Folklorist, ethnomusicologist and musician Alan Lomax once said, "You can't kill off a culture until you kill the last person who carries it." That statement resonates deep within Tom Feldmann as for nearly half his life he has carried on the traditions of the acoustic country blues and gospel music recorded in the 1920's and 30's.
Minnesota native Tom Feldmann taught himself to play guitar at age 17 after hearing the recordings of the pioneers of acoustic country blues and states, "Mississippi John Hurt taught me to pick, Fred McDowell taught me to play slide and the mighty Son House taught me to sing." His debut solo album was released in 1999 and Tom has since spent the years writing, touring and recording his own original gospel compositions as well as carrying on the tradition of solo acoustic country blues.
Over the last few years, Tom has shifted the focus of his attention from his own writing to the music of the many legendary bluesmen that inspired him to pick up the guitar all those years ago. This journey has resulted in a series of CD's, starting with Tribute (2010) and now continues with Lone Wolf Blues (2012). It also resulted in a string of instructional DVD's for Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop that have received rave reviews and distribution around the world.
Delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music. Created by black musicians who lived and worked on the farms in north Mississippi, these men and women drew on influences from church songs, prison songs, African rhythms, and early American folk traditions to fashion a new form of music. Unbeknownst to them, the music created in this relatively small area that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers would spread the world over and shape musical history.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you to where it all began, Dockery Plantation, dubbed "The Birthplace of the Blues" and highlights the earliest recording artists that gave Dockery its legendary status: Charlie Patton, Son House, Willie Brown and Tommy Johnson.
You will learn a few songs by each artist, giving you a taste of the individuals themselves as well as the genre as a whole. The majority of the lesson is done out of standard tuning, focusing on E, C and A positions. From standard tuning you move to Drop D tuning for Tommy Johnson's Big Road Blues and then to Open G (Spanish tuning) for Willie Brown's Future Blues.
Of course no lesson on Delta blues guitar would be complete without a look at bottleneck slide and this lesson is no exception with Feldmann closing with two trailblazers of bottleneck slide, Son House and Charlie Patton.
A detailed tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD. In addition the original recordings of all the tunes are included.
Titles include: STANDARD TUNING: M&O Blues, Stone Pony Blues, 34 Blues, Morning Prayer Blues, A Down The Staff, Lonesome Home Blues DROP D TUNING: Big Road Blues SPANISH TUNING: Future Blues, Levee Camp Moan, It Won't Be Long
152 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: In days of futures past, Will Dockery's plantation was the world headquarters of Delta blues, a proving ground off in the bottomlands of Sunflower County where invention in Mississippi music making birthed the genre as the 1910s aged into the 1920s and 1930s. It was where the party got started. The resident kingpin was none other than Charlie Patton, the original Goodtime Charlie whose walloping guitar and matching crushed-glass croak were as much a part of shake-the-shack Saturday nights as the liquor, dice and knife fights. His wingman was the string-snapper Willie Brown-- yeah, that same "you can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown" of "Cross Road Blues" fame. But a fallen Baptist preacher with a wicked slide addiction by the name of Son House also began hanging around, along with Tommy Johnson, a fleet-fingered connoisseur of Sterno, rubbing alcohol and all other beverages even remotely intoxicating. A motley crew of guitar revolutionaries, but the four founding fathers nonetheless. Tom Feldmann, a country-blues fanatic who devours F chords for breakfast and can bottleneck up a blizzard in his sleep, calmly lays out the blueprints to ten of their classics here. Pried apart, piece by piece, are age-old anthems as deathless as Patton's "Stone Pony Blues" and Brown's "Future Blues," Tommy's "Big Road Blues" and Son's "Levee Camp Moan." But Feldmann dips yet deeper into the plantation playbook, exhuming gems like the betrayal slide piece "It Won't Be Long." He even enlists House, Houston Stackhouse and Joe Willie Wilkins to teach a bit too via bonus archival footage. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag