Composer, recording artist and master fingerstyle guitarist, John Knowles has collaborated with the world’s finest fingerstyle and classical guitarists including Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Lenny Breau, Tommy Emmanuel and the Romero Family.
John's work won a Grammy, received two Emmy nominations, was inducted into the National Thumb Picker's Hall of Fame, and was awarded the first Honorary CGP (Certified Guitar Player) degree by Chet Atkins!
Fortunately for we fingerstyle players, John is also a passionate and accomplished educator. Guitarists around the world subscribe to and learn from his FingerStyle Quarterly. We’re thrilled to welcome John to the family with his first TrueFire course, Fingerstyle Journals!
”I’ve chosen a handful of fingerstyle solos that I think you’ll enjoy learning and performing. We’ll cover five originals and one arrangement of a traditional tune. There’s Las Palmas… with a little mariachi influence, After Paris… European memories, Chicken In The Rain… there’s something about wet chickens, Turning Home… the feel of the open ocean, Danny Boy… a timeless Irish melody, and Boulevard… a tune I wrote for my pal Chet Atkins. I’ll show you how to play each one and share my thoughts about composing, arranging, practicing… you know… the good stuff. ”
Las Palmas - ”One night, we were having dinner at Las Palmas, our local Mexican restaurant, and my granddaughter Caroline ordered her favorite… cheese quesadillas. So I commented, “Las Palmas, we have cheese quesadillas.” Now at that point, I’m recalling the harmony and the rhythms of mariachi from my Texas childhood. So I got to work and came up with Las Palmas.”
After Paris - ”When I’m writing a tune, I rely on inspiration, exploration and reflection. I don’t have a formula for which comes first. They take turns leading the way. “After Paris” began with my sixth string tuned down to D. I was exploring a chord progression that began with Dm. You might call that noodling but I call it exploration… so it doesn’t sound like I’m goofing off. Over several days, I drifted into some harmonies that felt like… late-night…the past… and Paris. Inspiration…”
Chicken in the Rain - ”I was inspired to write “Chicken In The Rain” when I saw a stuffed animal in a gift shop window. It was a chicken in a raincoat and hat… like a lobster fisherman’s outfit. The idea of wet chickens just seemed funny to me. It suggested some quirky rhythms and unexpected harmonies. So I went to the Key of C for a Merle Travis, “Saturday Night Shuffle” feel and I got to work.”
Turning Home - ”I played around with Turning Home for over a year before I found everything I thought it needed. I was exploring in the Key of D with my sixth string tuned down to D when I wandered into territory that reminded me of the ocean. As I continued to develop the idea, I kept an image of a big ship with sails… turning around and heading for home. I went for overlapping phrases and I included the sound of a harbor bell.”
Danny Boy - ”Londonderry Air is one of those melodies that sounds like it’s always existed. It was already a classic when the Danny Boy lyrics were added. I sing those lyrics to myself when I play it… to help me with the phrasing. The melody stands on it’s own but it also invites harmonies and moving lines. For me, it’s rich with visual imagery… the Irish countryside… as I imagine it.”
Boulevard - ”I wrote Boulevard for my pal Chet Atkins. When I moved to Nashville, I taught at Blair School of Music which was located in a couple of houses on Music Row… a few blocks from Chet’s RCA office. So walking on Music Row set the tempo and the feel of the tune. Naturally, I included a few of Chet’s classic moves… along with a few surprises. I called it Boulevard because that sounded more elegant than Music Row. ”
John will first perform the song in it’s entirety and then break it down note-by-note emphasizing all of the right and left hand techniques in play. Along the way, John will share background and insight about composing, arranging and performance.
All of the performances are tabbed and notated. You can also loop or slow down any of the videos down so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace.
Grab your guitar, and let’s dig into the Journal with John Knowles!