Adam Rafferty is a jazz guitarist-turned fingerstyle guitarist who has found huge success through YouTube, as an online guitar-coach, and as a touring performer. Check out his awesome fingerstyle arrangements of tunes by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, as well as jazz standards. Joe McMurray and Aaron Sefchick have the opportunity to talk with Adam about his journey, his internet success, his method of arranging for fingerstyle guitar, his gear, and his experiences with copyright law.

In part 1 of 2, Adam tells the guys about his career as a jazz guitarist and teacher in NYC and why he now spends the majority of his time touring throughout Europe with guys like Michael Fix, Don Ross, and Petteri Sariola. Then he talks about the early days of YouTube, how he tries to stand out in an oversaturated online video market, his stint working as a computer programmer, and his Fingerstyle Guitar Hangout podcast.

The next topic is how Adam arranges for fingerstyle guitar: capturing the bass and melody lines and making sure it grooves. He also has a thorough knowledge of Bach 4-part harmony and utilizes it in his arrangements.

Find out more about Adam Rafferty at: or and on Facebook at He also hosts the Fingerstyle Guitar Hangout podcast.

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Welcome to Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name is Joe McMurray and I am Aaron Sefchick.
And today we have a very special guest calling in from Europe I think?
You’re in Austria is it? Right, yep. We’ve got Adam Rafferty.
He’s the Funky Fingerstyle Guitarist from New York City, he has
and what’s the other website? Yeah!
You might have heard his covers of Michael Jackson Tunes or Stevie Wonder
tunes all played on acoustic guitar. I’ve actually been part of his website.
I’ve been taking lessons with him and we are thrilled to have you on.
Oh man, it’s pleasure to be here guys. Thank you so much. Yeah, thank you.
Yeah, so Austria… so are you touring only in Austria specifically or are you
touring all over Europe? I tour anywhere where i’m invited to tour basically but
like as you know, typical traveling musicians story, you know, fell in love
and got stuck in Austria, you know, so but uh, I’d say 80% of my concerts are in
Germany. Okay. Which is, you know, it’s a healthy train ride but it’s the
next country over so. Okay, did you have connections in Germany that brought you
there or do they happen to be the most receptive to your style of music or what
is it about Germany? I did start out having had I started touring in 98 or 97
with the jazz trio when I was just a straight up jazz bebop guy playing an
archetype guitar and I toured with the trio and I started in Austria because I
got I became friends with an Austrian drummer who said hey I think I can book
us a couple gigs and of course that was delightful because everything was
delegated to him I just showed up and played and then people changed in the
group and somehow it started taking hold in Germany that seemed to be a place
they really they really value live music in Germany and they
no it’s just I seem to somehow be invited there you know and won one gig
led to the next and so it just it just grew and there’s there’s a whole little
touring circuit you know once you get on a train there’s another gig two hours
away there’s another gig three arrows away and it just it it sort of builds
and so when I switched over to solo guitar I thought oh geez I’m gonna have
to start from the from the beginning again but a lot of the same places set
oh wow we’d love to have you and so it was a combination of I had some
connections I got I was already started there and then all the other solo guitar
guys on the scene it’s it’s a community so you know you’ve got guys like Michael
fix there’s this guy named Peter finger who has this big company called acoustic
music and Osnabrück Germany it’s like a CD well I mean not that CDs are really
sort of a thing but he was putting out CDs and DVDs like a big big acoustic
guitar record company and so it turns out that everybody’s everybody’s kind of
looking out for everybody else and there’s places that do solo guitar and
they say oh great you’re coming through we’d love to have you and so it was just
easy you know just easy I’ve done my one-off gigs here in France and Bermuda
and with little few things in Russia and Kazakhstan but Germany’s always the
place that I can really string a bunch of gigs together and make a nice tour
fair enough do you speak German actually I do
my my grandmother was from Vienna and so my grandmother and mother spoke Austrian
and German at home and I I understood when I was growing up but I was never
good at speaking it in fact I never tried I just felt coming gummed up and
embarrassed trying to speak German but you know it helps with the communication
I mean everybody here speaks English when they have to and between my German
and their English it’s it’s cool and it actually really it helps the whole being
on stage and rappin to the audience because a lot of the older people who
didn’t get quite the same education as the younger people they’re just sort of
looking at musicians they speak English and nodding and
pretending they understand when they don’t so it helps the it helps the sort
of rapping to the audience on stage it’s good
awesome how often do you get back to New York City not often enough I had been
going the move moving over here was sort of a 1:1 Living location kind of
airbrush faded into the other and I had been going back to New York quite a bit
because I had my apartment there and my mother in you know pre 2014 was pretty
ill so a tour would end when I said she said just got to go back and check up on
her and you know so there was a lot of back-and-forth it was still sort of like
I was on tour bouncing back and forth and in 2014 she passed away and well
it’s totally that’s cool I mean I’m I’m glad she’s not suffering anymore and and
so a year went by and I just went oh man I haven’t been back to New York in a
year there was there was so much less reason to go back I mean my dad’s there
and I’ll go like I’m the holidays but I realized I was just paying for an
apartment over there and while it would be super cool to just have a New York
pad I was unable to rent that out due to the laws in the building so I just ended
up kind of tipping the scales ever more to here and then of course you know
things get more official when you when you hang out in Europe long enough you
got to get your insurance here and you gotta do all you know all the biz stuff
then has to be here and be compliant and all that you can’t you can’t stay here
on tour and just visiting after six years you know they go we don’t think so
you know so I don’t get back often enough that’s in the moment long answer
we had a guest on he’s a jazz drummer in New York City
can’t remember episode number was Graham Doby he’s a younger guy like me but he
was telling us about the New York scene did you find that you weren’t able to
get enough gigs in New York City itself and that’s why he started heading over
to Europe you know that’s that’s a really interesting question what was he
saying what was what was Graham saying about about the scene I mean here you’re
saying that everybody you know people knew each other and you know there was a
community but there were a lot of pay to play kind of gigs and ya know the money
wasn’t there necessarily and he and the way the role that he kind of takes is
he’s the one who’s the curator he’s actually putting together all these gigs
and he seems to be a predominant role you know in terms of Wow getting people
together and creating events so I think he’s kind of making it happen which is
oh wow cool well that’s that’s interesting to be sort of the guy who’s
who’s running something that’s that’s interesting my situation was it’s it’s
kind of a kind of a cool story kind of a bizarro story I was just you know I
didn’t live off gigs in New York it was a combination of gigs and teaching a lot
of guitar in music schools and I tried to run a jazz wedding band which was not
really successful it’s sort of like the selling ice to Eskimos problem because
most most married people most people getting married want DJs and the typical
top 40 band but you know we I tried to hustle the angle of well if you want
something sophisticated but only a few people a year wanted that summer it’s
sort of limped along and a lot of the you know as a jazz guitar player i I
feel very poignant about the the whole jazz thing and I’m still psychically
really connected to a lot of the people that I was connected with I think about
them all the time my mentor Mike Luongo who was
these pianists you know he and I we haven’t we don’t really speak that much
anymore but he was like a father to me I mean it was like a really heavy mentor
apprentice kind of relationship as far as far as I’m concerned it was it was
really heavy weight I mean it was 20 years of on the phone three times every
day and you know just going through life and and he but by way of him I came into
contact with like the jazz scene of New York not all the guys who are famous cuz
there’s there’s so many but you know I’m watching old Duke Ellington videos and
I’m going oh my god I’ve played with guys who were into gelling Tain’s man
you know like that like I was really plugged in to this whole thing and it
informed how I play so I’m I still feel like a jazz musician even though I don’t
show that side very much anyway regarding the gigs in New York you know
being a jazz guitarist I was thinking well man I just wanted like solo and get
my chops up and like go crazy over chord changes and I found them I found that a
lot of the gigs were I had to function really well I had to be able to back up
a singer I had to be able to play it one of my longest gigs it was a fun gig was
a duo with a saxophone player a couple nights a week in a restaurant and like
just making that gig work and making the music groove and and keep it people
happy but not being too loud and I mean that that gig helped pay the rent
there was a short period way back that I played in Harlem with a lot of the organ
groups but there was only one steady gig that I could sort of rely on and that
was that was short-lived because the bandleader was just terrible alcoholic
and everything was great experience but you know you can’t really hang with that
more than six months so there was this sort of dissatisfaction that I was
feeling because even though I was putting out CDs and like barely getting
a group on tour in Europe I could never really get gigs where like
I could showcase myself and play jazz guitar like solo over chord changes
because you gotta realize a guy like George Benson he’s amazing
but he’s George Benson because he sings you know and you also got out of think
Pat Metheny is first he’s invented his own language and he has paid the
ultimate price for being on tour I mean he’s absolutely lived his his music and
like from from what other people have told me you know he’s just Road dog and
so it was very hard as a straight-ahead kind of bebop guy who didn’t sing and
didn’t really play weird stuff like either scope I’m not weird but my should
say more modern like a Scofield or Mike Stern or Pat Metheny I wasn’t really on
that edge I just wanted to play like nice jazz standards you know and so I
couldn’t I couldn’t really get I couldn’t really fire things up no matter
how hard I tried and I had a tour in Europe it was the final tour that I did
with where I was the band leader of a group and I realized it’s just too
strenuous there wasn’t enough money to pay everybody and pay for the travel you
were all it was just so thin I couldn’t keep the group together you know and it
was it was and this was all before YouTube okay that’s that’s important to
to realize this was like you had a website and you you called the club I
would go I mean this is some old-school stuff for you Joe I would go to the post
office with CDs in envelopes and have to fill out customs forms just so they knew
I existed and then follow up with phone calls and faxes because a lot of clubs
didn’t even have email yeah and so suddenly it was like within a year I
said jeez you know I just I don’t have the energy to keep pounding the pavement
like this just so I laid low I played as a sideman with a few other people
YouTube comes along and I saw Tommy Emmanuel somebody
did you ever hear a Tommy Emmanuel and I I mean I think he’s changed all of our
perceptions about solo guitar so I used to think solo guitar had to be like
Julian bream or Segovia or Jo pass or like Leo Kottke which at the time I
couldn’t really get with I was just like that’s weird well Chet Atkins well
that’s not really my thing I grew up in New York you know it didn’t didn’t
really get under my skin and then I saw Tommy I’m like god man one man power
show on guitar and within about a minute of watching him it was the Sheldon Hall
TV I said I want to do that but with my own repertoire I can take jazzy stuff I
can take the tunes that I grew up on and if that guy can do it I can do it well
that’s not so easy because he is kind of a freak in terms of his skill and he
practices like a maniac still but that was that was the idea and I started just
fooling around with a few Stevie Wonder songs I wish was actually the first one
because that was cool cuz it well it’s so hard I stopped playing it you know
cuz well that’s another story I’ve got temporarily stopped playing so I messed
with that when that was the first one and then I used I used Tommy as a model
I’d be like well if he isn’t fast one I’m gonna do a fast one oh I see he’s
doing a ballad like this I’m gonna pick something different but I’m gonna do a
ballad oh wow he’s and I looked at how he mixed
up his show and next thing you know man I put I wish up on YouTube I think that
was the first or second one and the reaction was like all of a sudden it was
like the gates of heaven opened up you know I thought I was genius or something
you know cuz like but it was more of a luck thing and a timing thing it was it
was just the right thing at the right time and then with superstition it
caught fire yeah I can’t I actually did a little digging on your YouTube channel
like you got 67 thousand followers uh-huh I wish it would grow already I
want a hundred thousand but you know you got 19 million views it’s pretty
good and you started in July of oh seven which that’s like like you said that’s
pretty much the beginning of of it all which is great Andy McKee had just kind
of gotten in there yeah and you know so there was Tommy was up there Andy McKee
was up there little sungha Jung was up there you could see videos I was
checking out Doyle bikes that was another direction of playing that I
really liked and were Nashville style well and yeah and with the fingernails
in the clean cuz I studied classical and I play with fingernails when I started I
thought I thought do I want to go that route and I was checking out Tommy and I
thought I don’t want to be on tour and brake nails so I just made a commitment
to how I play for better or for worse I just wanted it to be easier maintenance
although yesterday during my gig I don’t have nails but I had part of my callus I
pulled off oh middle of a plane find something and I it like started catching
on the string every time and I was like oh no and I started trying to not use
crazy crazy glue you can put it right on your skin and just and it’s fine
sandpaper file just smooth it down yeah like you would do any I’ll just doing in
your skin yeah I think I just played so much yesterday morning my fingers were
getting yesterday excellent yeah yeah actually good this weekend cool great
and playing some of your some of your arrangements excellent excellent
but anyway talk about fingernails and yeah well but that so basically it was
that period was an incredibly inspiring period you know I had I had just moved
into a new apartment in New York City and it was like I discovered this whole
world it was such a relief to feel some fresh air
musically and not be in this pressure cooker of New York it was like oh my god
I just finally peaked outside New York City and I you know I had a lot of
friends who were touring doing other stuff and I was like this rat in the
maze and in New York do a little gigs and I was like
how can I get something going on like more worldwide and and that just did it
and for better or for worse and because I played jazz I love jazz I was into
classical music I I for me playing cover tunes was like a fish finally getting
thrown back into the water or a better a better example would be like it would
like a thirsty person who finally gets something to drink you know it was like
man I’m finally doing something that the audience can get that like I can connect
with them because it’s funny you know like I know Don Ross and some of the
more like serious guys they’re more like man I don’t know know why people do
cover tunes and you know you got to compose and you got to do your original
thing and it all has to do with how you came up it’s like I was playing old jazz
standards and wondering why people would talk through them like they were a
cocktail hour and finally I’d do something like ain’t no sunshine and
people are like dude that was amazing and accent oh my god what what this is
my currency this is the way that I can communicate with people with with these
tunes that they know and I understand now the cover to think so a whole a
whole new thing opened up do to do to YouTube yeah it’s interesting I’d say
that about like I I studied jazz too and I’m I struggle with this idea that the
modern population and doesn’t understand it doesn’t respect it and so I’ve said
this at least a couple times in the podcast but I I do try to play jazz
tunes out and I try to I try to present them in a modern way whether it’s the
groove behind it or you know it’s like your version of misty is I love that
version but when I do it normally with my electric rig and my looping pedal
I’ll put like a an R&B; groove behind it cool very upbeat like like I think not
Scofield uh I’ve seen some other videos of people
doing it but it I try to do it really upbeat and exciting with a very clear
drumbeat so people can kind of you know kind of dance with it and I feel like
the bebop are older jazz drumming and BETT jazz bass playing is not conducive
to the modern audience kind of dancing they’re used to this very simple boots
and cats and boots and cats oh yeah I heard the beat that I know is baboons
and pizza I like it it’s like your big mountain boot hey you know it’s all it’s
it’s very relative I was one of the things that I go for am I playing Joe
and you know this from the site edits sometimes I feel that it’s a little too
soft I wish it was more aggressive but I hear this sound of a jazz group and I
want my thumb to sound a little bit more like a jazz bass you know when when
possible that’s just more the sound I’m hearing than a that a clearly pick note
anyhow that said I’ve been I’ve been kind of messing with the version of
satin doll the Duke Ellington to the send-off I played it for my girlfriend
the other day I said do you know this tune and I put on the Youtube version of
Duke Ellington and it was like she’s like I have never heard that in my life
and so that’s the disconnect right there even before I play it it’s like she
doesn’t even know it yeah whereas if I went to like my best
friend’s parents they would not know Adele they would know satin doll so you
have to know who you’re playing for and you know it’s also if if you slip the
tune in maybe between other tunes or if you say hey this is an old ducal you
know Duke Ellington tune and you can sort of couch it and some in some
schmoozing with the audience but yeah I mean and they can’t get with that the
more sophisticated the jazz beat gets a lot of people can’t get with that if
it’s if it’s a little bit more obvious like and isn’t she lovely kind of Swing
okay I can get that I can snap my fingers but if it starts to get a
little bit more Wiggly like a bebop thing they think yeah yeah yeah yeah so
I I play for a lot of retirement homes like yesterday and the day before we’re
both for retirement assisted living homes and even then depending on the age
they might not want the older jazz tunes like some of these some of them are like
more independent living and they they want more 50s era they want Elvis they
want stuff like a lot of Blues kind of stuff older blues yeah they do look they
love everybody loves misty know you has a hit across all generations but you
know you know I try to play if I try to play any Bebop they’re like they don’t
want it yeah there’s the difference that sometimes old people older people
I shouldn’t say older I mean jeez I just turned 50 yeah but uh for example my
girlfriend’s parents you know they they want something that’s gonna fire them up
a little bit they want to hear some Chuck Berry or some illness they don’t
want to hear a Cole Porter tune yeah they don’t want to hear all the things
you are I mean maybe autumn leaves like because they know it as a movie theme
but they’re not going to know it from a Miles Davis record you know so yeah any
happy tune choices so choosing choosing the tunes is is a trickler like my dad
he he doesn’t know some of the Bill Withers tunes that I play
he doesn’t know lovely day that’s that’s all all of a sudden starting to be
specialized again you know so choosing the right tunes if you want to reach the
people is important but also I’d like to add I it’s for me when when I’ve sort of
tried to calculate things and I you know get into that it’s just a dingy state of
mind when I say what would be good for you too
what could get me a bunch of clicks I’ve been there I’ve thought about that you
know and you see guys old man he got a million clicks on what would be good for
me to do and that’s just such a dingy crappy feeling and I’ve even made myself
learned some tunes like and you know what they don’t stick it’s
not something that stays it’s not something that I want to keep playing
maybe I tricked a few people but that’s it’s not something that really comes
from within and that’s that’s something I’m confronting new levels of that now
like how many more cover tombs do I want to do what I don’t know what’s coming
next musically actually but but yeah that I think a lot of the younger
generation who’s totally focused on YouTube it’s just all about oh wow I
could do this cover Oh Adele has or had a new tune I got to do that right away
because you know people will see it and then it’s like you get all these sort of
covers that are like right at the same level because no one’s gone really deep
and with a real level of like love for the music where they want to uncover a
lot of mysteries it’s just quick let me get this new version of a cover-up
that’s that’s a dangerous thing because then it just creates so much content on
YouTube that I like that it’s the content that exhausts me and makes me
not want to look at videos because I want to see something of quality if I’m
going to spend my time and I just got too tired I can’t wait through all this
yeah I don’t know if I’m making sense but no absolutely yeah I totally agree
with you I struggle with this – I’m not and I’m not tied to the Internet I just
don’t enjoy particularly being on social media I you know my friends I’d much
much rather call them if I want to know what’s going on in their life I really
don’t you know I don’t care to just see what you did today even if I you like my
best friend or my brothers record that’s right I don’t live on the Internet and
so I like everything that I read and everything everybody says and Aaron’s
always sending me stuff like the social media presence is so important in the
modern business you know this modern musical business and I just I want the
mic I want to be out there playing for people let me give you guys a little a
little tip you probably you’re pretty sophisticated at least you’re more
sophisticated than I am with the with the podcast if this whole Google hangout
thing something that I’ve done and this is you know your listeners can or the
viewers can check this out there’s a website called smarter cue
which does all kinds of social media posting and it’s evergreen so when you
get to the end of what you’ve loaded it starts over again and you can keep
loading new stuff in and it can post I don’t know if it can post to Instagram
but it can post to Facebook and Twitter and you can set up a whole posting
schedule so you’ve probably seen Joe I mean you’ve probably also seen that it
doesn’t maybe look like I’m posting but there’s all kinds of things that you can
do to just squaws II stay in the conversation without actually being tied
to your phone because I know what’s important and yeah yeah it’s called
smarter cue it’s it’s a pretty cool it’s a pretty cool sir and then people
comment on it and then you see their comments and you might have a few little
conversations but in matter of fact it they even have a little add-on in the
Chrome browser so if I spot something that I think would be cool I can hit the
little add-on button and it says which profiles do you want to post this to and
under which categories so if I spot a new guitar video I post other people’s
guitar videos and so that’s a nifty little tool to prevent exactly what
you’re saying because I don’t really want to be on social media as involved
of course it’s doubly ironic if the people I’m posting to don’t want to be
involved with that it’s just you know like this echo chamber of me not really
talking and people not really listening but that’s maybe what it’s going to come
to um we live I listen to you stuff oh I haven’t been writing
I haven’t been writing much for the blog and that’s another thing you know I have
I actually have a I’ll be honest about this because I I think it’s interesting
I have a coach a really cool coach who’s helping me get get my strategy was study
with Adam out there you know I mean the teaching is the teaching that’s that’s
what I do but you know he’ll say man try this do this and there are a lot of
people teachers particularly who like flood the internet with guitar lessons
and I have to be really inspired to do a lesson which maybe is maybe is a
a weak point you know guys we’ll just get on there and teach anything and say
anything and how to hold a guitar pick and like again that just feels like spam
it feels so spammy to me it’s like you know is that is that what I want my time
to be spent doing but maybe that’s what asked us that’s the deal right now at
least I know it makes it hard to I mean there’s there’s so much free content it
makes it hard to like what’s the point of posting this there’s already like 20
videos of people showing you how to do this bad you got to have a different
angle or go deeper well average video yeah I hear which I hear what you’re
saying and and I do on one hand I do agree with you it’s and I’ve said this
as well multiple times not so much to the subject but it is an oversaturated
market I mean like you said Adam there are so many people out there videos that
show you how to play the pentatonic scale or play you know a one five six
for progression or whatever it is and you kind of sit there going to yourself
really do I do I want to do this is this something that I want to take up my time
doing because there are so many videos out there that are doing exactly that I
feel that you know maybe I could be spending my time a little bit better
because I may have eyes like you had said I want to be able to be inspired to
put out a video that is very unique to me but also on the other hand of that
Joe is is that people even though there are let’s stay thousand videos out there
showing you how to play the pentatonic scale there is this in the year 2019
whether it’s YouTube or anyone you Facebook or any one of these big big
guys that you’re playing with the big thing going into the future into 2019
and 2020 is video all platforms are really pushing this
video so why they’re doing that is because there’s a story there’s a story
behind every single person out there and your fans your followers whether you’re
talking about a pentatonic scale or some complex idea you have people who are
invested in who you are as a blessed yes and they they yes they could go to Joe
Schmo over here playing the pentatonic scale but they’d rather watch you do it
and your explanation of it because they’re invested in who you are as a
brand your story they want to find out how you kind of do it so there is this
balance between the two do I kind of do these videos that you know I may not see
value in but on the other side of it your your your followers your customers
potentially they’re the ones that you know they they will see value in it
because they want they want you you’re right
Aaron that’s that’s a good thing to remember because it is the personal it
is the sort of connection and feeling like you like that person yes I have a
bunch of you know I have some marketing guys who I follow I have some
physiotherapist guys who I follow and it does come down to that Wow I’m kind of
attracted to this this dude I like the way he delivers I feel that he’s honest
I like his message let me listen to what he has to say
yeah and that’s that’s gonna be different for everybody who feels like a
good kid yeah yeah some people are really aggressive some people are very
laid-back yeah it all comes down to your personality and how you like to get your
information and there’s obviously a plenty to choose from so you you you’ve
had Adam Rafferty for for quite some time and you’ve been doing the online
thing how did that all begin in terms of what made you decide to go online and
go down that route you mean get a website or yeah okay that’s that’s kind
of a it’s kind of a fun story as your website is quite expensive and you’ve
got a lot of free tutorials on there and you’ve got a lot of resources on there
I was checking it out last night it’s a great website and I was trying to think
of myself because I was leaving looking at some of the comments that went all
the way back to 2008 so you’ve obviously been doing it for quite some time and
that journey has been expensive so it when I had my little jazz wedding band
which I’m not gonna say the name of right now it’s up there it’s up there
and you guys can figure it out if you if you look at the email address that you
said to but we’re not going to we’re not going to publicize that so that was that
that was pre pre fingerstyle my my partner at the time had a friend who
built us our first little website coating it with you know text was the
notepad on a PC and literally literally made five little web pages and he was
the voodoo guy who knew how to get a domain name and find the hosting and FTP
the pages up and then he also did the first incarnation of Adam Rafferty
dot-com you know which was also just static HTML pages and I am I called this
was like 96 and you know I called him up and I said dude hey man I got some I got
some gigs that I need to put on my website can you do it you know and he
went oh no no no you’re gonna go you’re gonna go to the book store that was
actually at Barnes and Nobles book store which very few of them exist now he says
you’re gonna get yourself a phat O’Reilly book that’s a the computer
publication on HTML and you’re gonna learn how to do it yourself I’m not
doing your updates and turns out our like most musicians you know we kind of
can get nerdy with the computer stuff I really dug it yeah really I said wow if
I can do that I can do this if I can do that I can do this and next thing you
know I’d spent a few hours screwing around with with HTML and then
I was scuffling so bad in New York not making enough money my my ex-wife had
done a beautiful illustration for the wedding band site and an old college
friend who had a gig at a computer place showed his boss the web site so I had
redone the HTML but my ex did the illustration and so he thought I did the
whole web site and he says man we could use another HTML guy here so her her
illustration kind of helped me give the gig so I had a part-time gig and like I
would say 97 98 99 2000 a week in a computer place and I was you know I had
to learn Photoshop and I kind of a more of a bunch of programmers who did fancy
fancy stuff to monitor phone calls for financial companies like Morgan Stanley
and everything but I had a part-time gig being one of their web guys who could
fix up some HTML and like clean up little buttons and put drop shadows on
stuff and you know I was kind of like or if they had to do a manual I had to do
squeegee so I was around programmers and I had to get pretty pretty good at that
stuff so then I did that site and I moved it over to like a
wordpress platform and then I actually built the study with atom myself with
all the mechanisms of uploading and I was just working on in a few minutes
before we gone on so like I can’t fix a house you know everybody here where I
live like they can like fix sinks and toilets and cars that like I don’t know
any of that I’m a New York guy I always just called the building super hey man
it come to fix this but like with getting in there and doing a little bit
of coding it’s fun and it just sort of I always felt like if I can’t handle that
myself I’ll be too beholden to somebody else
to do that work for me now there’s enough do-it-yourself websites like
wicks and Squarespace people can do their own sites but it really didn’t
used to be that way so I took the time to learn how to do a lot of that myself
you know great website it’s it’s very into making flows well and important I
can’t can’t mention the website without without mentioning your podcasts mmm and
you’ve got 16 episodes out and I have to say I love the title of episode 1 Oh
practicing 6-8 makes your 4/4 straighter that’s just like as I saw that I was
like that now that’s perfect oh cool thank you thank you I have a bunch of
episodes in the can so to speak because I don’t I do them on Skype so as we
talked about before we went live today there they’re here on hard drives right
in my drawer there’s a whole bunch of episodes and I basically need the
downtime to put them together and put the bumper on the front of the end and
you know just produce them but I’m always trying to you know get on the
phone and get with guitarists and it’s interesting you know a not so well-known
guitar player contacted me Thomas Corbeau the French guy I think he
does stuff with looping pedal and I I decided that I when he contacted me I
looked at his YouTube channel and he didn’t have a lot of followers and a lot
of views but he was very good and I thought you know this whole this whole
way of things going where the the real famous people on YouTube get
astronomically more famous like it’s like because they got in and then the
new people came it’s hard for them to get started I thought you know let me
let me give some people who aren’t SuperDuper famous but but excellent let
me let me also get them on the podcast so they could catch up a little bit and
get some exposure yes sometimes I felt like some of our best conversations have
been with more local level people like in terms of digging in there
some really good discussions because sometimes when you get somebody who’s
got a bigger name you want to hear their story and they’ve got a there’s a lot
you want to hear from them there is a couple of our episodes with more local
people have been more of a roundtable discussion which is interesting and I
think while it’s not got the same clickbait appeal the content of the
episodes has been it’s very high mm-hmm high quality I understand and and it’s
also easy when you’re when you’re well-known it’s easy to put this sort of
mask on that you’re used to putting on in front of people you know if you were
to if you were to see me on tour and maybe talk to me at a gig you know I’d
be in my gig outfit and I sort of have this way that I am with the people it’s
just how I function when I’m on a gig and that’s a lot different than being
relaxed and being at home and just kind of kind of wrap them normally it’s it’s
easy to get into that frame of mind you know if you interview somebody really
famous they’re like oh they flick the switch and they’re just in interview
mode you know mm-hmm yeah it’s fun to dig in and get the real the real program
get their real personality yeah and I also like to I I like to tell people
people often build a fantasy story I like to tell the man I was a guitar
player I am a guitar player like everybody else I was playing weddings
and teaching little kids mary had a little lamb I got incredibly lucky and
pop through and you know prep practice the solo repertoire and learned how to
do concerts but but uh you know I was playing restaurant gigs to New York you
know for $80 you know it is $60 so yeah I mean we’re all we’re all kind of in it
trying to try to figure it out yeah we all share this incredible love of the
music it all comes back to that but I just I love playing I’ve I’m obsessed
with playing music and it’s you know I get home from playing music all day and
playing a show and walk the dog and I’m like I want to play guitar
for you I mean I think that’s what Bray brings it it’s just a it’s a cool
community because everybody really like it maybe our job but nobody ever worked
music like we play music it’s called playing music because it’s fun in its
essence well speaking of your finger style guitar hang out when we started
talking about doing this podcast I started looking up other musical
podcasts and I wasn’t really into podcasting before this this was all
Aaron’s idea but I looked on something online and your guitar your podcast came
up is like one of the best that you made a list it was some list of
guitar-oriented podcasts and I think I listened to I don’t know if it was the
Toni McManus episode or something cuz I had been studying Toni McManus mm-hm and
anyway I started listening to your thing and you do you have a pitch for your
study with Adam website on there and it you it won me it wouldn’t oh wow oh good
it absolutely worked here you know you may not be making money off the podcast
exact like directly but the it definitely brings it’s such a good tool
to bring people in and help them find you in the first place
that’s very anything of yours I had never seen any of your YouTube videos or
anything Wow what that’s really that’s that’s
encouraging to know again the guy who’s my coach he has this philosophy you
probably be able to figure out who it is if you then google what I’m saying he
says it’s the same coach by the way of Scott from Scotts bass lessons oh yeah
you know Scott except Scott is on like a more kind of elite elite thing I
probably shouldn’t say that but I should tell other people’s business but but you
know let’s just say it’s okay to ask experts for help you know just like if
you’re coming to me for guitar lessons you go to somebody say hey what should I
do and and this guy who’s coaching me
he said podcasts are good maybe write a book which I’m kind of playing around
with an idea of writing a book I because I don’t only want to be on YouTube
because I have I’ve sensed that I was like way up kind of on the YouTube heap
and unless I keep on top of that it’s like the algorithm I kind of slip under
all the onslaught of the millions of people who are just uploading every day
you know and so I’m trying to build things online where I sort of owned the
real estate so to speak you know rather than do courses on udemy I do them on my
own platform that kind of thing so he he calls it owning the racecourse instead
of owning the racehorse you know if you’re a hotshot on YouTube the
algorithms could change and then it’s over
mm-hmm yep you’ve gotta always you’re just on their on their turf and of
course it’s important and you have to be there and but I’m trying to so that was
one of the reasons with the podcast and that was the one of the initial ideas
and then probably like you guys find to say well it’s work to do it but Jesus
it’s really fun to get to know some of these folks a little bit and and and get
a little bit of a idea exchange going on with these great guitar players you know
it’s it’s so I mean I’m enjoying I’m enjoying doing it and we just wrapped
for an hour I kind of have a set of questions that I haven’t really known if
it was cool for people to listen to but I guess people aren’t interesting and if
you get to know a new guitar player it’s it’s hopefully interesting yeah I just
listened to your Andre Valeri Hamid and I pulled up his mediterráneo album and I
think I’ve listened to it twice this week while I was cooking and just like I
really liked his playing and I would have never found him and mmhmm yeah I
mean there’s I think Petteri seryozha Suri Ola dagger
both those guys are two of my favorites okay
I I did a gig with the three of us did an acoustic guitar not me Don Ross and
Petteri Don Ross and I were standing there with our mouths hanging over man
he unplugged his guitar and walked out into the audience and he’s playing drums
on it no Mike no nothing and he’s singing I still haven’t found what I’m
looking for you too and he gets up on a chair in the middle of this concert hall
in Germany you know where everybody’s prim and proper and he is just bringing
the house down patterning boy he is really special
he is really special but you know Jesus I mean everybody’s special when you get
into the thing that they do yeah everybody has their their thing you know
and aundrea is incredible I mean he’s very Tommy Emmanuel in his to me yeah
and I mean that in a positive way he’s yeah there’s Tunes in the way that flows
reminds me of Tommy’s albums and playing he has a lot of really similar strong
points that Tommy has yeah Andreea is really cool Andre is cool they’re all
cool yeah I got a bunch of interviews in the can I got to get out I got Muriel
Anderson and Michael fix and whole bunch of people look forward to seeing then
yeah yeah yeah listening um so another thing for me what has drawn
me to you is like I grew up I was like I grew up in North Carolina and there’s
all this like bluegrass and folk music but I kind of gravitated toward some
more the sounds of southern rock and blues mm-hmm
Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Allman Brothers and things like that I moved up
to Washington DC and I was playing in kind of a funk rock band and then ended
up getting more and more to music and Aaron turned me on to guys like Paul
Gilbert and Satriani and I started going more that direction then I I got into
jazz and I like kind of dove in a hundred percent and
went full jazz for several years and then like I’ve been in I’ve been playing
solo in Virginia Beach and I use a looping pedal and I play these I play
some jazz standards and stuff but I saw a couple guys there a couple local guys
once been on the podcast and ones actually on tomorrow so Dustin furlough
and guy named Matt Thomas who’s coming on tomorrow they just go out there with
an acoustic guitar and it’s phenomenal sounding all just you know like you know
it’s modern acoustic fingerstyle guitar and I hadn’t really seen a lot of that I
wasn’t really savvy to the world of Andy McKee and Tommy Emmanuel and that but
what I like about what you do is your arranging is you are able to keep the
bass line going while playing the melody which I there’s not a whole lot of
people who do exactly what you do and it really I mean it it’s a huge huge
difference be between just playing like a root and fifth kind of bass line
you’re actually played like your arrangement of Billy gene you’re
actually playing the bass line and you managed to grab this melody notes did
you know I’ve since left some bass notes out to make things easier thank you yeah
yeah well I guess my it’s kind of a multi-part question but like did you
have someone that already did that or did you already do that in more of a
jazz style I mean I played chord style jazz too but it’s not quite the same as
these you know where you’re just grabbing the bass and the melody and
kind of sticking in the the harmony notes in the middle where you can but
did you have a template when you started doing I wish well something like I wish
is a little bit more complicated than some other songs because there’s so much
movement in the bass and so much movement in the melody at the same time
I would say the template for I wish was the bobber a and E minor you know that
bah bah bah bah bah but you know that you know that
classical guitar piece yeah I don’t I mean I can I can play I could I can play
a minute of it but that that that’s kind of a freakish piece where the template
how I saw that it could happen would be like a classical guitar thing but as far
as what I would call and Billie Jean’s kind of a freakish piece and that’s
undergone a lot of changes since the original YouTube video it sounds it
flows way better now there’s less notes but the flow is better but I would say
mote the most of my pieces like the sort of meat and potatoes like Maz Kanata all
those Beatles tunes Stevie Wonder Tunes
you see when I studied with Longo he he’s like a master arranger not not just
a piano player I mean this guy was writing big band charts for like Buddy
Rich’s big band for Dizzy Gillespie’s big name you know he he was an arranging
maestro you know and and then his own big band I mean he’s and so I studied
writing four-part harmony with him which is like the absolutely correct ba way to
write for voice voice leading so your apps you have these handcuffs on in
terms of what you can play and what you can’t play but for what you can write
and what you can’t write you really have to obey rules and if
you’ve gone to music school Jo or you know I don’t know if you guys studied
that to what degree studied it but it’s called you know there’s voice leading so
that’s step one and then I went and studied counterpoint I studied with Mike
and then I studied with another guy and I I did all the preliminary exercises
and then I think the book is here I studied from the a book called gravis
odd part awesomest actually the little book you can get it on Amazon by Johan
books mozart also studied out of that book apparently and it’s all these
little counterpoint exercises and I never like did it to completion
with any teacher but I you know I wrote a couple fugues that that sounded good
from beginning to end and a couple two-part invention so what happens is I
know I’m giving you kind of a long answer job but what happens is you get a
mental picture you get a mental picture of what an arrangement has to look like
and then playing in so many jazz groups I was like oh well the bass guy over
here is playing a bass line either horn or singer or somebody over there is
doing the melody what am I going to do I’m gonna do little tuna cock voices
with thirds and sevenths so all in all that’s like you can do you could say
four voices or you could say it’s at a bottom a top and a middle and so that
basic formula of a bottom or I should say a top meaning a melody a top bottom
and middle that’s like a really sort of broad formula but that’s that’s where
you start so when I’m thinking when it’s something as complicated as I wish I’m
just thinking top and bottom I’m not thinking middle but for any of the other
pieces it’s top middle and bottom and you know you have to you have to become
trained to go wait a minute I can’t just let the bottom fall out and do nothing
or like what’s going on down there and you know all the lines should basically
be unbroken you know you don’t want to go like dang ding ding ding ding ding
dog you know like you can kind of hear a break in a melody line or if it just
stops so BA when he taught people he was stone-cold serious about the the
continuity of lines going horizontally through music and he would actually kind
of dog on all the piano players who played these big chords and and just
made as much volume as possible he would refer to them as the Knights of the
piano like sarcastically you know like these
nights these are tough guys who are doing these idiotic cords all of a
sudden 10 voices coming out of nowhere and so now that that’s not necessarily
wrong because the music we now play sometimes you want that sound of like a
strum that would be like a 12 string guitar and it doesn’t need to connect
you know to everything else in the piece but that was so planted in my
subconscious and in in the way that I see things that that’s just how the
arrangements are built so I’m visualizing like that and I’ll be honest
with you I mean everybody has an opinion when I hear all the quote modern
fingerstyle guys who are only doing percussion and harmonics and all that
stuff I’m like it’s cool sound effects but it has nothing to do with the top
middle and bottom you know that’s music that like it’s
cool like if you heard some dudes on the street playing conga drums like that
that’s cool there’s a sound to it but that’s pretty easy because you there’s
no constraints on having to have a singable melody having to have a
baseline of continuity and so I’m I’m pretty tough on myself about that things
things need to make sense they need to they need to hang together so I I
started putting those Arrangements together myself on an acoustic guitar
you know and if you start with good material
the Arrangements kind of fall into place like if you’re doing a tune like
overjoyed by Stevie Wonder all you need is the melody and a few bass notes and
your arrangement is there you know so I don’t know if that explains it I never
had anybody show me how to do that on the guitar but I knew on music paper and
sonically what it had to what it had to look like yeah well it it’s awesome I I
really I had tried to create like I’ll do miss the MS courts out but I’m just
not I know one of my weaknesses like I can’t I’m not great at the whole Joe
Pass thing like I can’t walk the bass then it’s that well it’s not
strength of mine but I can you know I can I’m pretty good at grabbing the
chords and getting the melody on top and mm-hmm oh it sounds great when I’m
playing in the context of a band the way I do something like misty or all the
things you are but it tends to on acoustic guitar by itself it’s it’s
lacking Sarah like learning your version of misty is far better than what I had
come up with for acoustic guitar when I do stuff that has a real independent
bass line like misty I’ll only I’ll do that for a section or
maybe four four bars because if you stay on that for too long it sounds like too
much like a skeleton so what I’ll do is I’ll sort of plant that sound in the
listeners ear for maybe four bars but then I’ll go into some chord voicings to
say ah there’s also some meat on the bones so you don’t need to have it all
all throughout you know like I said when I played I wish and I did it all like a
two part thing it just sounded like an exercise yeah the chorus of Billie Jean
you get it it gets it’s such a relief for the hand when you get to the chorus
yeah this goes to like some you know just the chords right then we’re walking
bass yeah and another thing that informs the arrangements and this is something
that only I think only ones experienced well you get this from experience and
you’ll you’ll know this Jo you can have great ideas about your arrangements but
it’s when you’re playing at a high volume through a PA system and then all
of a sudden you’re hearing every little click and scrape and every unintentional
open string that’s when you sort of have to through through being in that
environment enough the the arrangement sort of adapt themselves to being
concert level there’s a difference between that bedroom level I can play it
perfectly and then I’m plugged into a PA system and everything’s loud and in your
hands you start to learn how to adapted to a louder situation we were
just talking about that last our last episode was Blake y Linda the tone mob
podcast and he’s on chasing soon with Bryan Wampler of Wampler effects anyway
we really got it we were talking about you know the way you run your petal
setup and your amp depending on your amp volume you know you can have bedroom
volume getting your drive all from your pedals versus on stage you can actually
turn up your amp and you can use far less pedal Distortion
if you’re doing like rock and immediat are sounds and that sort of thing the
dut acoustic guitar it’s tremendously different when you plug in like
everything’s so different the the percussive sounds all sound different
And that is where we’re gonna end it for this week’s episode of Fret Buzz
The Podcast. Be sure to join us next Thursday for part two with Adam Rafferty.
And don’t forget to check out and
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