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 two DVD set is for the beginner and intermediate guitarists who want to start fingerpicking. Rev. Gary Davis use to tell his students that playing the guitar was easy. He would say that a piano player has only two hands (the left keeps an alternating bass while the right plays a melody) but a guitarist has three hands! Our right hand thumb is one hand and plays the bass figures while our index finger is our second hand and plays the melody. Our third hand is our left hand which fingers chords. The results produce a full and orchestrated fingerstyle sound with a rhythmic bass played against melodic lines. This is the alternating bass technique which we sometimes jokingly refer to as "bum-chick." It is the most popular fingerpicking style played and has been used by legendary guitarists. Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Chet Atkins are but a few of the giants of this style.
On these two DVDs we will explore how to master the alternating bass style. Each tune is taught phrase by phrase and then played again slowly on a split-screen so that you can carefully see what both hands are doing. As well, you will see footage of some of the great fingerstyle players such as Rev. Gary Davis, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Merle Travis, Brownie McGhee, Elizabeth Cotten, John Jackson, Pink Anderson and Doc Watson.
Disc One: Oh Papa, Shake That Thing, Death Come Creeping, Nobody's Dirty Business and Make Me A Pallet Of Your Floor
Disc Two: Coffee Blues, Crow Jane, Oh Mary Don't You Weep, Delia, Old Country Rock and Will The Circle Be Unbroken
170 minutes - Level 1/2 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on each DVD