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Watch the Slow Blues online guitar lesson by Annie Raines from Blues Harmonica Blueprint

Slow Blues is probably one of the hardest things to teach, even though the melodies are often simple. It’s all about feel, emotion, expression, and other things that can’t be explained in words or a series of notes on paper. There are so many approaches and different kinds of slow blues songs, just as there are lots of stories and different ways to tell them. You can get some great ideas from listening to the masters: Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Terry, James Cotton, Lazy Lester, Sugar Ray Norcia, Kim Wilson, and my favorite slow blues player, Jerry Portnoy. I’ve put together just a few classic slow blues riffs to help you tell your own story. The most important thing is to take your time, keep it simple and leave plenty of space.

This first exercise is about improvising on your approach to the first beat. All the riffs end on the first beat of a measure, and I’m trying to see how many notes I can squeeze in to the anticipation.