Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Robben Ford Masterclass

Robben Ford in masterclass action

The QUT lecture theatre was half filled with about 150 blokes, mostly baby boomers, waiting to see and hear blues and jazz guitar legend Robben Ford. Some were carrying guitars, maybe unaware of the format of the master class or hoping to jam with their hero.

With his much larger than life image projected on the wall behind, Robben Ford proved to be a friendly, interesting and interested focal point who invited everyone to ask questions any time throughout the 2.5 hours of music and conversation. The questions were a bit slow coming at first, perhaps as befits a lecture theatre.

The evening began with a few of Robben’s recollections of famous musicians he has played with, including several funny anecdotes regarding Miles Davis, whose manner of “pep talk” included “play that James Brown shit ... dee dee dee dee dee”. That experience apparently gave Robben, and possibly some of the audience, a different perspective on thinking about and playing guitar.

He was constantly putting down and picking up an Epiphone semi acoustic guitar, using it to demonstrate a musical concept, to embellish a story or to play a scale or two. There were a couple of short instruction pieces, initially with Robben playing solo, something which he said still freaks him out to this day.

The audience slowly grew braver and started asking questions, which brought recommendations to learn guitar chords, Mickey Baker’s chord book taught Robben all he knows; to consider different ways of thinking about the guitar and song writing, such as presented in books like “Zen Guitar” by Philip Toshio Sudo and “Tunesmith” by the famous composer Jimmy Webb.

But it was when jamming with other musicians that Robben, and most of the audience, seemed to have the most fun, initially featuring local jazz guitar hero Jim Kelly, with the two guitarists taking turns trading blues licks. Throughout the night we would be treated to a selection of Ford originals and some interpretations of other artists’ songs.

There were more questions and short conversations about song writing, favourite albums, bootleg copies of live shows, inspiration, perspiration and what the most important things are to learn to become a better guitar player. Two things emphasised were to “learn the chords” and to play with nerve and courage.

The evening ended with Robben once again joined on guitar by Jim Kelly and event presenter, Craig “Guitar Brother” Claxton, jamming on a couple more blues numbers before the requisite autograph signing session.

This article was previously published in the October 12th edition of Rave Magazine.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been to Ojai and attended Robben Fords master class it was cool. i met Robben Ford
And heard him play he is a great player. He can close his eyes and dazzle you with his amazing
blues and jazz Chops and Licks .
$230 pretty price.
If you just want to meet Robben Ford, And here him play then $230 might be worth visiting .
His thing, Is for you to by his Books and DVD. He never sat down , to teach us something you could really use. He gave a lesson like the days of G. I. T. when a famous pro guitar players would give a seminar, and the teachers there would help you understand the seminar. And understanding the performance you have just seen .
So when you seen BB King Joe Pass Larry Carlton, or who ever. They worked with so you can learn their technique, and go on and do your own thing. I asked Robben if he knew someone ho could help me in the Los Angeles or Ventura area. Since he lives in this area, And he is a working musician. He has to net work to get his jobs. So he knows many pro guitar players that can help me understand the seminar , And Robbens style of playing, So I asked him if he knew someone that could help me. He said Sorry don't know any one at all. I bet he says that when he needs a sub guitar player for a gig… If someone would have wrote a review, I might have just bout the dvd or a book and have a guitar teacher walk me thru it. And save some money for strings and gas. hope it helps someone in my predicament. Wish I could get my money back.

Mon. Nov. 21, 09:41:00 am  
Anonymous music mp3 said...

honored as the 2008 American Music Master by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s annual series..i just know about it after read this article

Fri. May 25, 02:59:00 am  

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