Play all of "Fingerstyle"

CandymanRev. Gary Davis
Creole BelleMississippi John Hurt
Wildwood FlowerThe Carter Family--A. P., Sara and Maybelle
Cocaine BluesRev. Gary Davis arr. of trad. song
Glory of LoveBilly Hill, arr. Big Bill Broonzey, learned from Big Bill Archie
Nobody Knows You When You're Down and OutJimmy Cox
AbileneGeorge Hamilton IV
Salty DogTraditional
You Are My SunshineJimmy Davis
Sportin' LifeBrownie McGhee
Stealin'The Memphis Jug Band, 1928
Baby, It Must Be LoveBlind Willie McTell, arr. Roy Book Binder
Travelin' ManTraditional?, after Pink Anderson, arr. Roy Book Binder
Weeping WillowBlind Boy Fuller?, after Pink Anderson, arr. Roy Book Binder
Cincinnati Flow Ragarr. Roy Book Binder after Rev. Gary Davis
That'll Never Happen No More(Blind Blake, arr. Roy Book Binder
Mississippi River Blues (1)Willie Brown, arr. Roy Book Binder
Bugaloo Down La RueUnknown--probably from Kicking Mule
Kicking Mule MysteryUnknown--probably from Kicking Mule
Last Steam Engine TrainJohn Fahey
Chattanooga Choo ChooMack Gordon and Harry Warren, arr. Dale Miller
Mississippi River Blues (2)Big Bill Broonzey
Hey HeyBig Bill Broonzey
Saturday Night RubBig Bill Broonzey
Baby Let Me Lay It On YouRev. Gary Davis
Mr. Crump Don't Like Itafter Frank Stokes, arr. Steve James
Dropped D BluesSteve James
Slow as Lightnin'after Lightnin' Hopkins, arr. Steve James
Pistol Slapper BluesBlind Boy Fuller
Jivin' Woman BluesBlind Boy Fuller
Nothing in Ramblingafter Memphis Minnie, arr. Del Rey
Bye Bye Baby"Little Hat" Jones, arr. Steve James
Blind Blake's Ragafter Blind Blake, arr. Joe Cainen
Long Tall MamaBig Bill Broonzey
Devil's DreamRev. Gary Davis
Sally, Where'd You Get Your Liquor FromRev. Gary Davis, arr. Steve J. McWilliam
Slow Blues in CStefan Grossman
Trouble in MindBig Bill Broonzey

I first started playing guitar in the Fall of 1965, using the 12-string of my roommate, Bill Sussman. I struggled to learn a lot of good songs from my dormmate, the Legendary Bill Archie--at least legendary to me--who introduced me to this style of playing. My next big influence was Roy Book Binder, whom I saw at a festival at Fox Hollow in the early 70s. Watching him play made me think, "I could maybe sort of learn to play those songs like that". So I bought his album and learned a half-dozen tunes which were more complex than any I'd played before. I got various instruction books with tablature from Kicking Mule, and learned some more good tunes from those. Through the years I have always greatly benefited in many ways from sessions with Ellen Schmidt--singer, songwriter, and friend. I went through a long stretch of playing only off and on, and not learning much new. In December of '04, I started playing again regularly, and have played one, two, or three hours a day since then every day I could. I got new tunes off the internet--a great source now--and from instruction DVDs by Stefan Grossman, Del Ray, Steve James, Ari Eisinger, Ernie Hawkins, and Woody Mann.

The style I play is called "fingerstyle", and the tunes are generally from the genre which is called "country blues"--from players from the 20s, 30s, 40s, and later--Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Big Bill Broonzey, Mississippi John Hurt, Gary Davis and others. A great place to hear this music now is on internet radio at The instrument I play now is a Martin Backpacker guitar--a small travel guitar. I've enlarged the sound hole so that it takes a cut-down guitar pickup. I've recorded all of these tunes on my laptop computer, with a small pre-amp between the pickup and the PC. These songs are approximately in the order in which I started to play them. Developing the skills to make this CD has been a lot of fun, but I'm afraid the process is ongoing--the subtitle of this CD is "Muffs and All". But I hope you enjoy it.

Cover photo by Cheryl Benson

Lance Benson, 2006