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The British ballads became a new kind of form in their hand. And out of them came the blues, a new kind of song of commentary and satire, a song form which, after all, has become the main musical form of the whole human species. - Alan Lomax

Author Topic: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar  (Read 4082 times)

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Offline Michael Kuehn

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Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar
« on: January 27, 2010, 04:45:52 PM »
Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar

Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar - Independent
Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar is the latest CD by, you guessed it, Craig Ventresco. Craig is a San Francisco-based guitarist who came to real prominence when he was lifted off the street corner by filmmaker Terry Zwigoff to record the soundtrack for the film "Crumb." He is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of late 19th and early 20th Century rags, pop and vaudeville tunes, jazz and blues. He manages to rediscover long lost music from old 78s, piano rolls, cylinders and manuscripts. I think most Weenies are familiar with Craig's unique style of playing with a flatpick and ring finger, so I won't go into that. There are a fair number of Craig's videos on YouTube where you can experience his amazing playing.

As one would expect, the songs on this CD are an eclectic collection, many, if not most, were new to me. After some digging on the internet, I found a bit of the history behind some of these tunes. Where Craig got them is anybody's guess. Here?s a brief sample of what's on the CD:

"The Blues Have Got Me", by Roy Turk and Abner Silver, was first recorded in 1924. I found a brief clip of Warner?s Seven Aces doing it for an album called Jazz From Atlanta, 1923-1929.

"Take 'Em To The Door" is a tune written by Henderson-Rose-Davis, performed in 1925 by Gus Van and Joe Schenck. Apparently they were a comedy duo, and the song has piano accompaniment.

"Downhearted Blues" was recorded by Bessie Smith in 1923.

"Low Down Blues" is a Eubie Blake-Noble Sissle tune from 1923. I found a version of it by Eddie Heywood and the Blues Singers on a Document CD.

I credit Todd Cambio of Fraulini Guitars for introducing me to the artistry of Craig Ventresco. While sitting in Todd's workshop, discussing music, he asked me if I'd heard of Craig. I hadn't, and I'm now grateful we had that talk.

Listening to this CD is how I imagine it must have been for those folks lucky enough to have heard Blind Blake or Broonzy playing live for a party or dance. Craig plays this music the way it was meant to be played ? rough, raucous, aggressive. There's a rawness, a liveliness, to it that you just don't hear in a lot of folks who play this music. His playing is not genteel. It's real.

I got my CD directly from Craig, which, as far as I know, is the only place it can be purchased.

And it?s a Fraulini Guitar that Craig is playing on this CD. So we got that going for us.


1. Take 'Em to the Door
2. Take Me to the Land of Jazz
3.Sugar Blues
4. Big City Blues
5. Broken Blues
6. Downhearted Blues
7. Step it Up and Go
8. Ukulele Blues part 1
9. Terrible Murder Blues*
10. Low Down Blues
11. Wang Wang Blues
12. Hesitation Blues
13. The Blues Have Got Me
14. The New Lonesome Crave
15. Ukulele Blues part 2
* Vocal by Meredith Axelrod
« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 09:59:47 AM by Slack »

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar [new CD]
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2010, 05:51:31 PM »
Thanks for the review!  Craig is amazing.  I gotta get this disc.

Offline Michael Kuehn

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Re: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar [new CD]
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 09:55:53 AM »
I thought I would post this Youtube video of the 1925 song "Take 'Em To The Door Blues" which Craig covers on his new album. A nice little ditty -- listen to the lyrics.

Offline jostber

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Re: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar [new CD]
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 03:02:38 AM »
Need to check this new CD out. Thanks for the fine review.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar [new CD]
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 12:15:58 PM »
I got Craig's new CD several weeks ago and have been listening to it ever since. It's definitely a keeper. You can get one from Craig--here's the details:

Craig Ventresco
1869 Stockton St. apt. 4
San Francisco, CA 94133
The cd plus postage is $17.00

Offline jostber

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Re: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar [new CD]
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2010, 08:07:36 AM »
From another forum with Craig himself posting:

Offline Michael Kuehn

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Re: Craig Ventresco Plays the Guitar [new CD]
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2010, 09:53:39 AM »

Thought I'd share this, if you haven't already stumbled on it. Check out the nice breaks in 'Toot Toot Tootsie.' Tasty stuff.
Playing his custom Fraulini! Nice work, Todd!

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