By christcornell, Dec 6 2017 12:20AM
If asked about modern blues guitar, the first recommendation from Guitar lessons in Edinburgh (and I suspect many others) would always be the inimitable: Joe Bonamassa. Blistering runs, soulful refrains and a breathy blues voice, the man has everything you'd want from a blues superstar. However, as great as he is, he does seem to be hogging the limelight somewhat. You'd be hard pushed to find a casual or even avid music fan to be able to name many of his contemporaries as they're simply not getting talked about. Players like Matt Schofield, Marcus King or Eric Gales aren't getting anywhere near the same kind of exposure (and being completely honest, I've only heard of them from the recommendation of a fellow Edinburgh guitar teacher), and in all fairness Bonamassa simply surpasses them all. That said, as we all know when it comes to music it's about interpretation and expression, and a competent guitarists musical point of view is always worth listening to. Through this one-note notoriety we're losing out on diversity and the idiosyncrasies that every individual player brings to the table. This is especially troubling in blues guitar as it invites individual expression, however the prestige of a blues guitarist tends to come as a package with their voice, and for this reason many blues guitarists aren't getting recognized for their guitar playing alone as they don't have the voice to go with it. Other more 'niche' genres like shred, or to a lesser degree, jazz have a more guitar oriented audience (and also usually don't have vocals) so it's almost easier for guitarists in these genres to become recognized for their guitar playing. Names like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert or Yngwie Malmsteen tend to be recognized more in the mainstream (though still not exactly mainstream!) than most of the names mentioned above. Shred guitarists also have a more identifiable level of competency, in that they can play fast and accurate (As can Joe Bonamassa, coincidently...), so there is almost an assurance that you'll be getting something impressive, whereas a great blues guitarist will still do a boring solo from time to time. From my own experience of doing Edinburgh guitar lessons I can say that shred guitar is simpler to teach and learn, and therefore in a way simpler to appreciate. So, if there's a lesson to be learned from all this then it's that we should be digging a little deeper for our modern blues guitar fix!