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Now I've been hearing somebody hollering for "Rocky Top", and I'm very sorry, the Bluegrass Boys don't do that number, but in a little while the Osborne Brothers will be up here, and they'll play it, not once, but several times - Bill Monroe at the Bean Blossom Festival in response to someone in the audience repeatedly yelling out a request for Rocky Top

Author Topic: Adventures in Vestapol  (Read 19570 times)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #30 on: August 30, 2006, 06:17:10 PM »
That Willie Johnson non-slide Vestapol stuff has always struck me as the most difficult realm of his music to even come close to emulating -- his right hand has always mystified me there; it's thumb lead but there's strumming too, but it's nothing like Carter-style thumb lead.

And another tune I'm not sure has been mentioned here is Sam McGee's "Drummer Boy."
Chris

Offline a2tom

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #31 on: August 30, 2006, 07:25:02 PM »
The Soul of a Man - one of my all time favorites songs.  Gives me chills every time I listen to it (chilling right now).

I saw a crowd stand talkin'
I just came up in time
Was teaching the lawyer, the doctors
Well a man ain't nothin' but his mind

Well I want somebody to tell me
Answer if you can
I want somebody to tell me
Just what is the soul of a man

Not many lyrics give me (a doctor/scientist...) more of a pause than these.  They cut right to, well, my soul.  It isn't just the words, its the penetrating way that Willie sang them.  And I find it to be such an intersting contrast to songs like Going to See the King, Praise God I'm Satisifed, Let Your Light Shine on Me, etc...

Anyway, I've never had a clue how to approach playing it.  So it's in Vestapol?  I remember reading someone say that his non-slide work was most/all in standard C.  Was never too sure about that.  It certainly makes sense that he'd be in the same tuning he was sliding in!  I'll give it a shot.

Thanks,

Tom

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #32 on: August 30, 2006, 10:04:28 PM »
Hi all,
I agree, Chris, that Willie Johnson's sound on these tunes is elusive.  Part of the problem is leaving enough space; his strumming is kind of an intermittent counter-punching.  The other aspect is how he phrases the melody passages with his thumb absolutely straight up and down; there is no underlying triple feel no matter how deep you go.  I think straight eighths can be really tough some times, but if you execute them on the money, what a powerful sound!  I have a hunch without having really tried it myself yet that the best way to get at this sound may be not to imitate Willie Johnson's performance but to base the instrumental phrasing on one's own sense of the vocal phrasing.
I'm with you on "Soul Of A Man", Tom.  It's an amazing song.  I also feel that if Willie Johnson had only ever recorded "The Rain Don't Fall On Me", he would still be one of the greatest ever to play in this style.  That song really sends me.  These recordings are really miracles--that the music was ever made, that it was recorded, and that it survived for us to hear.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 08:34:15 AM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2006, 11:22:31 PM »
   * Trouble Will Soon Be Over--4/20/30, F
   * The Soul Of A Man--4/20/30, E

Hi John - I was comparing these two songs a few months ago and the impression I came away with was that Trouble Will Soon Be Over was played in G position, std. tuning about a whole step low.  On Soul Of A Man, you can clearly hear the 1st and 2nd strings being brushed and occasionally fretted as part of a lick that he plays under the phrase "answer if you can."

The sound of the treble strings is much more ambiguous in Trouble Will Soon Be Over and seems more consistent to me with what I would expect from holding down a G chord, especially if you were flatpicking those straight eighth notes on the inner strings.  It's interesting to compare this song with Church, I'm Fully Saved Today, where he's using a totally different accompaniment style, but clearly playing in the key of G (full chords and all) and tuned low.  The sound of the guitar in these two recordings seems nearly identical to me.  Of course, I don't have the benefit of having heard his complete recordings (at least not all at one sitting).

When was Church, I'm Fully Saved Today recorded?



Offline dj

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #34 on: August 31, 2006, 03:16:04 AM »
Church, I'm Fully Saved To-Day was recorded at Johnson's last session, on April 20, 1930. 

Here's the complete song list from that session.  The titles are ordered by matrix number, which may (but possibly may not) be an indication of the order in which the songs were recorded.  The matrix numbers run from 150307 to 150316.

Can't Nobody Hide From God
If It Had Not Been For Jesus
Go With Me To That Land
The Rain Don't Fall On Me
Trouble Will Soon Be Over
The Soul Of A Man
Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right
Church, I'm Fully Saved To-Day
John The Revelator
You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond
 

Offline frankie

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #35 on: August 31, 2006, 06:04:50 AM »
Interesting...  I just heard The Rain Don't Fall On Me on the juke, and that sounds to me like std. tuning, key of G, prob. tuned low rather than vestapol as well...  maybe I'm just wired that-a-way.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #36 on: August 31, 2006, 09:01:26 AM »
Hi Frank,
The only Willie Johnson songs I hear in G standard tuning are "Let Your Light Shine On Me", "Sweeter As The Years Go By", "Praise God I'm Satisfied", "Take Your Stand", and "Church I'm Fully Saved Today".  His C standard tunes, which are really pretty, are "Can't Nobody Hide From God", "If It Had Not Been For Jesus" and "Go With Me To The Land".
On "Soul Of A Man", Willie Johnson is coming on and off the first fret of the third string as he begins the chorus, behind "Won't somebody tell me".  As the next line starts, he gets the same on and off motion going on the second string, coming on and off the second fret there.  Occasionally he plays a run that flows right through from the second fret second string to open second string, first fret third string, open third string, open fourth string.  Of the songs played in this approach, "Soul Of A Man" is the odd man out, for his much greater concentration on the second and third strings there in his melodic work.
I don't think G position standard tuning is technically feasible for these tunes because it would require holding down the third fret on the first two strings like a claw throughout the song.  Considering how richly and freely the melodic phrases are addressed, this seems very implausible.  Moreover, the songs I've named above are clearly played in G standard tuning--you can hear conventional IV and V chords.  None of the other tunes I've identified have any identifiable IV or V chords, though they may employ notes in the course of the runs that suggest those chords.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #37 on: August 31, 2006, 10:17:37 AM »
Just to be clear - I totally agree about Soul Of A Man, it's just "The Rain Don't Fall On Me" and "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" (of the songs in question that I've actually heard) that I hear in G.  G would definitely not work for Soul Of A Man, but I think it's pretty likely for the other two.  Of the two in question, "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" is the most easily addressed in G and "The Rain Don't Fall On Me" (based only on a single hearing at this point) would require free-handing at least one melodic phrase that I can remember.  I'd feel more confident about vestapol tuning for "The Rain Don't Fall On Me" and "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" if I heard more of the first two strings being sounded... 

I'll listen more over next week and see if I hear things differently.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2006, 02:19:10 PM »
Hi all,
I've got one to add to the list:  Pete Harris's version of "Alabama Bound" from the "Texas Field Recordings" disc on Document.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #39 on: January 20, 2007, 10:21:22 AM »
I thought I'd add the Bo Carter material in Vestapol that Chezz had in his post on Bo's guitar keys and positions. A couple have been mentioned already but here's the Bo list:

Bo Carter

Ain't Nobody Got It
Ants In My Pants
Baby, When You Marry
Backache Blues
Blue Runner Blues
Bo Carter Special
Cigarette Blues
Dinner Blues
Don't Mash My Digger So Deep
Fifty Fifty With Me
Flea On Me
Got to Work Somewhere
I Love That Thing
It's Too Wet
I've Got a Case of Mashin' It
Mashing That Thing
Mean Feeling Blues
New Auto Blues
Pig Meat Is What I Crave
Ram Rod Daddy
Sorry Feeling Blues
Sue Cow

And another great song played out of Vestapol to add to the list is Jesse Thomas' "Another Friend Like Me".


Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #40 on: February 08, 2007, 12:23:46 PM »
Fred McDowell played primarily in Vestapol (also in Spanish, but the bulk of his work seems to be in Vestapol).  A few common ones:

John Henry

My Baby

You got to Move

Red Cross Store

When I Lay My Burden Down



Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline waxwing

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #41 on: February 13, 2007, 12:56:50 PM »
You're right about Fred playing a lot in Vastapol, Slim, as well as a lot of other slide players, but I think the original premise of these Spanish and Vastapol threads was that we were looking for non-slide players. I think the Delta heavyweights were excluded, too. I think someone suggested starting seperate threads to list slide tunes in the various tunings.

You ever get over to Oakland?

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #42 on: February 13, 2007, 01:35:00 PM »
I just followed the link from the "Key to the Highway" section, I didn't read the first post in this thread.

I do get over to Oakland occasionally.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #43 on: March 27, 2007, 03:45:54 PM »
Hi all,
The Washboard Walter cut, "Wasn't It Sad About Lemon" sounds to have been played by John Byrd on his twelve-string guitar, working out of Vestapol.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Vestapol
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2008, 09:51:18 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown's "Tone the Bell Easy", which can be found on the JSP set "Shake That Thing", is a non-slide tune played in Vestapol.
All best,
Johnm

 


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