Chocky Kay was born on August 19, 1954 in Odessa, Texas. He received his first guitar on his 5th birthday. It was a Kay concert guitar, so large that he had to strum the neck strings. He became so good, so quickly, that he was invited to sing for his 2nd grade class, and that started the buzz in Odessa.
He and his older brother, Mike, started a band called "The Chateaus" when he was in the 4th grade. While Chocky was still in elementary school, they won Mike's Jr. High School Talent Show 2 years in a row. "The Chateaus" played parties in Odessa, and concerts like at the Ector County Colliseum's Barn A. Chocky was a stand-out because of his young age. This caused some riffs. Members of the group began hearing comments from high school guys who told them they would never go anywhere as long as a little kid was in the group. Chocky had also started a group called the "Shadows" with some elementary school friends, so the Chateaus dismissed him from the group. He found out from another musician that the excuse used was that Chocky wanted to play army with the neighbor kids instead of practice. But, it was the age difference and was verified later. It was a good move, though. His brother started a great band with other friends closer to his age, such as Brett Bates (Bass).
Chocky's band, The "Shadows", began playing parties for kids and ended up on local TV. Chocky became a local celebrity. They were invited on the local TV favorites "Admiral Foghorn Show" and "The Hub Jamboree". This "Hub Jamboree", which aired every Saturday afternoon, usually featured Country artists, including the Odesssan "Roy Orbison".
Music was rare for him during middle school until he finally met some friends his age who played music. They had no drummer, but they had fun. Things finally started back up again with various musicians across Odessa.
At Permian High School (the high school in "Friday Night Lights"), he began teaming up with musicians 2 and 3 years his age and finally ended up in a group he stayed with for the rest of his teen years. The musicians that became the stable group in High School were Chocky Kay on Lead Guitar, Al johnson on Lead Guitar, Monte Slusher on Bass Guitar, and Steve Turner on Drums. He said that he always has had dfficulty coming up with band names. They called their group the "19th Street Exit" until they realized the name sounded like bubble-gum music. So, it was just shortened to "Exit". They toured around Texas, mostly in the West and South, in their two Ford Econoline vans. Chocky painted, "Exit" on the back of his van that he got for $120. He often got laughs and comments from people who said that everyone knows the back door is the exit to the van! After his graduation from high school, there were a lot of changes.
After High School, the Bass Player quit the band. With the band's need for a bass player, they asked singer and guitarist Terry Jordan to join the group. Terry was a James Taylor sound-alike and was very talented. His father was the choir director at Permian HS, and Terry was a tremendous singer. With Terry's addition, the group quickly adopted an entirely new set of music. This band was the best band he says he played with at that time. Their music consisted of Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, the Moody Blues, and others of that day. They were planning to move to Austin and decided on a new name. One day, Chocky father was a talented artist. He said that he was looking at his father's beautiful painting of a sailboat, and the air was pleasantly aromatic due to his father's pipe tobacco, Sail Tobacco. That was it. They renamed the group "Sail". Glossy photos were made and posters. After moving to Austin, they played primarily in San Antonio due to knowing people there and working with an agent named Sam Kensey. This was at the same time Christopher Cross was playing in San Antonio. With "Sail" being accepted heartily in the South fo Texas, Chocky says he couldn't help but wonder if the band's name was part of the inspiration for Christopher Cross's beautiful song, "Sailing". Christopher Cross was playing in San Antonio at that time. Later on, when Chocky mentioned Christopher Cross in San Antonio, some friends said "He is from Austin". Chocky said, "Then, someone had better tell Christopher Cross. He's telling the world he's from San Antonio"! Nevertheless, after the move to Austin and spending days without food, and after he had an auto accident in the other guitarist's car sustaining a severe laceration of his lower lip, he hung it up and moved back to Odessa to find work playing in bars. He had also begun to search for God.
Back in West Texas
Back in Odessa, Chocky met a brilliantly talented guitarist, and again a much older musician. He bacame a life-long friend, named Steve Thornton. Steve was not only every bit as good or better, he was a very talented songwriter. Steve and Chocky began write and to play in clubs in Odessa. They caused another stir. But, Steve was also searching for God, just like Chocky had been. Chocky said that God found them both. Chocky began writing Christian Contemporary Music.
Chocky had played lead guitar at a Concert in West County Auditorium backing up 18 year old Donna Gatlin, the sister of Larry Gatlin. Her brothers Rudy & Steve Gatlin played backup as well. When Chocky started playing leads, they turned and said, "Wow! You're really good!" Chocky bumped in to Rudy at one of the local churches off and on, and said that Rudy was one of the nicest guys he met in music.
Don't Play Your Cards Until You Have a Good Hand
It's one thing to be able to play an instrument, like the guitar. It's another thing to be able to play any instrument you pick up. That's very good, but recording artists can find brilliant musicians on almost every street corner. We've all seen outstanding artists who still play music in bars. That's great, but there won't be many talent scouts walking in to a bar in West Texas looking for the next great artist to record. Chocky realized very early on that if he wanted to be more than just another guitarist or just another studio musician, he'd have to write his own music; however, that's not as easy as it sounds. There are a few people who can pick up a guitar and rattle off a song at the drop of a hat. Those talented songwriters are few and far between, and just because someone can write songs, it doesn't mean that the songs will be picked up by United Artists. That's why songwriters make so much more money than the other members of a band.
If you're wanting to write songs, be aware that every cut throat attorney who loves to rip off a fool for their money is waiting to take your money, if you decide to give away your work. Today, the numerous online companies who promise you that they'll "Shop your music" to the big guys in Hollywood are as thick as thieves. For a nomimal monthly fee, and for another nominal fee each time you want to submit you music to an offer to get your song airplay on TV, your music/song can be highlighted on an upcoming TV show or a new movie that's coming out. And, on top of all of that, if your music is selected, you get the wonderful opportunity to sign a contract with the producers of the new TV series to use your song, FREE OF CHARGE! That's right. You don't get a penny. What you paid for is the chance to allow someone to use your music for FREE.
The reason producers are using song services now, is that this is a way of obtaining music without being required to get permission from a known songwriter & without having to pay for the use of the music. If you think that it's a great way to be "Discovered", just take a listen to the music on many of the TV Shows today. It's rare to see a series that has decent music anymore.
If you want to write music, work EVERY DAY, just like with anything else. Most of the songs you write won't be heard by anyone because you'll be too embarrassed to let anyone hear them. But, after you get the hang of writing, your songs will get better and better. Then, maybe you'll wake up one morning, or you'll be taking a shower, and the song will just appear out of thin air. Whichever way it happens, it's going to take work and the best songs are usually worked on or re-written or changed over and over until it's right. Don't throw songs together just to have songs. And, don't be too anxious to post your songs on Facebook. WAIT. And, when you have the right songs, DON'T post them on Facebook, unless you want to give away every song you write for free. It's not easy to sit on a really good song, but if you have one, you need to surround yourself with people who can protect you, protect your music, and who can make certain that you'll make money on your song(s). You won't have to give it away for free, unless that's your goal.
Chocky tries to help others and give advice about things he did wrong. Good judgment comes from making bad decisions. All of the songwriting advice comes from the numerous mistakes Chocky made.
For instance, he went to school with a very nice lady who became the personal secretary for Donna Summers, during the time when Donna Summers was one of the biggest names in music. Because she knew him, and because she saw him play many times, she kindly asked him to send her a tape of his music. She said she'd listen to it and get it into the right hands, if it was good enough. So, the tape of some of his songs that were recorded on a cassette tape recorder (a cheap one) were sent to her. After she heard the songs, she actually called him. She was very kind and said she knew how talented he is and that she always admired his talent. But, that was about all she said. She didn't have to say anything else: The songs were awful. They were primitive. The lyrics were terrible. In case you're wondering, nothing came of all of this. It was a WASTED attempt at becoming a songwriter. But, not all was wasted. He learned to WAIT until the songs were ready. He says it's no different than what a good photographer does. The photographer takes thousands and thousands of pictures that no one will ever see. But, there will be 2 or 3 pictures among the thousands which take your breath away. That's what you're waiting for.
Chocky has dozens of cassette tapes, each filled with hundreds of song ideas. Many of them have never become completed songs. Just don't throw them away. Keep them. Songs change just like fashion changes. Believe it or not, people are listening to "Folk Music" again. And, it was a dead art for a while. Not anymore.
The Very Good Duo
While playing in churches and performing at Christian Concerts, and becoming known around Texas for Christian Contemporary Music, Chocky bumped in to an old friend from elementary school who also became Christian. This was his friend Bill Briggs.
Chocky and Bill made the biggest stir yet. They played acoustic guitars mainly, wrote music, and began playing all over Texas. But, they also both played every instrument they could get their hands on including flute, drums, keyboards, and Chocky purchased a Buddy Emmons pedal steel guitar for nearly nothing. That's all they both had, was nothing. But they had their families and lots of talent. It turned out, Bill had become really efficient at keyboards. He started wowwing people all over the state.
The two played the San Marcos' Hill Country Faith Festival just before the Talbott Brothers & Nicky Cruz. They did Christian concerts in Houston as well as around Odessa.
They also played a concert in Houston for a youth rally and were treated like rock stars.
Many talented musicians began to become Christian and came to the same church Chocky, Steve, and Bill attended. Mostly, they all began playing separately, together, and playing music at home. Chocky kept writing and sent music which was picked up by Word Music. The producer of Starsong Records asked him to come to Houston to audition. The man who heard a tape of Chocky and was very excited was none other than the man who made Barry Manilow's song "Mandy" a gold record. When Chocky walked in to his office, he saw the gold record on the wall. Chocky auditioned for him and the producer, Wayne Donahoo, but they said they couldn't underwrite him. He needed to come up with $5,000. They'd just purchased a 32 track studio board. Petra had helped them enough that they could purchase it. Chocky was poor and was just living check to check. He was also married with children. He quickly discovered that his own church wouldn't back him and the next incident clinched it for him. Choeky continued writing, but a singular incident woke him up, he says.
He was playing a concert with the last Chrisitan Contemporary group he played with, named "Harvest". They played a concert in a local park, after getting permission, and it drew a large crowd of young people who knew him. It caused a huge stir. They were playing a concert outside of a local church and again drew a large crowd. There was a young listener in the crowd. This person was heard to say, "If I wanted to hear Blues, I 'd go to a bar". This comment really got to him. He said that he began asking himself what the point was? This was also an excuse. There was a rumbling deep within he said. He felt God had different plans for him. Evidently, that was true.
He went to college after maryying his wife and having 3 children. He was in the National Honor Society and began winning awards for Scholastic Achievement and about every other award that was offered. He wanted to be a doctor, but they were really poor. He worked hard and got scholarships, and was accepted to the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio. While in medical school, he played with a rock group called "The Arrhythmics", which medically means "no rhythm". They won the talent shows, and Chocky was also featured in the newspaper playing for a children's charity.
He learned a valuable lesson while playing with the Arrhythmics in medical school. He says that red faced experiences can be some of the most valuable & memorable lessons in life. Chocky was playing with the group along with an outstanding guitarist who he admired. This talented musician had attended Juliard before medical school and it was truly obvious. For a couple of years, they all seemed to get along & Chocky enjoyed learning from everyone as well as adding his style, but his senior class had their Senior Skit arise & nobody in the group would play, including the other lead guitarist, so Chocky grouped with some classmates he didn't know. The drummer turned out to be one of the best drummers he's ever played with.
After the skit was done & video-taped, he got a call from the keyboard player in the Arrhythmics who gave him a list of songs the group would rehearse in a couple of weeks. Nothing seemed any different, and the rehearsals had been low-key for a couple of years. He familiarized himself with the songs and on the day of rehearsal, he set up his equipment & said his "hello's", but they weren't returned. The group began playing the first song, and off the other guitarist flew on a very slick, well-rehearsed lead that he'd been working on for weeks before the "rehearsal". In other words, Chocky says this guy "smoked him", badly. It was a setup! He wasn't told that this was a battle of the lead guitarists. He was only told this was a rehearsal.
Subsequently, the keyboard player called him back a couple of days later and said, "Well, I guess you know what this means...(pregnant pause). We will be going with (the other guitarist) from now on. The really crazy thing about this event was that medical school was over in a few more weeks. He realized that this "rehearsal" was nothing more than an event to embarass him & let him know that the other guitarist was much better. To this day, he's not aware of why the other guitarist got a "burr under his saddle". Nevertheless, it lit a fire under him & he decided, "Never Again"!
The lesson, of course, is to ALWAYS BE PREPARED.
While in medical school, Chocky began writing the music he had long loved which was of a secular nature. He had a small home studio. He wrote and recorded his first collection of secular music. It was on a cassette tape. He called, it, "People, Places, and Things". He admits that he was still having difficulty naming things.
He began writing secular music seriously . He self recorded and produced his 1st CD, "Sole Intention". He got the idea for the name from a neighbor, Justin Greer. Justin also played guitar and became a valued friend. Recording in his own studio and playing every instrument was a lifelong dream of his. Being dirt poor, Chocky borrowed guitars, amplifiers, recording gear, and microphones from anyone who'd allow him to use them. Finally, he had been able to save enough money to put together the right equipment to start recording his own music. Being too money poor to buy studio time in a big studio, he did the best he could with what he had, including taking the photos for the first CD, designing the CD cover and used photoshop and other tools to accomplish a unique cover with his guitars hanging in the air around him. To get this look, he had a local photographer take the picture with his guitars hanging on walls, laying on the floor, and leaning against guitar stands or chairs. Then, he set about removing everything in the photo except what remains on the cover. He wanted to lay down among the guitars but finally settled for sitting in the chair that's seen. The CD was sent to a new internet radio station named "New Artist Radio" The CD made waves across the internet. The CD garnered four #1 Songs from listeners, and "Rock Song of the Year". In Nashville, TN, he was given the NAR "Hall of Fame" . He says that he felt a locked up part of his heart had been set free when he began writing the music he'd always loved.
Noise vs Music
The virtuoso guitarist Alan Holdsworth was one of the many artists Chocky admired and studied. Holdsworth didn't like "the pick noise" when a guitarist plucks the strings with a guitar pick. That "noise" makes a different sound than the music coming from the guitar. Chocky agreed, but instead of inventing a guitar-like instrument that played like a saxophone (as Holdsworth did), he developed his "Rolling" play style using only his fingers. Eric Johson aspired to having a "violinesque" quality to his music.
For Chocky, it was the "Squeaking" of the guitar strings with the fingers or hand many guitarists employ and think sounds "cool". This isn't the normal squeak which can't be avoided or which occurs naturally when playing. Chocky said that this "squeaking" of the strings occurs when a guitarist lazily moves the hands along the tops of the strings when changing positions on the guitar neck. It makes nothing more than noise with no musical quality. He tried to discuss the topic with other guitarists and some said it "sounds cool", but he contends that it's not music. It does nothing more than make your hairs stand on end. Chocky tries to not touch the strings when moving along different frets up and down the guitar's fretboards. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule. It's pleasing to hear a note which slides up or down. It's still a musical note which is being "bent" or dropped down in pitch. Squeaking is just lazy playing. To him, someone might as well be standing at a chalk board and scraping their fingernails across it. The noise generated is almost identical. He simply doesn't understand why anyone would ruin a song with loud and unmusical squeaking with every movement of notes to another fret.
When someone criticized him for this, he pointed out that one or his favorite guitarists, the amazing Phil Keaggy,"squeaks" the strings in that fashion. Keaggy is an outstanding mucician, but he does "squeak" the strings at times when he plays, but it's definitely more difficult to play the same music and not squeak strings than it is to allow them to squeak. He then asked the other guitarist to try playing the same thing without squeaking the strings. He couldn't.
He said he's not trying to criticize anyone else, but he refuses to inject that noise into his playing. He's said that a pianist doesn't lazily rest their fingers on all the keys, allowing all the keys to lightly plink while playing. A great trumpet player doesn't make snorting sounds through his horn while playing. There's always an exception. Ian Gillian of Jethro Tull was famous for making grunting noises while playing flute. It was great, but what Gillian did was akin to Jimi Hendrix singing notes as he played them on guitar. That's difficult. It's part of the music, and it's a far cry from making annoying squeaking sounds while playing guitar.
To prevent string buzz or the ringing of extraneous notes when lifting the fingers off of the strings, he "dampens" all the strings that have no musical significance with his right hand, whether the strings offending string(s) is the low E string or the D string in the middle of a set of strings. Guitarists call this "muffing" or "muffling" of the strings. This practice has been used mainly to create a very nice dampened sound when a guitarist wants short, chopped, non-resonant notes. Chocky uses the muffling technique with almost everthing he plays.
He said another mistake occurs when a guitarist strums the entire set of strings, such as when playing a simple D chord for instance. It sounds awful, because the open E string is completely out of key with the D chord. He's doesn't chide or criticize other musicians. He just wants to teach anyone else who wants to learn how to play without all the mistakes he's made.
Chocky's Trademark "Rolling Style" of Playing Guitar and Leads
With the things above in mind, Chocky was once praised years ago by a listener who said, "You have an almost rolling style of playing guitar. It sounds like rolling water". That caught his attention. No one had ever noticed it before. He liked the concept very much. For the next 10 or more years, he pushed the envelope with that "rolling style" in mind. He finally developed a style of playing guitar that is so complex and rapid that it leads some to incorrectly think that he's doing double handed taps like Eddie Van Halen. He noticed that outstanding country guitarists, while playing leads, would either lift their fingers or the slide (slide guitar) completely off the strings in order to play an open note interspersed in the lead. It's amazingly pleasing. So, Chocky developed his rolling style to also allow for interspersed open notes to be played by briefly lifting the finger off the string.
His rolling style can be heard on many of his songs. His songs that almost completely utilize his trademark style include "Little Martha's Vineyard", "The Bride", and "Rollin' ". In fact, the rolling notes in these songs make up the entire melody and background music for the songs. He also utilizes "tunings" at times, which lend themselves perfectly to this style. But, it's not necessary. Althought tunings halped lead him to discover the technique, he can employ employ the same technique(s) while playing a guitar which is tuned normally. He showed the technique and tuning he uses to a friend at a local music store in Denver. Because of the way the guitar was tuned, his friend nicknamed it the "Daddy" tuning. The explanation is simple. The notes are tuned in a configuration from the top E-String to the bottom E-String as D-A-D-D-A-E (hence, the "Daddy" nickname). Even though the upper strings are basically an E-Chord dropped down a full step, the bottom string is left as a true "E" note, and the 5th string (B-String ) is tuned stretched up a full step to a true A note. The tuning is basically the E-chord tuned down a full step, but with the exceptions noted. This allowed Chocky to lift his fingers from the strings or use the open strings as the chords for the song or lead. However, it's much more complex than was just explained here. There is a lot going on with his rolling style.
Development of his
of Playing Guitar
With this "Daddy" tuning, Chocky discovered that he could play any set of 2 to 4 strings by playing up and down each string set. With this technique he devoped, he can play a lead or melody just as easily on a 4 string set as well as a 2 string set. The thumb plays the top string of the set, and each finger plays each subsequent string, using either 2 to 4 strings for rolling. He could run up and down on the string set and making a rolling melody.
With the starting set of strings, the thumb usually STARTS the melody or lead which is played on that string. While plucking the next string (usually OPEN,) this allows him to lift his fingers from the top string and move to the next string, playing it with the next finger. It's similar, but not exactly like playing a banjo, With banjo, each finger mainly stays on each string. With the Rolling Style, the fingers move up and down on the chosen set of strings, depending on the melody and the desired effect. The lead is performed, playing back and forth, up and down, and plucking or "popping" the open string each time it's necessary move the melody to the next string.
To understand Rolling Style, you must understand that the technique is performed on a "String Set". That Set can be 2, 3, or 4 strings that are right next to each other. As an example, if 3 strings are chosen for the "Set", the lead can be rolled up and down those 3 strings. BUT, ALSO you can shift the "String Set" up or down by ONE STRING. As you shift the "String Set" up or down one string, the lead is then rolled up and down that next 3 "String Set", just as was played on the first "String Set".
In order to make the "Shift" from one "String Set" to the next, an OPEN string is popped on the new "String Set" in the same manner that one plays any particular "String Set" itself. This string "pop" allows the SHIFT to be made from one "String Set" to the next, and BACK if you wish.
It might sound silly, but it's important to understand that everything in Rolling Style does just that: It ROLLS, whether up and down a string, up and down the "String Set", or with the "Shifting" between "String Sets" to a new "String Set". Everything ROLLS.
SHIFTING Between "String Sets"
As notes are played up and down the chosen string set, he can then move his thumb down to the next string, and start the process all over (SHIFTING A STRING SET) on a new set of strings which is ONE STRING ABOVE or BELOW where the previous "String Set" began. In other words, if the top E-String is the base for the "String Set", it's played with his thumb, and after each run up and down that "String Set", he can move the thumb down to the next string (the A-String: Base for the new "String Set") after interspersing an OPEN NOTE on the string he's moving to. This allows enough time to move the thumb down to the base of the next "String Set". This allows for the Rolling between the "String Sets".
1. So, ROLLING can be among the stings of a "String Set", or between "String Sets" themselves.
2. ROLLING between "String Sets" can be accomplishged either UP one string or DOWN one string.
3. When a "String Set" is played, each string is played with an Opening Note, and the subsequent notes played on that string are hammered on that string rather than each note being plucked or popped.
4. The same thing is accomplished when each subsequent string in a "String Set" is plucked with the next finger. The notes played on that string are hammered on it, as well.
5. Open strings are either for melody or used also for timing to Shift between Strings or "String Sets".
If he chooses a 2-String Set, he uses only his thumb on the starting string & plays all notes on that base string with his thumb. He rolls back and forth between the BASE string and the next string, moving down to the next 2-String Set, and so on. The effect is startling. It appears as if his fingers are moving like lightning up and down the strings of the guitar, and playing back and forth as well on each String Set.
He uses a 3-String Set to play the opening melody line for "Little Martha's Vineyard". You can hear the melody/lead rolling up the string sets, where he starts to riff at the bottom string set. It sounds as if he's starting far up the neck of the guitar and playing notes back and forth all the way down the neck to the Top E-String, which is now a True D Note. Being able to roll up or down the string sets is the key to playing rolling style. In fact, he can stay on one string set and continue playing just those strings, endlessly, by merely moving up and down the neck on appropriate frets, just like any guitarist will do on a normally tuned guitar. But, with the rolling style, the notes are played in such a rapid succession that it's not even noticeable that the fingers have not moved from the starting string set.
The same strategy is accomplished using a 3-String Set. The thumb starts on the top string of the chosen String Set, and he moves up and down each subsequent string set, such that he creates an endless succession of notes.
NO NOISE OR EXTRANEOUS NOTES:
A very important issue must be understood at this point. Chocky refused to develop any technique where simply meaningless notes are played. The up and down, back and forth Rolling of notes are to be played in such a fashion as to create melodic lead patterns.
Rolling Style is NOT intended as merely a vehicle to play rapidly, as is heard many times with double-tapping techniques.
It's easy to understand, however, why guitarists began tapping at any note they could to look as if they knew how to play like Eddie. Many famous guitarists were so intimidated by Eddie Van Halen that they began playing nonsensical taps on one string so as not to be left out.
Like Eddie Van Halen said about double-tapping, "Rolling Style" is the way Chocky plays guitar. But, he can play standard styles as well. It's merely another style. Chocky plays entire songs with his Rolling technique, as well as playing lead patterns.
Everything he's learned to play, he says that he's chosen the easiest way of doing it. In his own way, he admits that he has a lazy streak, also. A major reason that Chocky developed "Rolling" has to do with the size of his hands. Steve Morse & Alan Holdsworth both have very big hands & long fingers. When Phil Keaggy grabs his guitar by the neck, his fingers literally wrap around the neck & almost show back up at the bottom of the neck. His fingers are almost inhuman. (Just look at a video of Keaggy in a live performance). When shaking hands, Keaggy's fingers wrap all the way around the hand of the other person. They almost start wrapping around your hand twice!
His "Rolling Style" allows him to pop off melodic leads as quickly or slowly as desired. But, tastefulness and notes that add to the song are a MUST. When asked about this "laziness" in playing, he said that all great musicians find the easiest way to play difficult passages, no matter what the song is. He notes that Joe Satriani said the very same thing about his own style of playing. Satch said he chooses the easiest possible way to play a riff. That's why he can play with such ferocity and passion while playing complex leads.
The Real Test:
Does "Rolling Style"
Well, it seems that not only do heads turn, but eyes almost pop out of their sockets as well. When Chocky would try out new guitars or amplifiers in music stores, there was always a crowd of unbelieving guitarists and onlookers who would gather around him, from "Shredders" to "Rock" guitarists, as well as those playing Classical" styles. Finally, a brave soul who wanted to learn more than to be worried that Chocky might be bothered by the questions, would ask, "What are you doing," they'd ask? He always shows them exactly what he's doing, but it takes more than just a brief conversation to explain and illustrate.
It amusing to Chocky when those certain guitarists, who are of the opinion that they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, wander around while Chocky's trying out a guitar or amp. They refuse to look his way, but strategically get close enough to hear. Some of them turn on another amp and crank out Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" (It's still being played 40 years later). To Chocky, this is actually sad. There have been talented guitarists that he would have gladly taught his style of playing. They merely had to drop the attitude and ask him. He'll smile and gladly show them.
He learned years ago, from Phil Keaggy, that a guitarist might be the greatest "Shredder" in ear shot, but if a recording studio wants a country lead, the "shedder" doesn't get paid that day. Keaggy said that you must continually learn new things, new styles, new techniques. By doing this, Chocky's a firm believer that the next amazing guitar style will come from that guy, like Eddie Van Halen or Eric Johnson, who refuses to play what everyone else is playing and develops a completely new way style. That was Chocky's emphasis, and that's what pushed him to develop his Rolling Style of playing. He said that any style must be teachable, it must have the inherent quality of producing beauty and not merely sounds, and must be easily employed with any complimentary music.
Few that Chocky has shown actually get it, but most realized how complex and great the playing was. Because of his desire to teach other guitarists anything they ask about, the rule came down to him that, like Alex told Eddie Van Halen, he was not to show anyone else this "Trademark Rolling Style". He had to hide his right hand so that no one could see what he was doing when playing on videos.
One time, he posted a live video of "Rollin' " on Facebook and wanted to show all the artists how he was accomplishing it. He asked everyone to try and guess, since he was unable to just reveal the right hand. The video is on YouTube. Despite Chocky's explanation that there are no tricks, gimmicks, or automated techology involved, one musician, a friend from years ago, began posting rude comments about him and how he'd learned in studios in Atlanta how con-artists (that's catchy) can speed up any video of speed playing while still showing surroundings at normal speed. "Oh well," Chocky said.
He continued that it's not just the right hand, though. It's a different style of playing with both hands. One manager at a music store in Denver heard him playing up and down the guitar neck with ease at lightning speed, and said that he hadn't heard that level of playing since he left Nashville. When Chocky was warming up for a gig in a Denver club, a concert pianist who was a regular there approached him and said, "I haven't heard playing like that since I was at Juliard". Chocky still wants to post teaching videos to show guitarists his "Rolling" style, but an illness got the best of him for the time being. He still wants to do it when he's able. He said he feels that he's not doing what he was meant to do if he takes this style to the grave with him and that it's meant for everyone to learn.
One last thing about Chocky's "Daddy" tuning: it's a wild tuning and loosens some strings while stretching others almost to the breaking point. A very talented musician he played with leaned over to him one night on stage and said,"That can't be good for the neck on your guItar". Chocky never said a word, as usual for him. He only thought to himself that it's no different than what modern whammy bar setups do to guitar necks, stretching and loosening string tension over and over. He said that it really doesn't matter what anyone thinks. By the way, he had all of his guitars worked on by one of the best in the business, who built Les Pauls for Gibson for many years. None of the necks on any of his guitars have had to be repaired or have shown any damage. The reason he's had all his guitars worked on is due to what is called, "The Colorado Hump". The arid climate in Colorado causes the neck to bulge up right where the neck attaches to the guitar. Axe Haven said that it would never need it again, and that's been proven true.
The Trouble With Lyrics
He says that he's always struggled with lyric writing, but he's worked hard at it. He never had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with other songwriters. He's used every technique he could imagine, utilizing stories that he dreamt up, using dreams like Sting does, and attempting to get inspiration from anyone or anything around him. Despite the irony of what he said about this subject, he revealed that he had so much difficulty that while writing "Time After Time", an entire two lines of one of the verses is a "Palindrome". What?! You heard it right. An entire two lines of a verse was written as a palindrome. To remind people what that is, it's a word or phrase which reads the same backwards or forwards, like the word "MoM". In other words, it says the same thing if you read the verse from back to front, as it says from front to back! An entire two lines of a verse. He wouldn't reveal which lines are palindromic. He said, "That's for someone to discover, but I can't imagine why anyone would do so". Evidently, he's never revealed this until recently.
It could be agrued that Chocky is unaware of his lyric writing skills. Listen carefully to the lyrics of "Belong" from his CD titled, "Adria". This song was one that speaks to actual events that he and others in his life went through. Try listening to the song without tears when you're going through really difficult struggles.
Coupla Fat Guys
While looking in to a popular new internet video rage, he found the videos of a talented couple of guys name the "Coupla Fat Guys", who he found out were musicians/founders for Chicago's "Coupla Fat Guys Blues Band" and were now taping great cooking shows on video. He contacted Dave Grier, the Bass Player, to ask how they were taping the videos. Dave asked him what he did, so he agreed to send Dave a copy of "Sole Intention". Dave immediately wrote him back invited Chocky to be a guest on his radio show. Chocky and the CD were highlighted over the Thanksgiving Holiday week that year.
Dave Grier had a website with an area entitled, "Must Have CD's," which included albums such as Led Zeppelin and included Chocky's CD, "Sole Intention", as well. He commented on Chocky's CD with the comment, "Who Is This Guy"? When the link was clicked, it showed Chocky, and Dave called him "the Greatest Doctor/Guitarist in the World". Chocky says that Dave's comment was milked for everything possible, but it was really effective. Many guitarists "google" to find out who is considered the greatest guitarist in the world, and "Chocky Kay" pops up along with many other great guitarists. Although he's never been called or allowed himself to be called the greatest guitarist in the world. Doctor/guitarist is quite enough, he laughingly says. It brought him a lot of ridicule from local musicians who laughed at it and would boast that even they were better than him. But, he only recalls how one of the world's great guitarists searched and found his teaching videos. This one video in particular reveals on YouTube how to use the whammy bar to create enough to energy to allow a number of notes to be played without plucking or picking the strings at all. This amazing guitarist wrote to him how the cool the technique is and that he really liked it. In subsequent videos, this incredibly famous artist is seen utilizing his technique over and over, and had never used it in the past. Chocky won't disclose who it is, and is satisfied just knowing he had the opportunity to share something with one of the great guitarist in the world...someone who appreciated it enough to utilize it in his current playing style.
Chocky says he woke up one morning, with a gasp. He told his wife he had an idea for a song, which was recorded in his studio within a couple of hours. It was a satire on Kid Rock, called "Kyd Wok". The song was stolen on Napster and went around the world. He feared that Asian people wouldn't like it, but it went crazy in Asia. An internet newspaper writer heard the song in LA on a radio station with was featuring Carmen Allgood's internet radio show. The writer asked if he could do an interview with him for "The New Bohemian" paper. Chocky also sent "Kyd Wok" to a favorite radio personality of his, "Doctor Demento". The good doctor featured the song on his radio show, of course.
He continued to write music, record, and produce records. In 2003, he was invited (via internet, again) to play at Eck's Saloon, in Southeast Denver. He played the concert, which Dan Byers recorded on video for everyone who played there. Dan and his promoter mom, became good friends again, and invited Chocky to play in their "house band". Chocky says Dan Byers is one of the most talented musicians he's ever played music with. He had the good fortune of meeting and playing music with some of the best and most popular musicians in Denver.
Some of the people Chocky says he remembers with fondness meeting or sometimes sharing the stage with various artists. One such writer is the artist who wrote the song, "Don't Bogart That Joint, My Friend". Another was the producer of Caribou Ranch (Chicago's Ranch Studio). Johnny Lang, a longtime favorite and outstanding guitarist in Denver was playing in a club. Chocky was asked to leave the stage for the next act, but Johnny Lang got up on the stage and told the director to stop. He then started up a song to play with Chocky. They traded leads back and forth and Chocky remembers this with great fondness. He has great respect for Lang. There were many others he had the good fortune to meet and make music with. He began recording favorite rock songs to cover. Many are posted on the website, www.chockykay.com .
The Predator Drone
While in medical school, his father passed away from ALS. It was devastating. His mother subsequently met and married the brilliant dentist, scientist, and aviator named Dr. Leo WIndecker. Dr. Windecker changed the face of Modern Stealth Technology forever. He built the World's First Fully Stealthy Airplane. He also built the First Stealthy Remotely Piloted Vehicle, the "Aequare" which was the forerunner to the Predator Drone. He also built the World's First All-Composite Airplane, the Windecker Eagle I. Dr. Windecker asked Chocky to pen his biography, and while practicing medicine, recording music, and while entertaining in Denver clubs, he traveled back and forth between Austin and Denver to interview and research his stepfather's biography which is called, "On the Wings of the Eagle: How a Dentist Changed the Future of Aviation". Before Chocky could get it published, he had become ill and it was put on the background although it is complete.
He then retired from medicine after it was discovered he had the illness. He says the medical board required him to show up before them with five years of medical records. He couldn't and says he wouldn't. This was a violation of his civil rights. He already knew his medical career was over, so he refused to turn over medical records and surrendered his license to practice. He remains at home with his family, where he's happy and continues to love music. He's written new music, most of which will probably never be recorded. Therefore, we'll never have a chance to hear them. Nevertheless, he says he feels that he's had a wonderful life, has a wonderul wife and family, he and can't complain about a thing.
Friendships and Memories
Chocky met many people along the way who inspired him or brought deep friendships. These people have included being able to share the stage with amazingly successful artists such as The Zack Brown Band, Nancy Honeytree, DeGarmo and Key, among many others. One of his most respected friendships was the friendship that grew from Facebook with the Blues Legend, TC Coleman. TC played drums for 30 years with Blues Legend BB King. TC and Chocky called each other regularly for some time. Although they only met briefly at a BB King concert in Denver, they stayed in touch. Some people thought Chocky only met TC Coleman on Facebook, but this wasn't the case. Chocky also began using TC Coleman's drum tracks for his later recordings. TC remains one of Chocky's most respected friends.