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Author Topic: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......  (Read 1102 times)

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Offline Rockdale

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Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« on: February 08, 2013, 10:34:01 AM »
   
      Which songs do you like to play for people who may have never heard any country blues guitar before? I've been asked to be part of a "Blues in the Schools" project in my town and am looking for some advice or suggestions for good songs to use.

Offline Pan

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 10:44:03 AM »
That's a tough one! How many songs do you reckon you'll have time for?
Something from John Hurt springs to mind at first, but there are so many others...

Cheers

Pan

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 10:54:14 AM »
I would try to ensure that the "song" takes as much precedence as music.  So funny stuff, poignant stuff, stuff with a story.

Stagolee must be a perfect choice for MJH stuff for that reason.

Then perhaps crossroads?  You have the whole "merdia turned it into the sell your soul thing- but actually its about the risk of a black musician being caught out on the road after dark in those days" etc

Depending on ages- Diddy Wah Diddy would engage some interest...

How about something by Son House- Something rivettingly powerful and gripping?  Deathe Letter / John the revelator etc?

Offline yogi

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2013, 11:04:19 AM »
That's a very interesting question, Rockdale, I look forward to following this thread.
I don't know at which age the pupils are going to be or what the purpose of Blues In the Schools is.
It may be a good idea to use songs that relate to historical events, i.e. the Mississippi flood, racism, the Titanic, poverty etc. Avoiding explicit sex and craving for cocaine, I suppose but love is timeless and so is the craving for a better life.
If the pupils are unaware of this kind of music I'd probably avoid any complicated arrangements and stick to "easier" tunes. Preferrably "catchy" ones, though straight and simple blues may be perceived as rock'n'roll.
I agree with Pan, Mississippi John Hurt could work even if it's not always blues. If the pupils have some knowledge about the blues it would perhaps be a good idea to play something they recognise even if it happens to be Robert Johnson...

Offline Stuart

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2013, 11:49:27 AM »
Ask Toby Walker as he is involved in this:

http://www.littletobywalker.com/blues-in-the-schools.html

You can contact him directly through his site.

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2013, 03:55:35 AM »
My friend played Ralph Willis' Goin to Virginia for a bunch of teens - it cracked em up
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline frankie

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2013, 04:32:17 AM »
I would bear a couple of things in mind...

1) a lot of country blues isn't really what I'd describe as "culturally recognizable as blues" to most people at this point in time, but some is - much of Lightnin' Hopkins, a lot of Robert Johnson - probably start off with something like this just to get everybody on the same page, but there's no need to focus exclusively on this.

2) just like performing - play songs that you A) feel strongly about, and B) perform well and can communicate. If you like them, chances are the kids will, too, or at least pick up on your enthusiasm and roll with it.

It's up to you to put what you choose to play in context for them - think about WHY you're presenting the songs you have - because the guitar part is cool? The song is historically significant or topical? Informed later music in some significant way? In any case, remember that most people don't really "hear" guitar the way guitar nerds do, but everybody loves a singer.

I'd say it's okay to play anything you want as long as it hits #2 above... there's no reason why any kid unfamiliar with country blues would automatically like Mississippi John Hurt over Skip James or Robert Pete Williams. Kids these days are exposed to a fantastic amount of music... Don't underestimate them.

You'll do great!

Offline Rockdale

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2013, 03:21:24 PM »
Thanks for the advice. I've never participated in anything like this before and I don't know too many details about the program yet but, from what I've been told, it will mainly be for junior high and high school aged kids and there will also be classes covering everything up through Chicago style and more modern blues (how to play in a band, etc.). It sounds like it will be an ongoing series of programs in different schools and local festivals so the amount of time I'll have to work with will probably vary and I'll be able to try different things.

I like the idea of using someone like Lightnin' Hopkins for this sort of thing; I've always thought of his style as sort of in between generations.

I was thinking of doing a few circle of fifths type songs and maybe a few open tuning songs as well.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2013, 06:24:43 PM »
What you have in mind sounds good, Kenny.  I don't know if you play any slide, but that can be a kind of grabber for people who have never seen someone do it in person before.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frailer24

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2013, 02:16:09 PM »
For a younger crowd, I used Leadbelly's album of children's songs. Worked wonderfully!
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Rockdale

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2013, 02:26:09 PM »
Slide is something I was definitely thinking about using as well. I'm a bit out of practice with one but I still know enough slide material to demonstrate the style and explain how to get some cool sounds.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2013, 03:09:58 PM »
The first song a lot of the old timers reported learning was Poor Boy A Long Way From Home played in Spanish lap style with a slide. I still think its a great introductory piece.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Dom94

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Re: Songs to introduce country blues guitar to people......
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2013, 09:48:28 PM »
If I remember for my personal case : Big Road Blues from Tommy Johnson or any song from Lightnin hopkins should be an excellent choice
Playin' Blues is Freedom

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