Category Archives: Blues

Bert Jansch

Born in Scotland in 1943 Bert Jansch is a folk guitarist probably best known for his work with the group Pentangle.

His style of playing was usually fingerstyle acoustic guitar which was distinguished by his unusual chord voicings, use of extended chords, and his clever use of unusual time signatures. Jansch played a number of instruments including banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, recording, and concertina, as well as, on rare occasions, picking up the electric guitar.

He learned his trade initially in Edinburgh in the early 1960’s before moving to London where his music was heard, covered, and famously copied by some of the leading musicians and bands of the time including Donovan, and Led Zeppelin. In the late 60’s and early 70’s Jansch had a lot of success with Pentangle before the group split up in 1973, to reform again in the early 1980s.

Sadly, Jansch died in 2011, leaving behind a large body of work for his fans to enjoy. He recorded at least 25 albums and toured extensively from the 1960s to the 21st century as well as winning 2 lifetime achievement awards from the BBC, one for his solo work, and one for his work with Pentangle.

Advertisements

Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler was the guitar player and singer in Dire Straits from their beginnings in 1977 to their break up in 1995, selling over 120 million albums worldwide they are one of the worlds most popular recording artists.  Since 1995 Knopfler has had a successful solo career covering a diverse range of musical styles.

Mark Knopfler is left-handed, but plays right-handed, and fingerpicks  instead of using a plectrum. Fingerpicking is usually associated with the acoustic guitar, but Knopfler usually (though not always) plays an electric guitar. He revealed during a French interview that he uses a pick for his rhythm work during recording sessions. He surprised the interviewer by pulling a pick out of his pocket and saying that he usually carries one. He has long favoured Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster style guitars. Fender carries a Mark Knopfler Artist Series Stratocaster. During the 1980s he came to appreciate the tone of the Gibson Les Paul and his original 1958 has been used regularly in the studio and on stage.

Leo Kottke

Blues, Jazz, Folk, Fingerstyle, slide,  syncopation, and much more.  Leo Kottke is a truly innovative and one-off guitarist.  He hasn’t had it easy in his playing career and has had to overcome a number of obstacles along the way.  A partial loss of hearing, and, tendon damage in his right hand resulting in him having to alter his technique.  Leo Kottke is a recognised master of the guitar.

Kottke has focussed on composing and recording instrumental music but has also been known to sing as well.  He has also collaborated with many other artists including.  Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett, Margo Timmins, Mike Gordon, and Rickie Lee Jones. He has recorded tunes by Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, Carla Bley, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Jorma Kaukonen, Kris Kristofferson, Randall Hylton, and many others.

Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder is a guitarist, singer, and, songwriter.  He is known for his slide guitar playing in particular and also his interest in traditional American music.

He has collaborated with many musicians, including Larry Blackmon, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Randy Newman, Earl Hines, Little Feat, Captain Beefheart, The Chieftains, John Lee Hooker, Pops and Mavis Staples, Flaco Jiménez, Ibrahim Ferrer, Freddy Fender, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Ali Farka Touré. He formed the band Little Village with Nick Lowe, John Hiatt, and Jim Keltner.

He has also written and performed on many film soundtracks.  Have a look at 80’s guitar/road movie crossroads to which Ry Cooder provided all the slide guitar parts, terrible film but a great soundtrack.

Throughout his career he has played many different genres of music encompassing folk, blues, Tex-Mex, soul, gospel, rock, and much more.  To date he is still writing, recording, and putting down some awesome guitar parts.

Peter Green


Peter Green thought by many people to be the greatest British blues guitarist ever. Known for his phrasing, tone, and melodic content amongst other things.

Having played in several smaller bands he was asked to replace Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in 1966.  Mike Vernon, a producer at decca, recalls Peters debut with the blues breakers.

“As the band walked in the studio I noticed an amplifier which I never saw before, so I said to John Mayall, “Where’s Eric Clapton?” Mayall answered, “He’s not with us anymore, he left us a few weeks ago.” I was in a shock of state(sic) but Mayall said, “Don’t worry, we got someone better.” I said, “Wait a minute, hang on a second, this is ridiculous. You’ve got someone better??? Than Eric Clapton???” John said, “He might not be better now, but you wait, in a couple of years he’s going to be the best. Then he introduced me to Peter Green.”

Green left in 1967 to form Fleetwood Mac and this is where he started to come to the fore as a songwriter as well as a guitar player and recorded several big hits with the band.

In 1970, whilst on tour in Germany he binged on LSD, and began a steady decline in his health resulting in him being diagnosed with schizophrenia in the mid 70’s.  He left Fleetwood Mac and made sporadic appearances in the late 70’s and 80’s whilst struggling with his illness but re-emerged strongly in the late 90’s with the “Peter Green splinter group” and currently plays as “Peter Green and Friends”.

Green remains one of the most influential guitarists ever cited by Gary Moore, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry,Steve Hackett and Wishbone Ash guitarist Andy Powell amongst others as an influence.  Green was The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson’s pick in Guitar World’s “30 on 30: The Greatest Guitarists Picked by the Greatest Guitarists” (2010). In the same article Robinson cites Jimmy Page, with whom the Crowes toured: “…he told us so many Peter Green stories. It was clear that Jimmy loves the man’s talent”.