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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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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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Duck Baker–Thumbs of Fury

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. [...]

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Duck Baker-Modern Fingerstyle for the Ages

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 [...]

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Blind Blake – the Stevie Wonder of the 1920s

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.

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