Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of a library of instructional books and DVDs for guitar, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, lap steel and ukulele. There are currently over a hundred of his books or DVDs in print, sold all over the world. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. The diverse musical genres covered in his books and DVDs, along with several bluegrass, jazz and rock CDs he has released, demonstrate his mastery of many musical styles. Whether he's playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.
Born in Los Angeles September 14, 1945, by the early 1960s Fred was well known in the California bluegrass scene, playing with Jody Stecher, Brantley Kearns, Sandy Rothman and Eric Thompson. Relocating to Berkeley, he toured and recorded with a hippie rock band throughout most of the 60s, the Bay Area-based Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts.
In this DVD lesson, Fred Sokolow starts at the very beginning: tuning up and playing simple chords. But by the end of this 70 minute session you will be playing the blues in several keys, strumming and fingerpicking.
You'll know how to play:
70 minutes - Level 1 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Excellent beginner's lesson. As the title of the DVD suggests, this one caters to the beginner, which is unusual, because normally Fred Sokolow makes instructional DVDs for the more intermediate player. This DVD is suitable for the absolute beginner, not only for blues beginners but even for those who may have never known a chord before.
Sokolow covers mainly fundamental blues techniques in the Key of E, which includes a variety of turnarounds and some basic licks. Starting with regular strumming, which he makes more interesting by using some nice embellishments, he shows the basics of fingerstyle blues. The song selection that he uses for teaching purposes is overall good and consists of some well-known blues standards: "How Long Blues", "Baby, What You Want Me To Do", "Blues With a Feeling&", "Key to the Highway", "Hesitation Blues" and the Ragtime-like tune "Call Me a Dog." A nice repertory, if learnt properly.
I found Fred Sokolow to be a good teacher and I enjoyed his teaching style. It has to be noticed, however, that Sokolow's talent as a teacher is not undisputed, at least to judge from a part of the customer reviews of some of his other DVDs. Maybe this has to do with his calm, almost dry approach. Like I said, it worked fine for me. Sokolow's singing voice, however, is not the greatest in the world, but then again, it's not his singing you should be interested in when watching this DVD. The DVD comes with a booklet that contains the tabs for the material covered in the lesson.
It is clear that in a 73 minute lesson only the most rudimentary of introductions can be given. Nonetheless, if you have worked your way through this DVD, you should be really proficient in the fundamentals of acoustic blues and have a good foundation from where to build up. I recommend this DVD to the absolute beginner. - Bonifatus/Amazon Customer Review
Review: Easy to follow instructions which shows you, how to play your first blues tunes in several keys. From strumming versions to the quite nice fingerpicking. Everything is described in detail and also written in the attached booklet. Fred is great teacher and his quite simple aproach works very well. I recommend this DVD for every begginer guitar player, who loves the blues. - Jan/Amazon Customer Review