Need one last Christmas present or stocking stuffer for the mandolin player in your life? Consider Scott Napier’s recently released instructional DVD, Mandolin Originals with Scott Napier. Napier, the longtime mandolin player for the Lost and Found and one of the newest instructors at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music, has assembled a sampling of original tunes he has written and recorded over the past two decades. The six songs on the disc range from a strictly traditional Monroe style to pieces influenced by gypsy jazz.
According to the DVD packaging, the instruction on this disc is intended for intermediate to advanced level players, and that does seem accurate. Because the songs are originals, they won’t be as familiar to most pickers as standards or classics might be. In addition, Napier’s explanation of the tunes is geared toward a higher level musician as opposed to a beginner. After giving a brief description of the song’s style, its influences, and where it was previously recorded, Napier quickly plays through the tune. He then slows things down to explain specific parts of the song in more detail and show the viewer specific fingerings and picking patterns. The visual alternates between a wider angle of Napier playing and a close-up of his fingers on the fretboard. One helpful aspect is the addition of a split screen at times to see both the close-up and wider shots.
Viewers will probably be most familiar with Parkway Blues, a Monroe-style number that Napier recorded while he was playing with Larry Sparks in the late 1990s. Roadside Waltz is another that seems to be modeled after Monroe’s playing, and Napier specifically mentions that he attempted to make it sound like something that would have been composed in the early twentieth century. Young One takes things in another direction, with a bouncy, jazzier melody. Shanksmare mixes things up again, incorporating cross-D tuning and an old-time mountain mandolin sound, inspired by the fiddle playing of Art Stamper.
Napier might best be known for his ability to channel and add to the unique mandolin stylings of Dempsey Young, but this DVD showcases his more personal tastes and various approaches to the mandolin. The overall feel of the disc may have benefited from the addition of a guitar accompanist, especially when Napier previews each tune before the periods of instruction commence. However, as this DVD shows, Napier is obviously a talented musician who has a strong understanding of a wide array of mandolin styles. Mandolin students unable to attend formal, in-person classes or Skype lessons will certainly appreciate this disc, and aficionados of the instrument will enjoy the look at Napier’s mandolin collection and preferred set-ups in the disc’s “Special Features.”
For more information on Napier and his new instructional DVD, visit his Facebook page.
He will soon have online ordering available, but for now, you can send $25 (+$2 for S&H) to:
PO Box 443
Clay City, KY 40312
Scott will ship you one right out.