The Membership Is Open

Apr 10, 2020
I did my first live-on-Facebook performance today. I know The Face is not everyone's jam, particularly among the Fretboard subscribership, but it has its moments. The ironic thing is that while social media lets you reach people all over the world, some of the loudest (read: most-posting) people in the virtual room were comrades of mine from the local Austin scene. I though I would show up, play a few tunes, watch the tumbleweeds bounce down the middle of the digital road, and split. Instead, all kinds of folks started chiming in, to the point that I had to studiously avoid glancing at the chat feed during songs or I would forget the words or start scrambling the chords. (Still happened anyway, because while the quarantine has seemingly provided some people with the much-needed time to finally reorganize their underwear alphabetically, I have been hard-pressed to remember to practice or keep track of where my capos went.)

So about a half an hour in, a grassroots movement took hold among these comrades to determine whether I had installed a virtual tip jar. Apparently it's the thing to make a Paypal or Venmo link available while busking in cyberspace. I had, of course, completely neglected this aspect of the gig, but realizing that made me feel soulful. Hey man, I must be a real artist, unsoiled by the petty concerns of pricing my work!

It's a bit of a theme, as you'll see if you investigate today's video. And yet, as a pose, it's not exactly a farce, but hardly the whole picture. I've been a professional musician since I was twenty-three; I'm obviously down with the exchange of knowledge for groceries. I just like having the option to create for free. If I'm writing music for an ad agency or getting paid by the word for an article, the agency or the magazine gets to tell me if it's any good and when it's done. On the flip side, if I'm playing for tips or making free Youtube lessons, I get the final word, possibly the only word. But I recognize the act of doing so for the luxury it is. Making work for hire affords me the freedom to make stuff for free. And sometimes the unsupervised work is harder, like playing tennis without a net. Plus, if you want to make work where you're the final word, you have to be able to live with the fact that no one else may want to watch or listen to that work. (And I'm not that cool. I wish I was, but I clearly check my phone way too often for that to be true.)

I have all this in mind today because my monthly membership, The Fingerstyle Five, is now open for registration. That means I have to strap on my mercantile hat and explain that I've got this thing for sale, and hey, you might want to pay for it. Also, that this only happens twice a year, and registration is only open through next Tuesday night. I made a video last fall to explain it all, and I'm reposting that video today because it's still as good an explanation as I can make about who this membership is for, what it's for, and how it all works. For the past six months, over a hundred guitarists have been working on the weekly lessons, taking part in the monthly live-online sessions and learning to arrange and improvise on tunes like "Careless Love," "Crow Jane" and "House of the Rising Sun." If you're interested in building your solo blues repertoire and developing your fingerstyle skills in a stepwise, monthly program, and want to share your work and development in a forum with like-minded guitarists from all over the world, I hope you'll check it out.

The Fingerstyle Five – Info and Registration

More soon,


P.S. If you've got questions about the membership after watching my video, drop me a line. I'll be holding another live Youtube session some time in the next few days and will answer as many of your questions as I can about how to learn fingerstyle blues and/or the logistics of the membership itself.