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.
Pat Donohue is a natural entertainer who possesses bundles of charm and wit. Concerts by this St. Paul, MN resident are a model for combining playfulness
with pure craftsmanship. A masterful guitarist and talented singer-songwriter of blues, folk, and jazz, Donohue inhabits his songs, performing them
with equal parts of skilled technique and raw emotion. His excellent guitar chops offer a balance of gentle, sensuous strumming and a deeper, bluesier
touch. His devotion to acoustic guitar has made him an American standard, as he echoes the tones of Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Merle Travis or Muddy
Waters. Chet Atkins called Pat one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world today; Leo Kottke called his playing "haunting."
In this lesson Pat teaches five of his original tunes. Besides being great songs the arrangements offer the guitarist a panorama of techniques and styles.
From the syncopated stumbling bass of Blind Blake to the sophisticated country alternating bass of Chet Atkins. From a swing jazz accompaniment to
a blues with echoes of the Irish Washerwoman!
There's lots of enjoyable and challenging guitar ideas that Pat explains and teaches phrase by phrase, followed by the arrangement played slowly on a split screen so that you can carefully study both his left and right hands. A detailed PDF tab/music booklet of the arrangements can be found on the DVD.
Titles include: The Road To Kingdom Come, Stealin' From Chet, Jazz Names, Buddy The Blues and The Irish Blues
77 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Talk about a ringing endorsement. Mr. Guitar himself-Chet Atkins-personally heaped praise upon Pat Donohue's fretsmanship, underscored by their sprightly stage and studio encounters. The most enticing bait Donohue offered was "Stealin From Chet." The praise song, stacked floor-to-ceiling with pocketed Atkins-isms, equates to a capo, a fretboard kaboom and a cloud of dust. It's gentlemanly shredding-but shredding nonetheless. Not only does the Grammy-winning fingerpicker with his own signature Martin guitar-the Pat Donohue OM-30DB Custom Edition-patiently reveal how to play this gem. But the longtime member of A Prairie Home Companion's house band also delivers the blueprints to four more of his own best string boilers. And by no means does Atkins' style pervade the rest of the set. "Buddy the Blues," in fact, bows in crisp homage to Blind Blake. Jiggy and comical is "The Irish Blues," a flipside to the genteel pondering done along "The Road to Kingdom Come." Different still is "Jazz Names," an astute tally of the genre's coolest monikers that bounces on notes as much as swinging from them. By openly sharing the play-by-play behind such technical wizardry, "Stealin' from Chet" actually turns into a productive 'Stealin' From Pat' lesson. Thankfully, the best part about all these fingerpicking fireworks is that, from Donohue's mouth to your fingers: "It's easier than it sounds." - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag
Review: Pat Donohue was the guitar mainstay of Minnesota Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion for many years. He performed on acoustic and electric guitars in many settings, including solo spots, fronting a band, and accompanying innumerable guest musicians. This highlight occurred in the midst of Donohue's longer career as a solo guitarist. His fingerpicking skills place him among the top artists in the genre, and he teaches at Swannanoa Gathering and other guitar camps. In this lesson Donohue teaches five of his own songs, each of which highlights different fingerstyle techniques. He begins with a gospel-flavored tune, "On the Road to Kingdom Come," in which he reflects on today's political polarization and offers some good advice. The song uses sustained chords and passing tones for a sophisticated sound. His right-hand accompaniment combines simple Travis picking, broken up by some nice rolls on the bass strings. "Stealin' From Chet" features more Travis picking, including some tasty ascending and descending chord sequences that fingerpickers can use in different settings. In this homage to Mr. Guitar, Donohue adds a shout-out to Merle Travis, which is very appropriate, since the arrangement contains some of Travis's trademark moves. The third tune, "Jazz Names" ("I'm gonna get me a jazz name") is in G and includes more shout-outs, this time to Duke, Count, Bird, Toots, Zoot and other jazz greats. Donohue uses the A section of "I Got Rhythm" for the song's chord progression. In the teaching sequence he uses simple first position "folk chords," then moves on to mostly four-string voicings in closed fingerings, using no open strings, for a punchy rhythm. He shows several options for chord substitutions, which completes his demonstration of the song as he performs it. Guitarists who haven't worked with chord substitutions or closed voicings might want to seek some context from a jazz player who is familiar with them. "Buddy the Blues" ("I'm your new buddy the blues") is a 12-bar blues in G with a flashy instrumental break that uses single-string runs. Students should pay particular attention to the song's turnaround, which employs contrary motion and was used by Blind Blake and the Reverend Gary Davis. Donohue concludes the lesson with "Irish Blues," a fun song that marries a blues shuffle with the traditional tune, "Irish Washerwoman," underlying his tale of a night of indulgence with the boys. Students can benefit from this lesson in several ways. These songs will add variety to a singer/guitarist's repertoire. Learning them will also expand one's technique, and the songs provide inspiration to compose one's own material, perhaps in a humorous vein, as Donohue has done. The production follows the format of Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop, with Donohue performing each tune, teaching it, then playing it in a split-screen display that shows closeups of both hands. The songs and guitar parts are included on the dvd or download as a .pdf file. Pat Donohue has created a lot of music over the years and he's still at the top of his game. – Patrick Ragains/Minor7th.com