"Blues-Jazz Festival, Really..."

Jan 08, 2021

It's no secret I need to up my game in the communications department. Part of the problem is logistical – messages come in through a couple different email addresses, via comments on the Youtube channel and in my Membership forum, in direct response to this Letter, and so on. Part of it is dispositional – at the end of the day, and for better or worse, I remain an artist learning to run a business, rather than a businessman talking about art, which means I tend to think more about what I'm going to make next rather than how to answer for the stuff I've already made.

That said, I've never been a fan of the dissolute-artist model, and I'm not calling in that option now. In fact, I find the whole process of creating both lesson material and the surrounding infrastructure a lively and fascinating creative project. So far, though, I'm still better at making the lessons than the infrastructure, so if I want to get good, I guess I need to take my own advice: set aside thirty minutes a day, turn on the metronome, and start answering emails.

Now, I actually was going through my email yesterday and there was question about jazz versus blues. More of an observation than a question, really. Cliff, a member in the Fingerstyle Five, wrote: "I'm tempted to comment that your playing and arrangements sound more jazzy than bluesy.  Your pieces sound like jazz with a blues flavor." As I wrote back, it's a fair observation. Beyond that, it gets tricky. Out of respect for what it means (to me anyway) to be a jazz musician, I'd have to say I'm nothing of the sort. Then again, out of respect for what it means (to me) to be a blues musician, I can't really say I consider myself one of those either. The closest I can come on any of this is to say: I love the shape and feel and texture of the blues, and the dimensions, rigor and grooves of jazz, and if I can find a way to integrate, for myself, just a fraction of the improvisational scope of jazz with the feel and form of the blues, and make it all happen via solo steel-string guitar, I'll be a happy guy.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of things happening in January you might want to know about. On Saturday, January 16, I'll be holding my first workshop of the new year, a two-hour introduction to music theory as it applies to the guitar. More information on that, and registration details, will be available next week.

Second, registration for the Fingerstyle Five membership won't officially open again until the end of March, but for anyone on the mailing list interested in joining sooner, I'll be holding a couple of free live streams later this month to teach a bit of membership material, provide a tour of the membership site, answer questions and, of course, make early registration available for small yet reasonable window of time. And while management has rescinded earlier plans to include a free set of Ginsu knives just for showing up, you're welcome to attend if only to decide for yourself whether it's blues, or jazz, or something else. In any case, as both Louis Armstrong and Big Bill Broonzy are reputed to have observed, all music is folk music – because you never hear horses sing any of it, do you?