Hornby Island Blues Workshop



2023 Workshop Descriptions


Guy Belanger - Harmonica

Major: The Art of Improvisation
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Improvisation in Blues means to play what isn’t planned. You just think it and play it on the fly in a solo role. Technique is the tool which gives shape to improvisation. If you don’t have the technical ability to express what comes to your mind you will not be able to improvise. Improvisation and technique work together. Often Blues harmonica skill requires listening and knowing how blues musicians engage major and minor blues chords and pentatonic scales. They are what guide you to your improvisation. By listening to where they go, the blues harp player can make the judgements how to improvise performance.

Here are some of our activities:
- Follow the chords of a Blues - Hear the chord changes (workshop with backing tracks or real guitarists). Make judgements about how you accompany those chords. We will listen to recorded examples.
- Improvise with a group – Learn how to make exchanges in 12 bars on an accompaniment - A 12 improv bar. It's handy to keep hearing and following the chords but also anticipating how to improvise from them.
- Jamming to a Groove - Know how to play in duet with another harmonica player who holds a one-minute groove. - I hold a groove on 4 holes (1min), students improvise. This is part of the creating process.
- Improvise in a jam – This is another listening game with 2 tone choices, but with BT - A 12 bar per person to improvise and find the right harmony tone – This is possible to do with three tone choices … We will try it.

Monday Minor: Harmonica Fundamentals 

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

We will look into the basics playing of blues harmonica to get the most out of it. The correct way to place your hands and hold them to create a sealed pocket between your harmonica and your palms. Other hand movements that effect your playing. Blowing techniques and sliding techniques for low notes, high notes and wah wahs. Body position for control and comfort.

Tuesday Minor: Playing in the Band 

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Every harp player has to learn when to speak musically and when to keep a lid on it. It's very important as an accompanist to know where to speak and what to say when you do. In this class we will learn the do's and don'ts of engagement with other musicians

Wednesday Minor: Blues Harp Positions

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

In this class we will look into the three main positions of blues harp playing: Cross harp is what is known as the 2nd position, and is the most popular position in all blues/folk/and rock n roll; 1st position that is a little more difficult with its demands for strong use of deep draw bends at the low end of the harp. but is nevertheless very effective in being more interesting and less repetitive; and 3rd position that is used when playing minor harp, or when playing the Chromatic, and very interesting to use when the band is in a major tuning.


Michael Jerome Browne - Guitar

Major: Five Basic Keys in Down-Home Blues (E,A,D,G,C)
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

In early blues, guitarists tended to play out of first position, often using the open strings. This meant that every key in standard tuning had a different flavour or colour, unlike a lot of more modern blues, where positions are simply moved up and down the neck when changing keys.
We will explore the five most basic first position keys, using specific songs by classic artists: 
E: Memphis Minnie- Bumble Bee Blues
A: Big Bill Broonzy- Mr. Conductor Man
D: Tommy Johnson- Big Road Blues
G: Mance Lipscomb- Blues In G
C: Robert Johnson- From 4 Until Late

We will also look into improvising in these different keys.
(If we have time we might look into the much rarer keys of B, F and Bb)
A basic knowledge of alternating and single note bass techniques is recommended but not mandatory. Different colours for your palette!

Monday Minor: Open DM Tuning aka Cross-Note

Level: Intermediate

Used by Skip James, Booker White, and others, this tuning has become a go-to for me. When I’m in open D and I want to quickly switch to a tuning that has a darker sound, and works well without the slide, I often flatten that third string and right away, I can do things I simply can’t do in open D. Explore new sounds!

Tuesday Minor: Inside Mississippi John Hurt

Level: Advanced

John Hurt was my starting point for fingerstyle guitar. Many people can play his tunes, but I would like to dig deeper and explore the rhythmic intricacies and idiosyncrasies of his work. Not to copy what he does note for note, but to get into the deep groove he achieves. Coffee Blues, Richland Women Blues. Find those grace notes!

Wednesday Minor: Introduction to Slide Guitar

Level: all levels - for beginners at slide, not necessarily beginner guitarists

Open D, open G. I’ve taught this before, but I think it’s worth doing again. How to hold the slide, how to dampen with left and right hands, and the super-important vibrato! Starting with one or two strings in Open D, moving on to a more Hawaiian-influenced chordal approach in open D and open G. Fred McDowell, Elmore James, Barbecue Bob, Son House, Robert Johnson. Make it sing!


Emily Burgess - Guitar

Major: Chuck Berry Guitar Style

Level: Intermediate to Advanced. Known as ‘The Father of Rock and Roll’, Chuck Berry has spanned generations and is of key historical importance in music today. His iconic style of guitar playing has many components, and the focus of this workshop will be to explore the intricacies of his lead and rhythm guitar work.  A good understanding of Chuck’s music will give any guitar player many of the tools necessary to play in an abundance of styles, including blues, rock ‘n roll, and folk. Whether you’re a huge fan, or know nothing of his music, it is undeniable that Chuck Berry created a wealth of musical information that is essential for any guitarist to tap into. 

Monday Minor: Hybrid Picking 

Level: Intermediate to Advanced. In this class we will explore the right-hand guitar technique of hybrid picking, which means to play with both a pick and your fingers at the same time. This style gives your right hand and the ability to play fingerstyle techniques without having to put the pick down - the best of both worlds! We will work through hybrid picking exercises and licks, and you will be given the tools to carry on your practice at home.

Tuesday Minor: Beyond the Blues Scale

Level: Beginner to Advanced. Ready to step outside the blues box in your solos? In this class we will learn pathways to different scales and sounds that will give your playing a real jolt.

Wednesday Minor: One Chord, So Many Voicings

All levels. There are so many ways to play one chord, so let's explore! In this class you will learn techniques to keep your chords sounding fresh, create movement in your comping, and find voicings all over the guitar neck.


Jesse Cahill - Drums

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Major: Sound, Time and Feel
Over the three days of this class, we will focus on getting the sound you want and need from your drums and cymbals, improving your time, and how to approach learning different feels (including shuffles, swing, and New Orleans rhythms).

Monday Minor: Blues with the Brushes

From train beats to swing, the brushes are an often-overlooked sound.  In this class we’ll check out some basic brush patterns and sounds and look at how we can apply this to the blues.

Tuesday Minor: Latin and New Orleans Rhythms in the Blues

In this class we’ll listen to and learn some classic Latin and New Orleans inspired rhythm and blues grooves.  I’ll demonstrate how to get started with these feels and some simple ways to bring them into your playing.

Wednesday Minor: Grooves of Cousin Harley (with Paul Pigat)

Hang out with Paul and I as we demonstrate and talk about the drum grooves and guitar parts from some of Cousin Harley’s most popular songs.


Morgan Davis

Major: Follow The Voice
Level: Intermediate to Advanced.
Learning how to backup artists like Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker in solo and band situations. 

Monday Minor: That Deep Groove With One Chord
Level: Beginner to Advanced. John Lee Hooker. A study of Mr. Hooker's techniques and learning two songs - Boogie Chillun and Crawlin' Kingsnake

Tuesday Minor: The Bridge From Blind Lemon to Stevie Ray - Lightnin' Hopkins
Level: Beginner to Advanced. An overview of Lightnin's contribution to Texas blues. Learning his approach, some key riffs and a song.

Wednesday Minor: Robert Johnson's only solo + Listen to the Vocal!
Level: Beginner to Advanced. Jimmy Reed, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker. Learning to backup country blues artist in solo and band situations.


Rick Fines - Songwriting

Major Class: Songwriting with an Emphasis on Lyrics
We’ll be working on some exercises to wake up the songwriter in you. Bring your instrument, paper, pencil and imagination. Bring an example of a song that moves you. Share a song you wrote, if you want. Let’s examine what we like about the lyrics of your favourite songs. We’ll discuss the magic of words and music together.

Monday minor: Songwriting in the Key of Blues
Here we’ll be looking at the progressions, the riffs, the flavours of the Blues and how we can borrow from these rich traditions without reducing the music we love to mere mimicry. 

Tuesday minor: Riffs and Chords, Soloing is More Than Scales
We’ll look at how solos and accompaniment are as much about chords as anything.

Wednesday minor: One Chord Songs
Let’s explore some deep grooves with no chord changes. We’ll take a couple examples and find ways for everyone to contribute. If your brain is full, from learning a million riffs, this is for you. It’s all about establishing a hypnotic groove.


Angel Forrest - Vocals

Major Class: Lettin' Your Freak Flag Fly While Entertaining
Level: Beginner to Advanced

Singing your soul can sometimes, most times, be a little jarring. Learn your strengths and how to use them in a tasteful and powerful way. It can be satisfying and inspirational when you’re sharing something intense and personal. Find what works for you, your comfort zone for expressing yourself, for delivering lyrics, phrasing and dynamics. Refining your strengths is key!

Monday minor: Your Instrument - Your Voice
Level: Beginner to Advanced

Something that is so very important that most of us tend to forget… “our instrument is indispensable”. Unlike guitar players, drummers, keyboardists and bass players, we cannot replace our instrument if it gets damaged. In this class you will learn how to prepare, take care and cherish your instrument with exercises and good ole common sense.

Tuesday minor: Multiple Personalities (Sybil)
Level: Beginner to Advanced

In this class we will take one song and learn how to approach and deliver it in many different styles, once again making the song your own.

Wednesday minor: Stage 101
Level: Beginner to Advanced

The beauty of performing live with musicians is the interaction amongst the players, the magic that can occur when there is respect and communication. The ins and outs of cuing the band, listening, interchanging and letting moments breathe, supporting each musician in their creativity- this is what sets the stage. 


David Gogo - Guitar

Major: Lead Electric Guitar Licks and Tricks
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

We will talk about tone, phrasing, when to keep it simple and when to give ‘er. I will have my professional live set up with me. We can discuss pedals, amps, different guitars and how to get the most out of what you have. We will apply what we learn to a song that we choose to perform at the student concert. I will have a playlist of some of my favourite guitarists to reference.

Monday Minor: Slide Guitar In Open Tuning For Beginners 
Level: Beginner to Intermediate

You could be the next Hound Dog Taylor! Bring a slide, I will have some made of different materials to play around with. We will learn the basics of slide guitar 12 bar blues. Elmore James!! Johnny Winter (maybe!!) 

Tuesday Minor: R&B Rhythm Guitar and Accompaniment
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

We will listen to some classic R&B / soul songs and I will show you the techniques used by people like Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Hinton to accompany a great singer on a great song. Stax, Muscle Shoals etc.

Wednesday Minor: Guitars and Gear
I will bring a fine selection of guitars, amps and pedals and we will discuss and play through my professional set up

Don’t forget to boogie...


Jack de Keyzer - Guitar

Major: Texas Flood - SRV
Level: Beginner to Advanced

Stevie Ray was undoubtedly the most influential blues guitarist of the past 30 years. In this major we will learn as many of the rocking tunes from Stevie’s landmark first album, Texas Flood as we can.  Love Struck Baby, Pride and Joy, Rude Mood, Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Learn tons of great licks and learn Stevie’s unique rhythm/lead approach.   Don’t forget to tune down to Eb!

Monday Minor - Rhythm, Riffs, and Reed - Jimmy Reed
Jimmy Reed wrote more blues hits than anyone. We’ll learn the classic two- guitar interplay of Jimmy’s most beloved tunes, Baby What You Want Me to Do (Peepin n Hidin) Big Boss Man, Bright Lights, Big City, Ain’t Got You.  Learn some great turn arounds, riffs and rhythms!

Tuesday Minor - Robert Johnson Eh?
Learn Robert Johnson’s slide songs in open A (with capo) Walking Blues, Crossroad Blues, Terraplane Blues. Learn the classic riffs and technique to play like RJ!   *Bring slide and capo (*Selling your soul optional)  

Wednesday Minor - Howlin' For My Darlin'
We’ll learn 3 or 4 or 5 of the Wolf’s (And Hubert Sumlin’s) greatest riffs during this class.  Killin’ Floor, Ain’t Superstitious, Smokestack Lightning, Spoonful, Red Rooster (Bring slide) 


Jack Lavin - Bass

Major: Electric Bass History 
Level: Intermediate to Advanced. Great blues bass players to study. Walking your own way, ghost notes, glissando, licks and tricks. Less is more, writing out rhythm patterns in a simple way and dynamics. Learning songs often played at blues jams. If you can’t say it, you can’t play it, at the gig. 

Monday Minor: How To Play With Others
Level: Intermediate to Advanced. Instruction in the following forms: N’ville numbering system, 8-bar, 12-bar, 16-bar, in from the 5, different kinds of turnarounds, groove, following piano left hand, following kick drum patterns, soloing

Tuesday Minor: The Difference Between Practice and Rehearsing
Level: Advanced. Practice: Warm-ups: circle of 5ths (major, minor and diminished arpeggios) Sailor’s Hornpipe, leap-frog, positions, half-tone lead-ins. Rehearsing: Preparation (charting, mnemonics, counting)

Wednesday Minor: Band Business
Level: Beginner to Advanced. Shake the gig tree, create your own gigs, leading the band, sing and play, drone and feedback endings, divide and conquer, etiquette. Learning songs often played at blues jams. Ears-your best friend!


Paul Pigat - Guitar

All levels from beginner's finger style to Intermediate and Advanced

Major: Fingerstyle Blues Guitar
It's time once again to dust off your fingerstyle chops!   This year I thought we'd try some new stuff to get you through some solo playing.  Stuff like playing a shuffle accompaniment with thumb only, simple melodies while covering a rhythm and how to vary your rhythm and swing to get some cool variations when playing solo.   We will look at some open tuning ideas that can hopefully make your life easier and as per usual a whole lot of boot camp exercises. NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20!

Monday Minor: Turnarounds
These are the signatures of the blues!  Let’s look at the basic ideas used and then explore some of the great blues performers' signature moves! 

Tuesday Minor: The Genius of Scotty Moore
Scotty Moore is in my (and many others) opinion one of the most important guitar players of the 20th century.   He and some other fella who had swivel hips changed the world.   Let’s check him out!

Wednesday Minor: Grooves of Cousin Harley (with Jesse Cahill) 
Hang out with Jesse and I as we demonstrate and talk about the drum grooves and guitar parts from some of Cousin Harley’s most popular songs.


Kenny 'Blue Boss' Wayne - Piano/Vocals

Major Class: Styles of Piano Blues
Level: Intermediate to Advanced. My workshop will teach the various styles of piano blues styles and history such as Chicago blues (Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, Roosevelt Sykes etc.), New Orleans blues (Fats Domino, Professor Longhair), St. Louis blues (Johnnie Johnson, Jay McShann) & Boogie-Woogie (Pete Johnson, Memphis Slim, Big Joe Duskin) and Bluesy gospel (Ray Charles, Billy Preston).  We’ll go into depth about slow, medium and fast blues and techniques to not stress your body while playing. Learn how the blues piano plays a role in today’s music.  Also, a variety of tips for backing vocalist or playing along with other instruments without getting in the way.

Monday Minor: Four Different Styles of Blues Piano
Level: Beginner to Advanced

Tuesday Minor: Make Playing Fun
Level: Beginner to Advanced. Make playing fun and to have fun is doing so without thinking about what you’re going to play to have fun.  For some people that sounds difficult but actually, it’s very easy and I’ll show you how.  First thing you’ll practice is how to play simple and melodically.  It is one of the most important things to do when playing with an ensemble. 

Wednesday Minor: How and What To Do When It's Your Time To Solo
Level: Beginner to Advanced. You’ll learn how to sing your solos which means that you are saying something other than running scales.  Slow it down and feel it before you start speeding up.  A lot of young musicians like to play as fast as they can and they think that they are impressing someone but if they play those same notes slow, they’ll find out the truth.  Boring! A good way of learning how to solo is to be able to sing your part like that of a lead singer or saxophone which is one note at a time. That’s a good starting point.  I’ll give you an insight on who to listen to and who I listened to for ideas on traditional blues piano styles.


For more information:

Hornby Island Blues Society
3500 C Shingle Spit Rd
Hornby Island BC
Canada V0R 1Z0
Email: hornbybluessociety(at)gmail(dot)com

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