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.
This DVD lesson is for the intermediate and advanced fingerstyle guitar player. It is for the student who feels comfortable with an alternating bass technique and wants to expand and explore ideas in blues and ragtime using more advanced right and left hand techniques.
The four instrumentals featured in this lesson are all extended compositions offering a variety of musical ideas. Piano sounding blues in the key of A are presented with Mississippi Blues and Blues For The Mann. A Blind Blake approach in the key of C is used for the Glory of Love. Struttin' Rag in the key of E brings together three distinct sections. It opens with a blues piano sounding motif and then steps into a more country atmosphere. It finishes with a series of bass licks reminiscent of Merle Travis's Walkin' The Strings.
There are many challenges to master in these four instrumentals. Each is taught phrase by phrase and then played slowly on a split-screen.
Titles include: Mississippi Blues, Struttin' Rag, Glory of Love and Blues For The Mann
76 minutes • Level 3/4 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Another Stefan Grossman Gem! I purchased this around July 1, and have been using it almost daily for my lessons and it is now, as I write this, after Oct. 1. That means 3 full months of DAILY lessons and I am not halfway through the DVD.
The material is beautiful, but challenging. It is not for the beginner. If you are just starting out on acoustic blues, you cannot go wrong with “How To Play the Blues” series by Grossman. Volume 1 starts with basic chords and some nice tricks, and Stefan skillfully advances, song by song, right up to some very nice sounding solos. In Volume 2, he does not miss a beat, but builds “line upon line, precept upon precept” straight through to Volume 3. After finishing those 3, I e-mailed him (and received a very quick response!) and among other things, he recommended this DVD.
It is for the Intermediate to Advanced, and has WONDERFUL, and long (2 and 3 part) solos for the acoustic guitar. The first song is “Mississippi Blues.” Have some fun and see his performance of it, from perhaps 30 years ago, on YouTube. One thing that amazes me about his teaching now (this is a recent release) is his enthusiasm for the song has not waned a bit.
What is most challenging is perhaps the pace that he moves, expecting us to keep up, but then becomes a “breath of fresh air” for song 3, “The Glory of Love” which lets us use some of the skills we learned in the 3 volume “How to Play the Blues.” It is not anywhere near the difficulty level of the other songs, but rivals them in beauty. Stefan cannot help but smile when he plays it and blushes a bit, apologizing for not being a singer (he actually seems to have a fine voice; right on key, but I won't argue with him).
He is a master teacher. Well famous for his playing, and with so few of the “stars” possessing the gift of teaching, Grossman, like a few others, stands out because he is a gifted teacher. He is that ONE teacher you had in high school that made learning exciting.
Let's hope that he has a part 2 of this DVD for us, and that he has NO PLANS on retiring soon. It is obvious that the teaching and production warrant many, many hours of work, so I know I am hoping for something that costs him a great deal of work, but it is so worth it.
This DVD may supplant 6 months of personal in home teaching. What might that cost you? The DVD is around $30. I have been on this for 3 months and am not even half way through. If a 1/2 hour lesson is $30, then 3 months of those lessons would be $360. This DVD may end up not only being 6 months of work, but like others, I will then put it away only to pull it out next year, or later, and review the material.
For such a nominal cost, I have this world-class teacher "in my living room" daily; imparting not only great music, but tiny tidbits of wisdom in practice; besides personal anecdotes that hold our interest. Of course, the camera work, duel pictures, and close ups are impeccable. – Peter Hyatt/Amazon Customer Review