The Unwound Third > Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos

Percussion in Country Blues

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I'm after some advice, or good examples, on the use of percussion in a country blues combo. Preferably small drum set, or just snare, although any percussion examples would help. I am trying to get our drummer to better understand playing to country blues. I have already steered him in the direction of Piedmont Bluz, but I'm a bit wary of him taking up the washboard, it can be a dangerous instrument in the wrong hands.

Forgetful Jones:
Robert Belfour

Hi Anthony,
I always admired this track, and if you could approximate that fife part on the harmonica it would be fantastic!

All best,

Number one general guide line would be to accentuate the back beat, bim BAH bim BAH. You can hear this really strongly in Hill Stomp above. You can also hear it loud and clear in the bass picking of Mississippi John Hurt, and many other solo guitar players. It's really prevalent with drummers behind other hill country artist like RL Burnside, too.

I started scanning the Index of Accompanists in Blues & Gospel Records, and in the first few pages there were about 10 drummers, but they all were backing Blues Queens from the early '20s, primarily jazz bands. There was one, tho, who backed Blind Blake and a couple others. I'll see if I can back reference to the artist listings and see what songs he and others recorded on. Might take a couple days.


Maybe a bit more "urban" than what you're looking for, but Big Joe Williams did a series of recordings in 1947 backed by Sonny Boy Williamson on harmonica, Ransom Knowling on bass, and Judge Riley on drums.  Here's a sample of what they sounded like:



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