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Author Topic: Tom Dickson?  (Read 4942 times)

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Offline Janmarie

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Tom Dickson?
« on: November 09, 2003, 03:41:31 PM »
Do any of you know anything about Tom Dickson?  I just got the CD "Trouble Hearted Blues - Vintage Guitar Blues (1927-44)" from Document  Records and really like Tom Dickson's guitar playing.  He's not mentioned in the books I have.  I believe his tracks on the CD, 'Death Bell Blues' and 'Labour Blues' were recorded in 1928.

Offline Johnm

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Re:Tom Dickson?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2003, 08:52:35 PM »
Hi Janmarie,
I don't know very much about Tom Dickson, but I agree, he was really a nice player.  I believe he was a Memphis musician, and he is a little unusual in that, of the very few sides he recorded, each of the ones I've heard (Death Bell, Labor, and Happy Blues) was in a different key and position.  He was definitely not a one-trick pony type of musician, and seemed pretty sophisticated, with lots of original ideas.
All best,
John

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re:Tom Dickson?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2003, 04:50:58 PM »
If you don't have the Document CD mentioned by Janmarie, Tom Dickson can be heard singing "Death Bell Blues" (1928) on the Yazoo recording "Memphis Masters" (Yazoo 2008). He seems to be rolling his right hand a bit with the thumbed base notes leading the high string picking by a barely noticeable lag. Nice smooth playing. So I listened to the whole CD and among the other cuts, really liked Joe McCoy's "Pile Driver Blues" with Minnie doing the interesting guitar parts.

Tom Dickson's "Labor Blues" is on the Yazoo CD titled "Frank Stokes Dream" - an album title that has always made me curious - what were they thinking? "Happy Blues" is on the Document compilation - "The Essential Country Blues".

I was wondering if Tom might be realted to Pearl Dickson, who also recorded in Memphis at about the same time. However, it seems her correct name was Dixon.

Cheers,
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Offline waxwing

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Re:Tom Dickson?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2003, 11:41:59 PM »
Well, I've got a little more. Tom Dickson's complete works are on Document's Memphis Blues Vol. 1 ('28-'35) DOCD-5014. The recent remastering is excellent on all four sides. The other title is Worry Blues. The recording session was Feb. 27, 1928 in Memphis. The liner notes by Alan Balfour concern only Robert (Tim) Wilkins, whose 17 sides make up most of the CD. No mention in Santelli's Big Book of Blues. Lee (Reso1) remarked to me about TD after listening to this CD for the first time after PT this summer. Worked anything out yet, Lee?
All for now.
John C.
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Offline uncle bud

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Re:Tom Dickson?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2003, 08:14:53 AM »
Our own Frank Basile did a nice version of Death Bell Blues on the old Yahoo groups site.  :) Cool tune.

u.b.

Offline Johnm

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Re:Tom Dickson?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2003, 08:31:30 AM »
Hi all,
I realized I have the fourth tune, "Worry Blues" on the document CD John C. cited.  I  transcribed "Happy Blues" last year some time.
All best,
John

Offline Janmarie

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Re:Tom Dickson?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2003, 01:30:37 PM »
Thanks all for the info on Tom Dickson.  Hard to articulate but I really enjoy the combination of base notes and high fingerpicking I'm hearing on these cuts.  I also found an English website that had some information on him:
www.earlyblues.com/WorryBlues.htm

Offline frankie

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Re: Tom Dickson?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2004, 06:10:56 AM »
I've just been listening a lot to him, lately - I worked out Death Bells a while back, but just got around to working out Labor Blues.? He really seems to have an ear for interesting sounds & positions.? Happy Blues is the one that makes me crazy, though - what great bass going on in that one!? I'm sure that'll take me a while to get going.

If you like TD, you'll probably also like Edward Thompson - he's an Alabama guy.? I wouldn't necessarily call their styles similar, but he kinda gives me the same feeling - gets some neat sounds - Florida Bound has a great break at the end...
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 11:01:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline Montgomery

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Re: Tom Dickson?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2004, 10:23:40 AM »
I love Death Bells...I figured that one out a while back. Can you think of any other song that has a similar opening riff?

Offline frankie

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Re: Tom Dickson?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2004, 12:45:56 PM »
I love Death Bells...I figured that one out a while back. Can you think of any other song that has a similar opening riff?

Not at all, really.? The contour of the main guitar riff over the I chord bears some resemblance to Charlie Patton's Down the Dirt Road (especially in the last verse).? You might be able to extend something of the resemblance to the riffs over the V chord and turnaround, but that's a pretty typical way of negotiating in the key of C.? That opening riff is as unique as it is great, though, as is his way of using open strings in the bass through the C chord.

Ramblin' Thomas uses some similar ideas with a peculiar C7 that he plays in the middle of the neck for Sawmill Moan and Ramblin' Mind Blues.? Both tunes are in G, but make use of this chord:

e-6-
B-8-
G-0-
D-0-
A-7-
E-8-

You?might recognize it as a G7 moved up to the 8th fret.? Pretty clever, but undeniably kooky!? He uses the open D string to create some movement in the bass by playing the 6th string, 4th string, 5th string than back to the 6th.? It's more prominent in Sawmill Moan than Ramblin' Mind Blues.

It sounds like TD is fretting only the 6th and 1st strings at the 8th fret and using the open A and D strings at certain points in the riff to create a little movement.? Very cool.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 11:03:54 PM by Johnm »

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