The Never Ending Quest To Play The BluesBy
The following article has been provided to me by Reed Terry and as I sat and read his words the passion for blues came screaming through as if there was a line up of musicians sitting behind me.
Reed knows his players and knows the music scene, check out his link at the bottom of the article for concert news and tickets.
The first time I can remember hearing a guitar lick, in my parents car most likely, I knew that I had to learn how to play. From that moment on, anytime I heard a great guitar player I would become obsessed with having to know what they were doing and how they were doing it. Instantly after hearing a guitar solo that would stand out as exceptional I would record it in my mind and try to think about where on the guitar it was being played, then rush home to my guitar and spend hours trying to figure it out. Great guitarist just have a way of standing out from the others, you hear them and it is like they are one of the best storytellers writers or painters, there is just something magical about those who play the instrument the best.
Coming from the “Generation X” age group I certainly do not have stories of rushing around to find vinyl 45’s and wearing the grooves out as some of my favorite guitarists tell, but with the great technology of the generation it was easy to hop on the computer and quickly have access to all the best blues albums and guitarists at my fingertips. This lead to endless hours spent finding the best albums and playing them over and over again till I could play every song as perfect as possible. This seemed to have caused an overload because there was no end to the great guitar players and albums that had to be learned, each day I was discovering more and more and just had to learn them all. To say guitar is addictive is an understatement but reading the interviews with my favorite guitarists they all had done the same thing to learn their instrument, lock themselves in a room with their guitar and favorite guitarist’s albums.
Over the years I have developed a certain love an respect for the Blues. From the different styles, guitars, pick ups and techniques. There have been a handful of what I would consider the most influential and important Blues albums for any guitar player to listen to and study. I know for my playing just learning these albums was the best teacher I could have had.
To learn the Blues and all of it’s history one must start at the beginning and perhaps one of the most important blues albums ever would be King Of The Delta Blues by Robert Johnson. The influence of the album is still heard today in most guitar players and one listen should provide an instant lesson into the history of the Blues, a must have for any Blues guitarist’s collection!
Another album which made me fall in love with the Blues would be Born Under A Bad Sign by Albert King. Albert King has had huge amounts of influence on many great blue guitar players including Jimmy Hendrix. King played a Gibson Flying V through a solid-state Acoustic amplifier which was unorthodox for the era but is considered today to have produced one of the greatest blues tones of all time.
When it comes to amazing Blues guitar then Buddy Guy certainly comes to mind. The amazing album “A Man and The Blues” has enough lessons within it to last a lifetime. Long considered the best Blues guitar player among his pears such as Eric Clapton. His influence runs deep into many of the greatest guitar players on earth and though considered mainly a “Chicago Blues style” guitar player his techniques, sounds and playing go far deeper then such a stereotype.
Probably the most important album for me personally as well as the most influential guitar player to me personally would have to be Texas Flood by the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. Considered to be the album which saved the Blues, Stevie was able to bring the heart of Blues Rock to the mainstream at a time when it seemed the Blues would never get mainstream attention again. Heavily influenced by Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix all one needs to do is listen to the title track to hear and understand the true beauty of the Blues. Texas Flood is still today my favorite song to play on the guitar, a true masterpiece from a man who could make a Stratocaster sing, cry and moan at will.
Probably not in most guitar players top 5 but for me Roy Buchanan is one of the greatest and most underrated Blues players of all time. When I throw in the self titled album around friends they always ask “who is that?” and when I reply with “Roy Buchanan” they have never heard of him. After a listen I do not believe one person I know has not run out and bought the album. A true master of the Telecaster with some of the most beautiful, soulful and just downright amazing guitar songs ever recorded. For any one who has not heard Roy Buchanan I would have to insist that you take a listen to “The Messiah Will Come Again” as well as “Sweet Dreams”.
One final note on great guitarists and great albums would have to be Jeff Beck, not a Blues player and more of an all around guitar virtuoso his impact on guitar playing is not to be understated. Today I would have to put Jeff Beck in my top 3 guitar players of all time and perhaps he gets the number one spot. Beck’s abilities to truly understand the instrument and music are amazing. His understanding that less is more on the guitar is a lesson that most guitar players need to learn, myself included. The first time I heard “Blow By Blow” I realized I discovered something very special and twenty years later that album still blows my mind. The sounds that Beck effortlessly pulls out of his Strat (with heavy use of the whammy bar” are definitely some of the coolest and most beautiful ever to be played on the guitar and many of his latter albums still push the evolution of great guitar playing further.