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

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John Miller

John Miller, not only a master guitar player is a fine instructor and as humble and unassuming as they come given that he IS a master and his recordings going back a long time when he was a younger man demonstrate this fully. You can picture him huddled over a turntable, beside a mountain of 78s, guitar in hand, ear set on 'scrutinize', perceptively hoovering up all the little clues which can crack the early masters' code. John recognizes and plays good, interesting and often complex tunes with often delectable melodies and has unveiled the talent and feel of guitarists like Bo Carter, Robert Wilkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Furry Lewis and many of the other country blues legends. John is a clear and patient teacher who explains things well and whose love of the music comes through clearly.

Tablature/music is available as a PDF file for each lesson. Lessons are filmed with multiple cameras and consist of a performance, explanation, and conclude with a slow tempo split screen that follows the tab/music.

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John Miller Single Song Downloads


Arrangement For Me Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: DGDGBE

This song has a very infectious signature lick and one of Bo Carter's very best solos, from which you'll learn how to negotiate a host of shapes up the neck. It is one of those songs that teach you about as much as four or five normal songs.


Big Four Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

This is probably charley Jordan's wildest piece, with exceptionally active thumbwork in the right hand. It's very exciting and fun to play. Played in the key of E.


Billy Lyons and Stack O'Lee
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

This is probably Furry Lewis's most accessible tune to play and a great introduction to his music. It's a lot of fun to sing, too, with that refrain, When you lose your money, learn to lose. Played in the key of C.


Boys, You're Welcome
Level: 2
Tuning: Open G

This is one of John Hurt's easiest songs to play, with a very pared back, minimalistic approach in the left hand. The sound is wonderfully infectious, though.


Brooklyn Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Open G

This is a real work/out in Spanish tuning, where Clifford Gibson had one of the most sophisticated approaches of any player in the style. It's a challenging, but very rewarding piece to play.


Brown Skin Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Brown Skin Blues comes from West Virginian Dick Justice. It's a really strong blues in E in standard tuning that sounds as though it was influenced by Luke Jordan's Church Bells Blues. It has lots of exciting variations.



Brownsville Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D

Memphis Willie B. gave his version of "Brownsville Blues" such a spooky sound, it'll raise the hair on the back of your neck. There is beautiful use of controlled deep bends in the bass on this one.


Built Right On The Ground
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G

Teddy Darby came up with an unforgettable signature lick for "Built Right On The Ground", and it's a treat to sing, too. It is not very difficult in the left hand.


Crawling Baby Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

This is a difficult tune, and there's no point in down-playing its difficulty. Lemon's imagination was seemingly limitless and he came up with so many great ideas for this tune. Learn it, and you'll really have accomplished something. Played in the key of G.


Cumberland Gap
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Cumberland Gap was played in C in standard tuning by Frank Hutchison. Hutchison utilized a thumb lead in his picking hand for most of the song, which is tricky primarily because of his unorthodox timing. It is one of those rare tunes in which the right hand is more difficult than the left hand.



Dinner Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D

This one has a pretty quiet left hand, and as a result is one of Bo Carter's easier songs to play. It will help get you accustomed to his characteristic thumb-and-three-fingers picking style.


Don't Put That Thing On Me
Level: 4
Tuning: EAEGBE

Clifford Gibson combines an unfamiliar tuning with a right hand approach that uses very controlled brush stokes. This is not very tough in the left hand, but quite challenging to achieve the smooth flow the song should have.


Dreaming Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

A masterpiece, and one of the greatest blues in A ever recorded. This very challenging piece has Willie Reed working through a host of different licks in A, and his long thumb-lead solo is spectacular. Hard work but worth every bit of it.


Dryland Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Dryland Blues is Furry Lewis's take on the commonly-encountered 8-bar blues progression in E. He works in some nifty syncopated thumbwork that makes the song particularly fun and challenging to play.


Eagles On A Half
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This is an exceptionally driving piece in A that lays out beautifully in the left hand and is especially fun to play. It makes you realize what a strong player Geeshie Wiley was.


Fool's Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

A terrific E blues from the Texas/Oklahoma master, J. T. Smith (Funny Papa Smith), featuring a lot of novel moves, including a little misdirection at the start of the intro that will really catch your ear. A treat to play, and great lyrics.


Fore Day Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This has a unique combination of high concept (a 17 - bar form!) and a rough sound. This one utilizes the musical materials of the blues in a completely unique way. Played in the key of A.


Frank Stokes' Dream
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

This is Frank Stokes' take on an 8-bar blues in E (though he sometimes phrases it as a 12-bar blues). This has a tricky and varied use of the thumb and is a real showpiece.


Franklin Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Franklin Blues comes from Tennessean Sam McGee and is an instrumental showpiece played in C in standard tuning. After an unusually pretty opening section, Sam concludes with a fast version of Buck Dancer's Choice



Freight Train
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

There of been so many versions performed of this fingerpicking classic. Why not learn to play it right, the way Libba Cotten played it? Played in the key of C.


Good Looking Girl Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G

Furry has very free phrasing and a varied right hand in this song, making it a challenging one to learn and memorize. It is more in the style of Rock Island Blues than of Kassie Jones or I Will Turn Your Money Green.


Graveyard Blues
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

Graveyard Blues is a low-down blues in E in standard tuning from Virginian Hobart Smith. The song has a tremendous driving rhythm and catchy signature lick. It's one of those tunes that is hard to stop playing, once you start. A bonus: it's not very difficult.



Groundhog Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Lil' Son Jackson's slippery sound and phrasing are irresistible. The piece will be a challenge technically, but once you get the time going, you'll find it exceptionally fun to play. Played in the key of E.


Ham Hound Crave
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This is one of the very strongest riff tunes of the early Delta Blues recordings. Learn to play this piece well, and it will do wonders for your sense of timing. Played in the key of E.


Happy Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This piece has a lot of neat touches, like intermittent alternation of the bass, brush strokes and a very catchy signature riff. It's a great intro to Tom Dickson's playing. Played in the key of D.


Hard Time Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

One of the most beautiful of all Country Blues pieces, "Hard Time Blues" perfectly captures the St. Louis sound. It has a very distinctive approach in both the left and right hands. Played in the key of E.


Have You Ever Seen Peaches?
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D

What a terrific tune! This has one of the greatest signature licks in all of the Country Blues, and once you learn it you'll have a hard time stopping yourself from playing it. It also incorporates slide in a fairly simple way. Essential.


Honey
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This is one of Bo's 'Pop Blues", an exceptionally pretty raggy tune in C. As with all of Bo's pieces, it is put together so intelligently and shows a strong compositional sense.


I Couldn't Help It
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

The left hand on this one is not too challenging. The piece has a distinctive heavy time, and is a good one for working on singing and playing at the same time. Played in the key of G.


I Do Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

I Do Blues is a wonderful introduction to Robert Wilkins' music, with a varied use of the thumb, an unusual sense of phrasing, but a great sense of flow. this song really sticks to your ribs and will come back to haunt you.


I Will Turn Your Money Green
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G

One of the greatest tunes ever played in Spanish tuning, Furry Lewis's I will Turn Your Money Green is also a great introduction to that tuning. Learning it will make a host of other songs played in Spanish tuning very accessible.


I'll Go With Her Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Yet another song that showcases Robert Wilkins' compositional originality, this is the only 12-bar blues I can think of that is phrased in two 6-bar phrases. The catchiness of Wilkins' signature lick will draw you right into the tune.


 


Jailhouse Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Robert Wilkins' Jailhouse Blues is a beautifully soulful piece, and will build your skills in playing controlled brush strokes with your thumb. The intro alone is worth the price of admission. Played in the key of E.


Johnson City Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Johnson City Blues comes from Clarence Greene, better known as a fiddler, and it is a terrific number played in A in standard tuning. It is a level three tune, mostly due to active thumbwork, with exciting bass runs that sit very naturally in the left hand.



Kassie Jones
Level: 2
Tuning: Open G

Furry Lewis's version of Casey Jones is unfogettable, with a wonderful use of slides in the left hand that evoke the train. Exceptionally fun to play, it puts you in a wonderful, trance-like state.


Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Crossnote

There are no chords in this song, just melodic phrasing. It is great tune to work on expression in the way you phrase and inflect melody. The guitar is in Crossnote tuning.


Legend of the Whistling Brakeman
Level: 4
Tuning: Open G

A haunting melody from Kenny Baker, “Legend of the Whistling Brakeman” goes to some interesting different places, chordally, than any of the other pieces in Spanish tuning//it’s altogether distinctive sounding.


Let Me Roll Your Lemon
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Bo Carter is playing for keeps with this one– it’s mean and nasty, but so bluesy. What he plays behind his singing on the verse is the stuff of genius– challenging, but so rewarding.


Long Train Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

One of Robert Wilkins' raggy tunes, this one has the melody taking the bass for a ride, and will have you developing some expertise with thumb brush strokes. Like all of Wilkins€۪ raggy material, it is fun to sing, too. Played in the key of C.


Mama, Your Papa Loves You
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This striking instrumental has a mysterious quality that greatly influenced the late John Fahey, and through him, all of the American Primitive guitarists that followed him. This tune puts you in a world of its own. Played in the key of G.


 


Mistreating Mama Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Mistreating Mama Blues is a real tour de force, probably Furry Lewis's most challenging piece to play, but it is absolutely worth the work it will take to get it. It's a real showpiece. Played in the key of E.


 


My Baby
Level: 3
Tuning: DGDGBE

This is a tremendously catchy raggy number that Bo Carter played in his favorite DGDGBE tuning, in which the top four strings are the same as in standard tuning. Learning this one will make a host of Bo€۪s best material more accessible to you.


 

 

 


New Lovin' Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Dropped D

This is a ripping piece from the spectacular Buddy Moss, and showcases his right hand approach, in which the thumb never keeps straight time, but is always counter - punching around the beat. Lots of brushed triplets in the treble, too.

 


Ninety-Nine Year Blues
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

This one is so strong, and the left hand is simple, very much like John Hurt's "Spike Driver's Blues". A good piece to learn to come to grips with thumb brushes in the right hand. Played in the key of G.


 


No Time At All
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D

“No Time At All” is a great Vestapol instumental with some similarities to Libba Cotten’s “Vestapol”. It is not real challenging in the left hand and is a good introduction to the tuning.


Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

On her old Folkways album, Libba played a variation towards the end of her rendition of this tune in which she inserted a rhythmic hitch which I have never heard anyone duplicate. Until I heard Libba recount the circumstances in which she wrote this tune, it had never occurred to me that it was a child's voice singing this song. Played in the key of C.


 


Oh Lordy Mama
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Another show - stopper from Buddy Moss, this one has very syncopated thumbwork. Especially fun to play, once you get your mind wrapped around the way he used his right hand. Played in the key of E.


 


Old Timbrook Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D

John Byrd gave his “Old Timbrook Blues” a very driving rhythm, with some quickly picked runs and big brush strokes. This one has a splashy sound.


Overtime Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Dropped D

This is one of the strongest performances in Dropped - D tuning ever recorded. An exceptionally exciting piece, it employs controlled double - time strumming, bends, long bass runs, you name it.


 

 


Police Sergeant Blues
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

Robert Wilkins works in a ragtimey style on this number, which is great fun to play. The solo has the wonderful quality of sounding much harder to play than it actually is! Played in the key of C. 


Policy Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Dropped D

Bo Carter's Policy Blues has a tough sound, and if you're drawn to more low-down sounds, you can't do much better than this one. It has a spectacular solo, too.

 


Pussy Cat Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Pussy Cat Blues is very fun to play, and sits right under the hand so naturally. This is one of Bo Carter's most accessible numbers and a great introduction to his music. Played in the key of A.


 


Reachin' Pete
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

The left hand is practically still on Reachin' Pete , and makes it a good song to get accustomed playing an alternating bass, since you can really concentrate on the right hand. It sounds harder than it is. Played in the key of G.


Reuben Oh Reuben
Level: 2
Tuning: Open D

Reuben Oh Reuben is Emry Arthur's version of Reuben's Train. It is played out of Vestapol tuning with a thumb lead in the right hand, and the left hand is dirt simple, free-handing everything with not a chord played from beginning to end.



Rising River Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

A haunting melody and a distinctive "stop - and - go" phrasing in the right hand characterize "Rising River Blues". Not difficult in the left hand, the timing may prove elusive at first.


 


Rock Island Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Open G

Furry Lewis really pulls out his bag of tricks on this one. It has a lot of variety and it is a challenge to add the vocal to it.

 

 


Rocks and Gravel
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Mance came up with one of the all-time great signature licks for this song, and his solo is one everybody should learn. An essential Texas blues in E.



Rolling Stone
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Robert Wilkins' Rolling Stone is in many ways a precursor of the Hill Country style of musicians like R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. It is minimalistic and trancey in its feel, and will build your skill in doing controlled bends. Played in the key of E.


Spanish Flang Dang
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G

Libba Cotten's version of this tune has a lovely serenity, and will provide you with an excellent introduction to Spanish (Open G) tuning. It's also in waltz time, and will show you how to cope with an alternating bass when playing in 3/4.


 


Spoonful Blues
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

Not a very difficult piece in the left hand, "Spoonful Blues" provides an introduction to the raggy VI/II/V/I progression. You'll have it up and running very quickly.


 


Tell Me Where You Stay Last Night
Level: 3
Tuning: Dropped D

This one is a challenging level 3, for Mance plays a great variety of moves in dropped-D. The song has a very spooky sond and mood that will draw you in.



That's No Way To Get Along
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D

A wonderful Robert Wilkins' tune that was covered by the Rolling Stones! This is such a beautiful piece, and utilizes Vestapol tuning in a way that is simultaneously very expressive, but not very complicated in the left hand. It will build your kills in playing controlled bends and in interspersing strumming with your picking.


 


The Cannon Ball
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

The Cannon Ball comes from Maybelle Carter, and is a beautiful piece in C in standard tuning. The left hand is not difficult at all, but there are a few rhythmic surprises.



Ticket Agent
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

A beautiful set piece by Curley Weaver, this one utilizes syncopated thumbwork in a compact 8 bar form. Exceptionally fun to play.


 


Turtle Dove Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This piece isn't flashy, but oh, so pretty. Peg Leg Howell came up with a unique approach to playing in F, and it's a good introduction to that key.


 


Uptown Bad Luck Dice
Level: 4
Tuning: Open G

Clifford Gibson had such a highly evolved style in Spanish tuning, and it makes for complicated, high concept pieces. "Bad Luck Dice " falls squarely in that model, with a varied right hand approach, rapid runs and lots of other technical demands that will keep you off the streets and out of trouble.


Vastapol
Level: 2
Tuning: Open D

This is one of the real classics in Open D tuning and a great introduction to that tuning. It has the additional benefit of being one of Libba Cotten's less challenging tunes, in the left hand.


 


When I Get Home
Level: 2
Tuning: Open G

This lovely hymn has a fairly simple left hand part, and will build your skills in doing long, controlled slides in the left hand. A wonderful introduction to Spanish tuning.


Willie Poor Boy
Level: 4
Tuning: Open G

Mance Lipscomb achieved such a beautiful rolling sort of rhythm on "Willie Poor Boy." Some of the left hand moves are similar to those used in Bluegrass banjo.


Wilson Rag
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Libba Cotten pulls out all the stops in "Wilson Rag," modulating to different keys in surprising ways. You'll learn a lot by memorizing this one, too, with all of its changes. Played in the key of C.


 


You'll Like My Loving
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This one is a real sleeper, a one-chord song from the obscure Otis Harris, but boy is it fun to play! You won't have a problem practicing this one, you'll have a problem stopping practicing! Played in the key of A.