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Blues will never die because it is a spirit - Guitar Gabriel

Author Topic: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?  (Read 8574 times)

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Offline waxwing

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2005, 02:31:22 PM »
Well, I'm just reporting what Terry stated. However, my very unlawyerly understanding would be that you cannot just use someones name, that is someone famous, or recognizable, as the title of a book without asking them, or If they are no longer living, their estate. The estate may feel that it is prudent, both for the estates financial gain, and to see that the name is more strongly protected, to sell the copyright. It seems highly likely, but is purely speculative on my part, that Stefan purchased the rights to the name Reverend Gary Davis from his widow. He has certainly made good use of it himself.

I believe the same situation exists for the name Robert Johnson

Any lawyers who want to clarify further, please do.

Would folks be surprisedf to know that Paul McCartney had to pay Michael Jackson royalties for all the Beatle songs he is singing on his recent tour?

To attempt to bring this back on topic, I would guess that the names of players who had no estate, such as, perhaps, Blind Boy Fuller, are Public Domain and therefore, much "easier" to "quote"? -G-

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2005, 02:51:52 PM »
I thought MK Aldin administered the Rev.'s estate. Could be wildly wrong or confusing it with another estate. (he said veering wildly off-topic).

Wax, the Lemon-dissing you're trying to recall was Dave van Ronk recounting RGD's opinion of Lemon, I believe.

I agree with your thoughts about the guitar-centric crowd, aka the fingerstylers. Fuller is a great package, but viewed strictly in terms guitaristicness (he says, coining a hideous word)? would come up short against the Rev.

(edited to correct atrocious spelling!)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2005, 01:35:37 PM by uncle bud »

Offline GerryC

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2005, 01:28:45 PM »
Personally, I'd go for the package. Sure, RGD was a phenomenal guitarist, and a pretty good entertainer if his live recordings from the 1960s are anything to go by BUT - he seems to have been a rather curmudgeonly character with a poor opinion of almost every other musician he encountered [excepting Blake and Willie Walker but with them, what's not to like??]; nor did his prewar records, made at approximately the same time as Fuller's, greatly trouble the financial resources of the record buying public. Fuller, however, was something of a star. He made lots of records, they sold well, and he got on well enough with other musicians [eg Sonny Terry and Bull City Red - surely one of the all-time great blues names?] to be able to work with them harmoniously [pun intended] and make good records. I know this is going to sound seriously "off" to RGD fans, but how would the Rev's reputation have fared if he too had passed away like Fuller in 1941? Or if he had not moved to NYC and given lessons to a large coterie of later-to-be-influential white pickers? Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge fan of Davis' playing - less so of his singing - and we'd all be the poorer without the influence he had on such great players/teachers as Stefan Grossman, Woody Mann, Rory Block and Roy Book Binder. But I do sometimes wonder how things might otherwise have been....

Cheerily,

Gerry C
I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these...

Offline Montgomery

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2005, 09:50:56 AM »
Don't mean to change the subject here--I'll try to get back on topic--but what the hell does "fingerstyle" actually refer to?  Why would anybody want to be known as a fingerstyle player?  I understand "fingerpicking," and take it as a sort of technical term, a description of right-hand technique, a way to distinguish it from the way most people play these days (i.e. strumming, or soloing, with a pick).  But as a genre of music?  I don't know, when I hear the term "fingerstyle," I associate it with a vaguely celtic new agey guitar music that bears no resemblance to anything that existed in the prewar era.  Perhaps the term is suspect to me because if it's a musical genre, its name refers to a particular way of playing a particular instrument, i.e. the guitar, and therefore, it's a guitarist's genre, i.e. more about exploring the guitar than playing music for people.

I don't know much about this, and I'm generalizing.  But am I the only person for whom "fingerstyle" conjures up this sort of new agey style of playing?  Maybe it's more all-encompassing, but what it encompasses, I don't know.  What seems strange to me is that this music seems to have evolved, maybe indirectly, from--Gary Davis?  John Hurt?   How is this possible?

Trying to veer back on topic: I was not around in the 60s, but it does seem like Gary Davis and John Hurt had a big influence on a circle of guitar players, and a genre of music that sort of evolved through their teachings or techniques.  Whereas other pre-war players who had been rediscovered, like Son House, Skip James, Wilkins, etc., though popular, had less influence.  Perhaps this is because Davis himself gave a lot of lessons.  Another reason (I'm guessing, and I do hope to be enlightened--and I hope I'm not offending anyone) could be that Davis and Hurt, though fine vocalists, played music in which vocals were not entirely necessary (Davis especially played many instrumentals), and the white aficianados couldn't quite copy black blues singing as faithfully as they could reproduce the guitar playing.  So it became more about guitar, less about vocal.  And because of that, the music of Skip James, and Lemon Jefferson, whose vocals and guitar playing were inextricably linked, was less popular with the young guitarists, while the John Hurt alternating thumb style of playing, along with Davis' ragtime (and the fact that he ventured further up the guitar neck) became the dominant influences.  Hurt's alternating bass (which he didn't originate, of course) especially seems to be the first lesson taught to most aspiring "fingerpicking" guitarists.  But this is only one method of playing, and is in many ways limiting rhythmically.  I mean, Hurt was a great guitarist, I would never deny that.  Who doesn't like John Hurt?  He's impossible to dislike, and his music is distinctive.  But I don't think he's the most exciting player there ever was, and a big aspect of pre-war blues that I, and I assume others, love, is the rhythmic complexity and spontaneity that's largely absent in Hurt's playing.  I mean, Blind Lemon keeps you on your toes.  What about Blind Joe Reynolds or something like that?  I feel like those elements are lost in a lot of modern playing.  In otherwords, it's almost like this style of playing, maybe called "fingerstyle" or "fingerpicking" has been codified, like if you don't start from Hurt and work your way up, you're not playing the right way.  But the exciting thing about pre-war music is that even though everyone is playing pretty much the same 3 chords, most players had totally different approaches.  This is something that has been sort of lost today.  Maybe I'm wrong, or just a jackass.

I know that I'm rambling and not making my points very well.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2005, 12:33:16 PM »
Hi Montgomery,

That's kind of what I meant by fingerstylists anyway. E.g., a type of guitar-playing driven more by the technique itself than a particular genre like prewar blues or country blues, or even a broad "roots" music feel. Where it is very much about the guitar, and not necessarily the songs. Thus you could conceivably get a ragtime tune followed by a Celtic tune, followed by a jazz number, followed by a John Fahey piece, followed by something from the Wizard of Oz, followed by a new agey noodley thing. I dunno. It's a tremendously inadequate and unsuccessful label because there are so many gradations of it, from the thoroughly entertaining and musically interesting to the most godawful noodley new ager.

As for it evolving from Gary Davis or John Hurt, I don't necessarily see "fingerstyle" having evolved from any particular pre- or postwar blues artists, although there have certainly been those who have roots in that kind of music. I see it more as a marketing term or a label for talking about fingerpicked guitar styles of all kinds, particularly for instructional purposes or selling guitar magazines.  Gary Davis, no doubt because of the complexity of his playing, seems to figure in the fingerstyle hall of heroes. And as you point out, Hurt's style has been a starting point for many a fingerpicker. But I guess that hall could also include Fahey, Leo Kottke, Merle Travis, Steve Mann, Martin Simpson, and many more of all sorts. An amorphous blob of a hall, full of excellent guitarists, but not really unified by particular style of music.

I think you nail it when you wonder if it's a guitarist's genre about exploring the guitar. When I used it above, I was following up on waxwing's (accurate to my mind) suggestion that distinguished between those interested in Davis in large part for his technique and those interested in pre- and postwar blues/ragtime/gospel music who wouldn't dismiss Blind Boy Fuller because his arrangements weren't complex enough on the guitar. Probably not a particularly accurate use on my part of an already vague term.

Anyway, it's an awful phrase and I apologize for using it!  ;D  :P

Muddyroads

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2005, 02:42:16 PM »
A naive European question: how on earth can someone be allowed to own the publishing rights to someone else's name? Has the world gone totally crackers??

No the whole world is not crackers, but the United States definitely is.  Owning another man's name, how crass.

Muddy (can't buy my name) Roads

Offline Montgomery

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2005, 03:00:16 PM »
Uncle Bud, I certainly was not criticizing anything you wrote, I was only reminded of fingerstylers and thought I'd ask. ? I was probably overstating my case when I said that fingerstyle evolved from Gary Davis, but it does seem that there is a big crossover between the two genres (I know I'm simplifying, even by reducing them to genres) that seems strange to me. ?In fact, the reason I thought I'd pose the question here is because this is the only pre-war board that hasn't been overtaken with fingerstylists, and that's mainly because people are pretty adamant here about keeping the conversation within the pre-war realm (for which I'm eternally grateful), and I guarentee that if people were more lenient here, the pre-war crowd would become the minority. ?I guess this is what continues to baffle me. ?Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a person shouldn't like anything besides pre-war music, but it's odd that you rarely see messages on these old blues boards about, I don't know, Bach or Correli, John Coltrane (or even Louis Armstrong), or Lou Reed or someone, but you do see Gary Davis, and Eric Clapton and Leo Koettke, as if it's all the same thing. ?I suppose it has to do with some guitar fetish, namely an acoustic guitar, namely one that you play without picks. ?But I guess it's bizarre to me that people who are obsessed with the guitar as opposed to, you know, a love of music in general, have an interest in pre-war blues at all, but then, it might be a passing or superficial interest. ?Still, in general, I don't know why a conversation about Charley Patton is more likely to lead to a conversation about Esteban or Leo Koettke than even Roy Harvey or someone like that.

Offline a2tom

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2005, 12:46:12 AM »
it seems like what they're really interested in is that nifty picking. 

no doubt.  I think a fairly typical journey in people learning this music is to become interested because they want to learn to do some nifty picking (Davis or otherwise).  For the pure hobbyist, that is often be enough, so I don't mean to criticize, and certainly the picking is fun.  But for me, and I think many, a part of the journey eventually has to be that you're missing the boat if you think its all, or even mostly, about the guitar. 

With all due respect to the many great teachers of guitar videos out there, they only fuel the fire of misdirection.  How many people start their lessons with a discussion of the song, the lyrics, how the singing was executed, what made the integration of voice and instrument effective, etc?  I am not a video-lesson taker in general, but pretty fairly I think lessons jump right into "let's see what he's doing here, so it starts on a first position C chord...".   Stefan Grossman, a self-professed non-singer and driver of the lesson field is top of the "guilty" list here.  I grow more and more convinced that the notion of needing to master the guitar and only add the singing very late is backwards.

Again to bring this thread back 'round to why I started it, I suspect this discussion is relevant to thinking about the relative accessibility of Fuller.  It all comes to the notion of how to integrate voice and instrument into a whole song.  Too tired to decide whether I think Fuller is really easier in this regard, but I wonder.

tom

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2005, 08:03:15 AM »
Uncle Bud, I certainly was not criticizing anything you wrote, I was only reminded of fingerstylers and thought I'd ask.

Yup, I didn't actually take it as critical, was just joking really about the apology. It is a pretty awful term though. ?

Offline Rivers

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2005, 09:36:33 AM »
Personally I believe the semantic distinction has evolved in the last 20 years, probably from willful reverse- and forward snobbery. Depending on whether you're a folkie and proud, or a new age explorer going boldly... etc., you will tend to use one or the other term.

To me they used to be interchangeable and probably still are but other people hear something I never intended if I say 'finger style'. Since I'm a folkie I refer to my, erm, finger 'style' as finger picking!

Offline Buzz

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2005, 06:07:09 PM »
Thoughts along this thread:
1. I believe I like fingerstyle guitar. I mean, fingerpicking guitar styles, using my fingertips and fingernails, sometimes fingerpicks. I think one likes this style or one does not. And not to the exclusion of any other style.
2. I agree with Rivers simple definition:  finger "style" is fingerpickeing, IMHO.
3. I/you don't have to explain why you like RGDavis, Hurt , or Fuller. You do because you do. Something about the style, the technique, the melodies, the rhythym, the syncopation--it just does something for you. It may be a more visceral, and less cerebral thing.
4. I like Fuller, and as taught by Ari Eisinger, and by Michael Roach. Check Roach out, plays some killer Fuller: Spoonful, etc.
Buzz
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Offline GerryC

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2005, 01:44:23 PM »
When I was a lttle bitty boy, just up offa the floor, there were only two ways of playing the guitar: 'fingerstyle' and 'plectrum style'. The latter involved striking the strings with a bit of plastic or what ever held in my right-hand (in my case). The former involved striking the strings with the ends of my right-hand fingers, whether unadorned or behung with plastic or metal picks. In my experience, the term 'finger-picking' did not emerge until the great Folk Scare was well under way, at least here in the UK; but it was simply taken as synonymous with  'fingerstyle', as in "I'm going to play this number fingerstyle" becoming "I'm going to fingerpick this number". But I never did hear anyone say "I'm going to play this song plectrum style". Nope: it was "I'm going to strum this one..." (until them gosh-darned Yankees confused us all by bringing in flat-picking!) To me, fingerstyle has always been a way of hitting the guitar, not a type of music.

Cheerily,

Gerry C
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Offline dave stott

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2006, 09:28:39 AM »
All I know is that I wish Ari or SOMEONE would do another lesson or book of Tab of Blind Boy Fuller's music

Jitterbug Rag
Piccolo Rag

Those are just 2 of the items that I would like to see in Tab or in a DVD lesson

BBF is playing in my car CD player on a regular basis...
the 2 CD set from Allegro Music entitled The Essential, Blind Boy Fuller is a nice collection


Dave

Offline waxwing

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2006, 10:06:29 AM »
Both Jitterbug Rag and Piccolo Rag are in Stefan Grossman's book on Fuller in his Masters of Country Blues Guitar series. As with most tab, these are not complete and the discerning listener will find discrepencies, but they will definitely get you going in the right direction. As always, I would recommend beginning to train your own ear by starting with these tabs and then using slowdown software (yeah, I like Transcribe!) and working out the parts not covered, as well as checking the parts that are, yourself.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline GhostRider

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Re: Is Blind Boy Fuller really easier?
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2006, 10:52:52 AM »
Hi:

"Piccalo Rag" is also TAB'd out in Grossman's "Ragtime Blues Guitarists" book, along with "Little Woman, Your So Sweet", "You Got Something There" and I think one other Fuller tune. As well BL Jefferson, BB Broonzy etc.

See, Dave, your request has been granted before you even made it!

Alex
« Last Edit: February 23, 2006, 10:54:01 AM by Pyrochlore »

 


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