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The blues'll kill you. And make you live, too. - Shirley Griffith, from Art Rosenbaum's notes to Saturday Blues

Author Topic: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)  (Read 5238 times)

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Offline Prof Scratchy

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Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« on: February 16, 2007, 08:43:51 AM »
A digression - but who can add to the list: Leadbelly; Henry Townsend; Skip James; Blind Blake; Peetie Wheatstraw....i.e. guitarists who played piano / pianists who played guitar??? I recently saw Ernie Hawkins in Glasgow and he was doing a guitar version of Skip James' piano piece "If you haven't any hay". Good version - though the piano version (in fact anything Skip did on piano) is just a knockout. There seems to be so much to say about blues piano...not many folk musics where the piano is such a feature from day one of the tradition? And the variety of regional styles is just about as rich as the guitar repertoire. Maybe needs its own area?? Or forum?

Offline blueshome

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2007, 10:44:33 AM »
Lightnin' Hopkins - piano and pipe organ!
Otis Spann played a little guitar.
Tampa Red

Offline Pan

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2007, 10:50:52 AM »
Here's a video of Roosevelt Sykes playing the guitar:



I didn't know he did until I saw it!

 :)

Pan

Offline waxwing

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2007, 10:53:25 AM »
Well, this discussion is doing fine in the Fora we have.-G-

Hey Scratch, I don't see how any discussion of Country Blues Piano wouldn't fall into either "Weenie Campbell Main Forum - Anything and Everything Country Blues" or "Country Blues Licks and Lessons - Discuss Country Blues Licks & Playing Tips, Plus Instruction in Audio, Video, Tab and More" or possibly "Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos - Discuss the Instruments Used in Playing Country Blues" (altho' I don't think a discussion on the piano tonewoods that get that "authentic" sound is gonna draw much disciussion -G-).

None of these fora are guitar specific and guitar doesn't appear in their titles, except the last, which is obviously our all inclusive "gear" board. I have long been encouraging blues discussion for other instruments and I welcome this recent show of interest in piano discussion. So have at it! Why not start a thread in Licks and Lessons on that Walter Davis arrangement you are trying to work out, discussing why he sounds so distinctive? Or how 'bout a discussion in the Main Forum on whether piano players prefer to learn note for note arrangements or just get the chords and improvise? It's time for all the lurking piano blues players to come together on this and the fora already exist to contain these discussions. And don't forget to add a "piano" tag to the threads you start. I'm not a piano player and it would be hypocritical for me to start these discussions.

I've split this thread off and we'll see how it flies.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 01:04:28 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2007, 11:58:12 AM »
Otis Spann played a little guitar.
Yeah, I have a couple of mid-60s tracks somewhere on which he accompanies himself quite acceptably on acoustic.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2007, 12:14:35 PM »
Bukka White's amazing keyboard pounding on Drunken Man (Takoma) or Sugar Hill and Single Man Blues (Arhoolie) were once the most listened to tracks. Must revisit them and see whether it was youthful exhuberance of the shock of the new clouding my judgement. ;D

Offline Richard

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2007, 01:58:47 PM »

Prof, I think your recent foray, on piano has reminded us of the fact that piano players made huge contributions to country blues. I also want to quickly mention Calvin who joined recently and is a very promising young pianist, I think it's really great that somebody his age likes the music so much.

I'm digressing  :o  so since the piano subject is now being aired, this is maybe a good time (as Waxy suggests) to garner some opinion on the idea of a dedicated piano corner somewhere on the forum where pianists can make the odd post without being, shall I say, overshadowed by the guitar element.

It strikes me that if the likes of "Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos" can warrant a board then surely the piano must deserve a mention, possibly a simple solution would be to rename that to "Piano, Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos" which would do the trick - at least we would then be acknowledging the instrument.

So to reiterate Waxy's call, any pianists out there who are lurking quietly now is the time to voice your opinion.

By the way, are there any other sites which cater for piano in the idiom of country blues as we like it?
 
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline banjochris

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2007, 02:57:04 PM »
I'll add Lonnie Johnson to the list -- I love Lonnie's piano playing, even though he pretty much sticks with the one arrangement. Also, I believe Scrapper Blackwell played piano. Oh, and Rev. Gary Davis.
Chris

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2007, 05:24:47 PM »
I was just listening to Scrapper playing piano today behind Brooks Berry on the Juke. He does several himself as well. I really like his simple style of playing.

Blind Blake actually played piano (rather unconvincingly as I recall, certainly compared to his guitar-playing) on a track or two, didn't he? Can't remember which right now.

Just to clarify a point here, the different forums on Weenie are not instrument specific. Personally, I'd love to hear more piano-playing weenies follow Calvin's lead and post on the Back Porch. Discussions of specific pianists etc. are always welcome -- and strongly encouraged! -- in the main forum and have occurred there, like this one about guitarists playing piano. I've personally learned a lot about blues pianists through the many CDs of piano players that have been added to the Juke the past couple years.

There are quite a few members here who are not players as well. Weenie is a country blues forum, welcoming all comers whether they play guitar, piano, phono-fiddle, or hambone, or whether they play 78s, LPs and CDs.


Offline Pan

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2007, 04:09:47 PM »
As Bunker Hill allready mentioned, Bukka White could play the piano too:



Cheers

Pan

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2007, 01:43:46 AM »
Although not heard on record (well it takes him about 30 years to get around to recording a follow-up), Roger Hubbard is no slouch on the old joanna.  He's recently written a couple of new blues on piano, entitled "I'm Stuck" and "Too Little, Too Late".  Great pounding, mean, barrelhouse piano - well it sounded like that at his house in a little Sussex village... Hope he gets them recorded before too long - I'm already on the case nagging him. ;)

"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
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Offline banjochris

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2007, 12:49:13 AM »
I just thought of another one from the 78 era... Walter Roland.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2007, 04:47:05 PM »
Hi all,
Pete Franklin, like Scrapper, was an Indianapolis guitarist who also played piano.  I believe that Curtis Jones started out as a guitarist in Texas and only ever actually recorded guitar on his Prestige Bluesville release from the '60s.  Catch me if I'm wrong on this, please, Bunker Hill, because I'm not at all sure.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2007, 11:27:56 PM »
I believe that Curtis Jones started out as a guitarist in Texas and only ever actually recorded guitar on his Prestige Bluesville release from the '60s.  Catch me if I'm wrong on this, please, Bunker Hill, because I'm not at all sure.
Yep, that's what he said in interview. He was in Britain in 1963 and recorded an album here for Decca on which he accompanies himself with guitar on a couple of songs. There's a Val Wilmer photo of him playing the instrument at one of the gigs at the time.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Country Blues Guitarists Who Played Piano (or Vice Versa??)
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 09:56:11 PM »
Hi all,
Clifford Gibson accompanied Ed Bell on piano on the song "Tooten Out", and showed a very clean technique and beautiful tone, showing many of the same qualities he had on guitar.
All best,
Johnm

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