Happy Traum, Stefan Grossman, Rory Block, and Steve James

Out of the Blues: Reflections on the 1960s Folk Revival

In the late 1950s and early ’60s, prewar acoustic blues guitarists such as Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and Reverend Gary Davis earned late-in-life fame as new audiences eagerly devoured their music through performances at events like the Newport Folk Festival and LP reissues and compilations on labels like Folkways…

illustration of acoustic guitar being cut out with scissors like fabric

DIY Folk: What It Takes to Survive and Thrive in the Streaming Era

At the 2019 Folk Alliance International conference, held in Montréal in February, evidence of the vitality and diversity of the contemporary folk scene was everywhere, as nearly 3,000 attendees representing 47 countries crammed the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel with acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, and upright basses. Alongside legends like…


phone showing musician playing acoustic guitar in front of a woman giving a thumbs up

How to Promote Your Music

It’s easier than ever to put your music out into the world... but building a career is still work, just as it has always been.
Alan Lomax_Woody_Guthrie

Southern Journeys: Alan Lomax’s Steel-String Discoveries

Folklorist Alan Lomax is primarily recognized, when at all, by the instrumental role he played in launching the careers of some America’s—and the world’s—most beloved guitarist-singers. Indeed, it’s difficult to overestimate the role that he and his father, John A. Lomax, played in shaping musical history as they traveled the back roads of the southern United States collecting traditional music under the auspices of the Library of Congress.


Big Music school outreach – Elena Flikier

Stores That Do More: Four Community-Minded Guitar Shops

The four brick-and-mortar shops featured here—those stores that do more—fit the description by offering educational programs, hosting jam sessions, taking part in schools and community events, and fostering a welcoming space for musicians to explore and connect. As a result, they’ve found that community efforts have made them viable in a rapidly changing economy, while giving customers an enduring vehicle for connection.
Cantor Ben Rosner

Is the Acoustic Guitar God’s Favorite Instrument?

How the acoustic guitar has shaped the modern music of the Judeo-Christian liturgy. For an instrument that’s been so vital to the evolution of popular music over the past century, the guitar has traveled a long road in finding its place in religious culture. In the United States, this mostly…

Guitar Mash Nashville: Songs Shared, Bridges Built

It goes without saying that bluegrass dobro titan Jerry Douglas is no stranger to the bandstand. Still, even Douglas had to admit that co-hosting a “Guitar Mash” at Nashville’s City Winery on April 7, 2018, alongside longtime Paul Simon musical director Mark Stewart, was a whole new way to approach…


Syracuse Guitar League members

Syracuse’s Guitar League has Created an Impressive Model for Both Teaching and Learning

On a Monday night in Syracuse, New York, guitar cases line the walls of a hotel meeting room. Around 70 players, many cradling their instruments, are listening to a presentation by singer-songwriter Tim Burns, leader of the local Americana band Two Hour Delay. Burns is sharing ideas on how to back up another guitarist, and to demonstrate, he’s invited to the stage John Cadley, a veteran of the bluegrass/country scene in upstate New York and beyond (Lou Reid & Carolina once topped the bluegrass charts with Cadley’s song “Time”).


matt sweeny

Through his web series ‘Guitar Moves,’ Matt Sweeney talks with some of the biggest names in guitar

At 48, Sweeney is an in-demand collaborator and producer, with a long list of credits—for everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Johnny Cash to Neil Diamond—under his belt. Most recently he’s played guitar on records by the bands Chavez, Endless Boogie, and Soldiers of Fortune; toured with Iggy Pop and Josh Homme; and co-written songs for the John Legend album Darkness and Light. In between these gigs, Sweeney hosts his own instructional web series, Guitar Moves, on Noisey/Vice, in which guest guitarists break down their techniques.
music emporium

The State of the Independent Music Store

If there’s one breed of customer that rankles guitar-store owners, it’s not the unreasonable haggler or the teenager who overworks a Nirvana riff for an afternoon. More than anything, it’s the shopper who comes to examine an item but fully intends to purchase it online elsewhere. “Showcasing,” as it’s known, is not new, but it’s increasingly in the open, and indicative of a fickle retail environment where buyers chase deals via the internet.


bald knobbers

The Mabes: Branson’s Brothers in Song

Nearly 60 years ago, Bob Mabe and his brothers—Jim, Lyle, and Bill—gathered up a guitar, a Dobro, a washtub bass, and the jawbone of a mule and headed for nearby Branson, then a small town in the lush lake country of the southern Missouri Ozarks. Their first gig was playing…


Mariachi players with their guitars

Mariachi Is Inspiring a Revolution in Music Education

Acoustic guitars are flying off the shelves at Iowa-based West Music, one of the country’s largest and oldest distributors of instruments for schools and school districts. Not just any acoustic guitars, but Spanish classical guitars and guitars with exotic names and unique sounds—like the oversized, bulbous bass guitarrón and the…