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My motto is; if you don't hit some 'wrong' notes once in a while you're not trying hard enough - Mitch Holder on playing live, Interviews With The Jazz Greats

Author Topic: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?  (Read 2623 times)

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Offline Blue in VT

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2010, 08:06:35 AM »
+1 to Mikes Comments...I also take the tack of not over thinking this music too much...its about the feeling afterall.  From my background in History and Archaeology I spend WAY too much trying to get into the heads of people long dead...I try not to do it with this music.  For me its the music itself that attracts me so much...despite it being called the blues most of the CB I listen to is upbeat and often happy...MJH, Mance, Libba etc.  I certainly appreciate the deeper darker side of the this music as well (Skip, patton, son house etc.) but the music I want to play comes from the first group...mostly...;D.  I t was MJH's candyman that hooked me afterall... :D

I also greatly enjoy the humor that is present in much of this music.  it is often clever and enlightening...and frequently makes me laugh out loud.  I also love the fact that this music isn't over produced...one artist, one guitar, one take...I love that.  Too much of our world is overly produced these days and I like the raw unaltered reality of a single take performance.

Cheers,

Blue
Blue in VT

Offline Stuart

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2010, 08:50:30 AM »
Like Mike and Blue, I have an academic background. However, I don't think that necessarily predisposes one to overthink the music or anything else, for that matter. I have also played guitar for 50 years, but I don't listen to the music primarily for the guitar playing. I first listen to it for the music that it is--a lot of it is great, some not exactly great, but everyone hits a clunker from time to time, as the old saying goes.

I don't think that being a guitar player, a trained historian, a student of literature, etc. has to get in the way of enjoying the music in the same way that someone in the audience enjoyed it at the time when it was played live or first released on record. If anything, I think that it can serve to enhance one's understanding and appreciation of the music as it allows insights that someone else may not have.

If one treats the music as a historical artifact or curiosity, or just as a source for guitar licks or material, then I think that one is missing the most important aspect of the music.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with analyzing and taking the guitar playing apart, transcribing and teaching it, transcribing and analyzing the lyrics, or mining any aspect of a greater whole or overall context for whatever information and patterns it may yield. It's just that like anything, it has to be properly applied.

Don't overlook the obvious.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2010, 08:53:57 AM by Stuart »

Offline dj

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2010, 08:59:56 AM »
Reading everyone's comments has helped me to clarify my thoughts a bit, so I'd like to add a couple of things to my earlier response, both having to do with my interest in the music itself and not its historical place or cultural significance.

Rhythm:  One thing I like about a lot of the early blues recordings, and about most of the artists rediscovered in the 50s and 60s, AND about some of the early revivalists, is the sense of rhythmic elasticity they had.  Whether it's a song speeding up evenly or at one particular spot in every verse, or whether the overall tempo is constant but there's a bit of rhythmic give-and-take within the verses, I just love it.  For me, it helps make the music come alive.  I think a lot of us have had it drilled into us to keep the tempo constant.  But I think better advice for country blues (heck, for all music) is "keep the rhythmic drive constant", which is another thing altogether.  

Virtuosity:  When I was young, I was a big fan of instrumental virtuosity.  Some of the recordings of rediscovered blues singers disappointed me because I thought they had "lost a step" instrumentally.  But as I get older, I find I enjoy virtuosity for its own sake less and less.  Which is nice, as it lets me enjoy the strummers and minimal pickers that I passed by in my youth.      

Offline unezrider

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2010, 09:00:15 AM »
hello friend,
it's a very thoughtful question john has put forth here. & there have been several thoughtful answers, too. i have been thinking it over the last couple of days, & i can say i agree with several of you here. in a round about way, dj's thoughts cover a lot of mine, too. & i find it very likely that what i listen for now is not what i was listening for when this music first grabbed me. though in regards to country blues, i find this music endlessly rewarding on so many levels. i am still hearing things in songs i've been listening to since i was 18 that i hadn't noticed yet. or noticed in 'that' way. it was a strange music from a strange place, played by some strange people ? & i loved that! i find the musical landscape of this music was so varied & creative that it offers so much.
but as to what i listen for, & want hear in my music, i think it's a lot of things. & i notice the one constant through all kinds of music i listen to & enjoy ? i like it raw. i find a joy in the performance. the majority of the music i like is from the 20's ? 50's. so these by & large aren't 'studio creations', these are documents of artists performing their art. you can hear them taking chances, nearly avoiding collapses at times. there is an excitement to that. i listen to the interplay between musicians. i listen to the 'tone'. i like thinking about what kind of instrument is being played. how it's built. acoustic, ladder braced, x braced, reso. electric, dearmond, cc, p90, paf. all that guitar geek stuff. i love the humor. i love the earthy-ness. i feel it's a part of me, in a way. like i am connected to that strange place with those strange heros of mine, doing their wonderful thing.
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline frankie

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2010, 09:22:29 AM »
rhythmic elasticity

and

But as I get older, I find I enjoy virtuosity for its own sake less and less.  Which is nice, as it lets me enjoy the strummers and minimal pickers that I passed by in my youth.      

beautifully said.

Offline Blue in VT

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2010, 10:21:18 AM »
Like Mike and Blue, I have an academic background. However, I don't think that necessarily predisposes one to overthink the music or anything else, for that matter.

Well said...and of course YMMV...its not that I feel that I'm predisposed to over think this music its just that I can see the rabbit hole that that could lead to...which, for me, may actually reduce my love for the music itself.  Their are portions of my job that have become chores rather the passions that they started as...I attribute this (to some extent) to actually knowing too much about a particular subject...i.e. not seeing the forest for the trees...I would hate to have that happen to my love of acoustic blues...it brings me so much joy as it is I don't want to lose sight of that fact.....again YMMV.

BTW tons of great comments and thoughts in this thread!

Blue
Blue in VT

Offline Johnm

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2010, 10:25:52 AM »
Hi all,
I also like what you said about vituosity, dj.  I care less and less about it as time goes by, too.  I also realize that what I said in my initial answers to the questions can be expressed a lot more simply than I did it.  What I enjoy hearing in the music is what a particular person had/has to say that is his or her own.  It needn't be earth-shaking, virtuosic, or even notably original, but if I can hear it and feel as though, "Yes, I hear how this person heard it this way.", that spark of individuality and personal connection to the music will hook me at some level.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 11:41:00 AM by Johnm »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Country Blues: What do you want to hear?
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2010, 12:04:35 PM »
Blues, for me, is lust born of despair. The first and most honest expression of the true condition of the XXth Century common man in a popular art form. A touchstone for all but the elite and the ostriches. ⓒ

Wax
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 01:03:30 AM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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