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The Essential Clarence White Bluegrass Guitar Leads

The Essential Clarence White Bluegrass Guitar Leads

Diane and Roland Music 9780982114629. Includes two CDs, 102 pp, $34.95. (Diane & Roland Music, 224 Bermuda Dr., Nashville, TN 37214, www.rolandwhite.com.)

In addition to being a labor of love, this book fills every wish list one might have for an instructional book on Clarence White’s lead guitar playing. It is the most thorough and indepth look at Clarence’s life and guitar style that has yet been published. If you enjoy or play bluegrass guitar, this book is (as it says in the title) essential.

Bluegrass fans will be familiar with Clarence’s legacy as one of the first bluegrass flatpickers to have an impact on the developing style back in the early 1960s. His brother and famed mandolinist Roland White and Roland’s wife Diane Bouska, with transcription help from guitarists Steve Pottier and Matt Flinner, have put together the ultimate Clarence White guitar book.

It is at once an instructional book with tab, a personal memoir by Roland White with many great family photos, and a discussion of Clarence’s style by Diane Bouska, providing an indepth look at Clarence’s technique with commentary on each tune. It includes two CDs, the first containing 14 guitar solos played by Clarence in 1962 on his Martin D18. Even if you’ve heard Clarence’s playing many times, you have to hear this. It is jawdroppingly good. The recordings are crystal clear thanks to Ben Surratt’s engineering and mastering of the original tapes. The disc also includes bonus video clips of Clarence playing two tunes on TV in 1973.

The second CD contains slow and fast versions of the same 14 songs as rhythm tracks so you can practice with a great rhythm section that includes Roland White and Diane Bouska on rhythm guitars and Missy Raines on bass. The songs include “Shady Grove,” “Sally Goodin,” “FlopEared Mule,” “Banks Of The Ohio,” “Wildwood Flower,” and “Billy In The Lowground,” among others.

Roland and Diane are to be commended for creating such a thorough and accessible book. They could easily have just written a tribute to Clarence, but they’ve done that and gone beyond in giving us all an understanding of how and why his playing was so inspiring. In the foreword, Marty Stuart states that in Clarence’s “29 years on this earth, he made the kind of music that will live forever.” This labor of love by Roland and Diane ensures that it will. CVS