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I like to fuss and fight... and get sloppy drunk offa bottle in bond, and walk the streets all night - Charlie Patton, Elder Greene Blues

Author Topic: Electric Guitar in Country Blues  (Read 6862 times)

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Offline Stumblin

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Re: electrical recording
« Reply #30 on: October 08, 2010, 01:24:21 AM »
If you have never checked out Jimmy Lee Williams ("Hoot Your Belly" on Fat Possum records) - do yourself a favor.  The most distorted funky electric you've ever heard and it works great.  "Have You Ever Seen Peaches" is a favorite.  Johnm did a nice review here:
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=1666.0
That is a wonderful, and eccentric, collection of songs. Thanks fro reminding me of it, I'm going to dig that disc out right now!
My first exposure to Lightnin' was an album from his "folk revival" period, it sounded a little odd to me when I started to listen to his earlier electric stuff. Now I understand that there was an "appeal to authenticity" kind of imposed on him via the folk consensus, which meant that his new audience operated under the assumption that CB was a form of folk music. He was thus able to reach a much larger and more lucrative audience by playing acoustic guitar. Check out the Vestapol DVD Lightnin' Hopkins; Rare Performances 1960-1979 (Vestapol 13022), to see Lightnin' playing some very "folky" looking and sounding acoustic guitars, as well as a Stratocaster with wah-wah pedal. There's some priceless footage on that disc. To be frank, I don't think Lightnin' was too bothered what guitar he was playing, he could take off and fly on any old thing.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #31 on: October 08, 2010, 06:43:13 AM »
Hi all - as we had an older thread about country blues on electric guitar, I've merged it with this newer one.

Lindy, agree about Cecil Barfield, blues from another planet. Also John Lee Ziegler from the George Mitchell Collection does beautiful slide work plugged in.


Offline unezrider

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #32 on: October 08, 2010, 08:26:26 AM »
thanks for tidying up, uncle bud. i completely forgot about about this thread.
"There was a (extremely mistaken, I think) notion that somehow acoustic "folk" music was free of commercialism, especially compared with early rock music and pop stuff with lush orchestral arrangements, etc. Read the liner notes on the first Peter, Paul and Mary album and you'll see what I mean." ? banjochris
that's kind of what i was wondering. but it's interesting to me that peter, paul & mary didn't consider themselves some sort of pop, radio friendly folk music. i mean, compared to woody guthrie or ramblin' jack they seemed so safe to me.
i'll have to see if i can't pull those liner notes up on the interwebs.
chris
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #33 on: October 08, 2010, 11:14:40 AM »
My first exposure to Lightnin' was an album from his "folk revival" period, it sounded a little odd to me when I started to listen to his earlier electric stuff. Now I understand that there was an "appeal to authenticity" kind of imposed on him via the folk consensus, which meant that his new audience operated under the assumption that CB was a form of folk music. He was thus able to reach a much larger and more lucrative audience by playing acoustic guitar. Check out the Vestapol DVD Lightnin' Hopkins; Rare Performances 1960-1979 (Vestapol 13022), to see Lightnin' playing some very "folky" looking and sounding acoustic guitars, as well as a Stratocaster with wah-wah pedal. There's some priceless footage on that disc. To be frank, I don't think Lightnin' was too bothered what guitar he was playing, he could take off and fly on any old thing.
FWIW in 2006 there was a discussion topic concerning when LH "went acoustic"
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=2768.0

Offline oddenda

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2010, 02:46:09 PM »
The Hopkins material recorded for Herald Records is something of a high-water point for me. Amplified with a vengeance, it's Sam at his very best recording for the African American marketplace. 'Tis W.E. who put him back on acoustic! Not what he played on Dowling Street!!

Peter B.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2010, 09:03:42 PM »
Fred McDowell. His live at the Gaslight record on Oblivion is one of the most seamless uses of electric guitar in CB that I've heard.
I'm not of the opinion that it makes no difference at all though and in most cases I prefer un amplified instruments.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #36 on: October 09, 2010, 02:26:44 AM »
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. O'Muck. As far as I'm concerned, Fred could do no wrong, so if he wanted to play electric guitar, then fine.

I like electric guitar, but again have a preference for acoustic - and when it comes to acoustics, I prefer steel to nylon strings.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #37 on: October 09, 2010, 08:22:16 AM »
Big Joe custom job:


Offline uncle bud

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #38 on: October 09, 2010, 09:11:26 AM »
Another frequent electric player but playing in more of an East Coast style is Ralph Willis, whose recordings are on Document 5256 and 5257 or the JSP Shake That Thing set. Willis is a hoot, IMO, and a nice player one rarely sees discussed. I wonder if he might be better known among today's Piedmont blues enthusiasts if he had played acoustic more. Listening to some of his stuff one can imagine how Blind Boy Fuller might have ended up sounding had he lived to record into the 1950s.

Online Johnm

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2012, 02:42:44 PM »
Hi all,
This topic has not been posted to recently, but one player mentioned earlier in the thread for whom I will reiterate thanks that he played an electric guitar was Arthur Crudup, who really sounded spectacular on "Mean Old Frisco", "That's All Right, Mama", and a host of his other early recordings.  He had a beautiful amount of "dirt" in his electric sound.
Another player whose work on electric guitar I've been quite enjoying is Jesse Thomas in the 1948-1958 era.  Not only does his electric guitar work well on the single-string leads he played with his larger ensembles, but it also sounds sensational on his solo performances.  One reason it worked so well on his solo performances is that he was such a nuanced player that working on an electric guitar gave him maximal control of the duration of his notes so that with some chords, he can just stab with a short sharp attack, and with others he can get a beautiful sweet sustain.  It would be hard to get a similar effect on an acoustic guitar, with its much more rapid decay.
All best,
Johnm

Offline WayneS

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2012, 06:29:15 PM »
I?m afraid I get way too enthusiastic  about this stuff. 

The first recording with an electric guitar of any kind apparently was made by Sol Hoopii in 1926.  Blues players were very late to the game.  An earlier thread on this forum revealed that in 1938 Big Bill Broonzy recorded two blues sides with 16 year old George Barnes pulling off a first, playing a Spanish electric guitar on these recordings.  Barnes' guitar style was definitely jazzy, and he was Caucasian.  I'm curious about who the first non-jazz, African American, out-and-out country bluesman/bluesmen were to record with a Spanish electric guitar.

Ro-Pat-In made a prototype Spanish electric guitar in 1932, it seems, and that was used by a dance band player.  It was the third electric the company made; the first two were frypans.  http://www.vintageguitar.com/3588/ro-pat-in-electric-spanish/   This guitar used the "Rickenbacker" pickup, designed by George Beauchamp and two employees.  They built and sold others based on this prototype, beginning, I believe, in 1932.  No later than '33.

Dobro made an electric.  The Dobro electric Spanish came out in 1933, and the virtually identical Nationals and Supros (made by National/Dobro) in 1935.  http://www.vintageguitar.com/1803/supro-guitars-and-amplifiers-part-i/   

One of these Dobros, or so it appears, is on sale on EBay right now for about $2000. 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140679496444?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

(Memphis Minnie's guitar was a later model.)  The bodies were made by Regal.  These guitars used a pickup which was designed by Paul Tutmarc and Arthur J. Stimson (sometimes Stimpson), and was the basis for most of the future National, Valco and Supro pickups.  I have a 1937 "A" Supro Electric Hawaiian lap steel, an unusual-looking lap steel which I believe has a pickup quite similar to those in the first Dobro, National, and Supro Spanish electrics.  There is a VERY big horseshoe magnet built into the wood body of the guitar, and a split blade.  Far more gain than later Supros (!), but less tone.  Looks like this one, on EBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140746002817?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

Homesick James played a Spanish electric quite early, but I don't know if he recorded with it.  If so, he may have been the first country blues player in the CB tradition to do so.  Anybody else got any news on the first players and recorders, and the guitars they played? 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 10:17:16 PM by WayneS »

Offline alyoung

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2012, 04:52:07 AM »


The first recording with an electric guitar of any kind apparently was made by Sol Hoopii in 1926.   

Have you got any corroboration for this suggestion? Hoopii did start recording in the mid-1920s, but I don't know of any that even vaguely resemble an electric guitar until he switched from acoustic square-neck National triplates in the mid-1930s. I also suspect electric guitar in any form was not recorded as early as 1926. Usual wisdom is that steel players were first to record electrically, but not until the early 1930s. Mind you, I cld be wrong ... and am happy to be proved so.   

Offline WayneS

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2012, 11:17:48 AM »
Ouch!  Right you are, and sorry about that.  I had found a webpage that made the claim about 1926, but also found some of his online recordings from 1926, and they were not done with electric guitar.  Wikipedia says that he only started recording on electrics in 1935.

Dang.

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #43 on: May 04, 2012, 07:40:50 AM »
Anything by Cecil Barfield on electric is impeccable. Jimmy Lee Williams (on the same George Mitchell collection) blows me away as does John Lee Ziegler playing lefty knife slide on upside down right handed electric with a spoon player soothes me.  Trumpet era Big Joe Williams, Houston Stackhouse, RL Burnside with the Sound Machine Groove, Jessie Mae Hemphill's "She Wolf" LP is incredible.  John Fahey doing Skip James on electric is brilliant too!!
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
« Reply #44 on: May 06, 2012, 06:22:12 AM »
Blues practitioners from the swampland deserve a mention

I've taken particular liking to Country Jim Bledsoe

and Lonesome Sundown



I don't know about technical proficiency but they take full advantage of the electricity to make their performance empowering
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 06:26:19 AM by JohnLeePimp »
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

 


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