Widely considered as one of the top acoustic guitarists in the world, masterful Woody Mann is a New York based musician and renowned teacher with deep roots in the blues. He has excellent credentials and has learned directly from the Rev. Gary Davis, played with Son House, Bukka White and John Fahey. Then, he ascended to ranks of the most celebrated and accomplished guitarists, regularly performing at the acoustic International Guitar Festival, an event that brings together the world’s finest players, kind of like the Mensa of the guitar. Along with Ed Gerhard, Bob Brozman, and a handful of others, he represents the blues well among the small circle of the “virtuosos virtuosos.”
By no means singularly a blues player, he has one foot in the jazz realm. When he does play the blues, his repertoire is wide-ranging and unlimited. Be it Ragtime, Piedmont, fingerpicking, slide, laptop, whatever he touches is amazing and delightful.
All the fancy technique, but can he play the blues with feeling? Resoundingly, yes! Of course, his performances are usually more jazz oriented, but when he wants to, play the blues, he is one of today’s best.
Robert Johnson has left an indelible mark on the story of blues and pop music. His haunting vocals and powerful guitar style captivated his audience of the 1930s as well as greatly influencing the works of such modern musicians as Muddy Waters (Kindhearted Woman and Walking Blues), Eric Clapton (Crossroad Blues and his new album Me and Mr. Johnson) and The Rolling Stones (Love In Vain). His 1936 recordings bridged the old traditional Delta sound with a more modern approach that echoed the coming of the electric Chicago blues sound. Woody Mann has carefully prepared this three CD/book to describe and illustrate many of Robert Johnson's guitar techniques and musical ideas.
Lesson One: Robert Johnson's blues playing in the key of A (standard tuning) was unique as well as intriguing. He combined a strong rhythmic feel with melodic blues licks. Kindhearted Woman Blues and Me And The Devil are discussed in detail with the many variations that Johnson played.
Lesson Two: Hellhound On My Trail opens this lesson. Played in an open D tuning this evocative blues shows a rare corner of Johnson's repertoire. This is followed by Ramblin'On My Mind, also played in an open D tuning. This is a fine example of how Johnson brought the shuffle beat to the guitar which paved the way for generations of R&B guitarists.
Lesson Three: Robert Johnson's bottleneck playing in open G had its roots in the Delta and the playing of Son House but it extended and explored the genre into new areas. Crossroad Blues is a fine example of the many variations that Johnson could create combining rhythmic licks with strong melodic lines played with his bottleneck. Terraplane Blues was Robert's "hit" and we conclude the series with a discussion of this intriguing arrangement.
Level 2/3 • 24 page tab/music book with three compact discs.
Review: Excellent Value, Interesting Chord Forms. This is another excellent title from the Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop series. The instruction is quite detailed but easy to follow. While the detailed instruction pretty much takes care of the conceptual part of the learning, the technical requirements remain challenging.
Robert Johnson played ideas that were extraordinary from both the conceptual and technical side of things. It's difficult to imagine how much work was involved in the actual transcribing of these solos. But Woody Mann has pretty much laid everything out so that all you need to do is practice the transcriptions.
I am enjoying learning Johnson's finger-stretching solos and especially the chord forms he used. The solos include many interesting chord voicings and licks that can be applied to other blues arrangements. This is an excellent value and I recommend it to other blues guitarists interested in the Delta style. – PMA 1953/Amazon Customer Review
Review: Great guitarist, great teacher. I can only surmise that the Rev. Gary Davis was a great teacher because his student, Woody Mann, besides being a great guitarist, is a great teacher too. This is not always the case (and not just for guitar players). Woody doesn't assume anything.
The book contains just the music for the lessons while the CD's have Woody giving his lessons. Hang on his every word, work hard (and diligently), and you will make big improvements with your playing. While some other books on Robert Johnson's playing attempt to get you to the point where the tuning and playing are EXACTLY like Johnson's, Mann takes a different approach. You learn to play the songs but the way YOU would play them, basically.
I am also learning a LOT about chord voicings as well from this book because Johnson had tentacles for fingers he could play some pretty odd chord shapes. Worth the money. Buy it. Go on. You know you want to. – Bernard J. Demuth/Amazon Customer Review