Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mississippi Fred McDowell - Goin Down to the River

Everybody seem to like the last Mississippi Fred McDowell video. So here is another, thanks to YouTube. And for all you guitar players out there, this note was also provided:

This is from a web page written by Brian Robertson - "Mississippi Fred McDowell used the D tuning on a fairly regular basis, and one of the advantages is that it allows the high string (D) to play melody or, more often, to play along with the singer, as in his classic, "You Got to Move"

BTW - 'open D' is D A D F# A D

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Champion Jack Dupree mp3

You know a bluesman that I have wanted write about for a while now is Champion Jack Dupree. He is one of my favorite musicians from my home state of Louisiana. Now I know it might seem like I say things like that about so many different musicians, but you have to understand that when you are from Louisiana, there is always a great musician hanging around just waiting to be loved. Not to mention the great Louisiana musicians from the past.

Like Louis Armstrong he was a student at the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he learned how to play the piano. He was born in July of the early 1900s (different sources give different dates) and he died January 21, 1992. He lived such a colorful life that to my mind not only did he live the blues but he lived many other colors as well. He was a master boogie woogie barrelhouse house piano player, but he also served in the United States Navy as a cook. He was captured during WWII and even served some time as a Japanese Prisoner of War. He got his nickname Champion Jack because after meeting Joe Lewis he went on to become a Golden Gloves Boxing Champion.

You can read all about Champion Jack Dupree@ wikipedia.

He once said,

"When you open up a piano, you see freedom. Nobody can play the white keys and don't play the black keys. You got to mix all these keys together to make harmony. And that's what the whole world needs: Harmony."

Champion Jack Dupree - Hometown New Orleans.mp3

I love during this recording when he ask rhetorically, "People say, what is barrelhouse piano playing anyway?" and then he proceeds to show you. Good stuff indeed.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mississippi Fred McDowell - John Henry Video

Now if you were to be a guitar playing man (or woman for that matter), you would do your self a favor if you were to watch as much Mississippi Fred McDowell as you could get your hands on. That's right, watch the blues children, listen to the blues, and baby play the blues. Live the blues, like Mississippi Fred McDowell did.

As the man famously said, "I do not play no rock and roll."

You can read about Mississippi Fred McDowell @ wikipedia.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Video of Leadbelly

I've posted some mp3s of Leadbelly in this blog but until now I have not posted any video of him. These songs probably fit more in the folk music catagory, but I like them all the same. I love folk music (I love all kinds of music), but I like the simple lyrics and the presentation of most folk performers. Kind of the same way that I love the simple presentation of the early blues music.

Leadbelly for example had a very rhythmic way of playing his guitar as he sang. And seeing him on video is a much more satisfying experience then just hearing him sing. With that in mind, please take a look at this video of Leadbelly doing several of his songs. Note how he seems to be dancing with his guitar as he sings.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Blues Instruments - The Guitar.

I've read in Gerard Herzhaft's Encyclopedia of The Blues and other places that the guitar, became popular and cheap just as the first bluesmen began to develop their sound. At the time among white rural musicians the banjo and the fiddle were just as important as the guitar if not more popular.

The guitar was more flexible and allowed for making blue notes and the creation of a true blues scale. Because the guitar was a cheap instrument and it could produce a wide range of effects it dominated the playing of the early black musicians. The early bluesmen, did not play the guitar the way it was played by classically trained musicians, just as they also played the harmonica in a different way then in classical music. Most black musicians were not trained in classical music at the time anyway.

The early bluesmen, such as Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson adapted fingerpicking, in which the melody is interwoven among the alternating bass notes and flatpicking, which helps to create the idea of a lead guitar. In flatpicking, the musician plays the melody line, note by note, with a pick. This allows the guitar to accompany a singer in a call and response technique which is familiar to almost every fan of the blues. Where the singer sings a line, and then the guitar repeats that line or vice versa.

It is reported that Lonnie Johnson probably invented this technique thus forever codifying the guitar's place in both blues and later rock and roll. The idea of flat picking lead to the electric guitar, which really allowed the bluesmen and women to express themselves. Thus you get guitars crying and displaying emotions as seen in the playing styles of musicians like B.B. King, T. Bone Walker and later Stevie Ray Vaughn.

To read more about the many blues guitarist check this out Blues Guitarists @ wikipedia.

A little guitar trivia; The guitar has come to be called many different colloquial names over time such as:


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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Otis Rush "I Can't Quit You Baby" Video

Here is a cool video of another one of my favorite bluesmen. A man who not only played the blues but lived the blues. Otis Rush's guitar style is what intrigues me the most about him. He plays a right handed guitar left handed, upside down without restringing it. I think this makes the sound of his guitar playing unique. He has a big old tone on almost every note. Then there is the voice, he has a very powerful tenor voice that is shown well here.

I like how Mr. Rush totally looks the part of a bluesman in this video, neat dress, black sunglasses, processed hair. And then there is the audience in this video, straight out of the sixties. Too cool.

I can't quit you baby, but I got to put you down for a while,
Well, you know I can't quit you baby, but I got to put you down for a while,
Yes, you messed up my happy home baby, you made me mistreat my only child."

Otis Rush DVDs

Mr. Rush suffered a stroke in 2004 and has since recovered and by all accounts is doing well.

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