Though he has dedicated much of his career to guitar instruction, Grossman has always been a formidable picker in his own right, with a lively, engaging stage presence. Having taken lessons from Rev. Gary Davis (later releasing several albums by him), he’s probably the foremost proponent of Davis’ style of Piedmont blues. But as displayed in this four-disc treasure trove, he is equally at home playing Delta blues or British folk.
Spanning 1968 to ’87 and including many previously unreleased tracks, this live set finds the guitarist interpreting tunes by Davis, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and even Charles Mingus. “That’s No Way To Get Along,” a.k.a. “Prodigal Son,” is a marvel of power and intricacy, while “Relax Your Mind” offers a lovely duet with Happy Traum. Other collaborations feature Jo-Ann Kelly on “Brownsville Blues” and John Renbourn on “Spirit Levels,” and the program also includes an interview conducted by Alexis Korner, with Stefan demonstrating bottleneck slide.
Grossman has released 20-plus albums and a dozen compilations, and Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop boasts 50 archival concert and instructional DVDs taught by artists ranging from Chet Atkins to John Fahey. But it’s hard to imagine a better introduction.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.