Tag Archive: education


Blues Harmonica Workshop October 21st

Long-time harp-man David Bernston will be in town with Little Joe McLerran and will deliver a free harmonica workshop at the Wells Theatre on the Monmoputh College campus. The workshop will be at 7pm on Thursday, October 21st at 7pm. Free harmonicas to the first 100 attendees!

For a great read, check out David Bernston’s blog – he covers the trek with Little Joe to the Middle East.

Blues Guitar Workshops Before the Festival!

Once again, blues fans and guitar geeks have a chance to get up close and personal with some of the acts performing at the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival on October 23rd. This year we’re hosting not one but two guitar workshops!

Starting at 10am at the Buchanan Center for the Arts (less than a block from the Rivoli), the festival will host two guitar masters for workshops on style, history and how to play the blues.

First, Little Joe McLerran will introduce workshop participants to the unique characteristics of Piedmont style blues. Little Joe has given numerous workshops (including several in the Middle East) and is the 2009 winner of the International Blues Challenge.

Next, master blues teacher and historian Scott Ainslie will be taking us deep into the Delta with his extensive knowledge of the guitar stylings of the first modern bluesman: Robert Johnson. Ainslie has been studying roots and Delta blues for 40+ years and has delivered successful teaching videos and DVDs for MelBay.

The workshops are free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please RSVP to paul@monmouthblues.com to reserve your seat.

All levels of players are welcome, but players should have a basic knowledge of chord fingering. For participation, please bring a acoustic guitar (or unplugged electric), pick, thumb pick and slide.

This is an amazing opportunity and a great way to get you in the mood for a day of great live music. We’ll see you there!

2010 Performer: Scott Ainslie

Scott Ainslie heard Virginia Bluesman and grave digger, John Jackson play a couple of songs in the middle of a Mike Seeger concert just outside of Washington, DC, at Groveton High School back in 1967. Things haven’t been the same since.

Scott started playing guitar a month later and has now spent nearly forty years studying and playing traditional music, visiting and documenting senior musicians in America’s old-time banjo and fiddle music, Blues and gospel traditions.

With four CDs, a teaching DVD on the guitar techniques of Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson, and a book on Johnson’s music “Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads” (Hal Leonard, 1992) to his credit, as a performer and a teacher, Ainslie continues to present programs that are vital and entertaining. He currently makes his home in of Brattleboro, Vermont after transplanting there from North Carolina.

Ainslie’s deep voice and powerful slide guitar technique command attestation and pull the listener back in time, back before amplifiers and top-40 radio, to a time when the blues was a mirror of the lives working familes lead.

“I’ve played house concerts and sold out 1800 seat auditoriums,” reflects Ainslie, “and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d enjoyed them both. But, if I had to choose my favorite setting, it would be something in between:  a small theater whose stage has seen generations of my brothers and sisters over the years where, rather than separating the audience and the artists, the stage is a place where we come together and get to know each other. The Rivoli is one of those places. It has soul, a history, and when it’s filled up with people and artists, a living presence. It is going to be a real pleasure to join the ranks of musicians and performers who have walked onto that stage.”

“I spent a week with the Carolina Chocolate Drops years ago and had a ball,” continues Ainslie. “We’ve all spent time with Joe Thompson and we have interests in Old-Time music as well as Blues. We are going to have a ball.”

Ainslie will also be leading the second of two guitar workshops at the Buchanan Center for the Arts on the morning of the festival (Saturday, October 23rd, approximately 11am). Ainslie is a deeply dedicated teacher and historian and will bring his wellspring of knowledge to local musicians and blues fans.

“Back in 1967, when I began to play guitar I had no teacher,” says Ainslie.  ”No lessons, no workshops, no TAB, no YouTube videos: just a cheap guitar and a book of folksongs with chord diagrams (many of which were wrong). I spent some time wandering in the wilderness, falling into every muddy ditch, bumping into every tree. I can spare you a good portion of that walk. Having been there, I’m  a good guide. You’ll still have to walk the walk, of course, but it’s a big help to know which paths are dead ends and what you need to know to move forward.”

“Over the past 43 years, I’ve built a body of knowledge about roots guitar styles and acoustic blues and slide guitar. Robert Johnson, David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Muddy Waters, Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis, and Mississippi John Hurt and many other relatively unknown musicians have all shaped my understanding of this instrument, its expressive power and flexibility. Sharing that knowledge is one of the ways I honor them. It is a part of my responsibility as a link in a chain of human knowledge, culture and musical tradition.”

“And whenever I need to reconnect with those first few months and years with a guitar in my hands, I simply turn it around backwards and ask my left hand to do my right hand’s job and visa versa. The brain knows, but the muscle patterns necessary are discrete, handed knowledge. In a workshop, I can show your brain. You still have to develop the hand knowledge, the muscle patterns, which take time and repetition.”

“The beauty of having a teacher is to have them look at your hands and how you are playing a guitar and suggest ways to expand your playing and make what you are aiming to do simpler, easier and musically more effective. I always enjoy being allowed into someone’s musical life and being able to be useful. It can be difficult here in America for an artist to feel useful. When it happens, it is always a good thing.”

The workshops are free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please RSVP using the contact for on the MonmouthBlues.com site.

To learn more about Scott Ainslie, check out his website.

2010 Performer: Little Joe McLerran

Little Joe McLerran has packed a lifetime of musical experience into just 25 short years, culminating in achieving a dream of his: winning the 25th Annual Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. It took four consecutive trips to the event and three stellar sets to earn the crown.

Little Joe McLerran, “Perhaps the finest Piedmont Blues player on the face of God’s green earth”, writes Billy Austin, editor of Blues News. No small wonder. Little Joe has spent 16 of his 24 years on God’s green earth working on his Piedmont chops. For his first public performance Joe sang a Leadbelly song and played another by Rev. Gary Davis as his 4th grade classmates provided theatrical support.

Little Joe McLerran came to the blues early on, discovering the music as a kid through friends of his dad, longtime local bass player Rob McLerran. When he was a teenager, Joe and his brother, Jesse, played on the Pearl Street Mall as “Buddy Hollywood,” a duo specializing in the Beatles, Bob Marley and the blues. Joe played guitar and Jesse — who died in an accident a few years ago — played drums.

Nine years ago the family moved to Tulsa, Okla., where Joe adopted the name “Son Piedmont” and immersed himself in the acoustic Piedmont blues style of the ’20s and ’30s. The 25-year-old blues musician has a penchant for the classics, but he has created a sound that is current — and all his own.

He’ll hit the Rivoli stage as a trio, with father Robbie Mack on bass and his long-time reed man Dexter Payne. Little Joe will be working hard on the weekend, also performing in a pre-fest event at the Fat Fish Pub on Friday, October 23rd (be sure to come by to score some free tickets or a free t-shirt!). He’ll also be presenting the first of two blues guitar workshops at the Buchanan Center for the Arts at 10am on Saturday, October 23rd (Little Joe has given Piedmont Blues workshops all across the US and also in the Middle East).

Many thanks to IllinoisBlues.com for the great picture of Little Joe!

Learn more about Little Joe at his website.

The 2010 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival

Can You Learn Music Online?

I just finished up my second 12 week online course from the Berklee College of Music (the last one was their Blues Guitar Workshop). This go-round, I tried out Basic Improvisation, a multi-disciplinary course on the basics of improvisational soloing.

While it kept me away from open mics over the last three months (every free moment I could dedicate to music was consumed by this course!), it really was a wonderful experience. I’m really amazed that online music education can be so effective. Each week, students are presented with videos (from the instructors), lesson text, written music and web-based jukeboxes filled with tunes to illustrate key concepts. Online class meetings each week provide a chance to share with students and get direct, non-email teacher feedback. Each week, we worked through one or two major assignments that we had to record and post as MP3s.

As a computer geek who makes web applications during his day-job, their course site is top-notch and I’m a little jealous of all the bells and whistles it has.

In the improvisation course, we spent time working on transcriptions skills, listening skills, playing with accompaniment, note-based and rhythm-based motifs, chord tones, chord scales and chromatic approach shapes. While most of the class didn’t really deal with the type of old-school mono-bass blues I like to play, I was able to see how I can sally-forth and apply that knowledge to the way I play the blues.

If you can spare 5-6 hours a week of musical study time, it’s a great investment in learning. Check it out here.

Bernie Pearl Workshop Article

The Monmouth Daily Review Atlas just published an article on Saturday’s wonderful workshop with Bernie Pearl and Mike Barry. You can read it here.

Bernie Pearl Workshop

Bernie Pearl

This year, we’ll be launching our Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival day with a wonderful opportunity. Blues guitar legend Bernie Pearl will host a 90 minute blues guitar workshop at the Buchanan Center for the Arts (just a half block from the historic Rivoli Theatre) on the morning of Saturday, October 24th (start time: 10:30am).

Bernie has been playing the blues for over fifty years, and took his first lessons from blues legend Brownie McGee (with Sonny Terry in attendance). He’s played with the giants of country blues, including Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi Fred MacDowell.

This workshop is free an open to the public, but seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP via email if you’d like to be sure to have a spot at this once-in-a-lifetime workshop.

Bernie suggests attendees bring an acoustic guitar (or unplugged electric), thumb pick and slide. It’s open to all levels, but attendees should know basic guitar chords.

Some words from Bernie about the workshop:


I think what I have to say would benefit anyone interested in acoustic/country blues guitar. I emphasize right hand position and picking techniques, rather than scales or specific song arrangements – although I do have specific ideas on how to make soloing easier and more idiomatic. My real offering is how to make your playing sound like the blues.

Kelly Rocks the High School

The Kelly Richey Band performed before the students of Monmouth-Roseville High School on Friday, March 13th. The students learned a bit about blues history and also had a chance to see how a master can shred on guitar.

The full story is here.

Masterclass with KRB!

KRB Class

Just announced! Kelly Richey, Jimmy V and Shayne Frye of the amazing Kelly Richey Band will each be offering a masterclass workshop (guitar, bass and drums) at the Cherry Street Guitar Company on the afternoon of Friday, March 13th (time TBA). Classes are partially grant supported and we expect the fee to be approximately $45 for Kelly (guitar, which includes book and CD) and $30 for Jimmy (bass) and Shayne (drums).

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from these phenomenal professional musicians is open only to a few students for each instrument. To get more details and to get your name on the student waiting list, send an email today to paul@monmouthblues.com.

Sign up for the workshops and then be sure to check out the amazing show at the Rivoli on Friday night. We’ll see you there!

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