Thursday, 13 December 2012

Rick Danko, Janis Joplin, and Jerry Garcia Jammin' Out!

Here's a fantastic 'backstage' viewing of three giants of one of the most memorable eras of music. They sing, in this tape, Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos...a song that is, strangely, often attributed to Lead Belly - though he himself never actually recorded the tune. I think it's likely that he gets the credit b/c he kinda mentions the line in Go Down Old Hannah (one of his best tunes). If anyone actually knows whether he wrote it or not, please let me know.

Anyhow, the tune in the video is a great old song that the Band recorded on the Basement Tapes. It's a great little jam and it looks like they're enjoying themselves ;)

PS: I'm proud that my obscure hometown Calgary, AB gets a great shoutout by Janis!

Another Jimi Hendrix Blues Lesson

Hey all. So a few weeks ago I posted a lesson (which is a few scrolls down from this post) that shows how to play the false start introduction to Jimi's great tune Hear My Train A-Comin'. Well, I've now made a lesson on the other second introduction he plays when he restarts the tunes..."hey!!..don't waste all that film over there!!..stop it for a second..." Hendrix fans will know what I'm talking about...

Anyways, check out this, part two, lesson for the original take version of Hear My Train A-Comin' - again, there are some really great licks that you can assimilate from Jimi's playing.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Alan Lomax's Story

Here's a telling interview of Alan Lomax reflecting upon him and his father's travels. Together, they collected one of America's most important artifacts: its folk music.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Jimi Hendrix Acoustic Blues Tutorial

It's the first time that I've done a Jimi lesson for quite a while...I've got one from way back that you could probably find if you dig hard enough but it's meh...

Anyways, this one's on Hear My Train A-Comin'. Supposedly, at the time it was recorded, it was the first time that Jimi had ever played a 12-string! It's completely amazing and at the same time oddly depressing because it's some of the best 12-string guitar that has ever been recorded, and yet he was a total newbie. I guess that's why he was Jimi Hendrix.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Andres Segovia Demonstrating the Guitar's Timbres

One of the first virtuosos of the instrument, Andres Segovia aka Zen master from, he shows what the guitar's sonic range truly encompasses. It's fantastic.

If you haven't checked out his music, be sure to. There are a lot of people out there who say he was the greatest guitarist that ever lived.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Another Patton Lesson

This is on a tune called Tom Rushen Blues. On RagtimeDorianHenry's post of the original recording, Tom Rushing's great-grandson actually talks-story about Patton and his ancestor in a posted comment...

"This song is about my great grandfather - Tom Rushing. He was deputy sheriff in Merigold, MS. He arrested Charlie Patton, and apparently was one of the few cops in the Delta at the time who wasn't horribly racist. He died when I was young, but I grew up with him. He was a good man."

- jellyjellybobelly

Reall cool stuff...anyways, here's the lesson. If any of you often find it challenging to learn some of these old blues tunes, then I'd recommend working this one out. I can see it being a good stepping-stone to other tunes.

Archie Edwards Lesson

If you don't know Archie Edwards then - are you a John Hurt fan? Well...who isn't. Archie Edwards was mentored by John Hurt so if you like him, you'll like Archie.

In any case, dig this new tutorial...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Bass Fiddle...

In the blues world, often times the only bass fiddler that people know of is the great Willie Dixon. I suppose this is a bit of a tangent, but I've read more than a few comments on Youtube of people proclaiming that Willie invented, or at least started the idea, of slap bass :|

Well, to that I'd say, check out this video of the great Milt Hinton demonstrating the technique. Milt came from a different musical background than Willie but interestingly would incorporate the same slap technique. This is to say, that bass fiddle slapping was probably prevalent all over the place, way back when...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lead Belly Footage

For some reason, it's widely believed that there exists only one video of Lead Belly...this is, thankfully, not the case. As far as I know, there are four in circulation. One being the newsreel clip of Lead Belly re-enacting his meeting with Alan Lomax, and also these three demonstrating the master in action. I've been searching for the latter two clips in this video for ages!

Lead Belly...the greatest folk musician ever...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sandy Bull's Music

Someone unfortunately unknown to me until today is a musician by the name of Sandy Bull. His take on instrumental music, almost like a psychedelic version of Basho at times, epitomizes the meaning of the word 'chill'. Other descriptors that come to mind might be thought-provoking, explorative, Jerry-Garcia-like, and so on.

As you can see by the album cover, his talent drew him to several instruments. From my very superficial experience with his music, thus far, it seems like each instrument exposes a very different facet of his musical concept. The banjo - a very folksie, old time sound, the electric guitar - a Grateful Dead kind of idea, etc. Good stuff...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Jelly Roll Morton and Make Me A Pallet On the Floor

The great old, old tune Make Me A Pallet On the Floor...among my favorite versions are John Hurt's, Willie Brown's, and Sam Chatmon's. I'm thinking that many of you have heard those renditions but have not yet heard Jelly Roll Morton's - the self-proclaimed, contentiously so, inventor of jazz. Whatever his credentials in that regard truly are, there's no doubt that he was a key figure in the history of jazz and also played a key-role (much like Lead Belly) in accounting for the aural history of black American music from before the recording era.

Honestly, the lyrics that he puts onto this monumentally long version are, to me, amusing in a "did he actually just say that?" way...just cuz it's Jelly Roll Morton and I have a shameful sense of humor (which I blame on my internet generation). You'll see what I mean...I've never had to say this, but please use discretion in choosing to listen to this if vulgarity does not jive with you...btw, Mr Lomax recorded this.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Lead Belly Movie

This is a fun little clip from the 1976 Lead Belly depicts a young Lead Belly at some speakeasy challenging another guitarist to a little cutting contest.

For the guitar parts, the director chose Dick Rosmini for all 12-string's too bad he didn't record more - he was a great player. Artie Traum dubs for the 6-string parts which are also fantastic.

A great little film that you can stream online if you look hard enough!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Lesson on Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)

This is one that I've been meaning to make for a while...see if this helps you get started on this tune. If there's a song that just cannot be replicated, it's this one. But, it's an exciting tune to try and'll feel a weird vibe inside you once you get it going and really dig into it - an amazing song.

Here's a lesson on Blind Willie Johnson's most renowned recording:

Friday, 24 August 2012

Requesting Tunes for Lessons...

Prior to recent times, I made video lessons based on email suggestions. That was great and the enthusiasm was, and is, very much appreciated! The thing is that, starting around a little over a month ago, the pace of suggestions being sent in started increasing to the point where it kinda became impossible make all the videos. I guess, having to take the time to listen to the tunes, learn the parts, film and edit the video, then upload the content - it's just a lot to do.

So now, and I hope you don't mind, I'll make the request videos for a little charge of $20...kinda like a private lesson, in a way. If you just shoot me an email of the artist and tune, I'll let you know if it's viable (most likely it will be) and we'll go from there.

Thanks for your consideration...I'll still be making videos - this is just regarding requests!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Charlie Parker and the Blues

So most of us know all about the different types of old guitar blues - Delta, Piedmont, Texas, Hill Country Blues, etc...

Here's some BeBop blues as played by the masters. It's good to vary things sometimes, I suppose. Hearing different sounds can be a great way to assimilate new techniques, tones, phrasing, and rhythms into your playing. This recording of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, etc, showcases some of the finest blues playing. In fact, in my opinion, Charlie Parker's solo on this particular recording is the most genius and beautiful improvisation on a blues form ever. Bud Powell's solo is likewise brilliant with some great 'outside' sounds which are neatly integrated.

Is it just me or do I hear one specific lick that Bird plays which Albert King/SRV would later be famous for? Hmm...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Prison Songs: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos

Some of the truest music you'll ever find will be the prison field recordings made by the Lomax's from the 1940's. During one of their expeditions, they came across two Texas inmates by the names of Ernest Williams and James Baker who led this gut-wrenching prison rendition of a song called Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Power of Music

"Orphaned at age 5, WWII veteran, went on to play first chair trumpet at BYU. This is a remarkable story from Jack's military experience" - Youtube Description

...amazing stuff

Blind Willie Johnson Lesson

I figured I'd start doing some Blind Willie Johnson, as well. Trying to emulate his virtuosic bottleneck playing is definitely challening...see what you think. This is his tune called Nobody's Fault But Mine.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Broke Down Engine Lesson

Here's a long-haul lesson on Blind Willie McTell's great tune. Don't worry too much if you don't have a 12-string...his songs sound great on a sixer as well! If you do get a 12-string, get a Guild...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Real Blues

        "No disrespect to the electrified Chicago version of blues music - things always change - but in my humble opinion, true blues belongs to the Delta. It doesn't boogie, it doesn't shred - that is a different thing. True blues is on the porch. It slinks and lurches and moans. It comes from a place and time that thankfully and hopefully will not come again, yet it can't be reproduced or faked...not a style but a piece of history and time."

- a Youtuber's comment on a Muddy Waters video

Friday, 6 July 2012

John Fahey Tribute

A bunch of weeks back, I had a typical evening where the Related Videos panel of Youtube basically had me glued onto the computer screen for several hours more than what I'd initially intended. Eventually, I was led to a Fahey video of him playing Steamboat Gwine 'Round the Bend and it just grabbed me! When he plays it, you actually feel like you're lazily meandering around a tropical riverbend...completely removed from the 'daily grind'. Anyways, I thought I'd have a little amateur go at it while also playing How Green Was My Valley...another one of my favorite Fahey tunes.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Son House Talks About The Blues

Let's be honest, most of the blues that you'll find at local bars this weekend is a far cry from the true blues of the pre-war era. Even compared to Muddy Waters' electrified blues, the stuff from today doesn't come close. The development of the term 'blues' into more of a rock n' roll jump sound with SRV licks thrown in is a bit questionable to me. Just listen to the words of Son House - it's way too true.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Skiing...slightly unrelated.

Once in a while, I suppose, it's good - health-wise- to actually leave the box that we live in (or maybe it's just me) to become aware of the non-music related things in the world. One of my buddies at school is a really awesome skiier. Actually, during a drive up to Lake Louise one day this past season we talked all about the similarities between music and skiing...the notorious badassery of Lead Belly, the godliness of Coltrane, etc while I was told stuff that I now forget about skiing.

Anyhow, this is an edit he made of some great skiing...bound to entertain anyone!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Blues Lesson Ideas?

I'm thinking of making some videos this week. I've been trapped by school exams for the past while so I haven't filmed too much.

I'm trying to think of some tutorials to do...anyone have some ideas?
So far, I've got Moon Going Down, One Dime Blues, Depot Blues, and Prodigal Son (Wilkins' version) on the list. Anything else? Email me or

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Robbie Basho: the Golden Shamrock

One of the greatest of the so-called primitivist guitarists, Robbie Basho was a contemporary of John Fahey. As a student of the legendary Ali Akbar Khan, Basho created his own frontiers by incorporating east-Indian sounds and techniques alongside his own sonic inventions.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Huddie Ledbetter playing Gallis Pole

The greatest songster of ALL time - and the 20th century's most interesting and badass personality. Lead Belly's one of my idols...the unbelievably furious fingerpicking in Gallis Pole speaks for itself...

PS: I found out from a friend of mine, by accident, that Kid Cudi covered Lead Belly's Where Did You Sleep Last Night. I don't even know how to describe that...bizarre, surprising, hilarious??

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

What Kind of Guitars the Old Bluesmen Played

With many blues musicians, it's such an obscure thing to wonder what kind of guitar, for instance, Frank Stokes used for his old recordings. Luckily though, a fantastic resource is available to check these things out. Dai Thomas on compiled an amazing list of countless country bluesmusicians' gear throughout their careers. It can give you some great ideas if you're thinking of making a new guitar purchase, as well! The entire site itself is really nice to check out - see what you think...

- Supposedly, Blind Lemon Jefferson and his Oahu guitar

Lesson on I Shall Not Be Moved

Patton's rendition of I Shall Not Be Moved is good dampening btw. A fellow blues slider requested this one and it's a good one to know if you're a Charlie Patton fan.

PS: the guitar's still for sale!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

1920's Oscar Schmidt Stella for Sale

If anyone's interesed in having a vintage blues box, I've got a First Hawaiian Conservatory Stella Oscar Schmidt for sale on eBay (or message me):

Neil Harpe on his website usually has these going for around 1K or more...I was thinking around $750 plus shipping (considering the unoriginal parts, etc). Message me if you're interested. I'm not strict with the price.

Pictures here:

Monday, 18 June 2012

Jack O' Diamonds Lesson

This is a great old Texas blues for the first recording goes to Blind Lemon Jefferson. Interestingly, Blind Lemon's 1926 recording of this tune (his only recording with slide guitar) is the earliest known recording of bottleneck blues.

Mance Lipscomb's version is great stuff, too. It's a different arrangement; whereas Blind Lemon's rendition is very dark and moving, Mance's is much more uptempo with a single-note bassline in Texas blues fashion. Check it out - it's a nice tune to know.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lesson on Prayer of Death Pt. 1

Another lesson on a great Patton tune. Playing Charlie Patton slide on this one is difficult because you've got to be sooo delicate in order to get his sound/tone - particularly on the top string. Give it a try and see how it goes!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Muddy Waters Lesson on I Can't Be Satisfied

Here's a new lesson on this Muddy Waters tune. Whenever you play Muddy Waters on guitar, think 'cat-scratch''s advice from Johnny Winter so it must be true haha! The nice thing is that once you learn this tune, you'll understand a lot of the moves that Muddy would regularly use so try out other tunes.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Sol Hoopii and Hawaiian Slide Guitar

Players like Sol Hoopii, Bennie Nawahi, Sam Ku West were huge influences on American popular music during the 1920's when they all came over to the west coast from Hawaii so I thought it would be nice to take the time to revisit these guys.

Actually, there are some who even think that the main source of slide guitar in pre-war blues actually came from this Hawaiian steel guitar craze! Personally, I think this is doubtful - take for instance, W.C. Handy at the Tutwiler train station seeing an anonymous bluesman using a pocketknife slide as early as 1903. Still though, there is no doubt that Hawaiian music had its effect on the blues...Blind Willie Johnson used a First Hawaiian Conservatory Stella guitar. In fact, you can even tell that musicians like Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby styled their singing upon how Hawaiian steel guitar was phrased.

Here's a sample of this great music...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Derek Trucks Slide Lesson

Here's a quick little lesson on how to execute Derek Trucks' eastern style licks on a single string. Sliding up and down one string can get crazy so the key is to understand how to properly manipulate your left-hand thumb so that you've got much more control and accuracy. I hope I managed to somewhat convey that! If you've got any questions, just let me know!

A John Fahey Tidbit

Hopefully, everyone here is familiar with John Fahey. Early on, he was known for discovering the great country bluesman, Bukka White...he later discovered great players like Leo Kottke, as well. It seems to me he lived a sort of eccentric genius sort of life - always searching for new sounds yet afflicted with a bizarre mental-state.

There are some people who think that Fahey played the same thing on every track of every record he made, and, to be honest, on some albums there might be some merit to that - but, there are truly unique gems that Fahey recorded that you've just got to find! His music cannot be categorized...once I realized that, I finally understood what Duke Ellington meant when he said, "there are two kinds of music. Good and bad!" This is one of those gems that Fahey recorded - Impressions of Susan. Enjoy it!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Clark Terry and Muddy Waters

I'm a huge fan of jazz as well as blues. Clark Terry is one of the last living 'greats' of jazz...legendary sessions like the one with Coleman Hawkins when they recorded Stardust or with Oscar Peterson are tremendous examples of improvisation and musicianship. For giants like Miles Davis and even Quincy Jones, Clark Terry was their mentor.

I often struggle to mingle my love of jazz with my love of country blues. Though they can have their stark differences, it makes it all the more exciting when there are crossovers between the two genres. Some moments that come to mind are Lead Belly with early New Orleans legend Bunk Johnson, (one of the greatest phrasers of the blues) Sidney Bechet with Josh White, T-Bone Walker with Jazz at the Philharmonic, etc. So, when I found this gem, which might be the finest crossover example, I had a nerdy little freakout. Clark Terry with Muddy, that's great stuff.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

RIP Doc Watson

Very sad past few days...first Duck Dunn, then Robin Gibb, and now one of the greatest folk musicians to ever live, Doc Watson. We all know he was a tremendous flatpicker and he certainly set the standard for incomparable musicianship. He lived a long and fulfilling life - the loyalty of Doc's fans will definitely keep his music alive for many, many years to come!

As Bela Fleck put it, "there will be another like him..."

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Lesson on Make Me A Pallet On the Floor

Here's a lesson on Willie Brown's great rendition of one of my favorite songs. On the original recording, his picking is a big ragged at times which makes things a little more forgiving if you'd like to go for it note for note! I think this is a really underrated piece in terms of the fantastic guitar work that was done.

Based on his sound (the way he picks the strings, bends the notes, etc) and his gravelly voice, I really do think that this IS the Willie Brown who recorded Future Blues and M & O Blues...not to mention that I'm pretty sure Son House was at the session to confirm this (fact check?).

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Playing Slide Like A Singer

You'll notice that the great slide players, Charlie Patton, Fred McDowell, Blind Willie Johnson, Derek Trucks, etc, make their bottleneck playing sound like a voice. Hopefully, with this lesson you'll get some ideas for how to practice this!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Using Vibrato With the Slide

I know from experience how vibrato can start out as a painful ordeal with improper technique. The tensing of the shoulder and muscles in the arm can be pretty bothersome and might even discourage using vibrato, at times! So, I thought I'd make a short little video to illuminate how to fix's all about the thumb-planting.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke, and Doc Watson Jamming

This might be what you'd call a must-see video. Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke playing a tune by John Fahey! 'Nuff said there...

Leo Kottke's pretty young in this video - it's cool to see that he's enjoying the experience just as much as we, as the listeners, enjoy it. This sort of coming-together of greats doesn't happen TOO reminds me of the Billie Holiday session where the jazz greats came together to play Fine and Mellow, or when John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins crossed paths to play Tenor Madness. Even better, though, with this video you actually get the organic, backstage eavesdrop experience! It's a good one.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Starting Out With Slide Guitar

I thought I'd start a series of videos outlining a lot of what is important to know if you'd like to to start playing slide in the blues idiom. Maybe, if you've thought a bunch of times about dipping into this style but haven't had the chance, this video might give you a decent start!

If the old Delta Blues musicians is what you prefer, slide guitar is practically a must-learn style. B.B King once said that he developed his vibrato technique because he wanted to play slide but he couldn't! Thus he did his cool vibrato to compensate...but, unlike B.B., we've all got Youtube so there's no excuse!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Son House's Shetland Pony Blues Lesson

A fellow bluesman from New Zealand requested these past two Son House tunes: Pearline and now Shetland Pony Blues. I hadn't actually heard these songs before the past few days - but, I liked them right off the bat!

In particular, Shetland Pony Blues sounds, to me, like a trademark Delta Blues tune, beating the guitar like a drum. The interesting thing is that a lot of the 'moves' in this tune are really unique - in my limited experience, I haven't actually seen a lot of these licks, which I found to be very cool. Anyways, I hope you enjoy learning this tune.

Talking about Josh White...

I thought I'd bring things back to Josh White...his style and capabilities are reminiscent of Lonnie Johnson who was also a great player. Here, FDR's confidant plays an old tune that I like to associate with Bessie Smith: Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.

Be sure to check him out - luckily he was recorded a ton during the 1930's when most players lost all their recording contracts.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Son House's Pearline Lesson

A cool little slide tune by Son House..check it out if you're a fan. It's all about getting a 'frantic' sort of vibrato with ragged right hand patterns to get the Son House sound.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Willie Brown's Grandma Blues has been found???

Apparently, this fellow is in possession of one of Willie Brown's lost recordings, Grandma Blues! If this is all legit, the tape recorded version of his uncle's original Paramount 78 is the only known copy to exist.

This all made some minor commotion about a year ago when record collector John Tefteller tried to contact this Youtuber, but unfortunately the anonymous player hasn't responded. Oh well, there's a lot of people who think that it's all a hoax, but the phrasing does seem close enough to M & O Blues that, I suppose, it could be the real thing. Until he reappears on the internet, it'll remain a cool little mystery...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Muddy Waters Bottleneck Lesson

So this is the final video that shows the continuation between Charlie Patton's Banty Rooster Blues, Robert Johnson's Travelling Riverside Blues, and this Muddy Waters tune. Each came one after the other so it's an interesting way to understand the aural tradition of this music.

The song's a fun one to play. Just remember to keep things bouncy...that means controlling the note lengths (staccatos, etc) well! BUT, as always, start slow and make sure everything's solid before you crank up the metronome.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Daunting Transcriptions?

If you want to become a better musician, the best way to make the major leaps in playing ability is with transcription. Unfortunately, though, it can be the hardest way. It's like if you want to lose weight by working out and running. You KNOW it's gonna work, but the easier way out is too often chosen...doing nothing!

I use Youtube, and instructional books on a daily basis to get better, but I'd say it has been through transcribing that I've learned the other words, using the ears. If you've got a smartphone, transcribing can be easy and fun...sometimes. Here's a link to a smartphone app that allows you to slow-down songs while maintaining pitch to pick out fast or complex passages...this is how I learn all songs.

I don't have any affiliation, I say all of the above since I've found that too many people rely on tabs and other such methods to (for lack of a better term) 'half-ass' learn songs. Give it a try...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Another Robert Johnson Tutorial on Travelling Riverside Blues!

I really love this tune. It's got the coolest slide moves that Robert Johnson ever played, IMO. The similarities which the form of this song has with some of the old Charlie Patton songs like Banty Rooster Blues and It Won't Be Long is very interesting...learn this form once and you'll have several songs in your pocket!

the Robert Johnson Remasters

The 2011 Centennial Collection of Robert Johnson's tunes unbelievable. If you're anything CLOSE to a Robert Johnson fan, this remastering of the old 1990 remasters will blow your mind. All of those old scratchy sounds and pops are gone. Personally, I do like the scratchiness of pre-war blues records, but now the quality of the recordings is as if Johnson just finished the sessions last month at Capitol Records! Give them a try...

Check them out:

Here's an interesting video of Robert Johnson's grandson discussing the rereleases...

Jumping the Blog Bandwagon...

Apart from the Youtube channel, I'm thinking this can be the new blah148 headquarters!
I'll be posting all of my Delta Blues instructional videos on this site and more...stay tuned!