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Author Topic: Bones repertoire  (Read 8417 times)

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Emma Lee

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Bones repertoire
« on: August 13, 2005, 09:47:55 AM »
Hey Weenies-

What songs out there (e.g., on the Juke) are notable for incorporating bones in them? Am looking for stuff to listen to to see how bones are used with singing, guitar, etc. Michael Baytop in the bones workshop mentioned Mississippi John Hurt as someone who sometimes used bones in his music, and in class we tried Louis Collins Blues, very nice. Any Weenies know specific country blues recordings notably incorporating bones? Or any fun facts about bones, for that matter? (Recognizing that this is a family-friendly forum, please make sure any double-entendre bones references also make consistent sense in their single-entendre interpretation.)

Thanks,
Emma Lee

Offline dj

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2005, 10:05:45 AM »
Blind Blake's Dry Bone Shuffle is on the Juke.

Online Stuart

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2005, 01:15:15 PM »
I don't have the recordings at hand, but I recall that Blind Blake had a few more, such as "That Will Never Happen No More," if my memory serves me correctly.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2005, 02:12:47 PM »
If you can find some Archie Edwards material, he's joined by Mr. Bones, who taught Michael Baytop, on several recordings. Archie could be coming to a Juke near you soon. ;)

As mentioned, Blake has several recordings featuring bones. The two mentioned, also Hot Potatoes. I can't recall any John Hurt with bones at the moment.

edited to add fun fact: a quote from liner notes to one of Archie's CDs called Blues 'n Bones - "The bones go back to African percussion instruments and were central to the minstrel show tradition as shown by the stage names of the minstrel show men, 'Tambo' and 'Bones'."

Not vouching for the veracity of that fun fact though...

Andrew
« Last Edit: August 13, 2005, 02:32:42 PM by uncle bud »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2005, 02:47:19 PM »
Hey, Emma Lee,
You might want to check out a video by Mister Bones, Percy Danforth, himself. It is distributed by Lark in the Morning and I think is available thru Homespun. He was a very energetic 89 when it was recorded in 1989, but has since passed away. Not only does he demonstrate many different rhythmic nuances, but there are several performances at the end of the tape with a variety of other players and styles.

Also, try playing along with some Blind Boy Fuller, or other raggy Piedmont blues, especially if there's some washboard work by Bull City Red to get some rhythms from.

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

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2005, 02:49:35 PM »
I don't know who is the legit Mr. Bones (or Mister Bones), but the Mr. Bones on Archie Edwards' Blues 'n Bones record is Richard "Mr. Bones" Thomas. Good idea on the washboard stuff...

Offline waxwing

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2005, 03:00:22 PM »
I imagine anyone who plays bones well gets saddled with that moniker, eh? Doesn't Blake refer to the bones player on DBS as Mister Bones, too, or maybe just "Bones"? Yeah, I think he says, "Let's go, Bones!"

Percy is white, but was first introduced to the bones when he heard to black men, one playing bones and the other sand dancing under a street lamp in Washington, D.C. when he was eight years old in 1908. He has studied the bones playing of many different cultures and states that there is a Greek urn which depicts a bones player, several thousand years B.C.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2005, 01:35:09 PM by waxwing »
"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 GhostRider

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2005, 06:31:13 PM »
Hi:

Yes Blake's That'll Never Happen No More features the bones (as well as his hot guitar playing).

Alex

PS very happy about the retrevial of Lightnin's instruments.

Emma Lee

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2005, 07:36:57 PM »
Thanks all for the great suggestions. And thanks Slack for adding Archie Edwards' Blues and Bones to the Juke! To sum up, some bones repertoire:

Blind Blake:
          Dry Bone Shuffle
          That'll Never Happen No More
          Hot Potatoes
          and other tunes (there are 115 hits for Blind Blake on the Juke)

Archie Edwards:
     album: Blues 'n' Bones (just added to the Juke today) songs featuring bones played by Richard "Mr. Bones" Thomas:
           John Henry
           That Won't Do
           My Old Schoolmates
           Hen's Cackle (hot bones work)
           Baby Please Give Me a Break
           Payday
           Little Girl
           
Also see: Percy "Mr. Bones" Danforth's How to Play the Bones video from Lark in the Morning: http://www.larkinam.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_LAR027_A_Mr+Bones%3A+How+To+Play+The+Bones_E_. Per this Mr. Bones, you gotta have two sets of bones and play two-handed. Lark also sells wooden and (get this) bone bones.

Thanks all! :D Keep posting if you think of anything else.

Emma Lee

Offline waxwing

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2005, 08:17:03 PM »
Yeah, if you ain't playin' two-handed, you're just wavin' a couple sticks.-G-

I guess the only excuse would be if you we're playin' harp with the other hand.

Anyway, Percy does get some fearsome rhythms going and it's a very good video. His technique does differ from Michael B's a bit as he holds the bones between different fingers.

Either Lovestick or Taizz had a set of bone bones one afternoon in 15 that I played a little. Distinctly different tone. Chez also explained that the different grips were Celtic and Blues when he saw me emulating Percy's Celtic grip, but I don't think the grip would stop you from playing good blues rhythms.

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 Mike Billo

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2005, 07:16:57 AM »
I'm a Bones Player!
  Yes, there is a Bones Player depicted on a Grecian Urn. Shakespeare refers to Bones playing in "A Midsummer Nights Dream", I believe (but could be wrong about this one) that they're referenced in "The Canterbury Tales" and there are ancient cave drawings in China that some believe are people playing Bones (as opposed to the Grecian Urn which *clearly* depicts a Bones Player).
  So, the best guess is that, rather than emanating from any one region or culture, that Bones Playing, like the wheel, is something that all of Humanity developed independently.
 
  As to who was the first "Mr. Bones", that comes from the Minstrel Shows, which were extremely formulaic, where the three main characters in comedic skits were Mr. Interlocutor (the Master of Ceremonies), Mr Bones (a Bones Player) and Tambo (a tamborine player). They told jokes of the "Why did the chicked cross the road?" variety.
  The first "Mr. Bones" would have been somebody in the early 1800's.

  I agree with John that the best Blues to get started playing the Bones with, is any of the raggy/Piedmiont stuff. Blind Boy Fuller was a good choice. Of course, as you advance on the Bones, you can play with anything (Minor digression: John; When are you going to have your "after moving" jam session party? )

  The Percy Danforth video is a must for anybody interested in playing, but I also highly recommend David Holt's "Folk Rhythms" which also teaches spoons and washboard, in addition to Bones.
  The only issue I have with the Danforth video, is his insisting upon playing two-handed. I *can* play two-handed, but have found that it's far too loud and overbearing for most playing situations. Unless you're playing with at least a half dozen other musicians, two sets of Bones just makes you an obnoxious showboater.
  The purpose of different grips, pertains to the execution of different rhythms. With the standard American grip, it's not very pleasing to the ear when you play a Shuffle ( a mainstay rhythm of the Blues), but if you use the Celtic grip, you can more easily play the 6/8 shuffle rhythm.
  For straight ahead 4/4, I go back to the American grip.

  I learned the Bones from a really cool guy named JC Burris. JC was Sonny Terry's nephew, although they were the same age.
  Like JC, I play Bones with one hand and Harp with the other.
  JC's Bones and Harp can be heard on two out-of-print Folkways recordings, "Sonny Terry's Jaw Harp Album" and Sonny Terry's Washboard Band".
  He made one album of his own on Arhoolie and there is an Arhoolie CD of his playing called "Blues Professor". I highly recommend it.
   
   My day job, is playing Guitar and Uke in Old Folk's Homes, but when I play for an Altzheimers or Dementia facility, where the people need a *lot* more sensory stimulation, I do a Vaudevillian, One-Man-Band, Novelty Act where I play the Bones, Accordion and Harp simultaneously.
  I have a "not to be taken too seriously" website about that at http://www.geocities.com/mikebillomikebillo/
  I have also performed with that combination busking on the Street ( I've also done a couple of County Fairs too ) and find that I make more money than I do with the Guitar. I guess people see a *lot* of Guitar playing street musicians but   something like this is just Martian enough to grab their attention a little more.

  I'll sign off this overly-long posting with the salutation used by Bones Players to each other:
   "May your Bones be with you."

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2005, 07:56:51 AM »
Hi Mike - thanks for the great bones info. I agree that two sets can be overpowering.

The JC Burris album is on the Juke, folks.

Offline Slack

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2005, 09:16:54 AM »
Yeah Mike, thanks for the Bones info.  Can you explain the difference between the Celtic hold and American hold?  -- is it just the number of fingers that separate the bones?

re: two handed playing... clacking bones volume really depends on the bones being played, no?  I've heard some very loud ones and some fairly muted ones.  I think what makes two handed playing great is that you can syncapate the beat.  I also recommend David Holt's video - what a hoot, the electrified hambone is absolutely wild... it cracks me up every time I see it.

Cheers,
slack

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2005, 10:49:20 AM »
Howdy Slack.
   
    The difference between American and Celtic grips are that, in the American grip, the Bones, wrist and forearm are all in a fairly straight line with each other and the playing motion originates in the wrist.

  In the Celtic grip, the wrist is bent back so the Bones are at approximately a 45 degree angle and the motion originates a bit more in the elbow.

  For reasons, which have remained a complete and absolute mystery to me for a long time, the Celtic grip yields a better result for any rhythm that has a multiple of 3 in the time signature ( e.g. 3/4, 6/8).
  The American grip better for 4/4, 2/4, etc.
  Again, I have no clue why that is.

  Certainly, the material the Bones are made of ("Bones" for Bones Playing can, of course, be made of bone, wood, or even plastic) have a definite effect on volume.
  The loudest pair I own are made of Maple and they are too loud for most playing situations.
 . The quietest are a pair of small spare rib bones I "made" myself (Basically, I ate the meat, then let the bones dry outdoors).
   Any pair of kitchen spoons held in a Bones Playing grip are pretty quiet. You can then flip them over into a spoons playing grip and they become quite a bit louder.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Bones repertoire
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2005, 11:49:02 AM »
Thanks for the great post, Mike. We love long post when they're full of good info and humor. And I, too, should have mentioned the David Holt video. It's really fun. I personally like the paper bag.

And it was you I was thinking of when I mentioned playing bones and harp, altho' Michael Baytop, who probably also knew J.C. Burris, played some last week, too. Have you been doing any Jug band lately and is there another gathering at Sutter Creek his fall? Boy, I'd love to get you up to PT next year. You would have a blast.

We're thinking late September for the Housewarming BarBQ Country Blues Jam. No date yet. We're still up to our eyeballs in boxes.

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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