Raul Midón guest lesson: part one

ACOUSTIC EXPO 2013: Son of an Argentinian father and African-American mother, Raul Midón was born in New Mexico, went to college in Miami and now lives in New York. Described variously as "genius", "showstopper" and "virtuoso", his soul-drenched vocals and songwriting already conjure up images of Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder - and that's before you've even heard a lick of his guitar playing.

Drawing upon influences as diverse as jazz guitarists Lenny Breau and Tuck Andress, along with Latin, soul, pop and funk, all facets can be heard on his debut album State Of Mind. Raul calls himself a "one-man orchestra", or more precisely a one-man rhythm machine.

He began by playing drums but was soon taking guitar lessons with a local Flamenco player and listening to artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, James Taylor and of course Stevie Wonder. "The way I play today is an amalgamation of all those styles, mixed in with my fascination with the great blues guitarists like Eric Clapton and BB King," says Midón. "I'm constantly trying to integrate everything I know musically, into the guitar."

With his L'Arrivée LC-90 acoustic and ultra-long acrylic fingernails, Raul's signature sound is produced from a combination of palm-slaps on the strings, thumb slaps on the body, intricate subdivisions from his fret hand and a massively strong and quick downstroke strum. The guy also does the most ridiculous mouth trumpet (more of this phenomenal technique next month), all of which marks him out as unique.

Midón was a top vocal sessioneer in Miami, before moving to the Big Apple a few years ago to pursue his solo dream. Shortly after relocating, he wrote to Stevie Wonder in Braille and his hero ended up playing harmonica on his album. That's just the kind of effect he has on you.

In this guest lesson filmed for Guitar Techniques, we concentrate on his warm-ups, jazz lines and harp harmonics.

In part two of his guest lesson, Midon will take us through his amazing vocal trumpet technique and incredible rhythm style.