Guitars at River & Osborne

Mass Appeal – Guitars
Location: Gas Station Theatre
(Corner of River & Osborne)

Saturday September 28
Rehearsal: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Concert: 1:30 – 2:00 pm

Guitars at River & Osborne

Over the years we’ve hosted Mass Appeals with a wide variety of instruments – ukuleles, accordions, brass, strings, fiddles and more, but we’ve never had a good old guitar pull. Well, 2019 is the year we change all that! The great country music songwriter Harlan Howard described his craft as “three chords and the truth” and that’s how we’re going to start this concert. Whether you have a beat up six string hiding in your closet or a double necked Gibson like Jimmy Page, the Mass Appeal guitar concert has something for you.

We will meet outside the Gas Station Theatre on the plaza at River & Osborne at noon. The band leader, Brian James, is well-known in Winnipeg’s music scene having been a professional musician and songwriter for over 15 years. A founding member and guitar player of legendary Winnipeg indie pop band Quinzy as well as an award-winning session guitar player and record producer. Music education and community have always been important to Brian – he’s taught a free drop-in music program in Winnipeg’s West End for the past 6 years and currently teaches multiple instruments at the internationally acclaimed School of Rock.

Brian is bringing an all-star group of accompanists to keep things rocking along including Jess Rae Ayre of The Sweet Alibi (guitar and vocals), Dan Jordan of Red Moon Road/Retro Rhythm Review (drums), Meg Dolovich of the Joey Landreth Band (bass) and Liam Duncan of The Middle Coast (keys).

Rehearsal takes place between noon and 1:00 pm with the concert running from 1:30 – 2:00 pm. To participate as a player, download the songs below and practice them on your own. Participants are asked to bring
– a chair
– a music stand & clothespins to hold your music
– sheet music
– a pen or pencil for notes during rehearsal

Please note that this concert is geared to guitar players who do not require amplification. While the band will lead the ensemble from the stage with a full rhythm section, we will not be able to provide power for your amplifier.

Read on to find the music, sample tracks, and notes on each song from Brian! There are videos for each song you can watch, some of which are the original versions and some are tutorials. be sure and check them all out because while they may not present the exact way these songs are arranged for our concert, they’ll help you to become familiar with the melody and phrasing.

Mass Appeal 2019 Guitars repertoire:

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Lover – Taylor Swift
The Hardest Button to Button – The White Stripes
Live My Life – Bullrider
Loser – Beck
Helpless – Neil Young

1. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Fast Car (no Capo)
Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Fast Car (Capo 2)

Brian says: “Fast Car” is my go to for a first song to teach someone. It’s an absolutely gorgeous lick that you can play for hours without getting tired of it along with some of the most heartfelt lyrics ever written. Tracy Chapman is my jam! The signature lick is fairly east to learn if you have a capo on the second fret. Otherwise you can strum the chords in G with a capo or in A without a capo!


2. Lover – Taylor Swift

Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Lover

Brian says: I asked one of my guitar students to suggest a catchy song that was simple to play on the guitar that the kids were into. “Lover” was their first idea and I loved it after the first listen. T-Swift has got your song! This song has a 6/8 feel. The bridge has some extra chords in it.


3. The Hardest Button to Button – The White Stripes

Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – The Hardest Button To Button

Brian says: Kind of a back to school song, kind of a trying to fit in song. The video at the right will guide you through all the fingerings and chords you need to know, so learn those first. If you have time, take a look at the way Jack, Meg and Bart played it when the White Stripes guest starred on The Simpsons. Hopefully we won’t encounter any garbage barges or bridges to jump when we perform the song.


4. Live My Life – Bullrider

Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Live My Life
Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Live My Life (capo 1)

Brian says: Winnipeg’s very own Bullrider are a five-piece alt-pop band that combines a wonderful mix of high energy guitars, tight bass lines, and captivating rhythm sections. Their tunes always make you want to get up and dance, or in our case for Mass Appeal, jam along on the guitar.

There are 2 different versions here, one for people who want to play in standard tuning and one for people who use a capo.


5. Loser – Beck

Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Loser

Brian says: This song features an iconic guitar part based on sliding up the neck hitting done open strings and then sliding down the neck. There are not really any other chords to play in this song, just a single slide riff the whole time. The downloadable chart has the lyrics to help figure out where you are in the song. You can listen to Beck sing it to the right, but the video below will give you the best idea of how to play it.

Tune your guitar to drop D (DADGBE) and just strum the three low strings! Or if you’re fancy, tune your guitar to open D (DADF#AD). Try to catch some of the sitar parts! Get crazy with the Cheez Whiz!







6. Helpless – Neil Young

Download: Mass Appeal 2019 – Helpless

Brian says: We pretty much gotta do this one! Three chords and a real feeling. We’re all gonna feel it and so will anybody passing by while it’s being played.

No one will complain if you bring a D harmonica (but no other harmonicas allowed!)