Intermediate Level Fingerpicking
Steve James is known for his mastery of blues guitar styles, as well as his deep knowledge of the history of the great traditional players, from Piedmont to Delta. On this lesson, he takes five pieces representative of different styles and teaches them in careful detail for the learning student. Using guitars from his extensive collection (a 1936 National Trojan, a Collings C-10 and a National "O" style resophonic), he covers some of his favorite arrangements in different keys and tunings, highlighting techniques, chord theory, licks and other musical insights that will be useful in figuring out any other blues-based songs you'll want to learn.
This lesson starts with Mance Lipscomb's classic version of Sugar Babe, a basic 8-bar blues arrangement with alternating bass. Steve shows how, by changing bass notes and adding hammers, slides and syncopations, even this fairly simple song takes on a life of its own. Wet Laundry Blues moves to the key of A, and is more typical of the Delta style, with rhythmic feels, walking basses and licks used by Scrapper Blackwell, Robert Johnson and others. Buddy Bolden's Blues, a classic jazz/blues in C, makes use of the "thumb roll" and some funky New Orleans-style chords.
Moving into open G ("the queen of tunings"), Steve gets you started in bottleneck style, showing how to produce a good tone with proper slide technique. His powerful version of Stack Lee's Blues (aka Stackolee, Staggerlee, etc.) mixes slide, fretted and open string notes in a powerful instrumental. Finally, Hot Time on the Old Town Tonight, Steve's show-stopper in open D (Vestapol) tuning, was adapted from the playing of Sam McGee. It includes combinations of slide, pulled-off, fretted and open notes, with variations involving both standard and palm harmonics as well as rhythmic "banging" the strings.
This lesson with a top contemporary blues artist will add many new tricks and some wonderful songs to your guitar repertoire. You'll also get rare insights into the great traditional players who originated this truly American art form.