collapse

* Member Info

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

* Like Us on Facebook

Gonna put you in the river see if you can't drown, tie a rock around your neck and see if that'll keep you down - Casey Bill Weldon, No Good Woman 1937

Author Topic: Slide playing  (Read 11518 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10511
    • 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: 10511
    • 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: 10511
    • 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: 10511
    • 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: 10511
    • 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