Looking for some real-deal blues grooves? We’ll take it from the roots up to the 60’s blues explosion in these free online guitar lessons from Jeff McErlain’s 30 Authentic Blues Grooves You MUST Know. In this course, Jeff shares 30 of his favorite guitar licks inspired by everyone from Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf to The Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Authentic Blues Groove #3: Smokin’ Stack

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Besides being co-opted for a Viagra commercial, Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” is one of the most influential blues tunes ever. It’s a one chord vamp in E that is all vibe. The great guitar line throughout the tune is played by Hubert Sumlin, Wolf’s long time guitarist. It is an art form to make a one chord vamp interesting, so please don’t take this one for granted! Another interesting point about this tune is that it is neither major nor minor in tonality. This is a common and essential concept in the blues. It all comes down to how we treat the third of the chord. At no time am I really accentuating it, I may play over it, or tweak it a bit but I am never clearly defining it. This is an essential component to the sound of the blues.

Authentic Blues Groove #10: Never Satisfied

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To me Muddy Waters is the king of the blues. His voice, presence, persona, and body of work is the epitome of the blues. “Can’t Be Satisfied” is one of his earliest recordings for Chess Records and is a benchmark in the blues. With just guitar and bass in the original recording his presence is mind blowing. This one is a bit difficult if you are not used to playing slide, what I love so much is his use of slide to capture the in between notes that make the blues so powerful. So take your time on this one, it tool me a long time to get it. And I still can’t sound like Muddy! On a fun note in the movie “It Might Get Loud” Jimmy Page plays us this tune in one of my favorite scenes.

Authentic Blues Groove #14: Mellow Out

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Yet another blues classic written by the amazing Willie Dixon, “Mellow Down Easy” was made famous by the immortal Little Walter. The drum feel is clearly borrowed from Louis Prima’s swing classic “Sing, Sing, Sing” made most famous by Benny Goodman. Mellow starts with a repeated riff supporting the vocals then kicking into a full 12 bar swing blues for the solos. This is usually done on que on the bandstand and is my favorite way to play it. Please, as with all of these lessons, listen to the original recordings. It doesn’t get any better.

Authentic Blues Groove #18: Seeing You Go

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Here is another classic Little Walter groove on one chord. Is it G7 or Gm? Aah, neither is the answer and the beauty of the blues. The truth lies in between.

Authentic Blues Groove #29: Hip Shake

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Wow, another Slim Harpo tune makes it in! Shake Your Hips or Hip shake is a Texas Boogie feel a la John Lee Hooker. Usually a fairly up tempo groove that stays on one chord. That my friends is what makes it so difficult! One chord vamp can be demanding because we need to keep things interesting but not stray too far from the groove. The groove on this one is deceivingly difficult because there is a lot going on. To make things easier I am in open G tuning as the way Keith Richards would tackle it and I am incorporating hybrid picking. As you can hear, ZZ Top borrowed the groove for La Grange. This one takes some time to get it to sit right as the accents are on the up beats.

Authentic Blues Groove #30: Someday

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Here is a classic 8 bar blues with some extra changes to spice things up. I prefer doing a tune like this on a gig as opposed to “Stormy Monday” (another jazzier blues) because it is less of a cliche. This tunes is based off of “Someday After A While (You’ll Be Sorry)” by John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. This is from the Hard Road record which was Peter Green’s first with Mayall. The tune starts on the turnaround as an intro and has a bridge and a slow 6/8 feel. As I have said many times in this course, it’s about adding variety to an evening of blues that keeps it interesting, a tune like this does that.

Dig these authentic blues grooves? Download Jeff McErlain’s 30 Authentic Blues Grooves You MUST Know for much more including tab, notation, and jam tracks!