Happy Traum is a wonderful guitar teacher via DVD. In his well produced and easy to follow DVDs, you get personal, in depth, and talented instruction for just about every aspect of the guitar, often in split screen.
This DVD is no exception. If you wish to learn the blues on the acoustic guitar, the purpose of this DVD is not simply to teach you the songs of the great Mississippi John Hurt, but to help you develop your own style. It is very exciting to learn the song, but Happy pushes the student to develop a style unique to the student, allowing the student to have subtle changes...these changes will end up showing up in other songs as they become part of the students 'bag of tricks'.
If you know some fingerpicking and some blues, you are ready to dive in and learn the songs. This DVD is for the Intermediate player, rather than the beginner. Be prepared to push the pause button, practice, practice, practice, and then go back. As the weeks go by, you will be very pleased with your progress.
If you do not know fingerpicking, and alternate bass, don't despair! Or, if you are a beginner, you can still learn the songs of John Hurt, but do it right by first building a solid guitar foundation from which to work off of:
If you are just a beginner learning to play the guitar, see "The Acoustic Guitar Method" by David Hamburger (2 part DVD that takes you through learning your first chords (DVD1) to learning some fingerpickig songs (DVD2).
But, if you already play chords, but do not know fingerpicking: start with "Easy Steps to Guitar Fingerpicking" Volume 1 (you'll be hooked and end up getting vol 2 as well.)
Next, if you are not familiar with acoustic blues, get "Easy Steps to Acoustic Blues" volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 of "Acoustic blues" is very simple (beginner) but fun and should not be by-passed if you are past the beginner stage on the guitar. By the end of the DVD, you have gone past beginner. "Easy Steps to Guitar Fingerpicking" on just one DVD will provide weeks/months of guitar lessons, if you practice properly, carefully, with the eye on the prize of building a solid foudation. After completing these two "courses" of study, you are ready for the songs of John Hurt. (note that in the recommended DVDs by Happy Traum, you will be learning some of these songs, but not in such detail, so it is a very nice way to getting used to playing fingerpicking style while learning the songs).
Songs: "Spike Driver's Blues," "Got The Blues (Can''t Be Satisfied)," "Coffee Blues," "Richland Woman Blues," "My Creole Belle," "Monday Morning Blues," "I'm Satisfied," "Stack O''Lee," "Candy Man," "Avalon Blues" and "Make Me A Pallet on Your Floor."
It is also helpful to pick up the CDs of these songs....Taj Mahal has recorded "Candy Man" and his own version of "Stack O Lee" along with other greats (Bob Dylan, Happy Traum, etc).
Having John Sebastian along in the DVD is a lot of fun. His DVD on teaching the songs of the Lovin' Spoonful is a must, as John's warm, humorous personality comes across (even in his DVD on blues harmonica!).
Homespun has put out some really great material for the guitar student. This old style of blues guitar will never go out of fashion---it is a lot of fun to play. See also Roy Book Binder's DVDs "Blues by the Book" and Happy Traum's "Bag of Blues" as solid recommendations to learning and enjoying acoustic blues.
Set up an entire Library of Homespun DVDs for your lessons. You could easily map out a strategy for a year's worth of lessons on just a few DVDs. You can focus in upon one particular area, (like the blues) or branch out learning flatpicking, blues, bluegrass, and so on. You can even learn Holiday classics from the DVD "teachers" at Homespun.