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Joan shelley

Watch Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg Play ‘Wild Indifference’

The Kentucky-based folk singer-songwriter Joan Shelley calls forth colorful sonic landscapes within her trademark economical songs. This is particularly evident on one of her latest tunes, “Wild Indifference,” in which her gently strummed patterns intertwine beautifully with embellishments from her co-guitarists, Nathan Salsburg on the acoustic and James Elkington on…

Joe Ely

Texas Gold: Joe Ely’s ‘Cold Black Hammer’

On “Cold Black Hammer,” from his 2015 album, Panhandle Rambler, the singer-songwriter Joe Ely evokes the tension between pumps and environment in the oil fields of his native Texas. The song is in the key of E minor. Its four chords—the i (Em), the iv (Am), the vi (C) and…

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Mason Williams

Watch Mason Williams Play “Classical Gas”

In 1967, having completed his first season as a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Mason Williams spent a weekend with an old friend he had been neglecting: his nylon-string guitar. He composed an informal piece, thinking it might be handy for playing at parties, and called it “Classical…

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Mary Flower playing an acoustic guitar

Lesson: How to Play the Guitar Rag ‘Jitters’

Often called Piedmont guitar—after the East Coast regions, running from Virginia to North Carolina, where many of the players lived—this challenging style makes use of an upbeat fingerpicking technique, which I’ll break down for you in this lesson.

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The Beach Boys at Zumba beach

Learn a Simple Arrangement of ‘Sloop John B’

An ancient folk song chronicling boating misadventures, “Sloop John B” was transformed into a chamber-pop classic when the Beach Boys recorded the tune and released it on their groundbreaking 1966 album Pet Sounds. Before then, the song—originally called “The John B. Sails”—had traveled far and wide. It originated in the…

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Peggy seeger

Peggy Seeger on The Child Ballads—Learn ‘O the Wind & Rain’

[Editor’s note] Peggy Seeger is no stranger to folklore. Her father was the famed folklorist Charles Seeger; her mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was a trailblazing avant-garde composer. Her folk musician brother, Mike Seeger, co-founded the New Lost City Ramblers, one of the most influential groups in the 1960s folk revival.…

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