Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Janis Joplin and the Delta Blues

No doubt, Janis was one of the greatest singers the past century produced. She was so rooted in the blues and paid beautiful respects to it in many ways - for instance, I believe it was her who financed Bessie Smith's tombstone. In the Typewriter Tapes, named as such b/c Janis was playing the typewriter as a percussion instrument!, she pairs up with her guitar player to record a few tunes that, aesthetically, present how she would have sounded as a contemporary of Patton or House! Awesome stuff.

Here she sings Hesitation Blues...

Thursday, 27 June 2013

1920's Kay Kraft FS

Hi all,

So, beginning in the next couple weeks, I've think I've finally reached a certain verdict...that is, I'll be selling my Kay Kraft. I figured I'd give you guys (if any of you are slightly interested) the heads up before I post it on eBay, locally, etc.

Basically, it's a wonderful instrument with little wear on the frets, and only the expected crazing on the body. The white binding on the neck is, for the most part, in great shape apart from about the first 2 inches starting from the nut wherein a previous owner has replaced the binding with a different material. Unlike mint condition Krafts, the headstock's mother-of-toilet-seat cover is 'long-gone' (in the words of the fellow I bought it from)...it was never an issue for me b/c I got it for the sound more than the collectibility, tho this would be important to note if you side more on the latter...The neck, all the way up to about the 15-17th frets, is impressively straight - perfect playability; however, beyond that, the fingerboard has begun to 'dip' down a tad towards the body...again, a non-issue from a playability perspective. The guitar's top is not totally perfect, but compared to other Krafts that I've seen, it's quite good. Very, very minor warping around the soundhole has taken place, tho I doubt, with diligent humidity control, it will move anymore.


I'm 99.9% sure that the guitar is all original. The body is, I BELIEVE, solid mahogany on top and laminate mahogany on the back and sides. The guitar stays in tune absolutely fine, the frets and fingerboard are in great condition.

My real/no-shit opinion on the guitar:
It's THE shit for fingerstyle country blues...that is no lie. For picking tunes like Last Steam Engine Train, Stackolee, Poor Boy, etc, this guitar slays my 1932 Gibson L-00, the Stella I had, and Gibson J45's that I play in stores. Is it as fine in quality and versatility as a brand-spankin' new J45? Perhaps not. But, in the territory of fingerstyle blues, it's absolutely unique and I daresay unbeatable - you have my word that I'm not speaking out of my ass.

Price-tag: $650 + shipping in one of those old, paper-like 'hard' cases. I'll be diligent in packing it very safely.

Perhaps you guys have seen/heard me play the gweet.. - if not, here's a little sample of how it sounds...

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Friday, 21 June 2013

My Hometown's Flooded...

Hey folks,

So, strangely, the city wherein I dwell is beginning to look a lot like Atlantis - never a good thing...evacuations are being made throughout the city as Calgary faces the worst flooding in its history. Our hockey stadium which seats almost 17 000 people has been filled up with water to the 10th row, the tigers of the submerged city zoo are being held in the courthouse, homes are literally flowing down the city's Bow/Elbow rivers, and 70% of my friends' houses are likely to be totaled by the time it's all said and done. Luckily, my house is a little higher up in elevation so I'm kind of in the clear (although, drinking water, etc is said to be in short supply.)

Anyhow, I hope you fellas are faring slightly better than us folks over here! Just to keep festive with all the disastrous shit going down, here's John:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Tommy Johnson Lesson: Cool Drink of Water Blues

Here's a little lesson on Tommy Johnson - someone who, prior to this, I have not done a lesson on. Check it out, see what you think. It's a nice little tune to learn!

The Wolf

Man, Howlin' Wolf was a true Delta bluesman...as I'm sure you all know, he served his apprenticeship with the greatest Delta bluesman of all time: Charlie Patton. I feel like this recording demonstrates that...

  1. Howlin' Wolf was a BADD mutherfcker
  2. If Patton, RJ, Son House, BWJ, etc were recorded half-decently (like this), I would...I would...I don't even know...


Tuesday, 21 May 2013


A good friend of mine here in Calgary, AB named James Bundy (20 years young and a great jazz drummer, too), lost his dad to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, back in 2008. The following is an online fundraiser his family has organized to help find a cure for this devastating disease. As with any of these pursuits, every dollar makes a difference; truly, if there is anything to spend some spare coin on, it is something of this sort. I'm sure many of you know that this also happens to be the same disease that ensnared a man named Huddie Ledbetter in 1949.

Its reach is far though a spare dollar from the odd, anonymous internet passer-by such as myself or yourself could constitute a viable difference.



Timbre Timbre: Demon Host

To anyone who chances to come across this particular post, I strongly urge you to give this tune a listen. It is a stunning. Upon listening to it for the first time, it truly struck me in a way that I have not been struck in a while. Perhaps, give or take your own musical sensibilities, you too will be struck - in which case, I would be glad to have guided you in this direction.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hear My Train A-Comin': Complete Jimi Lessons

Yoo people. So, if you haven't yet seen them, I recently posted the complete explanations of what Jimi plays - not only during the intro - but also while he sings on that timeless recording. I know that many people have been asking for this material so please enjoy it and, if you're buddies are hip to it, show it to them too!

...this is Part Two, btw. For some strange reason, I can't link the first installment on this post; tho, you'll be able to find it pretty easily on my channel or just with a search!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Space Oddity

Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut working aboard the ISS, discusses the phenomenon of playing guitar in outer space...it's worth the watch!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

A Couple New Tutorials I've "Dropped"

So, summer has hit and I actually have...free time. It's such an alien thing to me that sometimes I just don't know what to do with it!

Anyways, I'll be making a lot more videos from now and here are a couple new ones:

John Fahey: How Green Was My Valley

Bukka White: Parchman Farm Blues (very similar to Aberdeen Mississippi Blues)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Bukka White

The rawness of Bukka's playing just hits me deep every single time. His visceral playing is stunning. This particular version of Aberdeen Mississippi Blues is pure delta blues.

...stay tuned for a Bukka lesson comin' out soon...

The Mystery Of Willie Brown

           Of the utterly fascinating and almost legendary folklore of Mississippi Delta blues, few unsolved mysteries of this music's history are as intriguing as that of Mr. Willie Brown. Whether it's the bizarre disappearance of the c. 1930 Willie Brown's recordings that were apparently destroyed in a fire or otherwise lost (of which only two recordings survive) or merely who was Willie Brown, it's one of those magical (lost) puzzle pieces that truly makes this music more than just notes on a guitar.

           After years of research and conversation between blues historians, it is still generally opined that there were either two or three Willie Browns. One that recorded Mississippi Blues with Alan Lomax (who was certainly separate from the Willie Brown who hung around with Patton and House), one that recorded M & O and Future Blues, and POSSIBLY one more who recorded Make Me A Pallet On the Floor in the 40's. In my opinion, the Willie Brown who recorded Pallet and Future blues were the same. I admit, I haven't done the research; however, I've come to this conclusion based on the study of the guitar phrasing. In my tutorial on Make Me A Pallet On the Floor, I do say that the phrasing on M & O and Pallet have certain commonalities in note-choices, positioning, and tone that have led me to this perspective.

             Just because I find this topic so exciting, here's a little more food for thought that I dug up. Here, the all-knowing Gayle Dean Wardlow (originally posted on WeenieCampbell) expresses his highly respectable opinion that, indeed, the Willie Brown of Pallet on the Floor and Future Blues were the same:

       "MY opinion is the the Willie Brown who recorded in 1941 for Lomax at Lake Comorant is the SAME one who recorded with House in 1930 for PM. They played together for about 12 years and Willie Moore said he was also suppose to be there that same day as House/Brown and Joe Martin to record but had to work for his bossman. He said they recorded at the Dago man's store (Clack's Store ). The one who recorded for Lomax in Arkansas at Sadie Beck's Plantation is a totally different style of playing/singing from Little Willie Brown. Thus there were three Browns playing guitar in the Delta in the Dockery's region and probably even more..It is a very common name.
             So I invite Brown followers to listen to the Wardlow interview at MTSU on line and make their own judgments. You can also go to "Chasin' That Devil Music" which reprinted the 1987 BU article of the Two Willie Browns.

         The Willie Brown in 1941 does sound different in playing style than 1930 but so? He simply could have kept up with different styles of playing or had the ability to play in that style in 1930 but we only have 2 sides from PM to go by. Also House said Brown only played one song in Spanish tuning "Future Blues" and the rest in natural or regular guitar tuning which "M @ O Blues" is played in. Brown also was known as a musician who preferred to play behind a singer--thus chord a lot and not sing which puts his style of playing into a different approach. "Make Me A Pallet down On The Floor" is a very old tune, almost pre-blues that Brown could have played in 1930 but it was not a commercial song to record for PM.

          Finally, Willie Brown is such a common name.. who knows how many Willie Browns played guitar in the upper delta in the 1900s-40s. No way to judge but a census check reveals many Willie or Will Browns in the Delta as Randy has noted. They are everywhere. I hope this sheds some light on the Browns and forum followers will access the MTSU (Middle tennessee state University Center for Popular Culture) interviews to gain more background. gdw"

Endlessly interesting stuff...

Monday, 8 April 2013

R.L. Burnside's Smokin' Right Hand

Here's the great R.L. Burnside being filmed by the Alan Lomax. Just too awesome. Crazy, signature right hand moves and dig that beautiful, Southern countryside.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Warren Haynes' Birthday

One of the great slide guitarists of today is celebrating his 53rd B-Day. Here's a great backstage jam from a few years back of him and D. Trucks tearin' it up!

Crow Jane Lesson.. as played by the great Skip James

Yo y'all,

So there isn't too much information on Youtube about Skip's jewel-of-a-video rendition of Crow Jane that I'm sure we've all seen...in fact, I'm pretty sure that it was the first blues revival video that I'd ever seen 4 or 5 years ago.

It's a fantastic and intricate tune that I cannot come close to properly playing, but at least I can try to help you people get started with it to make up for my shortcomings.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hellhound On My Trail Lesson

Hi all,

So, school's winding down to a close and I'm finally getting the chances to make some more videos. Here's one that I've been meaning to make for a while. Definitely, it's one of RJ's finest recordings which almost deems it a must-know for any Delta blues enthusiast. Check it out, if you've got some spare time.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Jack White's Diddly Bow

Anybody ever played around with one of these? Looks/Sounds like a lot of fun...I might make one this summer.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Another Memphis Minnie Lesson...New Bumble Bee Blues

Here's a tutorial on a different rendition of Bumble Bee Blues...I made one a while back (about a month ago) that is slightly unlearnable just because of the awkwardness of the positions and therefore LH/RH demands...that first version is more of an exercise to test your ability to play fingerstyle.

This new rendition, actually entitled New Bumble Bee Blues, is much more accessible and interesting from a lick-learning point of view. Maybe, check it out if you're looking for some simple but catchy single note blues lines to learn.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Memphis Minnie Lesson

For those of you who haven't seen this lesson yet, it's on a Memphis Minnie tune entitled Bumble Bee Blues. She recorded several different versions...the version I used isn't the best version, unfortunately.

In any case, maybe take a peek at it and see if it might interest you. What I will say is that, if you can tackle the guitar part on this tune (treating it as somewhat of an exercise), almost everything else that you attempt afterwards will come easy! The reason being that, most likely, there are two guitarists playing on the recording - or, she's playing in a really bizarre tuning...anyways, good luck!

One Mans' Trash...

This is quite an incredible video that is revealing on many fronts.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Some BWM...

It's probably been a long day...even if chance might have it that you're reading this when you wake up.

In any case, chill out and dig some Blind Willie McTell...I love this recording...

Hangin' Out With John Hammond Jr...

...aka, Grail Keeper of Delta blues.

Fred McDowell Slide Gweetar Lesson

Apart from Blind Willie Johnson and Son House, Fred McDowell, I'd say, is the man when it comes to raw, gritty bottleneck slide tones that ooze straight from the soul. Here's a tutorial on a tune that sounds like what you'd hear if you walked into a time machine and visited the Mississippi around 1925...

Goin' Down to the River:

Big Bill Broonzy Lessons!

Hey folks,

Here are a couple Big Bill lessons that I posted on Youtube a short while ago. Hopefully, you guys will compensate for my ineptness and do the tunes a better justice than I can!

How You Want It Done:

C and A Blues: