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.
I love fingerpicking blues in the key of C. Blind Blake, Big Bill Broonzy, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb and Tommy McClennan all favored this key. All approached their playing from different angles and perspectives. Mississippi John Hurt had a happy sounding alternating bass style. Big Bill Broonzy combined a driving bass technique. Blind Blake's 'sportin' right hand' would stumble his bass alongside quick single string licks and his piano sounding guitar. Rev. Gary Davis had several techniques playing in C. His most unique was using an alternating bass that never played the root C note. In other arrangements his playing took Blind Blake's ideas and explored them with complex bass movements, rhythmic licks and quick single string runs. And then there's Tommy McClennan and his heavy rhythmic right hand.
These legendary blues guitarists all played out of first position chords using different right hand approaches and touch. How amazing that there were so
many different sounds produced. So many, that I found it necessary to expand this lesson to two DVDs running close to four hours of instruction in
Each tune is taught phrase by phrase and played slowly on a split-screen. A detailed tab/musicbooklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD. As well, the
original old recordings are included in the Bonus Audio section.
Titles and topics include: Cocaine Habit Blues, People That I Use To See, Can't See No More, Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight, You Are
My Sunshine, Tryin' To Get Home, You're Gonna Quit Me, Love With A Feeling, Troubles, You May Leave, Taking Your Place, At The Break Of Day, Turn Arounds
in C and Searching the Fingerboard
227 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Imagine being set loose in a vault that's packed floor-to-ceiling with time-tested blues. But better yet is that each one of them reveals its own playing secrets - step-by-step, run-by-run, lick-by-lick. There's the majestic "Tryin' to Get Home," with that cool, little Rev. Gary Davis finger stumble along the strings. "You're Gonna Quit Me" sports sharp Blind Blakeisms, right out of the gate. Big Bill Broonzy contributes "At the Break of Day." "Love With a Feeling" pulls from Tommy McClennan, the great Delta roughhouser who brought a sense of wild to the frets, whereas the mad dash across "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" is smudged with Mississippi John Hurt's gentle fingerprints. And nothing is more evergreen than "You Are My Sunshine." However, the dark horse has to be "Troubles." Vintage footage lets Kilby Snow perform his old-time mountain music, which disguises an emotional gut punch as a work of tremendous melodic beauty. Stefan Grossman's haunting arrangement pares down and smoothes out the lament to six strings-from the 30some strung across Snow's autoharp. So much good instruction is spread over these two DVDs that, from the time you first enter via a stately stroll down the Memphis Jug Band's "Cocaine Habit Blues" until you finally exit through Grossman's original ragtime minuet "Searching the Fingerboard," you'll emerge-nearly four hours later! - an expert at "Fingerpicking Blues Guitar in the Key of C". – Dennis Rozansk/Blues Rag
Review: Just when you think that there are no more tuition possibilities out there, up pops the Guitar Workshop with another one! It would be very tempting to just cut and paste any of my previous reviews, in fact I wonder if you would notice? But hey let's not be churlish, Stefan's mission in life seems to be to teach us every possible combination of notes and chords, and new ways in which to play them, so let's have a look at this latest offering. First off, I noticed that this is a longer DVD than usual, running in at 227 minutes, on two discs, damn it that's nearly 4 hours! It also offers 13 different songs to work with as well as the most beautifully produced PDF file of notation and tablature. Production values are as high as ever with crystal clear split screen filming showing both hands at the same time, and Stefan plays over each part at slow speed before ramping up to normal playing speeds, with each piece broken down into easily managed parts. (When I say easily, this isn't any kid's music primer), you are going to have to work at it, but if you persevere, the results should speak for themselves. So, congratulations once again on a fine piece of work (Although we have come to expect nothing less!) – Dave Stone/Blues Matters!