These instruction videos focus on the finger-picking techniques of a couple of mainstream twenties and thirties bluesmen, both are taught by a personable and adept guitarist who does a good job of breaking down and demonstrating the main facets of each players technique. Mann has been at this awhile, and has authored an instruction manual or two, and put out audio teaching cassettes (Roots Of Robert Johnson for one) as well as these two current visual lessons.
Blind Blake was one of the earliest popular rag-time players, his alternating bass style adapted music from New Orleans and Chicago bands to 6 strings, and he always kept a danceable pulse going. Mann covers six of his tunes, including "Diddie Wa Diddie" and "That Will Never Happen No More"--both examples of Blakes wry way with a lyric. But the focus here is on guitar, and Mann takes the tunes verse by verse, showing off the basic riffs and variations. First he demonstrates, playing the tune all the way through at tempo, then takes it verse by verse, using a split-screen which places the left hand fretting and right hand picking one right over the other, for easy eye access. The examples are played slow enough to follow, though it needs to be said that both videos are for somewhat advanced players who know more than 3 chords and already have some finger picking chops.
Big Bill Broonzy had a recording career from 1927-58, and was another ragtime picker, he was one of the mainstay Chicago players in the Bluebird Era of the 30's and 40's, he was later "rediscovered" during the folk-boom and did a lot to pave the way In England and Europe for the blues revival of the 60's that inspired The Stones among others. Mann covers 10 of his tunes here, including "Moppers Blues", "How You Want It Done" and "Hey Hey". Bills technique is a bit more rudimentary and repetitious than Blakes, so the songs aren't delved into quite as deeply here. Also, Broonzy tended to recycle patterns and riffs for use in later songs, Mann shows how that works. Again, regular speed renditions are followed by slowed down, split-screen explications and Mann does a thorough job of covering Broonzys basic traits. T his video also includes a few performance snippets of Broonzy doing a couple tunes, which Mann then details.
Each video runs about 90 minutes, each is $39.95 plus postage. Check them out further at www.guitarvideos.com or (973)729-5544.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Tony Glover, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.