Sem van Blerk



Sem van Blerk - Americana and fingerstyle guitarist, singersongwriter, producer

1968 born in Huizen, The Netherlands. Grew up listening to 30's and 40's piano blues, boogie-woogie , Thelonious Monk and J.S. Bach. And his father playing all this and more on a beat up piano.
1974 heard a Jim Croce song for the first time
1977 saw the movie "Rock Around the Clock", couldn't sleep all night from excitement over this music called "rock and roll". Bill Haley was his first music idol.
1978 Gene Vincent - Be-bop-a-lula, Eddy Cochran - Summertime Blues, Buddy Holly - That 'll be the day. Then he heard about this singer Elvis Presley. Might be anything good, since all his idols said Elvis was the one that inspired them to this rock and roll thing. Spend listening all his fifties records that summer. All summer long. And fall. And winter....
1979 Because Sem's mother was ill, the family couldn't go on vacation that summer. His parents bought him his first guitar, to have something to do that summer. Turned out to be a life changer. The first song Sem learned to play: ' love me tender', by Elvis Presley.
 1980  At the local music store Sem bought a country blues fingerpickin' lesson book, just because it had the words "blues"  and "country"  in the title. Turned out to be something completely different than what he expected. But he kind a liked it.  Heck, he loved it.  Even more true to say: he got addicted to it. Would 't rest until he could play all the songs in the book. Songs by Big Bill Broonzy,  Blind Lemon Jefferson, Reverend Gary Davis,  Blind Willy McTell. So he was playing all those complicated fingerpickin' country blues songs even before he learned to play the basic guitar chords and techniques. And the funny thing: he never even heard one of these songs before he could play 'm. Those were the days long before YouTube and Spotify, and vinyl of that music was really hard to get by. It was only many years later that he finally could hear all those songs he'd been playing for all those years. 
 1981  Bought his first Bob Dylan songbook. Never heard a Dylan song before in his life. But started playing them, and liked some of them really well. At first especially the songs from "Blonde on Blonde" and "Nashville Skyline Rag". But since he feit unworthy to sing the songs, he tried to play the songs using the techniques out of the Stefan Grossman lesson book, combined with the notes of the piano arrangements in the book. And he actually liked the result of that. 
 1982 Borrowed a Jim Croce songbook from the public library (still borrowing it). First played and sang the songs using the basic chords and chord symbols to the songs. But that didn't sound right. Then he started playing the songs using the piano parts, both bass cleff (piano left hand) and treble cleff (piano right hand) at the same time. Epiphany!