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Learn something blue, in Toledo

Published on April 18, 2017 2:36PM

Toledo radio station KYAQ will play host to a masterclass in Mississippi Delta Blues on Saturday, April 29, with a workshop from veteran slide guitarist Walker T. Ryan.

The intimate workshop, which is limited to just six people, is designed for guitar players who want to learn what makes the Delta Blues the Delta Blues. Players do not need to be professionals or even advanced to participate, just to have a basic working knowledge of the guitar and the desire to learn Delta blues style of playing. Students will need to bring a guitar, a slide, a recording device and paper.

Walker uses Robert Johnson’s classic song, “Walking Blues” and works it from the ground up to get to the bone and the meat of the rhythm and chords and then spices it up with basic techniques to make it more than just the notes.

Well regarded as a master of the Delta blues, Walker started playing guitar as a folk singer and when his family moved to New York City, he found himself immersed in the pre-hippie folk scene of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Dave VanRonk. But he got bitten by the blues bug when he was exposed to the music of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Lightnin Hopkins, Son House and Fred McDowell. Walker was a rambler most of his life and he played his music in bars, dives, churches, on the streets, bakeries and bordellos; wherever there was a gig. When he moved to Eugene in the ’90s, in addition to playing the blues, he worked with kids at risk. Essentially retired from the stage, he still plays every day and makes regular trips back to Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The workshop will run from 1 to 4 pm at the KYAQ studio in the Floweree Community Center, 321 SE 3rd Street. Registration is $50 per student. For more information or to book a spot, contact Walker at wtryan@gmail.com.

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