Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: a2tom on November 05, 2005, 05:00:26 AM

Title: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: a2tom on November 05, 2005, 05:00:26 AM
It's a question that always dogs me - why, or is, Fuller more accessible than some others?  I know I'm not the only person who has had the reaction.  When I listen to Fuller I think "man this guy was great", and he was.  But when I go to learn his songs, I can generally learn them faster than counterparts.  For example, I've tried to play Blind Lemon's Bad Luck Blues for ages.  I can sort of play it, but not convcingly.  Last night I went to learn Fuller Meat Shakin Woman, which is pretty clearly a deivative of Bad Luck Blues.  I picked it up much more easily. 

I scratch my head at this.  OK, I did struggle for a while with the double-thumbing thing which is a stumbling block if you want to learn Fuller, but I more or less have that down now.  But specific issues of technique aside, I guess maybe some of the wizardy of Fuller was to take slightly more straightfoward licks and build them into great songs?   Or is it all a fallacy that its easier - maybe I just "get" his style more than someone like Lemon or Blake.

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: uncle bud on November 07, 2005, 08:17:52 AM
Been thinking about this. I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. There are plenty of Fuller tunes that could be qualified as hard. A lot of the stuff in A that derives from Gary Davis (e.g., Mamie and the like)  is quite tricky. Some of the easier raggy stuff gets quite tricky when he speeds it up and embellishes it (e.g., Shake It Baby, Piccolo Rag).

Something like Blind Lemon's Bad Luck Blues may be trickier because the bass isn't what you'd expect, the time is sort of counterintuitively straight and doesn't swing like Meat Shakin' Woman. Lemon in general is certainly quirkier, his time and bass work less predictable, there's more use of less common chord partials and extended riffs. His guitar parts are also tied to the vocal in an unusual way, even though they are usually very different from the vocal, and don't support it in the typical manner of, say, a I - VI - II - V rag from Fuller. (That quality, by the way, is a big part of the magic of Lemon for me). A lot of Lemon's guitar parts sound strange in fact without the vocal on top of them. The two need to go together before you really "get" the song. Fuller's guitar parts are much more rhythm guitar-like, can stand on their own to a certain degree - not speaking in terms of performance here, just in terms of learning.

When Paul Rishell teaches Fuller at workshops, he has high praise for the logical construction of Fuller's guitar parts, which often fit together like well-designed puzzles. Everything flows well, fits neatly, he uses open strings effectively (e.g., tossing them in as part of a melody or bass line while moving from chord to chord), his bass work moves neatly from place to place...

Fuller is also just more immediately accessible. For the most part, it's upbeat, bouncy, melodically and harmonically pleasant music.

I've been listening to Fuller a lot lately. He's highly underrated IMO. A great singer, very good guitar player, a very smooth package. Is he easier to play than Lemon or Blake? Yes, I think so, in many respects and for a certain number of songs. Although if you can play Mamie or Funny Feeling Blues convincingly, you're certainly ready to give some of the trickier Lemon or Blake tunes a shot.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Johnm on November 07, 2005, 11:08:52 AM
Hi all,
I agree with you, Andrew, that Fuller is terribly under-rated.  I think in terms of present-day appreciation/estimation of his music, he suffers from the same critical "kiss of death" that Leroy Carr does--they both committed the crime of being very popular and selling a lot of records.  I think another factor that has contributed to a general under-valuing of Fuller's music is that for many years, it seemed as though every time he was mentioned, it was only for the purpose of being compared unfavorably with Rev. Davis or being described as a student of Davis.  I am dubious of the extent to which Fuller was a student of Davis's.  Apart from a few moves in A standard, their playing is really not that similar.  If Fuller was a student of Davis's, I would say he didn't pay attention that well, and we can be thankful for that.  I think we are much more fortunate to end up with Fuller playing as he did and Davis playing as he did, than to have Fuller playing more like Davis.  One Rev. Davis is plenty.
I think Lemon is far more difficult to reproduce than Fuller, because the link-up between his (Lemon's) singing and his accompaniment was so complex, probably rivaled for complexity only by Charlie Patton.  I think also, as you point out, that Lemon's straight eighth notes may be harder to hear and feel than Fuller's swung eighth notes, especially in this post-shuffle era. In a general sense, I think Lemon and Blake were far more technically accomplished players than Fuller, though he was a great player in his own right.
Fuller was just great, and you can't get the full picture of him without taking into consideration his wonderful singing.  It's like he always had the right amount of phlegm rattling around in his throat.  He spawned a generation of imitators in the eastern United States, many of whom were really good players and singers themselves.  As far as I'm concerned, when people talk about Piedmont guitar style, they might just as well call it "playing like Blind Boy Fuller".
All best,
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: a2tom on November 07, 2005, 05:05:26 PM
You'll get no argument from me as to his greatness.  I agree that the dismissiveness that Davis seemed to have in the famous quotes, etc, seems to have left some collective misimpression about Fuller.  I guess that's what I find odd about the fact that I really have had better success with his material.  I like the notion that his arrangements are so seamless, which many of the ones I know are.  Part of that may be stylistic and historical, but also attests to his ability as an arranger - as someone who messes quite a lot with writing and arranging on the guitar I really appreciate that skill, to make great songs not quite SO difficult to play perhaps.  I also hear you that may be I just haven't gotten to the toughest stuff yet!   Mamie is indeed a favorite (I love when Mamie calls...) near the top of the learn list, as is Untrue Blues.  I play too much rag in C anyway!

Basically, I get better everyday, if only a tiny bit, and maybe someday I'll be really ready for Blake, Davis and Lemon, but for now I feel like I could do a lot worse than systematically work through Fuller's many ideas.

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Easy Rider on November 10, 2005, 06:24:19 AM
I'm curious: 
Where can I hear some of BB Fuller? 
Which CDs should I buy?
Where can I get TAB/Music and instructional material?
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Slack on November 10, 2005, 06:57:02 AM
1) You can request Blind Boy Fuller on Weenie Juke

2) You might start with Yazoo's "Truckin' My Blues Away" (http://www.yazoorecords.com/1060.htm)

3) Ari Eisingers Blind Boy Fuller instruction video is excellent and it comes with tab (somewhere on guitarvideos.com)

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: GerryC on November 10, 2005, 11:39:23 AM
There is an excellent multi-CD set from JSP which contains most, if not all of BBF's output remastered. Available from Redlick Records in Wales - www.redlick.com Stefan Grossman also published [some years ago but I think it's still available] a book/CD combo in his Masters of Country Blues Guitar series which is top-notch, covering numbers in most of Fuller's styles and keys. For a detailed biography of Fuller [and many other Piedmont blues musicians] try Red River Blues by Bruce Bastin, available from Borders.

As you might guess, Fuller is one of my favourite artists too, and I think it was pretty uncharitable of Rev Davis to diss him the way he did...


Gerry C
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Mike Billo on November 10, 2005, 12:55:34 PM
There have been many times over the years, when I've heard people refer to Rev. Gary Davis making unflattering comments about Blind Boy Fuller. I always ask "Really? What did he say?" and no one can ever seem to recall any of the quotes, but they're quite sure that they were uncomplimentary.
    For a while I began to believe these stories to be apocraphyl.

   However, since this is a pretty knowledgeabl bunch here and the reference has been made again, I'll ask again.

   What did Rev. Gary Davis say?

   We know that they recorded together and I'm sure that my opinion, which is, "What is there to *not* like about Blind Boy Fuller", is representative of mainstream thought, I can't help but be very curious.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: a2tom on November 10, 2005, 02:38:21 PM
My main inference is from comments Stefan Grossman has made in his works, that Davis had said the he "taught Fuller everything he know" and how little Fuller knew outside what Davis taught him, thus engendering the impression that Fuller wasn't much of a player, or creator, on his own.  You may well say that everyone learned from someone, and saying Fuller was a student of Davis isn't damning, but my barometer is that Stefan notes that early on he did in fact think that Fuller was just a cheap imitation of Davis, a Davis-wannabe.  To me that says that Davis was truly creating a negative impression in the mind of his new student.  Now to be clear, Stefan identifies clearly that he later came to identify Fuller as a great artist in his own right - I recall comments about huddling around a record player...  I'm just saying that my understanding that Davis was dissing of Fuller comes from hearing what Stefan said of his own process of discovering Fuller (sorry I can't recall if these comments were in a lesson or in one of his radio broadcasts).  Contrast this with Stefan's frequent retelling of how Davis liked to applaud Blind Blake with statements like "he had a sportin' thumb".

I am sure others who were contemporary with Davis may have more insight.

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Mike Billo on November 10, 2005, 10:23:53 PM
Thanks for the info Tom. That's more specifics than I'd ever heard before.

   I can certainly see where Davis was indeed creating a negative impression in the mind of his student about Fuller.

    Many, many years ago in my youth, I was very fortunate to come into contact with a few old Bluesmen. There was a prevailing cantankerousness among them, that showed itself by labeling any musician they'd ever come in contact with as their "student".
    I'm guessing that something similar may have been going on in this Davis/Fuller scenario.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: uncle bud on November 11, 2005, 08:51:20 AM
Davis allegedly didn't have much good to say about any guitar players aside from Blind Blake, and possibly Willie Walker if I recall correctly (but don't quote me !). Davis's criticism of Fuller comes from Stefan Grossman's Rev. Gary Davis, Oak Publications 1974. Bruce Bastin quotes from it in Red River Blues (I don't have the Grossman book):

Gary Davis never rated Fuller much as a musician [this is Bastin, and one could argue that he is putting words in Davis's mouth here]. "When I first run across him he didn't know how to play but one piece and that was with a knife. He wanted to take some of my training. I'd sit down and he'd come up to my house every day and sit down and play. I taught him how to play. He would have been alright if I kept him under me long enough."

That could actually be taken as critical, or as faint praise.

But Bastin also quotes Fuller's wife, Cora Mae:

Fuller was not blind until 1928 and only then became seriously involved with music. Cora Mae recalled him "messing with (music) a little before, but then that's all he did after." Earlier she remembered that "no one taught him to play. He just took it up on his own. He played by himself as far as I can recall...." "He'd sit down and rehearse that box--sometimes about all day long."

Bastin also notes "Willie Trice remembered that Davis taught Fuller how to play in the key of A, and local bluesmen corroborated this, while many of Davis's guitar characteristics, such as the fast finger-picked runs and the powerful bass line, are to be found in Fuller's playing."

He also quotes J.B. Long: "Every song he knew was some he bought the record and learned from..."

And he says "Fuller's role in the evolving fabric of the Carolina blues needs thorough revision." He claims Fuller was not an originator of a style but a "master of eclecticism".  He also writes: "It was plain at that time [i.e., the writing of Bastin's Crying for the Carolines] that Fuller had drawn heavily on other artists and on recorded examples, but it was not so evident that perhaps a chief source of his inspiration and certainly of his musical improvement had been Gary Davis."

Later in the chapter he reiterates the Davis influence. "Fuller in his turn was to become the most influential bluesman in the southeastern states, and there can be few bluesmen of the late 1930s and 1940s who hadn't heard his records. Much of what they heard was really Davis. If Fuller's influence was direct, via record rather than in person, Davis's influence was implicit rather than obvious."

Now, I'll concede that even lessons from Gary Davis limited to the key of A would be grounds for tremendous "musical improvement", but I just don't buy Davis as Fuller's chief source of inspiration and influence  or that many characteristics of his playing can be found in Fuller's playing.

I think Bastin and Grossman are in large part to "blame" for the typical perception of Fuller as a lesser artist and a poor man's Gary Davis. (But Bastin's book should be on every Weenie shelf: it is tremendous despite my criticism here.)

And I think Mike has hit the nail on the head and that there is a good bit of the bluesman bullshit in all of this! Davis was more than capable of it.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: uncle bud on November 11, 2005, 11:11:53 AM
Just to clarify a couple points, when I say Bastin "claims Fuller was not an originator of a style but a master of eclecticism", I actually agree with him to a certain extent there. Also when I assign blame to Bastin and Grossman, I'm being slightly facetious and perhaps should have put a wink there. Fuller is indeed, in my opinion, a "lesser artist" than Davis, or perhaps it's better to say he's not the genius Davis was. But he's still often not given his due as one of the great country blues artists, and as far as his reputation of the past several decades, Bastin and Grossman's comments seem to have been influential.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: waxwing on November 11, 2005, 12:12:52 PM
I think a lot of this depends on whether you take a guitar centric or a more holistic view of these artists. No one can deny that the Rev. is the darling of the guitar centric crowd and was a strong proponent of it, in a very competitive way, himself. (I mean, anyone who wouldn't bother to take his cigar out of his mouth to sing a song must not really give much shrift to the vocals, eh?) I'm trying to remember where I recently read of the Rev. dissing even Lemon, by playing a Lemon lick and then letting out a blood curdling scream, claiming that Lemon just screamed louder than everyone else.

But there are many blues artists who created great blues without being the greatest guitarist in the world. They were great singers, or great lyricists, or just created a great package, with everything coalescing to be a moving piece. I think Fuller, when looked at in this way, created some wonderful blues, more moving to many, perhaps, than some of the Rev.'s pieces, impressive as they may be to a guitarist. I guess it's often a question of taste

Maybe this doesn't address the original question of this thread. I would say all guitar players are easier than some, but harder than others, but I would still rank Fuller up there. Perhaps not as stellar as Davis, Jefferson and Blake, but better and more imaginative than many.

Interesting fact perhaps relating to some of the discussion in this thread: Terry Robb mentioned last night that Stefan owns the publishing rights to the name Reverend Gary Davis, hence Woody's book of Davis' tab is titled Rag Time Guitar.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Prof Scratchy on November 12, 2005, 03:45:00 AM
A naive European question: how on earth can someone be allowed to own the publishing rights to someone else's name? Has the world gone totally crackers??
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: norman on November 13, 2005, 12:39:42 PM
it does sound very strange. please enlighten us
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: waxwing on November 13, 2005, 02:31:22 PM
Well, I'm just reporting what Terry stated. However, my very unlawyerly understanding would be that you cannot just use someones name, that is someone famous, or recognizable, as the title of a book without asking them, or If they are no longer living, their estate. The estate may feel that it is prudent, both for the estates financial gain, and to see that the name is more strongly protected, to sell the copyright. It seems highly likely, but is purely speculative on my part, that Stefan purchased the rights to the name Reverend Gary Davis from his widow. He has certainly made good use of it himself.

I believe the same situation exists for the name Robert Johnson

Any lawyers who want to clarify further, please do.

Would folks be surprisedf to know that Paul McCartney had to pay Michael Jackson royalties for all the Beatle songs he is singing on his recent tour?

To attempt to bring this back on topic, I would guess that the names of players who had no estate, such as, perhaps, Blind Boy Fuller, are Public Domain and therefore, much "easier" to "quote"? -G-

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: uncle bud on November 13, 2005, 02:51:52 PM
I thought MK Aldin administered the Rev.'s estate. Could be wildly wrong or confusing it with another estate. (he said veering wildly off-topic).

Wax, the Lemon-dissing you're trying to recall was Dave van Ronk recounting RGD's opinion of Lemon, I believe.

I agree with your thoughts about the guitar-centric crowd, aka the fingerstylers. Fuller is a great package, but viewed strictly in terms guitaristicness (he says, coining a hideous word)? would come up short against the Rev.

(edited to correct atrocious spelling!)
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: GerryC on November 17, 2005, 01:28:45 PM
Personally, I'd go for the package. Sure, RGD was a phenomenal guitarist, and a pretty good entertainer if his live recordings from the 1960s are anything to go by BUT - he seems to have been a rather curmudgeonly character with a poor opinion of almost every other musician he encountered [excepting Blake and Willie Walker but with them, what's not to like??]; nor did his prewar records, made at approximately the same time as Fuller's, greatly trouble the financial resources of the record buying public. Fuller, however, was something of a star. He made lots of records, they sold well, and he got on well enough with other musicians [eg Sonny Terry and Bull City Red - surely one of the all-time great blues names?] to be able to work with them harmoniously [pun intended] and make good records. I know this is going to sound seriously "off" to RGD fans, but how would the Rev's reputation have fared if he too had passed away like Fuller in 1941? Or if he had not moved to NYC and given lessons to a large coterie of later-to-be-influential white pickers? Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge fan of Davis' playing - less so of his singing - and we'd all be the poorer without the influence he had on such great players/teachers as Stefan Grossman, Woody Mann, Rory Block and Roy Book Binder. But I do sometimes wonder how things might otherwise have been....


Gerry C
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Montgomery on November 18, 2005, 09:50:56 AM
Don't mean to change the subject here--I'll try to get back on topic--but what the hell does "fingerstyle" actually refer to?  Why would anybody want to be known as a fingerstyle player?  I understand "fingerpicking," and take it as a sort of technical term, a description of right-hand technique, a way to distinguish it from the way most people play these days (i.e. strumming, or soloing, with a pick).  But as a genre of music?  I don't know, when I hear the term "fingerstyle," I associate it with a vaguely celtic new agey guitar music that bears no resemblance to anything that existed in the prewar era.  Perhaps the term is suspect to me because if it's a musical genre, its name refers to a particular way of playing a particular instrument, i.e. the guitar, and therefore, it's a guitarist's genre, i.e. more about exploring the guitar than playing music for people.

I don't know much about this, and I'm generalizing.  But am I the only person for whom "fingerstyle" conjures up this sort of new agey style of playing?  Maybe it's more all-encompassing, but what it encompasses, I don't know.  What seems strange to me is that this music seems to have evolved, maybe indirectly, from--Gary Davis?  John Hurt?   How is this possible?

Trying to veer back on topic: I was not around in the 60s, but it does seem like Gary Davis and John Hurt had a big influence on a circle of guitar players, and a genre of music that sort of evolved through their teachings or techniques.  Whereas other pre-war players who had been rediscovered, like Son House, Skip James, Wilkins, etc., though popular, had less influence.  Perhaps this is because Davis himself gave a lot of lessons.  Another reason (I'm guessing, and I do hope to be enlightened--and I hope I'm not offending anyone) could be that Davis and Hurt, though fine vocalists, played music in which vocals were not entirely necessary (Davis especially played many instrumentals), and the white aficianados couldn't quite copy black blues singing as faithfully as they could reproduce the guitar playing.  So it became more about guitar, less about vocal.  And because of that, the music of Skip James, and Lemon Jefferson, whose vocals and guitar playing were inextricably linked, was less popular with the young guitarists, while the John Hurt alternating thumb style of playing, along with Davis' ragtime (and the fact that he ventured further up the guitar neck) became the dominant influences.  Hurt's alternating bass (which he didn't originate, of course) especially seems to be the first lesson taught to most aspiring "fingerpicking" guitarists.  But this is only one method of playing, and is in many ways limiting rhythmically.  I mean, Hurt was a great guitarist, I would never deny that.  Who doesn't like John Hurt?  He's impossible to dislike, and his music is distinctive.  But I don't think he's the most exciting player there ever was, and a big aspect of pre-war blues that I, and I assume others, love, is the rhythmic complexity and spontaneity that's largely absent in Hurt's playing.  I mean, Blind Lemon keeps you on your toes.  What about Blind Joe Reynolds or something like that?  I feel like those elements are lost in a lot of modern playing.  In otherwords, it's almost like this style of playing, maybe called "fingerstyle" or "fingerpicking" has been codified, like if you don't start from Hurt and work your way up, you're not playing the right way.  But the exciting thing about pre-war music is that even though everyone is playing pretty much the same 3 chords, most players had totally different approaches.  This is something that has been sort of lost today.  Maybe I'm wrong, or just a jackass.

I know that I'm rambling and not making my points very well.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: uncle bud on November 18, 2005, 12:33:16 PM
Hi Montgomery,

That's kind of what I meant by fingerstylists anyway. E.g., a type of guitar-playing driven more by the technique itself than a particular genre like prewar blues or country blues, or even a broad "roots" music feel. Where it is very much about the guitar, and not necessarily the songs. Thus you could conceivably get a ragtime tune followed by a Celtic tune, followed by a jazz number, followed by a John Fahey piece, followed by something from the Wizard of Oz, followed by a new agey noodley thing. I dunno. It's a tremendously inadequate and unsuccessful label because there are so many gradations of it, from the thoroughly entertaining and musically interesting to the most godawful noodley new ager.

As for it evolving from Gary Davis or John Hurt, I don't necessarily see "fingerstyle" having evolved from any particular pre- or postwar blues artists, although there have certainly been those who have roots in that kind of music. I see it more as a marketing term or a label for talking about fingerpicked guitar styles of all kinds, particularly for instructional purposes or selling guitar magazines.  Gary Davis, no doubt because of the complexity of his playing, seems to figure in the fingerstyle hall of heroes. And as you point out, Hurt's style has been a starting point for many a fingerpicker. But I guess that hall could also include Fahey, Leo Kottke, Merle Travis, Steve Mann, Martin Simpson, and many more of all sorts. An amorphous blob of a hall, full of excellent guitarists, but not really unified by particular style of music.

I think you nail it when you wonder if it's a guitarist's genre about exploring the guitar. When I used it above, I was following up on waxwing's (accurate to my mind) suggestion that distinguished between those interested in Davis in large part for his technique and those interested in pre- and postwar blues/ragtime/gospel music who wouldn't dismiss Blind Boy Fuller because his arrangements weren't complex enough on the guitar. Probably not a particularly accurate use on my part of an already vague term.

Anyway, it's an awful phrase and I apologize for using it!  ;D  :P
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Muddyroads on November 18, 2005, 02:42:16 PM
A naive European question: how on earth can someone be allowed to own the publishing rights to someone else's name? Has the world gone totally crackers??

No the whole world is not crackers, but the United States definitely is.  Owning another man's name, how crass.

Muddy (can't buy my name) Roads
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Montgomery on November 18, 2005, 03:00:16 PM
Uncle Bud, I certainly was not criticizing anything you wrote, I was only reminded of fingerstylers and thought I'd ask. ? I was probably overstating my case when I said that fingerstyle evolved from Gary Davis, but it does seem that there is a big crossover between the two genres (I know I'm simplifying, even by reducing them to genres) that seems strange to me. ?In fact, the reason I thought I'd pose the question here is because this is the only pre-war board that hasn't been overtaken with fingerstylists, and that's mainly because people are pretty adamant here about keeping the conversation within the pre-war realm (for which I'm eternally grateful), and I guarentee that if people were more lenient here, the pre-war crowd would become the minority. ?I guess this is what continues to baffle me. ?Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a person shouldn't like anything besides pre-war music, but it's odd that you rarely see messages on these old blues boards about, I don't know, Bach or Correli, John Coltrane (or even Louis Armstrong), or Lou Reed or someone, but you do see Gary Davis, and Eric Clapton and Leo Koettke, as if it's all the same thing. ?I suppose it has to do with some guitar fetish, namely an acoustic guitar, namely one that you play without picks. ?But I guess it's bizarre to me that people who are obsessed with the guitar as opposed to, you know, a love of music in general, have an interest in pre-war blues at all, but then, it might be a passing or superficial interest. ?Still, in general, I don't know why a conversation about Charley Patton is more likely to lead to a conversation about Esteban or Leo Koettke than even Roy Harvey or someone like that.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: a2tom on November 19, 2005, 12:46:12 AM
it seems like what they're really interested in is that nifty picking. 

no doubt.  I think a fairly typical journey in people learning this music is to become interested because they want to learn to do some nifty picking (Davis or otherwise).  For the pure hobbyist, that is often be enough, so I don't mean to criticize, and certainly the picking is fun.  But for me, and I think many, a part of the journey eventually has to be that you're missing the boat if you think its all, or even mostly, about the guitar. 

With all due respect to the many great teachers of guitar videos out there, they only fuel the fire of misdirection.  How many people start their lessons with a discussion of the song, the lyrics, how the singing was executed, what made the integration of voice and instrument effective, etc?  I am not a video-lesson taker in general, but pretty fairly I think lessons jump right into "let's see what he's doing here, so it starts on a first position C chord...".   Stefan Grossman, a self-professed non-singer and driver of the lesson field is top of the "guilty" list here.  I grow more and more convinced that the notion of needing to master the guitar and only add the singing very late is backwards.

Again to bring this thread back 'round to why I started it, I suspect this discussion is relevant to thinking about the relative accessibility of Fuller.  It all comes to the notion of how to integrate voice and instrument into a whole song.  Too tired to decide whether I think Fuller is really easier in this regard, but I wonder.

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: uncle bud on November 19, 2005, 08:03:15 AM
Uncle Bud, I certainly was not criticizing anything you wrote, I was only reminded of fingerstylers and thought I'd ask.

Yup, I didn't actually take it as critical, was just joking really about the apology. It is a pretty awful term though. ?
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Rivers on November 27, 2005, 09:36:33 AM
Personally I believe the semantic distinction has evolved in the last 20 years, probably from willful reverse- and forward snobbery. Depending on whether you're a folkie and proud, or a new age explorer going boldly... etc., you will tend to use one or the other term.

To me they used to be interchangeable and probably still are but other people hear something I never intended if I say 'finger style'. Since I'm a folkie I refer to my, erm, finger 'style' as finger picking!
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: Buzz on November 27, 2005, 06:07:09 PM
Thoughts along this thread:
1. I believe I like fingerstyle guitar. I mean, fingerpicking guitar styles, using my fingertips and fingernails, sometimes fingerpicks. I think one likes this style or one does not. And not to the exclusion of any other style.
2. I agree with Rivers simple definition:  finger "style" is fingerpickeing, IMHO.
3. I/you don't have to explain why you like RGDavis, Hurt , or Fuller. You do because you do. Something about the style, the technique, the melodies, the rhythym, the syncopation--it just does something for you. It may be a more visceral, and less cerebral thing.
4. I like Fuller, and as taught by Ari Eisinger, and by Michael Roach. Check Roach out, plays some killer Fuller: Spoonful, etc.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: GerryC on November 28, 2005, 01:44:23 PM
When I was a lttle bitty boy, just up offa the floor, there were only two ways of playing the guitar: 'fingerstyle' and 'plectrum style'. The latter involved striking the strings with a bit of plastic or what ever held in my right-hand (in my case). The former involved striking the strings with the ends of my right-hand fingers, whether unadorned or behung with plastic or metal picks. In my experience, the term 'finger-picking' did not emerge until the great Folk Scare was well under way, at least here in the UK; but it was simply taken as synonymous with  'fingerstyle', as in "I'm going to play this number fingerstyle" becoming "I'm going to fingerpick this number". But I never did hear anyone say "I'm going to play this song plectrum style". Nope: it was "I'm going to strum this one..." (until them gosh-darned Yankees confused us all by bringing in flat-picking!) To me, fingerstyle has always been a way of hitting the guitar, not a type of music.


Gerry C
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: dave stott on February 23, 2006, 09:28:39 AM
All I know is that I wish Ari or SOMEONE would do another lesson or book of Tab of Blind Boy Fuller's music

Jitterbug Rag
Piccolo Rag

Those are just 2 of the items that I would like to see in Tab or in a DVD lesson

BBF is playing in my car CD player on a regular basis...
the 2 CD set from Allegro Music entitled The Essential, Blind Boy Fuller is a nice collection

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: waxwing on February 23, 2006, 10:06:29 AM
Both Jitterbug Rag and Piccolo Rag are in Stefan Grossman's book on Fuller in his Masters of Country Blues Guitar series. As with most tab, these are not complete and the discerning listener will find discrepencies, but they will definitely get you going in the right direction. As always, I would recommend beginning to train your own ear by starting with these tabs and then using slowdown software (yeah, I like Transcribe!) and working out the parts not covered, as well as checking the parts that are, yourself.
All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: GhostRider on February 23, 2006, 10:52:52 AM

"Piccalo Rag" is also TAB'd out in Grossman's "Ragtime Blues Guitarists" book, along with "Little Woman, Your So Sweet", "You Got Something There" and I think one other Fuller tune. As well BL Jefferson, BB Broonzy etc.

See, Dave, your request has been granted before you even made it!

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: a2tom on February 23, 2006, 11:35:13 AM
Yeah, there are some "creative" tabs in the Grossman Ragtime book (not to confuse our non-native-English members, I mean inaccurate).  Won't hold you back, though.  That book was very instrumental in getting me into this music, and I love it (book and music).  And I have HUGE respect, praise and gratitude for anyone who transcribed songs from actual 78s, 10 or 20 years before the personal computer was even invented!  I think the contribution of "rediscovery" trancriptionists is monumental.  Doesn't stop me from using the PC and fast fourier transform to make it a bit easier  ;)

That said, the Piccolo Rag in it is pretty good, as I recall, although he didn't transcribe all parts of the tune if I recall correctly.  As Waxwing says, cue it up and have go!  The hardest part of any transcription process is at the beginning - nailing down the key and playing position (this is the step where you'll wish capoes had never been invented!).  Once you've got that, most of it falls into place pretty quickly - it's those elusive bits than are the really fun part, though.

BTW, I think the slowdown aspect of programs like transcribe is somewhat overrated - it is, to me, far more helpful that the program allow you to isolate and loop the passage you are trying to get...

Can you tell I'm procrastinating getting back to work???

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: dave stott on February 23, 2006, 01:22:46 PM

my order has been placed for the book with the transcriptions...

my ears simply can not comprehend keys and chords from 78 RPM records or remakes.... when you add in variations in the tuning of the guitar ( ie... half /full step low or high) my brain gets all confused..

Thanks everyone !!!!

Title: Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
Post by: waxwing on February 23, 2006, 02:03:54 PM
Does this help?


All for now.
John C.
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