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We started out from our parents - it's just a gift that we had in the family. Our mother and father they could both play. And see he was an old musicianer in slavery time. He played for the white folks at square dances and so it was handed down to us - Sam Chatmon

Author Topic: Piedmont Blues  (Read 1999 times)

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Piedmont Blues
« on: February 03, 2005, 09:25:06 AM »
Can anyone explain to me what is the difference in Piedmont Blues
and other types of Blues?

Offline GhostRider

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Re: What Is Piedmont Blues?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2005, 09:46:30 AM »
Hey, Jack:

Piedmont Blues refers to a geographic area where the style originated and the style of playing itself.

The style is characterized by:

1) generally alternating bass
2) melody rather than rhythm-orientated
3) a strong ragtime influence
4) Emphasis on Keys of G and C
5) Not often played in open tunings and very little slide playing
6) non-aggressive vocal style

The most popular practisioners were Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller. I've always thought of Mississippi John Hurt as a Piedmont-style player even though he didn't live in that area.

I like the melodic Piedmont style myself. Hope this helps.

Talkin' to myself,
« Last Edit: February 04, 2005, 08:37:58 AM by pyrochlore »

Offline waxwing

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Re: What Is Piedmont Blues?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2005, 11:11:45 AM »
Just to add to what Alex has said, the geographical area is the foothills between the Appalachian mountains and the coastal plain. Towns grew up here because the rivers were navigable to this point and the railroad later connected up these towns. This became the center of tobacco trade. Blacks involved in the tobacco industry were relatively better off than those involved in the cotton industry of the deep south. Because of this and other aspects, the music of this area was more influenced by Ragtime, as Alex aptly described, during the time of the early blues. Of course the Atlanta players (McTell, Buddy Moss, Curley Weaver, etc.) also fall into this style and even slide players such as Barbecue Bob sound quite different from the Delta or Texas players.
A great book on this style is Red River Blues, by Bruce Bastin, which describes the evolution of the blues all along the east coast up thru the migration to New York, including modern players such as our own Cephas and Wiggins, and Drink Small.
Another closely related style, also discussed by Bastin, is the Tidewater style of Virginia and surrounding areas, best exemplified by John Jackson (a long time PT stalwart 'til his death) and William Moore.
All for now.
John C.
P.S. If you are interested in purchasing Red River Blues, use the Amazon link on the Juke page and Weenie Campbell gets a small percentage. Thanks.
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  • Guest
Re: What Is Piedmont Blues?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2005, 08:25:37 AM »
I am surprised that no one has mentioned The Rev Gary Davis. He is always the first to come to mind for me in the piedmont range. Did you realize that he only uses his thumb and index finger on his recordings and still gets all the notes he does....what a thumb

Offline Eldergreene

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Re: What Is Piedmont Blues?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2005, 03:23:42 AM »
 To my ears, the white pickers like Dick Justice sounded very similar to their black east coast counterparts (eg Luke Jordan in Justice's case), & I've always assumed that there was more crossover between blacks & whites in the region than, say, the Mississippi Delta, resulting in more 'white' harmonic influence in the black blues players of the region; also, Merle Travis' playing I find reminiscent of some of Gary Davis' stuff - maybe greater interaction among players (if such there was?) is a contributory factor to that distinctive Piedmont sound?

Offline Stuart

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Piedmont Blues
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012, 08:40:34 AM »
I just posted the following over at The Woodshed. Cross posted here as an FYI:

Bryan Sinclair has some info on Piedmont Blues that might be worth checking out:

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Piedmont Blues
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2012, 09:49:13 AM »
Very interesting, thanks  8)

Offline Johnm

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Re: Piedmont Blues
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 01:05:16 PM »
Hi all,
I merged an ancient thread on Piedmont Blues with the new one.
All best,

Offline Stuart

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Re: Piedmont Blues
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2012, 05:34:47 PM »
Another cross post re: Blind Boy Fuller and the Piedmont Blues:


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