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Author Topic: Percussion in Country Blues  (Read 280 times)

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Offline iantonionni

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Percussion in Country Blues
« on: June 12, 2021, 05:40:49 AM »
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.

Offline Forgetful Jones

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2021, 07:16:45 PM »
Robert Belfour




Offline Johnm

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2021, 07:41:00 PM »
Hi Anthony,
I always admired this track, and if you could approximate that fife part on the harmonica it would be fantastic!




All best,
Johnm

Offline waxwing

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2021, 01:08:29 AM »
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.

Wax
« Last Edit: June 13, 2021, 10:35:20 AM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline dj

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2021, 04:37:30 AM »
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:

 

Offline Johnm

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2021, 09:16:59 AM »
Hi all,
The drum accenting on "Jim And John" is not simply accenting the backbeat. It is more like a mambo, with the accents falling on beat 1, the + of beat 2, and beat 4. In this accenting pattern, a measure of four beats is divided into a three beat opening section in which the accents split those three beats in half, with the first two accents falling a beat-and-a-half apart from each other, starting on the first beat. Then beat four is hit squarely on the beat. So if you think of eight eighth notes in a measure of 4/4, the accenting pattern would be:

   ONE-two-three-FOUR-five-six-SEVEN-eight, or ONE-+-two-+-three-+-FOUR-+ 

Lonnie Young, Jr., who is playing the drum on the track, makes things more subtly inflected by subdividing some of the eight notes, like the + of beat one, into two sixteenth notes. There is something kind of magical or incantatory about this accenting pattern, I think. It really draws you in and puts you in a particular state, or at least it has that effect on me.
All best,
Johnm

Offline waxwing

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2021, 10:50:01 AM »
I always learn so much when you correct my erroneous assumptions, Johnm. I appreciate that you read my posts so closely for content . I have deleted the false statement from the post but include this response as a record of my mistake. I guess it's still okay to indicate that the strong back beat is very typical of country blues rhythms, but was certainly not the only rhythm used, which I don't think I implied.

Thanks,
Wax
"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 iantonionni

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Re: Percussion in Country Blues
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2021, 11:40:33 AM »
Thanks gents, great stuff. Wax, I think you've hit the nail on the head, I have noticed, on occasion, he can lose the backbeat, especially after playing fills. I shall get him listening to some MJH, and I'll dig out my Blind Blake. Also, great idea John on the fife and drum.
dj, The Big Joe Williams is a good shout, he would be more comfortable with in this style.
The main problem has been with anything with a country or ragtime feel. we ended up dropping these from the set, and ended up with two acts, a country blues duo, and a more modern band set up.
I shall keep you updated.
 

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