2018 Blues Workshop Faculty Update: Craig Ventresco

The amazing blues guitarist Craig Ventresco has confirmed that he will be coming to the 2018 Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop!

(from a review by Pete Madsen, Acoustic Guitar magazine)

If you ever wandered through San Francisco metro stations during the mid-1990s, you may have heard what you thought was the ghost of Blind Blake playing ragtime guitar. In fact, the music echoing through the tunnels was coming from the guitar of Maine native and transplanted San Franciscan Craig Ventresco.


Ventresco’s unconventional musical direction was set during early childhood, when he fell in love with old 78-rpm recordings of early ragtime and jazz. When other kids were listening to Led Zeppelin, Ventresco was searching through dusty bins for rare sides by such obscure artists as Billy Murray, Arthur Collins, and Will Denny. “I love all kinds of music from the turn of the century – ragtime, waltzes, marches,” he explains. “I wasted every dime I’ve ever made on old records.”

Much of the material he plays was not originally guitar music. The rags of pianist Scott Joplin are obvious examples, but Ventresco also draws inspiration from horn players, accordionists, and even the American Quartet, a best-selling vocal group that scored hits during the 1910s and ’20s with such popular songs as “Casey Jones,” “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary,” and “Over There.”

Ventresco’s playing stands out by virtue of his aggressive sound. Using only a flatpick (to set up an attack that can’t really be duplicated with a naked thumb or a thumbpick) and the ring finger of his right hand, Ventresco manages to sound like three guitarists, and he achieves a brawniness lacking in the approach of many fingerstyle guitarists who play similar material.

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