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Chinatown! They got the best ol' food they ever had in Chinatown! - Leadbelly, from Fredric Ramsey Jr's. liner notes to the last sessions records

Author Topic: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?  (Read 3369 times)

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Offline GhostRider

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Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« on: June 10, 2005, 03:39:53 PM »
Hi all:

I was talking to Tim Williams last week (a local CB player). We were discussing Kokomo Arnold and Tim mentioned that he was a lap steel player, even claiming to have a photo of Arnold with a lapsteel.

I'm not all that familiar with Arnolds recorded works. Is it possible that Arnold recorded most or all of his incredible slide pieces on a lapsteel? Any fretted notes in there?

If you can't get me a woman, get me a sissy man,
Alex

lebordo

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2005, 08:58:57 PM »
I'd love to see the picture -- I've seen a couple of pictures of Arnold, but never one with a guitar.  Even the notes to the Document Essential Kokomo Arnold set (CBL 200023) starts off "I don't recall ever seeing a picture of Kokomo Arnold playing a guitar ...".

The same liner notes, however, go on to say two paragraphs later: "James Arnold was born in rural Georgia in 1901...or by his account 1905; his early history is almost a complete blank, but we do know that he picked up guitar in emulation of his cousin John Wigges.  We don't know how Wigges approached the instrument but Kokomo played it in a vigorous slide style, left handed with the guitar lying in his lap."

Offline Richard

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2005, 10:06:06 AM »
Interestingly, I have been trying to finish short prog for the juke on lap players and as some artists   could\could not be  lap players I picked Michael Messer's brains and we concluded that some of Arnold's material prossibly  was lap... so to cut a long story short I've included a couple of "possible" tracks in the prog.

If I can get\keep my act together it might be winging it's way juke-wise in the week  :o
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline blueshome

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2005, 11:08:10 PM »
My suspicion is that Kokomo played both ways.  In the Agram LP I have is a repro of a poster for a show by Kokomo which shows him playing a style O National upright & lefty.

Certainly there is quite a bit of fretting going on in much of his stuff, but I have always felt that some of the stuff in Spanish tuning was played flat as there is not a lot of fretting.

Phil

Offline Richard

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2005, 02:40:45 AM »
Can't remember off-hand which tracks (!) but certainly at the end of a couple of them it sounds distinctly lap-like.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2005, 07:17:35 AM »
Could be that Kokomo played some things lap style...but certainly you have to fret for the version of Wild Water Blues I recently posted in the Back Porch.
Prof S

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2005, 07:34:54 AM »
Been listening to Kokomo Arnold recently and there certainly is quite a bit of fretting. I've yet to hear a song where I'd say it's definitely lap style but I don't have all 4 vols, only a cheap double CD. With some songs, almost 90% of the song could be lap style, then there's a fretted turnaround or something to quash that notion. Maybe some of the stuff with piano?  He's certainly plays slide like a lap player a lot of the time, covering a lot of the strings for chordal sliding bits. Is there a song someone can point to that is lap style or suspected to be?

lebordo

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2005, 10:39:21 AM »
With some songs, almost 90% of the song could be lap style, then there's a fretted turnaround or something to quash that notion.

Perhaps there's something obvious that I'm missing [ wouldn't be the first time :-) ], but I don't see "lap style" and "fretted notes" as mutually exclusive.  In fact, the full length photo of Charley Patton used on the first Blues Images calender cover clearly shows Charley playing lap-style (albeit not flat on his lap) and fretting -- no slide visible at all.  While the left hand position looks awkward (to me), Patton himself seems very relaxed and I get the feeling it's a hand position he's very comfortable with, as opposed to something contrived for the camera.

I can rather easily imagine using a bar type slide between the third and fourth fingers while fretting individual notes with the first and second fingers (and perhaps the thumb for the sixth and maybe fifth string).  Although perhaps a little more awkward, I can also envision a bottle neck on the third or fourth finger while fretting with the first and second fingers/thumb.

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2005, 10:50:25 AM »
    "Lap style" and "fretted noted", usually are mutually exclusive, because the overwhelming majority of lap style playing involves the use of an extension nut that raises the strings up and away from the neck.

   The extension nut on my Metal-bodied, Lap style guitar  raises the strings 3/4 of an inch off the neck.
   Fretting would be impossible.

  If you leave the guitar set up normally and play it lap style, the bar makes a lot of unpleasant racket against the frets (Actually, I should qualify that and say *I* make a lot of unpleasant racket if I play that way).

    In the picture of Patton you refer to, If it's the same one I've seen, he's simply playing overhand, rather than, lap style and there's no bar in his hand.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2005, 11:04:38 AM »
Sure you could do it. You be pretty limited I'd think, depending on your action and strings. Kokomo certainly had pretty basic single string turnarounds and simple IV chords on a number of tunes that might allow for this. I'm not knowledgeable enough (at all) in lap styles to determine what's what, aside from the fact that one would usually have higher action making fretting tougher or impossible. The Patton image looks like a pose to me. Perhaps he did play that way. I think most of Patton's slide playing tunes don't include fretted notes (exceptions? I think there's one or two but can't remember them right now).

Re. Kokomo Arnold, "Something's Hot", which is much more in the style of Bill Weldon, sure sounds like lap playing to me. Tunes like Wild Water Blues or Salty Dog, less so.

Offline Richard

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2005, 01:55:13 PM »
I don't think if you can actually "play" lap then to play a regular guitar (unless the action is very low) is not that much of a problem and really no different to playing slide.

Sorry to say my lap show is running late as I bought a few more CDs  :-X and will now include another track or two  ;)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

boots

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Re: Kokomo Arnold a Lap Steel Player?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2005, 02:14:23 PM »
We're wating for the lap of honour. :)

 


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