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Broaden Your Musical Listening, Because You Are What You Eat

Guitar players should broaden and dig deep in their musical listening. They can add depth to their playing by listening to what came before them.

For example, rock players, don't just go back to Van Halen (who are awesome, of course). Go back to what rock came out of: Little Richard, Ike Turner, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Burnette, Elvis Presley and the Chess Records guys.

Or even farther back to the swing era! If you think about it, Jimi Hendrix was born in 1942; what do you think was on the radio at that time? What did he hear as he was growing up? I'm sure it had a big influence on him.

Even if you're not a jazz player, it's important for you to listen to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane -- just to hear how far melody, rhythm and musicianship can go.

Players should keep an open ear and an open heart. This will not just help your playing, but your writing as well.

Also don't always think about just the guitar, but how the guitar fits into the music. Am I locking with the other musicians? Am I staying out of the way of the vocalist?

With these words, I leave you for now. Have fun playing music and join a band!

Best, Kirk

Kirk Fletcher is considered one of the best young guitar players on the blues scene today. He's a two-time W.C. Handy Award nominee who has toured with Lynwood Slim, Janiva Magness, Charlie Musselwhite and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. He has performed with James Cotton, Pine Top Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Mojo Buford, Ted Harvey, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Michael Landau, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Earl, Doyle Bramhall, Michelle Branch and many more. Check out his new album, My Turn.

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