Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Flynn6400 on March 21, 2020, 11:45:28 AM

Title: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: Flynn6400 on March 21, 2020, 11:45:28 AM
What's up guys, a fellow country blues and American roots music enthusiast here, and I'm doing a research project about this site for a college course I'm taking. Just to gather some info, I have three questions to ask anybody who is interested:

-What draws you to this music? Is it the harmony, the soul, the simplicity of recording, the musicianship, or the mystery inherent in these old recordings? Is it something else? Whatever draws you to this niche interest, please share.

-List me one song you'd like to share, as I am compiling a playlist of any suggestions you guys give.

-What artist do you think is the best introduction to this musical world?

Whatever you feel comfortable sharing, please do, and thank you so much for keeping this music alive through your common interest and dedication. Have a nice day/evening.
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: Flynn6400 on March 21, 2020, 11:51:19 AM
I suppose I could get the ball rolling by answering these questions personally:

-What draws me to this music is the raw nature of the recording process. It's so bare, so soulful, and is such an inspiration as a songwriter myself, because these artists made such compelling music with so little at their disposal. There also is the mythological and mysterious factor which makes this music so enveloping to get obsessed with. It feels otherwordly yet so, so familiar.

-Henry Thomas: Bob McKinney. One of my favorite tunes ever, regardless of genre. So melodic.

-I suppose Robert Johnson is a great introduction. He was mine and I'm sure he was many of your's. He just represents so many of the things that make this music so interesting: He's shrouded in myth and folklore, his music is haunting, his guitar playing and singing were incredibly ahead of their time, he influenced so many, and he introduced tons of blues standards.
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: eric on March 21, 2020, 02:18:56 PM
What draws you to this music?


I am not trying to be flippant here, but I've wondered about this for more than 50 years without coming up with a good answer.  I can tell you that it began by listening to John Hurt and thinking: That's cool, maybe I could do that.  I'm still working on it.

More relevant to your project maybe, my thinking about the music changed over time from "hey, that's cool"  and mythologizing the players to slowly realizing that guys like Blind Lemon were brilliant world class musicians/composers/improvisers regardless of genre.  You may find that folks who have been involved in this music for a long time are weary/wary of the mythologizing of Robert Johnson in particular, although he was a great and influential player.  Elijah Wald's book Escaping the Delta is a good resource.  Good luck.
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: Flynn6400 on March 21, 2020, 02:55:44 PM
Thanks for your response, and I can totally see people being weary of Robert Johnson's myth. It's reasonable to say his legacy has been slightly overblown and overshadows so many important artists. Even if his music is still brilliant and timeless.
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: TonyGilroy on March 22, 2020, 02:29:25 AM
I'll give it a try since I seem to be under house arrest for the foreseeable future.

I'm not a musician. I first became aware of music in the early sixties, just preBeatles, and initially assumed that the only music that existed was the chart music on the radio but I soon realised that that didn't quite do it for me. But there was enough to keep me interested and the likes of the Animals and Rolling Stones were very keen to talk about their influences who as a result got some of their records released in England where I live. I liked the influences better and then heard their influences' influences which took me way back to the 1920s and a lifelong obsession with blues, jazz and the 5%of country music that's wonderful as opposed to the 95% that isn't. As to why I simply don't know or care really. I've never seen the need to analyse it because as well as not being a musician I'm also not a music writer who needs to intellectualise and rationalize it.

One of the very first blues that i heard on Mike Raven's pirate radio show that completely floored me was Bukka White's "Jesus Died On The Cross to Save The World" from Sky Songs. A version of the Poor Boy he did for the Library of Congress the energy and drive are quite magnificent.

Best introduction? If you don't like Blind Willie McTell the music really isn't for you.
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: harry on March 22, 2020, 09:08:27 AM
No house arrest for me as my job is now busier than ever but still like to contribute.

My route to the blues was like most I think. Blues based guitar rock like Chuck Berry etc. and worked my way back from that. Boogie player Pete Johnson got me hooked on piano.

This music is bona fide in every way. The real deal. No drum computers, post production or other trickery. I love the poetry in the songs although I know itís limited in form (that being said, I still discover new things about it). Especially when they composed the lyrics based on events that happened to them in every day life. Sleepy John Estes is a good example on this. I appreciate the honesty and passion, Son House doing Death Letter Blues is nothing short of amazing.
Big Bill Broonzy would be a good introduction. Heís more accessible then say Skip James (too weird for most on first listen), Blind Willie Johnson (more gospel than blues) or Patton (canít understand a word heís singing).
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: Johnm on March 22, 2020, 10:22:08 AM
Certainly, part of what draws me to the music is habit, since I've been listening to it and playing it for over fifty years.  I think what drew me to it originally was liking and responding to the singing and playing in the style, and the people who played the music.  What has continued to draw me to it is the realization that the materials of the music are simple enough that they can be put together in a host of different ways that are accessible to players of greatly varying degrees of knowledge and skill, from virtuosos to folks who may only know a chord or two and a couple of licks.  It's a kind of music that just about everybody can make, in his or her own way.

The song I would share is Elvie Thomas' "Motherless Child".

I don't reckon there is one artist who is going to hook every first-time listener to this style, since people hear different things listening to the same piece of music, but the Lightnin' Hopkins record on Folkways where Sam Charters recorded him in a hotel room seems like as good a choice as any.

All best,
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: RobBob on March 29, 2020, 07:05:07 AM
I grew up in a household where jazz and more sophisticated blues were played. I've always been drawn to the blues Blind Lemon Jefferson being an early influence, Howlin' Wold and Muddy Waters as well.  Renewed Downbeat magazine and got that first Robert Johnson LP as gift for dong that.  Reached back into my own roots for old time, which in a lot of cases is the same thing as the blues as everyone played their versions of these forms before the A&R suits desecrated the music with fake racial categories.

It is the direct honesty of the music that appeals to me.  I over 50 years of making music I have found little supplant the power of this music. Rarely a songwriter comes along that matches the power. John Prine might be the most consistent of these. You don't have to plug in but it sure is nice to share your music so currently missing that interaction with friends either old time or blues or both.
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: Rivers on March 29, 2020, 08:18:19 AM
With me it was a series of events that cemented my love of acoustic country blues and all lines radiating out from there. The key event though was, after playing for many years, attending the Port Townsend Centrum workshop for the first time in 1998 (I think it was '98). There was a certain transcendent magic in the air sitting down with players like John Cephas, Phil Wiggins, Jerry Ricks, John Jackson, Robert Lowery, not to mention the faculty who were immensely helpful to me while navigating deeper into the music. Like all forms of magic it's hard to describe.

It was something I'd not experienced listening to recordings. That boxy, airy, unhurried sound and feel they got transported me way out in the country. I was absorbed by the sheer texture of it. At that time I couldn't sing for nuts but have worked on it since and am now pretty confident, when I can remember the lyrics.

Earlier influences were my first guitar at age 16, a nylon string gifted to me by a favorite aunt, got to have an instrument if you're gonna be a player, and if you're a player you've got to figure out what you want to play. Early influences were John Hurt's Oberlin LP, Davey Graham, Jorma, Bert Jansch and other good fingerpickers that would play my local folk club in Turville Heath, Buckinghamshire, UK

It's always been about playing for me. If I hadn't gotten that beat up old spanish box at an early age I'd probably still have listened to acoustic country blues, but would I have been so involved in it? I'll never know.

And thank you for asking!
Title: Re: I'm doing a research project on this forum, I have three questions to ask y'all
Post by: jed on April 02, 2020, 01:15:47 PM
Wow!  Thanks for asking such a demanding question, for which I could ramble a dozen different answers.

What originally drew me to country blues was curiosity, which became necessity and then matured into an appreciation of its sermons about humanity, individuality and endless creativity, usually wrapped into three simple chords. 

Curious about authors of songs performed by late-60s rock groups, I explored and became immersed in Delta and Chicago Blues - the latter for both its inherent urgency and its practicality - I wanted to make that living.

After unfortunate circumstances while working in a different style sidelined my electric music career struggle, I turned to what was for me the scary challenge of country blues, with its infinite variations, deceptively stellar musicianship and (uh-oh) no backup band.  I came to appreciate its depth, personality and history, continuing to explore the cultures and conditions that make blues our foundational musical form.

Today, at this moment, Son House's Pearline is playing for me.  It's has pretty much everything one could want in a song - intimacy, grit, wistfulness, story.

While no one artist is the perfect introduction, I'll commit to John Hurt as one overall starting point - or Skip James for drama and equal depth to Hurt.  For me, Johnson's output represents a node into which many influences meet, just as Muddy Waters famously brought the Delta to Chicago (along with others) - all great, but each with forebears whom few have tried to copy. 

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