Guitars Without Borders at Freight and Salvage, June 13


Sparks will fly when these three masters of the flatpick combine forces! Scott Nygaard, Jody Stecher and Eric Thompson have collaborated in various combinations (most recently as part of Kleptograss) but this will mark their first performance as a trio. Guitars will be front and center, but they may play other instruments too — mandolin, fiddle, banjo, maybe some cuatro — and Jody’s soaring vocals will be part of the mix as well. The repertoire could come from almost anywhere including the fertile imaginations of Jody, Eric and Scott – these virtuoso pickers started with bluegrass and old-time music, but they have also delved into jazz and swing, Irish and Scottish, Cajun, blues, Puerto Rican etc. etc. Scott, Jody and Eric have worked with too many notable musicians to list here, but some of them are: Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Chris Thile, Joan Baez, Mike Seeger, Tim O’Brien, David Nelson, Jerry Garcia, Maria Muldaur, Laurie Lewis…you get the picture.

Thursday, June 13, Freight and Salvage, Berkeley, CA, 8 pm

Two gigs with Sharon Gilchrist at the Freight and Salvage in February

I’m going to be playing two gigs with mandolinist/singer Sharon Gilchrist at the Freight and Salvage in February. On Sat. Feb 9, we’ll be playing a duo set opening for the Bee Eaters and then joining the Bee Eaters for selected tunes. And I’ll also be accompanying Sharon during her set at the Freight’s “New Voices” show on Feb. 21. 

Weekly Workout – November

A few months ago I started a new column in Acoustic Guitar called Weekly Workout, with a new exercise for each week of the month. Here are the November workouts:

New DVD with Jack Lawrence and Robert Bowlin

I filmed this about two years ago with Jack Lawrence and Robert Bowlin. A fun time was had by all. You can get it at Flatpicking Mercantile. Here’s what they say about it (and I think they’re right).

In this concert performance DVD, filmed at the Peaceful Bend Americana Music Festival in Steelville, MO, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and SimpleFolk Productions present three of the country’s most highly respected acoustic guitar players performing a very special evening of music.  Jack Lawrence (Doc Watson’s long-time musical partner) is joined here by flatpicking veterans Scott Nygaard and Robert Bowlin.  In this concert these three masters of the acoustic guitar perform as a trio, in different duo configurations, and solo.  Plus singer/songwriter Wil Maring joins them as a special guest.

All three of these performers have had illustrious careers that each span over three decades.  It is rare opportunity to see acoustic guitarists with their combined experience and level of talent performing together in concert.  Each of these guitarist have their own unique approach to the guitar.  Witnessing the smooth and seamless integration of their diverse guitar styles as they bring each tune to life is both exciting and captivating.

Guitar players will appreciate the left and right hand close-ups that are prevalent throughout this DVD.  There are a total of 14 tunes presented: Forked Deer, Little Sadie, Dinah, Rows, Midnight On The Stormy Deep, Paddy On The Turnpike, Old Kentucky Home, Tough Luck Man, Durango Tango, Kingdom Come / Liza Jane, Red Rockin Chair, Arkansas Windstorm, I am A Pilgrim, Texas Gales

Plus this DVD includes special bonus footage featuring two of the young stars of flatpicking guitar music, Josh Williams and Tyler Grant, performing Cattle In The Cane and Nine Pound Hammer. This is a “must see” concert performance for the fan of flatpicking music.

“Art of the Flatpick” workshop at String Letter Music School, May 28

I will be giving a 3-hour workshop focusing on flatpick technique at the String Letter Music School in San Anselmo, CA, May 28, 2-5 pm. For more information visit the Music School website below.

Art of the Flatpick Workshop

Saturday, May 8, 2:00 to 5:00

Using examples from bluegrass, jazz, folk, and pop music, we cover the basics of good picking-hand technique, with an emphasis on picking-hand posture. Techniques covered include alternate picking, rest stroke, efficient picking, sweep picking, and strumming.

Scott discusses flatpicking technique with musical examples in a few styles. Participants have the opportunity to try out the examples in class and get advice and criticism on their own technique.

Participants in this workshop should be interested in acquiring a good basic flatpick technique that will allow them to eventually play and explore any music they want. You should be comfortable with basic first-position chords and first-position major scales (C, G, D) and have attempted to play some melodies up the neck.

You will leave the workshop with a grounding in good flatpick technique and an idea of what you need to work on to improve your own technique.

Scott Nygaard and Crow Molly in Portland, ME, May 22

We’ll be doing an East Coast album release concert May 22, 8 pm, at One Longfellow Square in Portland, ME, with special guest, the great Celtic band Annalivia. onelongfellow

Roger Tallroth and Scott Nygaard album released

The Roger Tallroth and Scott Nygaard album, Rosco, is out and available in the US at CDBaby.

Roger Tallroth & Scott Nygaard: Rosco


Many years ago, in the early ‘90s, I began discovering some of the great music being produced by the contemporary Nordic music scene. The tunes that stuck in my head usually seemed to emanate from the amazing Swedish group Vasen. Years later, after somehow acquiring a very basic understanding of the polska, I finally met Vasen’s guitarist, Roger Tallroth, who by that time had become one of my favorite guitarists. We were enlisted to play a short guitar duet to begin a festival-closing version of Roger’s iconic “Josefin’s Waltz,” and after running through “Josefin’s” and a few other tunes to get musically acquainted, we knew we’d have no trouble making music together. In fact, we both returned from that festival to our separate homes (San Francisco, California, and Uppsala, Sweden) with the same idea: we should do that again, maybe with a recording device running. We got together on Vasen’s next tour of the US, and while discovering that we shared a love of strong coffee and buttery pastries as well as strong melody, forward-moving polyrhythms, and buttery harmonies, we became fast friends.

This album is not an attempt to see how well a Swedish folk guitarist can play American bluegrass tunes or whether an American bluegrass/jazz guitarist can play internalize the nuances of the polska, but an attempt to create music that is unique to the two of us, music that combines all that we love in a way that allows us to “just play.” This is expressed not only in some unclassifiable original tunes (Roger’s Swedish/Appalachian “Roger’s Rough” and my bluegrass/polska “Exit Polska” for example), but also on a few traditional Irish and American fiddle tunes. We began with our usual roles, Roger playing some of the most inventive rhythmic beds ever created in any kind of music, and me playing melodies and occasional improvised solos. But we did manage to switch roles here and there. I provided the straighter American-sounding rhythm guitar on “Anders Eriksson” and “Morsans Vals” and Roger played lots of melody (and second melody) throughout, even pulling out a long improvised solo on the end of “True North.”

Neither Roger nor I have been particularly interested in “guitar music,” preferring to spend most of our musical lives in bands and the company of other stringed instruments and vocalists, so we enlisted the help of Swedish/English fiddler Emma Reid on a number of tunes. As you will hear, she took to this guitary multi-continental music with panache and aplomb.

—Scott Nygaard, San Francisco, California, February 2010