collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

Ah whiskey oh whiskey, why do you treat me so? If I ever get sober one more time, ain't gonna get drunk no more - Josh White, Pigmeat and Whiskey Blues

Author Topic: Slide playing  (Read 11520 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Slide playing
« on: April 14, 2004, 07:54:36 PM »
I've been reacquainting myself with my slide lately. Need to get the resonator worked on - raise the action a bit, check intonation. Would really like to have a wood guitar set up for slide. Anyway, I've been having fun with it and am listening to a lot of slide players. Some of the obvious ones - Tampa Red, Barbecue Bob, Charley Patton. There are some good CD compilations out there. I've been listening to the Catfish compilation "Classic Slide Guitar Blues Vol 2" (Vol 1 looks pretty good too but had too much stuff I already had); "The Slide Guitar - Bottle, Knives and Steel" on Columbia; "Bottleneck Blues" on Testament.

The Catfish CD has some nice stuff on it: Bedside Blues by Jim Thompkins, Fence Breakin' Blues by The Shreveport Homewreckers (great name for Oscar Woods and Ed Shaffer), East Texas Rag by Smith Casey, Early One Morning by Dan Pickett, as well as Kokomo Arnold, Charlie McCoy, Patton, Tampa Red, Ramblin Thomas etc. The Columbia disc has some of the usual suspects like Blind Willie Johnson, Tampa Red, Bukka White, Blind Willie McTell and the like, but also Oscar Woods, Sylvester Weaver, Sister OM Terrell. It has a great Barbecue Bob tune called, illuminatingly enough, "Untitled".

So who are your favorite slide players? Favorite slide tunes? Obscure gems? CDs for slide listening?

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2004, 02:33:11 PM »
Hi Andrew,
Neat topic.  My favorite slide player is Blind Willie Johnson, though there are other great players who are so different from him that there is almost no basis for comparison.  Of his stuff, I particularly like "Nobody's Fault But Mine" and "I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole".  Tampa Red was also really great, and the Yazoo re-issue of him has tons of great stuff.  Favorite individual cuts include:  Fred McMullen backing Ruth Willis on "Man of My Own",  King Solomon Hill's "Whoopee Blues", Charley Patton's "Tom Rushen", and Son House, "Sun Going Down".  I know I've forgotten a lot of great stuff.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline blueshome

  • Member
  • Posts: 1358
  • Step on it!
    • Blueshome
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2004, 02:49:26 PM »
I'm a fool for Tampa Red's playing like John. I think if you can get close to it you have by then got enough control of the instrument to be able to attempt anything else with a slide. Also didn't he write some great songs?

The other guy I really like is Kokomo Arnold, crazy! but I struggle here to get my head round his timimg, especially on the slower numbers.

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2004, 03:10:39 PM »
There are lots of great players but immediately, and in no particluar order I'd suggest Blind Will Johnson, Tampa Red and for lap style Casey Bill, Oscar Woods and Black Ace who's recordings are such good quality.

It's subjective, in that, for instance Tampa Red was a 100% slide player whereas say Memphis Minnie used a slide only occasionally but was able still produce the goods.

Whatever, I must confess to being an out and out slide enthusiast (I was going to say player!) with a penchant to lap style - and my rhythm chops are happening at last ;D
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Slack

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8791
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2004, 05:57:27 PM »
Long Live 'Mississippi' Fred Mcdowell!

 :D

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2004, 07:23:08 PM »
JohnM - Blind Willie Johnson is astounding indeed. It's amazing the notes he's able to get out of a couple strings. Nobody's Fault But Mine is a personal favorite. Patton's Tom Rushen as well, and that's one I'm working on. Will see if I can get it together enough to post a less than humiliating version sometime.

I love Tampa Red as well, although listening to the first several volumes of the Document issues requires a certain amount of tune skipping. Sometimes I just can't take Frankie Jaxon! That said, I generally prefer Tampa's earlier stuff to his later material with Big Maceo. I agree with blueshome, if you can play a bunch of Tampa Red you're really on top of your slide. Perhaps not as flashy as some players but tremendous control, subtlety, and many great tunes.

Richard, Casey Bill is a gas. Will have to dig out my Black Ace CD - forgot about him.

Slack - Fred McDowell is another great one. There's some lesser material from him that proliferates in various incarnations but the stuff on Testament, Rounder and Arhoolie has some really hot material.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2004, 07:24:51 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2004, 10:33:15 AM »
Uncle Bud you're  quite right in your summing up of Tampa Red in that he did record some turkeys but his playing is sp clean - for instance his solo on 'I'll find my way' sounds so copyable (!) but it isn't, well not for me anyhow!

If anyone is interested a friend of mine has transcribed the solo from "I'll find my way" and the nice bass line played by 'Ican'tRemember' on "Seminole blues" - and I could send or post a .jpg copy but note (pun) that it's iin real notation and not tab.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2004, 04:28:07 PM »
Uncle Bud you're? quite right in your summing up of Tampa Red in that he did record some turkeys but his playing is sp clean - for instance his solo on 'I'll find my way' sounds so copyable (!) but it isn't, well not for me anyhow!

Richard, don't get me wrong, I love Tampa Red. He's one of my top 3 favourite slide players. I was just noting that with such a huge recorded output, there is some dreck to sort through.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 01:47:11 PM by Johnm »

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2004, 01:57:33 AM »
No, no. no - I was wasn't criticising - I was agreeing with you!!

And, even the aforsaid turkey's were only down to choice of material not his actual playing. And, I assume since he was an all-round musician anyway, his book comprised popular material other than blues anyway.

Whilst on the Tampa Red subject, I'm sure I read somewhere, that when he lived in Chicago at weekends his house was a magnet for up and coming players who he would encourage to come round and play - I have a feeling that Memphis Minnie had something to do with these occassions.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Eldergreene

  • Member
  • Posts: 26
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2004, 04:07:35 PM »
Just a plug for the afore-mentioned Rambling Thomas - not as spectacular as BWJ or Tampa, maybe, but there's a quality about his sound & playing that has kept me coming back to him over the years, both slide & fingerstyle..

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2004, 05:28:33 PM »
Just a plug for the afore-mentioned Rambling Thomas - not as spectacular as BWJ or Tampa, maybe, but there's a quality about his sound & playing that has kept me coming back to him over the years, both slide & fingerstyle..

Listening to Ramblin' Thomas while cooking dinner tonight, I was struck for the first time (and perhaps I'm thick) by how much Tampa Red there is in his some of his slide tunes. It's subtle, perhaps even more subtle than the Lemon influences, but definitely there. This might make sense given the time he spent in Chicago I guess. Not aware of him hooking up with Tampa Red but I guess it would be likely, depending on how much time he spent there. Not that the records wouldn't necessarily have an influence either. Ground Hog Blues in particular struck me as Tampa influenced, but as?Ramblin' does with Lemon's style, he makes it his own without simply copying. The free style he employs is perhaps what kept me from hearing this, given Tampa Red's much more straight style.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 01:47:57 PM by Johnm »

Offline Buzz

  • Member
  • Posts: 187
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2004, 11:09:31 AM »
Say, Andrew:

Did you attend Paul Rischell's class at PT afew summers ago, when he broke down and taught Tampa Red's Boogie Woogie Dance and Bumblebee? I worked on those once I got home, and find that going back to them and getting into the pace and cleaning up my tone and slide precision of location really helps me  "keep up" what little slide chops I retain.  :P

I have listened a lot to Smithsonian Collection vol 4 --cd case is in the car, so can't get the details or # now--with Son House playing Depot Blues. I really want to play that tune. Rischell does this on one of his cds with Annie Raines, by the way. Do you have the  tablature, or know if it's in standard, open D or G ? Ta'      8)
Miller
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2004, 12:12:52 PM »
Say, Andrew:

Did you attend Paul Rischell's class at PT afew summers ago, when he broke down and taught Tampa Red's Boogie Woogie Dance and Bumblebee? I worked on those once I got home, and find that going back to them and getting into the pace and cleaning up my tone and slide precision of location really helps me? "keep up" what little slide chops I retain.? :P

Hiya Miller - Yes, I was in Paul's class when he taught those. It was great. I've worked on them as well though am not yet ready for prime time.

Quote
I have listened a lot to Smithsonian Collection vol 4 --cd case is in the car, so can't get the details or # now--with Son House playing Depot Blues. I really want to play that tune. Rischell does this on one of his cds with Annie Raines, by the way. Do you have the?tablature, or know if it's in standard, open D or G ? Ta'? 8)

I'm having deja vu? ;D Depot Blues is in E. Paul taught this one at PT as well at some point. Don't have tab, but if you've ever worked on Pony Blues or M&O Blues, it's in that family. And you gotta really yank that high E string to get the snapping right. I'll see if I can dig it out and give it a whirl.

cheers,
u.b.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 01:49:05 PM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

  • Member
  • Posts: 2441
    • DoneGone.net
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2004, 09:36:49 PM »
Listening to Ramblin' Thomas while cooking dinner tonight, I was struck for the first time (and perhaps I'm thick) by how much Tampa Red there is in his some of his slide tunes. It's subtle, perhaps even more subtle than the Lemon influences, but definitely there. This might make sense given the time he spent in Chicago I guess.

Ground Hog definitely sounds like he consciously tried to adopt a spiffier approach to his playing.  I love the attention he lavishes on his notes and the time he takes to make things sound the way he wants.  FWIW, I think RT does have some pretty uptown tastes that he runs through his musical food mill - Lonnie Johnson for instance.  I hear a lot of LJ in his playing.  He's can't be described as derivative, though, as you noted.

Offline Eldergreene

  • Member
  • Posts: 26
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2004, 02:42:25 PM »
Since this thread is still active, thought I'd post an afterthought in response to the original post to make mention of some of the white slide players who are well worth a listen - eg Frank Hutchison, Darby & Tarlton, Cliff Carlisle - & from another realm altogether, Hawaiian Wizard King Benny Nawahii (who SURELY must have done a deal down at the ol' crossroads)..

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2004, 12:39:45 PM »
A very good point.
 
Possibly Cliff Carlisle comes over best in 78 aural quality although the choice of some of his material now seems a bit odd! Ash Can Blues is probably more to a blues taste although if I'm remember correctly he also played on some of Jimmy Rogers more blusey gems such as "Waiting for a train".

Frank Hutchison I only have a couple of tracks of and Darby & Tarlton I have a scratchy LP which does not help matters as they sound like Paramounts to begin with!

As for Hawaiian Wizard King Benny Nawahii I have nothing whatsover but intend to remedy that shortly  :P
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2004, 04:43:34 AM »
Just thought what a dreadful mistake I made  :-[ due to ingrained UK spelling - I should of course have put Jimmie Rodgers and not Jimmy Rogers, naughty me.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2005, 05:12:03 PM »
Hi all,
I've been listening a lot to Sam Collins lately, and I really like his slide playing.  It is kind of raw and exciting but has a lot of finesse, too.  Of course the fact that he could sing the way he did didn't hurt the over-all sound!  It's good to check out these old threads.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2005, 08:21:36 PM »
Hi John,

I've been listening to Sam Collins lately as well. I really enjoy him and am surprised we don't hear more about him from CB fans. His slide playing is nice and free, and you can hear that he and King Solomon Hill hung out. His singing is wonderful, I agree, and even though he can't quite tune his guitar there's something compelling about his music. Slow Mama Slow, Devil In the Lion's Den, It Won't Be Long are great. As I'd mentioned to you I'm working on Riverside Blues, not a slide piece but one I really like.

thehook

  • Guest
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2005, 08:45:29 PM »
Long Live 'Mississippi' Fred Mcdowell!

 :D
thank you , couldn't believe I got this far in the thread without someone mentioning him. Long live indeed!

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2005, 04:28:55 PM »
Hi all,
I have really come to a greater appreciation of Furry Lewis's slide playing through repeated listenings to the CD he shares with Bukka White on Arcola.  I think Furry's musicianship in general is not accorded the respect it deserves, maybe because he was so fond of clowning and stunts when he played.  On the CD I mentioned, he plays with tremendous finesse and nuance and some particularly nifty control of his slide coming on and off the first string after he's made his attack.  It is really great playing.
Another guy who has not been mentioned up to this point in this thread, I think, is Charley Patton.  He's a hard guy to forget, with "Mississippi Boweavil", "Spoonful", and my particular favorites, "High Sheriff" and "Tom Rushen".  The last two shared one of the most beautiful melodies in all of the Blues, I think.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2005, 05:06:43 PM »
John, I agree wholeheartedly about Patton. He is highly underrated as slide player IMO. I have worked on to varying degrees Tom Rushen and It Won't Be Long, and while these tunes sound simple, I find it hard to get them to sound good. Patton has a touch and groove that is relaxed and rhythmically sophisticated which so far eludes me in my attempts.

boots

  • Guest
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2005, 11:49:48 PM »
Thanks for the nudge Johnm. I have just requested High Sheriff and I agree with UB that it is incredibly relaxed.

Boots

Offline bnemerov

  • Member
  • Posts: 233
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2005, 12:10:27 PM »
Hello all--
not to detour; just side-track the topic: I recall years ago hearing a cut "Voice of the Blues" , circa 1930, female singer, maybe Irene Scruggs? And there was --- as my notoriously unreliable memory has it --- a sublime slide guitar acc.

Anybody know who the guitarist was?

thanks,.
bruce nemerov

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2005, 05:11:12 PM »
According to Goodrich, Dixon, and Rye, the guitar player on that session is unknown.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2005, 06:57:32 PM »
Hi all,
I was listening to the early recordings of Furry Lewis the day before yesterday and was noticing "Creeper's Blues", in particular.  It was the last of his early pieces to be recorded, and falls into the E, standard tuning tuned low family, sharing its accompaniment, in the general sense, with Furry's "Jelly Roll", "Mean Old Bedbug Blues", and "Mistreatin' Mama".  What particularly caught my ear on "Creeper's Blues" is that at one point, Furry plays a fill with a slide, and I know he was in standard tuning on the song.  Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to play slide in standard tuning, but can anyone think of another country blues recording from this early era on which a player uses a slide in standard tuning?  I can't think of any.
All best,
Johnm

Offline outfidel

  • Member
  • Posts: 344
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2005, 04:16:56 AM »
I really like the slide playing of Mance Lipscomb. His version of Jack of Diamonds is one of my favorite recordings. I also like his take on Blind Willie Johnson's Nobody's Fault But Mine & Motherless Children.
Support musicians in need - join the Music Maker Relief Foundation

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2005, 06:05:08 AM »
Hello all--
not to detour; just side-track the topic: I recall years ago hearing a cut "Voice of the Blues" , circa 1930, female singer, maybe Irene Scruggs? And there was --- as my notoriously unreliable memory has it --- a sublime slide guitar acc.
Anybody know who the guitarist was?
The famous, oft cited, "unknown".?:)? However, the 1969 second edition of B&GR gave it as "poss Willie James". Don't know where that theory originated. Something obviously made the compilers change their minds because by the 1982 edition this had become "unk". Possibly due to the 1975 first microgroove reissue of it on Yazoo LP 1046 which took its title from that song. Stephen Calt in his liner note comments:
"An unknown guitarist accompanies St. Louis vaudeville singer Irene Scruggs on Voice Of The Blues. Playing in the absolute key of C he executes a capable accompaniment in the style of My Back To The Wall (Yazoo 1026)."
LP 1026, for anybody interested, was the 1971 Country Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics 1926-1927. (refer Stefan Wirz's Yazoo page)
Guess someone is now wishing he'd never asked! ;D

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2005, 07:00:57 AM »
Quote
Don't know where that theory originated.

When the Gennett recording ledgers were obtained, they showed that a session occurred on August 30, 1930, where Sam Tarpley, Willie James, Willie "Scarecrow" Owens, Lena Matlock, and Irene Scruggs were recorded.  It's not known if this Willie James is the same as Willie B. James, and, if not, whether he played the guitar.  But on the assumption that he was the lone guitarist on the date, I guess all the guitar playing was ascribed to him.  The mystery is why the guitar on the Irene Scruggs session was changed to "unknown" while the guitar on the Willie James and Sam Tarpley songs remained "prob. Willie James".

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #29 on: September 25, 2005, 04:57:16 AM »
Been absent for a while, but they've me out again now..... >:D  :-X

"Hello all--
not to detour; just side-track the topic: I recall years ago hearing a cut "Voice of the Blues" , circa 1930, female singer, maybe Irene Scruggs? And there was --- as my notoriously unreliable memory has it --- a sublime slide guitar acc.

Anybody know who the guitarist was?

thanks,.
bruce nemerov"

This is for the anoracks!

From "Rust" the jazz equivalent of G&D, Willie James is the name that comes up in my research.

Now, back to the very last post and also from Rust it shows Scruggs accompanied by "J Norman Ebron piano and/or Willie James" and underneath for the same date it lists 4 matrices as being by "the Scarce Crow (Willie Owens)" and the another 2 matrices by Sam Tapley.

So far so good, and just to conclude the saga on looking up Owens it describes him as "The Scare Crow - Billy McOwens" and he also recorded at Gennett  with Gene Hills Chicago Rhythm Boys - note McOwens has now become Scotish!!!.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2005, 05:25:30 AM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2005, 06:51:14 PM »
Hi all,
One name that has not been mentioned thus far in this thread is Sam Butler, aka Bo Weavil? Jackson.? His slide pieces, like "You Can't Keep No Brown" are just ferocious, combining great speed, strong picking and tremendous accuracy and tonal control with his slide, as well as frenetic singing.? Not being a slide specialist, I am not qualified to say, but he is about the most impossible-to-duplicate sounding slide player I have heard in the idiom, which is really something, since you always have Blind Willie Johnson out there as a kind of standard for unattainable mastery.? I don't think it's a coincidence that I have never heard a single attempt at a cover of a Sam Butler slide number.? He was amazing.
Edited 10/6 to change song title to one on which Sam Butler played slide!
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 06, 2005, 04:51:27 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #31 on: October 06, 2005, 02:26:47 PM »
Hi all,
The release of American Primitive, Vol. II from Revenant reminded me of another great slide player who is featured on "This Time Another Year You May Be Gone" on the first American Primitive set:? Rev. Edward Clayborn, "The Guitar Evangelist".? On this song, he plays beautifully in Spanish, very clean and accurate, confining his slide playing to the solos in between verses, and choosing to accompany his singing simply with his alternating bass.? According to John Fahey's notes, Clayborn sold a lot of records, but despite that, evidently little is known about him.? The Document catalog shows him as having recorded 32 titles.? They are featured on DOCD-5154, which is devoted primarily to the music of Joe Taggert; it features 5 songs by Clayborn, as well as 4 tunes by Blind Gussie Nesbitt, and DOCD-5155, which is devoted 100% to Clayborn, and has the remaining 27 of his sides. There is a lot of great-looking material for those of you who don't object to religious songs.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 13, 2005, 05:33:56 PM by Johnm »

Offline manuel

  • Member
  • Posts: 7
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2005, 06:10:41 AM »
Orale amigos:
 I was just listening this morning to  Jim Paddlin,  by Kokomo Arnold, I think. I really enjoy his music in the morning when i need to wake up.
 I was also thinking of Bobby Grant's  Mamlish Blues as another good slide piece.
Ashay

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2005, 11:47:34 AM »
According to John Fahey's notes, Clayborn sold a lot of records, but despite that, evidently little is known about him.? The Document catalog shows him as having recorded 32 titles.?
FWIW here's what Bernie Klatzko had to say in his sleeve notes to the 1973 Herwin compilation 'The Rural Blues - Sacred Tradition 1927-1930':

Collectors of Black rural folk music have always sought out the recordings of Reverend Edward Clayborn with high hopes of hearing the best music in this tradition. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to hear these recordings have inevitably come away a little disappointed because Clayborn's most accessible recordings lack vocal fervor and interesting guitar accompaniments. Seemingly, to have heard one recording, you've heard them all.
Clayborn's basic approach was to state the song's theme on the guitar, using a knife technique. This was followed by an abrupt departure from melody in favor of a simple beat which was used to accompany vocal refrain. This pattern was repeated throughout each song and on most of his recordings. Monotony of style caused Clayborn to slip from favor very quickly.
Over the years I've managed to have heard all of Clayborn's recordings, and I would agree with others that for the most part they lack distinction. At the same time I did find some performances of considerable musical merit, and several tracks deserve the highest praise.
As far as I know, biographical information on Clayborn is non-existent. Pete Whelan's guess is that Clayborn is from Alabama.
According to Godrich, Clayborn's first recording, in Dec. 1926, sold very well. All together, he cut 30 sides, the same output as Blind Willie Johnson. It is obvious however that Clayborn was no match for Columbia's Blind Willie, nor for Paramount's Joe Taggart. But it is also true that we would all be losers if the best of Clayborn was only accessible to a few collectors.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2005, 01:15:25 PM »
Hi all,
Thanks, Bunker Hill, for passing along Bernie Klatzko's thoughts on Rev. Clayborn.? Reading them made me think of H. C. Speirs's requirement that prospective recording artists needed to be able to play four different songs before he would recommend that they be recorded.? It sounds as though Rev. Clayborn had plenty of songs, but that his approach had a sameness that does not wear well when you listen to a number of his performances in a row.? Actually, I think the music of most musicians is better served in an anthology, interspersed with performances by other musicians, than in a blocked setting of completed recorded works.? Even a musician as versatile and varied as Lemon Jefferson can begin to pall when you listen to all his titles consecutively.? For less versatile musicians, the effect of listening to tune after tune is even less flattering.? It is weird that you may end up with a better sense of the essence of a musician from listening to one outstanding performance by them than by listening to their entire body of work, but that often seems to be the case.? Nonetheless, I expect to pick up the Document Clayborn releases sooner or later, because he really sounds great on "This Time Another Year You May Be Gone".? He's got me curious.

Edited to add, on 10/10:? With the passage of a couple of days' time, my complaint in this post concerning the effect of listening to all of Lemon's or other musicians' titles consecutively strikes me as a bit moronic.? Talk about being spoiled!? I would say that we are unbelievably lucky that so much of this music has survived; and no one would be more excited than I if a previously undiscovered recording of Lemon was found.? The scenario I sketched in the post reminds me of an exchange between a patient and his doctor,
? ?Patient:? "Doctor it hurts when I do this."
? ?Doctor:? "Stop doing that, then."
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 10, 2005, 05:08:01 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #35 on: October 09, 2005, 12:12:08 AM »
The "Pete Whalen guess" that he was from Alabama I think was based on the knowledge that for a 1928 session Clayborn was in the studio on the same day as Hound Head Henry and Cow Cow Davenport, the latter at the time still having strong connections with his native Alabama. Possibly plausible if Clayborn's first session in 1926 but two years later? Hmm.....

Offline MTJ3

  • Member
  • Posts: 161
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #36 on: October 09, 2005, 10:31:43 AM »
In the often overlooked category of slide players/songs--
Robert Jr. Lockwood is not generally thought of as a pre-War player or a slide player, but his playing on his 1941 sides, including his slide playing on "Little Boy Blue," is exemplary.
The same can be said of Calvin Frazier, whose 1938 Library of Congress sides include "I'm In The Highway."
Robert Lee McCoy (aka Robert Nighthawk) also recorded some pre-War slide pieces that show, as did his post-War slide sides, a debt to Tampa Red.
Johnny Shines cut some sides in 1952 that were beautifully raw (including Rambling Blues).
Charlie McCoy's "Last Time Blues," a rare bottleneck excursion for him.
Fred McMullen's "Wait and Listen Blues," tuned to open G and played in D
Bayless Rose's "Original Blues."

Modification/Correction:  1.  There are actually several cuts by Calvin Frazier that feature what I think of as a glimpse at the future of slide guitar in an ensemble setting.  2.  The Bayless Rose slide piece is entitled "Frisco Blues."
« Last Edit: October 12, 2005, 07:54:10 PM by MTJ3 »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #37 on: October 10, 2005, 02:23:30 PM »
Hi all,
Those are some good finds on your post, MTJ3.  The Johnny Shines "Ramblin'" is terrific, and if possible, his singing is even better than his playing.  The Fred McMullen is a gem, too.  I like all of his titles, and especially like "DeKalb Chain Gang", in addition to "Wait And Listen".  I've only heard Calvin Frazier once, and can't recall "I'm In the Highway"; I will have to search that out.

I was listening to an old Yazoo Piano/Guitar Duet album, and was reminded of Rufus and Ben Quilian.  I don't know which of them was the guitarist and which was the pianist, but whichever brother played slide sounded very slick and sophisticated, operating in what sounds to be a lap style, heavily Hawaiian influenced, and with a strong Hokum/Vaudeville bent.  The Quilians' sound reminded me a bit of Banjo Ikey Robinson of the Hokum Boys.  Given what would seem to be a very limiting approach to producing pitch on a guitar, it is amazing the variety of different sounds and styles that the slide guitarists of the country blues had.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #38 on: October 10, 2005, 04:43:28 PM »
Quote
...Rufus and Ben Quilian.  I don't know which of them was the guitarist and which was the pianist..

Rufus played the piano and sang.  Ben apparently only sang.  The guitar on their records was by James McCrary, Perry Bechtel, and the ubiquitous Unknown.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #39 on: October 10, 2005, 11:35:15 PM »
Quote
...Rufus and Ben Quilian.? I don't know which of them was the guitarist and which was the pianist..
Rufus played the piano and sang.? Ben apparently only sang.? The guitar on their records was by James McCrary, Perry Bechtel, and the ubiquitous Unknown.
FWIW In the early 70s Pete Lowry located Ben Quillian and during 1975/6 Mike Rowe interviewed him at length. The pertinent parts of which, including his recollections of McCrary, were published in Blues Unlimited 123 (The Blue Harmony BoysJan/Feb 1977).

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2005, 05:31:30 PM »
Quote
...including his recollections of McCrary...

I love Ben Quillian's description of James McCrary as a guitar player:  "Not exactly a musician, but he could strum pretty good".  Actually, if the guitar player on Keep It Clean and Good Right On, from the Quilian's second recording session, is McCrary, as Blues and Gospel Records  and the notes to the Document issue of the Quillian's complete works would have it, McCrary could do a bit more than just "strum pretty good".  The guitar player here gets in some pretty nifty bass runs, fills, and solos.  On the other hand, Bruce Bastin has it that the guitar here was played by Perry Bechtel, a white artist from Atlanta.

By the way, both Bruce Bastin in Red River Blues (1986) and Kip Lornell in the notes to Document's Hokum, Blues, and Rags (1995)  state that Ben Quillian was not present on the New York session which has the beautiful slide guitar playing.  Presumably, this information is based on Mike Rowe's interviews with Ben.  But the Fourth Edition of Blues and Gospel Records states that Ben Quillian was the guitar player on this session.  I assume that this is just a typo in B&GR.  Does anyone know if this is indeed the case, or if some information came to light that would indicate Ben Quillian's presence?   

I guess this all just goes to show that the more you know, the less you know.   ;)
« Last Edit: October 13, 2005, 03:38:51 AM by dj »

Offline Lwoodblues

  • Member
  • Posts: 78
  • Living the Blues
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #41 on: October 12, 2005, 07:02:04 PM »
Lonnie and Blind Willie Johnson.
 How 'bout getting Sam Mitchell back? He had a wonderful touch.
Lwood

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2005, 11:05:17 AM »
But the Fourth Edition of Blues and Gospel Records states that Ben Quillian was the guitar player on this session.? I assume that this is just a typo in B&GR.? Does anyone know if this is indeed the case, or if some information came to light that would indicate Ben Quillian's presence?? ?
I guess this all just goes to show that the more you know, the less you know.? ?;)
Intriguing and interesting observations there. I've sent these to B&GR4 co-compiler Howard Rye for comment - or not, as the case may be. Don't hold your breath. ;D

Offline frankie

  • Member
  • Posts: 2441
    • DoneGone.net
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2005, 11:43:38 AM »
I think A.C. Forehand's playing on "Honey In The Rock" is absolutely incredible.  The slide playing is wonderful, of course, but the whole package is what gets me - the way he implies the harmony with bass runs and the dripping, slow pace.  Amazing!

Not to mention the bell...

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10513
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2005, 02:25:26 PM »
I agree with you, Frank, about A.C. Forehand's playing and the overall effect.  Blind Mamie's singing on "Honey In the Rock" just broke my heart.  It's about as beautiful as I have ever heard.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

  • Member
  • Posts: 2441
    • DoneGone.net
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #45 on: October 14, 2005, 07:05:56 AM »
Blind Mamie's singing on "Honey In the Rock" just broke my heart.  It's about as beautiful as I have ever heard.

It's a very internal performance - even the word 'performance' seems weird as a description of it, since it's almost (to me, anyway) as if I'm being let in on a very private moment.  If that isn't a musical prayer, I don't know what is.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #46 on: October 15, 2005, 03:46:26 AM »
I agree with you, Frank, about A.C. Forehand's playing and the overall effect.? Blind Mamie's singing on "Honey In the Rock" just broke my heart.? It's about as beautiful as I have ever heard.
All best,
Johnm
What I also find remarkable is that the song, written in 1895 by F. A Graves (a white composer of gospel) has metamorphed into something so personal and affecting. When Origin first reissued it on a gospel compilation in the mid-60s Gayle Dean Wardlow speculated that Mamie "was a blues singer before becoming a minister. Mamie may have come from Mississippi, She is reproted to have died in Memphis in the late 30s or early 40s". Interestingly (for me anyway) is that the song was chosen for the volume of Religious Music in the 15 LP set issued in 1976 to mark the Bicentennial. If the series were done today I suspect we'd have Blind Willie Johnson rather than the Forehands....

Offline Gingergeezer

  • Member
  • Posts: 26
Re: Slide playing
« Reply #47 on: February 06, 2006, 05:46:34 AM »
How about Muddy Waters, there's some nice playing on his Library of Congress recordings. A good starting point for anybody learning to play slide. Also Bukka White, "Special Steamilne" or one of it's variations.

 


anything