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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.


Avalon Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Avalon Blues is the song that led to John Hurt's rediscovery. It has one of the most memorable signature licks of any E blues, and the more you repeat that lick, the deeper you get into the song and the stronger your rhythm gets. Played in the key of E.


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.


Big Leg Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This one is a real showpiece, mining the key of D for all its possibilities. Slides, playing up the neck, intricate rhythm - it has it all.


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 Tuning

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 Tuning

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.


Brownsville Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D Tuning

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 Tuning

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.


Candyman
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

John Hurt's version of this song has an epic quality; there's really nothing else like it. It's a challenge to put together, but a challenge well worth taking. Played in the key of A.


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.


Dinner Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Open D Tuning

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 Tuning

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.


Frankie
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G Tuning

Frankie is yet another classic from John Hurt, and you couldn't pick a better song to begin to develop your familiarity with Spanish (Open G) tuning. There's lots of intricate, driving picking on Frankie.


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 Tuning

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.


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 Tuning

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 Tuning

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.


Kassie Jones
Level: 2
Tuning: Open G Tuning

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: Cross/Note (Open D minor) Tuning

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.


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

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.


Louis Collins
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

One of John Hurt's prettiest melodies, Louis Collins is a great song to learn to develop your ability to sing along with your playing, for the melody, as sung, sits right on top of where you phrase it on the guitar. 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.


 


Monday Morning Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

John Hurt incorporated slides and playing up the neck a bit on this one. One of his more intense numbers. Played in the key of A.


 


My Baby
Level: 3
Tuning: DGDGBE Tuning

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.


 

 

 


My Creole Belle
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

John Hurt's arrangement of this lovely tune is one of his easier ones. It's a great one for beginning to develop familiarity and comfort with the thumb-wrapped F chord. Played in the key of C.


 


New Lovin' Blues
Level: 4
Tuning: Dropped D Tuning

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 Tuning

“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 Tuning

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 Tuning

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.


 

 


Payday
Level: 2
Tuning: Open D Tuning

With a beautiful, contemplative melody, Payday draws you into its own world. It's a perfect introduction to Vestapol (Open D) tuning, and utilizes a playing slide without a slide approach in which you fret only single notes, never fingering any chords.


 


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 Tuning

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.


Richland Woman Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

On this sassy number, John Hurt occasionally drops his alternating bass out, and it's great to learn how to keep your rhythmic bearings when that happens. If you're drawn to raggy material, this song is for you. Played in the key of C.


 

 


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 Tuning

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: E in standard tuning

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.


See See Rider
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

See See Rider provides a work-out for the right hand, with some intricate picking, and John Hurt's unusual progression on this one makes it a sort of one-off. Play this one with the kind of rhythmic flow John Hurt had and you'll really have accomplished something. Played in the key of D.


 


Slidin Delta
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

This is John Hurt's take on an 8-bar blues in E, and it sports a fairly simple left hand and driving rhythm.


 


Spanish Flang Dang
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G Tuning

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.


 


Spike Driver Blues
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

With a beautiful economy in the left hand, Spike Driver's Blues is a perfect song to develop your ability to play with an alternating bass. A classic played in the key of G.


 


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: D in Dropped-D tuning

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 Tuning

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.


 


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 Tuning

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 Tuning

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 Tuning

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 Tuning

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.


 


Worried Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

John Hurt utilized an infectious boogie bass for Worried Blues that is especially fun to play. This is one of his really exciting up-tempo numbers. Played in the key of A.


 

 


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.


 


You've Got To Walk That Lonesome Valley
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

In his arrangement of this song played in the key of G, John Hurt utilizes a technique in which the melody takes the bass for a ride , with the movement on the sixth string following the melody as it moves up the first string. It's a good technique to get a grip on, for you'll encounter it in other songs from time to time.