Open guitar tunings, flat picking and bottlenecking fill "Homestyle," a new collection of acoustic blues by Rogue Valley guitarist Pete Herzog. The CD was digitally recorded live at Hartkop Productions in Central Point and released late this year.
Herzog's often uses alternate tunings on his guitars. He used an old Gibson and older arch top Kay to create the harmonics for "Homestyle."
Who: Pete Herzog
When: 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 26
Where: Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent
"One is tuned oddly," Herzog says. "And the other is tuned even more oddly. Early blues players tuned their guitars in a style compared to Leo Kottke — he plays in a lot of open tunings. Even though Kottke isn't a blues guy, he's been a big influence on me."
Herzog will perform at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 26, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent. He'll also perform at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27, at Key of C Coffee House, 116 Lithia Way, and at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27, at T's Restaurant, 303 E. Main St., Ashland.
Of the 18 tracks on the album, all but three were written by Herzog. One of the covers, "Last Kind Words," was recorded in 1930 by blues singer and guitarist Geeshie Wylie for Paramount Records.
"The song goes back to a time after World War I when there was no set style for the blues," Herzog says. "It was a mix of roots, African and European influences. It reflects the kind of music that I try to play."
Another cover, "House of the Rising Sun," dates back as early as 1932 with uncertain authorship. Also known as "Rising Sun Blues," Eric Burdon and the Animals, an English pop group, made the song a hit in 1964.
"I've also developed my own style of picking without meaning to," Herzgog says.
When Herzog discovered blues and roots music as a teenager, he wasn't aware that most of it was played finger-style.
"It's a style where you use your thumb to create an alternating bass line while the melody is picked with the fingers," Herzog says. "It was a way that blues players in early juke joints could sound larger."
Herzog learned to play this style with a flat pick. It gives his music a different sound. He uses the Kay for slide. The guitar is from the '30s, and a friend of Herzog's bought it in the '40s in a Chicago pawn shop, Herzog says.
"I can sort of feel the history of all that have played it before me," Herzog says.
Herzog was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Trail in 1967. He started playing Hawaiian lap steel guitar as a youngster, but picked up a six-string when the Beatles became famous. He relates strongly with rural music, delta and country blues, bluegrass, roots and jug band styles.
"I've lived most of my life in the country and spent countless hours pickin' guitar on the back porch," Herzog states in his bio. "To me the blues have always been more than three chords and twelve bars. Sometimes one chord is plenty to tell a story and convey a feeling. The blues is mostly about a man and woman, the yin and yang, the light and dark, the tension and release, but it doesn't always have to be sad. Some of my favorite blues are more about being happy and doing something about it."
"Homestyle" is available at Musichead in Medford, the Music Coop in Ashland, Off the Wall Music in Central Point and at cdbaby.com and other digital stores.
There is no cover for the show at Paschal Winery, and there will be free wine-tasting. Call 535-7957.