Blues Rock is one of the most guitar-centric styles of music that you can play. It has it’s roots in the blues but it’s been amped up with a more aggressive and riff-driven approach cultivated by players like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, Hendrix and so many other giants of that era.
The good news is Blues Rock is very much alive under the fingertips of players like Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Junior, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Gales and Jack White to name just a few.
The even better news is that Jeff McErlain will guide you through this second volume of Blues Rock Grooves and pass on the essential grooves, techniques and riffage that make Blues Rock so impactful and so much fun to play.
”In this second edition of Blues Rock Grooves Essentials, we're going to jump right into the playing. We'll work through ten essential blues rock grooves in a variety of tempos, keys and feels. Along with the main groove in each, I’ll also show you lots of cool fills and rhythm variations to round out the groove just like you would on the gig.”
Jeff demonstrates all of the solos over rhythm tracks and then breaks them down by stepping you through the key concepts, techniques and creative approaches that he used in each performance study.
Painful Memory - “One of the great blues rockers of all time is of course Johnny Winter. His career and life took many turns for the better and worse, but he still remained one of the most influential American blues rock guitar players. On this track, we're going to take a look at something similar to what Johnny plays in the song Memory Pain from the record Second Winter released in 1969. As you can see from that early release date, Johnny Winter was at the forefront of this genre of music, and in my mind does not get the full credit he deserves.”
Cacti -“This super heavy blues riff is in the style of the band Cactus and their tune Evil. One of the tricks to playing a tune like this is to dig in. As you can see in the video, I'm hitting the strings very hard which is a part of the sound of the music. Hitting the strings like that not only overdrives the amplifier but also creates a certain envelope to the notes that sounds awesome! It takes a lot of practice to play that aggressively while keeping the lick clean and in time. My suggestion is to learn the song picking normally to make sure you have the notes, then start to really dig in and get into the groove.”
Minor Train - ”In this groove we're going to check out a blues groove in E minor. This is the simplest form of a minor blues where the I, IV, and V chord are minor as opposed to the usual dom7 in a standard blues. The chords are Em, Am, and Bm, although it still leaves it open to play Em7, Am7, and Bm7 as I do in the performance. This grove is similar to Gary Clark Jr.'s When My Train Pulls In yet we've heard this sound many times before from Jimi Hendrix and others. On the verse I switch over to a reggae feel where I accent the up beats. You'll notice in the track that I don't do this every time, giving you room if you want to solo over the reggae section.”
Alt Blues - “In this next essential blues rock groove, I want to step out of the blues and step into an alt-country, Americana, roots rock vibe. I'm a big fan of the genre, with greats like Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, Dwight Yoakam, and even some of Robert Plant's later records. In this track, the progression is just two chords, E and A, looking at some cool ways to spice those up and make it more interesting. I'll add in some triads, sliding 6th's, and inversions to build a part to support the singer.”
Trower Thumb - “Here I'm channeling one of my favorite players, Robin Trower. We're going to use our thumb over the top of the neck to sound the root on our low string, giving us a really thick sound. This is a common technique used quite a bit by Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, and frankly just about every other guitar player I can think of! It can be a bit uncomfortable at first, as it's all about getting the technique right. Your hands may be different from mine and it may take some experimentation to get your thumb comfortably over the top of the neck.”
Pagey - “Jimmy Page—rock icon, warlock, riff master, and the man behind Led Zeppelin. Before anybody goes crazy, I think Led Zeppelin was a sum of its parts, but Page started the band. I could go on at length about how much I love Led Zeppelin but I'll spare you the gushing comments and just say that they were a huge influence on me and still are. We're in open G tuning on this one, which is from low to high DGDGBD, tuning the strings to a G chord. The tuning really provides the sound of this tune, the open ringing strings really have their own timbre and also allows us to get some drone strings.”
Floor Blues - “The song Killing Floor was written by written by Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf. The original version was recorded in 1964 with Hubert Sumlin on guitar. There are many remixes of the song, the most famous being Jimi's which was a staple of his early live shows. Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song" was based upon Killing Floor as well. Mike Bloomfield also covered the song with the band The Electric Flag for their 1968 album. In this example, we're going to take a look at the Jimi Hendrix version, similar to what he played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.”
Catch My Drift - “Catch My Drift is based upon Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac tune Drifting. I like blues with a specific riff and as we know all too well, we go to a blues jam and it turns into a night of shuffles in E. If you walk in knowing a tune like this, it's very easy for the musicians to pick up on the riff and lock into it with you. There is a guitar stab on the top two strings on the 2 beat. If I were to play this song with another guitar player I'd separate those parts as Fleetwood Mac did. There is a real skill to playing a song like this, and that comes down to locking into the groove and playing with dynamics.”
Ice Cream Blues - “I'm a huge fan of Eddie Van Halen, who isn't? I must admit I only listen to the early DLR records when the band was on fire. Basically what we have here is Van Halen's version of Ice Cream Man. It's just a 12-bar blues in E with the unmistakable Van Halen shuffle beat supplied by Alex Van Halen. There is something about the way he plays that beat that is totally unique. When we think of Eddie, we first think of his lead playing for good reason, but his rhythm guitar playing is cool, too! It's always loose yet totally locked in, and that's a difficult feat for any player. This tune is a great place to experiment with just that, keeping it loose while locking in.”
Big Bottom - “Spinal Tap reference aside, I'm actually getting a little more obscure on this tune than usual. Here's another 24-bar blues similar to Painful Memory from earlier in this course. The tutorial is pretty self-explanatory, and will take some time as there are few riffs in here to work through. In the video, I'll talk about tweaking your flatted third of your minor pentatonic scale. I go on at length about this, and pretty much every course I've with TrueFire for good reason! Essentially we're implying a dominant seventh chord which contains a natural third. A minor pentatonic scale contains a flat of the third, therefore creating the clash between the note and the chord. This clash actually sounds pretty cool in a bluesy situation, and in fact it's that clash that make something sound bluesy.”
All of the performances are tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. You’ll also get Guitar Pro files so that you can play, loop and/or slow down the tab and notation as you work through the lessons. Plus, Jeff generously includes all of the rhythm tracks for you to work with on your own.
Grab your guitar and let’s get our blues rock groove on with Jeff McErlain!