On The Road: SXSW – Day 1

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Our first 24 hours (ever) at South by Southwest (SXSW) have been a whirlwind. After flying in on Tuesday, we hustled to pick up our badges, set up our booth and get settled. We got a few hours of sleep in and then the work and fun began Wednesday morning. We’ve been scurrying around downtown Austin non-stop ever since, but we wanted to share some highlights of the trip so far: (click here to see the full photo gallery)

Our home base has been our booth in Gear Alley, where we’ve been selling a ton of courses to event attendees, many of whom are already TrueFire members!

TrueFire SXSW Booth

The first music act we were able to catch was what is called a “Speed Set,” which is basically about 5 or 6 bands playing on the same stage over the course of an hour. We caught Streets On Fire, Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, Kinch, The Black, and Birds & Batteries.

After the Speed Sets, we closed up shop at our booth and hit the streets to discover the eccentricities of SXSW. We were not disappointed.

While there are over 2,000 bands playing in various venues throughout Austin over the weekend, there are hundreds more that have taken to the street to get their name out there. And yes, we tipped!

It’s not just about the music here, though, as there’s plenty more to see… and eat.

The night time is the right time at SXSW, as that is when the major acts hit the stage and the crowds pack the houses. We’ll have photos and performance videos up soon.

Check back soon for more coverage! We have tons and tons of great shots and videos that we will share with you as soon as it’s all ready!

100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know: Part 6

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100 Gifted Guitarists You Should Know BadgeNominated and selected by the TrueFire community, the following ten players join TrueFire’s 100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know list in recognition of their extraordinary talent and musical prowess. They are listed in no particular order. Click here to see the full list and learn more about this series.


Joe Bonamassa

Joe BonamassaAs Joe Bonamassa grows his reputation as one of the world’s greatest guitar players, he is also evolving into a charismatic blues-rock star and singer-songwriter of stylistic depth and emotional resonance. His ability to connect with live audiences is transformational. Black Rock was his tenth solo album and eighth studio release of his career – as well as his fifth consecutive with producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes, etc.) – the disc adds an enlivening dose of ‘world’ vibes to Bonamassa’s virtuoso mix of ‘60s-era British blues-rock and roots-influenced Delta sounds.

2009 was a big year for Bonamassa. He was awarded the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at the U.K.’s prestigious Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards and Classic Rock magazine has said, “They’re calling him the future of blues, but they’re wrong – Joe Bonamassa is the present; so fresh and of his time that he almost defines it.” He was also named Best Blues Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine’s 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards for the third consecutive year.

2010 started with a bang – Guitar World dubbed Bonamassa “The Blues Rock Titan” and his song, “Lonesome Road Blues,” is a part of Guitar Hero V’s New Blues Masters Track Pack.

Joe’s latest solo release is called Dust Bowl. He is also part of what some are now calling the latest super-group, Black County Communion, featuring vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin), keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater).

Official Website: www.JBonamassa.com

Performance Video:


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Keith Richards: Rhythm of a Rolling Stone – Part 1

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by Joe Deloro

Keith RichardsBlazing a gold and platinum trail through the pop jungles of the world for 32 years and counting the Rolling Stones long ago carved their claim to the title of “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” And, through more than 35 albums and a seemingly endless list of hit singles, one thing has remained a constant: their multi-styled, guitar driven sound. This time out, let’s focus on the style of its chief engineer and designated driver, Keith Richards.

This is how Bill Wyman once described Keith’s role: “Our band does not follow the drummer; our drummer follows the rhythm guitarist.” (Guitar Player, Dec. ‘78.) Charlie Watts put it this way: “I play the drums for Keith and Mick. I don’t play them for me.”

The best way to understand Keith’s role is to listen to the music. Notice how the riffs, chords, and solos draw on a wide variety of intluences (blues, R&B, R&R, C&W, reggae) and are blended with great feel, interplay, and texture.

Here’s what Keith himself said about the bands sound: “What’s interesting about rock and roll for me, and particularly for guitarists, is that if there are two guitarists, and they’re playing well together and really jell, there seem to be infinite possibilities open. It comes to the point where you’re not conscious anymore of who’s doing what. It’s not at all a split thing. It’s like two instruments becoming one sound.”

More often than not, the Stones’ soundstays on course by avoiding the standard back-to-front rhythm and lead guitar approach typical of so much pop music. With that in mind, this guitar lesson looks at some of the techniques Keith Richards uses to create such memorable electric guitar parts. (Part 2 of this guitar lesson will look at Richards’ acoustic work.)

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10 Jump Blues Solos You MUST Know

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by David Blacker

Charlie ChristianFrom Charlie Christian to Hollywood Fats, Duke Robillard, Gatemouth Brown and many more, the unmistakable vocabulary of Jump Blues bridges the gap between Blues, Country and Swing. To play well in the style of Jump Blues one has to have an ability to anticipate and play through chord changes, as well as have a firm grasp on the language. This guitar lesson is designed to help those looking to really zone in and focus on the style in depth. It features 10 jump blues solos, all in the key of G, played at 160 bpm and at half tempo for practice purposes. The solos follow a standard 12 bar progression but with a II-V-I turnaround, characteristic of the style. This guitar lesson also comes with Power tab files and charts for each solo. There are loads of great licks and phrases to be learned, which will no doubt open up new ways of thinking about playing over blues changes.

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Q&A On Left Hand Form & Development – Part 1

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by Jamey Andreas

Question 1: Thumb Position

guitar thumbI like to play in a similar style to Stefan Grossman and so my left thumb is frequently held on top of the neck waiting to fret the 6th or 5th string. This cradling of the neck style seems to cause a lot of tension, particularly in the first finger. Any thoughts on this?

Answer: First of all, the form for the left hand is not the same for all styles. For instance, you MUST have the thumb wrapped around the neck to bend properly. Some players prefer it also for getting certain chords (bass notes). The neck of an electric of course is also very different, and allows for the kind of form you are talking about.

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