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Frank Foster was playing a street concert from the Jazzmobile in Harlem. He called for a blues in B-flat. A young tenor player began to play "out" from the first chorus, playing sounds that had no relationship to the harmonic progression or rhythmic setting. Foster stopped him. "What are you doing?" "Just playing what I feel. "Well, feel something in B-flat, mother****er"

Author Topic: Strong Seconding Guitarists  (Read 4735 times)

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Online Johnm

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Strong Seconding Guitarists
« on: September 02, 2008, 10:41:40 AM »
Hi all,
It struck me recently that that skills involved in "seconding" a lead guitarist well have never been properly acknowledged, and are not encountered all that often.  It's a skill that is particularly rarely encountered nowadays, partially because there are so few working Country Blues guitar duos.  I thought it might be fun to list notably strong seconding guitarists of the past.  These need not have been people who only operated in that capacity.  The first one I'll name was also a stellar soloist.  Anyhow, I'll get the ball rolling with just a couple of people that come to mind.  More people will be able to participate if we add only one or two players at a time to the list.  Here goes:
   * Curley Weaver.  His seconding behind Blind Willie McTell, and especially Fred McMullen, on numbers like "Man Of My Own" and "Dekalb Chain Gang", could almost be taken as object lessons on how to approach the role of a seconding guitarist.  Whether playing flat-picked bass runs or providing chordal accompaniment, Curley just seemed to make everything around him sound better.
   *  Frank Brasswell.  I don't know anything about him other than the fact that he backed Bill Broonzy on several numbers.  If they had only ever recorded "Grandma's Farm", Brasswell would still have to be accorded staus as one of the greatest seconding guitarists ever, because that is "die-happy" stuff, just spectacular.
Do any others come to mind?
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2008, 12:01:59 PM »
Hi, John

This is a thought-provoking topic!  I'd like to mention Buddy Moss.  He recorded 8 titles seconding Josh White in New York City in August of 1935, and whether Moss is playing bass runs or leads, I think his playing never gets in White's way and always adds something to the song.  Interestingly, at the same session Moss recorded 9 blues titles with White seconding, and these, to my ears, are not nearly as interesting.

Offline blueshome

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2008, 12:04:49 PM »
Joe McCoy with Minnie.

Offline Slack

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2008, 12:06:37 PM »
Dan Sane for Frank Stokes - who I believe influenced Joe and Minnie.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2008, 12:10:04 PM »
... and Will Batts...?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2008, 12:29:12 PM »
Scratch, I guess you're referring to Jack Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band and various recordings under other names, such as the two with Will Batts singing. I think in all cases, including the Will Batts sides, Dan Sane (listed as Dan Sing) would be said to be seconding the guitar playing of Jack Kelly. Batts plays fiddle on all the jug band sides and sings his two sides to only Kelly's and Sane's accompaniment (probably according to BG&R).

It certainly is great seconding. We were looking at the "Highway 61" family of songs, where the lead guitar is in Spanish, before heading up to PT and Sane's second guitar (played in C tuned to standard at Db) really makes the sound.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008, 12:31:25 PM by waxwing »
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Offline banjochris

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2008, 02:14:23 PM »
Henry Townsend and Big Joe Williams together -- they trade off the lead in "Somebody's Been Borrowing That Stuff" but never get in each other's way. Also, I'm assuming that it's the two of them backing up Walter Davis on "Sloppy Drunk Blues," which is an amazing performance from all concerned.

Roy Harvey backing Leonard Copeland (I think that's the arrangement -- maybe someone knows different).

Also, although I don't think he made any recordings with another guitarist, I'd put Blind Blake in this category. His backup in bands as well as his accompaniments to Gus Cannon are excellent.
Chris

Offline unezrider

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2008, 03:21:15 PM »
hello friend,
i have always loved the duets of lonnie johnson & eddie lang, among others already mentioned.
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline dugrougnard

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2008, 04:14:34 PM »
don't forget Willie Brown with Charley Patton and Son House . Great

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2008, 08:50:58 PM »
Predictably: Gary Davis' seconding of Blind Boy Fuller.
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Online Johnm

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2008, 11:56:11 AM »
Hi all,
I thought of another seconding guitarist whose work I particularly like:  Sylvester Weaver's playing partner, Walter Beasley.  Beasley is the only seconding specialist I can think of who routinely played slide.  His work behind Weaver was terrific, with especially strong use of the slide to play bass runs and exciting register changes between the bass and the treble.  I think the use of a slide for a seconding guitarist is something that might merit some examination for anybody out there who gets to play with another guitarist on a regular basis.
All best,
Johnm

Offline jostber

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2008, 09:08:23 AM »
Brother Uaroy Graves with Roosevelt Graves! F.ex. on the wonderful "Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind On Jesus)" and "I'll Be Rested (When The Roll is Called".

Online Johnm

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2008, 11:47:28 AM »
Hi jostber,
There is no second guitar on the songs you cite.  It's all Roosevelt Graves, which gives you an idea of how impressive his playing is, that it could be taken for two guitars.  Uaroy (actually Leroy) played tambourine, and he's a rocking tambourine player, on "Woke Up this Morning" and possibly, "I'll Be Rested", too.
All best,
Johnm

Offline oddenda

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2008, 07:16:42 AM »
While it was only a "studio" band, how about Josh White & Buddy Moss in '35(?); they met at the ARC studios and found that SC and GA melded well. FINE music resulted as one backed the other on each other's sides.

Peter B.

Offline lindy

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Re: Strong Seconding Guitarists
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2008, 07:32:19 AM »
I know that y'all are talking about seconding guitarists who regularly played that role over a long time, but I'll add another name of someone who, to my knowledge, only appeared as a seconding guitarist twice: Joe Callicott, behind Garfield Akers on "Cottonfield Blues" parts 1 and 2. When driving back to New Orleans a couple of weeks back my ears really locked into those two sides, I kept hitting the replay button on my CD player.

I know that the two of them have been mentioned on this site regarding the "Hernando sound," but is there any evidence that Callicott did some other seconding?

Lindy
« Last Edit: October 18, 2008, 07:36:26 AM by lindy »

 


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