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Oh the blues ain't nothin' but a slow achin' heart disease. Just like consumption, it kills you by degrees - Georgia White, Blues Ain't Nothin'

Author Topic: A capella Blues  (Read 4496 times)

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Offline Doc White

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A capella Blues
« on: April 16, 2007, 07:34:50 PM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for acapella blues tunes?
Cheers,
Chris
« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 06:06:11 AM by Johnm »

Len-SoCal

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2007, 09:03:49 PM »
Son House did a few tunes a capella after his re-discovery ("Grinnin' In Your Face" comes to mind).

And I think Leadbelly was recorded that way, too. I believe "Black Betty" was done without accompaniment.

Hope this helps

Offline Doc White

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2007, 12:49:47 AM »
Thanks Len-SoCal,
I was thinking more of people like J C Burris who does mostly a capella stuff or with harmonica. There is a lot of gospel tunes, spirituals and field hollers and shouts that are a capella but I was wanting to tap into the Weenie collective consciousness to see if there are more straight ahead blues tunes sung unaccompanied.
Cheers,
Chris

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2007, 10:19:42 AM »
Thanks Len-SoCal,
I was thinking more of people like J C Burris who does mostly a capella stuff or with harmonica. There is a lot of gospel tunes, spirituals and field hollers and shouts that are a capella but I was wanting to tap into the Weenie collective consciousness to see if there are more straight ahead blues tunes sung unaccompanied.
Can only bring to mind a handful, all from the post-war era, that aren't of the above category.

Champion Jack Dupree - My Baby?s Coming Home (1969 French BYG LP see Stefan's CJD page)

Mable Hillary - It?s So Hard To Be A Nigger (startling performance recorded by Hedy West 1967 on an Xtra LP. Variant of the song collected by Howard Odum in 1915 and that which McTell refused to sing for Lomax)

Horace Sprott - Early One Morning The Blues Come Falling Down (Folkways LP)

Buster Pickens - Boar Hog Blues (recorded by Mack McCormick and released on Unexpurgated Folksong Of Men LP)

LATER EDIT: Can't lay hands to it but I've got a Columbia LP of Johnny Shines singing two solos at the Festival Of American Folklife in 1991. I think they were of blues rather than worksong/gospel orientation. Did Stefan do a Shines discography?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2007, 10:55:30 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline dj

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2007, 03:22:47 PM »
The field recordings of folklorists are good places to look for unaccompanied singers, especially those made in prisons.  Of recordings of this type, I'd recommend the songs recorded by Mattie May Thomas recorded at Mississippi's Parchman Penitentiary by the Library Of Congress in 1939.  They were recently reissued as part of Revenant's "American Primitive Vol. II" collection.  Mattie May's songs are not strict 12 bar blues, but they exhibit a wonderful sense of melody, have interesting and original lyrics, and are beautifully sung. 

And though I'm sure it's not what you're looking for, I have to mention the late Dave "Snaker" Ray, who was one of the few white revivalist blues singers who would regularly include unaccompanied songs in his repertoire, and who sang them very well indeed.
   
« Last Edit: April 18, 2007, 10:54:13 AM by dj »

Offline dj

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2007, 03:26:01 AM »
For singinging accompanied only by the singer's harmonica, don't forget Jaybird Coleman.  And Sonny Boy Williamson recorded a few such pieces on some of the European recordings he did late in his career.
 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2007, 10:47:57 AM »
Buster Pickens - Boar Hog Blues (recorded by Mack McCormick and released on Unexpurgated Folksong Of Men LP)
FWIW I've given this track a spin and it's two verses of Texas Alexander's "Boe Hog Blues" lyrically identical to the original with an amazing a capella imitation of Alexander's moaning style. If I possessed the techology I'd post an mp3. Stefan has a link on his Picken's discography to a site where at some point it could be heard but that now seems to be dead an' gone.

Offline Doc White

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2007, 05:27:41 PM »
Thanks everyone. I've got some homework to do in hunting down these tunes.
Cheers,
Chris

Offline jostber

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2007, 12:33:14 AM »
The first volume of Leadbelly's Last Sessions is all acapella tunes.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2007, 05:02:32 AM »
Its contemporary, rather than scratchy old 78 territory, but I can reccomend Keith Dunn's album- ('alone with the blues' I think its called) which is acapella songs with harmonica breaks.  Really soulfull.

eddie

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2007, 05:09:08 AM »
Big Joe Willams does a couple acapella on his Evidence cd - No More Whikey.

It was recorded when Joe was past his prime but his work is always interesting.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2007, 10:46:29 AM »
The first volume of Leadbelly's Last Sessions is all acapella tunes.
To my shame in 35 years since acquiring those 4LPs, the first one has only been played once because back then I had little time for "chit-chat" and "half-sung" songs. Now a sadder, older and wiser man, I've looked at the transcriptions in the booklet and have put the LP next to the turntable for playing this coming weekend. Thanks.

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re: Acapella Blues
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2007, 05:16:41 PM »
How about Son House - "John the Revelator"?
You might also want to check out the Yazoo compilation - "Roots of Rap" for some other ideas. But the most fertile a capella ground will be the area of blues/mountain/old time/bluegrass/gospel music, of which the examples are too numerous to list.
Cheers,
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