submit Bill Frisell.
posted by davebush at 7:32 AM on November 29, 2006

Would you be so kind as to tell us what a "relevant" guitar lick might sound like?

It sounds all like: "WEEET ... Weedio-weedio-weedio-weet ... weet-weet-weedio-weet."

posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:14 AM on November 29, 2006

Oops. Forgot the /i. That was supposed to say...

It sounds all like: "WEEET ... Weedio-weedio-weedio-weet ... weet-weet-weedio-weet."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:15 AM on November 29, 2006

How can you hear emotion? I am not doubting it, but I don't understand it and I wouldn't know what I'm looking for. What would it sound like if he were better?
posted by arcticwoman at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2006

You can definately hear expression and uniqueness. You can also hear a skilled player. Listen to some of Stevie Ray Vaugh's or David Gilmour's playing. Now listen to a shredder (or fast technical )player like Steve Vai or Randy Rhoades. This kid is more toward the latter and is only noteworthy because of his young age. Its amusing, but certainly not anything beyond the 'gee whiz thats cute' stage.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:51 AM on November 29, 2006

UGH, maybe the typical MeFi cynicism just bothers me more than usual when it's directed toward young musicians, no matter how "relevant" their genre or how inspired their interpretation.

Shouldn't we be cheering young artists on, relatively unconditionally, instead of being jaded pricks and whining about how they don't deserve attention?

At the very least, he's notable enough to have been invited to play some big venues and jam with LP. That's worth at least a mention and some kudos.

Can we put our dicks away, please?
posted by jake at 9:37 AM on November 29, 2006

arcticwoman, I submit the Chris Whitley song "Dirt Floor", from the album of the same name. Sadness and a definitive sense of mortality can be discerned, without even the benefit of a solo passage. Or the song "Loco Girl". from the same album. A unique type of quiet beauty that makes me think of longing, desire and lost love.

Damn dirty ape, while I agree re: the Steve Vai comment, I have to tell you that I was lucky enough to see Randy Rhodes play more than once, up close, and his mastery of the fretboard was overwhelmed by his presence and sincerity. His solo during "Steal Away the Night" was blistering and as intense as anything I've ever seen life. I personally found him to be a highly expressive and captivating player, in a way that _no_ subsequent Ozzy guitarist could even vaguely muster. And I'll tell you what - I suspect if Ozzy was pressed, he would admit that Randy made him relevant after BS, and without him, he's just not really worth a listen.
posted by dbiedny at 9:38 AM on November 29, 2006

jake - this kid has potential, but that's very different from being put forward as the next Hendrix. Encouragement is fine, young players are a good thing, no argument there, but can't we express our honest opinions of his skills?
posted by dbiedny at 9:41 AM on November 29, 2006

but can't we express our honest opinions of his skills?

Of course, you can do anything you like, but why in such a rude, cynical way? He's 11 and totally immature as an artist. At 20 he could be an unbelievable badass who has discovered how to use his training to express his emotions beautifully. Or he could be a total flop. Or he could end up as a music teacher and teach guitar himself!

So why not encourage him? And every kid who picks up an instrument, period? If they don't amount to anything, that's a shame. But trashing a kid just because people are sensationalizing his skills and calling him "The next X" (which is pretty stupid to begin with, and should be addressed separately)? Weak.

The media reacts sensationally to kids with talent - it always has, and probably always will. I can see taking exception to that sensationalism, but it seems insane and frankly petty to respond as people here have. He isn't calling himself the next Hendrix, he's calling himself Danny.

People seem to be mixing up the reporting and the subject, and being extra frothy because of how he's presented. It's gross.
posted by jake at 10:16 AM on November 29, 2006

Jesus, he's 11. He looks like he's having fun, so good for him. "They" can call him the next [whatever] all they want, but why buy into it by comparing him to musicians 20+ years older (or dead)?

Besides, he takes really nice pictures of birds.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on November 29, 2006

jake, nothing about my posts is even remotely rude. I said he was good, he has potential, but my opinion is that he's far from being Jimi Hendrix.

The hype on the linked website far outweights the reality of the playing I'm hearing, regardless of the player's age. I'm not trashing the kid, so I'm note sure why you're having such an extreme reaction. Take a chill pill.
posted by dbiedny at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2006

Let's rip the little motherfucker to shreds. No mercy!! Where's your guitar god now, Danny? Mwah hah hah hah hah.

Seriously, I don't think people are being mean. No one is denying the fact that the kid can play. As for the rest of it, he obviously doesn't lack for encouragement. Personally I'd rather save my own encouragement for kids on the edge of picking up music, like my 15 year old nephew who is almost good, but needs to apply himself more to get there. This kid doesn't need any nurturing from me, as he has, in a sense, already made it.

I think people are responding more to the hype than his potential or actual ability. Look, either he'll stick with it and become the greatest player of all time, or he'll burn out next year, or something in between. As for what he's playing now, it's great he's so accomplished at such a young age, but doesn't do much for me otherwise. As with all music: YMMV.
posted by psmealey at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2006

dbiedny, oh, my apologies if it was implied that it's your comments I'm reacting to. It's not. I agree with you, he's no Jimi Hendrix. Neither is he the next Eric Clapton, jake, dbiedny, Elvis, Ghandi, Jim in Accounting, or anyone but Danny.

I really hate "the next X", no matter who is compared to whom. (And by extension, "the X of Y" - you have no idea how often I hear "the John Williams of videogames" applied to random composers who are nothing at all like John Williams)

And you're right, he's totally hyped. It's not fair to him, and it never is to kids who get hyped by gee-whiz reporting. That's sort of my point. Let the kid grow up, don't participate in the media circus OR be over-critical because of it.
posted by jake at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2006

posted by jake at 11:01 AM on November 29, 2006

I'd just like to see him play Prince & the Revolution in a pickup game of b-ball.

Who wants pancakes?
posted by isopraxis at 11:12 AM on November 29, 2006

This kid isn't going to be the next Clapton, or Hendrix.

He's going to be the next Buckethead.

His parents will be proud.
posted by sparkletone at 11:17 AM on November 29, 2006

Also, please remember:

"For squeadlies, mash on the trembalo. For meadlies, tune up on your chord surpassers. Oh, and I'm awesome."
posted by sparkletone at 11:21 AM on November 29, 2006

Would you be so kind as to tell us what a "relevant" guitar lick might sound like?

I can do better than tell you. I can give you an example.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:55 PM on November 29, 2006

If he's so good, why is he still a little kid, huh?
posted by Navelgazer at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

yeah, he has some musical talent but prodigy? No.

It's a cute human-interest story for a slow news day. Similar to the slow news day sometime last year when the Vancouver media paraded him around like he was the next Hendrix or something. I remember thinking then that he would probably be embarassed later in life because his playing was sloppy.

His father and his uncanny ability to get publicity for his fairly average kid is the real story here.

I make no apologies for dissing.
posted by weezy at 5:54 PM on November 29, 2006

This is what a guitar prodigy sounds like, folks.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:45 PM on November 29, 2006

C_D, I'm in awe. And I'm about as jaded as it gets where videos of unknown guitarists are concerned.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:48 PM on November 29, 2006

What weezy said. Not to belabor this too much, but when I was 11, I could play a perfectly serviceable version of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog". I had at least one classmate who was significantly more proficient than I. So while this kid's playing level might be very high for his age, it is by no means rare. What is rare is his parents' willingness to pimp him out to this degree and to get the hype machine to line up behind him.
posted by psmealey at 3:56 AM on November 30, 2006

damn dirty ape: you've managed to regurgitate some third hand punk cant. Bravo.

Music is music. and punk is an attitude not a rigid form. and April Wine had their moments.
posted by jonmc at 6:40 AM on November 30, 2006

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