Elijah Wald has been a musician since age seven and a writer since the early 1980s. He has published more than a thousand articles, mostly about folk, roots and international music for various magazines and newspapers, including over ten years as "world music" writer for the Boston Globe. In the current millennium, he has been devoting most of his time to book projects, including volumes on such disparate subjects as Delta blues, Mexican drug ballads, hitchhiking, and a broad social history of American popular music.
As a musician (and to a great extent as a writer as well), his mentor was Dave Van Ronk, who gave him a year of guitar lessons and many years of staying up late at night, arguing politics and listening to records of everything from Bulgarian folk music to Bing Crosby. Dave was a brilliant and omnivorous intellect, and Elijah did his best to capture his voice and a sample of his memories, wit and wisdom in The Mayor of MacDougal Street.
Along with Dave, Elijah picked up stuff from various other musicians over the years, as well as learning a lot from records. (Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Joseph Spence are my longtime guitar heroes.)
Joseph Spence was a virtuoso guitarist and master arranger in a style that was uniquely personal and yet caught the imagination of musicians around the world. He has been compared to the great blues masters, the African acoustic pioneers, and Thelonious Monk, and inspired such varied disciples as Ry Cooder (who has recorded four of his arrangements), Taj Mahal, John Renbourn, and David Lindley.
Titles include: Oh How I Love Jesus, Happy Meeting In Glory, Brownskin Girl, The Glory of Love, The Lord is My Shepherd, Coming in on
a Wing and a Prayer.
80 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: I've been a fan of Joseph Spence for a while and, like a lot of guitar player before me, i was really intrigued and and fascinated by his playing. So last year i was very excited to see that Stefan Grossman's guitar workshops issued a tutorial DVD of Spence's guitar style by Elijah Wald. I really enjoyed this lesson and recommend it to everyone, even to the basic fingerpickers or the country blues/folk players because it brings new ideas for the playing in dropped D tuning, challenging rhythms and, like Elijah Wald says in the video, "it's so much fun to play". On the bonus of the dvd, there's one hour of unreleased audio recordings by Spence, including some interviews. - Cornbread, Molasses & Sassafras Tea
Review: In this instructional DVD, guitarist and author Elijah Wald offers instruction in and transcriptions of six songs played by the great Bahamian guitarist, Joseph Spence. Spence, who was originally "discovered" by Samuel Charters and recorded for Folkways Records in the late 1950s, gained a sort of underground following among guitarists who were captivated by his irresistibly rhythmic, highly contrapuntal guitar style.
Elijah Wald is to be congratulated for the fine job he did on this video, both in the teaching and putting together the transcriptions of Joseph Spence's performances. Guitarists who use this video are going to have a significant leg up in terms of learning the musical language of Joseph Spence and developing a degree of comfort speaking in that language. - John Miller/The Old-Time Herald