Adrian Ingram is widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the jazz guitar. He has written extensively about the history, players, styles and instruments of the genre. As an educator, he has served as guitar specialist for Birmingham Education Authority (1975-1981) and Lecturer in jazz and popular music at Huddersfield Technical College (1981-82). Following this he taught for thirteen years as senior lecturer in jazz guitar at the prestigious Leeds College of Music (1982-1995).
Adrian has an MA in music performance and a Master of Philosophy in music education. He studied music education with professor John Paynter OBE (York University) and the guitar with Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts. He was elected both Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and Fellow of the College of Preceptors (FColl.P) in 1987 for outstanding contribution to music education. Adrian also holds advanced diplomas in classical guitar performance and instruction and has attained Dept. of Education and Science’s "qualified teacher" status.
After 25 years as a session guitarist and record producer, Alberto Lombardi fell in love with fingerstyle acoustic guitar. He has performed his arrangements
both in Italy and abroad, from small clubs in New York City and London, to renowned guitar festivals held in Sarzana and Ferentino, Italy.
Alberto's arrangements are rooted in the style of the great Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel but also influenced by the 1950's big band sound. His arrangements of American and Italian classics, ("Georgia On My Mind," "Volare") show the inventive harmonic movements from those great arrangers and composers of the times. Alberto also writes his own material, both fingerstyle instrumentals and as a singer/songwriter.
To date Alberto has released 2 albums as a singer-songwriter. As a session player he has toured and/or recorded with Chic's lead singers (NJ Wright, L. Martin), Robbie Dupree, as well as Italian renowned artists Barbarossa, Berté, Groff, di Cataldo, and countless others.
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.
If ever there was a player who deserves to be venerated as a true living blues guitar maestro, here is the guy. He pulls off razzle-dazzle stuff that virtually nobody else can muster.
If ever you hear people say that the old blues are crude and primitive, let them hear some of the best of the best, the intricate ragtime guitar pickers of the golden era, like Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, or amazing jazzy blues guitar solo-stylists like Lonnie Johnson. Almost every blues fan in the early stages asked the perennial question when hearing these string giants, “Yeah, but who is the other guy playing with him?” Of course, there was no “other guy.” Those mind-boggling “muscianers” were brilliant super virtuosos, en par with the best musicians of all times in any genre. They played such intricate and complicated fingerpicking with a walking bass beat on the top strings and snazzy solo lines on the treble strings while miraculously playing melody in the middle that it sounded like a string ensemble. Most guitarists today just marvel at their breathtaking demigod skills and even those daring mortals who attempt to emulate those maestros can spend a lifetime working at it and just get “pretty good” – but there are a few people on the planet who come close to mastering the styles of those geniuses of bygone days.
Foremost among them is a diminutive guy in Pennsylvania who is really an acoustic guitar monster, the biggest meanest of them all, the Sauroposeidon of the acoustic blues guitar. They failed to include him in the Rolling Stone Top 100 best guitarist list, but don’t let that fool you. It shows you what they know. Ari Eisinger was left off because only he plays old, archaic, unpopular music.
Close your eyes and listen to Pennsylvania bluesman Ari Eisinger play and sing and you will enjoy a thoroughly rewarding musical experience. You will believe unquestionably that he is the walking reincarnate of the old time ragtime pickers. He plays with such dazzling, seemingly effortless mastery, feeling every nuance and inflection while effortlessly whipping out the most complicated fingerpicking patterns. You will think there are three people playing and he not only hits every note, he plays so beautifully, so heartfelt and stunningly, all you can do is gasp for air. Realistically, within all reason and without doubt, Ari Eisinger gets as close to perfection as any player on the planet when it comes to mastering the old ragtime & country blues style.
The human personification of the word “eclectic”, Bob Brozman is unrivaled in the diversity of his musical interests and cross-cultural mastery. A musicologist & historian, musical adventurer and explorer, internationalist, slide-guitar virtuoso, and then some, Brozman does all that, and he does it well– really well. Indeed, this guy is a giant.
When National Guitar reformed in the early 1990’s I spoke to one of the owners, McGregor. He told me then, “if one guy in the whole world exemplifies the National Guitar today, it is Bob Brozman”. That’s a hefty accolade, considering that there were a few National players around. They are still around, but Brozman can teach them all a thing or two. When it comes to the slide guitar, be it lapsteel or bottleneck- be it the history of the National guitar, the mastery of diverse styles: Hawaiian kiki-kila, Hula blues, Indian, American blues, etc., nobody can touch him. Nobody knows more tunings, more styles and more techniques than Bob Brozman. He is truly a remarkable musician and musicologist, a true cultural treasure, a walking encyclopedia of the steel guitar. It does not matter which way he holds the guitar, he is a sorcerer and a supreme master.So why is he listed in an acoustic blues forum?
He is at once completely traditional, yet he managed to progress, morph and evolve. It’s a brilliant and wonderfully original thing.
Born Bradley F. Jones in Ames, Iowa, he first became known after entering Guitar Player Magazine's International Reader's Soundpage Competition in 1988 on a whim. He submitted an original composition, titled Back Porch Boogie, as well as a cover of Salty Dog Blues, recorded using a reel-to-reel recorder and then transferred to cassette using a boombox. Jones came in first place out of nearly 900 entries. He went on to win the National Fingerpicking Championship at Winfield, Kansas in 1990.
In 1995, Jones became a spokesman for Godin guitars, playing a custom instrument he named "Pearl" for the mother of pearl inlay of his name on the neck. He toured often, earning the nicknames "Le Machine Gun" and "Pistola" for his fast playing style. That same style earned the notice of Chet Atkins, who described Buster by saying; "Buster B. Jones is the best fingerpicker I've heard since Jerry Reed... He plays like he's double parked."
Atkins's picking style, inspired by Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt, George Barnes, Les Paul, and (Mother) Maybelle Carter brought him admirers within and outside the country scene, both in the United States and internationally. Atkins produced records for The Browns, Porter Wagoner, Norma Jean, Dolly Parton, Dottie West, Perry Como, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Eddy Arnold, Don Gibson, Jim Reeves, Jerry Reed, Skeeter Davis, Waylon Jennings and many others.
Among many honors, Atkins received 14 Grammy Awards as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, nine Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year awards, was inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Cory Seznec is a Franco-American musician living in Paris, France. A multicultural household, extensive travels and musical encounters, and a passion for history exposed Cory to sounds from around the world, helping him to develop his own distinct style that reflects his broad interests. Cory focuses on fingerstyle guitar, clawhammer banjo, voice, harmonica, and an array of other instruments. A founding member of Groanbox and Seznec Bros, Cory also helped create the Sawmill Sessions, an Old-Time and Bluegrass collective in Paris.
A resident of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 3.5 years, he was active in two bands MistO-MistO and Damakase, which mix Ethiopian music with other African styles. In July 2016, Cory embarked on a trip with filmmaker Gonzalo Guajardo to Luhya country in western Kenya to make a documentary on some of the few remaining omutibo style guitar players.
From performing Rhapsody in Blue for two guitars as a featured soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under conductor Erick Kunzel, to touring and recording with platinum-selling rock band Days of the New, Craig Wagner is recognized as one of the most versatile guitarists on the scene today.
Craig’s recording career includes three albums with the Java Men, a quartet he has been involved with for over ten years. Letter to St. Paul (1994), Void (1999) and Orbituary (2000) have been heard on many college and NPR stations throughout the country. A fourth album is due for release in the fall of 2004, as well as a new solo recording to follow in December. Craig’s previous solo album, Color of a Mirror, was released in 2000.
Over the last several years, you could also find Craig as a featured performer at the Chet Atkins' Society Guitar Festival in Nashville or at the Great American Guitar Show in New York, sharing the stage with guitarists Jimmy Bruno, Howard Alden, Jack Wilkins, Paul Bollenback, Ron Affif, Russell Malone and Gene Bertoncini. Mel Bay's Master Anthology of Jazz Guitar Solos features Craig, and he continues to have articles featured in Guitar Sessions series.
Craig graduated from Bellarmine University with a Bachelor's Degree in Music with an emphasis in Jazz Guitar Performance, in 1993. He has studied with Jimmy Raney, Attila Zoeller, Gene Bertoncini, Howard Alden, and BenMonder. Craig teaches guitar privately as well as jazz guitar at the University of Louisville.
An important figure in the acoustic folk revival of the 1960s, his work ranged from old English ballads to Bertolt Brecht, blues, gospel, rock, New Orleans jazz, and swing. He was also known for performing instrumental ragtime guitar music, especially his transcription of St. Louis Tickle and Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag.
Van Ronk was a widely admired avuncular figure in "the Village", presiding over the coffeehouse folk culture and acting as a friend to many up-and-coming artists by inspiring, assisting, and promoting them. Folk performers whom he befriended include Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Phil Ochs, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Guthrie Thomas, and Joni Mitchell.
Bromberg began studying guitar playing when he was 13 and eventually enrolled in Columbia University as a musicology major. The call of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the mid-’60s drew David to the downtown clubs and coffeehouses, where he could watch and learn from the best performers, including primary sources such as his inspiration and teacher, the Reverend Gary Davis.
Bromberg’s sensitive and versatile approach to guitar-playing earned him jobs playing the Village “basket houses” for tips, the occasional paying gig, and lots of employment as a backing musician for Tom Paxton, Jerry Jeff Walker and Rosalie Sorrels, among others. He became a first-call, “hired gun” guitarist for recording sessions, ultimately playing on hundreds of records by artists including Bob Dylan (New Morning, Self Portrait, Dylan), Link Wray, The Eagles, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, and Carly Simon.
David Evans has had a double career in blues since the early 1960s as a performer and a researcher, scholar, writer, and teacher. He recently retired after 38 years as Professor of Music at The University of Memphis.
Evans has authored Tommy Johnson (1971), Big Road Blues: Tradition and Creativity in the Folk Blues (1982), The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Blues (2005), and edited Ramblin’ on My Mind: New Perspectives on the Blues (2008), as well as many articles, reviews, album notes, and LP and CD productions of traditional blues artists. He has published major biographical and analytical works on Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, Bukka White, Blind Willie McTell, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, and his notes to Revenant Records’ Charley Patton box set won a Grammy™ award.
As a musician he has recorded six CDs for the Inside Sounds (USA) and Blind Lemon (Germany) labels and has made over seventy tours in twenty-two countries of Europe, South America, and Africa.He has toured and/or recorded with such blues greats as Hammie Nixon, Van Zula Hunt, Johnny Shines, Robert Belfour, Jack Owens, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Al Wilson (Canned Heat). Evans learned most of his repertoire and style directly from these and other traditional blues artists he met in the course of his research.
“David Evans, who made the blues live again as if they were some phantoms from the past.”- Soul Bag (France)
“Damn if it doesn’t ring with musical truth, the kind that cuts deeper than words, and the kind with which Evans, an old blues hand from way back, is not just familiar, but utterly comfortable.” – Blues Revue (US)
David Laibman is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He received a Ph.D. in Economics in 1973 at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York. His dissertation, The Invariance Condition for Value-Price Transformation in a Linear, Non-Decomposable Two-Sector Model, dealt with problems in Marxist value theory. Laibman teaches economic theory, political economy, and mathematical economics, at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels at CUNY.
He is also a fingerstyle guitarist, especially its application to the ragtime music of the early twentieth century. With Eric Schoenberg, Laibman recorded The New Ragtime Guitar for Folkways Records in 1970. Rounder Records released his solo album, Classical Ragtime Guitar, in 1980. Laibman has worked with a variety of artists in the early folk world, using his advanced finger picking technique. One notable album is "Way Out West" by Scottish Folksinger Alex Campbell, in 1963. Of note is the track "Orange Blossom Special" which showcases the talent that Laibman was developing.
Dix Bruce, a musician, composer, writer and award-winning guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area, was born and raised in the Midwest. His interests in American folk music, jazz, and original composition are blended into a unique vocal and instrumental sound. His compositions are fresh and his energetic, exuberant stage personality, along with his driving rhythm and lead guitar work, set the tone for a warm and exciting performance.
He began playing guitar at age twelve. After college, he relocated to the Bay Area where his interest in hybrid acoustic string music led him to David Grisman's, prototype quintet in the mid-1970s. Dix does studio work on guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and has recorded two LPs with mandolin legend Frank Wakefield, six big band CDs with the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, and his own collection of American folk songs entitled My Folk Heart on which he plays guitar, mandolin, autoharp and sang. Musix has also released Bruce’s second CD "Tuxedo Blues," a collection of original songs and standards played on acoustic stringed instruments.
To date Mel Bay Publications has published over thirty-five of Bruce’s instructional book and CD sets. Bruce has written for Acoustic Guitar, FRETS, Bluegrass Unlimited, Flatpicking Guitar, and The Fretted Instrument Guild of America. He writes regular columns for Flatpicking Guitar and Mandolin Magazine.
Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Dom Flemon’s involvement with music began by playing percussion in his high school band. After picking up the guitar and harmonica as a teenager, he began to play in local coffee houses and became a regular performer on the Arizona folk music scene. He took a brief break from playing music in order to pursue slam poetry and performed in two national poetry slams in 2002 and 2003. Aside from exploring slam poetry, he spent his early adulthood listening to records and discovering a love of folk music, blues, jazz, jug band music, country music and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. Dom became interested in folk musicians such as Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, and Mike Seeger, as well as musicians such as Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. After stepping away from the slam poetry scene, he rekindled his interest in music, this time focusing on the old-time blues music of the pre-WWII era.
A multi-instrumentalist, Dom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum, and quills, in addition to singing. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro Jig and was nominated for its next album, Leaving Eden, in 2012. Dom says he would like to use the traditional forms of music he has heard and immersed himself in over the years to create new soundscapes that generate interest in old-time folk music. Focusing very much on creating music that is rooted in history but taking a contemporary approach, Dom hopes to reexamine what traditional music can become.
Duck Baker is one of the most highly regarded fingerstyle guitarists of his generation. He is unique among jazz guitarists in that his repertoire spans the entire history of the music from ragtime through swing to modern masters like Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols to free improvisation. Baker’s devotion to American music also encompasses more traditional forms like blues, gospel, and Appalachian music and its Scots-Irish ancestry. This catholicism has been likened to Europeans who perform the classical repertoire from renaissance through to modern music.
Duck was born Richard R. Baker IV in 1949 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He passed his teenage years playing in rock and blues bands before becoming interested in acoustic blues. Local ragtime pianist Buck Evans was a major influence on Baker’s evolution. By the time he moved to San Francisco in the early seventies, he was performing the wide range of material heard on his first record for the Kicking Mule label, “There’s Something for Everyone in America”. In addition to developing his solo style, Baker joined a bluegrass band and immersed himself in the local swing jazz scene, forming a duo with guitarist Thom Keats and performing with such Bay Area luminaries as Burt Bales and Robin Hodes. Baker remains active in this music, leading a trio with guitarist Bob Wilson and fiddler Tony Marcus.
Duck’s most ambitious record, “Spinning Song”, which is devoted to the music of Herbie Nichols, got rave reviews in Jazz Times, Cadence, Coda, and the New York Times, and helped establish Baker as an important voice in the world of fingerstyle jazz guitar. Various critics named “Spinning Song” among the best jazz records of 1997 in Cadence and Coda magazines, and it placed high on the Cadence reader’s poll of that year. Acoustic Guitar magazine dubbed it “one of the best guitar records ever recorded – by anybody.”
El has concertized throughout the United States, but is now concentrating on guitar instruction, workshops and writing, in addition to composing and arranging pieces for guitar. He has written many books of guitar pieces, including several major folios written or co-written for Mel Bay Publications.
While he plays many styles, El’s music is characterized by lyrical beauty and a sensitivity to melodic phrases enhanced with tasteful arpeggios, cross-picking, and walking bass lines. His uptempo pieces evidence energy and pulse. His artistry has been praised by numerous publications, including Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine and Guitar Player Magazine.El’s music has been hailed by critics as “stirring … unbridled acoustic beauty” and “drop-dead gorgeous” (Guitar Player Magazine) and as a “treasure” (Dirty Linen Magazine).
Elijah Wald has been a musician since age seven and a writer since the early 1980s. He has published more than a thousand articles, mostly about folk, roots and international music for various magazines and newspapers, including over ten years as "world music" writer for the Boston Globe. In the current millennium, he has been devoting most of his time to book projects, including volumes on such disparate subjects as Delta blues, Mexican drug ballads, hitchhiking, and a broad social history of American popular music.
As a musician (and to a great extent as a writer as well), his mentor was Dave Van Ronk, who gave him a year of guitar lessons and many years of staying up late at night, arguing politics and listening to records of everything from Bulgarian folk music to Bing Crosby. Dave was a brilliant and omnivorous intellect, and Elijah did his best to capture his voice and a sample of his memories, wit and wisdom in The Mayor of MacDougal Street.
Along with Dave, Elijah picked up stuff from various other musicians over the years, as well as learning a lot from records. (Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Joseph Spence are my longtime guitar heroes.)
Eric Thompson took up the guitar as a teenager in Palo Alto, California in the early 1960's, at a time when very few folk guitarists were playing more than basic rhythm guitar. Among his earliest bands were the Black Mountain Boys (with Jerry Garcia and David Nelson) and Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. He quickly became nationally known as an exceptional lead flatpicker, winning the World Championship Cup at Union Grove, North Carolina with the New York Ramblers (which also included David Grisman and Winnie Winston) and flying to Nashville, Tennessee to record "Beatle Country" with the Charles River Valley Boys (reissued on Rounder).
During the 1970's, Eric continued to play old-time music. He also took up the tenor banjo, organized the Graineog Celidh Band around two master musicians from County Clare, Joe Cooley and Kevin Keegan, and spent six months in the west of Ireland, visiting and learning from older traditional musicians there.
Eric is a knowledgeable and patient teacher, who has been a staff member at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Bluff Country Gathering, Augusta Heritage Old-Time and Cajun-Creole Weeks, Port Townsend Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camp, and Lark In the Morning. His latest writing project is "Playing Bluegrass Guitar", published by Backbeat Publications. Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop distributes Eric’s guitar instructional materials. He is featured in the Mel Bay publication Flatpicking 2000 and has also written instructional columns for Flatpicking Guitar and Acoustic Guitar magazines.
Erin Harpe has been hailed as “an authentic blues chanteuse”, earning a reputation for her raw delta blues style and “total, selfless and compelling immersion in the music.” Erin is an accomplished fingerpicking acoustic guitarist, performing originals as well as classic 1930’s songs by everyone from Tommy Johnson to Memphis Minnie. She is recognized along with Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Shemekia Copeland, Rory Block and Ana Popovic in The Alternate Root Magazine “30 Women Burning Up the Blues.”
Erin loves to play the down home acoustic blues and has played with Phil Wiggins (of Cephas and Wiggins), James Montgomery, Warner Williams & Jay Summerour and many more and opened for some of the blues greats including T-Model Ford, Honeyboy Edwards and James Cotton. She’s played at the House of Blues, Caffe Lena, Passim, the International Blues Challenge, South by Southwest, the New York State Blues Festival and many other festivals and venues around the US as well as touring in European.
“Erin Harpe is one of the most dynamic, talented and exciting roots rocking blues women on the scene and it’s time she gets noticed, as she has it all — golden voice and guitar chops that dazzle.” – Living Blues Magazine
For many years Ernie Hawkins has been playing concerts, clubs, blues and folk festivals, workshops, colleges, museums, parties, fist fights and millennium celebrations in the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe and at every stop in the road from A Prairie Home Companion to Antone's to the Madrid Jazz Festival. He has played with blues greats such as Son House, Mance Lipscomb, Fred McDowell, Jim Brewer, Rev. Gary Davis and many others.
Ernie has been featured in SingOut!, Fingerstyle Guitar, Dirty Linen, Acoustic Guitar, Blues Revue and Vintage Guitar magazines. He has appeared on "A Prairie Home Companion", "Mountain Stage" , "Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour" and XM radio. Ernie appears on Maria Muldaur's Grammy and Handy nominated and Indie Award winning album "Richland Woman Blues" and was the guitarist for the national support tour.
Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of a library of instructional books and DVDs for guitar, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, lap steel and ukulele. There are currently over a hundred of his books or DVDs in print, sold all over the world. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. The diverse musical genres covered in his books and DVDs, along with several bluegrass, jazz and rock CDs he has released, demonstrate his mastery of many musical styles. Whether he's playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.
Born in Los Angeles September 14, 1945, by the early 1960s Fred was well known in the California bluegrass scene, playing with Jody Stecher, Brantley Kearns, Sandy Rothman and Eric Thompson. Relocating to Berkeley, he toured and recorded with a hippie rock band throughout most of the 60s, the Bay Area-based Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts.
Jody Stecher is an American singer and musician, who plays bluegrass and old-time music on banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar, and Dagar-vani dhrupad on the sursringar, a rare Indian instrument that is a baritone relative of the sarod.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of twelve he acquired a dusty fretless Gatcomb in an antique shop and bought it for two dollars. After gaining a solid grounding in bluegrass, cajun, blues and Scottish folk music, he studied Hindustani classical music for 3 years with Ali Akbar Khan and for 10 years with Zia Mohiuddin Dagar. He is regarded as one of the leading traditional folk artists in America and his recordings have served a large and diverse group of musicians, including Jerry Jeff Walker, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Martin Simpson, Seldom Scene, Laurie Lewis, Kathy Kallick, Alasdair Fraser and Hot Rize. He has also written liner notes for many albums.
David Bromberg once said, "Jody Stecher was basically my teacher. He opened my ears to more beautiful music than anyone else ever did... more than I ever knew existed. He is also one of my favorite musicians on Earth to play with. I have never known anyone so intensely and completely enveloped in music. It's my suspicion that if you drained all the music out of Jody, you could carry what was left around in an eye dropper."
John Fahey was born into a musical household and spent his formative years in Tacoma, Maryland. His father working as a government official, both of his parents being fond of playing the piano. Musical tastes range from classical music to bluegrass. The teenage John Fahey developed a fascination for the guitar and is especially interested in the sounds and myths of classic country blues and bluegrass. He successfully works on a degree in philosophy and religion and heads out West in 1963 to continue his studies in California. At this time, examples of John Fahey’s original music for guitar have been put onto vinyl already. A couple of friends talk the reluctant (and gas-pumping) musician/academic into investing some small funds into the recording and pressing of just 100 copies of an album that was to gain legendary status in the years to come: BLIND JOE DEATH. On the surface the name of a long lost black bluesman, but in reality the first of Fahey’s many inventions and pseudonyms. BJD - an alter ego that was to re-surface time and again and a debut release that already featured some of Fahey’s one-of-a-kind prose. The almost grotesque „musicologist“ liner notes on the album’s cover provide a first taste of his many quasi-surrealistic writings to come. “Blind Joe Death“ establishes an almost allegorical connection from Fahey to the early practioners of black Southern country blues. At the same time the guitarist manages to found his own label “Takoma Records“, a company that over the years turns into a forum for up-and-coming players like Robbie Basho and Leo Kottke.
John Fahey’s life ended by kidney failure following multiple bypass surgery. Some obituaries appeared that recognize his trailblazing musical legacy as a pioneer of American guitar music, but to get to the bottom of his musical and spiritual cosmos remains an almost inconceivable task to this day. It’s a world that hasn’t lost any of its strange darkness and bewildering mystery, weird humor and intellectual richness. John Fahey has remained a mystery - both as a person and as an artist. His music still stands as an expression of intrepid individuality. Many successors like Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, Alex De Grassi and William Ackerman have profited immensely from the groundbreaking work he did in the course of a career that lasted almost forty years.
John Low grew up in Kenya, has worked in Guinea, Somalia and Sudan and has been playing African guitar styles for over twenty years. He did some research in East and Central Africa and met most of the important musicians. His lesson shows a resume of what he learned. He picked out some tunes to learn by these artists, of which some were never recorded before.
In addition to his work as a composing and performing musician, John Miller has close to forty years experience as a music teacher, having begun teaching privately while still in high school. He is available for private instruction in fingerpicked Folk guitar, Country Blues guitar, Brazilian guitar, Music theory and chord voicing and composition. John offers private lessons in Bellingham and Seattle
John has extensive experience teaching groups, with many years service teaching at such music camps as Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Georgia Strait Workshop, BC Swing Camp, the California Coast Music Camp, the Port Townsend Country Blues Workshop, Augusta National Heritage’s Bluesweek and the European Blues Association’s Bluesweek.
Guitarist John Renbourn is one of the fathers of contemporary British folk music and is one of the finest fingerstyle players in the world. A founder of the seminal group Pentangle, Renbourn's music fuses British and Celtic folk with blues, jazz, British early music, classic guitar and Eastern styles.
Born and raised in Torquay, England, Renbourn began playing guitar as a teen. At first he was into skiffle, a style that became popular as the folk music revival was beginning. An instructional book, How to Play Guitar by Rory McKuen, introduced Renbourn to the music of many American folk artists and he began to research them. In 1964, he began studying classical guitar at the George Abbot School in Guildford. Two years later he was playing folk music in Soho where he met many other musicians, including Paul Simon, Davey Graham and most importantly, Bert Jansch, a guitar player whom Renbourn greatly admired. Renbourn and Jansch were roommates for a while; during impromptu sessions they noticed how much in synch they were and how easy it was to play together. Both men had fledgling recording careers at the time. Renbourn performed on Jansch's second album and afterward they teamed up formally to record Bert and John.
In 1967 the two founded Pentangle and remained together through 1978. Renbourn, as with the other group members, continued to release such solo albums as The Hermit and The Black Balloon. He formed the John Renbourn Group in the '80s and began adding an East Indian percussion and jazz woodwinds to his music. Around the mid-'80s, he teamed up with guitarist Stefan Grossman and embarked upon a series of world tours. The two also recorded a few albums before Renbourn went on to found the ensemble Ship of Fools and play music with a stronger Celtic influence. He continues to tour alone and with other guitarists including Grossman, Larry Coryell and Isaac Guillory. He also occasionally reunites with Jansch and sometimes tours with Scottish storyteller Robin Williamson.
As one of the pioneers of jazz-rock -- perhaps the pioneer in the ears of some -- Larry Coryell deserves a special place in the history books. He brought what amounted to a nearly alien sensibility to jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s, a hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences. Yet as a true eclectic, armed with a brilliant technique, he is comfortable in almost every style, covering almost every base from the most decibel-heavy, distortion-laden electric work to the most delicate, soothing, intricate lines on acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, a lot of his most crucial electric work from the '60s and '70s is missing on CD, tied up by the erratic reissue schemes of Vanguard, RCA and other labels, and by jazz-rock's myopically low level of status in the CD era (although that mindset is slowly changing).
Born in Galveston, Texas on April 2, 1943 Coryell grew up in the Seattle, Washington area where his mother introduced him to the piano at the tender age of 4. He switched to guitar and played rock music while in his teens. He didn't consider himself good enough to pursue a music career and studied journalism at The University of Washington while simultaneously taking private guitar lessons. By 1965 he had relocated to New York City and began taking classical guitar lessons, which would figure, prominently in later stages of his career. Although citing Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry as early influences he also took cues from jazzmen such as John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery. He was also inspired by the popular music of the day by the Beatles, The Byrds and Bob Dylan and worked diligently to meld both rock and jazz stylings into his technique.
This was reflected on his debut recording performance on drummer Chico Hamilton's album "The Dealer" where he sounded like chuck Berry at times with his almost distorted "fat" tone. Also in 1966 he formed a psychedelic band called The Free Spirits on which he also sang vocals, played the sitar and did most of the composing. Although conceptually the band's music conformed to the psychedelic formula with titles like "Bad News Cat"and"I'm Gonna Be Free"it foreshadowed jazz rock with more complex soloing by Coryell and Sax/flute player Jim Pepper.
However, it wasn't until three years later after apprenticing on albums by Vibraphonist Gary Burton and flutist Herbie Mann and gigging with the likes of Jack Bruce and others that Coryell established his multifarious musical voice, releasing two solo albums which mixed jazz, classical and rock ingredients. In late 1969 he recorded "Spaces", the album for which he is most noted. It was a guitar blowout which also included John McLaughlin who was also sitting on the fence between rock and jazz at the time and the cogitative result formed what many aficionados consider to be the embryo from which the fusion jazz movement of the 1970s emerged. It contained insane tempos and fiery guitar exchanges which were often beyond category not to mention some innovating acoustic bass work by Miroslav Vitous and power drumming by Billy Cobham both of whom were to make contributions to Jazz rock throughout the `70s.
His career, however, began in era of guitar rock, where he was able to rise for a time with legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton.
Lasse Johansson made several records for Kicking Mule in the 1970s. The music was ragtime and early jazz arranged for solo or duet guitar. He has a book with his arrangements: Early Jazz for Fingerstyle Guitar published by Mel Bay Publications. His record Fingerstyle Guitar Classics was released by Solid Air Records in 2006. The DVD Early Jazz for Fingerstyle Guitar was released in 2009. And in 2013 his CD with a 72 page tab/music PDF booklet King Porter Stomp/The Music of Jelly Roll Morton was released.
Lasse plays and teaches at seminars and festivals in Europe and the US and has his own Fingerstyle Guitar Seminar in Hungary every summer.
Marcel Dadi (1951-1996) is termed "the Chet Atkins of France." He was known as one of the world's premier fingerstyle guitarists. He performed and recorded with Steve Morris, Albert Lee, Chet Atkins, Larry Coryell, and many others. During his career he released nearly 20 albums and was the organizer of the European equivalent of Nashville's Chet Atkins Appreciation Society. He was an expert on the guitar styles of Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins. His personal fingerpicking style incorporated influences from all four of these great guitarists. Marcel was born in Tunisia and grew up in Paris. He played on stage for the first time at age 12 and was influenced by the English rock scene of the '60s. Bernard Photzer introduced Dadi to country licks, the rudiments of rock, and the repertoire of Elvis. At the age of 13 a neighbor, Bernard Laux, introduced Marcel to the music of Chet Atkins. Marcel took to Chet's music with a passion and learned many of his songs from recordings. Performing at the age of 19, Dadi introduced the fingerpicking style to appreciative French audiences. He began writing columns for popular music magazines and was a champion of Chet Atkins' music. In 1973 Dadi met Chet Atkins and they performed together in 1977 at the Olympia theater in Paris. Through his broad influence Marcel furthered the cause of fingerstyle guitar throughout the world. He also created some instructional videos. Dadi was one of the 230 people killed when TWA Flight 800 exploded off the coast of Long Island. He was returning to France after being honored at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame. His tragic death left his wife, two sons, and a daughter. Atkins had this to say about his friend: "I have lost one of my best friends. Sometimes I think he loved me as if I were one of his family. I feel the same way about him."
For more than 40 years Martin Carthy has been one of folk music's greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. His skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers, not only from within the folk scene, but also far beyond it. Trailblazing musical partnerships with, amongst others, Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick and his award-winning wife (Norma Waterson) and daughter Eliza Carthy have resulted in more than 40 albums, but Martin has only recorded 10 solo albums, of which the much anticipated Waiting for Angels (Topic TSCD527) is the latest.
Whether in the folk clubs (which he continues to champion), on the concert stage or making TV appearances (he was the subject of the acclaimed `Originals' music documentary strand on BBC 2) - there are few roles that Martin Carthy hasn't played. He's a ballad singer, a groundbreaking acoustic & electric guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material. He always prefers to follow an insatiable musical curiosity rather than cash in on his unrivalled position. Perhaps, most significant of all, are his settings of traditional songs with guitar, which have influenced a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, on both sides of the Atlantic.
Since the death of Joe Pass in 1994, Martin Taylor has become one of the most highly regarded guitarists in jazz. His father, Buck Taylor, gave him his first guitar. Although he was inspired at first by Django Reinhardt, it was piano players like Art Tatum that drew his attention and helped him practice to develop his phenomenal solo technique. In the late '70s, Stéphane Grappelli invited him to play in a series of concerts in France. The violinist was so impressed that he used Taylor often on tours and a variety of recording dates. Beginning in 1990, Taylor began recording a number of acclaimed CDs for the U.K. label Linn, and also did an excellent duet date with David Grisman for the mandolin player's Acoustic Disc label. 1991's Change of Heart, the following year's Artistry, and 1995's Portraits, are all representative of Taylor's strongest material from this prolific period.
In 2000, he released his debut on an American label, Columbia, entitled Kiss and Tell, while Stepping Stones on Linn followed that same fall. Next, in June 2002, Taylor was awarded an MBE for his services to jazz. Later that year, his first recording for the Sony imprint P3 Records, Solo, was voted Best Album by the International Guitar Foundation. The rest of the decade saw Taylor issue a number of key additions to his canon: the fan-instigated, 2003 collaboration with Steve Howe entitled Masterpiece Guitars, the 2005 electric guitar-fueled Gypsy Journey, and the acclaimed 2008 album Double Standards. While Double Standards saw Taylor successfully deliver an album of guitar duets by overdubbing one guitar part onto another, his next run of albums were much more collaborative affairs. Two 2012 albums -- One for the Road and First Time Together! -- in turn saw him work with the English clarinetist Alan Barnes, and the U.S. guitarist Frank Vignola. 2013 brought a further meeting of technically gifted players when Taylor received equal billing on The Colonel & The Governor, an album of duets with the similarly revered guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.
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 '80s and has been a regular member of the show's house band since 1993.
The full range of Donohue's talents, however, are evident on his recorded works, which blend folk, jazz, blues, ragtime, and boogie woogie. After recording Manhattan to Memphis and Pat Donohue for Red House Records, Donohue founded his own label: BlueSky Records. In 1991, he released Life Stories and an album of jazz and instrumental standards, Two Hand Band followed two years later. Donohue shifted gears with Big Blind Bluesy, a collection of classic country blues from the likes of Blind Blake and Big Bill Broonzy, as well as Donohue originals. Atkins appears on 1996's Backroads, which features solo and full-band performances of Donohue-penned songs. American Guitar showcases Donohue's ability as a solo performer and includes more of his own songs, as well as his arrangements of traditional American pieces such as "Maple Leaf Rag" and "the Star Spangled Banner."
Donohue travels extensively for A Prairie Home Companion and, in addition to his solo concert performances, he conducts numerous group workshops for guitar players across the U.S.
Pat Kirtley is a gifted performer who blends the rich musical heritage of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins with imagination and masterful contemporary technique, in styles "from Bluegrass to Brazilian." As a creator of new acoustic music, Pat has penned a virtual library of fresh, lyrical compositions for guitar. His deadpan wit, engaging personality and splendid versatility combine to create a unique musical experience, delighting audiences at concerts, festivals, and workshops throughout the United States and abroad. Here are some typical listener comments from Pat's shows - "…he is a superb guitarist, whose music makes you grin, sigh, shake your head", "...a wonderful, inspiring evening", and "Pat is funny, musically gifted, and immensely entertaining".
Pat's talents won him the title of US National Finger Style Champion in 1995, National Thumbpicking Champion in 1994, and his playing has since garnered international praise. In 2006, Pat became the newest inductee to the National Thumbpicking Hall of Fame. He was hailed as one of "The Next Generation: Hot New Acoustic Acts for the Millenium" by Acoustic Guitar Magazine. As a featured performer, Pat has toured across the USA, and internationally in Japan, China, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, and Austria.
If “World Music” is music that pays tribute to the spirit of a collection of human beings through distinct rhythms, traditional instruments and harmonic colors, French-Algerian guitarist, singer and composer Pierre Bensusan can be recognized as one of the most eloquent and diverse world musicians of our time.
Born in Oran, French-Algeria, in 1957, when France was decolonizing its Empire, Pierre Bensusan's family moved to Paris when he was 4. He began formal studies on piano at the age of 7 and at 11 taught himself guitar. Influenced in those early days by the folk revival blooming in Britain, France and North America, Bensusan began first to explore his own diverse musical heritage and then moved to the horizons beyond.
At 17 he signed his first recording contract, and one year later his first album Pres de Paris won the Grand Prix du Disque upon his debut at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland.
Described by the L.A. Times as "one of the most unique and brilliant acoustic guitar veterans in the world music scene today", Pierre Bensusan was voted "Best World Music Guitar Player in 2008" by Guitar Player Magazine Readers Choice. His name became synonymous with contemporary acoustic guitar genius, long before the terms New Age, New Acoustic Music or World Music were invented. He has the ability to make a single guitar sound like an entire band as he brings the audience on a mesmerizing musical journey. And yet, Bensusan is more than what any musician or music lover expects from a guitarist. He is a composer as well as a bilingual and a brave improvisational vocalist, melding whistles and resonant low notes with something like his own scat technique. There is a sense of something both playful and serious in his work, an unparalleled sense of freedom in his compositions and his improvisations. His "manner" of playing defies classification - crossing world, classical, jazz, traditional, folk and more.
Born in Santiago, Chile, to Argentine parents of Eastern European extraction, guitarist, composer and arranger Rick Udler was 2 when his family moved to the U.S.A. As a child, the sound of the Beatles and other bands of that era had a profound impact on him and awakened his passion for music.
When Rick was 11, his family moved to São Paulo, Brazil, and soon after he took up the guitar. While still in his teens, he began performing professionally in São Paulo. From 1981-1987, Rick lived in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Miami, where he studied, performed, and built a reputation as a versatile player with a remarkable command of bossa nova.
Rick headed back to Brazil in 1987 to rub elbows with the players he admires so much, as well as to research Brazilian music straight from the source – he's been living there ever since. In 1990, he teamed up with vocalist extraordinaire Maria Alvim; the two continue to perform together to this day.
With 47 years of experience on the acoustic guitar, Rolly has been a National Fingerpicking Champion and a Philadelphia Music Award nominee. He has performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Tasmanian Folk Festival, and tons of places in between. He hosted the Guitar Wizards radio show which ran on public radio in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Maine for several years, introducing listeners to guitarists and techniques usually searched out only by total guitar maniacs. He has served as a sideman for Magpie, Winnie Winston, Saul Broudy, Jack McGann, Priscilla Herdman, Jay Ansill, and many others, and has performed extensively with National Flatpicking Champion Mark Cosgrove, and, until her tragic death, with the late fiddler and singer extraordinaire Freyda Epstein. For the past decade, Rolly has been a popular teacher and performer at a number of guitar camps, appearing at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps (Maryville TN), the Swannanoa Gathering (Asheville NC), Summer Acoustic Music Week in New Hampshire, the convention of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society in Nashville TN, and others. His Youtube videos (instructional and performance) have garnered well over 100,000 hits.
Sandy Shalk’s early musical interests include rock and roll, folk, and jazz including some of the great jazz guitarists of the 1950s and 60s: Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Kenny Burrell. “A trip to see Buddy Rich perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia ignited what was to become a love of jazz for me.” Sandy began his professional career as a guitarist in the early 1970s with local top 40 and jazz music groups from Northern Delaware. “The lure of playing full-time was strong, and thus I left college to begin full-time career as a guitarist.” After studying with Philadelphia guitar teacher legend Dennis Sandole, Sandy toured the United States with Turning Point, playing contemporary popular music. The experience included an opportunity to play with oldies groups including Joey Dee and the Starlighters, who hit the charts in the 1960s with the Peppermint Twist.
After returning to Delaware in the late 70s, Sandy earned a B.A. in American Studies, an M.A. in English Education at the University of Delaware, and eventually his doctorate at Wilmington University. “Attempting to connect history to some of the literature I was teaching at the high school level eventually led to the publication of my book, Delaware: A Trivia Guide to the First State, (Heritage Books, Inc.).”
Sandy’s musical journey took new twist in the mid-1990s when his interests turned to fingerstyle guitar, and he was introduced to the music of El McMeen, Steve Baughman, Pierre Bensusan, and other guitarists who arrange music for the guitar in alternate tunings. “A lesson with El sparked an interest in arranging fingerstyle tunes and set me on a path with the ultimate goal of bringing jazz standards and DADGAD together.”
Along with guitarist Tim Alexander, Sandy released Giving Voice, a CD of fingerstyle guitar selections on the Piney Ridge label. Sing Out magazine referred to Giving Voice as “one of those rare albums of good guitar music, beautifully played.” Sandy’s solo CD, Newer Every Day (released in 2014) is a collection of folk, Celtic and jazz tunes played mostly in DADGAD. Minor7th noted that Sandy is “a fully realized musician who expresses rather than merely plays. His playing both sooths and swings, displaying both individual artistry and sensitivity to his listeners.”
Scott Nygaard is one of the most inventive and original guitarists in the bluegrass/acoustic music scene. His solos, a seamless amalgam of bluegrass, folk, and jazz influences, shift easily from breathtaking virtuosity to soulful melodic musings and his accompaniment is always intriguing, supportive, and propulsive. Initially influenced by Doc Watson, Clarence White, and Django Reinhardt and Riley Puckett, Scott spent many years wandering the sea of American music that includes bluegrass, jazz, Cajun, old-time, western swing and rock and roll, and has since expanded his musical world to include traditional Swedish and Irish music.
Scott was the guitarist with Tim O’Brien’s band, the O’Boys, from 1992 to 1997, and has performed and/or recorded with such acoustic music stars as Joan Baez, Chris Thile, Darol Anger, Jerry Douglas, Laurie Lewis, Anonymous 4, Matt Flinner, Bill Evans, Sharon Gilchrist, and many others, receiving numerous Grammy nominations for his stellar sidemanship. He was the guitarist on three recordings that have proven to be extremely influential on the contemporary acoustic music scene: Chris Thile’s Leading Off, Tim O’Brien’s Red on Blonde, and Jerry Douglas’s Slide Rule.
Scott has released two solo albums on Rounder Records, the second of which, Dreamer’s Waltz, an intriguing mix of original and traditional tunes, was nominated for an Indie award by the Association for Independent Music. He has released and produced/co-produced albums with the groups Scott Nygaard and Crow Molly, Roger Tallroth and Scott Nygaard, and the Websters and Scott Nygaard in the last decade.
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.
Todd Albright is a country blues, twelve string guitar player and vocalist based in Detroit, Michigan. Grounded in the pre-war era of the blues tradition (1880-1939), Todd is a mindful purveyor of blues history. His repertoire upholds musical pillars such as Blind Willie McTell, George Carter, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly. His life’s work continues the distinguished tradition of the very roots of American music as told by the African American musicians who created it. Todd's vigorous, gritty and soulful performances are accompanied by stories
Todd's vigorous, gritty and soulful performances are accompanied by stories of the masters and a deep intuitive sense of respect for craft, providing a meaningful experience while creating a transcendent moment. One of the top blues guitarists in the world, Todd is the only contemporary twelve string player in his genre.
Todd began playing the blues while still a teenager, some twenty-five years ago. Initially, he was drawn to the sound of the finger-picked style and has since immersed himself in the foundational music and narratives of American culture.
Todd's first full-length LP, Fourth Floor Visitor, was released by Jett Plastic Recordings out of Detroit, Michigan (2017). His latest album, Detroit Twelve String: Blues & Rags, is out now on Third Man Records (2017).
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.
Minnesota native 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." His debut solo album was released in 1999 and Tom has since spent the years writing, touring and recording his own original gospel compositions as well as carrying on the tradition of solo acoustic country blues.
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. This journey has resulted in a series of CD's, starting with Tribute (2010) and now continues with Lone Wolf Blues (2012). It also resulted in a string of instructional DVD's for Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop that have received rave reviews and distribution around the world.
One of the difficulties of a musician's life is that only his peers are capable of judging who is at the top of his field, at least in regards to things like technique and arranging skills; unfortunately there just are not enough of those peers to make for great record sales. This is especially true in an area like fingerpicking, where even the simplest tricks can dazzle an unsophisticated audience, while at the same time even highly skilled professionals may not fully comprehend a piece's difficulty without actually trying to play it.
As a result, quite a few of the best players are unknown as such, except to each other. It may come as a surprise that, while there are competitive feelings ('that bastard - I wish I had thought of that...'), there is a great camaraderie amongst fingerpickers. Some of the very best times on the road have been hanging out with the other cats who really get the level of shoptalk to what we've all been trying to do.
All of which is to encourage you, dear reader/listener, in the belief (which happens to be true) that you have picked up on that genuine article - an artist highly esteemed by his fellows. But I do not want to belabor the 'musician's musician' angle too much because it would be a grave injustice to Ton's music to give the impression that only the initiate can understand it. The whole point of mastering an instrument is to communicate musically, and while it may give guitarists particular pleasure to dissect or analyze the Van Bergeyk style, what really stands out about Ton's playing is his feeling and directness. You can always feel how much joy Ton takes from playing, whether it is the sly drollery of a tune like From Soup To Nuts, the overt emotion of Moonlight serenade or the rambunctious swing of Mustard Swing. Stefan Grossman once postulated that Ton's nonprofessional status at the time of these recordings might be connected with the remarkable freshness of his playing. Certainly it could be true that not repeating his arrangements over and over each work night is a factor. In any case, Ton is certainly a guy who plays for the fun of it in every sense. His great technical abilities enable him to dance gaily through passages that would sound labored in other hands.
Another thing that should make Ton's playing appealing from the listener's standpoint is the extraordinary range of different musical styles he presents. Blues, ragtime, novelty tunes, pop swing tunes and Jelly Roll Morton all receive exemplary treatment. Ton is also effective further off the beaten track, as shown by his handling of Zither Melodies on this recording. For all his wide-ranging interests, he certainly presents us with a unified vision and style. A point that I think is important in understanding the musicality of Ton's playing is that he really gets inside of whatever style he's working with. For instance, nobody I've ever heard can play in the style of the great blues/ ragtime/jazz pioneer Blind Blake as well as Ton. This is not just a question of being an accurate imitator - though he has figured out things about Blake's technique that as far as I know, no one else has - but of having further ability. Ton is able to come up with his own ideas that fit perfectly in the context of Blake's - he hasn't so much learned the other man's style as entered into it.
All of his bluesy stuff shows not just his understanding of the playing and thinking of Blind Blake, Tampa Red, Willie Walker, Bill Broonzy, etc., but also his ability to live and breathe in that musical context.– Duck Baker
National award-winning artist, Tony Keck, performs a unique style of guitar skills developed through years of studying various styles of music. Using his blues based tapping technique; he creates a soulful, meditative sound that mesmerizes a diverse audience. His instrumental influence has created a combination of intermixing classical ting, blues, pop and jazz. His wide variety of musical experiences, such as a national finalist in the Guitar Mageddon Competition at the House of Blues and entertaining the troops in South East Asia, has made him recognized for his distinctive compositions of sound. There is only one way to describe the harmonious music Tony creates . . . captivating.
To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement: to do so within a centuries old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable. In little over ten years as a professional musician Tony McManus has come to be recognized throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.
Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus abandoned academia in his twenties to pursue music full time. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word.
In a relatively short time Tony’s music has come to define a new role for the guitar in Celtic music. He has come to represent Celtic music in the guitar world, making regular appearances at guitar specific events where just a few years ago jigs and reels would be unheard of. He is now invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, has appeared at Guitar Festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun, France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabruck, Germany and has taught at five of Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps in Maryville, Tennessee. He recently appeared at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in the “All Star Guitar Night” featuring Steve Morse, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten and headlined by the legendary Les Paul.
His ability to reach audiences unfamiliar with traditional music is remarkable- he is quite comfortable at predominantly classical events such as the Dundee and Derry Guitar Festivals (appearing six times between the two) and even The Bogotá International Guitar Festival where he followed virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez.
Today his live work ranges from intimate solo performance through various duos with friends.
Vinny Raniolo is best known for his accompanying skills and is a very high demand rhythm guitarist. His dynamic playing has brought him to 14 countries on three continents - and still growing - having performed in some of the world’s most illustrious venues, including the Sydney Opera House in Australia, The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, New York’s Lincoln Center and the world’s oldest indoor concert hall, Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy.
While keeping a busy touring schedule in a variety of musical settings, Vinny has also become a familiar figure on Public Television. Featured previously on three popular shows, including the heavily programmed Tommy Emmanuel and Friends, in Frank Vignola's Four Generations of Guitar as the youngest generation in the lineage of jazz guitarists with veteran Bucky Pizzarelli and in the Music Gone Public series. Recording credits include soundtracks for HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Woody Allen's film Café Society.
“When Frank Vignola was asked to put together a team for what will hopefully be the first of a long run of guitar nights at New York’s Cutting Room, he called ‘all of the Italian guitar players I could get,’ he said with a wink at the club... These weren’t just any “Italian guitar players” though. First, there was Vinny Raniolo, Vignola’s longtime musical partner. The two of them together are a force of nature: superior, simpatico, entertaining players with a wide-ranging repertoire and off-the-charts facility.” – JazzTimes
“Vignola and Raniolo’s dual acoustic guitars blend like espresso and gelato. From the first notes of “It Might As Well Be Spring,” the players leap with acrobatic precision from strummed triplets to descending diminished scale runs. On mellower takes Vignola and Ran¬iolo recall the frisky interplay of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.” – The Christian Century
Widely considered as one of the top acoustic guitarists in the world, masterful Woody Mann is a New York based musician and renowned teacher with deep roots in the blues. He has excellent credentials and has learned directly from the Rev. Gary Davis, played with Son House, Bukka White and John Fahey. Then, he ascended to ranks of the most celebrated and accomplished guitarists, regularly performing at the acoustic International Guitar Festival, an event that brings together the world’s finest players, kind of like the Mensa of the guitar. Along with Ed Gerhard, Bob Brozman, and a handful of others, he represents the blues well among the small circle of the “virtuosos virtuosos.”
By no means singularly a blues player, he has one foot in the jazz realm. When he does play the blues, his repertoire is wide-ranging and unlimited. Be it Ragtime, Piedmont, fingerpicking, slide, laptop, whatever he touches is amazing and delightful.
All the fancy technique, but can he play the blues with feeling? Resoundingly, yes! Of course, his performances are usually more jazz oriented, but when he wants to, play the blues, he is one of today’s best.