Irish Music Magazine July 2011 releases
Irish Fingerpicking Guitar
Book and DVD
18 Tunes, MTD 1037
Jean Banwarth is based in Grenoble in France and has been playing guitar for the past 30 years. Like many he began with standard tuning and discovered DADGAD late in his learning curve by which time he had to relearn the guitar all over again.
His website explains this journey in some detail, it also has a number of videos of his excellent playing. The CD is best experienced on a computer where you can watch even more clips of his finger-style and break down just exactly what he is doing.
The slim book is very well produced with the text in English and French. The tunes are typeset in a clear if somewhat small font. This is because he offers both the regular staff notation and a running TAB line underneath, which means some tunes, Rodney’s Glory for example run to two pages. Many of the tunes are session standards (The Blackbird, Cregg’s Pipes, Out On The Ocean) no bad thing when it comes to a tutorial package, you’d want to be learning material you can use down the pub on a Thursday night.
Not all the pieces are Irish, there’s a lovely French Mazurka and even a Klezmer tune (which explains where Lúnasa got their melody Frailoch from). Each tune has a short paragraph explaining particular techniques and pointing to landmark recordings, Jean also is generous in his praise for other guitarists, with a deep admiration for the playing of Tony McManus.
The book, the CD and the website are highly recommended to guitarists who are looking to develop a solo finger-picking style, whether it be in standard or DADGAD, and he makes the argument against too much DADGAD very persuasively indeed. If you can master this book you will have gained some powerful tools in your musical armoury.
Do visit his website, he is besotted by his instrument and Irish music. An hour in his musical company will not be one minute wasted, as he’s already travelled the route you are now taking, he’s a good guide, like they used to say of the Golden pages, let your fingers do the walking.