Thursday, 31 May 2012

Clark Terry and Muddy Waters

I'm a huge fan of jazz as well as blues. Clark Terry is one of the last living 'greats' of jazz...legendary sessions like the one with Coleman Hawkins when they recorded Stardust or with Oscar Peterson are tremendous examples of improvisation and musicianship. For giants like Miles Davis and even Quincy Jones, Clark Terry was their mentor.

I often struggle to mingle my love of jazz with my love of country blues. Though they can have their stark differences, it makes it all the more exciting when there are crossovers between the two genres. Some moments that come to mind are Lead Belly with early New Orleans legend Bunk Johnson, (one of the greatest phrasers of the blues) Sidney Bechet with Josh White, T-Bone Walker with Jazz at the Philharmonic, etc. So, when I found this gem, which might be the finest crossover example, I had a nerdy little freakout. Clark Terry with Muddy Waters...man, that's great stuff.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

RIP Doc Watson

Very sad past few days...first Duck Dunn, then Robin Gibb, and now one of the greatest folk musicians to ever live, Doc Watson. We all know he was a tremendous flatpicker and he certainly set the standard for incomparable musicianship. He lived a long and fulfilling life - the loyalty of Doc's fans will definitely keep his music alive for many, many years to come!

As Bela Fleck put it, "there will be another like him..."

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Lesson on Make Me A Pallet On the Floor

Here's a lesson on Willie Brown's great rendition of one of my favorite songs. On the original recording, his picking is a big ragged at times which makes things a little more forgiving if you'd like to go for it note for note! I think this is a really underrated piece in terms of the fantastic guitar work that was done.

Based on his sound (the way he picks the strings, bends the notes, etc) and his gravelly voice, I really do think that this IS the Willie Brown who recorded Future Blues and M & O Blues...not to mention that I'm pretty sure Son House was at the session to confirm this (fact check?).


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Playing Slide Like A Singer

You'll notice that the great slide players, Charlie Patton, Fred McDowell, Blind Willie Johnson, Derek Trucks, etc, make their bottleneck playing sound like a voice. Hopefully, with this lesson you'll get some ideas for how to practice this!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Using Vibrato With the Slide

I know from experience how vibrato can start out as a painful ordeal with improper technique. The tensing of the shoulder and muscles in the arm can be pretty bothersome and might even discourage using vibrato, at times! So, I thought I'd make a short little video to illuminate how to fix this...it's all about the thumb-planting.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke, and Doc Watson Jamming

This might be what you'd call a must-see video. Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke playing a tune by John Fahey! 'Nuff said there...

Leo Kottke's pretty young in this video - it's cool to see that he's enjoying the experience just as much as we, as the listeners, enjoy it. This sort of coming-together of greats doesn't happen TOO often...it reminds me of the Billie Holiday session where the jazz greats came together to play Fine and Mellow, or when John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins crossed paths to play Tenor Madness. Even better, though, with this video you actually get the organic, backstage eavesdrop experience! It's a good one.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Starting Out With Slide Guitar

I thought I'd start a series of videos outlining a lot of what is important to know if you'd like to to start playing slide in the blues idiom. Maybe, if you've thought a bunch of times about dipping into this style but haven't had the chance, this video might give you a decent start!

If the old Delta Blues musicians is what you prefer, slide guitar is practically a must-learn style. B.B King once said that he developed his vibrato technique because he wanted to play slide but he couldn't! Thus he did his cool vibrato to compensate...but, unlike B.B., we've all got Youtube so there's no excuse!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Son House's Shetland Pony Blues Lesson

A fellow bluesman from New Zealand requested these past two Son House tunes: Pearline and now Shetland Pony Blues. I hadn't actually heard these songs before the past few days - but, I liked them right off the bat!

In particular, Shetland Pony Blues sounds, to me, like a trademark Delta Blues tune, beating the guitar like a drum. The interesting thing is that a lot of the 'moves' in this tune are really unique - in my limited experience, I haven't actually seen a lot of these licks, which I found to be very cool. Anyways, I hope you enjoy learning this tune.

Talking about Josh White...

I thought I'd bring things back to Josh White...his style and capabilities are reminiscent of Lonnie Johnson who was also a great player. Here, FDR's confidant plays an old tune that I like to associate with Bessie Smith: Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.

Be sure to check him out - luckily he was recorded a ton during the 1930's when most players lost all their recording contracts.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Son House's Pearline Lesson

A cool little slide tune by Son House..check it out if you're a fan. It's all about getting a 'frantic' sort of vibrato with ragged right hand patterns to get the Son House sound.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Willie Brown's Grandma Blues has been found???

Apparently, this fellow is in possession of one of Willie Brown's lost recordings, Grandma Blues! If this is all legit, the tape recorded version of his uncle's original Paramount 78 is the only known copy to exist.

This all made some minor commotion about a year ago when record collector John Tefteller tried to contact this Youtuber, but unfortunately the anonymous player hasn't responded. Oh well, there's a lot of people who think that it's all a hoax, but the phrasing does seem close enough to M & O Blues that, I suppose, it could be the real thing. Until he reappears on the internet, it'll remain a cool little mystery...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Muddy Waters Bottleneck Lesson

So this is the final video that shows the continuation between Charlie Patton's Banty Rooster Blues, Robert Johnson's Travelling Riverside Blues, and this Muddy Waters tune. Each came one after the other so it's an interesting way to understand the aural tradition of this music.

The song's a fun one to play. Just remember to keep things bouncy...that means controlling the note lengths (staccatos, etc) well! BUT, as always, start slow and make sure everything's solid before you crank up the metronome.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Daunting Transcriptions?

If you want to become a better musician, the best way to make the major leaps in playing ability is with transcription. Unfortunately, though, it can be the hardest way. It's like if you want to lose weight by working out and running. You KNOW it's gonna work, but the easier way out is too often chosen...doing nothing!

I use Youtube, and instructional books on a daily basis to get better, but I'd say it has been through transcribing that I've learned the most...in other words, using the ears. If you've got a smartphone, transcribing can be easy and fun...sometimes. Here's a link to a smartphone app that allows you to slow-down songs while maintaining pitch to pick out fast or complex passages...this is how I learn all songs.
http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/amazing-slow-downer/id308998718?mt=8

I don't have any affiliation, I say all of the above since I've found that too many people rely on tabs and other such methods to (for lack of a better term) 'half-ass' learn songs. Give it a try...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Another Robert Johnson Tutorial on Travelling Riverside Blues!

I really love this tune. It's got the coolest slide moves that Robert Johnson ever played, IMO. The similarities which the form of this song has with some of the old Charlie Patton songs like Banty Rooster Blues and It Won't Be Long is very interesting...learn this form once and you'll have several songs in your pocket!

the Robert Johnson Remasters

The 2011 Centennial Collection of Robert Johnson's tunes unbelievable. If you're anything CLOSE to a Robert Johnson fan, this remastering of the old 1990 remasters will blow your mind. All of those old scratchy sounds and pops are gone. Personally, I do like the scratchiness of pre-war blues records, but now the quality of the recordings is as if Johnson just finished the sessions last month at Capitol Records! Give them a try...

Check them out: http://www.amazon.ca/The-Centennial-Collection-Robert-Johnson/dp/B004OFWLO0

Here's an interesting video of Robert Johnson's grandson discussing the rereleases...

Jumping the Blog Bandwagon...

Apart from the Youtube channel, I'm thinking this can be the new blah148 headquarters!
I'll be posting all of my Delta Blues instructional videos on this site and more...stay tuned!