With 47 years of experience on the acoustic guitar, Rolly has been a National Fingerpicking Champion and a Philadelphia Music Award nominee. He has performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Tasmanian Folk Festival, and tons of places in between. He hosted the Guitar Wizards radio show which ran on public radio in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Maine for several years, introducing listeners to guitarists and techniques usually searched out only by total guitar maniacs. He has served as a sideman for Magpie, Winnie Winston, Saul Broudy, Jack McGann, Priscilla Herdman, Jay Ansill, and many others, and has performed extensively with National Flatpicking Champion Mark Cosgrove, and, until her tragic death, with the late fiddler and singer extraordinaire Freyda Epstein. For the past decade, Rolly has been a popular teacher and performer at a number of guitar camps, appearing at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps (Maryville TN), the Swannanoa Gathering (Asheville NC), Summer Acoustic Music Week in New Hampshire, the convention of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society in Nashville TN, and others. His Youtube videos (instructional and performance) have garnered well over 100,000 hits.
Rolly Brown leads you through an organized approach to improvisation on the guitar. Starting with "Rolly's Rule", the notion that your guitar should recall aspects of the human voice, the lesson takes an interactive approach to exploring several different genres of musical improvisation, with Rolly playing instructive examples of these styles, then playing rhythm while you work through the exercises.
86 minutes - Level 2/3 - Tab/Music material is on the DVD as PDF files
Review: Here's an inspirational point of reference for newcomers: No matter how profound their superpowers of spontaneous invention, the Wes Montgomerys and Jerry Garcias of the world all started in the woodshed. Except neither one had National Fingerpicking Champion Rolly Brown to jump-start their earliest forays into "Improvisation." So long before "Four on Six" ever cooked with the coolest of heat, the fundamentals of on-the-fly firemaking had to be gathered. Here, that starts with daring audacity: the one-note solo. Perfect. Then progress to a two and a three note solo. What makes such simplicity work so well initially is the array of surrounding coloration, from pull-offs, hammer-ons, vibrato, staccato, bending, finger slides, note dynamics. The "cycle of fifths," approach notes, chord tones and arpeggiation later come into play too. But the lesson's overarching mantra is "phrasing," namely simulating the cadence of the human voice, where a note's emotional content is as vital as the note itself. To do so, Brown's instructional method relies on "An Interactive Approach." You first watch him get creative, step-by-step, atop a rhythm guitar track. Then it's your turn to take a crack at putting those demonstrations into play, as he lays down the same chord progressions for you. By learning how to solo over all sorts of progressions here - blues, major-scale, jazz, even bluegrass - you're set for whatever jam comes your way. You might not yet be quite up for sustaining a 30-minute "Dark Star," but Brown more than preps you with the basic concepts and inventive confidence to certainly begin chipping away at such a Herculean task. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag