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 book presents three of the greatest ragtime blues guitar players from the 1920s-1940s. They all possessed what Rev. Gary Davis called that sportin’ right hand. Each could sing the blues or play a dance instrumental. They favored first position chords but produced incredible textures and rhythms from these easy left hand fingerings. There is years of exciting fingerpicking challenges in these pages. But what fun it will be once you can play these tunes.
Titles and artists included are:
BIG BILL BROONZY Big Bill Blues • At the Break of Day • Friendless Blues • Shuffle Rag • Worrying You Off My Mind • Bull Cow Blues • Five Feet Five
BLIND BLAKE Georgia Bound • Back Biting Bee Blues • Cold Hearted Mama Blues • Ice Man Blues • Righteous Blues • Tootie Blues • Rope Stretchin’ Blues • Sea Board Stomp • Walkin’ Across The Country • What A Lowdown Place The Jailhouse Is
BLIND BOY FULLER Baby, I Don’t Have To Worry • Careless Love • Georgia Ham Mama • Keep Away From My Woman • Somebody’s Been Playing With That Thing • Why Don’t My Baby Write To Me • (I Got A Woman Crazy For Me) She’s Funny That Way • Jivin’ Woman Blues
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
1) Listen over and over to the original recordings available via the download link for this collection.
2) Get a program that can control digital audio files. Use this with the transcriptions and the recordings.
3) Be patient!! Practice, practice and practice some more!!
Level 3 • 119 pages • Download Audio Files
Review: Trapped inside a Chicago room with Blind Blake arched over a restless guitar, “Sea Board Stomp” was born in 1927. Blind Boy Fuller’s fishtailing “(I Got a Woman Crazy For Me) She’s Funny That Way” got bottled up amid the skyscrapers of 1936 New York City. Big Bill Broonzy’s impressively involved “Shuffle Rag”? Holed up in Paris, 1952.
Despite their age, these (plus 23 more) showpieces of Ragtime Blues Guitar still itch to set loose their free-as-a-bird-in-the-blue-sky spirit, delivering all guitarists to wide-open spaces, Piedmont or otherwise. The ever interesting way that “Georgia Bound” scampers on down the trail kicks up a country breeze; “Five Feet Seven” does so with a chug. Learn the syncopated secrets of “Ice Man Blues” or how to navigate the hills and dales within Somebody’s Been Playing With That Thing’s name piece, and you’re flying without wings.
Although honored for their fingerstyle technique, the 26 songs also lyrically grapple with the major tenets of the blues, namely love, sex, violence and that “Georgia Ham Mama.” Lows sink down to “What a Lowdown Place the Jailhouse Is.” Then lower yet with “Rope Stretchin’ Blues.” “Back Biting Bee Blues,” besides bundling “b” words, paints fantastic visions of “raining in my kitchen, lightning on my wall.” But the highs achieved hollering about sweet patootie, thanks to “Tootie Blues,” make the world right again. With Big Bill, Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller delivered straight to your device via MP3s, it’s as if the old masters are recruiting you to become a keeper of their flame. – Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag