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Elvin Bishop at National Guitar Workshop

NGW - Alvin Bishop

Elvin Bishop appeared at the National Guitar Workshop in Austin speaking about his introduction to the blues in Chicago.  He also played several blues songs with his guitar player Mike Shermer and with members of the NGW faculty and students.  Of all the guest artists I've seen present at NGW, this was by far the most interesting and lively.

I've posted some videos on YouTube including a jam where Elvin brought up several young students from the NGW class.  Very cool! 

NGW Student Performances


One of the best things about the National Guitar Workshop is that you get to work on songs during the day and then get up on stage in the evenings and play something.  While skill levels and musical genres vary widely, it's nonetheless a nervewracking experience when you're live in front of an audience.  There's no do-overs, no mulligans.  You make mistakes, you just keep going.  And believe me, we made plenty.  But we were definitely less nervous than in prior years. 

Here are some videos including our performance of "Mustang Sally" and "All Your Love." (Note there's a minute of intros before "All Your Love" gets underway.)  While we were a long way from playing flawlessly, it was fun and it occasionaly even sounds like music.  There are also plenty of other more talented students who got up and did their thing.  Special thanks to Pete Weise, Lynn Daniels and Ernie Durawa our instructors in this year's Blues class.  Also kudos to Ted Hall and John Horne for giving us a great musical foundation.

The photo above is with my NGW buddies Philippe and Bruce.  Cheers to Pete who couldn't make it this year, but was with us in spirit.  Or at least via interweb.

National Guitar Workshop 2011


Once again, I'm in Austin, Texas enjoying some BBQ and attending the National Guitar Workshop.  This is my third year and I'm fortunate that two buddies from prior years, Bruce and Philippe are also here.  This year we're in a "Play The Blues" ensemble class with a dozen students including a rhythm section.  The first afternoon was short & sweet, but very encouraging.  Not too much theory, just diving in and playing.

I've posted a few videos from the faculty concert.  The most impressive guitar player Sunday was Joel Gregoire a phenomenal shredder who played some insane instrumental songs.  Even though it's not my favorite cup of tea, it's truly impressive to see how fast his hands are flying.  I don't expect to get to that level of playing in the next 50 years, but it's still inspiring.  Ted Hall stole the show on Monday with a tremendous version of Black Magic Woman.

If you're looking to break through in your guitar playing, I strong recommend National Guitar Workshop.  No matter what your skill level, no matter what your age, you will come away as a better player and have a great time.

The National Guitar Workshop has sessions through the summer in Virginia, Austin, Texas, Connecticut and Montana. 

Furthur Live at Shoreline


Officially it's not The Grateful Dead, it's Furthur, which sounds like some weird Web 2.0 startup.  But maybe that's not a bad analogy.  Furthur was founded by Grateful Dead founders Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and John Kadlecik, most recently from the Grateful Dead tribute band Darkstar Orchestra.  Not only does Kadlecik sound like Garcia on guitar, his vocals match Garcia's exactly.  Many deadheads consider Furthur to be the best post-Garcia version of The Grateful Dead.  The tour they kicked off last night at Shoreline amphitheater lent credence to this view with a more energetic, lively set than the most recent 2009 reunion of The Dead that featured the full lineup.

We had great seats and the rain was kept at bay.  I managed to shoot quite a few songs on video, though the camera is a bit shaky at times as I had to hold it over my head.  Nonetheless, if you want to get a preview of the 2011 Summer tour for Furthur, check it out.


Last night's gig set featured 20 songs and some awesome jams in between.  The playing was tight and vocals were excellent. For those keeping score at home, here's the full set list:

Here Comes The Sun
Jack Straw
Pride of Cucamonga
Cumberland Blues
The Other One
Hell In A Bucket

Help is on The Way
Franklin's Tower
St. Stephen
The Eleven
The Mountain Song
Playin' In The Band
Uncle John's Band
Morning Dew
Uncle John's
‎Playin' in the Band (reprise)
Touch of Grey

It was great to see Bob and Phil keeping it fresh after playing together for 45 years.  Way to do it, guys!


FTC Cracks Down on Fake Guitar Review Scam


Following on the 2009 FTC guidelines for bloggers to disclose commercial relationships when writing product reviews, the FTC has fined Legacy Learning Systems $250,000 for deceptive advertising practices.  Legacy Learning Systems, publishers of the "Learn & Master" Guitar course has been accused of planting phony reviews for years. 

According to the FTC:

The FTC charged that Legacy Learning and Smith disseminated deceptive advertisements by representing that online endorsements written by affiliates reflected the views of ordinary consumers or ‘independent’ reviewers, without clearly disclosing that the affiliates were paid for every sale they generated.”

"Whether they advertise directly or through affiliates, companies have an obligation to ensure that the advertising for their products is not deceptive," says David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

While the FTC settlement is a good sign, it's still a slap-on-the-wrist for Legacy Learning Systems.  The company generated more than $5 million in revenue through it's affiliate program.  

So if you want high quality guitar courses without scam reviews, my recommendation is Metal Method.  Doug Marks, the developer of this series, has always played it straight.  It's a great product and one that doesn't need scam reviews to promote it.  

This is definitely a win for the little guy!