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.
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." 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.
Tablature 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.Back to Singles Catalog Listing
"A Spoonful Blues" is Charlie Patton's only recorded song in Vestapol tuning, Open D for our purposes. A raggy little number that will you have sliding
full bar, strings 6-1, up and down the neck. There really isn't another Delta slide piece quite like it and is just plain and simple fun to play.
In this lesson, Tom Feldmann combines the many different guitar parts of the ambient Fleetwood Mac masterpiece "Albatross" into one Open D arrangement fit for the solo performer looking to add to their atmospheric slide catalog. "Albatross" was recorded in 1968 during the Peter Green reign of Fleetwood Mac and was a major hit in several countries. "Albatross" also reportedly inspired "Sun King" by the Beatles. The song consists of 3 main parts that interweave chords, bass lead lines, and of course, slide. The consistent bass line will make the country blues pickers feel right at home while giving the "rockers" a chance to exercise some fingerpicking technique.
"All Night Long" is another from Skip James' Folk/Blues 1960's period and is unlike anything you've ever played out of E position in standard tuning. Up and down the neck, the use of partial chords, and the bounce of the rhythm, truly a unique showpiece.
An oddity in the Son House catalog, "Am I Right Or Wrong" recorded in the 1940's is more akin to Charlie Patton's "Shake It and Break It" than anything else. Surely Son played this, and others like it, at parties for folks dance the night away, but it certainly is not what we have come to think of when we talk Son House.
Funk-Jive slide guitar is the best way to describe this Keb' Mo' fan favorite and Tom Feldmann teaches you everything you need to get your slide strut on.
"Amazing Grace" is one of those melodies that everyone knows for one reason or another and Tom Feldmann gives you a bare bones bottleneck slide version that is great for beginner slide players looking for a simple tune to work through.
Tom Feldmann teaches this timeless melody out of Open G tuning. Drawing on the Parlor guitar style, Feldmann created a simple arrangement perfect for beginners but also provides a great foundation for the more advanced to build on.
“Baby Please Don’t Go” originally recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935 has become an E blues classic and has been performed and recorded by, well, everyone.
Pink Anderson is no exception, his recording comes 30yrs after the original and is truly infectious.
Charlie Patton's "Banty Rooster Blues" is the very definition of Delta Blues and is such a great example of the style that it should be on everyone's go
to list. Players looking to gain more control of the slide and it's tone will find this tune invaluable.
Get your pinching fingers ready because Frank Stokes' "Bedtime Blues," recorded in 1928, is a pinching marathon, specifically during the guitar breaks. The progression is simple enough, using A, A7, D and E7 but this piece will definitely get you paying attention to tempo, which, most of us could use some help with.
"Beulah Land" is a I, IV, V in E that has a few challenging spots where you break from a consistent alternating bass while playing the melody to playing the melody notes in a more lead line fashion. Hammer-ons, pull-off's, and slides are also used throughout.
Jessie Mae Hemphill 's "Black Cat Bone" revolves around three parts, a tried and true lick that is simply making use of the 3rd string, third fret, single string following the vocal melody, and of course, the alternating bass. Jessie Mae Hemphill launched her recording career in 1980 but with this tune you can see how the style was not lost to it's prewar ties with its strong similarities to "Banty Rooster," "Pea Vine Blues" and "Roll and Tumble Blues."
One from Mississippi John Hurt's 1928 recording sessions, "Blessed Be The Name" is an energetic piece that will teach you how to switch between pinched notes to alternating fingerpicking, which in and of itself is a useful exercise in right hand control.
It's true that the more you know, the more you can do. However, you don't need to know much in order to play good music and "Blind Man Sit In The Way And Cried" is a prime example with ithe use of just one chord, G. Alternating bass, hammer-ons and pull-off's are all there to make this tune sing.
Much of what Robert Johnson did out of A position can be traced to Scrapper Blackwell's blues tunes in the key of A. "Blues Day Blues" is a perfect example. Those familiar with "Kind Hearted Woman Blues" will be right at home here, especially when it comes to the guitar breaks. A great introduction to the guitar playing of Scrapper Blackwell.
For this lesson Tom Feldmann has arranged a Robert Johnson inspired A Blues that teaches you the "typical" intro, walkdown, fills, verses, and guitar break used throughout Johnson's A position compositions.
Tampa Red, the Guitar Wizard, is best known as an accomplished and influential blues guitarist who had a unique single-string slide style. His song writing
and his silky, polished bottleneck technique influenced other leading Chicago blues guitarists. In a career spanning over 30 years he also recorded
pop, R&B and hokum songs. "Boogie Woogie Dance" was first recorded and released in 1931. It is a showcase instrumental played in the Open D tuning.
No licks, no fills, just ragging out a progression in E as played by John Cephas. You'll hear shades of other fingerpicking classics in this piece like; "Pay Day" (Mississippi John Hurt), "Guitar Rag" (Sylvester Weaver), and "Green River Blues" (Doc Watson), to name a few.
"Shake 'Em On Down" is a popular Delta blues originally recorded by Bukka White in 1937. It was his best-known song and became a blues standard with recordings
by a number of blues and other artists. Mississippi Fred McDowell recorded several versions, using both acoustic and electric slide guitar, Fred plays
this in Open E. A strong rhythmic lick is played behind the vocal with high singing melodic lines played between verses. Open E tuning is the same
as Open D but your strings are tuned up a tone. This gives the guitar a crisper and harder sound.
“Bring Me My Shotgun” is the bread and butter of Lightnin’ Hopkins’s style in E position. The main riff and progression can be heard in countless Hopkins’s tunes and the solos will gain you some confidence bending strings, moving up and down the neck, and creating simple melodic lead lines. While the lyrics may cause some heated arguments, we can all agree that “Bring Me My Shotgun” offers a killer guitar part. No pun intended.
Fans of Tommy Johnson will recognize this Sam Chatmon tune as "Big Road Blues." However, it takes Tommy Johnson's classic to new territories with string snaps, fills, licks, and a guitar break that are not played in "Big Road Blues." For this lesson Tom Feldmann combines Chatmon's 1976 recorded version from "Blues at Home 2" with the live performance footage from the Alan Lomax Archive.
This 12 bar blues was first recorded by Ma Rainey in 1924. It has been recorded by many bluesmen from Mississippi John Hurt to Lightnin' Hopkins. The great
songster Huddie Lead Belly recorded this in 1935. His arrangement is played in the Open G tuning and uses full block chords across all the strings.
A dynamic and unusual arrangement.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Cherry Ball Blues." "Cherry Ball" is very similar to "Cypress Grove" and will come easily once that tune is learned. The real standout of this piece is the runs between the verses that once mastered are extremely satisfying to play.
“Clarksdale Moan” recorded in 1930 for Paramount was lost to the world until 2005 along with its A side, ”Mississippi County Farm Blues.” This tune was an enigma, everything about this song screamed E position, standard tuning, but the appearance of the slide to end the song suggested otherwise. Yes, there are those who play slide in Standard tuning, but Son House was not one of them.
Blaze Foley may not be a household name, but his songs have are widely regarded as treasures throughout the Americana, Singer/Songwriter and Country
music fields. Tom Feldmann takes you through this now classic Blaze Foley piece that will surely be a fast favorite wherever it is played.
Rosa Lee Hill, the daughter of Sid Hemphill (1876-1963), has ties that go way back to earliest formations of what we call blues. The Hill Country sound
is possibly the result of her influence more than anyone else as everyone from that region had contact with her in one way or another. "Count The Days
Until I'm Gone" is one of the few tunes she recorded and using Crossnote Tuning she's able get the best of both worlds, being licks done out of E position
standard tuning, and the open strings of Vestapol Tuning. The tune is centered the lick, in true Hill Country form, and is a great companion piece
to Jessie Mae Hemphill's "Standing In The Doorway Crying."
A fan favorite, "Crow Jane" is a tune that many early pioneers say was one of the first blues they heard. Using these first position chord shapes outside of their typical area will really open up the fret board and make it less intimidating. This is Skip James' arrangement.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Cypress Grove Blues." This piece is a great Skip tune to start with and will lead you to his other more challenging pieces like "Devil Got My Woman."
A true classic of Delta Blues slide guitar, some might even say the definition of Delta Blues slide guitar. Son House’s “Death Letter Blues” is the 1960’s reworking of his “My Black Mama” from his 1930’s session with Paramount Records and offers nearly all you need to know about his playing in Open G tuning. Rough and tough slide, baring the IV, V chord, and the main riff that is instantly recognizable to any blues fan.
Tom Feldmann takes you through his version of “Delia” which he learned from Roy Book Binder, who learned it from Stefan Grossman, who learned it from Rev. Gary Davis. “Delia” is one of those songs that seems to have no author. One of the many early American story songs that had as many variations as there were players playing the piece. The progression is simple, yet offers a challenge with the descending bass and ascending melody in the C to F section. “Delia” is an easy piece to listen to, loved by all those who hear it. Truly one of the classic fingerpicking pieces that should be in everyone’s repertoire.
Tom Feldmann takes you through his version of “Delia” which he learned from Roy Book Binder, who learned it from Stefan Grossman, who learned it from Rev. Gary Davis. “Delia” is one of those songs that seems to have no author. One of the many early American story songs that had as many variations as there were players playing the piece. The progression is simple, yet offers a challenge with the descending bass and ascending melody in the C to F section. “Delia” is an easy piece to listen to, loved by all those who hear it. Truly one of the classic fingerpicking pieces that should be in everyone’s repertoire.
Crossnote tuning is a bit odd for newcomers but you will soon feel right at home with many similarities to playing in Open D (Vestapol) and also E position, standard tuning. "Devil Got My Woman" is a classic Skip James number and this lesson works through his original 1931 recording.
Crossnote tuning is a bit odd for newcomers but you will soon feel right at home with many similarities to playing in Open D (Vestapol) and also E position,
standard tuning. "Devil Got My Woman" is a classic Skip James' number and is a true showcase piece for anyone looking to bring something new to the
Son House called this progression, "A Down The Staff," and was used by all the early Mississippi blues players when playing out of A position. Taking a D7 chord shape at the 9 fret and moving down to your F shape A chord at the 5th fret and back-up, simple yet so effective.
"Do Lord Remember Me" is a fantastic first song for fingerpickers. With just three chords, G, C, and D, you will learn how to pick a basic melody, keep a steady alternating bass, and how the G chord can be moved up and down the neck.
Ranie Burnette may not be a known name, but his "Dough Roller Blues" is simply the coolest non-slide take on "Roll and Tumble Blues" that I think you'll find. Single string follows the vocal melody with a consistent alternating bass and is a great place to start for those looking to into the Hill Country sound. Ranie Burnette was born in 1913. No known recordings of Ranie were made until the 1970s and early 1980s. He performed around the local juke joints alongside Fred McDowell and is said to have mentored RL Burnside.
Down In The Bottom ranks near the top of Tom Feldmann's favorite all time great slide guitar recordings...the energy, the rawness, the simplicity. Feldmann teaches the original Howling Wolf 1961 recorded version, adds the variation from the 1966 Blues at Newport, and ends the lesson with his own percussive twists for solo performance.
King Solomon Hill was the recording name for Joe Holmes born in 1897 in McComb, Mississippi. He recorded eight sides in 1932 for Paramount Records. His
high voice combined with a unique slide technique make his recordings distinct from most other Mississippi bluesmen. He combined melodic treble lines
played with the slide against rhythmic bass runs. Over this interchange he added his high pitched voice. His arrangements are played in the Open D
tuning. "Down On My Bended Knee" is one of his greatest recordings.
Truly a Delta classic if ever there was one, Charlie Patton's "Down the Dirt Road Blues" was recorded during his first sessions in 1929. With his trademark
strum, single lead lines, bends and snaps, this piece is a master class for Delta blues in the key of C.
Fred McDowell's version of the delta blues classic "Roll and Tumble Blues." He plays this in Open A. The bottleneck echoes the melodic structure of the
tune and between lines a single rhythmic lick is played. A wonderful example of a variation on a well known theme. Open A tuning is the same as Open
G but your strings are tuned up a tone. This gives the guitar a crisper and harder sound.
Another in the “classics” category from the 1930 session for Paramount, “Dry Spell Blues Parts 1&2” follows the topical tradition of so many early blues songs. Son House said that, “You got to keep that slide moving” and that is certainly the case with this tune that revolves entirely around the slide lick up and down the neck.
Walter "Furry" Lewis was born in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1893. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1900. By 1908, he was playing solo at parties,
in taverns, and on the street. He was also invited to play several dates with W. C. Handy's Orchestra. In his travels as a musician, he was exposed
to a wide variety of performers, including Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Alger "Texas" Alexander. Like his contemporary Frank Stokes, he
grew tired of traveling and took a permanent job in 1922. His position as a street sweeper for the city of Memphis, a job he held until his retirement
in 1966, allowed him to remain active musically in Memphis. He recorded for Vocalion and Victor Records from 1927 to 1930. Furry had a relaxed,
almost happy style of playing the blues. He played in a variety of tunings and with and without the slide. "Falling Down Blues" is played in Open D
tuning and is typical of Furry's bottleneck/slide approach.
Another one of John Hurts deceptively simple tunes in C. Three chords but fast fingers makes this a wonderfully fun tune to play and will be at for any Hurt fan.
For first timers to Drop D Tuning, Fishin' Blues is a great place to start as the majority of chord positions are the same as standard tuning, but
you get a taste for the advantages that Drop D affords. Simple chord progression, tasty little guitar break, everything you need for a lazy
summer afternoon on the pond.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Four O'Clock Blues." Get your pinching fingers ready because this piece is a pinching marathon, specifically the fills between the verses. Much of what Skip does is pinched notes using the 1st and 3rd strings, or sometimes 1st and 4th with no bass. This style of playing is tricky at first, especially those of us used to a consistent bass line, but once learned it not becomes second nature it will free you to play more melodic runs without the security of the bass.
Mississippi Fred McDowell is the bedrock of the North Hill Country blues style. His hypnotic monotonic bass and single string slide echoing the vocal line is the very framework, nay definition, of North Hill Country Blues. McDowell recorded "Get Right Church," also known as "I'm Going Home on the Morning Train," a handful of times with slight differences each time.
With this lesson, Tom Feldmann brings together those varying versions into one foot stomping number. This lesson offers a wonderful look into the style of Mississippi Fred McDowell and will gain you many of the techniques he used throughout his recording career.
Tom Feldmann takes you through R.L. Burnsides 1968 recording of "Going Down South." Feldmann also shows you how R.L. varied this tune throughout his career
by adding Burnside€۪s trademark percussive €€€flick€. Deceptively simple, true North Hill Country Blues.
Edward Clayborn may not be a household name but he was known as a "guitar evangelist" and recorded 40 songs between 1926-1930. "Gospel Train Is Coming" uses a steady alternating bass but really shines with a bounce-like slide technique that you won't hear anywhere else.
Charlie Patton's "Green River Blues" is chopped full of hammer-ons and string bends. Using your thumb, index finger for a down up strum technique
while performing the hammer ons and string bends may be tricky at first but soon will become second nature. The techniques used to play this piece
are pre-blues and give an interesting look at how the guitar, or banjo, was played prior to the blues explosion of the early-mid twenties. It is played
in the key of E.
Charlie Patton's "Hammer Blues," or "Hammock Blues" which makes more sense given the lyric, is another in the "Tom Rushen,""High Sheriff Blues" vein. Strum the open strings, slide the melody on the first string, and you've got the meat and potatoes of this piece.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James'1931 recording of "Four O'Clock Blues." Get your pinching fingers ready because this piece is a pinching marathon. Much of what Skip does is pinched notes using the 1st and 3rd strings, or in this case 1st and 4th, with no bass. This style of playing is tricky at first, especially those of us used to a consistent bass line, but once learned it not becomes second nature it will free you to play more melodic runs without the security of the bass.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Yola My Blues Away." This piece is certainly a challenge and brings together all the elements that Skip used in crossnote tuning, making this possibly his most unique song, but also his most unpredictable.
Fans of John Hurt will also recognize this tune as "You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley" and is the natural progression from "Do Lord Remember Me." With just three chords, G, C, & D, you will learn how to pick a basic melody, keep a steady alternating bass, and how the G chord can be moved up and down the neck.
"High Sheriff Blues" is very similar to "Tom Rushen Blues" with a few added melody notes and a lick that is the bedrock of Delta slide in Open G, third fret 3rd string to fifth fret 1st string. Slide throughout and the melody is played primarily on the first string. A very basic tune perfect for beginners of slide guitar.
"High Water Everywhere" is very similar to "Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues" using the same bass run, progression and riff. Another masterpiece of blues guitar, this song offers everything you need to know about playing blues in Open G tuning.
Rev. Gary Davis use to tell the story of first meeting Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller could only play slide and in Open D tuning. Rev. Davis gave Fuller a few
lessons and would remark that if Fuller had stayed with him longer he would have turned out good! Over the next 6 years Blind Boy Fuller recorded over
120 sides, of which only two featured his slide playing. Of the recorded Piedmont blues artists, a group that includes Blind Blake, Josh White, and
Buddy Moss, Fuller was one of the most popular with rural African Americans. "Homesick and Lonesome Blues" was probably the tune that Rev. Davis first
heard from Fuller. It is played in an Open D tuning.
Frank Stokes' "How Long" was recorded in 1928. "How Long" is one of Franks tender hearted pieces and is truly moving. C, F, G and G7 are all you'll need to work through this simple masterpiece.
Before Bukka White recorded his classics: "Jitterbug Swing," "Fixin' To Die," "Parchman Farm," etc., he recorded two spirituals, "The Promise True and
Grand" and "I Am In The Heavenly Way," both with Miss Minnie accompanying on vocals. Bukka's playing is wild, strong, and deceptively simple, not only
on this piece but all his pieces. Using open strings, hammer-on's, and lsingle-sstring this piece is a great example of Bukka's style and frankly too
fun to pass up. In fact, this is one of Tom Feldmann's "desert island" songs.
Recorded in 1936, I Am the Black Ace was B.K. Turner's (Black Ace) signature tune that has become one of the masterpieces of the Country Blues era. With it's unique chord structure and use of single string and multiple string slide, I Am the Black Ace is truly a dynamic piece and just one heck of a fun song to play.
In this lesson, Tom Feldmann takes you step-by-step through the Rev classic “I Belong To The Band.” Although the chorus remained the same from 1930-1960, what the Rev played over the verse changed, and Feldmann teaches those variations in addition to one variation that he picked up from Jorma Kaukonen. One distinct difference between the early recording is a bass lead break that did not appear in the 1960’s, which Feldmann includes in the lesson.
The bass lead break has seemingly been ignored by artists covering this song, but mastering it will really make the piece stand out from the typical cover,
and hopefully inspire the confidence to incorporate such a bass lead in your other material. “I Belong To The Band” is certainly one of the Rev’s more
approachable songs, largely due to the use of basic first position chords instead of his fingerbusters used in many of his other pieces. This would
be a great “first” Gary Davis song for anyone looking to get into his style.
Is there a more well known, well respected, legendary slide tune than I Can't Be Satisfied? Yes, yes, of course Cross Road Blues, but this is certainly at the top of the list. In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Muddy's 1948 classic lick-by-lick and also shows you a few different options for adding a steady bass, which the original did not have. I Can't Be Satisfied is a "must" for all bottleneck slide players no matter what skill level.
Frank Stokes' "I Got Mine" was recorded in 1928. Some point to Frank Stokes as a pioneer of Hip/Hop, and with pieces like this there is good reason for it. The guitar arrangement is in service to the story and makes use of simple first position chords, C, F, G, G7 and C7. This piece embodies Frank's quick mind, humor and playful guitar style.
Blind Willie McTell didn't have many slide tricks up his sleeve, but what he did have he used well and " Got To Cross That River of Jordan" is a perfect showcase. You'll get a slide workout moving up and down the neck and really get a feel for Open D tuning and it's melodic qualities.
A typical Fred McDowell guitar arrangement bringing all the hallmarks of Mississippi Hill Country blues playing. A strong rhythmic lick is played in the
Open E tuning. Against this the vocal is sung. The rhythmic lick develops in intensity as the song progresses.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "I'm So Glad." Another of his pinch frenzy pieces, "I'm So Glad" focuses on the 1st and 4th strings, which are played up and down the neck to follow the vocal line. Played at break neck speed, once you get the form you'll be flying right along.
Townes Van Zandt is one of the greatest songwriters and "If I Needed You" is one of his biggest hits, covered by countless artists. Tom Feldmann takes you through this tune piece-by-piece and also adds a few elements he has picked up through the years.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Illinois Blues." "Illinois Blues" will be easier for those who have spent some time fingerpicking and can play a steady alternating bass, as this is the rare example where Skip actually plays a steady bass using crossnote tuning. That being said, this is not an easy piece and getting the rhythm down will certainly prove a challenge, but a rewarding one though.
"I'm Crazy About You Baby" is a rare piece where Fred McDowell uses a monotonic bass line throughout the piece. The tune is centered the lick, in true Hill Country form, and with string slides, bends, and hammer-ons this is a fantastically satisfying piece to play.
This fiery number showcases Patton's slide style that he used throughout his recorded works. What you learn will easily be applied to Patton's "Tom Rushen Blues" and"High Sheriff Blues."
It doesn't take much to imagine Blind Willie Johnson belting this one out on a street corner on a hot Texas summers day. This convicting number takes conviction to play, Blind Willie Johnson attacks his guitar with every note and you'll gain a good foundation for his playing style in this classic number.
Fred McDowell makes good use of his single string slide lines to follow the melody of this classic spiritual. Anyone looking to learn how to play in McDowell's style need not look any further.
"Jim Lee Blues" is another in the "pre-blues" era of Patton tunes. It is played in the key of E. This piece is an example of the strum technique that would've been used in the 1800's most likely on banjo before the popularization of the guitar amongst the southern black population. The "Jim Lee Blues" form is found in a vast array of other tunes, most famously "Crow Jane."
Tom Feldmann takes you through his key of C arrangement of this classic Christmas tune and adds a few easy to learn ragtime twists by way of a lick and an ending that will work in any key of C country blues tune.
“Jinx Blues Parts 1&2” were recorded in the 1940’s is Son House’s version of Willie Browns “Future Blues”. Other delta blues artist, Tommy Johnson and Charley Patton also used this string snap depending bass line on their classics “Maggie Campbell,” “Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues” and “High Water Everywhere.” No slide involved here, but you see the recurring barring of the IV, V chords ala “Death Letter Blues,” etc.
John Henry looms large in pre-Blues, Blues and Folk Music, and is arguably the foremost figure in Black American folklore. Fred McDowell's rendition of
the popular folk ballad is played in the Open E tuning. Fred uses an alternating bass and plays the melody on the high strings with the slide.
"Jumper Hanging Out On The Line" is a classic R.L. Burnside tune, one that he kept with him throughout his career. Left hand is simply moving from 4th string to 5th out of the E chord but when you add his trademark percussive strike this piece really comes together.
Tom Feldmann teaches you his original tune from the 2015 release, Delta Blues & Spirituals. Learn how to take a single string lick and "flesh"
it out by adding simple elements to take your Open G tunes to new heights.
Robert Johnson's "Kindhearted Woman Blues" is a standard for all blues players, covered by countless artists, and in 1977 George Thorogood recorded this slide version in open G tuning. It has the same "feel" as Johnson's standard tuning original, but Thorogood offers some subtle slide elements that will bring a fresh perspective to this timeless classic.
Mississippi Fred McDowell never sought fame or fortune. In fact, he even didn't own a guitar for most of his life. He was content to farm and play for tips outside the candy shop in Como, Mississippi. Then one evening in 1959, after a day's work picking cotton, he came upon folklorists Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins. They were recording some of the local old time musicians. At a spry 55 years old, they thought Fred too young. But what came out of that guitar proved he'd learned from the masters - and then some. Collins remembers Lomax jotting down a single word in his notebook: "Perfect."
The debate is whether Johnny Temple learned this E shuffle from Robert Johnson or if Robert Johnson learned it from Johnny Temple, either way Temple recorded it first so the credit goes to him. An interesting early shuffle that would give way to the never ending run of shuffle recordings, "Lead Pencil" has it oddity in it's 2-2-4-3-2 bass run, as opposed to the typical 2-2-4-4-2, that really sets this apart.
Letter From Hot Springs is instantly familiar showcasing licks Fred McDowell used for, and in, many different titles. Familiar or not, these licks rock
hard and every one of us is better for knowing how to play them. Catch the groove.
Robert Johnson tunes, "Drunken Hearted Man" and "Malted Milk" can be traced to this Lonnie Johnson piece. "Lead Pencil Blues" holds the keys to much of what Lonnie Johnson did with his slow blues numbers and will really challenge your execution.
R.L. Burnside recorded his version of the Howlin' Wolf/Willie Dixon evergreen "Little Baby" in 1967. E position, standard tuning finds R.L. up to his usual tricks and Tom guides you through them all.
“Long Haired Doney” was among the first recorded works by R.L. Burnside and it offers all his trademark techniques and song structure. Strum plus Lick
(riff) is the recipe that would make R.L. a "star" of the North Hill Country sound and Tom takes you through all the elements of this style.
"Look Down the Road" is another from Skip James' Folk/Blues 1960's period and is a lively jumpy number that certainly is different than what you may be used to from Skip James and other E position Country Blues The B7 chord shape at the 7th fret for your E7 chord certainly was a surprise.
Lord Have Mercy When I Come To Die is one of Son House’s lesser known spirituals, yet one of his most powerful. In 1964 Son House was newly rediscovered and reworking, relearning, and remembering, the songs of his younger days and Lord Have Mercy When I Come To Die is one of those songs from his “practice” sessions but was never fully developed and all but forgotten.
Fred McDowell played original songs as well as covers by other artists, i.e. Sleepy John Estes, Blind Willie Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy. "Louise" is
a tune composed and originally recorded by Big Bill. Fred had several different approaches to playing the blues but none of them were similar to Big
Bill's fingerstyle blues. Big Bill never recorded with a bottleneck while Fred always employed the slide in his arrangements. Fred's arrangement of
"Louise" is played in an Open E and features the usual suspects found in Fred's playing.
Muddy Water’s “Louisiana Blues” falls into the “Roll and Tumble” vein with a similar single string slide line following the vocal melody but the added bass line providing the riff between the verses equally iconic and here Tom Feldmann presents all these elements at a slow and steady pace.
As Bob Dylan sings: "And I know no one can sing the blues, like Blind Willie McTell." McTell was born William Samuel McTier in 1898. After his mother died, in the 1920s, he left his hometown and became an itinerant musician, or "songster." He began his recording career in 1927 for Victor Records in Atlanta. He played with a fluid, syncopated fingerstyle guitar technique, common among many exponents of Piedmont blues. Unlike his contemporaries, he came to use twelve-string guitars exclusively. McTell was also an adept slide guitarist, unusual among ragtime bluesmen. His vocal style, a smooth and often laid-back tenor, differed greatly from many of the harsher voice types employed by Delta bluesmen, such as Charley Patton. Blind Willie McTell performed in various musical styles, including blues, ragtime, religious music and hokum. "Love Changing Blues" is played in Open G tuning
Quite possibly the best blues song title ever, and also one of Son House’s masterpieces that unfortunately goes pretty much unnoticed. Recorded in 1942, you can’t beat the intro, and other single string slide licks in the this tune. The recurring barring of the IV, V chords ala “Death Letter Blues,” etc., also are involved.
In this lesson you will learn how to move from fingerpicking to a strum and back again. Working from the ground up, Tom Feldmann takes you through everything
from hand placement (anchoring the pinky), to alternating bass, pinch and syncopated fingerpicking techniques, and strumming exercises. The best part
is that you also learn a staple song that finds it's place in many different genres.
"Backwater Blues/Mean Old Twister" is a perfect beginner country blues song. In fact, it is one of the first songs Tom Feldmann learned to play. In it
lies many of the keys to Lightnin€۪ Hopkins style and also the basic progression and licks you find in many classic E blues songs.
Tom Feldmann breaks down each section into elements that you can practice separately and then join them together as you progress. Simple, slow paced instruction that will get you playing in Lightnin€۪s style in no time.
"Mean Old World" is a great example of melding the old with the new. The main riff and progression find their routes in the players of the 1920's and 30's,
while the solos reflect the blues/rock blend that Eric Clapton and Duane Allman are legendary for. The song in of itself is wonderfully fun to play,
but don't overlook the song construction template it offers; combine elements.
Junior Kimbrough's "Meet Me In The City" first recorded in 1966 is a master class of what can be done using just one chord - the A chord in this case. The fingerpicked melody breaks off into the hippest boogie beat, interestingly enough that idea was coined "the get down" only a few short years later when in the 1970's hip hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash came on the scene. It's hard not to draw a parallel between Hill Country, or at least the intent of the style, and hip hop beats.
Charlie Patton's "Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues" is a free-for-all of slide madness. However, letting loose does not mean playing sloppy and this piece is a perfect example of edgy, raw, and fast but still clean
“Mississippi County Farm Blues” recorded in 1930 for Paramount was lost to the world until 2005 along with its B side, “Clarksdale Moan.” “Mississippi County Farm Blues” came to be at the request of Paramount looking for a recording to honor the recent passing of their biggest star, Blind Lemon Jefferson. Son House used the melody of Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” for this slide tour de force.
Recorded in 1927, Frank Stokes' "Mistreatin' Blues" falls into the "Crow Jane" family of tunes. There are many songs that follow this chord progression and indeed played identically using the same figures, it is a form that many early pioneers say was one of the first blues they heard. Using these first position chord shapes outside of their typical area will really open up the fret board and make it less intimidating.
Allen Shaw recorded two known titles in 1934, “Moanin’ the Blues” and “I Couldn’t Help It.” Played out of Vestapol tuning (Open D for this lesson), it’s steady monotonic bass and simple slide riff at the 12th fret makes “Moanin’ the Blues” a great beginner to intermediate slide piece. Barring IV and V chords at the 5th and 7th fret, this also is provides a template for basic blues in Open D.
Mississippi Fred left behind a strong legacy that continues today. He taught a young R.L. Burnside as well as a young lady named Bonnie Raitt. His "Mojo
Hand" exemplifies his rhythmic approach to playing the blues. He combined strong repetitive bass licks with screaming slide lines. It doesn't get any
better than this!
Recorded in 1927, Frank Stokes' "Mr. Crump Don't Like It" is one of Frank's public commentary pieces that really could be sung, with name changes, at any time in history. G, G7, C, C7, A, A7 and D, one of his busier chordal tunes, but just like his other tunes, once you get the first verse down you pretty well have the tune learned.
A Delta Blues classic, and masterpiece, if ever there was one. Son House's "My Black Mama" contains nearly everything that made Son House, Son House and
it's influence would find it's way to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and beyond. This is a must song for any fan of Son House, or Delta Blues guitar.
Recorded in the 1930�۪s for Paramount, Son House�۪s ���My Black Mama Parts 1&2� are the earliest example that we have of what would become House�۪s trademark tune, ���Death Letter Blues� and offers nearly all you need to know about his playing in Open G tuning. Rough and tough slide, baring the V, IV chord, and the main riff that is instantly recognizable to any blues fan.
Bobby Grant recorded only two titles, "Nappy Head Blues" and "Lonesome Atlanta Blues" at a session in Chicago around December of 1927. He was an exceptionally
finished-sounding player with a slide and had perfect intonation and a beautiful tone on his guitar. His guitar accompaniment tracks his vocal very
tightly. On "Nappy Head Blues" Bobby Grant accompanied himself in Open G tuning. After an exceptionally nifty chordal intro, he launches into the song,
which turns out to be unique one-chord, 16-bar blues.
"Nearer My God To Thee" is in the vein of other Hurt classics in D, "Stack O' Lee"and "C.C. Rider" and offers a fantastic look at Mississippi John Hurt's playing style in D. Consistent alternating bass throughout, slides and hammer-ons. A real fun piece to play.
Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded close to 1,000 songs and “Needed Time” is one of the only gospel numbers in the bunch. Played out of E position, this lesson offers many trademark Lightnin’ licks that can be applied to his many classic E blues tunes. “Needed Time” is a heartfelt call for help in the present time of need, something that we can all relate too. Now is the Needed Time.
Tommy McClennan is one of the rare examples of 1940's urban transplants that still sounded like the rural musicians of the 1920's and 30's. Primitive,
explosive, frantic, this is how McClennan played the guitar. "New Highway No. 51" is a simple song in G with a great main riff and a crying
single string bend. Lay it down!
Numerous emails have come in looking for tips on fingerpicking basics, mainly thumb and finger independence. Tom Feldmann chose "Nine Pound Hammer" as
a vehicle of aid to your fingerpicking freedom. Working from the ground up, Feldmann takes you through everything from hand placement (anchoring the
pinky), to alternating bass, pinch, and syncopated fingerpicking techniques. The best part is that you also learn a staple song that finds it�۪s place
in many different genres.
Curley Weaver was one of Atlanta's most beloved bluesmen. He was born in 1906 and was also known as Slim Gordon. He was a close friend to Blind Willie McTell. Weaver was an exceptionally skilled guitar soloist, with a slide and without, and recorded many records on his own and as a sideman with Blind Willie McTell, Fred McMullen, Buddy Moss, Ruth Willis, and others. He was also an essential part of two of the best string bands of prewar blues, the Georgia Cotton Pickers and Georgia
Amos Easton, better known as Bumble Bee Slim, was born in Brunswick, Georgia in 1905. Around 1920 he joined the Ringling Brothers circus. He then returned to Georgia and was briefly married before heading north on a freight train to Indianapolis, where he settled in 1928. There he met and was influenced by the pianist Leroy Carr and the guitarist Scrapper Blackwell. By 1931 he had moved to Chicago, where he made his first recordings, as Bumble Bee Slim, for Paramount Records. The following year his song "B&O Blues" was a hit for Vocalion Records, inspiring a number of other railroad blues and eventually becoming a popular folk song. In the next five years he recorded over 150 songs for Decca Records, Bluebird Records and Vocalion, often accompanied by other musicians, including Big Bill Broonzy, Peetie Wheatstraw, Tampa Red, Memphis Minnie, and Washboard Sam.
"O Christmas Tree" done in C position is a simple arrangement that consists of all first position chords. Easily accessible to new fingerpickers, yet still
enjoyable for the more seasoned players.
Reverend Robert Wilkins never quite rose to the “legendary” status of his contemporaries, though his recordings from the 20’s and 60’s simply are some of the best on wax. In short, he was unique. “O Lord I Want You To Help Me” offers an easy to learn slide part however, this song is an exercise in thumb self control which may leave you asking for a little help of your own.
Reverend Gary Davis was pound for pound one of the all time best guitarists of the 20th century. Rags, blues, gospel, whatever he played he did so with power, creativity and conviction. "Oh Glory, How Happy I Am" is truly a masterpiece both in lyric and instrumentation and Tom Feldmann offers his pared down arrangement for those not yet able to grapple the Rev's complex bass lines, chord shapes and lead runs. This is not a beginners lesson, but a beginner to Rev. Gary Davis lesson.
"Oh Mary Don't You Weep" offers some quick changes in the key of E. At its core it is a basic I, IV, V progression in E but with the melody lines this tune can really jump.
Tom Feldmann takes you through Ry Cooder's haunting slide piece, "Paris, Texas." "Paris, Texas" borrows heavily from Blind Willie Johnson's masterpiece
"Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" but it offers some wonderful chordal elements that Johnson's did not which gives "Paris, Texas" it's own
unique place in the acoustic slide landscape.
Charlie Patton's "Pea Vine Blues" could be said to be a fingerpicked version of "Banty Rooster,""Banty Rooster" the slide version of "Pea Vine Blues."
Either way, you'll be finperpicking the melody on the first string and also learning a killer bass run
Known primarily for his piano playing, Peetie Wheetsraw managed to record a number on guitar that would go on to shape how Robert Johnson would strum in Open G tuning with songs like "Terraplane Blues" and "Stones In My Passway." Once you get the rhythm down this is one heck of tune and a bit out of the box for those familiar with Open G blues guitar.
“Shetland Pony Blues”/”Pony Blues” were recorded in the 1940’s and lyrically are reminiscent of Charlie Patton’s “Pony Blues”/”Stone Pony Blues.” One of Son House’s masterpieces that unfortunately goes pretty much unnoticed but you just can’t beat the bends, string snaps and single string slide licks in the this tune.
One of the great masterpieces of blues, Charlie Patton's "Pony Blues" will teach you everything you'll need to know about playing an E Blues. With Charlie's trademark strum, single lead lines, bends, and snaps, this piece is a master class for Delta blues in the key of E.
R.L. Burnside's "Poor Black Mattie" is the holy grail of Hill Country tunes, master this piece and you'll have the envy of all those around you. The left hand is simple enough, but the right hand rhythm is where the challenge lies. Tom Feldmann takes you through three ways RL played the rhythm throughout his career, yes including the percussive "strike" that eludes so many.
Recorded in 1927, Barbecue Bob’s “Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home” is a stone cold classic and should be readily on hand for any slide guitar enthusiast.
The combination of strums/picking will certainly aid in your rhythm playing and the slides up and down the fretboard are applicable to nearly every
other slide tune in Open G.
Recorded in 1934, "Poor Me" was one of Patton's last recordings before his death. The key to Patton's rhythm is strumming in one direction and that is certainly the case for this piece. Stripping the C chord down to the first and second strings, as well as moving the C chord up and down the neck, will give you a new take on a C blues.
One from Mississippi John Hurt's 1928 recording sessions, "Praying On The Old Camp Ground" breaks from a consistent alternating bass while playing the melody to playing the melody notes in a more lead line fashion which will help encourage players to leave the bass behind now and again and let the melody stand on its own.
Another in the “classics” category from the 1930 session for Paramount, “Preachin’ The Blues” is the best example of early Delta Blues slide guitar. The rawness of this tune is unmatched and is a must for anyone who claims to play slide guitar.
Son House's "Preachin' The Blues" is a Delta Blues classic, and masterpiece. "Preachin' The Blues" contains nearly everything that made Son House, Son House and it's influence would find it's way to Robert Johnson and his playing of "Preaching Blues." This is a must song for any fan of Son House, or Delta Blues guitar.
Looking for heavy Hill County licks? Foot stomping North Mississippi rhythms? Look no further. "Pushin' My Luck" not only holds the keys to much of what
Robert Belfour played throughout his career it offers exactly what us fans of Hill Country Blues long to learn and play.
Hambone Wille Newbern's "Roll and Tumble Blues" is a necessity for every fan of slide guitar, and blues guitar in general. This is a classic melody that
is reproduced in countless tunes and you simply cannot claim to play slide guitar if you do not know this tune.
Guy Davis created a masterpiece when he reworked this Mance Lipscomb classic back in 1996 for his “Call Down the Thunder” album. There is a lot going on
in this song and Tom Feldmann takes you through verse by verse.
This Mance Lipscomb classic will get your thumb in shape right quick with his trademark Texas single bass rhythm. The melody line played here is quit simple
and will be a quick learn for those familiar with other Open D tunes like "Pay Day" (John Hurt), or "That's No Way To Get Along/Prodigal Son" (Robert
The trademark bass run that screams Delta Blues and Charley Patton. Another masterpiece of blues guitar, this song offers everything you need to know about playing blues in Open G tuning.
Patton's ragtime piece sure to whip up a frenzy. Played in the key of F. Whether you strum the chord progression, or fingerpick, this tune will provide endless hours of fun.
Willard Thomas, better known as Ramblin' Thomas (1902 - 1945), was a country blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. He is best remembered for his slide
guitar playing and for several recordings he made in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Blues scholars seem undecided if his nickname referred to his
style of playing or to his itinerant nature. He was the brother of the blues musician Jesse Thomas. Ramblin' Thomas's sound is unusual and his use
of the bottleneck/slide quite distinct. He played in Open D tuning and "Shake It Gal" is a good example of his approach.
A shuffle in Open G that departs from the G-C-D progression? Yes, with "She Just Wants To Dance", Keb' Mo' ditches the norm and goes for a D-G-A progression
that will certainly add variety to your playing out of Open G tuning. "She Just Wants To Dance" mixes slide with fingered notes and will come easily
to those familiar with Open D songs like Dust My Broom (Elmore James) and Ramblin' On My Mind (Robert Johnson). Let that girl dance!
Open G tuning is often used for down and gritty blues but it’s the softer, sweeter side found in Parlor guitar music and Hawaiian slack key guitar that Tom Feldmann drew from while creating his own arrangement of the Christmas favorite “Silent Night”...simple melody, pure delight.
"Silver Bells" really falls together nicely using Open G tuning with it's double stops, simple barring for the C and D chords, and single string lines to form the melody.
"Since I've Laid My Burden Down," a staple in the gospel category and a prominent tune in John Hurt's live performances. This tune will teach you the basics
for fingerpicking in the key of C.
One of the first recorded artists of the Atlanta blues community of the prewar era, Peg Leg Howell bridged the gap between the early country-blues sound
and the 12-bar stylings to follow, with his guitar work evolving over time to include fingerpicking and slide techniques. Born Joshua Barnes Howell
in Eatonton, Georgia on March 5, 1888, he was a self-taught guitarist who acquired his nickname after a 1916 run-in with an irate brother-in-law which
ended in a shotgun wound to the leg and, ultimately, amputation. He recorded many sides from 1926 to 1929 for Columbia Records that spanned traditional
ballads, dance tunes to early jazz. "Skin Game Blues" is an unusual but fantastic tune with a great bottleneck arrangement played in Open D tuning.
There really is no other song quite like "Some of These Days I'll Be Gone" in the Patton catalog, nor the Mississippi blues catalog at large. It is played in the key of E. It is quite sophisticated and could be the most challenging of Patton's pieces to play. Double stops, hand claps, and crooning lyrics.
No relation to the Skip James classic, Son House’s “Special Rider Blues” has you playing the melody on single strings, no slide, giving you a rare look into his playing without a slide in Open G tuning without the IV, V chords. The melody is very similar to Charlie Patton’s “Banty Rooster,” and “Pea Vine Blues.”
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Special Rider Blues." This is the only Spanish tuning song Skip recorded and it is indeed special. The vocal melody is played on the 1st and 4th strings up and down the neck, but it's the riff that is instantly recognizable and infectious.
Jessie Mae Hemphill's "Standing In The Doorway Crying" recorded for She Wolf in 1981 is a showcase piece for Hill County in Vestapol Tuning. Hypnotic to the core, you really just have a simple riff on the third fret and the rest is just falling into the groove of the open strings.
Stocktime, also known as Buck Dance, is a bit of an oddity in the John Hurt catalog, though all the familiar “Hurtisms” are can be found throughout this playfully wonderful ragtime number.
Frank Stokes' "Stomp That Thing" is an interesting look at how moving the first position chords up and down the neck will get you the chords your looking for, as opposed to making them in their typical positions. Example, moving your C chord up 2 frets gets you D. Move your G chord to the 5th fret and you get A, up to the 7th fret, B. Using this technique creates a sort of "hopping" staccato effect and was surely a dance number.
July 1957, Big Bill lays down tracks for what would become his last recording session, one of which was “Stump Blues.” “Stump Blues” is a simple I,IV,V in E yet, it’s what Bill does with it that makes the tune so refreshing and intoxicating. It is the E lick that ties the sections together, the slap walking A bass line, and the B7 to C#7, take this tune from a typical blues in E to a higher level. Big Bill could certainly own the guitar but it’s these simpler tunes that really show how tasteful he was.
Recorded in 1927, Frank Stokes' "Sweet To Mama" is one of his busier chordal tunes. Moving the G chord up and down the neck to follow the melody line of the first verse, plus a great little riff on the third string, 3rd fret make this a challenging piece.
Recorded in 1928, Frank Stokes' "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do (part 1-2)" is a straightforward C, F, G piece. Nearly all the melody notes are pinched along with the bass notes making this a perfect intro to fingerpicking. The use of hammer-ons is used throughout, making this a step up to Franks "Take Me Back." "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do" was a popular tune first recorded in 1922, more notably by Bessie Smith in 1923. Both John Hurt and Stokes recorded the tune in 1928, John Hurt's "Nobody's Business" is very much the same tune but recorded a few months prior to Franks and shows the evolution of the piece from a slow blues to an uptempo piece, the lyrics were also changed from the 1922 original.
Recorded in 1928, Frank Stokes' "Take Me Back" is a straightforward C, F, G piece. Nearly all the melody notes are pinched along with the bass notes making this a perfect intro to fingerpicking. With pieces like this one it is a wonder why Stokes didn't become the go to fingerpicking guide like Mississippi John Hurt. There is a contrast between the lyric and the tempo/feel of the arrangement, leaving you to wonder if this was more a comedy show piece than a serious plea for reconciliation. "Take Me Back" was a popular tune and carried through the generations being performed and recorded by many other artists, Lightnin' Hopkins version is a personal favorite.
"Take Your Burden To The Lord And Leave It There" was written by Charles Albert Tindley in 1916. It is a standard gospel number. When Tom first
heard this tune by a vocal group in 2004 he set out to arrange the tune in Open G with his typical "less is more" approach of simply playing the
melody. The result has become a fan favorite, with numerous requests for a lesson...So, here it
"That's Alright" is basically Fred McDowell's take on "Hobo Blues" by John Lee Hooker, which was an extremely popular song amongst the Hill Country artists. One of the few non slide McDowell tunes the vocal is sung over the C shaped chord, in place of barring on the fifth fret, and the licks that follow revolve mostly around the third fret. The typical boom-chuck McDowell rhythm is applied.
"The First Noel" in C position offers some wonderful partial chords that will teach you how to move up and down the neck. You not only learn this timeless
Christmas classic but the ideas taught in this lesson will work with any song in C position.
Sam Collins was born in Louisiana in 1887. He grew up just across the state border in McComb, Mississippi. By 1924 he was performing in local barrelhouses, often with King Solomon Hill with whom he shared the use of falsetto singing and slide guitar. He was first recorded by Gennett Records in 1927, and recorded again in 1931, some of his later recordings appearing under different pseudonyms. He is best remembered for "The Jailhouse Blues." It is played in an Open D tuning.
Fred McDowell has been one of Tom Feldmann's main influences for nearly 20 years, and with "The Lord Will Make A Way" we see the culmination of that influence. Feldmann holds true to McDowell's trademark single string slide and steady alternating bass, but then adds his own twists, a "hopping" bass riff, a percussive down stroke, and other variations, that really makes the tune jump.
Another driving Fred McDowell arrangement played in an Open A tuning. The rhythmic lick is a fine example of Mississippi Hill Country blues. It creates
an hypnotic sound that propels the lyrics. A good lesson for focusing on your right hand control and power.
Edward Clayborn recorded "There'll Be Glory" in 1926 and in 1929 Charley Patton cut the same melody for "Lord I'm Discouraged." Alternating bass, single string slide, the bread and butter of slide in Open G tuning. A great beginner piece.
Spirituals were big part of Son House’s early years, and indeed carried through in his power as a singer all the way through his life. “This Little Light of Mine,” recorded in the 1960’s, is a great example of what House could do and changes this from a “children’s” song into a fiery slide number.
"Tom Rushen Blues" is a slide throughout piece and the melody is played primarily on the first string, with the exception of strumming the open strings and barring the 5th fret with the slide. A very basic Charlie Patton tune, perfect for beginners of slide guitar.
“Train Fare Blues” gives us a look at Muddy Water’s style pre-Chicago with a chord progression that is found throughout Open G tunes by Delta blues legends
Son House and Robert Johnson. The slide riff is simple yet effective and the solo borrows heavily from “I Feel Like Going Home”, another Muddy classic.
Ry Cooder takes Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" to new heights with this masterpiece of slide guitar wizardry, and Tom Feldmann teaches you everything, verse-by-verse. This song offers enough technique, style, and flair to last you a lifetime.
Simple tune with heartbreaking lyrics, pretty much par for the course for Townes Van Zandt. "Waiting Around To Die" is certainly one of Townes' most well known tunes and Tom Feldmann takes you through Townes' fingerpicking pattern, strumming pattern, and lastly an alternate fingerpicking pattern that compliments the tune nicely.
Son House recorded "Walking Blues" a few different times, this being the earlier 1930s version with Son playing a lick around the vocal melody while a second guitarist plays the rhythm part. The mechanics of this song are simple in concept, pick the lick, sing the song, but the execution will prove quite a challenge.
Recorded in the 1940's, this version of "Walking Blues" is what Son House called, "Walking down the staff." Played in A position, this piece follows the A blues that Charlie Patton played in "Moon Going Down" and "Devil Sent the Rain."
Bo Carter was one of the few country blues artists who enjoyed a long recording career, spanning from 1928-1940. Recording both solo and with the Mississippi
Sheiks, "Bo Carter" Chatmon was best known for his bawdy songs like, "Banana in Your Fruit Basket," "Please Warm My Wiener" and "My Pencil Won't Write
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you verse-by-verse through one of Carter's less risqu̩ numbers, Ways Like A Crawfish. This challenging piece offers a look into Carter's masterful, and playful, guitar style and will undoubtedly entice you to dig deeper into the Bo Carter catalogue
Gospel Blues in waltz time are a rare thing. Played out of the key of C you'll be jumping around that C chord and moving up and down the neck. Hammer-ons and pull-off's are also used throughout.
Fred McDowell was greatly influenced by the playing of Blind Willie Johnson. "When I Lay My Burden Down" is a gospel song played in the style of Blind
Willie. The guitar is tuned to Open E. A steady accented alternating bass is played with the bottleneck/slide playing the melody on the high strings.
"When Your Way Get's Dark" is truly a slide masterpiece. Eloquent, emotive, and the contrast between the high notes and low bass run is stunning. One of Patton's most creative slide pieces.
Muddy Waters recording a spiritual? Yes, and one of his funkiest pieces recorded in 1942 at Stovall Plantation. What Muddy is playing here is nothing in
the vein of what would record in Chicago a few years later and gives a window into the diversity he was capable prior to going electric and becoming
a blues star.
Robert Wilkins is not necessarily known as a slide player, but he operates wonderfully on this classic spiritual. Much like Fred McDowell, Wilkins follows the melody line on single and double strings while keeping a steady alternating bass. This is a wonderful beginners slide piece.
This is Fred McDowell's wonderful slide arrangement of Sleepy John Estes's "Someday Baby Blues." Originally released in 1935 it has been recorded in different
settings by dozens of bluesmen as diverse as Tampa Red to Lighnin' Hopkins, to the Shelton Brothers to Bob Dylan. Fred McDowell plays his arrangement
in an Open A tuning using an alternating bass technique with the melody played with the slide on the high strings.
At age 55, Fred McDowell had been discovered in 1959, when he was first recorded by music historian, Alan Lomax. Those recordings announced McDowell to a new legion of fans. These recordings would launch McDowell's career as a professional musician. Two subsequent 1964 solo albums, released on Arhoolie and Testament, would cement his reputation, leading to international touring the following year, where he encountered enthusiastic response everywhere he went. In America, McDowell became a frequent performer on the club and festival circuit. Although considered one of the great Mississippi Delta blues men, Fred McDowell was originally from Tennessee, having relocated to Como, Mississippi, in the early 1940s, where he found steady work farming, while performing at local picnics and dances. McDowell would be among the first (if not the first) of the northern Mississippi blues musicians to achieve wide recognition for his music.
Barbecue Bob recorded "Yo Yo Blues" in 1929. Over his very successful career he recorded 60 sides for Columbia Records. He favored one- or two-chord song
structures and was equally adept at fast, clean, highly rhythmic playing and slow blues. His bright tone suggests that he liked to play with his right
hand close to the guitar's bridge. For added effect, he'd occasionally snap his lower strings or launch into solos at unexpected times. He tuned to
open G and would sometimes capo up four frets to play in B. "Yo Yo Blues" is a variant of "No No Blues" recorded by Curley Weaver.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through Skip James' 1931 recording of "Yola My Blues Away." This piece is certainly a challenge and brings together
all the elements that Skip used in crossnote tuning, making this possibly his most unique song, but also his most unpredictable.
This is one of the masterpieces of early country blues slide playing. It is played in an Open G tuning. The guitar arrangement weaves in and out of the
vocal. Bo Weavil Jackson's real name was James Butler. He was one of the first country bluesmen to be recorded in 1926, for both Paramount and Vocalion
Records. On the latter label he was credited as Sam Butler. "You Can't Keep No Brown" is a tour de force in bottleneck blues playing and a must for
you to tackle.