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.
"Tom Feldmann is an instrumentalist of the first degree, renowned among guitarists as an instructor and preservationist. No one can teach Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Skip James or Bukka White better than Feldmann, a master fingerpicker and slide guitarist." – Living Blues
"Robert Johnson is the most important blues musician who ever lived. I have never found anything more deeply soulful. His music remains the most powerful cry that I think you can find in the human voice." - Eric Clapton
"Robert Johnson's music sent me reeling. I couldn't even imagine how someone could play the guitar the way he did and sing at the same time." - Bonnie Raitt
Robert Johnson is arguably the most well known figure in the history of the blues. Though the 29 songs Johnson recorded from 1936-1937 had little impact during his lifetime, a collection of his singles, entitled King of the Delta Blues Singers was released in 1961 and found widespread recognition. Then, 30 years later, The Complete Recordings of Robert Johnson was released selling over one million copies. The first blues recording to do so, winning a Grammy in the process.
Since that 1961 LP, players from all different musical backgrounds have sought to learn Robert Johnson's techniques and in this 3 DVD set, with over 5 hours and 52 minutes of instruction, Tom Feldmann covers every aspect of Johnson's playing. Each song is performed by Feldmann before he dissects the arrangement verse-by-verse and ends with a split screen segment where the song is played slowly with close up shots of both the left and right hands. This is the most expansive look into the guitar playing of Robert Johnson produced in video form.
DVD ONE: STANDARD TUNING: Kind Hearted Woman, Phonograph Blues, 32-20 Blues, A Blues Variations (Dead Shrimp Blues, Little Queen of Spades, Honeymoon Blues), I'm a Steady Rolling Man, Sweet Home Chicago, Love In Vain, From Four 'Til Late DROP D TUNING: Malted Milk CROSS NOTE TUNING: Hellhound on my Trail
DVD TWO: SPANISH TUNING: Stop Breakin' Down Blues, Walking Blues, Come On In My Kitchen, Last Fair Deal Gone Down, Stones In My Passway with Variations for Terraplane Blues and Milkcow Blues, Cross Road Blues, Traveling Riverside Blues
DVD THREE: SPANISH TUNING: If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day, VESTAPOL TUNING (OPEN E TUNING): Rambling on my Mind, I Believe I'll Dust My Broom, Preaching Blues, STANDARD TUNING: They're Red Hot
352 minutes - Level 3 - Detailed tab/music booklet PDF file included on each DVD
Review: Over the intervening decades since Robert Johnson cut his 29 monolithic sides in 1936 and 1937, countless manhours have been spent by countless guitarists hunched over spinning 78s, then LPs, then CDs, and now spinless MP3s, desperately trying to latch onto the mystical powers inherent in those songs - in that sound - which launched as many legions of rockers as of bluesmen. With Johnson's direct apostles below ground - Robert Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards, Johnny Shines (who thrice returns, via bonus performance footage) - Tom Feldmann is your best possible instructor. The country blues junkie has put in those countless hours intensively detailing everything from the lemon squeezing "Traveling Riverside Blues" to the tamale-peddling "They're Red Hot" - so that you don't have to. He's got the complete canon down cold (come on, both takes of "Cross Road Blues" get dissected here). Right down to that spine-tingling 'howling wind' slide lick dripping down "Come On in My Kitchen." Even down to that momentary flash of wickedness in the fourth verse of "Walking Blues" when string bends actually snap. With calm coaching, you'll run the existential table from the Son House knockoff of "Preaching Blues" to "Hellhound on My Trail," with a "Malted Milk" break in between. Besides using the slo-mo split-screen, Feldmann makes learning easier by wisely corralling similar pieces, as when taking advantage of the structural relationship between "Terraplane Blues" and "Milkcow's Calf Blues" with "Stones in My Passway." Tremendous clout resides within three how-to DVDs, for herein lie both the kindling and the spark which lit the firestorm of modern blues and rock. So the calculus is simple: Six hours of one-on-one Robert Johnson instruction equals essential. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag