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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Johnm on December 26, 2013, 10:01:59 AM

Title: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on December 26, 2013, 10:01:59 AM
Hi all,
I've been listening a lot lately to religious singers of the Country Blues era and have noticed how many of them chose to accompany themselves with slide guitar; there certainly seems to be a higher percentage of sacred songs accompanied by slide guitar than are secular songs.  I suppose there could be a number of reasons for this--perhaps the ability of a slide to capture a vocal quality in its phrasing of melody was the driving force behind the choice to play slide, or maybe it was felt that it projected more in a busking context.  Whatever the reason, there were so many performers of religious material who chose to use a slide for some or all of their repertoire. 
I thought it might be interesting to make a list of as many of these performers/performances as we could come up with.  Just to get the ball rolling, I'll name a couple, and if when the list is added to, people confine themselves to one or two names apiece, more folks can get involved.
   * Blind Willie Johnson--the most obvious choice, I suppose, just because he was so spectacular a slide player.  All of his slide playing was in Vestapol, I believe, and he is reputed to have used a pocket knife in his slide playing.
   * Rev. Edward Clayborn--Everything he played was in Spanish tuning.  He's not nearly as well known nowadays as Blind Willie Johnson, but he was a very clean player with a beautiful tone and perfect intonation.
   * Connie Williams--The "Philadephia Street Singer" did all of his slide playing, and indeed, all of his playing out of Vestapol.  He was exceptional in the sophistication of the non-slide portion of his accompaniments and had a chordal vocabulary in Vestapol that was unrivaled among traditional players.  His use of slide was pretty much confined to his soloing.  I don't know that he ever played slide from beginning to end on a piece.

Anyone have any other religious performers who used slide or religious performances with slide accompaniment to add to the list?

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: jpeters609 on December 26, 2013, 10:25:51 AM
Blind Willie Davis -- "I Believe I'll Go Back Home," "Your Enemy Cannot Harm You," "Rock of Ages," and "When The Saints Go Marching In." I'm especially partial to the first tune, which has a spine-chilling quality (perhaps enhanced by the crackle and hiss).
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: blueshome on December 26, 2013, 10:28:29 AM
Blind Gussie Nesbitt
Rev. Leon Pinson
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: harriet on December 26, 2013, 11:30:00 AM
Rev. Pearly Brown
Sister O.M. Terell

(Thanks Blueshome:) - love me some Gussie Nesbitt!)
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: steadyrollinman on December 26, 2013, 02:45:03 PM
Charlie Patton: Jesus is a dying bed maker, Lord I'm discouraged, Prayer of Death

Belated Christmas wishes John.

Regards,

Chris
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on December 26, 2013, 02:53:10 PM
Thanks, Chris, and same to you.  I was thinking that William "Cat Iron" Carradine played his religious songs with a slide in Vestapol.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: steadyrollinman on December 26, 2013, 02:57:22 PM
That's a new one for me to look into.

Much thanks John.

Regards,


Chris
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: harriet on December 26, 2013, 03:34:14 PM
Mississippi Fred Mcdowell in Vestapol - too many to name!
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: onewent on December 26, 2013, 04:51:57 PM
Well, if you define 'religious singers' as players with a wide catalog who happened to include some religious numbers, I'd include Willie McTell.  He did a number of religious songs, many in vestapol, on the 12-string, and Barbeque Bob in Spanish tuning on a 12.

Plus Bukka White and Blind Willie Davis to name a few.

And Tom Feldmann actually does a dvd  for Stefan Grossman on this topic of gospel slide guitar, and includes a variety of 78 artists.

Tom
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on December 27, 2013, 09:52:36 AM
Hi all,
Bo Weavil Jackson had a number of religious songs with slide accompaniment and Green Paschal from the George Mitchell Collection did all of his songs that way.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: oddenda on December 27, 2013, 04:52:10 PM
Almost everyone who played guitar that I interviewed through the SE between 1970-1980 began playing guitar in an open tuning, often with a slide. Henry Johnson was the only exception, but he was exceptional!! I would hazard a guess that religious players were after an appropriate  "joyful noise" to accompany their singing rather than guitaristic dexterity. Once they reached that point, they stayed there as it filled their needs. Those who went the secular route developed their guitar playing further and went beyond barre chords with a slide into various picking and tuning possibilities. That's my theory, and I'm sticking with it, as Ann Elk would have said in regard to her dinosaur theory (M. Python). Gary Davis seems an exception, but remember that he played secular music, including with a string band, around Greenville, SC in his younger days.

pbl
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on December 29, 2013, 10:33:44 AM
Hi all,
Sam Collins, Herman E. Johnson and Julius Daniels chose to accompany themselves with slide guitar on their religious recordings.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on January 15, 2014, 02:59:43 PM
Hi all,
Dennis Crumpton and Robert Summers accompanied their two religious numbers with guitars playing slide in Vestapol.  Willie Mae Williams accompanied herself with a slide, too.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: alyoung on January 16, 2014, 03:30:15 AM
Then there's lap steel players Lonnie Farris and Willie Eason ... and from there it's only a short step to the whole "sacred steel" thing. 
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: harriet on January 16, 2014, 06:59:36 AM
Rev Robert Wilkins
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: btasoundsradio on January 17, 2014, 12:53:11 AM
blind willie mctell?s sacred material. muddy waters even did a couple for alan lomax and john work. skip james did not use slide on his sacred songs,
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on April 17, 2014, 09:37:47 AM
Hi all,
Lil McClintock used a slide for "Sow Good Seeds".
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: roig on April 17, 2014, 10:06:51 AM
Flora Molton. Love her!
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: roig on April 17, 2014, 10:08:42 AM
James "Guitar Slim" Stephens played His Blood Can Make Me Whole, and a couple of others, using a pocket knife, and Mance Lipscomb played a few songs the same way.

Son House played a GREAT "I Shall Not Be Moved" on his earliest post-rediscovery session.

Arvella Gray also did a few.

That's all for now :)
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: oddenda on April 18, 2014, 10:10:29 PM
Of those I recorded and issued: Frank Edwards
                                               Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue)
                                               Henry Johnson [sometimes]
Of those I recorded and unissued: Baby Tate
                                                  Dink Roberts (on gtr)

Others did sacred material, but not with a slide. Possibly because I was interested in blues, some folks didn't do sacred stuff, but others did as part of their active repertoire. 20:20 hindsight.

pbl
                                               
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Johnm on December 03, 2018, 09:36:17 PM
Hi all,
Bishop Perry Tillis fit this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: jostber on December 04, 2018, 12:51:31 AM
Rev. Utah Smith and Rev. Lonnie Farris were also great slide gospel players.

Some more artists who recorded religious pieces with slide guitar: Willie Mae Williams, Brother Blind Willie Easton, Rev. I.B.Ware, Julius Daniels.
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Lastfirstface on December 04, 2018, 05:33:27 AM
Lonnie Farris played a lap steel, but I don't recall hearing Utah Smith playing slide. Lots of fast fingering up and down the neck in vastapol, but no slide.
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: jostber on December 04, 2018, 09:24:41 AM
That's right, thanks. A mix-up from my side, Utah Smith played only wild gospel guitar without the slide.
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: alyoung on December 05, 2018, 04:23:29 AM
You're not the only one to make the slip -- see Document DOCD-5222, which is recordings by Utah Smith and Lonnie Farris, and is titled Slide Guitar Gospel 1944-1964.
Title: Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
Post by: Lastfirstface on December 05, 2018, 08:38:27 AM
Someone must have pointed it out to the Document people because they re-titled it "Electric / Slide Guitar Gospel 1944-1964" at some point.
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