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Inside Dave Van Ronk – Fixin’ to Die and the Art of the Folk Guitar

In the spring of 1962, Prestige Records produced sessions with Dave Van Ronk, singing and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. It was prestigious enough, for a scruffy denizen of the cafés of Greenwich Village’s MacDougal  Street, to be recorded by the label that released the work of Miles, Monk, Coltrane and many others. But the [...]

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Saint Louis Tickle – Ragtime Guitar and Dave Van Ronk

It is the early 1960s, in New York City’s Greenwich Village, a burly yet underfed guitarist fusses over a record player, the smoke from a lit cigarette curling around his head. He drops the needle again and again on a scratchy 78rpm record. As the strains of a turn-of-the-century piano rag Saint Louis Tickle warble forth, he is creating one of the first guitar arrangements for a classic ragtime piano piece. Once other musicians hear it, it will kick off what will become a movement of ragtime guitarists.

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How Simple Folk Guitar Accompaniment Really Works

In this video, Folk-blues artist Mokai performs “Poor Lazurus” from the repertoire of 1960s folk-icon, Dave Van Ronk, demonstrating how a simple folk guitar accompaniment works to enhance the drama in telling a story.

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Jorma Acoustic Live on the M-30 Custom Martin Guitar

I guess every aficionado of folk-blues has a story about where they were when they realized that Jorma Kaukonen existed. For many, the original Hot Tuna album was the crack in the pavement that showed us there was something outside electric music. The roots of the music, roots which went deep down to someplace true [...]

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Walter Strauss – Ishi

Walter Strauss has the most unique style. With strong compositional skills at his command, Walter makes use of techniques he has developed based on West-African music. Walter has thoroughly absorbed the feel of this music and informed it with his own feel for modern fingerstyle.
Playing on an Oneida Guitar also gives Walter a special sound. With the song he played for my camera, the sublime ‘Ishi’, Walter overcomes the ‘seen-it-all-before’ attitude, and amazes with powerful rhythms and intricate picking, with no need for flashy pyro-technics.

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Garrin Benfield – Unbound

I’ve known San Francisco based singer-songwriter Garrin Benfield for some time. In the mid ‘oughties’ (this century has turned out sucky for decade names so far,) we were booked on the same bill at a local SF acoustic music showcase night. At the end of the evening, Garrin and I jumped onstage for an impromptu [...]

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