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Gospel Guitar of Reverend Gary Davis

Level 3

In this class we will be learning the songs and arrangements of the incomparable Reverend Gary Davis. We revere the founding masters for their phenonenal energy, deeper level of intensity, and the soul in their playing which set them apart as geniuses. We celebrate it, but sometimes find it illusive. In our class we will examine how, before being technically great, we need to be one-of-a-kind, authentically ourselves, and thus, soulfull. As a teacher I find that many students, while they posess great enthusiasm and a tremendous desire to learn, lack the confidence that they themselves can effectively translate the music they love. My goal is to support and strengthen your own unique abilities and channel them into your playing in order to create a greater level of power as a guitar player. While studying the Reverend’s arrangements note for note, we will also be harnessing the excitement, energy and unique character found only in you, and you alone, in order to take your playing to another level. As always I will work with the group, but in addition with each individual as needed, to personally support this process.

  • 10/20/17 - 10/23/17
  • Gospel Guitar of Reverend Gary Davis
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The Passion of the Masters

Level 3

What is it about the genius of the early American blues masters that made them so outstanding- the phenomenal musicians who created the iconic music we still emulate today? Why do we continue to look to them as the gold standard, and why do we constantly seek to play like them? The masters embodied the greatness we will always idolize. The secret is not only their outstanding technique, but the deeper level of passion and power.

It doesn’t get much greater than Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Reverend Gary Davis, Fred McDowell and Bukka White. In this class we will be taking a musical journey of discovery, tapping into the river of energy that can turn an average player into a great player. We will be unlocking some of the outstanding drive that can set each of us apart from the pack.

Having been surrounded by early American music and learning from the masters myself, I want to impart what I think are some of these secrets. Hint: it’s about power, passion and drive. We will be working on one song from each of my six tribute cds (I call this project The Mentor Series)- and focusing on the great slide techniques, funky hard driving finger picking, and the percussive drive that was unique to each master. I will be working with the group and also every student individually as needed to bring out your strengths and unique abilities. When you leave Fur Peace I want you to be a stronger, more inspired player that grabs the attention of your listeners and brings a greater sense of excitement to your playing. This class will be about "kicking it up a notch."

The Spirit of Reverend Gary Davis

Level 3

When I was 15 years old I had the privilege of spending time with Reverend Gary Davis. I got to experience the awesome power of his music up close- both when visiting him at his home, and when he came to the apartment I shared with fellow guitar player Stefan Grossman. In addition I was present at various concerts, and the effect that had on me reverberates today. As a preacher, his music was often a sermon, and his style was full-out gospel. It is important to me to bring this spiritual level of energy to the workshop when we learn to play his songs. Like Reverend Gary Davis, I do not use tablature when I teach, but we can include the excellent tab that has already been written out by Stefan, Jorma, Ernie, David, Woody. My forte will be about drive and attack, and passing on the energy and legacy, such as I received it, to another generation of guitar players. Do you need to be a church member to get it? Of course not. We all share a knowledge of the artistic things done from the inspiration of the soul and spirit, and that is what this workshop is about- bringing that level of devotion to the guitar.

I do workshops the same way I do my shows- without a set list. It's all about technique and a deeper understanding of the mechanics of the style- while at the same time emphasizing the inspiration, passion and power that the music requires. It's always customized to the students, and I let questions and personal goals set the direction and pace of the class. Finally, even though Reverend Davis did not play slide, I used one to back up his songs on my tribute cd, and it felt totally natural. So bring a good fitting slide if you want to, because we can include a look at getting great slide sound and finding the comfortable "zen" spot to make it work in the coolest and funkiest way.

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About Rory Block

Heralded as "a living landmark" (Berkeley Express), "a national treasure" (Guitar Extra), and "one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists" (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world. A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk. The New York Times declared: "Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends."

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