Recording artist, composer, bandleader, and gifted guitarist, JD Simo blends acid rock, traditional blues, folk, soul, and free-form jazz, to create a “mind-bending, kaleidoscope of sound, energy, and vibe.” NPR said, “Nashville blues trio SIMO sounds as if it comes to us straight from 1968.” Rolling Stone lauded, “J. D. Simo spins soulful psychedelic blues rock with an improvisational bent reminiscent of the Grateful Dead and Stevie Ray Vaughan.”
We’re thrilled to welcome JD to the family with his first TrueFire course, Psych Blues! We guarantee that you will likewise be thrilled when you dig into this ‘mind-bending’ educational experience that transcends learning some very cool techniques and fretboard moves — JD will also ignite your music spirit!
”I’ve been steeped in both the disciplines of traditional forms of American music; blues, folk, bluegrass, rock and roll, and jazz - since I was a little boy. The art of free-form improvisation is the totem, if you will, that these forms of music all share and that I’m most enamored with. In this course, I’m going to share with you many of my insights, techniques and most importantly...the inner – sometimes psychological – and mostly spiritual aspects that fuel my musicianship and my life.”
JD organized the course into two sections, in the first half, he covers 15 key creative approaches, techniques, and philosophies that are signature to his innovative style: Building Hand Strength, Right Hand & Dynamics, Vibrato: Your Statement, Blues Roots & Evolution, Out of the Box Approaches, Keeping it Simple, The Importance of Listening, Getting Started on Slide, More Slide Techniques, Accompaniment, Singing & Your Voice, Gear & Tone Talk, Using a Wah-Wah Pedal, A Hippie Plays Country, and The Why. JD performs a series of soloing studies, over backing tracks, to illustrate many of the concepts and techniques presented in the first section including:
Sweet Little Angel Let's look at a track of me and my band playing a slow blues in the style of B.B. King in C#, which is the key the blues were originally played in. This is the traditional 50's and 60's style of playing blues, with my right hand close to the bridge and B.B.'s approach to vibrato.”
Off at Eleven As far as my understanding of how I approach playing "outside", I think of things chromatically, wiggling around the pentatonic box and tying in stuff all over the fretboard together. Let's take a look at my approach over a track called Off at Eleven. It's in the key of D minor, and it's a modal jam hanging around the I that's kind of in a swing feel. There's some Eastern influence here, something like Mike Bloomfield would play - one of my guitar heroes.”
You Need Love: Outro So, to give a bit more of a demonstration of using the wah-wah in a few cool ways here's a track of mine called "You Need Love", and the outro is a sort of rhumba with a nod to the Grateful Dead song "The Other One" written by Bob Weir. It's in the key of C, and I'm using the wah in a couple different ways: in the filtering position, but also as a tremolo pedal/percussion device.”
People Say Now I'm going to play over a track based on a song of mine called "People Say". It's sort of a funky groove á la The Meters in the key of B. This is a good example of "taking a breath" in my playing, as it's a fun, lively groove that's easy to play off of. I've turned the reverb off the amp I'm playing through and using my wah-wah pedal. I'm thinking conceptually like a clavinet player here - like Stevie Wonder. Take note of my use of space over a medium tempo track like this.”
Got Love If You Want It So, now we're going to play an old Slim Harpo tune called "Got Love If You Want It". Slim Harpo was a harp and guitar player from Louisiana, who is definitely someone you should look up. Here I'm thinking more like a harmonica player since that's what Slim played on the original version. Sometimes these conceptual mindsets can help steer you in a certain direction. We're in the key of E here.”
Accept So this next one is a tune of mine called "Accept". This is the "meat" of the song, in which I don't usually solo over, but it'll be a nice section to show you how to use a slide in a non-blues approach. This is more of an open sonic palette that we can explore and improvise over.”
You Need Love Here we've got one more song of mine that will be a good demonstration for slide techniques that I use. This one's called "You Need Love", and again I'm trying to think like a harmonica. Let's check it out.”
The second section is a bonus section! , JD performs and sings 4 of his original songs solo (no backing track). ”So, with the performances in this section, instead of playing with tracks I'll be playing solo. I had the good fortune of playing solo on a tour with Tommy Emmanuel, and before that, I'd never stepped on stage alone before. It was pretty daunting, so I had to formulate a plan for what I was going to do on stage with my portion of the show. What I landed on was a style of playing where I'm very free, still playing as if the band was behind me. It's inspired by guys like Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. So, here are my songs in that fashion. Hopefully, you can just sit back and enjoy!”
People Say ”People Say is a funky tune with a weird time signature in the key of B. Earlier in the course, I did a performance study over the rhythm track for this one. Conceptually, when I'm soloing I'm thinking here as if I'm playing Wurlitzer or clavinet. With the band, we can take these several different directions, but let's look at how I'd play it solo.”
Mind Trouble ”This next song is a tune of mine called "Mind Trouble", and it's inspired by Houston musician Lightnin' Hopkins, who I'm a huge fan of. He played with a thumb pick, which I don't use, but you need to make sure you're adding in some of the "slop" to make it sound authentic to get the traditional blues sound. I don't mean playing badly, but not trying to play perfectly in order to keep the integrity of the music intact.”
I Want Love ”This song is a tune of mine called "I Want Love". It's a major 7 song in A, and is one of my favorite songs to sing. There's not a lot of playing here, just backing up the vocals.”
Light the Candle ”This last tune is called "Light the Candle", and it's a springboard song for some pretty wild improvisations. In my group, it's not too uncommon for us to change tempo on this one, or drop the tempo and do some noise/ambient things with it. It's built into the arrangement that at a certain point it'll go into a free-for-all, and then we find our way back somehow. When I'm doing it alone, it's especially cool since I don't have another musician binding me to anything.”
JD will explain and demonstrate all of the key concepts and approaches along the way. You’ll get standard notation and tabs for all of the key performance examples, in the first section (please note that the bonus second section of solo performances is not tabbed -- solo video performances included just for viewing and listening pleasure!). Plus, JD includes all of the rhythm tracks for you to work with on your own. In addition, you’ll be able to loop or slow down any of the videos so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace.
Grab your guitar and let’s get psyched with JD Simo!