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.
Rare Archival Recordings 1963-71
In this 71 minute CD, rare recordings of a young Rory Block and Stefan Grossman are featured. As well, the original landmark 1964 Elektra release of their HOW TO PLAY BLUES GUITAR (plus out-takes) is presented. This is an enhanced CD and features a PDF file of tab/music for all the tunes from HOW TO PLAY BLUES GUITAR.
After these tracks were recorded Rory went on to record solo albums and became the Winner of five WC Handy Blues Music Awards. Stefan went on to record solo albums as well as the highly acclaimed duet albums with John Renbourn. He has also authored countless guitar books on the Country Blues.
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)
1. Crow Jane
2. I’m So Glad
3. Pony Blues
4. Walking Blues
5. Devil Got My Woman
6. Yonder Comes The Blues
7. Guitar Blues
8. Ragged and Dirty
9. Patton Blues in G
11. Special Rider
12. New Pony Blues
13. Shuffle for the Perls
14. Canned Heat
FROM THE 1964 HOW TO PLAY BLUES GUITAR album
15. Old Country Rock
16. Future Blues
17. Turn Your Money Green
18. God Moves On The Water
19. Monday Morning Blues
20. M & O Blues
21. Whistlin’ Blues
23. Banty Rooster
24. Save Up Your Money, John D. Rockerfeller Put The Panic On
25. Canned Heat
27. Brownsville Blues
28. Police Dog Blues
29. You Got The Pocket Book, I Got The Key
30. Mississippi Blues
Review: Stefan Grossman was at Ground Zero of the great folk and blues rediscovery period of the late 1960s to early 1970s and collaborated with many of the greats who were finally getting their long overdue recognition. Blues luminaries from Mississippi John Hurt to Son House, Skip James, and Rev. Gary Davis eventually wound up on Grossman's radar and jammed and recorded with the guitarist/vocalist. But his best work was in discovering 12-year-old Rory Block, who was playing guitar behind her father on a Sunday afternoon in Greenwich Village in 1963. Grossman instantly recognized Block's enormous potential and the two set about collaborating and translating some of the blues classics that they eventually turned into an album.
How To Play Blues Guitar was released in 1967 with Block appearing under the name Sunshine Kate; the second half of this disc is taken from those sessions. All 18 tracks are strictly instrumentals with Grossman and Block working through numerous classics such as Willie Brown's M&O Blues and Rev. Gary Davis's Candyman. Twelve of the first 14 tracks of Country Blues Guitar are taken from an early session recorded by Yazoo Records founder Nick Perls. The remaining two cuts feature Son House in a 1971 recording session in London. House sounds unusually reserved and restrained on Yonder Comes The Blues but delivers a more impassioned performance on New Pony Blues, with Grossman accompanying House on guitar on both cuts. Country Blues Guitar also comes complete with a PDF tab/music file showing tab arrangement for the tracks that were originally released on How To Play Blues Guitar.
Country Blues Guitar is an intriguing release that gives a glimpse into the very early career of Rory Block, then a young acoustic guitar dynamo who played stunning blues. – Living Blues/Dave Ruthenberg
Review: Among the great names associated with the archiving and preservation of true blues music, such as Alan Lomax, Dick Waterman or Paul Oliver, Stefan Grossman deserves a whole wing of the music library to himself. Not only is he one hell of a guitar player – he is also steeped in the tradition of exposing and encouraging this fabulous, lilting form of old country blues by promoting its many skilled exponents through books, recordings and DVDs.
If you're in love with the acoustic blues guitar, then this CD is the engagement ring leading to your marriage. This represents two albums with a generous 32 tracks, featuring tunes mostly by Stefan, with vocals and second guitar by the sweet-voiced Rory Block. One of the albums is the 1964 How To Play Blues Guitar and, sheer magic – the CD contains a 31 page PDF file with all the music, tabulation and keys, with some stunning photos. All the familiar country guitar tunes are here – Walking Blues, Stagolee, Police Dog Blues – in fact this is a sheer delight, something you can sit down with, get your own axe out and have a go. Thank you yet again, Mr. Grossman. Keep up the good work. – Roy Bainton/Blues Matters!