One simply cannot talk about people of importance to this genre without tipping the hat to the most masterful musician, teacher, musicologist, producer, folklorist and preservationist of the traditional blues. By now, Stefan Grossman is a venerated, iconoclastic and respected acoustic blues figure of mega-proportions. He came out of the vibrant Greenwich Village, New York, 1960s scene around Washington Square, where so many American folk and blues musicians launched their careers. His friend and occasional collaborator, Steve Katz, formerly of the Even Dozen Jug Band, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, once half jokingly told this writer: “There we were, all these New York Jews playing the black blues.” Indeed, the blues had a strong influence on young New Yorkers during the folk revival. These musicians, Stefan Grossman, Happy & Artie Traum, Danny Kalb, and many others, in turn had a powerful influence on the acceptance of the blues by the American baby boomer generation at large; and, they significantly helped to launch the folk, roots & blues revival, thereby reinvigorating the careers of many original blues musicians whose careers had waned.
Many people know Stefan Grossman as the paramount teacher and entrepreneur in what has become the world’s largest “blues school”, Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. He is one of the most skilled guitarists in the genre, having been a student of Rev. Gary Davis in New York City. He also picked up lessons directly from Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and others.
In this three DVD lesson series Stefan Grossman explores the world of Country Blues Guitar. It is a fascinating and challenging study that covers blues, folk and ragtime arrangements in the the keys of A, C, D, E and G.
Each tune is discussed and taught phrase by phrase and played slowly on a split screen so that you can clearly see what each hand is doing. You will learn about the playing styles and techniques of legendary blues guitarists as Rev. Gary Davis, Frank Stokes, Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, Sam McGee, Lonnie Johnson and Elizabeth Cotten.
Rare footage of Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Furry Lewis, Big Bill Broonzy, Jesse Fuller, Elizabeth Cotten, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb and Son House is also presented.
Lesson One: Key of C: Freight Train, It Won't Be Long, Buck Dancer's Choice, Candyman, Salty Dog Blues, Ragtime Mama Blues and Blake's Rag.
Lesson Two: Keys of G and A: Spike Driver's Blues, Shake Sugaree, Ragged and Dirty, Blues licks in A, Willie Mae, Spoonful and Robert Johnson blues licks in A.
Lesson Three: Keys of D and E: Lightnin' Hopkins blues licks in E, Stagolee, Take A Whiff On Me, Tribute To Lonnie Johnson, Charley James and Avalon Blues.
196 minutes on 3 dvds • Level 2/3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on each DVD
Review: Excellent Collection! This is my favorite collection of country blues and ragtime tunes. Stefan Grossman is an excellent teacher and the DVD-based lessons really help you progress quickly compared to just working with the tab. There's plenty of material here to keep you busy for an extended period of time and its nicely graded with each new tune introducing something new. I'd say you need to have some basic chords down before you start but after that you should be able to dive right in and be playing “Freight Train” before you know it. The price might seem a little high compared to some other alternatives but you are getting 3 complete volumes here that previously were sold separately so its actually very good value for money. Granite State/Amazon Customer Review
Review: Continued Excellence! NOTE: This is not Volume 3, but 3 volumes in one. Stefan Grossman is known world wide as a blues expert, these DVDs reveal something entirely different: a very down to earth superstar who possesses something that not all those of world-class talent possess: the gift of teaching!
It is of very little value to see a guitar superstar sweep through licks and they “show” them to students. “Show” is not instruction. Grossman has been recognized by none other than Martin Guitar with a signature guitar in his honor. Yet, for all of his accomplishments, it is easy to overlook the gift of teaching he possesses. What does this exactly mean?
It means that we, the students, can expect him to break down material into small, easy to digest pieces. He skillfully anticipates where students will need a boost, where to pause the DVD, when to listen to a performance, and when to press on.
One of the most dominant themes in Stefan's DVD teachings is this: As you learn a song, whether you like it or not, LEARN IT. As you progress into the next song, and the next song, and the next, you will find that he has chosen the songs very, very carefully, as each one builds upon the other. If you go ahead to song #3, having skipped the first two, it will not flow as easily as if it did when you follow his instructions. He is a professor who KNOWS how to teach. Listen to him. Follow instructions. Use the pause button generously. Do not skip anything.
Then, go out and get everything this gem of a man has recorded. He presents with no blaring ego, and even turns a bit red when he attempts to sing. His humility shines through as he easy personality gently takes you for a learning ride on an easy curve. For fun, you can start the DVD at the last song, be a bit overwhelmed, and then go back and start at song one. By the end, you will be so pleased with your progress.
Better yet, keep a journal of your progress. Write down what you studied, how you did, what you did not like, what you liked... everything. One DVD purchase from Stefan Grossman may translate into 3 months of private lessons with one of the world's top blues craftsman. I cannot say whether or not he is a better performer or better teacher: it is virtually indistinguishable. The DVD is that good.
I suggest “How to Play Blues Guitar” Volume 1 through Volume 3. By the time you have finished Volume 3, you will be immeasurably pleased with your progress and thoroughly addicted to Grossman's teaching. He is that one teacher in high school that got through to you and made learning exciting! – Peter Hyatt/Amazon Customer Review