March 18, 2013


If I remember correctly, the first piece of music that I ever learned to play on guitar was “House of The Rising Sun”. It was the version by The Animals that was a big hit in the UK in the late 1960’s. I was hooked on the opening, played in an arpeggio style. just a simple little chord progression, but to me it sounded miraculous.

So me and my mates all got down to working out how to play it. There weren’t no internet or mobile phones in those days. Not even CDs. I had to play the vinyl continuously by walking over to the record player and lifting and repositioning the needle. Then pick up my guitar and try to get it bit by bit.

These days, practically everything you want to learn is available instantly via tablature sites, YouTube teachers, books, websites etc. Do you know how lucky you are?

And think about how some of the greats of folk and blues guitar learned their craft. They sat and watched other players and worked out how to do it. Or if they were lucky, they would get a lesson from that player.

One of my guitar heroes is the great Stefan Grossman.

stefan grossmanStefan Grossman

Stefan fell in love with the music of great players like the Rev. Gary Davis, a superstar of finger-picking acoustic guitar. Gary Davis was blind from birth and needed a “lead boy” to help him from show to show etc. Stefan took on the job, and as Gary Davis played, he transcribed what he heard. Eventually he had a large amount of material which he published. Studying Stefan Grossman’s books was how I learned to finger pick. We have to thank pioneers like Stefan for their commitment to making the work of great players accessible to us all.

Another magic guitar moment for me was hearing the brilliant opening to Day Tripper by The Beatles. What a killer opening riff. Great guitar sound too, presumably played by George Harrison.

So I’d love to know what magical guitar moment inspired you to get a guitar and learn to play.



Posted by in Discussion and tagged as , , , ,

March 18, 2013


Some of my favorite players, and therefore some of my influences, are not technically very good!! There, I’ve said it.

They are not technically proficient so they compensate for lack of technique by being CREATIVE. And that’s my kind of player.

For example, I’m a big fan of Marc Bolan. Now, nobody would put him up there with all the great guitar gods, but just check out tracks like “Elemental Child” or “Mambo Sun”. Really great guitar music.

Marc Bolan Marc Bolan

And what about some of the old blues players we look up to? Many of them had no formal training and were not particularly proficient players. So what made them GREAT players? I think it was “feel”. They didn’t need to play a flurry of notes in order to make a statement. If 2 notes did the trick, that was good enough for those guys.

And in the field of folk music, often “simple” is best.

On the other hand, I’ve seen players who are unbelievably fast, have all the music theory, know all the tough chords etc, who leave me cold because there’s no passion in their playing.

What do you think? What is it about your favorite guitarist that sends a shiver down your spine? Let us know.



March 15, 2013

Billi Blog

March 1, 2013


I am going start a list of guitar heroes, with an emphasis on the less well known players. So let me know if you have a favorite player we should be bathing in our spotlight.

Who do you think is the best of the new generation of players? And what makes him or her so good?

Or maybe you know about a great player that never gets a mention in the press.

And I am going to kick of with a few of my lesser known favourites. Let me know what you think.

Richard Thompson

Albert King

Ibrahim Ag Alhabib

Davy Graham

Alan Wilson

John Fahey

Derek Trucks




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