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.
In this beginners' guide to playing acoustic fingerstyle blues, Rolly Brown teaches the essential nuts and bolts for getting acquainted with some primary forms of this wide-ranging topic. The starting point is the solo 12 bar blues in the key of E, influenced by the primal sounds of the playing of the great Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins. Within this simple but eloquent structure, Rolly explores simple right hand skills for carrying bass and melody simultaneously, coupled with an understanding of basic blues scale structure and phrasing, all under the aegis of "Rolly's Rule" ("Make it sound human!").
Attention is also paid to:
• Chord shapes
• Examples of Rhythm, Melody & Chords in E
• Playing up the neck
• Playing in the keys of E, A and C
• Chord Figures in E
• Creating Blues Licks
• Double Stops
95 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: In full disclosure, Rolly Brown openly cites his solo, acoustic blues inspirations as Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt. Their esteemed approaches are what most often historically tint this "Beginner's Guide to Playing Fingerstyle Blues Guitar." Not a bad bunch of role models, huh? However, that does not exclude Big Bill Broonzy or Dave Van Ronk, for example, from exerting their technical sway over the lesson, too. Brown then becomes the glue tying together all the enlightenment with his own Zen-like manner, methods and mantras.
In the true spirit of a starter's manual, these 95 minutes cover the basics: introducing blues scales and chord shapes; familiarizing the way to marry bass with melody; filling up your first bag of licks; adding hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato, bending, double stops, and other skills to the arsenal, too. Although classics from "Corrina, Corrina" to "Hoochie Coochie Man" get cited along the way, the "Beginner's Guide's" mission is not to connect the dots for specific songs. Better than being left stranded on an isolated blues or two, you're instead given the foundational blocks on which to build beachheads. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag
Review: Subtitled "A Beginners guide to Playing Fingerstyle Blues Guitar", this is a new release from the fabled Guitar Workshop series. Rolly has issued other tutorials in this series, but this is the first one of his that I have reviewed and I have to say that it is up to the usual high standards that we have come to expect from The Guitar Workshop. Rolly assumes nothing and takes you from the absolute basics, using Lightning Hopkins as the inspiration to follow and covers chord shapes in E, A and C and believe me that is quite enough for starters! 95 minutes running time, but you will never get through it in one go, nor is it intended that you should, PDF that accompanies the DVD is as usual an essential companion, especially when the TV is switched off!– Dave Stone/Blues Matters!