One simply cannot talk about people of importance to this genre without tipping the hat to the most masterful musician, teacher, musicologist, producer, folklorist and preservationist of the traditional blues. By now, Stefan Grossman is a venerated, iconoclastic and respected acoustic blues figure of mega-proportions. He came out of the vibrant Greenwich Village, New York, 1960s scene around Washington Square, where so many American folk and blues musicians launched their careers. His friend and occasional collaborator, Steve Katz, formerly of the Even Dozen Jug Band, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, once half jokingly told this writer: “There we were, all these New York Jews playing the black blues.” Indeed, the blues had a strong influence on young New Yorkers during the folk revival. These musicians, Stefan Grossman, Happy & Artie Traum, Danny Kalb, and many others, in turn had a powerful influence on the acceptance of the blues by the American baby boomer generation at large; and, they significantly helped to launch the folk, roots & blues revival, thereby reinvigorating the careers of many original blues musicians whose careers had waned.
Many people know Stefan Grossman as the paramount teacher and entrepreneur in what has become the world’s largest “blues school”, Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. He is one of the most skilled guitarists in the genre, having been a student of Rev. Gary Davis in New York City. He also picked up lessons directly from Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and others.
The key of E shouts out: 'Play the blues.' It is the most popular setting for playing in the style of Lightnin' Hopkins. Chicago bluesmen love playing in E. But there are other approaches of fingerpicking blues in the key of E.
In this lesson we will explore styles and techniques as played by some of the legendary bluesmen. Charley Jordan's unique approach will be taught with note-by-note transcriptions of his 1930's recordings of Keep It Clean and Hunkie Tunkie Blues. Big Joe Williams' classic Baby, Please Don't Go will combine a little of the old (with a Mance Lipscomb right hand technique) with a taste of the new (licks from Booker T. & the MGs).
The perennial Careless Love and I Shall Not Be Moved have touches of Mississippi John Hurt while Crow Jane takes its cues from the playing of Big Bill Broonzy and Brownie McGhee. Pigmeat Shuffle combines the bass and licks of Rev. Gary Davis. And of course Lightnin' Hopkins' playing is included with an arrangement combining many of his trademark licks.
A detailed tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD. Each tune is taught phrase by phrase and played slowly on a split-screen. The Bonus
Audio section presents a wide assortment of bluesmen playing the tunes taught in various settings.
Titles include: Baby, Please Don't Go, Pigmeat Shuffle, Crow Jane, I Shall Not Be Moved, Careless Love, Hunkie Tunkie Blues, Keep It Clean and Texas Lightnin' Blues
107 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: "You can also ... Or you could ...": Stefan Grossman pulls that thread of creative encouragement through his newest workshop on the art of "Fingerpicking Blues Guitar in the Key of E". Although his tutoring focuses upon a setlist of eight immortals strung between "Pigmeat Shuffle" (whose name alone authenticates any repertoire) and the fantastically oddball "Hunkie Tunkie Blues," it's all the stylistic side streets sprung from Grossman's encyclopedic fretsmanship which particularly foster customization. In other words: You'll learn more than what makes "Texas Lightnin' (Hopkins) Blues" tick, or the chord progression of "Crow Jane," which, when conquered, gets you more than halfway to also mastering analogues like "Key to the Highway" and "Sliding Delta." More than the ins-and-outs behind "Careless Love," a melody that wooed fellow guitarists from Blind Boy Fuller and Johnny Cash to Lead Belly and Dylan. And more than how to chug "Baby, Please Don't Go," a slab of Delta bedrock that became a rite of passage for bluesmen (Muddy to Hooker) and rockers (the Stones to AC/DC) alike. Because Grossman also stuffs a gunnysack full of mix-and-match add-ons, ranging from assorted turnarounds to signature moves of Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee and Blind Blake. Beyond a chord-and-lick clinic, these 107 minutes are as much a motivational springboard as a technical gateway. Plus, 16 vintage audio tracks offer the bonus thrill of being able to duet with the likes of Charley Patton and Big Joe Williams himself. - Dennis Rozanski/BluesRag
Review: The method is the same on all of Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop teaching DVDs: first Stefan plays the tune (and helps you tune up to him), then breaks it down into sections teaching each part, followed by playing it slowly with the split screen - a different camera on each hand. As always there is a PDF file on the disc showing exactly where to finger each note played. This particular course also featured the bonus of original recordings of the songs, no small perk! In some cases there are multiple versions, and there are also a couple other songs here that aren't taught, but which feature licks that are, I guess. So there are original recordings by Big Joe Williams, Big Bill Broonzy, Mississippi John Hurt, Bessie Smith, Charlie Patton, Snooks Eaglin, Charlie Jordan and even Grossman himself plus a couple others. Most are mastered from old 78 rpm records, but a handful are more modern recordings. - Blue Suede News
Review: Yet another tuition DVD from the ever prolific guitar workshops,and once again up to the very high production standards that we have come to expect from this series. But looking back at previous reviews, we have had blues in the key of A and I have to ask myself, is it really necessary to have a separate tuition DVD for each key? Can't people just simply slide their fingers up or down to suit the key? Well apparently, not and when I have compared different DVDs, it is true to say that they have been different in content. Now the one thing that I have always admired about this series is the quality of the PDF files that allow you to download all of the tablature and sheet music, my only gripe is that they usually aren't far short of 50 or so pages, so take a toll on my printing ink! But this time we have the added bonus of the man himself giving the lesson. Stefan Grossman is a natural teacher and explains everything in crystal clear detail and in simple terms, his explanation of the alternative chord positions that you can use and the reasons why you might want to use the particular shapes was a lesson in itself. On this DVD Stefan covers his arrangement of eight well known and some not quite so well known blues tunes including the very well known Careless Love and one of my favorites Baby Please Don't Go. There is also a bonus audio section on the DVD which has a wide assortment of different bluesmen playing these tunes in various settings. You cannot fail to come away from spending time with this DVD without having learnt something new, and I will certainly be referring to it in the future, yes that's three Xs from me. – Dave Stone/Blues Matters!