According to Chet Atkins, Pat Donohue is "one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world." Any praise that could be given to a guitar player seems insignificant next to such a statement, but Donohue's work warrants even more acclaim. He was named the 1983 National Fingerpicking Guitar Champion, and continues to garner recognition as an exceptional musician and entertainer. Fans of National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion have been treated to the fingerpicked guitar work of Pat Donohue for years, whether they know it or not. Donohue started appearing as a guest performer in the 1980s and has been a regular member of the show's house band since 1993.The full range of Pat's talents, however, are evident on his recorded works, which blend folk, jazz, blues, ragtime, and boogie woogie.
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
The fingerings and pull offs are a little tricky, but the satisfying chromatic bass line that begins the tune as well as the classic chord progression make it well worth while. The bridge goes through a few key centers but it all comes beautifully back to the last section. I tried to put a few country blues moves in, like the E minor lick at the beginning of the bridge. I think country blues and classic jazz are good together and I try to combine the styles wherever I can. In my mind Blind Blake and Fats Waller are closely related.
This piece revolves around a very familiar four note walking bass line in a twelve bar blues progression. A lot of carefully placed slides, pull offs and hammer ons make it cook. It is my hope that learning this tune will set you off on improvising your own choruses in this style. Start very slowly and let the momentum build, one move at a time.
Played in the key of G, a blues I wrote in the style of Blind Blake’s medium tempo tunes. An Eb7 in bar six is a great ragtime chord used in many songs
of that era. Blake’s right-hand technique is the subject of some controversy, but this is how I do it.
One of my attempts at boogie woogie piano playing on guitar. Yet another bass line feel, this one four to the bar for sure. One of the later sections is loosely taken from a guitar duet by Memphis Minnie and Charlie McCoy on "Chauffeur Blues".
One of those magic tunes that EVERYONE loves, arrangements are wide open to interpretation. This one is pretty straight and in the guitar friendly key of C. The intro has a very cool jazzy turnaround that I use a lot, and the end of the bridge has a string of II - V progressions that "channel" you back to the original key. Just start this tune and watch people smile.
I picked this up listening to Jimmie Noone, the Jazz clarinetist, but it is an early jazz standard. The “clarinet” solo just after the a minor March breakdown is tricky, but if you use all the hammer-ons and pull-offs it sounds smooth.
Played in the key of G. This is a very jazzed up version of the ubiquitous hokum chord progression famously used for “Alice’s Restaurant” and hundreds
of Raggy blues tunes of the 1930s. There are many little mini progressions and chord tricks in this one that make it a lot of fun to play. Also, many
of the same sort of moves are used in lots of standards, so this tune is a bit of a jazz chording workshop.
These two tunes are groove oriented, so it is important to differentiate and respect each of them, and they are quite different. It helps to accentuate the backbeat on both of them. On Green Onions watch that you damp on the backbeats and only hit a few of the strings, not all.
This arrangement of a true American Classic begins with a walking bass with chords through the progression, then vocals and toward the end a counterpoint section which include some fun two octave arpeggio runs. Both of these techniques are useful in many arrangements.
This arrangement departs from the usual right hand alternating thumb picking patterns in favor of a bass line that follows the flowing chord progression. The original classic by Sonny Rollins should be heard for contrast and reference. Some simple chords, like G and E7 seem more complicated by the drop D tuning, but once you get used to it there's no problem.
Played in the key of E. I capo at the third fret to sing this one. A tune about Chet Atkins’ huge influence on me and so many other finger style guitar
players out there, whether they know or not. I originally wrote it to see if Chet would play it with me on the radio, which he did. Boy, did I feel
like a big shot. Since then I have tried to fit any Chet style licks I know into this tune. Watch that right hand thumb!
I used a Duke Ellington version as the inspiration for this arrangement, but tried to make it guitar friendly by putting it in the key of A and using fairly straight forward chords. There are some small but powerful moves in this one, starting with the intro. The end of the bridge has a nice little chord progression not found in all versions of this song. Thanks Duke!
One time at a rehearsal on St. Patrick’s Day a radio host looked at me and said, “I think we need an Irish blues.” I went in the corner and came up with
this, which is roughly the melody of “Irish Washerwoman”, which is the most abused Irish tune there is other than “Danny Boy.” There are some tricky
hammer-ons and pull-offs in the guitar break, but when it starts to move, well “Katie bar the door” as my very Irish father used to say.
Probably the hardest thing here is the right hand middle finger tremolo. Start slowly with it independent of the rest of the tune. When you get smoother, add the bass notes one at a time and try to keep the time steady and slow. The mood is so important in this tune, don't let it get lost in the techniques.
Played in the key of E. I always admired James Taylor’s sparse and tasty self-accompaniment on guitar. I don’t play like him, but I have tried to make
this a meaningful accompaniment while not getting in the way of the song, kind of the way he does. The little chord progression at the end of each
verse, A/C#, C, E/B can be a bit tricky, but is a signature part of the song.