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Jammin Blues Guitar, Hebrew, Israel, Johnny Mayer

How to Write a
Hebrew Blues Guitar Book

The next time I get an idea, I think I'm gonna just keep it to myself. Me and my big ideas are nothing but trouble, like the one I had just before the Gulf War...

I was giving this kid a guitar lesson in Tel Aviv when all of a sudden the light bulb went on! Why not write a book to teach Israeli kids how to play blues guitar in Hebrew? I walked out of the lesson and turned to Eli behind the counter and said, "Hey Eli, what do you think about my idea to write a Hebrew Blues Guitar book?"

Eli said something like "Boeana, Johnny". (that's Hebrew for Wow!), "what a great idea ... I tell you what, just talk to Roni the keyboard teacher... his father Sammy is the head of Israel's largest music publisher. I'm sure he'll love the idea."

I've often wondered why Eli who was standing in front of a wall full of guitar books didn't just say ... 'Are you crazy? Look at all these guitar books. Who needs another guitar book?..."

So I spoke to Roni and he gave me his fathers' number. I called up Sammy and made an appointment to go and see him. Sammy (may he rest in peace) was about 70 years old and had no clue when it came to blues music so I played him a few licks on my guitar. Sammy was impressed and asked what I had in mind.

I told Sammy, "I'd like to write a blues guitar book and cassette to teach Israeli kids to play the blues. It would have simple blues licks and rhythm patterns for individual and group lessons." Sammy thought about it for a moment and said, "We've never tried anything like that ... to bring out a book and cassette. That sounds interesting, let's see what my boss thinks of the idea."

So we went upstairs to talk to Moti and he liked the idea and wondered out loud, "Who's going to buy the book? Are Israeli kids into blues guitar?"

I said to Moti and Sammy 'Are you kidding? Israelis are crazy about blues guitar. It's in our blood. The ancient Jews were great blues singers. They first got the blues when they were slaves in Egypt and then wrote a whole bunch of tunes as wandering Jews for the Assyrians, Babylonians and the Romans.

Well, that's all the convincing Moti needed. He turned to Sammy and said, "Don't waste time, sign him up to a contract and get the book out already."

Sammy took me downstairs, pulled out a contract, filled it out (15% commission) and asked me to sign it. I grabbed the pen, looked it over (upside down) and signed on the dotted line.

By Johnny Mayerr

Hebrew Blues Guitar sample page

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