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I got Sonny up to Harlem, and we started street playin' in New York. We did that for three or four years and survived. We brought it back to the streets again - Brownie McGhee

Author Topic: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson  (Read 5373 times)

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Offline CF

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Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« on: July 18, 2007, 01:08:12 PM »
Ok, I can take as well as give  :)  I've been working on this monster for a couple years & this is the closest I've come to getting it . . . those licks are simple but tricky & do have somewhat of a sequence . . . Tommy's version sounds like something God dreamt, it's beyond beautiful. In 'E'. Thanks to banjochris for the lyric transcription . . .
relistening tells me that I followed Johnson's accent a bit much . . . oh well, it'll come out in the wash!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2007, 01:21:24 PM by Cheapfeet »
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mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2007, 02:15:57 PM »
That sounds great!

About a year ago I could yodel as well as Tommy or Jimmie Rodgers, but my voice changed even more over the year so now I can sing about as low as Thurl Ravenscroft, which I'd take over yodelin' any day.

Offline daddystovepipe

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2007, 10:28:56 AM »
Nice version CF!

Compared to Tommy's version you're rushing it slightly.  I's suggest a slower tempo so you would have the time to emphasis certain words, like Tommy shows,  and to put more emotion in it.  I'm also missing a bit Tommy's powerful vibrato which he even demonstrates in the falsetto sections.
Nevertheless a fine performance that shows you've been working on it.
Carl

Offline CF

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2007, 07:13:39 PM »
Yeah keeping these slower songs at a nice slow pace is difficult . . . one problem being that this was prob the 20th take! so impatience seeps in . . . I have that problem with certain Hank William tunes . . . they're so slow that it's actually HARD to play them slow . . . this is a hard song to sing too . . . thanks fer the comments
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2007, 07:36:20 PM »
Hey CF, I really like it. Way to rescue a song destroyed by surface noise and Paramount recording techniques. :) Pacing and vibrato weren't an issue for me, though can understand how slowing things down might be worth a shot. Still, you sound perfectly relaxed and natural, so it doesn't sound rushed. Really nice falsetto, IMO, again very natural sounding. You still flatpicking? Every thought of hybrid picking? Only reason I ask is having seen Craig Ventresco recently, I wonder whether some country blues players used that technique. Some of them sound like they're flatpicking at times, but not always, and not even always within the same tune (i.e. a tune may sound mostly flatpicked, then all of a sudden two notes seem struck together etc). Not Tommy, but I could see it for Blind Lemon in certain tunes.

Anyway, I think this is great, I'm gonna steal it.  :P  Always loved playing Tommy Johnson.


Offline CF

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2007, 08:24:47 PM »
Yep UB, still flatpicking . . . but finally playing with a thumbpick too which has been a gas. Felt completely alien at first, that big hunk o' plastic on my thumb, but it started feeling good pretty quickly . . . learning some BB Fuller with the thumbpick . . . still, I ain't as proficient with it as I am with the flatpick . . . I'm not familiar with 'hybrid picking', what is it? . . .
Slidin Delta by Tommy J is just such a wonderful tune, the feel & the patience in the playing, I can't say enough about it. 'Lonesome Home Blues' (the second one) is another mesmerizing song . . . Johnson was certainly tapping into something no one else was, very deep music.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Slack

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2007, 10:18:30 PM »
Great version CP, I think I'll steal it too. ;)

Quote
I'm not familiar with 'hybrid picking', what is it? . . .

Holding a flat pick with your thumb and index and up picking underneath with your middle and ring fingers. Allows rapid switching between flat picking and finger picking.  Probably more common with electric players.  But flatpicking with a thumbpick gets you to the advantage.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2007, 04:40:54 AM »
Many great players use hybrid picking, the hot Tele guys who can really rip for example, and one of my favorite non-CB contemporary players Richard Thompson. If you're handy with a flatpick you should go for it.

Offline CF

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2007, 09:56:44 AM »
Sorry I'm late to this . . . nah, hybrid-picking doesn't sound like anything I'd want to do . . . that would also be known as 'chicken-pickin' right? Flatpicking & now fingerpicking (with & without thumb & forefinger picks) just feel natural. Basically If I have to learn a way of playing that I'm not already naturally inclined to do I'm not interested, ha ha. Don't believe in 'practising', takes all the fun outta music for me.
I've been meaning to post a version of this song played with a thumb pick & slower . . . will try to do that soon . . . 
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Dr. G

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2007, 04:27:22 PM »
Hey Cheapfeet

Been away for a while...but had to check in to see what y'all been up to.

I read the commentary on your presentation of this number before listening to it...kind of fun that way.

I tend to be an impossible critic on vocals...country blues are SOOO difficult to get to sound natural, authentic, and ballsy all at the same time -- especially for anybody born after 1930. But you totally sold this song to me, I think your vocals are superb.

As for the guitar, I love your notes and your rhythm. I have never liked flatpicking of ANYTHING but "fiddle tunes". I would love to hear this fingerpicked...especially without the picks...i suspect that you could deliver much more nuance, variation, and warmth. The guitar works as you've done it...but I believe that the "great equalizing" effect on tone of a flatpick -- and to a lesser degree, fingerpicks -- does not do your considerable harmonic subtlety justice.

A true fan,

Dr. G

Offline CF

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2007, 03:18:08 AM »
Hey thanks Doc, glad you liked the tune. I think Tommy's voice is somewhere in my range & is probably why I warm up to his music more than some others. Having said that his falsetto is powerful & i'm really not hitting it like it probably should be. Tuning down a step would help I think.
Listening to this again I agree with the former comments that it may be too rushed . . . I did the same thing when I recorded Tommy's 'Morning Prayer Blues' a while back. I think recording is pretty uncomfortable for me & I tend to speed things up to get it over with!
I have been planning on doing a version fingerpicked but can't seem to get around to it. I'm playing with my fingers full time here at home now, the flat pick hasn't been touched in a while except I flat pick in my string band . . . but I'm coming around to a working balance between the two styles. There are certainly songs that just don't work for me fingerpicked, I can't 'dig in' & it doesn't feel rythmically right . . . this may change but I'm too far along now to reteach my brain, & it'll just happen if it's going to happen anyway . . . MY particular sound has often been a flatpicked sound, but having said that I'm certainly playing a lot of tunes now with my fingers that I couldn't imagine trying to play with a pick . . . this music, for me, only really works if the performer sounds comfortable & natural in their own way.
Thanks again & i'll see if I can get around to a fingerpicked version some of these days
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Dr. G

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2007, 05:55:35 AM »
Hey, CF

I'm not much of a gusher, but you sold me on your falsetto too. [I lost the ability to crack my voice years ago, so the only way I can play TJ -- whom I love -- is with a second singer who can do the flasetto part. Besides, my own voice is much too thin and "novelty"-ish to make any pretense at the power of a TJ...]

...However, necessity is the mother of invention -- and my being vocally challenged has led me into some interesting collaborations, and made me a much better ensemble player.

As regards the tempo of your performance, I confess that I suffer the same recording "occupational hazard" as you: every take on a number in the same sitting has an inadvertently quicker tempo, and is not necessarily the better for it. HOWEVER -- as "Slidin' Delta" was never a personal TJ favorite of mine, and only vaguely recognized it when I listened to your rendition, I did not have a preconceived notion of what the tempo "should" be. While I defer to other Weenies who "get" vocals better than I do (I don't know art, but I know what I like!), and appreciate your own expectations for the presentation, my relative unfamiliarity with the original may confer a certain objectivity to my vantage point.

Re: picks vs. bare fingers, and fingerpicks vs. flatpicks, I utterly concur that what feels natural to you is probably going to sound best. I went back and forth between picks and bare fingers for years, finally deciding that solo playing and recording always sounds better "au naturel" (owing to much better control of guitar sound dynamics), while attempting to play barefingered in an ensemble can be pure nightmare. But then again, playing in an ensemble makes it well-nigh impossible to exploit -- and enjoy -- the full tonal possibilities (read: subtleties) of an acoustic guitar.

The same is true in spades, incidentally, for banjo playing: you can get amazing tonal variations (even from a banjo!) with bare fingers and a calfskin head...but as soon as you change to a plastic head, slap on fingerpicks, and lose all those wonderful overtones in a group sound, you're essentially playing a dummied-down instrument, and sacrifice individual tonal dynamics to "group process"....Electric guitar, anyone?

FWIW, banjo players can talk for hours about the TONE of different banjos, tonerings, head tensions, set-up, etc. I rarely hear similar intense discussion among guitar players about the tonal characteristics of their respective instruments. I wonder why this is.

Eagerly awaiting your fingerpicked version,

Dr. G

Offline waxwing

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2007, 10:28:46 AM »
Yeah, Doc, with all the different tonewoods available for guitars you'd think you'd get vehement arguments over what's better for country blues, rosewood (Brazilian, Indian or Madagascar), mahogony, or maybe birch like the old Stellas. And with all those different body styles you'd think the dreadnaught folks would be up in arms against those wee little parlor guitars. And geez, you'd think someone would actually care if their guitar was ladder braced instead of X braced. But nope, not a peep.-G-

Sounds great, CF. And the only way to get natural at the incredibly foreign process of playing any musical instrument (or singing style) is through practice, of course. You're young and have a lot of time. I think you have the potential to develop some monster chops in whatever style you want, including hybrid picking, for which, after your flatpicking and now fingerpicking experience, I think you'd be, well, a natural.-G- It's only old geezers like me who've come to the guitar late in life, that have to focus on a narrow field in order to get good at something before arthritis cuts us short. Just keep doin' what yer doin'. It's great to see you expanding your styles.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Dr. G

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2007, 05:09:25 AM »
Hey Waxwing

...Not to mention string gauge, composition of strings, age of strings [new strings, e.g., just don't sound funky to me], fretboard action, various steel bodies vs. various woods, resonators, 14 frets vs. 12 frets to the body, "winter tone" [dry] vs. "summer tone", and a bazillion other variables that can make a huge difference in the sound of that thing lying across your lap...and can make or break the mood of a performance just a surely as operator technique...

...And also not to mention "historical accuracy", "authenticity", and similar infinitely-debatable philosphical considerations. What classic bluesman ever played a dreadnaught (speaking of)? Used ultra-light strings? Traveled Highway 61 with a Martin D-Anything?

It strikes me as odd that so much time and effort seem to be expended attempting to deduce the precise words CP (or Blind Lemon, or Blind Blake) was singing, or the exact placement of his fingers on the fretboard...and yet no one seems to be talking about the SOUND produced by that battle-weary $2.50 Sears & Roebuck guitar with the long-"dead" strings....Hmmmmmm.

Dr. G

Offline waxwing

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Re: Slidin' Delta, Tommy Johnson
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2007, 08:15:18 AM »
Hey Doc,

You're scarin' me. I thought you were just kidding, and i was playing along. Now I'm not so sure. Are you truely saying you've never witnessed any such discussions amonst guitar players? Maybe you better familiarize yourself with our gear board, Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos. While there, maybe do a search for "sinewy punch" which is the phrase coined by Todd Cambio to describe the sound of the old ladderbraced guitars as used by folks like Charley Patton.

And somewhere here I've probably related the story that Neil Harpe had removed the X bracing (installed by some misguided luthier) from the little Stella I later purchased from him (about 5 years ago), and replaced it with some straight braces from a basket case he had. He was surprised to find that the guitar then had a very similar tone to that of CP (at least one he used on many of his recordings). Neil told me this when he was selling me the guitar, after having played and recorded with it for many years. Salesmanship you say? Well, several years later, Paul Geremia came to Port Townsend and I took some of his classes. At the end of one class I handed him the little Stella and after playing a few notes he chuckled and said, "Hey, sounds like Charley Patton," and broke into Pony Blues or something. The following year Roy Book Binder came to PT. Alex (Ghostrider) had recently purchased a beautiful sounding L-OO which he was proudly showing to Roy, a lnown Gibby freak, to get his assessment of it's tone. I just happened to start playing the little Stella in the next room and Roy immediately looked up and said, "That guy sounds like an old record." He asked to play the Stella and having heard it in his own hands said, "Yeah, anyone would sound like an old record with this guitar. Great sound. Really has that tone." -G-

Another thread you might be interested in has some deep discussion of the various string set ups of many 12 string players. McTell even seems to have changed his set up sometimes using a unison third and sometimes an octave pair. Speaking of third strings you should be able to find several discussions on the use of the unwound third. Heck, we even named a section of the forum that. There are 9 pages of topics in the gear board so you should find a few mentions of tone.

After you've burned through that, you might try The Woodshed, the Unofficcial Martin Guitar Forum and the 13ht Fret Forum.

Or were you just carrying the ruse one step further?-G-

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

 


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