Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop Instructional and Historical DVDs Books and Materials

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Mississippi Hill Country Blues Guitar

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.

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    Mississippi Hill Country Blues Guitar

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    Mississippi Hill Country Blues Guitar offers a look into the Hill Country technique byway of songs from legendary artists Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough, Rosa Lee Hill and Ranie Burnette.

    For this lesson Tom Feldmann has compiled a grouping of songs that highlight the individualistic traits of each artist and also gives a well rounded grasp of the genre as a whole. Though many of these artists played slide guitar, Feldmann focuses solely on their non slide arrangements in Open G, Standard, Open D and Crossnote tunings.

    Hypnotic grooves, steady guitar riffs, and few chord changes are the trademark of Mississippi Hill Country Blues and this lesson hands you the keys to some of the greatest examples the genre has to offer.

    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: Black Cat Bone (Jessie Mae Hemphill), Dough Roller Blues (Ranie Burnette), That's Alright (Fred McDowell), Poor Black Mattie (R.L. Burnside), Jumper Hanging Out On The Line (R.L. Burnside), Meet Me In The City (Junior Kimbrough), Standing In The Doorway Crying (Jessie Mae Hemphill), I'm Crazy About You Baby (Fred McDowell), Count The Days Until I'm Gone (Rosa Lee Hill)

    117 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD

    Review: Mississippi Hill Country Blues Guitar is actually codename for Groove 101, Tom Feldmann's crash course on the highly potent strain of drone-and-moan grown amongst the kudzu, up north of the Delta. Riff riders from the Black Stripes to the North Mississippi Allstars were spawned from this heavily rhythmic stock. Yet six of the original architects for the region's guitar trances are the honored role models here. Heroes who shook 'em on down at backwoods house parties, like Fred McDowell and his local competitor, Ranie Burnette. And Jessie Mae Hemphill, Queen of the Hill Country, who, with aunt Rosa Lee Hill, was part of the Hemphill clan, Mississippi fife-and-drum royalty. Of the nine grooves that Feldmann works out, none rely on use of a slide for their hypnosis. A thwack-happy thumb, an unwound third string, the steady pump of your foot? Yes. But no slide, this time. Here, life gets stripped down to the utmost basics of an elastic chord (or two) and an almighty riff that gets ridden for all it's worth. "Dough Roller Blues" is Burnette's snaky hybrid of "Roll and Tumble," just as McDowell's "That's Alright" is John Lee Hooker's "Hobo Blues." As a twist, "Count the Days Until I'm Gone" delivers its gut punch in crossnote tuning. And for your dancing pleasure, R.L. Burnside's "Jumper Hanging Out on the Line" and the incredibly percussive "Poor Black Mattie" share long histories of quaking juke joint floorboards around Marshall County, just as the sloshing motion of "Meet Me in the City" did its share of moving bodies inside Junior Kimbrough's joint. Prepare to shake the shack. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag

    Review: Often described as a more 'primitive' form of blues music than its Delta cousin, Hill Country Blues is vocal-driven dance music built on hypnotic grooves and steady, repeated guitar licks. This 117-minute DVD provides a great introduction to both the regional style and to the techniques required to play authentic versions of songs by Jessie Mae Hemphill, Ranie Burnette, Fred McDowell, RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Rosa Lee Hill.

    Focusing solely on non-slide songs, Feldman's guitar (equipped with a 20-gauge plain steel unwound third string for authenticity, guitar geeks!) unlocks the workings of open G, open D and cross-note (open minor key) tunings, as well as some unusual stuff in standard. He is, of course, a superlative guitar player, but Feldman's also a convincing singer on material like RL Burnside's Jumper Hanging Out On The Line, which enables him to impart the feel as well as the technique for this material.

    With all the usual Guitar Workshop split-screen camera work, PDF tabs and bonus audio tracks of the originals, this DVD should supply any solo guitarist with the necessary chops to set the house a-qua kin' and your ass a-shakin'. - Steve Hunt/fRoots

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