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Ah she mistreat the poor man just to pass the time away - Henry Townsend, Mistreated Blues

Author Topic: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway  (Read 6756 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« on: September 21, 2013, 06:53:47 PM »
Catfish Blues is pitched at G but clearly he is not playing out of a standard tuning G chord. Spanish does not seem to work either, plus I don't hear him ever hit the low V bass on the recording.

The closest I've gotten to the sound so far is standard tuning playing out of an E modal chord (either killing the 3rd or playing the suspended 4th or higher lick note, flat 5 or 5), using a capo. Before I waste too much time exploring this approach am I on the right track?
« Last Edit: September 21, 2013, 06:57:02 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2013, 06:58:45 PM »
E position, standard tuning seems right to me, Mark.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2013, 07:08:19 PM »
Thanks for the confirmation there John, I will go forward with confidence.

Offline jrn

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2013, 07:35:37 PM »
Hey Rivers

Petway's guitar keys and positions are in weeniepedia.

Jason
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 07:41:08 PM »
E Position for sure and ya gotta wail with that right hand...whack the living shit out that guitar or ya cain't catch no catfish! :~)
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 07:43:58 PM »
Thanks Jason, that one had passed me by. http://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Robert_Petway_Guitar_Keys_and_Positions

I'm feeling good about having figured it out, which is quite unusual for me.

Yes Phil, you're dead right there, the right hand is the longer term project after I've got the left hand down, as is the vocal.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2013, 05:27:29 AM »
The vocal on that is actually as slippery as a catfish. When exactly to come in on a one chord song is not so easy to determine.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 07:54:20 AM »
I'd noticed that in my roughed-out version, it's not totally intuitive when to start singing, or getting the following phrasing right. I figure I'll get the guitar part a bit more solid first then I have a hope of at least coming in with the vocal at the right spots.

Making it harder is I can't find a capo due to the chaos of moving, so I can't easily play along with the recording, I'll shoot out and pick one up later. I think I'll be listening to it a lot over the next few days and weeks.

Offline jrn

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2013, 12:18:48 PM »
I love this song! The singing is my favorite part. It's really cool the way the vocal phrasing changes during the repeated lines at the end of each verse. I've seen Honeyboy Edwards do a killer version of this song. He played it outta E position too.
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline Rivers

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2013, 12:34:05 PM »
Chord vamp voicings are eluding me, first position doesn't sound at all like the record. I believe there could be something more to this which would explain why a lot of good versions exist but none of them come real close to getting the same feel as the original.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2013, 12:40:50 PM »
Chords, right hand, you name it, it's pretty much all imponderable as played by Robert Petway.  If I had to choose, I'd say the left hand is easier to suss out than the right, but it all is tough, tough, tough.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2013, 12:49:17 PM »
There must be a key to this puzzle. Tuning, instrument, something. Maybe it is all just touch. I've been down this road before and abandoned it, but I have a few more tricks to try this time around.

And what's with those weird squawked harmony notes, best heard on the outro, sounds like a quietly vamping cross harp playing a train rhythm on the I but isn't, suggested elsewhere to be accidentals from a blown reso cone.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 12:56:54 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2013, 02:07:14 PM »
It's all in the hands.  :P

Petway is brilliant on this of course, but I think part of the magic of the sound of this recording comes from whatever the bass player is doing. B&GR sez imb, meaning imitation bass (an annoying abbreviation and term, IMO) or tub bass. In other words, washtub bass. The thud thud thud gives it more drive and Petway is able to let go a little bit of the heavy bass to grab treble bits.

There's also some clackety-clack sound going on. Sounds like fingerpicks and a REALLY freakin' loose right hand.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2013, 02:36:35 PM »
Some chord trickery is afoot I think. I don't know how else to account for the bends he's doing on what would in first position be the open 3rd string (or G note, the flat III) in the vamp behind the first verse, he must be fretting it to bend it, albeit subtly, like that. The closest I've got so far is 0-7-5-0-0-0 (relative to the capo) but it's not quite right, too open sounding.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 02:41:09 PM by Rivers »

Offline slideaway

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Re: Playing Catfish Blues, Robert Petway
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2013, 07:57:28 PM »
I agree with you Rivers, i'm not convinced its plain standard with capo either, but it aint spanish like ya say, but ive settled on doing it in spanish coz it sounds better to my ears .. its weird 'un from the RP triangle .. i'm usually pretty successful at getting them worked out, not that one 100% ..

 


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