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Building A Blues From The Ground Up

According to Chet Atkins, Pat Donohue is "one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world." Any praise that could be given to a guitar player seems insignificant next to such a statement, but Donohue's work warrants even more acclaim. He was named the 1983 National Fingerpicking Guitar Champion, and continues to garner recognition as an exceptional musician and entertainer. Fans of National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion have been treated to the fingerpicked guitar work of Pat Donohue for years, whether they know it or not. Donohue started appearing as a guest performer in the '80s and has been a regular member of the show's house band since 1993.

The full range of Donohue's talents, however, are evident on his recorded works, which blend folk, jazz, blues, ragtime, and boogie woogie. After recording Manhattan to Memphis and Pat Donohue for Red House Records, Donohue founded his own label: BlueSky Records. In 1991, he released Life Stories and an album of jazz and instrumental standards, Two Hand Band followed two years later. Donohue shifted gears with Big Blind Bluesy, a collection of classic country blues from the likes of Blind Blake and Big Bill Broonzy, as well as Donohue originals. Atkins appears on 1996's Backroads, which features solo and full-band performances of Donohue-penned songs. American Guitar showcases Donohue's ability as a solo performer and includes more of his own songs, as well as his arrangements of traditional American pieces such as "Maple Leaf Rag" and "the Star Spangled Banner."

Donohue travels extensively for A Prairie Home Companion and, in addition to his solo concert performances, he conducts numerous group workshops for guitar players across the U.S.

  • Taught by: Pat Donohue Add to Wish List
    Hard Copy   $29.95  Item Number:  GW1054

    Building A Blues From The Ground Up

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    In this unique lesson, Pat Donohue takes a simple 12 bar blues in the key of G and shows how you can add various elements to create a distinct arrangement. Pat discusses:

    • Basic Three Chord Blues in Key of G
    • Lenny Breau's Two Note Chords
    • Walking Bass Lines & Chords
    • Chuck Berry Licks
    • Diminished Chord Licks
    • Mountain Blues Licks
    • Ending Licks
    • Putting the Pieces All Together

    There are lots of ideas and techniques in this lesson. Pat slowly and carefully teaches these concepts with the help of a split screen. This allows the student to study in detail what the left and right hands are doing. A comprehensive PDF tab/music booklet is included on the DVD.

    59 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD

    Review: Truth in advertising: "Building a Blues from the Ground Up" is indeed a construction zone. Guitar virtuoso Pat Donohue, vouched for by fellow string dazzlers as luminary as Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke, starts by framing out a 12-bar blues (in the key of G). But then, over the course of an hour, progressively makes it sparkle all the more by rolling in a series of widely-applicable techniques to ornament this song (as well as boost dynamics of any song you play). Two-note chords a la Lenny Breau, snazzy "flop" chords, and the workhorse duo of Bill and Bob (personalized means for chord movement) become part of the lingo. All sorts of other moves-bass line routes, lightning-strike double pull-offs, assorted means for interesting string utterances-get put into play as well. And licks? Donohue spills a whole sack of them, employing everything from diminished chords to Appalachian picking to Chuck Berry. In the end, the finished piece becomes an improvising vehicle to some extent, to which you are also given the keys. Turns out there is so much tasty, versatile meat on this one snazzy blues alone that your overall playing will be nourished for a long time to come. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag 



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