Blues Greats & How They Play

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Hawkeye Herman

After reviewing some basics when it comes to the Blues, Hawkeye shares his knowledge from personal experience and one-on-one encounters with some of the greatest classic blues players ever to play! Learn some licks and hear fascinating inside information about some of these players that only a man who was there could deliver!

27 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

Hawkeye Herman delivers the goods and discusses stylistic traits of some of the greatest classic Blues players in history. Get some basics out of the way and then dive in to the styles of B. B. King, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightning Hopkins, and more!


Study The Blues Greats!

You've taken Hawkeye's Blues and Songwriting lessons here on JamPlay, and now it's time to join Hawkeye in looking at specific aspects of some of the most influential blues guitar players of all time. The simple and quick ideas in this series will deepen your appreciation for these musicians and help you work some new flavors into your own playing!

3:30 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


Choose Your Slide

Many of the classic Blues greats used a slide in their playing. Hawkeye goes through the many types of slides available and helps you choose one that is right for you.

18:17 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Pick Up Your Capo

A capo for Classic Blues? Well, Hawkeye uses a capo to keep classic blues phrasing and ideas the way they were originally played while being flexible for the singer who is performing along side him. Learn how to use a capo in this way.

16:05 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

View this Lesson

Play In Any Key

Alright, now that you're more comfortable with a capo, you'll get to see how they did it in the old days. Take simple chord shapes and move them around. You'll learn a few tricks to help you know exactly what you are playing.

14:21 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Spanning The Neck

The old blues players didn't play in 'positions' as we think about them today. They just played what felt natural. This lesson will explore a way to use more of the neck while getting that familiar classic blues sound.

28:41 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Easy Fingerpicking

Hawkeye delivers an extremely simple way of getting started with fingerpicking. Anyone can do it. Even if you have no experience! Add this to the classic blues player's toolbox

25:06 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Country & Folk Backup.

Before you are a lead bluesman, you gotta know how to accompany other artists. Hawkeye covers a common backup rhythm style and teaches a pattern to go along with it!

19:24 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Shave And A Haircut

Learn how to implement one of the most common rhythm patterns ever! Work it into your blues playing.

23:55 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Blind Lemon Jefferson

Learn the style and essence of the best selling blues artist of the 1920s. Blind Lemon Jefferson has a bit of a Country feel to his playing.

9:17 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


T-Bone Walker

Get a taste of the style of the guitar player who gave legends like Clapton and B. B. King their start! T-bone walker is an amazing blend of genres and techniques and a blast to study!

13:58 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


T-Bone Walker, Lead

The last lesson focused primarily on Walker's rhythm style. Get a start on learning some tell-tale T-Bone licks in this lesson!

18:49 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


B. B. King

B. B. King was one of the most original and influential Blues guitar players of all time. Learn his hand shake and approach to vibrato here!

12:21 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Albert King

You will know Albert King by his bends. His style, like many of the blues greats, is unmistakable. Learn how to bend like Albert King.

15:34 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Buddy Guy

Get an overview of the lyrical style of Buddy Guy. Sometimes he plays a lot of notes and sometimes his style is very sparse, but his sense of timing and intuition is unmatched! Learn two key licks in this classic style!

14:11 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Jimmy Reed

Learn the bedrock blues rhythm made popular by Jimmy Reed. He wrote so many great tunes that have been covered over and over again. He laid the groundwork for so many Blues musicians to come!

20:05 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Cool Papa Saddler

Cool Papa knew what it meant to have taste. Other, younger players would often share the stage with him and try to cut heads with him by blazing through a bunch of notes. But Cool Papa stayed calm and collected. He was about milking a note for everything it was worth!

12:59 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Muddy Waters

So many of the recognizable turnarounds and lead hooks come from Muddy Waters. You only have to listen to Waters along side modern Blues players to hear the influence. Learn a few Muddy Waters tricks here!

26:13 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Magic Sam

Learn a lick from one of the guys who defined the role of lead guitar in Classic Blues. Magic Sam could play it all, but he knew when and how to phrase also!

21:22 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Lightning Hopkins

Sam "Lightning" Hopkins was one of the original Texas Bluesmen. Once upon a time, Hawkeye got to sit down with Lightning and take a guitar lesson and how he's passing the baton.

31:11 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Brownie McGhee

Part of one of the most popular guitar/harmonica duos of the Classic Blues. Hawkeye used to help Brownie with his groceries and in return, he got to take lessons from him. Learn a fingerpicking style from a man who got to take lessons directly from Brownie McGhee!

26:40 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Tommy Johnson

Who could forget Tommy Johnson in Hawkeye's must learn list of Blues greats! See how Hawkeye breaks down key aspects of Johnson's style and gives practical ways to practice in the style of Tommy Johnson!

14:58 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Robert Johnson

Learn the important aspects of Robert Johnson's music from a broad point of view. Look at turnarounds and the importance of focused practicing!

17:39 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


More On Robert Johnson

Take the turnaround that you learned in the last lesson and practice moving it around to different keys. It makes for a nice constant blues riff as well!

16:26 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Robert Johnson & Slide

You've been treated to several tastes of Robert Johnson's style. Now see and hear how he uses slide in only the way a classic Bluesman can!

17:44 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Elmore James

Meet a relative of Robert Johnson and an acoustic Blues player who plugged in his guitar... And one of the early guys to do so. He played a lot of Robert Johnson's licks but with some more beef behind the notes!

31:27 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Boogie Woogie Piano Blues

Playing guitar with the influence of other instruments does great things for your playing. Learn how to emulate blues piano playing on your six string!

11:40 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


Around The Neck

One of the great things about learning the Blues, and learning guitar for that matter is that so many things are moveable! The early Blues players knew this and Hawkeye shows you how to take advantage of this in an easy-to-understand way!

7:12 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty

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  • Ashland, Oregon
  • Playing since 1958
  • 218 lessons at JamPlay
""One of America's finest acoustic guitarists and blues educators."
Cascade Blues Association

"Herman plays with a sensitive, reflective touch that continually draws attention to his vocals, which are effectively understated and free of affectation... Herman can rock with the best of them. A solid choice for fans of traditional acoustic blues."
Living Blues Magazine

" ...plays haunting music on a mournful guitar."
Los Angeles Times

"The only thing better than hearing this live album is seeing Hawkeye Herman in the flesh. Whether adding his own spin to blues classics or offering his own songs, Herman is a one-man history of blues, noteworthy guitar player and inimitable communicator. Miss him at your peril."
Blues Access

With over 40 years of performing experience, Michael "Hawkeye" Herman personifies the range of possibilities in blues and folk music. His dynamic blues guitar playing and vocal abilities have won him a faithful following and he leads a very active touring schedule of performances at festivals, concerts, school programs and educational workshops throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His original music has been included in video dramas and documentaries and in four hit theatrical productions.

In 2000, Hawkeye was awarded Philadelphia's Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theatre for best original music in a theatrical production. "Everyday Living," Hawkeye's first nationally released album from 1987, now reissued on CD, features the late blues giants Charles Brown and "Cool Papa" Sadler, and established the demand for his now long-standing festival and concert touring. His latest CDs and DVD, "Blues Alive!" (CD), "It's All Blues To Me" (CD), and "Hawkeye Live In Concert" (DVD) have been greeted with rave reviews. Hawkeye's journalistic efforts have been published in numerous national and regional blues and music-related periodicals.

In 1998 he was the recipient of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping The Blues Alive" award for achievement in education. He served on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation for six years. Hawkeye was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of fame in 2004. In September of 2005, Hawkeye composed, at the request of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), "Katrina, Oh Katrina (Hurricane Blues)," detailing the hurricane disaster on the Gulf Coast. The song was aired to over 7 million listeners on the popular "BBC Today" program. He is the cofounder of the Rogue Valley Blues Festival, Ashland, OR.

This musician has definitely carved out a spot for himself in the contemporary acoustic blues/folk field, and has earned a reputation as one of the most accomplished artists in the genre, and audiences throughout the US/Canada/Europe have come to know and appreciate Hawkeye's talent, dedication, and captivating performances.
Reviews & Feedback 97/100 with 229 ratings

Well explained lesson Hawkeye. Absolutely priceless information. Brilliant stuff.


Also, the other two options, too.


and easy to understand .......thanks


Fantastic ! I really love hearing about the history and Blues. Its just awesome and the teacher is really great as well. Its really inspiring for me. Thanks.


First I thought what is the old man talking about. But after some lessons I understand that knowlegde of the history of the Blues is importend. And in this way it can't be learned by Wickipedia. Go ahead


Hawkeye, I love the way you lay out the lesson. It makes complete sense. Thanks


Great instruction on Ethics as well as the scale, very impressed.


Great simple slide riff to get me started with the slide - worked really well, and I love Hawkeye's conversational style and real world advice


Great teacher


great teacher easy to understand


Hawkeye, I love your passion and all of you annecdotes, they resonate with me. It was wonderful to hear just how much Muddy used the slide and also that Johnny produced his last 3 albums. They are two of my greats :-)


Hawkeyes is easy to like and he's very thouro in telling you what his showing you.


I am a beginner player, but like the blues.


I am eager to start , I have some of the basics that Mr. Hawkeye requires, but I am looking on getting on it. Thanks.


I think this series by Hawkeye Herman is excellent. The approach of 'How they play' is a great way to better understand blues. His added slide instruction has helped a great deal too. Love the man! I also like the way that what he plays has bee


OK this is too advanced for me right now but I just love how Hawkeye plays, his enthusiasm is very infectious




The lessons with Hawkeye have always been, IMO, the best lessons on JamPlay. He's got a wonderful and approachable personality and delivers the material accurately and with easy to follow methodology. Plus, the stories are great!


The value of Jam Play is the eclectic mix of teachers. Hawkeye has a really unique but pleasant style. His lessons transcend just playing the Blues. Thanks.


Your the best Hawkeye! Incorporated 3 new blues songs that I wrote in my set list and album under your virtual tutelage! Thanks