April 2008

Guitar Artistry of Paul Geremia - Six & Twelve String Blues
Vestapol Productions
Format: DVD
Released: 2008

by David J. Cantor

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Image Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

Paul Geremia is an unforgettable guitarist. He learned music and built his career the old-fashioned way: watching and listening to great blues artists, hitchhiking and driving to play where he could, and continuing to improve for decades on end – just plain dedicating himself to the art. He shares engaging details on the DVD The Guitar Artistry of Paul Geremia, part of the Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop series. His modest, low-key narrative resumes between the songs that make up the DVD’s large and satisfying set of on-camera performances.

The songs are blues classics Geremia sings to his guitar self-accompaniment, sometimes adding harmonica, with astonishing guitar solos in every song. Blind Willie McTell’s "Statesboro Blues," Blind Lemon Jefferson’s "Stocking Feet Blues," a fine tune by Geremia himself about an airplane that went down off of Block Island (Rhode Island) carrying some people who had attended a performances he gave on the Island: Those are a few of the DVD’s well-chosen tunes. We quickly see that guitar -- 6- and 12-string of several varieties -- is Geremia’s life. An adequate blues vocalist, he sings mainly to showcase his guitar playing, which is indisputably superb.

Consistent with the video’s gimmick-free production, a seated Geremia is seen always holding a guitar, with a couple more guitars lying on the floor nearby, in front of a blue-curtain background, with no one else ever seen or heard. The disc’s extras are just a list of alternating song and speaking tracks to select from. That’s fine -- nothing else is needed. Blues lovers, guitar aficionados, and struggling beginning musicians are sure to find this unique DVD both educational and moving.