Stax : Memphis Riffs + Grooves | Guitargate

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Stax : Memphis Riffs + Grooves

In this masterclass, Jamie McLean dives deep into the heart of Stax Records' groovy and soulful guitar playing, focusing particularly on the iconic sounds of Booker T. & the M.G.'s and Otis Redding. Jamie, fresh from a skiing trip, shares his enthusiasm for the Stax sound, emphasizing its influence on his music and the importance of rhythm and groove. He shares anecdotes from his experiences and recommends visiting the Stax Museum in Memphis for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the genre's history and impact.

Throughout the video, Jamie methodically breaks down the guitar techniques that define the Stax sound, including the use of double stops, triads, and hammer-ons. He demonstrates classic riffs from songs like "Soul Man" and explains how these techniques create the signature Stax rhythm and groove. Jamie also highlights the importance of playing in the pocket and how the rhythm guitar in Stax music supports the band, acting as a bridge between the bass and drums. He provides practical advice on practicing these techniques, encouraging viewers to play along with Stax recordings to get a feel for the music's intricacies.

As the masterclass progresses, Jamie addresses viewer questions, offering insights into his pick grip and strumming technique to achieve the right sound. He emphasizes the importance of listening to Stax music and integrating its rhythmic and melodic elements into one's playing. Jamie's passion for Stax Records and its artists shines through as he shares his favorite songs and artists from the label, urging viewers to explore the rich catalog of Stax music. The masterclass ends with Jamie encouraging participants to share their progress and express any further questions, fostering a community of learners passionate about soulful guitar playing.

Transcript Summary


  • Welcome and Introduction (00:00:265 - 00:02:685)
    • Jamie McLean starts the stream, greeting viewers and acknowledging attendees in the chat.
    • Mentions coming back from Spring break and discusses his beard, joking with the audience about its rock and roll look.
    • Expresses gratitude for viewers joining the stream post-break.
  • Introduction to Stax Grooves (00:02:685 - 00:03:335)
    • Jamie transitions into the main topic of the stream, Stax grooves, expressing excitement.
    • Acknowledges the moderator, Tonic, for their support in the chat.
  • Stax Records and Influences (00:03:335 - 00:31:165)
    • Jamie shares his experience and affinity for Stax music, mentioning his side project that focuses on Stax repertoire.
    • Highlights the importance of visiting the Stax Museum in Memphis for inspiration and historical context.
    • Discusses the influence of classic Stax artists and the simplicity yet effectiveness of their grooves and rhythms.
  • Guitar Techniques and Examples (00:31:165 - 00:54:765)
    • Introduces key guitar techniques used in Stax music, focusing on double stops and classic riffs.
    • Demonstrates playing "Soul Man" and emphasizes the significance of rhythm and pocket play.
    • Offers tips on practicing guitar in the key of G and navigating the fretboard effectively.
  • Exploring Chord Inversions and Triads (00:54:765 - 01:02:315)
    • Explores various chord inversions and triads, showing how they are utilized in Stax music.
    • Encourages practicing these chords in different keys to improve versatility and fretboard knowledge.
    • Emphasizes the role of simple major and minor triads in creating the signature Stax sound.
  • Application in Songs and Improvisation (01:02:315 - 01:32:315)
    • Applies previously discussed techniques to songs like "Knock on Wood" and "Hip Hugger," showing how to create groovy and rhythmic parts.
    • Discusses the importance of playing with a band or backing tracks to simulate the Stax sound.
    • Encourages improvisation using the techniques covered, blending them to create unique guitar parts.
  • Q&A and Closing Remarks (01:32:315 - 01:32:985)
    • Jamie opens the floor to questions from viewers, addressing inquiries about specific techniques and sharing additional tips.
    • Encourages viewers to practice along with Stax records for a better understanding of the groove and rhythm.
    • Concludes the stream by thanking viewers for their participation and expressing eagerness to see their progress.

As the Axe man for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band for years, and working with all the heavy hitters including Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Trombone Shorty, Los Lobos, Blues Traveler, Marc Broussard, and so many more… Jamie is the PERFECT window into what it takes to thrive with the very, very best.

(IMHO, The level of musicianship in NOLA is probably the best in the country - if not the whole world.  THE RHYTHM. THE SWAGGER. THE VIBE!!)

Jamie is a spectacularly tasteful guitarist - but that’s not the whole story:  He’s an equally Incredible singer and songwriter.  As you know, I’m obsessed with understanding WHY things get stuck in your head, WHY hits are hits, and HOW rhythm, harmony, and wait for it - MELODY - work together to craft something moving and unforgettable.  Jamie is uniquely able to take us on a journey beyond the fretboard, and go deep into the craft of making great music & being an even better storyteller.

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