Monthly Archives: November 2017

How to play Slipknot! by the Grateful Dead – Video Lesson

Explore Jerry Garcia's guitar part on one of The Dead's most adventurous compositions from their 1975 album "Blues for Allah".

The Grateful Dead's 1975 album "Blues for Allah" marked a new chapter in their compositional playbook, and many of these songs went on to become great vehicles for improvisation in their live shows. The song we're looking at today is "Slipknot!", which served as a musical segue between the opening track "Help of the Way" and the now classic "Franklin's Tower".

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China Cat Sunflower – Main Guitar Solo – Video Lesson

Learn how to play Jerry Garcia's main guitar solo from the "Europe '72" version of China Cat Sunflower.

In this video lesson we are taking a look at Jerry's main guitar solo of China Cat Sunflower from the album, "Europe '72". The goal of this lesson is not to reproduce the solo exactly as Jerry played it on the recording, but to understand Garcia's approach when playing over this tune. 

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Phish – Stash (Intro) – Video Lesson

In this lesson we will learn the intro guitar part to Phish's "Stash" from their album "A Picture of Nectar".

Appearing on Phish's 1992 album "A Picture of Nectar", Trey Anastasio's composition "Stash" takes you on a musical journey from beginning to end. At the time Trey composed "Stash" he had been listening to a lot of Jazz (including Benny Goodman featuring Charlie Christian on guitar), which is why there is no surprise "Stash" has a very jazzy feel to it. In this lesson we will take a look at the intro guitar melody, which clocks in at 1 minute and 40 seconds on the album version.

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Scarlet Begonias – Solo from 5/8/77 – Video Lesson

Join me as I examine Jerry Garcia's quintessential solo from the Grateful Dead's legendary May 8, 1977 performance at Barton Hall on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Scarlet Begonias has always been one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs, and Garcia's solo from the 5/8/77 version of Scarlet-Fire has been one of my favorite "Scarlet" solos. In this video lesson, I show you how to play all four choruses of Jerry's awe-inspiring solo.

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China Cat Sunflower 2nd Guitar Solo – Video Lesson

Let's examine Jerry Garcia's 2nd guitar solo over the instrumental break on the "Europe '72" version of China Cat Sunflower.

Once again, we are going to examine Garcia's playing over the 9 measure chorus section from the Grateful Dead classic, "China Cat Sunflower". This solo section occurs between the verses (or main guitar solo as happens after the 2nd guitar solo) and always features some great playing by Jerry Garcia. 

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China Cat Sunflower 1st Guitar Solo – Video Lesson

Let's examine Jerry Garcia's guitar solo over the 1st instrumental break on the "Europe '72" version of China Cat Sunflower.

​In this post I'm going to take a look at the 9 bar instrumental break that occurs between the verses of "China Cat Sunflower". This section was a great vehicle for Garcia to improvise over, and he always came through with melodic, yet energetic lines that would perfectly segue into the next verse (or main guitar solo as happens after the 2nd instrumental break).

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Touch of Grey – Jerry Garcia’s Solo – Video Lesson

Jerry Garcia's guitar solo on Touch of Grey is a masterclass in soloing out of chord shapes.

"In the Dark" was released 30 years ago, in the summer of 1987. Commercially, it did very well, spawning a whole new generation of Deadheads. The Grateful Dead finally broke into pop culture, and one reason for that was due to the success of the single, "Touch of Grey". Although not a new song (The Dead first performed "Touch of Grey" on September 15, 1982), "Touch of Grey" had become somewhat of an anthem for The Dead, and was the first song they performed after Garcia's near death experience.

In this video lesson, we're going to use Jerry's solo from "Touch of Grey" as a study in soloing out of chord shapes. Garcia uses basic open chord shapes (the CAGED system) to create a melodic and timeless solo. 

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Ringin’ That Bell – Part 3 – Jerry Garcia’s 2nd Guitar Solo on Franklin’s Tower

In this third and final post in the series, we're going to examine Jerry Garcia's playing on the 2nd guitar solo from the studio version of "Franklin's Tower". As I stated before, these solos from the "Blues for Allah" recording are great study pieces for looking into the Jerry Garcia guitar style. Each solo is its own masterclass in developing a beautifully melodic solo over a classic Mixolydian chord progression.

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Ringin’ That Bell – Part 2 – Jerry Garcia’s 1st Guitar Solo on Franklin’s Tower

In this second post dedicated to Jerry's playing on "Franklin's Tower" we are going to study the first guitar solo from the album version of this "Grateful Dead" classic. The main reason I chose to look at these 3 solos from the "Blues for Allah" version is because they are short, melodic, and very well crafted examples of Jerry's approach when it comes to soloing over "Franklin's Tower". In 8 short measures, you can see the development of an idea from start to finish.

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Ringin’ That Bell – Part 1 – Jerry Garcia’s Intro Guitar Solo on Franklin’s Tower

If you've ever ended up jamming with a group or playing a gig with band that does one or two "Grateful Dead" songs, chances are you've found yourself playing the song "Franklin's Tower". It's one of the more popular "Dead" tunes people like to jam on, and for good reason. One of those reasons is definitely because it consists of only three chords. However, as easy as it may seem on the surface to solo over this three chord song progression, it's a safe bet to say you'll probably run out of ideas quickly, especially if you're expected to take extended guitar solo, as Garcia often would.

Over this 3-part series, I'm going to take a look at the intro, first, and second guitar solos from the studio album version of "Franklin's Tower". Although it may not seem very hard to improvise over this quintessential Mixolydian progression, few guitarists accurately emulate Jerry's beautiful, yet elusive style when taking their turn at it. By examining these three solos (24 measures), we can begin to see how Jerry would approach playing over this classic progression.

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