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Five Recent Blues Releases You Should Hear
During a recent move from the greater NYC area to Nashville, a box of CDs pending review was misplaced. Well, it's been recovered, and here are a few of the goodies it contained.
Show of Strength Michael Burks (Alligator)
This posthumous release, which was recorded and finished just prior to his untimely death in May 2012, perfectly encapsulates Burks's sinewy riffs, explosive solos, and sweet yet powerful vocals. From the cool, R&B-flavored opening track "Count on You" to the closing, poignant cover of Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home," Show of Strength is 12 tracks of blues truth. Rest in peace, Iron Man.
Not Alone Ann Rabson with Bob Margolin (Vizztone)
Rabson and Margolin are longtime friends and musical collaborators, so it makes sense that they finally did a record together. Not Alone is a somewhat eclectic collection of blues covers and originals, from upbeat numbers like "Let's Get Drunk and Truck," "Caledonia," and the Margolin-penned "Let It Go" to the plaintive cover of "How Long Blues" to the uppity (as Rabson calls it) "No Time for the Blues" to the uplifting "It Ain't Love," there's a little something for every traditional-blues lover here.
Crossing the Line Simon McBride (Nugene)
Listen to McBride's scorching fretwork for just one track, and it's easy to hear why he's being compared to fellow Irish blues-rock guitar legends Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore as well as young American (though also an Anglophile) superpicker Joe Bonamassa. McBride seamlessly blends fire and soul throughout, particularly on opener "Lead Us Away," "No Room to Breathe," "Starve This Fever," and "Heartbreaker." If you like your blues chops served up smoking' hot, this one's for you.
Close to the Bone Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King (Delta Groove)
Kubek and King shine on this 14-track collection of unplugged blues. Despite playing almost exclusively on acoustic instruments, Smokin' Joe lives up to his moniker, firing off raw and edgy lines at will, while King's more laid-back, deep-blues style provides the perfect complement. Not a Delta or country blues record, as tends to be the assumption with acoustic blues, the compositions here are more roots-oriented, with well-conceived arrangements and ear-catching hooks.
Almost Always Never Joanne Shaw Taylor (Ruf)
The British-born Taylor attacks her Les Paul with the abandon of Jimmy Page and the eloquence of Eric Clapton as well as the ferocity of her Texas blues guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan. But the real bonus here is that her gritty and emotive vocals match her impressive six-string chops, making this one enjoyable listening experience.
KISS Video Song Lessons for 8 Classic Tracks
Featuring a fire-breathing, blood spitting, and pyro-laden live show that is second to none, few bands in hard rock history are more "larger than life" than New York City rockers KISS. For nearly 40 years now, Starchild, The Demon, Spaceman, and Catman (and various other incarnations) have rocked the world to the tune of over 100 million in album sales worldwide, with campy yet catchy tunes that have stood the test of time.
And now you can learn eight of the band's classic tracks, including several from the "unmasked" era, with our newest batch of guitar video song lessons. Each video, taught by our ace session man and instructor Doug Boduch, features onscreen guitar tab, for easy play-along.
To purchase the complete guitar play-along DVD or our KISS Guitar Play-Along book/CD (different track list), click on the images below.
Robben Ford Guitar Video Lessons Just Posted
Robben Ford is synonymous with tasty, graceful blues-fusion guitar, and now you can learn some of the secrets to his fabulous phrasing from the man himself! We've just posted five new guitar video lessons taught by Robben Ford, culled from his acclaimed Art of Blues Solos DVD (Guitar Axis). In these five lessons, Ford discusses and demonstrates his use of altered scales, various picking and fretting techniques, and the theory fundamentals from which he draws to create his stellar lines.
In addition to these exciting new videos, we've also got two dozen note-for-note Robben Ford guitar tabs, including such popular titles as "Mama, Talk to Your Daughter," "Help the Poor," and "Indianola."
You can also purchase the full Art of Blues Solos DVD, as well as his Art of Blues Rhythm video, by clicking on the images below.
8 New Django Reinhardt Guitar Tabs
One of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time, Django Reinhardt's mind-blowing chops are made even more amazing when you consider that he had only two working fingers on his fret hand, which was maimed in a fire when he was just 17 years old. Using those two fingers and his thumb, Reinhardt devised his own way to play the guitar, and every jazz guitarist since has learned or borrowed something from the Gypsy-jazz master.
Because of his injury, Reinhardt approached the guitar differently than "able-handed" players do. With only two fingers at disposal, he largely eschewed box patterns, instead traveling linearly across the neck, resulting in unique phrasing. Indeed, Reinhardt rarely use scales, per se; instead, he based his improvisations on arpeggios, often including open strings. One result of his penchant for arpeggios was that Reinhardt was actually a pioneer of what we now call "sweep picking," as it presented a very efficiency method for playing a lot of notes quickly, which enabled him to keep up with violinist Stephane Grappelli. It should also be noted that one "scale" Reinhardt did employ was the chromatic scale, from which he pulled lightning-fast chromatic runs by using just one fret-hand finger up and down a single string.
Finally, Reinhardt's rhythm technique, particularly with his Quintette du Hot Club de France, was a piledriving four-to-the-bar staccato attack, with accents on beats 2 and 4. As for his chord work, Reinhardt used his thumb over the top of the neck to fret bass notes, while his two working digits fingered economic chord voicings.
Excerpted from Guitar Xtra, Fall 2007 issue.
Mike Stern Jazz Guitar Video Lessons
A true pioneer of jazz fusion guitar, Mike Stern has developed a singular voice on the instrument and become one of the genre's most studied pickers. Combining an encyclopedic grasp of jazz harmony with a blues flair and a no-holds-barred rock guitar approach, Stern is truly a guitarist's guitarist. And now, in partnership with Guitar Webinars, Inc., we're excited to offer five brand-new guitar video lessons on jazz soloing, taught by Stern himself.
In the 1970s, Stern attended Berklee College of Music, where he studied under legendary educator Mick Goodrick as well as a young but already masterly jazzer named Pat Metheny. Stern then landed a gig with Blood, Sweat & Tears, where he played side-by-side with the great bassist Jaco Pastorius. In 1981, Miles Davis chose Stern as a sideman for his comeback tour, and then kept him on for three subsequent albums.
Since that time, Stern has not only played with such jazz legends as Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Ron Carter, Jim Hall, and David Sanborn but also released over 15 solo albums, including his latest release, All Over the Place, which features guest appearances from Randy Brecker, Richard Bona, Kenny Garrett, Esperanza Spalding, and Victor Wooten, among others.
For all the latest news, tour dates, and other info, please visit MikeStern.org.