If ever there was a player who deserves to be venerated as a true living blues guitar maestro, here is the guy. He pulls off razzle-dazzle stuff that virtually nobody else can muster.
If ever you hear people say that the old blues are crude and primitive, let them hear some of the best of the best, the intricate ragtime guitar pickers of the golden era, like Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, or amazing jazzy blues guitar solo-stylists like Lonnie Johnson. Almost every blues fan in the early stages asked the perennial question when hearing these string giants, “Yeah, but who is the other guy playing with him?” Of course, there was no “other guy.” Those mind-boggling “muscianers” were brilliant super virtuosos, en par with the best musicians of all times in any genre. They played such intricate and complicated fingerpicking with a walking bass beat on the top strings and snazzy solo lines on the treble strings while miraculously playing melody in the middle that it sounded like a string ensemble. Most guitarists today just marvel at their breathtaking demigod skills and even those daring mortals who attempt to emulate those maestros can spend a lifetime working at it and just get “pretty good” – but there are a few people on the planet who come close to mastering the styles of those geniuses of bygone days.
Foremost among them is a diminutive guy in Pennsylvania who is really an acoustic guitar monster, the biggest meanest of them all, the Sauroposeidon of the acoustic blues guitar. They failed to include him in the Rolling Stone Top 100 best guitarist list, but don’t let that fool you. It shows you what they know. Ari Eisinger was left off because only he plays old, archaic, unpopular music.
Close your eyes and listen to Pennsylvania bluesman Ari Eisinger play and sing and you will enjoy a thoroughly rewarding musical experience. You will believe unquestionably that he is the walking reincarnate of the old time ragtime pickers. He plays with such dazzling, seemingly effortless mastery, feeling every nuance and inflection while effortlessly whipping out the most complicated fingerpicking patterns. You will think there are three people playing and he not only hits every note, he plays so beautifully, so heartfelt and stunningly, all you can do is gasp for air. Realistically, within all reason and without doubt, Ari Eisinger gets as close to perfection as any player on the planet when it comes to mastering the old ragtime & country blues style.
Blind Blake's recordings, made in the 1920s and 1930s, set a standard for ragtime blues guitar virtuosity that remains unmatched. His famous "double-thumb" right-hand technique is part of a syncopated sound that is unlike that of any other guitarist. His recordings, with their rhythmic drive and ingenious variations, remain a source of endless delight (as well as frustration) for today's acoustic blues guitarists.
In this double DVD Ari Eisinger explains and demonstrates two key components of Blind Blake's style: his right-hand technique and his unique chord progressions. He then provides detailed demonstrations of eight of Blake's guitar breaks and accompaniments from some of his best recordings. These include the well-known songs and instrumentals Rope Stretchin' Blues and the amazing (and amazingly fast) Southern Rag, as well as the wonderful, but often overlooked, Baby Lou Blues and Tootie Blues. The lesson provides both an introduction to Blake's style and a detailed demonstration of some of his most advanced instrumental breaks.
A detailed tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on each DVD. In addition the original old recordings of all the tunes are included.
Titles include: Guitar Chimes, Baby Lou Blues, Rope Stretchin’ Blues, Tootie Blues, Stonewall Street Blues, Too Tight #2 and Southern Rag.
186 minutes • Level 3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Other than Blind Blake himself, the only one you want teaching the amazing guitar wizardry at play behind his doom-laden "Rope Stretchin' Blues" or a breakneck "Too Tight" is Ari Eisinger. He's the humble, fleet-fingered authority on blues and ragtime of 1920's-'30s vintage. To seal the deal, his utmost specialty happens to be Blake's legendary complexity. So, over the course of two instructional DVDs (supplemented with Blake's original recordings), Eisinger meticulously deciphers his hero's idiosyncrasies: that double-thumb technique; his distinct chord progressions; that way of anticipating the beat. After warming up on "Guitar Chimes" the lessons steadily gain momentum through the leisurely paced "Baby Lou Blues" and "Tootie Blues" to the double-timed "Stonewall Street Blues." Maximum drama is reached with "Southern Rag" a piano-like masterpiece of syncopated speed. But more than detailing these seven particular songs, Eisinger also imparts Blake's overall technical gestalt, which zapped razzle-dazzle into country blues guitar. – Dennis Rozanski/BluesRag
Review: I learned something interesting from this right away: I'd gotten the impression back in the 1960s that “double thumbing” referred to the double time alternating bass lines played in Ragtime Country Blues, but Eisinger tells us here that it is a Blind Blake addition to that technique that doubles up the notes at the beginning of the pattern. Ari breaks down Blake's guitar pieces so thoroughly that anyone who finds it easier to pick them up might be needing the clicker to bounce ahead. But it'll be great for anyone who prefers to have every note broken down. Not only that, but in the accompanying tablature booklet (which also appears in PDF edition on the discs), he presents the various pieces both in the exact way Blind Blake played them, but also the way Eisinger plays them himself. The really big bonus for anyone (like myself) who doesn't have a Blind Blake collection, is that the original recordings by Blake are also included on disc 1!
Ari Eisinger has clearly taught this material to a number of people, and knows how to explain what is being played. I think I might finally even be able to get into this technique I've loved since the first time I heard it. Includes both a printed booklet with tablature, and the same thing in PDF form on the discs. This is a double DVD set, so you get quite a lot of material to plow through! – Marc Bristol/Blue Suede News