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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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 [...]
Since I often talk about right hand technique on this Blog, you might think ‘Thumbs of Fury’ refers to the right hand thumb.* Yes, the fingerpicker’s Jedi force surely resides in the right hand thumb, but in the case of long-time fingerstyle master Duck Baker, there’s a lot going on with the left hand thumb. [...]
I’m pretty much obsessed with guitar technique, especially fingerstyle, so I was excited to get a chance to hear the legendary Duck Baker perform and catch one of his teaching workshops. Duck Baker jumped on the instrumental guitar circuit in the early 1970s, at a time when the glow was still warm on the 1960s [...]
Mokai discusses Blind Blake … an important American recording artist at the dawn of the recording industry. Blind Arthur Blake is an unsung American hero. One of the first successful artist of the modern era, he died unnoticed outside of African-American society. His remarkable songs are musical masterworks. His first sides, where he burst fully formed onto the stage with flawless performances, display so much virtuosity they still leap of the record 80 years after the fact. In addition to his stellar guitar playing, Blake’s singing is finely modulated, full of pathos and humor.
I had been playing fingerstyle blues for many years before I ever heard the term ‘piedmont blues.’ I had gravitated towards a group of players that included Blind Blake, the Reverend Gary Davis, and Brownie McGee, looking for songs that I felt comfortable singing, without knowing they were all from the same region. There’s certain vulnerability to piedmont blues, and an inspired joy within the piedmont guitar rags. Later I became aware of the geographical significance of the ‘Piedmont’, the eastern seaboard between Richmond, VA and Atlanta, GA. I was drawn particularly to the playing of Blind Blake, who had a disarming quality to his singing.
Obsessed With Guitar
Mokai on Fingerstyle Guitar
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