West Coast Blues by David Blacker


Many a guitar legend has cut their teeth and left their mark on the jazz-influenced blues style known as “West Coast Blues” (aka “jump” blues): Charlie Christian, Clarence Gatemouth Brown,Albert Collins, Johnny Guitar Watson, Duke Robillard, Hollywood Fats, Little Charlie Baty are just a few. But T-Bone Walker is likely the genre’s definitive guitarist.

Relocating from Texas to Los Angeles in the early 40’s, Walker’s “electrification and urbanization of the blues” and catalog of blues hits for Capitol, Black & White, and Imperial would “popularize the use of electric guitar in the form more so than anyone else.” T-Bone’s “distinct jazzy jump blues” feel – Texas blues with a pinch of bebop, a dash of rockabilly, and a whole lotta swing – would influence the music scene in California during the 1940’s and 1950’s with many other Texas bluesmen following the migration to the west coast.

So many of the blues licks we play today, which we’ve copped from our current and previous generation blues heroes, are actually rooted back to jump and West Coast blues phrases – especially the tasty ones! We all pretty much agree that implying changes, as opposed to just blowing pentatonic runs, is what separates the men from the boys when soloing over standard blues changes. Implying changes, targeting tones, applying extensions are key elements of the West Coast style and good reason enough to study the
genre. But there’s more.

Getting a solid grip on the phrasing and rhythmic qualities of West Coast blues is also the key to achieving a real sense of boogie, swing, and jump ala Texas blues. Good enough for Stevie Ray, Jimmy Vaughn, Anson Funderburgh, and Johnny Guitar Watson – good enough for us. And what blues player worth their salt doesn’t have a couple of dozen jazzy bebopish lines to spice up their solos and improvisations?!

David Blacker’s West Coast Blues delivers all of the above. Composer, producer, and top NYC educator, Blacker has been featured on numerous albums, commercials and radio spots. Blacker has studied and documented “roots” styles of guitar for almost twenty years establishing him as one ofthe few top experts in the field.

Blacker has pulled together an essential vocabulary of West Coast Blues phrases, feels and techniques. Rather than just working through a collection of “licks” and theory, Blacker has designed a contextual course of study; you’ll play your way through the course working with 10 rhythm tracks, learning 30 choruses worth of West Coast Blues solos.

Blacker performs and then breaks down (with both technical and theoretical insight) 3 individual choruses for each of the following grooves:

10 thoughts on “West Coast Blues by David Blacker

  1. I would definitely reccomend this course to anyone looking to expand their blues playing. It covers a wide range of Blues styles and goes beyond the regular 12 bar format and beyond the usual pentatonic scales and licks you would normally play – and gets that “Jazz Blues” sound in your ear and under your fingers. The Chromatic licks and Diminished sounds covered in the expaned blues progressions are really helpful.

  2. Just got your TrueFire course, West Coast Blues. I’ve been looking for something like this for a LONG time. I’ve never know what to call this style of music, whether it was/is it’s own “genre,” etc. Now I understand. I will work my way through your lessons and hopefully emerge on the other side a reasonable jump blues player. Thanks for putting this out.

  3. I just wanted to send you a note of “Thanks,” for the wonderful job you did on the instructional DVD. I’m currently 43, and have been playing daily since the age of 9. I’m extremely passionate about blues guitar and was frustrated with the “rut” I had fallen into. Your DVD did exactly what you hoped it would. Several of the lessons gave me a new direction in my approach and inspired me like no other DVD has been able to do. Not only do you have the “gift” as a musician, you have it as a teacher as well. Simply put, I appreciate it. Thank you.

  4. I don’t know about other players but as a professional for over 40 years I still study all I can and woodshed every day. And I’m still not where I want to ultimately be. The guitar is the most versatile instrument of all, and I’ve found TrueFire to be the one site that services most, if not all styles, providing masterful teachers. This being said, David Blacker’s West Coast Blues opens an easy-going door into how this particular guitar style plays out. This DVD set rocks, period. I work at it regularly and my playing has improved visibly. Yours will too. To go take lessons with a teacher and get this info ( if you could find the right guy) would cost hundreds and many hours of time and travel. This is one of the best music investments I’ve ever made. Get it.

  5. I recently purchased West Coast Blues off of Truefire and I want to thank you for putting this together. I have played guitar all my life- I am past 50 now- but your series of lessons has injected new energy into my love of this instrument.

  6. Let me clear up something……Clarence Gatemouth Brown&Albert Collins has nothing to do with “WEST COAST BLUES”… Texas and Louisiana. They may have played there but Mr.Collins music is Texas as can be!

  7. Sam, you are correct sir, it’s not correct to label Albert Collins and Gatemouth as “West Coast” players. That text needs to be rewritten. The idea is that certain players from in and around Texas have had big influence on the West Coast sound. Guys like Anson Funderburgh and Gatemouth play with a tremendous amount of swing and a lot of their ideas (and tone) have influenced the “West Coast” sound. Albert Collins had a really unique style and sound, and his approach and attack on shuffles and slow blues grooves can seen in a lot of “West Coast” players – guys like Little Charlie, Duke, etc.

    Thanks for your input!


  8. David Blacker’s West Coast Blues – This is an excellent set. While focusing on jump style blues this set covers other genres such as, slow blues, great country licks and a great insight into what the heck Albert Collins is doing. [worth it alone] The sophisticated sounding ideas presented here can easily open up your playing over the spectrum of blues styles. I particularly benefited from the exposure to the chromatic concepts in this set. Now I enjoy trying to work through blues changes within chromatic ideas, letting it slowly sink in. We hope. As with other Truefire Dvds David is careful to explain the harmonic basis for everything and cites his influences.

  9. I’ve listened to lots of lesson packages, and this volume is the best. David’s solos are very inventive, as good as any I’ve heard. Mastering this volume will enrich your vocabulary immensely.


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