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Hundreds of 'race' singers have flooded the market with what is generally regarded as the worst contribution to the cause of good music ever inflicted on the public. The lyrics of a great many of these 'blues' are worse than the lowest sort of doggerel - Talking Machine Journal, February 1924, plucked from Stephen Calt's Barrelhouse Words

Author Topic: Rory Block Teaches Robert Johnson  (Read 1885 times)

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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Rory Block Teaches Robert Johnson
« on: April 29, 2005, 07:16:22 AM »
I've just taken delivery of this DVD and thought it might be worth commenting on.  Johnson is a relatively rare subject on Weenie Campbell, possibly because we tend to gravitate towards the more obscure artists?

Anyway, for those interested in his guitar playing and wanting to develop their playing in his style, this DVD is a really good starting point.  Its certainly not for the complete novice or for people unfamiliar with Johnson's music.  If, like me, you have attempted to tackle some Johnson songs from transciptions and find it much harder than you feel it ought to be, then this is probably ideal.  It will probably also benefit those who play the songs but find they 'lack something'.

Rory covers 3 songs in reasonable detail- If I had possession over Judgment Day, Terraplane and Preachin' Blues.  There is a rather puzzling anomaly here in that 'Preachin Blues' is actually the song Son House performed- "Gonna get me religion, join the baptist church" rather than Johnson's "Preachin' Blues (up jumped the devil)'  .  The guitar part used is very much in the Johnson style rather than House though.

Rory hones in on what she calls 'informational keys' rather than detailed breakdowns of each song- providing a 'kit' of techniques and licks which can be put together to make the foundation of a number of Johnson songs besides those taught.

Much of the emphasis is on tricks and right hand techniques aimed at getting an authentic sound, which I think I will find very useful.  These are the sorts of things that you simply can't work out from tab and transcriptions.  Rory suggests ways of getting the driving rhythms and character of the music rather than concentrating on note for note transcribing. 

She also gives examples of how the techniques and licks can be applied to different songs as well as some general tips on singing with the guitar parts and slide technique.

I have to add that Rory's passion for the music shines through the whole lesson and is inspiring in itself.  This one is likely to be in my computer's DVD drive for some time.


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