Grunge moved into the acoustic realm with the 1994 release Nirvana Unplugged in New York. MTV’s Unplugged is generally considered to be a songwriter’s forum, and Nirvana’s set was no exception – only many of the songs were covers of other songwriters near and dear to Cobain, and not the expected lineup of Nirvana hits-sans-juice. Taped on January 10, 1992, the repertoire contained no Nirvana standards (except “Come As You Are”) and included numbers from the Meat Puppets, the Vaselines, and David Bowie. Run-throughs earlier in the day were plagued with sound problems and mistakes. Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World was a particularly sticky situation. The band never got through the song in rehearsal (after a few abortive tries), and Cobain even announced it at the show by saying, “I guarantee I will screw this song up.” (more…)
Kansas, an adventurous and multifaceted progressive rock band of the 1970’s, enjoyed an impressive array of hit songs, including the ambitious and artistic opus “Carry On, Wayward Son.” Dust in the Wind, a Top 10 single from 1977’s Point of Know Return album, is one of their most popular and enduring tunes. It reveals the softer side of Kansas with layered steel-string acoustic guitars, light percussion, and violin, producing a gorgeous tapestry of sound.
This time we’re looking at what might be best described as guitar yoga. Get your left hand in shape with this workout by acoustic guitarist Jamie Findlay. The piece is really quite tricky. The left hand changes are particularly challenging. Jamie Findlay is a wonderful acoustic fingerstyle/jazz guitarist. Jamie teaches at GIT in LA. This transcription is from his album Amigos del Corazon and the tide is nearly as tricky as some of the chord shapes in the music. The Art of Acquiring Attributes might have been better titled ‘The Art of Acquiring Sore Hands, Back and Bum While Overloading your Mind and Ears With Some Very Spicy Chords’. I did struggle a bit with the chord changes, although in the end it was very enjoyable to play through. (more…)
This time we’re taking a look at the music of Irish fingerstyle guitarist Colin Reid. Tickets, please! A few bits will require some practise to get your hands around, particularly the third section at bar 58. I was as much entertained by his precise and delicate guitar compositions as I was by his Ardal O’Hanlon-style banter between tunes. A great musician and entertainer, Colin Reid is one of the brightest hopes for British acoustic fingerstyle guitar in the new millennium. When Bert Jansch says that Colin reminds him of “myself and John Renbourn fused together”, you realise it’s well worth checking him out. His album, eponymously titled Colin Reid. (more…)
This time we look at Leo Kottke’s treatment of the Duane Allman classic Little Martha. The piece is easy to moderate, but the altered tuning may be unfamiliar to some. This arrangement of Little Martha appeared on Leo’s 1986 album A Shout Toward Noon. A significant reference point in the development of contemporary acoustic fingerstyle playing, Leo has been recording since 1969 and I have lost count of the number of releases he has made, but it is at least 30! Be sure to check out his debut album 6 and 12 String Guitar (sometimes known as The Ant and the Armadillo because of the cover art work) or more the more recent release, Peculiaroso. (more…)
In this lesson we take a close-up look at a traditional Irish jig – MrHunter’s, to be precise. The naming of traditional Irish tunes is something that has always fascinated me. ‘Merrily Kissed The Quaker’, ‘Rolling In The Hay’ and ‘Haste To The Wedding’ (is there a connection?) are so obscure that they belie the beautiful simplicity and sincerity of the music itself. This tune, ‘Charlie Hunter’s’, was presumably composed for or by Mr. Hunter. It’s a jig and, like all jigs, it is in 6/8 time. For this transcription we’ve written it out in 6/8, although some would choose to count it in 2/4 with triplet eighth notes: 1+a, 2+a, 1+a, 2+a and so on. 6/8 is a compound time signature, which means that it is derived from a simple duple time signature (2/4). (more…)