There is so much great music out there for you to “dive into” that it’s almost impossible to know what to recommend to you, but I will try, and also will give you some thoughts on music listening in general.
First and foremost, I think it’s very important to try to get to the “root” of whatever particular bag of music you’re into listening to. It didn’t take me long when I first fell in love with blues during the
blues boom” of the mid-sixties to start to immediately go back ion time with the blues, and try to seek out all that I could find back in those days. If I was into Mike Bloomfield, before you knew it I was listening to B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, and then sure enough, I went back and back to Son House and Robert Johnson. Instantaneously, it all came together, and my passion for the blues was fueled even more deeply. The same was true about country guitar for me too, as I may have loved the contemporary players at that time such as Clarence White and Zal Yanovsky, but I was then looking into Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Jimmie Rodgers and more who also took me all the way back to country guitar’s beginnings.
I would have to strongly recommend this to you, that you find and seek out some of the earlier, “seminal” recording by the masters who came before the great players you are hearing these days. These great players of today had to have gotten into their predecessors as they were learning and falling in love with their styles, and it really behooves you to follow in those footsteps too, if you really want to know what makes your favorite artists really “tick.”
I really feel like there’s nothing like listening to the “old” stuff, and can anything beat listening to vintage blues, country, jazz and rock n’ roll?! I mean, if you wanted to listen to “swing” for example, even though so many players are into that these days, you’d have to listen to original swing music to truly capture the spirit of exactly what it was all about way back in the Big Band era. It’s a good general rule to try to always listen to the “real thing” when it comes to true roots-oriented music, as opposed to the “watered-down” approaches we hear these days, where the music is already 3rd or 4th generation!
There was a time when all this music was fresh and groundbreaking, and those are the periods of time we want to really listen to. No doubt there are great players who carry on the tradition, and there are also players who continue to “carry it on” in the improvisational spirit that was intended to begin with. Taking all this in would really give you a much stronger foundation to work with in terms of your own music, and even without knowing it, you’d be acquiring better taste and knowledge that would certainly be applied to your playing.
I basically feel that I am stylistically a combination of just about any music I’ve ever heard, and that it has all come together to create one unique style. After all, when you are truly self-taught, all of that information must come together in some way so you can decipher and also recycle just what all this music has done for you.
So now with the coming of the New Year, it’s good to reflect on just what would really help your playing, and what would help to further inspire you onto new heights. Listen to all those who came before you, and you will certainly be able to reap the rewards!