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Author Topic: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar  (Read 1437 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« on: December 26, 2013, 10:01:59 AM »
Hi all,
I've been listening a lot lately to religious singers of the Country Blues era and have noticed how many of them chose to accompany themselves with slide guitar; there certainly seems to be a higher percentage of sacred songs accompanied by slide guitar than are secular songs.  I suppose there could be a number of reasons for this--perhaps the ability of a slide to capture a vocal quality in its phrasing of melody was the driving force behind the choice to play slide, or maybe it was felt that it projected more in a busking context.  Whatever the reason, there were so many performers of religious material who chose to use a slide for some or all of their repertoire. 
I thought it might be interesting to make a list of as many of these performers/performances as we could come up with.  Just to get the ball rolling, I'll name a couple, and if when the list is added to, people confine themselves to one or two names apiece, more folks can get involved.
   * Blind Willie Johnson--the most obvious choice, I suppose, just because he was so spectacular a slide player.  All of his slide playing was in Vestapol, I believe, and he is reputed to have used a pocket knife in his slide playing.
   * Rev. Edward Clayborn--Everything he played was in Spanish tuning.  He's not nearly as well known nowadays as Blind Willie Johnson, but he was a very clean player with a beautiful tone and perfect intonation.
   * Connie Williams--The "Philadephia Street Singer" did all of his slide playing, and indeed, all of his playing out of Vestapol.  He was exceptional in the sophistication of the non-slide portion of his accompaniments and had a chordal vocabulary in Vestapol that was unrivaled among traditional players.  His use of slide was pretty much confined to his soloing.  I don't know that he ever played slide from beginning to end on a piece.

Anyone have any other religious performers who used slide or religious performances with slide accompaniment to add to the list?

All best,
Johnm

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 10:25:51 AM »
Blind Willie Davis -- "I Believe I'll Go Back Home," "Your Enemy Cannot Harm You," "Rock of Ages," and "When The Saints Go Marching In." I'm especially partial to the first tune, which has a spine-chilling quality (perhaps enhanced by the crackle and hiss).
Jeff

Offline blueshome

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 10:28:29 AM »
Blind Gussie Nesbitt
Rev. Leon Pinson

Offline harriet

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2013, 11:30:00 AM »
Rev. Pearly Brown
Sister O.M. Terell

(Thanks Blueshome:) - love me some Gussie Nesbitt!)
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 03:31:28 PM by harriet »

Offline steadyrollinman

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2013, 02:45:03 PM »
Charlie Patton: Jesus is a dying bed maker, Lord I'm discouraged, Prayer of Death

Belated Christmas wishes John.

Regards,

Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2013, 02:53:10 PM »
Thanks, Chris, and same to you.  I was thinking that William "Cat Iron" Carradine played his religious songs with a slide in Vestapol.
All best,
Johnm

Offline steadyrollinman

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2013, 02:57:22 PM »
That's a new one for me to look into.

Much thanks John.

Regards,


Chris

Offline harriet

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2013, 03:34:14 PM »
Mississippi Fred Mcdowell in Vestapol - too many to name!

Offline onewent

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 04:51:57 PM »
Well, if you define 'religious singers' as players with a wide catalog who happened to include some religious numbers, I'd include Willie McTell.  He did a number of religious songs, many in vestapol, on the 12-string, and Barbeque Bob in Spanish tuning on a 12.

Plus Bukka White and Blind Willie Davis to name a few.

And Tom Feldmann actually does a dvd  for Stefan Grossman on this topic of gospel slide guitar, and includes a variety of 78 artists.

Tom

Offline Johnm

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2013, 09:52:36 AM »
Hi all,
Bo Weavil Jackson had a number of religious songs with slide accompaniment and Green Paschal from the George Mitchell Collection did all of his songs that way.
All best,
Johnm

Offline oddenda

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2013, 04:52:10 PM »
Almost everyone who played guitar that I interviewed through the SE between 1970-1980 began playing guitar in an open tuning, often with a slide. Henry Johnson was the only exception, but he was exceptional!! I would hazard a guess that religious players were after an appropriate  "joyful noise" to accompany their singing rather than guitaristic dexterity. Once they reached that point, they stayed there as it filled their needs. Those who went the secular route developed their guitar playing further and went beyond barre chords with a slide into various picking and tuning possibilities. That's my theory, and I'm sticking with it, as Ann Elk would have said in regard to her dinosaur theory (M. Python). Gary Davis seems an exception, but remember that he played secular music, including with a string band, around Greenville, SC in his younger days.

pbl

Offline Johnm

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2013, 10:33:44 AM »
Hi all,
Sam Collins, Herman E. Johnson and Julius Daniels chose to accompany themselves with slide guitar on their religious recordings.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 02:59:43 PM »
Hi all,
Dennis Crumpton and Robert Summers accompanied their two religious numbers with guitars playing slide in Vestapol.  Willie Mae Williams accompanied herself with a slide, too.
All best,
Johnm

Offline alyoung

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 03:30:15 AM »
Then there's lap steel players Lonnie Farris and Willie Eason ... and from there it's only a short step to the whole "sacred steel" thing. 

Offline harriet

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Re: Religious Singers Who Accompanied Themselves With Slide Guitar
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2014, 06:59:36 AM »
Rev Robert Wilkins