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So cold and shady, bird can't hardly fly - Robert Pete Williams, It's So Cold In Chicago

Author Topic: Electric Guitar in Country Blues  (Read 6863 times)

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Offline SpikeDriver

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Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« on: October 05, 2007, 02:38:43 PM »
While going through some older books I spotted a photo of Sleep John Estes playing a sexy Stratocaster. My thought was, no matter what instrument he plays, it would still be country blues, same goes for Lightin' Hopkins, and Mississippi Fred. Are there CDs and performers where this electric approach works well, or fails? Are Muddy Waters and Elmore James, and R.L. Burnside country bluesmen? Compare and contrast...hand your papers forward at the end of the class.

Offline Pan

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2007, 03:51:12 PM »
Many prewar artists used electric guitars later on in their careers. What exactly is CB maybe is open for debate. But the instruments used have usually been whatever is available.

I was lucky enough to see Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry in Finland when I was young. Brownie played an electric  hollowbody Gibson jazz guitar, and they had a young white drummer with them too, but I would still describe the music as being CB.
Does R. L. Burnside cease to be CB if he plays an electric guitar? What about Big Joe Williams?

By the way, do you know of prewar CB recordings where the electric guitar has been used, or do the "jazzmen" get the credit for this one?

Pan

Offline Rivers

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2007, 04:39:05 PM »
Hubert Sumlin's tasteful work with Howlin' Wolf is the first one that springs to my mind.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2007, 06:09:11 PM »
By the way, do you know of prewar CB recordings where the electric guitar has been used, or do the "jazzmen" get the credit for this one?

I think there are some Big Bill sides that have electric guitar on them, not played by Big Bill, from the late '30s, and some of Lonnie Johnson's Bluebird sides have very restrained electric guitar on them. Not exactly country blues, maybe, but close, at least for Big Bill.
Chris

Offline Rambler

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2007, 07:38:14 PM »
John Lee Hooker. 

Offline Nicolas Dussart

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2007, 01:25:54 AM »
I think there are some Big Bill sides that have electric guitar on them, not played by Big Bill, from the late '30s, and some of Lonnie Johnson's Bluebird sides have very restrained electric guitar on them. Not exactly country blues, maybe, but close, at least for Big Bill.
Chris

Yes on "House Rent Stomp" a CD from the "blues encore" label (??), there are 4 tracks with electric guitar (see CD cover here)
  • Jacqueline
  • Lonesome
  • Little City Woman
  • Romance Without Finance

It was recorded  in Chicago, 1953, with BB Broonzy, Lee Cooper (!!) on electric guitar, Ernest Big Crawford on bass and Washboard Sam on ...washboard

On this video, Robert Belfour plays electric guitar :
http://youtube.com/watch?v=xHn7Ur8CEwI
« Last Edit: October 06, 2007, 01:30:36 AM by Nicolas Dussart »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2007, 01:44:01 AM »
By the way, do you know of prewar CB recordings where the electric guitar has been used, or do the "jazzmen" get the credit for this one?
I think there are some Big Bill sides that have electric guitar on them, not played by Big Bill, from the late '30s, and some of Lonnie Johnson's Bluebird sides have very restrained electric guitar on them. Not exactly country blues, maybe, but close, at least for Big Bill.
Chris
If memory serves correct in this regard somewhere there's a discussion of George Barnes and, maybe, Willie Lacey and their electric guitar accomps to folk like Big Bill or Dr Clayton.

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2007, 03:15:35 PM »
Sticks McGhee recorded a song in the early '50s that is electric, but very much country blues.

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2007, 10:57:34 AM »
Hi all,
I think there is a ton of great Country Blues played on electric guitar.  Some that haven't previously been mentioned that come to mind:
   * Jimmy Lee Williams' recordings for George Mitchell, released on Fat Possum as "Hoot Your Belly" (see Reviews)
   * Herman E. Johnson's recordings on Arhoolie, paired up with Smoky Babe on a CD that I think is called "Louisiana Blues"
   * A lot of Arthur Crudup's early recordings were played on electric, like "Mean Old Frisco".
I agree with Spike Driver's original observation that what these musicians were playing was Country Blues, whether played on electric or acoustic guitar, and in some instances, as with Jimmy Lee Williams and Robert Belfour, the music is particularly enhanced by being played on an electric guitar.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bob B

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2007, 12:27:20 PM »
I remember an old Appalachian recording of Etta Baker playing Railroad Bill and Bully of the Town on electric guitar.  This might be a bit of a stretch for country blues but seems to fit in the same genre.

Bob

Offline Johnm

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2007, 04:14:57 PM »
Hi Bob B,
Though the early photo that surfaced of Etta Baker that appeared in Happy Traum's old "Fingerpicking Guitar" showed her playing an electric guitar, the earliest recordings of her that came out on "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" on the Tradition label featured her playing acoustic guitar only.  She played some electic guitar on her more recent recordings, and in performance.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2007, 09:10:49 PM »
Every time I hear Rollin' and Tumblin' Part 1 by Baby Face Leroy Trio - I wanna get my amp out turn it up to 13 and blow down the doors.  :P

Offline Rivers

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2007, 09:30:41 PM »
Your amp goes up to 13 Slack? Respect.

Are Scrapper and Lonnie urban or country? That blues categorization thing is a huge topic Spike. Johnm kicked off a discussion on this a while back, here's what we came up with:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=114&topic=418.0

Feel free to revive the topic, we were making some progress but it went dormant, I believe we just decided we had to live with the ambiguities.

Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2007, 12:34:48 AM »
Both Memphis Minnie and Blind Willie McTell played electric guitar post-war, though I don't think the latter made any recordings with it.

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2007, 06:47:17 AM »
Every time I hear Rollin' and Tumblin' Part 1 by Baby Face Leroy Trio - I wanna get my amp out turn it up to 13 and blow down the doors.  :P

I guess you're really beyond help.

Alex

 


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