Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Guitar Lesson - 'Metro' by Jim Bruce

Blues Guitar lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu/menu-36-lessons-review.php I had a few requests for this one, so here's a short lesson and some tab. enjoy. Leave comments and have a great 2014! Cheers Jim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEnDowOKCwY

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jim Bruce Tries Out The Jamstar Site

Get the iOS App Here http://tinyurl.com/jamstar-itunes Get the Android App Here http://tinyurl.com/jamstar-android In Your browser go to http://jamstar.co/?source=playbluesEU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVWAImJumAQ

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trufire Guitar Instructor Competition - Entry Video 5

Please vote here http://tinyurl.com/jim-trufire Blues Guitar Lessons http://play-blues-guitar.eu You may recognize this video lesson, as I posted it some time ago on this channel. I got involved with another project and didn't have time to make a brand new video - excuse me! Still holding third place, so if you could vote just one last time, it might make all the difference. Thanks a lot for all your past support, and I look forward to posting some fresh stuff regularly in the future. Best, jim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHLankNtcgw

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blues Guitar Lessons - Floyd Council - Trufire Entry N° 4

Go Vote: http://tinyurl.com/jim-trufire Blues Guitar Lessons http://play-blues-guitar.eu Online Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu/courses-udemy.php Searchin' For My Baby - Floyd Council Floyd Council was a so-called 'minor' blues and his name rings a bell for most people because Pink Floyd named their group after him and Pink Anderson - incidentally, Floyd and Pink never even met. There are only 6 tracks of Floyd's songs, but he played second guitar on some of Blind Boy Fuller's recordings and their styles are very similar. There's a rich vein of ragtime style music emanating from Carolina, two of the finest being Willie Walker and Reverend Gary Davis, who taught Fuller when they played together around the tobacco warehouses of Durham. Many of the licks used in 'Searchin' For My Baby', which is played in C, can be traced back to Davis' playing and Floyd's picking is solid and infectious. The song has a syncopated feel and many individual right and techniques are brought into play - thumb rolls, thumb jumps, alternating bass patterns and single string runs picked alternately with thumb and forefinger. Like a great many master acoustic blues guitar pickers, he used just one finger and of course the Thumb Is King! Listen to the original carefully to pick up the things that are not normally tabbed properly, if at all, such as where to damp a section and which hand to use for that damping. Above all, don't forget why we are doing this - to have fun! If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong. Peace, Jim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYRfySKMmqo

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jesus Takin' Me Home - Jim bruce - Trufire Top Guitar instructor Competition

Blues guitar lessons http://play-blues-guitar.eu Get the tab http://play-blues-guitar.eu/gospel Vote for me here: http://truefire.com/next-top-guitar-instructor/jim-bruce/ Well, it's week two and here's the second entry into the Trufire competition. Entry time limit is around 10 minutes, so no time for a full lesson. We talk a bit about the power of gospel guitar, Gary Davis and other stuff. It includes some tab for the intro to my song Jesus, Takin' Me Home. No Fear, No Envy, No Meanness Enjoy - Peace Jim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cXBW5f3vUA

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar Lessons - Blind Blake Techniques

This is my first entry in the Trufire top guitar instructor competition (I'm a top ten finalist). All finalists post a video lesson each week for 5 weeks and the public (that's you) get to vote and comment on it. The top dog will be decided in Dec. If you can find the time to check it out, vote on it and comment, this would be a massive help. Find it here http://truefire.com/next-top-guitar-instructor/jim-bruce/ Very Best, Jim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlstywcGZBI

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Floyd Council - Runaway Man Blues (Cover)

Blues Guitar lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu Free Robert Johnson Lesson http://youtunerecords.com/lp/jblet.html Seem to have got stuck in a Floyd Council phase. Love this stuff - goes right inside because it's real. Take it easy, Cheers Jim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmsYLbMlenM

Monday, July 8, 2013

Floyd Council Cover - Lookin' For My Baby

Free Love in Vain lesson http://youtunerecords.com/lp/jblet.html Blues Guitar lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu I play a Floyd Council cover somewhere in the video, but things didn't go as planned! Ever the pro, I had the camera switched off when it should have been on and vice versa. Anyway, got the sound so cobbled something together . Just love the style of Council's - easy to copy, but so, so hard to get the feel - bit like Broonzy in that respect. In fact, think I'll post Broonzy's 'Guitar Shuffle next ... Cheers Jim PS Haven't posted for a while - went to Lisbon for a week and forgot to come back - nice down there. Take it easy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqH1jp_Ghb4

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learn Blues Guitar - Jim Bruce Student Video - Hey hey

Learn Blues Guitar http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu This video was sent to me by one of my students -- he's playing Hey hey by Big Broonzy and does a great job. His channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Sidley3376 Back in the 1960s there were not too many very good acoustic blues guitar players around. American students of the original acoustic guitar styles had found all the surviving blues masters and were busily copying their techniques, putting it down on paper as they went. Guitar players such as Stefan Grossman and many others did a great service to future generations by putting together a simple tabalature system to learn blues guitar. It definitely cut corners - in place of listening to the old blues and attempting to work out where the fingers went, it was written out, and expedited the learning activity. Very shortly, numerous guitarists were tackling the most complex ragtime arrangements, and finger picking became increasingly more intricate, with guitarists using their thumb, 2, 3 and sometimes all their fingers to finger pick! How did this situation come about? Possibly in an attempt to copy the sounds of the classic guitarists like Blind Arthur Blake and Gary Davis, more fingers came into use. It was a way around, and meant that one finger needn't move so fast, which was how the old guys did it. However, its not that easy to learn blues guitar with that elusive authentic feel.. Even though the finger picking is correct technically speaking, there is frequently something missing in present day performances - a delicate change in the tempo and that evasive feeling that talks to the listener. One finger moving quickly over the strings gives a certain accent to the beat, which can't be simulated by using more fingers. Additionally, the bass strike differs in it's attack and power when more fingers are used. The hunt for technical complexity can become the Holy Grail for guitarists starting to learn blues guitar, but it's a mistake to look at it this way. Few players can match the power of the classic blues masters, simply because the underlying techniques are not solid enough. There are no short cuts to the power of the blues. Listen to the bass patterns of guitarists like Big Bill Broonzy, Gary Davis and Lightnin Hopkins. Lightnin' could play just one bass note and make your spine tingle. It isn't the complex technique that makes the blues, but the feeling and power behind it. Learn Blues Guitar http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu Related: learn and master blues guitar, blues songs to learn on guitar, learn blues guitar free, learn slide blues guitar, blues guitar lessons, blues licks guitar, free blues guitar lessons, blues licks lesson, http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Guitar/Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyIqFHkRrKA

Jim Bruce and deltabluestips Blues Guitar Lessons

Blues guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu If interested in a blues guitar course in France with Jim Bruce and deltabluestips, and would like more information, sign up on this page - http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu/blues-guitar-course-interest-april-13.php http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhZdvzp9SoQ

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - Tax Law Blues (Original)


Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu

Free Acoustic Guitar Lessons http://youtunerecords.com/lp/jblet.html

Recorded this a long time ago, but it seemed so, so relevant with what's happening in France, that I thought I'd upload again. OK, you've got to hide your money, but for most of us, you've got to find some first! It's nice that French politicians are now declaring their assets and savings, to show how poor and honest they are, but even the lowliest show

(This video url http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9WCgedlf1Q

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Tips For Playing That Old Blues In E

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu

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Of course, there's a lot more to playing a slow blues in E than meets the eye (or maybe less?) Often we play without really thinking about those little things we do to make this stuff interesting and also what strategies we have to pick and sing at the same time.

In this video I'm taking a closer look at a song I wrote called 'New Orleans' - I take it apart a little, and offer some ideas that can be incorporated into any blues in E. Someone once said that a good blues guitarist makes something difficult seem easy, and makes something easy seem difficult - you can make whatever you like out of that! Sounds good though.

Very often, simple things work if they are put together properly.

Have a good time with it, comment and ask questions if you like. If you like the video, the name's Jim Bruce - if you don't, it's daddystovepipe ...

Keep on pickin'


Me and The Devil - Robert Johnson

Blues Music - Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu


For the majority of people, playing acoustic guitar in the authentic way is a bit more than simply copying the musical style. The idea kindles a continuing fascination with a time in American folklore that still speaks to us in the present day - the lives of the first blues artists and musicians give us a profound insight into the times and trials of life for negros in those times.

You don't have to listen too hard to hear the beat of the classic blues music in many modern jazz, rock and pop music. The blues is the root of 60s rock music, which came from Chicago electric blues, which came from the music of Big Bill Broonzy, which came from .... well, you get the idea.

While it's obvious that there were different styles of guitar blues, it all came basically from one place, and possibly from one physical are - the Delta of The Mississippi. The first African slaves labored hard hours in the fields gathering cotton and pulling big sacks in their wake. Work gangs were very common in the South, where a negro could be jail|jailed} for almost nothing, and then made to labor on county roads or on the bosses farms. It was a huge spiritual relief to sing or chant a rhythm to help the work flow and give a {sense of community|some comfort}. This is how the 'field hollers' were {created}. Field hollers had a limited range musically and the words were really repetitive, which became an enduring feature of all songs in the blues style.

The first slaves were taken from Africa, were there was a deep tradition of story telling and elementary music accompanied by hypnotic rhythms, frequently accompanied by drums and instruments with a single string created from gourds or the skins of animals stretched out across a frame. It's probable that the first rudimentary guitar had very few strings, with a sound box fabricated from a large cigar box. Without a doubt, only really simple music could be created from these beginnings, but the vocal nuances could be at the same time subtle and powerful.

The Blues Guitar Comes To Pass ...

At the turn of the twentieth, an innovative method of merchandising gave a new impetus for blues music and was vital for creating the rich variation we now associate with it. The Sears company created a system of commerce by mail, and distributed catalogs far and wide across America. This had never happened before - cheap factory made instruments were available to the masses. Amongst the many products on offer, one could purchase a Harmony guitar for one dollar. Blues music was on the verge of a breakthrough!

As one might suppose, a factory made acoustic guitar was not the best quality instrument, and probably hard to keep in tune - in the southern humid weather, it was just about impossible. This was probably why slide guitar was one of the first blues guitar styles to appear. It was easy to create a simple tune as the strings were tuned to an open arrangement such as open G, C or D - it wasn't even necessary to know any chords! In open G, for instance, it was a lot easier to keep the guitar tuned than when using normal or 'Spanish' style tuning. Even if the guitar was out of tune, one could vary the position of the slide whilst playing, so it wasn't that important - particularly for a skilled guitarist.

Many of the first blues musicians were adept at this style, such as Son House (who taught Robert Johnson), John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. However, Son House played bottleneck guitar throughout his playing, whilst the others diversified into other finger picking styles. House used a National steel guitar-steel guitar called a National, which was all metal construction housing a patented 'cone' amplifier system. The natural acoustic amplifier effect was a big help when performing for house parties, or in noisy places, for example. These musical events often involved heavy drinking and frequently, fights about money or women.

Diversity In Blues Music

As guitar became more available and the ability to make music spread, inevitably musicians began to experiment with ways of playing and definite styles emerged, at time depending upon a particular region.


So Much Trouble - Brownie McGhee

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu
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         4. Blind Blake MP3 Album - 20 Original Tracks

Another interpretation of a great classic from Brownie McGhee - So Much Trouble. This is another example of how to play the blues with a subtle twist and yet retain the authentic feel of the music. Acoustic blues guitar lessons for beginners, how to play the blues for intermediate players.

The full range of lessons available cover all major acoustic blues guitar styles, such as delta blues music (Robert Johnson), Texas Blues (Lightnin' Hopkins), Chicago swing (Big Bill Broonzy), and ragtime blues(Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Willie Walker). Acoustic guitar lessons in the style of Carolina blues (Floyd Council, Pink Anderson, Scrapper Blackwell), bottleneck and open tunings.

Let Jim take you to the next level - all the finger picking acoustic blues guitar lessons you need in one place! Ho to play blues in the old authentic style. (A third of the lessons are tagged 'blues guitar lessons advanced'.)

Deep River Blues Lesson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4lMZxM5AFQ
Jim Bruce Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/acoustictravellersl

Deep River Blues Guitar Lesson - Doc Watson Style

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu
Street Blues http://www.squidoo.com/blues-guitar-street-singer

Learn Blues Guitar with Jim Bruce. http://youtunerecords.com/lp/jblet.html

Sign Up Now and get these Free Goodies: Complete Delta Blues Acoustic Guitar Lessons Download, two MP3 Albums (Acoustic Blues Travelers and Blind Blake) and a mini-course of 7 streamed videos covering basic blues guitar lessons, from Chicago style blues guitar to the delta. Learn how to play blues guitar.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu - Preview Jim's Complete Course ' Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons '

This online blues guitar lesson featuring Deep River Blues by Doc Watson is the second in the series (maybe the last - we'll see!) Anyone serious about acoustic blues guitar and studying blues guitarists should take a look at the Travis style of picking and incorporate it into their playing, even if they want to play the blues in a different style. Learn how to play acoustic blues guitar in Doc's inimitable style

Here, we take a look at those 'fiddly bits' that appear in Doc's rendition of Deep River. These are the little things that suddenly appear and blow us away with their magic, such as double thumb beats and added syncopation with thumb/finger combination strokes. It's even more interesting when you consider that Doc (like other great masters such as Gary Davis, Broonzy,Hopkins) used just one finger on his picking hand to achieve these results. I hope you enjoy it - come back again!

Learn how to play acoustic blues guitar http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu - Preview Jim's Complete Course ' Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons '

The full range of lessons available show how to play blues guitar in various styles, such as delta blues (Robert Johnson), Texas blues (Lightnin' Hopkins), Chicago swing blues (Big Bill Broonzy), and ragtime blues (Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Willie Walker). Learn blues guitar in the style of Carolina blues (Floyd Council, Pink Anderson, Scrapper Blackwell), bottleneck and open tunings. Many blues guitarists are covered in detail.

There are two videos for Doc Watson Guitar Lessons on this channel - this video is the first part of an on-line video lesson  and gives an insight into his complex finger picking style.

It's true that basic finger picking is very simple - you either hit one string with thumb and the next one with a finger, or pinch two or three strings together with thumb and finger(s)! Of course, it's how we use our thumb and fingers that make all the difference. I've noticed that many, many older school blues guitar masters just used one finger on their right hand - Doc Watson, Reverend Gary Davis, Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Boy Fuller, Floyd Council, Big Bill Broonzy, and the list goes on.

Often, the right thumb jumps across to the treble strings to help out, which adds to the syncopation. It becomes more and more evident that the right thumb is crucial to creating the sound. It can double the beat, make an off-beat, strum across the strings and produce single string runs when used alternately with one of the fingers (usually the index.)

Enjoy the incredible easy sounding style of Doc Watson - and marvel at his genius and dexterity! Let his example show you how to play blues guitar! Learn blues guitar - more on my site http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu/how-to-play-blues-guitar-welcome.php

PLEASE 'like' this video and put it in your favorites - it does me a power of good!

Acoustic blues guitar lessons - Jim Bruce Videos

Deep River Blues Lesson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4lMZxM5AFQ
Jim Bruce Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/acoustictravellersl

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How To Play Blues Guitar - The Finger Picking Way

Big Bill Broonzy
It kind of goes without explaining that basic finger picking is not too difficult – you hit a string with your thumb and then another with your finger, or strike  two (or more) strings simultaneously with thumb and one of more finger! OK? Nevertheless, it’s the way in which we strike with the thumb and fingers which creates that special feeling. Acoustic blues finger picking is a tad different. It tends to be difficult to play blues effortlessly so that it moves freely and sounds natural.

I’ve commented before that many revered blues guitar masters just used one finger on their picking hand – Big Bill Broonzy, Reverend Gary Davis, Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Boy Fuller, Doc Watson, Floyd Council, and many more. Its fantastic that we have access to those old film clips on Youtube of blues men like Davis - it gives us some idea of how these men created those wonderful sounds. The picking thumb can be used for the treble strings also, which helps to 'syncopate' the sound. We begin to appreciate that the picking thumb provides the drive behind the most appealing acoustic blues songs. We can double up on  the tempo to give the sound of a heart beating, pluck a string slightly in front of or behind the beat , strike two or more strings simultaneously and produce runs on single strings using the thumb and finger alternating. 

Reverend Gary Davis was a particular expert in this technique. 
Davis could play with finger picks or bare fingers, but favored a big plastic pick for his thumb and a steel finger pick on his fore finger. The combination makes a penetrating sound which allowed his music to be heard on noisy streets in Harlem where it was his habit to play. His amazingly fast single string runs plucked with finger and thumb are tough to copy exactly. Davis was universally admired as an effective teacher as well. For the new student passionate about learning the blues, Reverend Davis was heaven sent. (See a free Gary Davis guitar lesson online here.) 

Some other incredible guitarists like Chet Atkins and Doc Watson, had a more or less Travis-style picking technique, but Doc Watson used a plastic thumb with a plastic finger pick, while Mr Atkins preferred a plastic thumb-pick and his finger nails. Sometimes it seems as though he either varnished them, or might have sometimes super-glued plastic nails onto his own - I've heard that this is done, but never tried it. Other differences are that Doc used just one finger, and Chet Atkins used two or three, depending on what he was playing.

In the folk blues boom of the late fifties and sixties, young guitar players were searching out the old blues men, and some of the old guys came back into the spotlight to play finger style blues guitar one more time, sometimes for the public and often as teachers of the original blues. Of course, nowadays they are now almost all gone, so its harder to find a real original blues guitar stylist who can play it like it was.

Over recent years, the resources available to the acoustic blues player thirsty to learn finger picking the blues are huge. This can sometimes slow you down.  How to start the quest? Where to find a guitarist who plays in the old way? On top of that, which technique should you concentrate on, delta or ragtime blues guitar? 

Present day acoustic blues can get a bit overly complex and sometimes it seems that the equation "More complicated = Better" holds sway with newbies. More and more, many guitarists are looking increasingly in the direction of the real roots once more and listeners want to hear the authentic sound of acoustic blues guitar. In my opinion, reaching back into the roots is a great path for learning to play the blues in an authentic way.

That isn't to infer that these original blues guitar masters couldn’t create some very complicated sounds, but the feeling behind the music is what it’s really all about. Texan blues giant, Lightnin’  Hopkins often played an easy pattern in the key of E, with a strong bass rhythm played in his distinctive monotonic thumb style. Now and again he'd double up on the beat and then the bass took on the feel of a heart beating - a real pull on the emotions of the listeners.

Other times, he'd slide right up the neck of his guitar rapidly (like ‘lightnin’) and bend those high strings over, creating whining notes with hypnotic appeal. The effect was the music spoke directly to your heart and it spoke the truth – it's the blues. Let's try a little Hopkins style picking ...

Take it easy - Jim

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mother Always Said I'd End Up On The Streets ...

Some years ago, after several life changing crises, I found myself at a crossroads - which is great for a blues man!

After bankruptcy, divorce, loss of employment and finding myself with no where to live, I had a stroke just to put the icing on the cake.

After coming out of hospital, I remember thinking that if I'm going to end up on the streets, I'll do it in style ... and that's where the whole story began. I borrowed enough money to buy a cheap black suit, a battery amplifier and I started my new career.

First Of All, Some Basics! 


I remember reading year ago about the lives of the old blues men, who played guitar on street corners and in parking lots near tobacco warehouses to scrape a living together. They would also play at 'house rent' parties and bars, where often the recompense was a meal, some drinks and a bed for the night. As they moved around from town to town, their music developed and adapted to the needs of their audience. A street blues guitar player was at best a distraction from a hard, drab life and at worst, a beggar, who could be pitied and ignored.

In the folk boom of the 60s, the life of a street musician was romanticized even more. What is the reality of making a living playing blues guitar, and what do we need to make it a success?

 What To Wear!


Is this important? You bet! Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone walking down a busy street, presented by a man or woman playing blues guitar on the street. The first impression is extremely important, no matter how good the music. Of course, the music itself has to be top class - just because it's street music doesn't mean it can be a lower standard. If anything , the music has to be higher quality, so that people are attracted to the sound.

Your visual impression at first sight speaks volumes. You 're not a bum, but a musician playing the old blues music, so dress with respect to yourself and also your audience. It also helps a lot if you stand out from the crowd a little. I wear a black suit, white shirt, black tie and a wide brimmed black hat. This outfit reminds me of the old standard studio photos of classic blues men, and is also a little different in today's world. Give yourself a name (maybe invent an alter ego) and display this name on a poster attached to you amp, for example.

The Equipment


Here's a list of the equipment I consider to be indispensable for a street playing blues guitar man:

Blues Guitar (duuuh!)

Of course, you can add any items you feel you need, but bear in mind that you'll have to transport it all. I use as simple trolley and strap everything to it with elasticated bungie chords. I can pack it all away in less than five minutes (if I have to!)

What Kind Of Amplifier Do I need? 


 A basic guitar amp with two channels, assuming that you are going to sing. I started out with microphone on a stand, but it's a bit heavy and cumbersome. I now favour a headset mic, which comes in at around $50 for a reasonable sound.

My current amplifier is a 30 watt job bought from Thomann. There's a lead acid battery inside which takes around six hours to charge, giving a playing time (both channels) of between 6 to 8 hours, depending on the volume used. It's quite heavy at 10kg, hence the trolley.
Channel has basic tone and volume controls - use for the voice, and channel two has volume, gain, low medium, high gain controls. The second channel is ideal for balancing the string sounds of an acoustic guitar. Price is a very reasonable $120.

The Guitar


Bear in mind where you are taking this guitar. For example, could it get knocked? Very easily! Could it get stolen? Of course - anything's possible.

I once left a favorite guitar on the subway by mistake, as I was tired and distracted. It goes without saying that I never saw it again. Happily, it's possible to buy a perfectly good guitar nowadays without breaking the bank. For some time I used a Vintage parlor model, complete with on board Shadow equalizer and tuner, which cost around $200!

My current street guitar (see photograph) is a Martin 000X1AE, which incorporates a strip pickup under the saddle and volume/tone controls inside the sound hole. The spruce top is not varnished (or hardly) and can be delicate, but the neck, and rest of the body is artificial - not wood at all! Martin don't say what it is, except that it's not plastic or a wood pulp derivative. Whatever it is, it's extremely tough. I've knocked it a few times without any evidence of the contact. I carry it in a soft case strapped to my back.

The sound is definitely Martin through and through, with very nice basses. This small bodied guitar is great for blues finger picking, which is all I do. Current price is around $600 - get one! (No, I don't have shares in the company.)

Where To Play 


This is a tough one, as it depends on you and your town. Let me tell you how I approach it. First of all, if you see a few people playing in the street, then you can assume that it's at least tolerated by the police. After this initial assessment, there's nothing left to do but try it out!
I walk around a good deal and watch people as they cross intersections,etc, or on the edge of a pedestrian shopping precinct. It helps a lot if people can stop and listen without obstructing the flow of other people, or of traffic. The picture shows a market in the center of a city - an ideal venue for a street musician and a great place to play blues guitar.

Ready To Go!


Here I am set up on the edge of the city market square shown in the last section. I like to have something at my back (there's always the chance of someone doing something you don't like behind you, or trying to steal something while you are distracted. After all, this is the city!)

You attract some attention while setting up, as people are naturally curious. It takes a little courage the first few times, but gets easier every time. It helps if you bring an attitude to you work. For example, I'm always smiling and chatting to people and give the impression that I belong there. It's my street, it's where I play and I have every right to be there. Of course, I don't have any right to be there, but if you play OK, and not too loud, the police will (probably) leave you alone as it adds a little color to the activities and to the general ambiance.

Start with something simple and attractive - it won't help your cause if you try and play to your maximum ability and mess it up! Play to 75% of your capabilities until you get into it. This way, your playing will be sure and sound great for the passers by.

Can You Make A living? 


Making a living playing blues guitar is always difficult and can only be achieved by earning relatively small amounts from several related activities. For me, street playing has always played a significant role.

However, playing on the street just for tips won't cut it. It's best to offer something else, such as CD at a very reasonable price. This option doubles the amount earned on the street..

My other activities include live gigs and teaching, and I get many contacts from the street. Often people ask me about teaching blues guitar and others offer me gigs at private functions, parties and in their bars or cafes. I'm happy to say that blues is the way I make my living.

I hope you enjoyed this insight into the life of a street musician - take a look at the video below to see more.






Saturday, February 9, 2013

I came across a photo while surfing - Robert Johnson

I came across a photo while surfing and thought it might interest you. It's verified and shows Robert Johnson posing with Johhny Shines.

For years it was thought that there was only two photos of Johnson, a small low quality one probably taken in a booth (so I read - I didn't know booths existed in the 30s?)

This studio photo was taken at (Hook's Brothers photography shop on Beale Street) and shows him holding a Gibson L1 Flat Top guitar, although contemporaries such as Johnny Shines recalled that he played either Stella or Kalamazoo guitars.

It seems he also played resonator models later on in his career - maybe the guitar shown in this photo was just a prop from the studio, or borrowed from a friend.

A common characteristic of all the photos are those long fingers.

Johnson is on the left in the photo below.

 Speaking for myself, I'm not too interested in Johnson, although I do include a few of his main songs in my street repertoire - they're just so cool! Some of his contemporaries, like Johnny Shines were absolute masters of the genre and such people got pushed into the sidelines a bit - 'cos they were not dead! (Just an idea.)

It's seems amazing to me that so few photos, and particularly old film clips, were recorded for these talents. Obviously, for much of the main stream media, these guys were just important enough, but the legacy they left is huge.

Even blues men such as Scrapper Blackwell, who survived until 1962 has no film footage credited to him and precious few photos. Blackwell was incredibly important and creative in his blues work - far more inventive than Johnson, who mostly adapted traditional songs and adapted other people's work - he was just very good at it, that's all. For example, Johnson's 'Sweet Home Chicago' seems a straight copy of Blackwell's 'Kokomo Blues' - check it out.

Take the King of Ragtime Blind Blake - what I wouldn't give to see a short clip of him playing West Coast Blues, or similar. There are some old clips of some blues men, like Gary Davis, Broonzy, Sleepy John Estes, Mississippi John Hurt, J.B. Lenoir and Johnny Shines, for which we are truly grateful.  I'd be interested in any posts featuring old clips or photos of any blues men.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Day I Met A Blues Legend (Almost ...)

Pine Top Perkins and the story of how I came across him in a bar - and I didn't even realize it! We frequently hear stories about the old blues legends, but usually we don't get to meet one. I did get to meet one, but it didn't work out in the way I thought it would be. A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away ...

Anyone interested in the original blues, either guitar or piano, know the names of the 'blues legends', such as Pine Top Perkins. They were the guys that started it all. None of them had to try and understand the blues , they were the blues! Names like Lightnin' Hopkins, Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy come to mind.

 In 1998, when I was living in Indiana, I was often thirsty for the sound of old-style blues. Someone told me that there was a blues bar called 'Buck's Working Man's Pub' in a town an hour's drive away in the town of La Porte. After work, I eagerly climbed into the car and set off.

Given directions by the locals, I made my way down main street, turned left at the second corner past the town hall and crossed the railroad tracks to the more disreputable side of town. At last, I'd get to see a slice of the real blues. The bar wasn't up to much. I got myself a beer and found my way to room at the back, following the sound of a loud electric band.

The place was about half full. Chicago blues wasn't really what I was looking for anyway - I was always more interested in learning how to play the blues in the old acoustic style.. The old fellow at my table told me the locals had hired the band as it was the bar's owner's birthday today. He didn't say much after that. The band finished the number and the singer addressed the audience. "Happy Birthday, Pinetop", he shouted, and carried on "Ladies and gentlemen, Pinetop has agreed to play a couple of numbers for us."

The old guy next to me got up and walked up to the stage, sitting down in front of a grand piano. He played a slow boogie which became increasingly complex with each passing bar. I mentally kicked myself as I realized I'd been sitting next to a real master, an original
blues man. Pinetop played only a couple songs and then walked past me out of the room. He didn't appear again the rest of the night.

With hindsight, I thought questions I should have asked him, but maybe it's just as well. It was the guys birthday and he could have been bothered by a stranger's questions. Legends are just people, you know.

How Long Blues

Thursday, February 7, 2013

One of the problems with committing to keep a journal is that fear that we won't have anything to say one day! Well, this is mostly nonsense - none of us are so boring. Out minds are full of thoughts rushing around like demons - unfortunately, many of them are not too constructive.

After encountering the famous 'guitarist's block' a few weeks ago, I found myself languishing a little. You know the feeling, just tired of playing the same old thing. Of course, we love the music, but change is important. What to do when you hit the 'wall' ?

Sometimes, I'll play tunes right out of my style, like old pop tunes or swing jazz (not that I can play it very well) and thing just might kick me out of the lethargy. Just lately I find myself going back to the roots again and again.

Even after playing complex ragtime for many years, it's refreshing to listen to the old guys and hear again how it all started. A few weeks ago I started to play a couple of old Reverend Gary Davis songs - then another, then another and I soon found my old enthusiasm coming back.

What artistry! The old man's chord structure and picking patterns are very interesting and a challenge for all of us. I even found a couple of clips on Youtube featuring songs that I hadn't heard before - treasure indeed. Here's  a clip of 'Feel Like Going On'.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blues Guitar - Jim Bruce Takes An Afternoon Nap (He's at that age ...)

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu I found this old video I'd done some time ago, when I was playing around with video techniques and stuff. Sharing a little of my strangeness with you! Mind you, it's true that there aren't enough strange people in the world - don't get too serious. Have fun, and don't forget to keep on pickin' Cheers Jim

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blues Guitar Lessons With Jim Bruce - Mississippi John Hurt

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.play-blues-guitar.eu News Letter Sign Up and Free Lesson Video http://youtunerecords.com/lp/jblet.html

Mississippi John Hurt was a giant amongst blues guitarists and had a huge influence on later generations. However, it's rare to find modern players carrying the same feeling - it's certain that I can't, but I though I'd put out this lesson so we can take a closer look at what he did. Often, we change the style for various reasons, mostly because some of the stuff is too time consuming to learn for most people - this isn't a criticism at all - we don't have time to copy all styles perfectly.

In some cases, like John Hurt, it's pretty easy to get the idea because his style is crisp and clear, but it's something else that blocks us - we have difficulty capturing that special 'feeling' Here again, this isn't surprising. we haven't lived it and we didn't create it. The very least we can do is to try and bring a little of that special flavor into our music and pay homage to legends such as John Hurt.

John had a superbly almost unique style, in that he kept his third and fourth picking fingers on the sound board while his other two finger picked the melody. because of this firm anchor, his timing was great. In my case, my hand lifts away from the finger board when I use the second finger and it messes up the timing. Oh well, back to the drawing board - talk later, I have to go and practice Spike Driver ... Have fun. Cheers Jim

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - St Louis Tickle Cover - Reverend Gary Davis

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.playbluesguitar.eu Dragging up some stuff I used to play way back and in the style of Reverend Davis. St Louis Tickle is a lovely laid back little piece - it seems like there's not much going on, but of course there is - it's the Reverend's music after all! If you're going to try it, try and make use of picks and use just one finger - it changes all the timing if you bring the second one in. Well, it does for me anyway, but I don't play things properly as it is. I'm thinking of putting out some Davis lessons. I haven't done in the past, because there are loads of guys on the Tube who can play his stuff better than me, and much closer to what he actually did - basically, I thought it wasn't worth doing it. However, maybe my simplified versions might hit the spot for lot of people - let me know. If we tried to play in exactly the same way as all of our old guitar heroes, we just wouldn't have enough lifetimes after all, to paraphrase Clapton. Main thing is to go for it, have a lot of fun and try to capture the spirit of the thing. Cheers - don't forget to have fun ... Jim Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.playbluesguitar.eu This video http://youtu.be/75_vK09Kh3k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75_vK09Kh3k

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feel Just Like Going On - Reverend Gary Davis

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.playbluesguitar.eu Another great example of the Reverend thrashing that guitar with astounding accuracy. Enjoy. Cheers Jim This video http://youtu.be/9oBZvBnNIkY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oBZvBnNIkY

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - Death Don't Have No Mercy - Reverend Gary Davis

Blues Guitar Lessons http://www.playbluesguitar.eu I've got a cold and feel like death - the song seemed appropriate. Sorry about the voice. When I first heard Gary Davis his voice was past it's best, but the overall power of this great original blues music just bowled me over. Some friends didn't like it too much, as he sometimes fluffed notes, but this kind of performance behavior is a massive thing that has all but disappeared now. We all try to get a perfect sound, with no missed notes or buzzing - well it was never like that. It was vibrant and real, and moved people. A master like Davis didn't really care if he missed note or two. He knew his power and message, and was very secure in what he did. That's a great lesson for all of us right there, and not just a blues guitar lesson! Have a great year. Cheers Jim This video http://youtu.be/HiOxlughTRs My channel http://youtube.com/user/acoustictravellersl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiOxlughTRs