Country Blues Guitar
I’ve played the guitar for a fair few years now and, from time to time, people ask what kind of music I like to play. When I give the short answer “the blues”, people tend to imagine something electric and based around a typical 12-bar shuffle. In fact, the music I love is the country (acoustic) blues, which in itself contains a whole wealth of styles. A few examples of some of these are below for anyone with an interest in exploring this wonderful music.
Mississippi John Hurt – Louis Collins
It was the music of Mississippi John Hurt that opened the door to country blues for me. Based around simple first position chord shapes with a regular alternating bass, Hurt’s music was simple enough for a novice not to be intimidated by, yet contained enough charm and warmth that he remains one of my favourites. Louis Collins is a great example of his work and a tune I love to play.
Blind Blake – West Coast Blues
Blind Arthur Blake was the king of ragtime blues guitar in the 1920s. West Coast Blues, the B-side to Blake’s debut recording (Early Morning Blues – 1926), is a real tour de force and showcases all of Blake’s trademark tricks and techniques, from stumbling bass lines and driving rhythms to catchy melodies and tickled blue notes – enough to keep any budding bluesman busy.
Reverend Gary Davis – Slow Drag (Cincinnati Flow Rag)
Reverend Davis was a virtuoso blues and gospel musician who created complex and unique variations based around the classic blues chord progressions. Famously using just the thumb and index finger of his right hand to pick, Davis and his masterful arrangements had a profound effect on subsequent generations of guitarists. Slow Drag (Cincinnati Flow Rag) demonstrates the Reverend’s phenomenal ability to improvise ever more complex variations around a core musical idea.