Acoustic Blues 101: Festivals, Art, and History • Acoustic Tuesday 124

Acoustic blues is a remarkable and unique sub-genre of the blues. It’s haunting, powerful, and inspiring — all at once.

This week on Acoustic Tuesday, I’m talking all about acoustic blues. To kick things off, I’ll cover the top 5 blues festivals I’m excited about in 2020.

Additionally, I’m featuring Brendan from Heartbreaker Guitars in Las Vegas, talking about Gary Houston’s historic poster art, and the impact of Blind Lemon Jefferson on acoustic blues music.

As always, you can watch Acoustic Tuesday at 10 am.

This Week on Acoustic Tuesday

This week’s focus is, again, on the blues. Specifically, I want to zero in on acoustic blues.

Acoustic blues is special for a variety of reasons…

  • it’s the origin of blues as we know it today
  • technically challenging and enjoyable
  • it’s a foundation for many acoustic genres.

Like all Acoustic Tuesday shows, this episode is designed to inspire you. So, if you’re feeling ready to explore acoustic blues, be sure to watch the full video!

Top 5 Blues Festivals for 2020

Keep in mind, these blues festivals are in no particular order, but I did want to include a good regional spread. If you’re looking for a blues festival near you, be sure to visit Blues.org to find a festival.

1. Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival (Annapolis, MD) – May 16-17

For all my friends on the east coast, be sure to check out this festival. While I have never been, it looks like there’s plenty of acoustic blues and the headliners have been KILLER in the last couple of years!

2. Mississippi John Hurt Homecoming Festival (Carrolton, MS) – Maybe October of 2020

Mississippi John Hurt transformed acoustic blues with his fingerpicking style. What better way to celebrate the man than attending his festival! For last year’s festival, Taj Mahal curated the lineup!

3. Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival (Port Townsend, WA) – July 2020

For an awesome experience in a beautiful area, you don’t want to miss out on this acoustic blues festival. From the looks of it, there are lots of opportunities to meet other guitar geeks at this festival!

4. Waterfront Blues Festival (Portland, OR) – July 2-5

Going on 32 years old, this blues festival is a must-see for acoustic guitar geeks. From famous acoustic blues acts to innovative electric blues players, you don’t want to miss this historical festival on Portland’s waterfront.

5. Chicago Blues Festival – June 5-7, 2020

While Chicago isn’t the birthplace of the blues, it certainly boasts a strong history. Featuring a dedicated acoustic blues stage, the Chicago Blues Festival is an unforgettable experience that you, your friends, and your family should certainly enjoy this year.

Heartbreaker Guitar Newscast

Coming at you from Las Vegas, I’m featuring Brendan from Heartbreaker Guitars to give you the latest info in the guitar industry.

In this episode, Brendan features TWO Heartbreaker Guitars of the Month. He’ll introduce Richard Hoover from Santa Cruz Guitars and Rick Turner of Rick Turner Guitars.

heartbreaker guitars

Brendan asked these two master luthiers to create two guitars — one acoustic and one electric — that are made of the same reclaimed wood.

This newscast is a story of friendship, a story of reclamation, and a story of artistry. As always, you don’t want to miss this segment of Acoustic Tuesday!

Gary Houston: Putting The Blues in Posters

If you’re looking for an artist that can transform the vibe of certain artists into visual art, look no further than Gary Houston.

While there are plenty of artists who design posters, Gary’s art stands out in the industry.

Fortunately, Charlie Parr introduced me to Gary’s work a few weeks back…and now I can’t stop looking at it!

While I love the art, I feel rather unqualified to talk about its merits…BUT, I LOVE the artistic approach Gary takes.

In the video, he talks about not being able to draw himself “out of a paper bag.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like me on any given day of practice.

Some days are better than others, but the important thing is that all artists feel this waxing and waning of progress.

If you want to learn more about Gary Houston or order some of his art, here’s a link to his website.

Blind Lemon Jefferson: An Innovator

For my featured artist of the week, I’m going way back in time — all the way back to the early 20th century.

As for innovators in the acoustic blues genre, there’s a name that stands out: Blind Lemon Jefferson.https://www.youtube.com/embed/h3yd-c91ww8?feature=oembed

Jefferson has one of the most driving styles I’ve found in the acoustic blues genre. Here’s what I mean by that…

Jefferson punches out the rhythm and propels the song forward while singing and filling with melodic flourishes.

If you’re looking for some old-school inspiration that is sure to get you feeling the blues, please do check out Blind Lemon Jefferson.

In Jefferson’s “Black Snake Moan,” you can hear that he fills space all the time, whether he’s doing rhythm, singing, or doing melodic runs.

For the best way to listen to Blind Lemon Jefferson, you NEED to get this box set of his complete catalog. It contains all of the recordings and is well worth the money!

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