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 instructional DVD, Fred teaches you how to fingerpick eight all-time blues classics. Most of them come from the old school of blues performers like Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy, Mance Lipscomb and Bessie Smith, but there are also a few songs from urban R&B artists like Louis Jordan and Charles Brown. Every tune is a standard that has been covered by countless artists; you’ll find out where Led Zeppelin got When the Levee Breaks, and what Come Back Baby sounded like before Ray Charles jazzed it up. You’ll also appreciate the variety of sounds encompassed by the term “blues.”
Fred shows you how to accompany yourself singing the songs, and how to fingerpick an instrumental version of each one. His easy-going instructional style, his tips on playing the arrangements, and his slowed-down, split-screen performances of each tune make learning easy. All the arrangements are written out in tab and music as well…both the backup and solos.
Titles include: Come Back Baby, When the Levee Breaks, Saint James Infirmary Blues, In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Oh Daddy, Let the Good Times Roll and Black Night
116 minutes • Level 2 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: One of Fred Sokolow's best lessons. This DVD lesson is a gem. While the DVD is entitled “Beginners Fingerpicking Blues Classics” the arrangements certainly don't sound like beginner's stuff. Sokolow, who plays a spectacular New Era Senorita steel-string guitar on this DVD, presents a tasty bunch of blues classics that cover a lot of different styles (like alternating bass, monotonic bass like Mance Lipscomb, songs that use some jazzy chords). I like especially the modern urban blues arrangement of Charles Brown's 1951 hit “Black Night”where he changed the line “my brother is in Korea” to “my brother is in Afghanistan” explaining there is “never any shortage of wars to bring a tune up-to-date.”
Each song is being taught according to the same pattern: First, there is a full-fledged performance of the tune, then Sokolow goes step by step through the arrangement explaining what to look out for. Lastly, there is a split-screen version of each tune where he plays the arrangement in slow speed.
Every song has a backup part for accompanying your singing and an instrumental part where you pick out a solo. In that way, you can really show off when playing and singing these tunes to others!
There is also a tab included that meticulously transcribes the split-screen versions. Please be aware that the split-screen versions are not exactly the same as the performance versions, but rather kind of abbreviated versions. Therefore, if you are interested in a particular lick that he used in the performance version, you won't find it in the tab unless he repeated the lick in the split-screen version. This is not always the case, however, for Sokolow never plays a song the same way twice.
A last remark on Fred Sokolow's teaching style: He is a very calm person, not without humor, and highly cultivated. He follows a no-nonsense teaching approach that works very fine for me. All in all: Highly recommended. – Bonifatius/Amazon Customer Review