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St. Johnny (Guitar Lesson)


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Orville Johnson

St. Johnny

Orville Johnson reviews an original tune he calls "St. Johnny" in this lesson.

Taught by Orville Johnson in Fingerstyle Blues seriesLength: 44:09Difficulty: 2.5 of 5


Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


noisystemsnoisystems replied on May 19th, 2015

nice tune!! it seems to walk on the soft carpet. need so much practice for me.. OK love it, try! but it is a complex tune. so it is not for lesson 12, it will be for lesson XX. thanks Orville.

rarebird0rarebird0 replied on February 4th, 2014

Addendum to previous post: actually the criticisms I made led me to try to download the song in tab and load it into Guitar Pro. I had purchased Guitar Pro a year ago an didn't spend much time with it. Well, wow. It does everything that I would want--most significantly is to actually play a section of tab with its built-in synth. This is useful for songs you are trying to learn that you don't know so well that you know you're getting it right just by playing the tab. There's a 20% off offer for JamPlay users which is accessible through the first option of the documentation for this song. Persoanlly I'm totally renewed in this realization because I was struggling with the lack of ergonomics in the design of all these sites--Jamplay, Guitar Ticks, True Fire et al where the docuemtation is not integrated glosely to the instruction and you otherwise have to try to keep the parts you're trying to learn in your head until you can hunt them down on tab--wherever the designers have decided to stash them. Guitar Pro is an inexpensive "must have" which I can foresee making THE difference in may cases where I have been not doing so well or failing and giving up. It's pretty foolish business wise to just leave this as a "bully for you if you find it" kind of thing. It will be the difference between success and failure in learning for a lot of people and that can only translate into being either bad or good for this kind of business.

rarebird0rarebird0 replied on February 3rd, 2014

I really liked this number the first time you played it through and was looking forward eagerly to learn it. But perhaps you're too close to this son because it's yours and you went off into detail that kept me (us) passive for a long time. When a student has never heard a song and it winds up being long and pretty sophisticated, it really has to be taught in sections and played by us so we can assemble it after practice that familiarizes us with the part. But in this lesson, it seemed like you played it--talked way excessively and then played it again and its over. I haven't explored the documentation yet but I see others griping. Tab is not good to learn songs (unless you're an expert at reading tab as quickly as a piano player reads standard notation. Other than that It doesn't leads to a connection with a song you have never heard. I look at it just if I'm unsure of a fingering. I'm gonna try to work on this but first pass is this was a particularly skimpy job of teaching and lots of yammering. Sorry. No disrespect.

Orville.JohnsonOrville.Johnson replied on February 4th, 2014

I spend 40 minutes breaking down, demonstrating, and explaining every aspect of the tune. It's all written out in tab and music notation under the supplemental content button. It's kind of a complex tune and might take awhile to learn. Try again.

dbairdbair replied on July 9th, 2012

I'm in agreement, tablatures are really needed to pull together the transitions and phrasing. Any projected time they will be posted?

horstwetjenhorstwetjen replied on June 26th, 2012

Could we get the tablature? It would make it much easier to learn the song.

vdub1218vdub1218 replied on May 28th, 2012

Nice. Nice. But could I get the tablature. I learn much easier that way. I'm really having a blast learning the fingerstyle blues with you guys!

blinkyblinky replied on May 3rd, 2012

Wow Orville, very nice tune. Thanks for the lesson. Hey mr Jamplay, I think I am in Blues heaven. What a gathering of blues players you have given us access to. Thanks very much. Could you imagine a jam session with Orville, Mary, Hawkeye and Eric ?

Fingerstyle Blues

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The blues is a distinctly American style of music. Many popular genres such as jazz, rock, and country music draw upon basic blues concepts. Consequently, it is advantageous for any guitarist to study the blues.



Lesson 1

Alternating Bass

In this lesson, Orville introduces one of the basic fingerstyle techniques - the alternating bass technique.

Length: 14:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Winin' Boy Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his interpretation of the piano-based song "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton.

Length: 29:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Blues Turnarounds

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

Length: 16:30 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 4

Payday Blues

Orville Johnson teaches the fingerstyle blues song "Payday Blues."

Length: 19:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Walking Bassline with Chords

Orville Johnson demonstrates how to play a walking bass line in conjunction with chordal accompaniment.

Length: 18:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

One Dime Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his take on a blues standard entitled "One Dime Blues."

Length: 13:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

I'll Fly Away - Piedmont Style

Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel tune "I'll Fly Away" in the Piedmont style.

Length: 18:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Beulah Land

Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel song "Beulah Land."

Length: 12:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Make Me a Pallet on the Floor

Orville Johnson teaches "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" in the Piedmont style.

Length: 17:58 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

How Long, How Long Blues

Orville teaches the a fingerstyle version of the classic blues number "How Long, How Long."

Length: 23:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Common Blues Melody

Orville Johnson teaches a common blues melody that has been used in several classic songs including "Louis Collins."

Length: 15:09 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

St. Johnny

Orville Johnson reviews an original tune he calls "St. Johnny" in this lesson.

Length: 44:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Blind Blake Style

In this lesson, Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of Blind Blake with some fun tips and tricks.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Chord Substitutions: Major

In this Fingerstyle Blues lesson, Orville Johnson uses the 12 bar blues in C to talk about chord substitutions.

Length: 35:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling

To demonstrate the relationship between gospel and blues, Orville Johnson teaches an arrangement of an old gospel tune called "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling".

Length: 20:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Chord Substitutions: Minor

Orville Johnson is back with another fantastic lesson on chord substitutions, this time in a minor key.

Length: 19:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Mississippi John Hurt Style

Orville Johnson demonstrates Mississippi John Hurt's style using an old spiritual song called "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder".

Length: 10:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Skip James Style Part 1

Orville Johnson explores the style of Skip James in open G tuning.

Length: 19:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Skip James Style Part 2

Orville Johnson takes another look at the style of Skip James, this time in cross-note (D Minor) tuning.

Length: 25:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Bo Carter Style

Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of blues artist Bo Carter in this lesson.

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Jelly Jelly

Orville Johnson walks through "Jelly Jelly," an original piano blues style song.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Travis Picking Pt. 1

Welcome to part one of a two part lesson bundle where Orville breaks down Travis Picking, a fingerstyle pattern made famous by the great Merle Travis.

Length: 21:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Travis Picking Pt. 2

This is part two in Orville's Travis Picking demonstration. Orville now teaches how to increase speed with the picking hand. Then, he explains how to improve synchronization between the picking and fretting...

Length: 23:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Scrapper Blackwell Part 1

Welcome to part one of a two part mini series on the great guitarist known as Scrapper Blackwell! Orville tackles the unique techniques Scrapper utilized.

Length: 28:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Scrapper Blackwell Part 2

Now that Orville has introduced Scrapper's style, he covers some more difficult techniques that he used.

Length: 17:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Mississippi John Hurt Style 2

Orville Johnson delves into the style of Mississippi once more. This time around he takes a look at a song that is inspired by "Frankie and Albert".

Length: 16:17 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 1

Orville talks all about the style of Elizabeth Cotten, an acoustic fingerpicking legend. He uses a song called "I'm Going Downtown" to showcase her way of playing.

Length: 38:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 2

Orville dives back into the world of Elizabeth Cotten. This time around he teaches a newsong called "Sugar" and introduces other common musical themes she was known for.

Length: 18:20 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Heavy-Time Bass

Orville Johnson likes to use a technique called "Heavy-time bass" when playing the bass notes on his guitar. In this lesson he teaches you how adding this trick to your arsenal can make you a more versatile...

Length: 25:29 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only

About Orville Johnson View Full Biography Orville Johnson was born in 1953 in Edwardsville, Illinois and came up on the St. Louis, Missouri music scene, where he was exposed to and participated in a variety of blues, bluegrass and American roots music. He began singing in his Pentecostal church as a young boy, in rock bands in middle school, then took up the guitar at 17,with early influences from Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Chuck Berry. In the early 1970's, Orville spent several seasons playing bluegrass on the SS Julia Belle Swain, a period-piece Mississippi river steamboat plying the inland waterways, with his group the Steamboat Ramblers.

Orville moved to Seattle, Washington in 1978, where he was a founding member of the much-loved and well-remembered folk/rock group, the Dynamic Logs. Other musical associates include Laura Love, Ranch Romance, File' Gumbo Zydeco Band, Scott Law, and the Twirling Mickeys. Johnson, known for his dobro and slide guitar stylings and vocal acrobatics, has played on over 100 albums. He has appeared on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion, Jay Leno's Tonight Show and was featured in the 1997 film Georgia with Mare Winningham. His musical expertise can also be heard on the Microsoft CD-ROMs, Musical Instruments of the World and the Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball. He teaches as well at the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Country Blues Week and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

Orville released 4 recordings in the 1990's: The World According to Orville (1990) Blueprint for the Blues (1998) Slide & Joy (1999) an all-instrumental dobro tour de force and Kings of Mongrel Folk (1997) with Mark Graham. He also appeared on 4 discs with the File' Gumbo Zydeco Band and produced Whose World Is This (1997) for Jim Page and Inner Life (1999) for Mark Graham. In the 21st century, he has released Freehand, a new Kings of Mongrel Folk disc, Still Goin' Strong, and been featured in the soundtracks of PBS' Frontier House and the Peter Fonda flick The Wooly Boys as well as the compilation cd Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar.

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