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The blues ain't nothin' but a low-down achin' chill - Robert Johnson

Author Topic: Guitar Duets in Country Blues  (Read 13179 times)

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Offline MTJ3

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2005, 08:35:04 AM »
Richard "Hacksaw" Harney's album, Sweet Man, is on the Blues Vault label under license from Adelphi, which recorded it in 1972 when Harney was 69 years old.  His playing is outstanding.  Why Harney never garnered wide acclaim among blues revivalists is probably explicable on grounds of health, but why the record didn't is a mystery to me.  Harney is another guy whose existence supports the iceberg theory of blues (i.e., what we hear on record is only the tip of the iceberg both for the genre and for the individual players).

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2005, 05:37:19 PM »
Hi all,
A few posts back on this thread, Uncle Bud observed that Hi Henry Brown's recordings were like bonus Charlie Jordan tracks.  He was certainly speaking the truth.  I was listening to "Preacher Blues" the other day and realized that the second guitarist is playing "Hunkie Tunkie Blues", but substituting the phrase from the seventh and eighth bars, played twice, for the savage opening lick Charlie Jordan played in the first four bars of "Hunkie Tunkie".  Apart from the substituted section, the second guitar part is "Hunkie Tunkie", note for note.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2005, 03:42:14 AM »
Quote
second guitarist is playing "Hunkie Tunkie Blues"

The second guitarist on those Hi Henry Brown songs is Charlie Jordan.

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2005, 11:54:05 AM »
Hi David,
I realize I expressed myself poorly in my last post.  I assumed that Charlie Jordan was the second  guitarist on "Preacher Blues", I just never had remarked before on how "pre-digested" his guitar part on it is.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2005, 01:33:42 PM »
John M,

   Talk about expressing ones self poorly!  From your posts, I assumed that both Uncle Bud and you knew the identity of Brown's second guitarist.  But since neither of you explicitly mentioned Charlie Jordan, I thought I would so that someone reading this thread who wasn't as well acquainted with the genre would know why Jordan's name came up.

   But I wrote the post at 6:42 AM, before my first cup of tea, so it came out rather abbreviated.  :)

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2005, 12:49:08 PM »
Hi all,
I have been listening to several cuts in this category recently that I particularly like.  They are duets pairing Sleepy John Estes and Brownsville Son Bonds from 1941, in particular "Little Laura Blues", "Lawyer Clark Blues" and "Working Man Blues".  The first two songs are played in G, standard tuning, and "Working Man Blues" is played in C, standard tuning.  Unlike Frank Stokes and Dan Sane, Sleepy John and Son Bonds did not capo to different frets to play out of different positions.  Instead, they chose to play both guitar parts out of the same position, pretty much right on top of each other, somewhat in the style of Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly, though with a more forceful rhythmic feel.  On these cuts, Son Bonds is flat-picking very busily; you can hear his pick thwacking away, and John Estes is playing a more conventional finger-picked accompaniment.  They do not appear, based on the sound of it, to have made any attempt to stay out of each other's way, or occupy different registers, and the sound is very immediate and exciting, either despite or because of that approach.  Their duo sound is one that I have not heard explored by present-day players, and it has a lot of interesting possibilities.  Of course the fact that Sleepy John was one of the greatest singers of country blues, as well as a particularly interesting lyricist doesn't hurt the over-all effect of these songs.  They are terrific.
All best,
Johnm

Muddyroads

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2005, 06:08:31 AM »
Another good duet is South Carolina Rag by Willie Walker.  I have been told that Willie flat picked his part and another, unnamed musician finger picked the other part..  That explains the rapid licks that Willie gets on that cut.  Does anyone know who the other guitar player was?  Of the folks I spoke with here in SC, no one seems to know.

Muddy Roads

Offline dj

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2005, 07:07:32 AM »
Sam Brooks was the second guitarist.  He apparently regularly played with Walker.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2005, 10:40:28 AM »
Sam Brooks was the second guitarist.? He apparently regularly played with Walker.
I can't for the life of me think where but back in the mists of time somebody was interviewed who knew Brooks and reported he was born blind in the 1890s and by trade a carpenter. I'm sure it wasn't Josh White, maybe it was Harry Gay when interviewed by Kip Lornell.
Perhaps those with a better recall than I can pinpoint it.

Offline a2tom

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2005, 03:42:04 PM »
Another good duet is South Carolina Rag by Willie Walker.  I have been told that Willie flat picked his part and another, unnamed musician finger picked the other part..  That explains the rapid licks that Willie gets on that cut. 

I grow to loathe reading about duets, as it blows away myths I was comfortable to live with, like that Willie Walker actually played that himself.  Sigh...

I have never tried to work that tune out myself, but it works together well, I guess, since I never noticed it was a duet!

tom

Muddyroads

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2005, 01:36:20 AM »
Thanks for the info on Sam Brooks.  There seems to be less information on Brooks than there is on Walker.  Found a website a UNC:  http://facstaff.unca.edu/sinclair/piedmontblues/walker.html

 that gives a brief bio of Walker and also lists the predominate Piedmont blues players..  A real nice web site with lots of information.

As far as playing South Carolina Rag on one guitar, it can be done but those flat picked runs are hard to duplicate and keep the bass line going.

Thanks again,

Muddy

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2005, 11:12:10 AM »
Found a website a UNC:? http://facstaff.unca.edu/sinclair/piedmontblues/walker.html
that gives a brief bio of Walker and also lists the predominate Piedmont blues players..?
Basically what that is is a summary of what can be read in far greater depth and detail on pages 173-178 of Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues. That said, all credit to such a worthy enterprise.

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2005, 09:48:38 PM »
A sort of half-way point on the road to the Lonnie Johnson-Eddie Lang duets might be found in the instrumental break by Lonnie Johnson backed by Johnny St. Cyr on Louis Armstrong's "Savoy Blues."  The accompaniment by St. Cyr, who was an accomplished picker worthy of study, is generally of the "boom chang" variety, but he adds a lot of interest with his reharmonization, which is as follows:

I/IV-bVdim/I-V7/I/
IV/IV-bVdim/I-V7/I-VI7-VI7-bVI7/
V7/VI7-V7/I-VI7-bVI7-V7/I-V7-I-I

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2007, 02:34:24 PM »
Hi all,
A particularly beautiful Country Blues guitar duet that I've been listening to a lot lately is the Down Home Boys' recording of "Don't You Leave Me Here".  According to the notes that accompany the Document CD, "The Songster Tradition", DOCD-5045, it looks like the guitarists on that cut were Long "Cleve" Reed and Sunny Wilson.  I don't really know anything about them, but their duet sound on this cut is beautifully worked out, just magical.  One of them is playing out of G position in standard tuning (though not necessarily at concert pitch), and is closely shadowing the melody in the bass.  The other guitarist, I believe, is playing in Vestapol, capoed up, and is doing octave doubling of the melody by finding it at the same frets on the sixth and fourth strings, fifth and second strings and fourth and first strings, adopting a left-hand approach similar to what John Hurt employed for "If You Don't Want Me, Baby".  The way these two parts sound together is especially pretty, and I don't recall hearing anything like it elsewhere.
All best,
Johnm   

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Guitar Duets in Country Blues
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2007, 09:13:33 AM »
Hi all,
A particularly beautiful Country Blues guitar duet that I've been listening to a lot lately is the Down Home Boys' recording of "Don't You Leave Me Here".  According to the notes that accompany the Document CD, "The Songster Tradition", DOCD-5045, it looks like the guitarists on that cut were Long "Cleve" Reed and Sunny Wilson.  I don't really know anything about them, but their duet sound on this cut is beautifully worked out, just magical.  One of them is playing out of G position in standard tuning (though not necessarily at concert pitch), and is closely shadowing the melody in the bass.  The other guitarist, I believe, is playing in Vestapol, capoed up, and is doing octave doubling of the melody by finding it at the same frets on the sixth and fourth strings, fifth and second strings and fourth and first strings, adopting a left-hand approach similar to what John Hurt employed for "If You Don't Want Me, Baby".  The way these two parts sound together is especially pretty, and I don't recall hearing anything like it elsewhere.
All best,
Johnm   

Indeed a wonderful tune, John. I had been working out a version for solo guitar in Spanish tuning a little while back. I'll need to return to it.


 


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