Not every master bluesman is a master teacher. Some of the greatest guitar work played by an artist is not always easy to communicate to the student. Stefan Grossman, world class acoustic blues player is a gifted teacher. This two-DVD set rivals ANYTHING he has put out. The quality is superb.
For the late beginner, and intermediate guitarist, there is much to glean from. Grossman begins with a terrific song, though not too challenging, and follows the tried and proven path of teaching: line upon line, precept upon precept. As one song is tackled, the next is introduced, with a subtle increase in complexity. After a bit of climbing, Grossman normally takes a step back...1, 2, 3, 2, 3, and on to step 4. Why? As the student progresses, he is "rewarded" with a confidence building song. Where once a level 1 song was a challenge, by the time a more complex song is worked through slowly (say, step 3 song--my own labels---split screen, step by step), the student steps back and confidently nails down the level 2 song. This continues throughout both DVDs with a marvellous collection of wonderful songs. A great sidenote: these same songs are available on CDs or MP3 downloads here at Amazon or at Apple.com for your ipod. It is of great benefit to hear the master play these songs, in your car, for istance, while you are learning them on guitar.
If Eric Clapton comes to the US and looks up Stefan Grossman to work through some songs, and CF Martin Guitar company releases a model guitar of Grossman's, you can well imagine the value of a 2 DVD set to a student. This DVD set will provide the student with MONTHS of "private" guitar lessons (not only do you have the split screen and slow down teaching but you have that wonderful tool that is not available to students with live teachers: the PAUSE button!) that simply put, could not be afforded by most of us even if you could get an hour with a teacher of Grossman's stature.
Another important aspect to Grossman's teaching: His demeanor. He is a humble man, self-effacing, funny, and wonderfully enthusiastic for the blues. He plays country blues, folk blues, and teaches open tunings, some slide, and even that wondeful, get up a dance blues: rag music.
He does not sing on these DVDs, though he has a nice bluesy voice, and makes the student feel as if it he made to be welcome in the presence of something who has not been told that he is a master. His humility is refreshing, as he does not take himself too seriously.
Why do I mention this?
Simply put, you are going to "spend" many hours, over weeks and months "with" your teacher. If you do not like his personality, you will be hindered in your own personal growth. No funky "rock star" clothing, no weird hat, no distractive gaudy jewelry, nor anything else that takes away from this wonderful man's teaching. His "personality" is disarming, and his stories of having played with many greats (including when he was young taking lessons, or, for instance, his stories of meeting Mississippi John Hurt, are terrific additions.
This DVD may be his best. You are able to invite this humble and nice man into your living room, as do I, a few times per week, an hour at a time, for months, and learn, learn, and learn.
No matter what level you may be at, you will enjoy the DVDs of Grossman. If you are a very new beginner, please see some of the other Grossman DVD reviews here at Amazon. If you are pressing past the Intermediate stage (beyond me!), there is still much to glean here, and especially "Blues Solos" by Grossman. His company also offers many other excellent teachers, who, like Ernie Hawkins, will tackle a multitude of the works of Rev. Gary Davis, MJH, Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Lemon Johnson, and so many other greats. The Grossmans, Traums, Hawkins, and others faithfully carried the mantle of the early bluesmen from the 1920's and 30's, to us today; and will likely pass the responsibility of teaching these great songs onto some of the younger artists; perhaps men like Pete Huttlinger, an award winning guitarist who also possesses the wonderful gift of teaching.
Enjoy your months of "personal" lessons with the masters!