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Mandolin Tutorial

Learn to Play Blues Mandolin

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6 Videos | Length: 59min 32sec
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    Chapter 1 (11:47)


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    Chapter 2 (14:38)


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    Chapter 3 (10:42)


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    Chapter 4 (7:30)


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    Chapter 5 (6:50)


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    Chapter 6 (8:05)


In this Homespun video series you’ll Learn to play traditional blues and old-time string band music on the mandolin. Steve James knows this music and its history well, and he brings it clearly into focus in this video series filled with “fun-lovin’ high-jinks.”

Steve starts out with the basics, but quickly gets into blues scales, pick strokes, tremolo technique, and other tools needed to play with style and authenticity. He lays out some blues chords on the mandolin, showing rhythm comping for song accompaniment along with turnarounds, double stops, blue riffs, and variations on a walking boogie-woogie line—all essential elements for developing a blues repertoire.

Accompanied by the fellow blues and jug band enthusiast John Sebastian, Steve performs each of the pieces and then takes it apart for the learning player.


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Steve James is a well known name among devotees of contemporary acoustic folk and blues; this notoriety based on numerous critically acclaimed recordings, a tireless international tour schedule and a sheaf of published work including articles, instruction books and videos. His instrumental versatility (on guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, guitar-banjo) also makes him a favorite at music camps and workshop programs.

In the studio, his solo efforts have been enriched by musical contributions from fellow travelers Bob Brozman, Bad Livers, Alvin Youngblood Hart,Cindy Cashdollar, Gary Primich, Ruthie Foster, and his frequent duet partner Del Rey. In turn, Steve has recorded with a diverse crew including Maria Muldaur, James McMurtry, Jesse 'Babyface' Thomas and Kevin Russell of the Gourds. He's played live with a slate of blues/roots luminaries including John Hammond, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and Howard Armstrong. His original songs have been variously covered by artists from new-folk phenom Ana Egge to folk/blues godfather Dave Van Ronk. Steve has also appeared on numerous compilation albums, including a recent Grammy-nominated tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell and an homage to Charley Patton to which he contributed both music and liner notes.

Products by Steve

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    tutorial video

    Blues/Roots Guitar

    Steve James is known for his mastery of blues guitar styles, as well as his deep knowledge of the history of the great traditional players, from Piedmont to Delta. In this video tutorial series, he takes five pieces representative of different styles and teaches them in careful detail for the learning student.

  • image description
    tutorial video

    Learn to Play Blues Mandolin

    In this Homespun video series you’ll Learn to play traditional blues and old-time string band music on the mandolin. Steve James knows this music and its history well, and he brings it clearly into focus in this video series filled with “fun-lovin’ high-jinks.”

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