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Author Topic: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?  (Read 1884 times)

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Offline Blue in VT

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MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« on: January 10, 2008, 07:39:52 AM »
Howdy all,

I was lstening to the one of my favorite MJH albums (The sest of MJH) last night and got really excited about "Talkin Casey" a song that I had always consdiered kind of a novelty tune of his.  But as a newcomer to slide playing I listened to it more closely for the first time...its quite good...John gets some very expresive tones from his slide work. 

So what do you all think?  Did he play anymore slide tunes?  What type of slide did he use?  Is his slide playing underrated or was it just a "novelty" for him?  Obviously his fingerpickin is some of the most influencial out there (Listening to "Candyman" on a "Masters of Blues" tape is what drew me to this music in the first place) but why don't we ever hear about or see transcriptions of his slide work?

Cheers,

Blue
Blue in VT

Offline banjochris

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 12:02:14 PM »
Talkin' Casey, Pera-Lee and I Hate to See the Evening Sun Go Down are the only slide tunes of his that I've ever heard. I don't think he did much of it.
Chris

Offline ScottN

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2015, 02:39:02 PM »
I started working on Talkin Casey recently (my first slide tune) and was trying to research a little how MJH played slide. On page 26 of the Radcliffe biography he notes that Hurt played Talkin Casey with a knife, which I've seen video of Mance and John Jackson do.

I was wondering if others have any recollections or information about if he ever used other methods (bottleneck) and / or if anyone had any tips for playing with a knife (how to hold, etc).

Thanks,
            Scott

Offline banjochris

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2015, 03:41:26 PM »
Watch Mance for tips on playing with a knife. You can also hold it, if it's small enough, between your ring finger and pinky, parallel to the pinky and similar to a bottleneck.
Chris

Offline oddenda

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2015, 06:34:51 PM »
That's how Baby Tate played slide... Pink Anderson, too, I think. Henry Johnson?  The closed pocket-knife held between the pinkie and ring finger and sliding the BACK of the knife was a common method that goes way back.

pbl

Offline waxwing

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2015, 07:05:12 PM »
I remember reading somewhere that some think Blind Willie Johnson played with a folding straight razor. I use one, lap style, on a single string diddley bow. The back of the blade is fat and rounded to a radius of about ? inch. I think the light weight and small radius make for ease of vibrato.

I think it's possible that these players were using the rounded edge of the bone casing sides and not the flat metal area on the back of the folding knife, but I remember not really being able to tell from the footage of Mance. What do you remember, Peter?

Wax
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Offline banjochris

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2015, 07:57:04 PM »
I think Mance used the back. I always do if I'm playing with a knife.

Offline oddenda

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2015, 04:11:28 AM »
wax -

          Definitely NOT the bone casing sides which wouldn't hold up to constant contact with wrapped strings. The back of the pocket knife,for sure. John Jackson, too, I believe. Pocket knives were common possessions over time and space - handily in one's pocket!

pbl

Offline blueshome

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2015, 04:51:19 AM »
Waxwing - the BWJ razor hare was set running by Ry Cooder. The only contemporary evidence we have is McTell's interview with J.Lomax where he says he saw BWJ play with a tube on his finger.

Latterly John Jackson used a customer made flat bar in place of a pocket knife.

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2015, 10:31:38 AM »
I know my dad always used the back of the pocket knife when he played slide...but that was long ago and far away..  One of my real regrets in life was in not learning what he had to teach about playing the guitar.  (Hey, it was the 60's, I wanted to learn rock & roll)...
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline Johnm

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2015, 10:38:40 AM »
That's cool, Ross.  Where was your Dad from?  Did he ever talk about who he learned from?  What style or tunes did he play mostly?
All best,
Johnm

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2015, 12:34:06 PM »
Dad grew up in Ok/Ar, then moved out to CA during the depression (as a teen).  He tried to teach me Spanish Fandango (the version he learned) and some other Spanish tuning songs, as well as a bunch of Jimmie Rodgers tunes.  He also had a bag full of Irish folk tunes he'd pull out when he was well into his cups...which was often
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline RB

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2015, 04:47:53 AM »
I've been around for awhile and I don't think--I might be wrong--I've ever heard anyone talk about using the back of a razor for playing.  This seems to make good sense to me, as that steel has a nice heft and a nice shape and was cleanly made and easily available and the entire razor might seem to fit nicely in the hand for this.

Offline steadyrollinman

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2015, 09:59:24 AM »
MJH's Talkin Casey always sounds to me like its played on a metal bodied guitar.

If not he certainly got some serious reverb going

Offline banjochris

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Re: MJH and slide guitar....opinions?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2015, 11:24:29 AM »
If you're talking about the version of it on the live "Best of Mississippi John Hurt" album, it certainly sounds different. It and Spanish Fandango almost sound like they're six-string banjo to me.

 


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