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.
Fingerpicking blues guitar is a never ending study full of surprises and discoveries. Each key of the guitar offers new sounds and textures. A blues played in the key of C sounds world's apart from a blues played in the keys of A, G, D or E. In this series I decided to focus on a single key for each lesson.
The key of A can be very down home and tough. It can be rough and tumble. It can be driving and it can be lyrical. In this lesson I explore playing ideas, licks and techniques from a host of legendary bluesmen: Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson. Playing styles from the delta of Mississippi to the streets of Durham, North Carolina to the juke joints of Dallas, Texas.
We also take a trip playing a blues in A minor. First we set up a fingerstyle melody and then we play off this with improvised lead lines. All in all, a deep exploration of fingerstyle blues guitar in the key of A.
A detailed tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD. Each tune is taught phrase by phrase and played slowly on a split-screen.
Titles include: Blues For Son, Blues For Lightnin', Blues For the Carolinas, Big Bill Blues in A, Monday Morning Blues, Hop Scotch Blues and Hitting the Road With Jack
103 minutes • Level 2/3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD