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The blues come from behind a mule - Bukka White, told to Hawkeye Herman

Author Topic: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys  (Read 7694 times)

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rbuniv

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2006, 04:13:32 PM »
Hello john;

Maybe I'm off on a tangent but I think this is significant. I truly believe that Papa Charlie did in fact record using instruments other than guitar-banjo or guitar. Very little information is available to substantiate this However after listening again to all of his recorded material it is clear to me that he played some of his pieces on a four (or maybe five) string instrument. On the song "You Put It In, I'll Take It Out" I don't hear the lower two notes of a guitar, when I tried playing along with this selection on guitar it made no sense not two use the bottom two strings. Considering that Papa Charlie was born sometime between 1885 and 1890, 30 years before Gibson produced its first guitar-banjo in 1919 suggests to me that he was first a banjo player (probably a 5 string which is what was popular in his youth) before he gravitated to the guitar. Give a listen to "Papa Charlie And Blind Blake Talk About It" Part 1 & 2, If that isn't a ukulele, (banjo-uke or national-uke) that Papa Charlie is playing  I'll eat my raccoon coat!

RB

Offline Johnm

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2006, 10:30:20 PM »
Hello RB,
On "You Put It In, I'll Take It Out", I can hear the root of the C chord at the third fret of the fifth string and the root of the A7 chord on the open fifth string (relative to his tuning).  The piece sounds pretty plainly to me to be played in C position standard tuning on a banjo-guitar.  The only version I have been able to hear of "Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About It" is so whupped that I don't feel confident making any kind of identification, but on the version I heard, Papa Charlie's instrument was heavily weighted toward the treble and high--if it was a banjo-guitar it was either capoed high or being played with closed position chords up the neck, which would not have posed a problem for Papa Charlie.  It may be a banjo uke or banjo mandolin.

I was not aware that anyone knew birth dates for Papa Charlie.  According to the Document CDs, he is pretty much of a biographical cipher, with almost nothing known about him.  I don't think there is anything in his playing on banjo-guitar or guitar that suggests he started out as a five-string banjo player.  They are really very different instruments.  There is nothing that I've heard him play that utilizes a drone string in the way that the fifth string of the banjo is most characteristically used.  I don't see the logic of a person playing all banjo family instruments because they play one instrument in the family.  Without more evidence in the sound on the records, I think it's a stretch to say that Papa Charlie used a five-string banjo for any of his recordings, particularly since his trademark instrument was the banjo-guitar.  I haven't heard anything in his solo pieces that I can't hear naturally and fit on a guitar or banjo-guitar.
All best,
Johnm 

rbuniv

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2006, 05:48:01 AM »
Hi John;

Perhaps it's that one and only photograph of Papa Charlie with his six string banjo that clouds our thinking on this matter.

According to Bruce Eder, All Music Guide listed at "http://www.answers.com/topic/papa-charlie-jackson" Papa Charlie played guitar, banjo and ukulele which is an instrument first introduced to this country around 1898. A soprano uke is tuned the same as the top four strings of a guitar at the seventh fret, a tenor uke is tuned D G B E just like a guitar, both with the fourth string being an octave higher. I am aware of the difference between banjos, guitars and ukuleles, their tunings and chord structures as I play all three. I don't find it much of a stretch to think PC was a banjo player as a common tuning on 5 string banjo is open G, the same as the top four strings on an open G tuning on guitar. The strings are tuned D G B D so that the only difference between that and standard tuning on guitar is that the the first string has been lowered one step from E to D. Using an F shape chord (same as guitar) and barre chords one can easily play in any key using these chords up and down the neck. Listen to Gus Cannon (playing five string banjo), you wont hear that  fifth string drone much in his playing. In various biographies I have read over the years, I find it was quite common that many guitar playing bluesmen had cut their teeth on the 5 string banjo. The banjo  was the instrument of the time! Some of the earliest commercial sound recordings were of the 5 string banjo; Vess L. Ossman recorded in the early 1890s and Fred Van Epps recorded in 1897 a good 25 to30 years before Papa Charlie and others walked into the studio. I am certain that these two performers and others of the time who did and did not record were of great influence to subsequent players who aspired to be performers. Certainly these white performers (the guys who were making money) were an inspiration to aspiring young musicians both black and white; I remember reading that Robert Johnson listened to and admired Bing Crosby.
 
RB

Offline Johnm

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2006, 07:05:20 PM »
Hi all,
Incidentally, I have been reviewing all the key/position identifications I did previously on the Papa Charlie Jackson recordings, and have found an identification error I made on Volume 3.  I had identified Papa Charlie's playing of "Tailor Made Lover", recorded in Chicago in July, 1929 as being out of G position in standard tuning, pitched around F#.  In fact, Papa Charlie played the tune of A position in standard tuning, pitched around F#.  At a couple of points in the course of the rendition, you can hear Papa Charlie sliding from a low V note (open E string) up to the I note, likewise played on an open string (open A string).  Had he played the piece in G standard tuning as I previously identified, the low V note would not have been available.  Also, "Tailor Made Lover" is played on a guitar as was "Take Me Back Blues No. 2", recorded at the same session.  "Take Me Back Blues No. 2" is played out of a D position in standard tuning, sounding in B.  The re-identification of Tailor Made Lover" has both songs sounding approximately a minor third below the position in which they were played, which makes the tuning consistent for the session, at which only the two tunes were done.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 08:02:21 AM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2006, 09:47:57 PM »
Quote
I would like to apologize to the entire Weenie community and to RB in particular

John, you are such a thoughtful guy -- I wouldn't be too hard on yourself, I figured you were just having a 'bad hair' day - which we all do from time to time.  Sometimes the tone of internet posts don't quite come out like we want and I always think it is best to give folks the benefit of the doubt in that regard.  So, hang in there, really big of you to apologize  - a rarely seen event it seems!

rbuniv

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2006, 06:38:39 AM »
Hello John;

Thank you for your consideration and apology! I enjoy entering into these discussions, especially the ones that can heat up a little with people sharing their own opinions. When something is unknown, we are left only to our opinions or surrounding evidence on which we can build and voice our theories. I think this is good because it inspires thought, research and interaction among the comunity. Best if we can agree or agree to disagree without taking it to a personal level.

John;I truly appreciate all your contributions to this site and look forward to future discussions.

RB

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Papa Charlie Jackson - songs and keys
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2006, 07:32:06 AM »
I'm just glad we've got people at WeenieCampbell like frankie, banjochris, RB and JohnM who can talk -- and argue occasionally -- intelligently about banjos of various kinds. Something I personally cannot do.


 


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