Archive for the ‘Jas Obrecht’ Category

Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/blind-willie-johnson-life-music/

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“A singing street-corner evangelist, Blind Willie Johnson created some of the most intensely moving records of the 20th century. Void of frivolity or uncertainty, his 78s from the 1920s and ’30s are clearly the work of a pained believer seeking redemption. A slide guitarist nonpareil, Johnson had an exquisite sense of timing and tone, using a pocketknife or ring slider to duplicate his vocal inflections or to produce an unforgettable phrase from a single strike of a string. Eric Clapton cites his “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine” as “probably the finest slide guitar playing you’ll ever hear,” and Ry Cooder calls “Dark Was the Night – Cold Was the Ground” the “most transcendent piece in all American music.”

“Blind Willie Johnson had great dexterity,” Ry Cooder described, “because he could play all of these sparking little melody lines. He had fabulous syncopation; he could keep his thumb going really strong. He’s so good – I mean, he’s just so good! Beyond being a guitar player, I think the guy is one of these interplanetary world musicians, the kind of person they talk about in that Nada Brahma book, where the world is sound and everything is resonating. He’s one of those guys. There’s only a few. Blind Willie Johnson is in the ether somewhere. He’s up there in the zone.”

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Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/atlanta-bluesmen-barbecue-bob-laughing-charley-lincoln/

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“While Peg Leg Howell and His Gang tended to sound countrified, Barbecue Bob, his brother Laughing Charley, and Curley Weaver pushed Atlanta blues in new directions. The three had grown up together in the cottonfield country around Walnut Grove, Georgia. Charlie Hicks, often identified as “Laughing Charley” on records, was born in 1900. His brother Robert was 18 months his junior. They were sons of sharecroppers, as was their neighbor Curley James Weaver, four years younger than Robert. Curley’s mother, Savannah “Dip” Weaver, played guitar and piano in church. Old neighbors told researcher Pete Lowry that Dip taught the boys some guitar, showing them the frailing techniques and open-G tuning used by the area’s banjo players. They may have been introduced to slide guitar from unrecorded local guitarists Robert Lee “Sun” Foster and George White, who were known to have tutored Weaver.

By 1918, the Hicks brothers were performing on 6-strings at fish fries and country balls, playing songs like “John Henry” and “Poor Boy.” In the early 1960s, their sister, Willie Mae Jackson, told George Mitchell that Robert was the better guitarist, while Charlie had a stronger voice. Around 1923 Charlie moved to Atlanta, got married, found work, and acquired a 12-string guitar with money he’d earned picking cotton. Robert followed him there about a year later. He worked various jobs – as a yardman, at the Biltmore Hotel, as a car hop – before becoming a barbecue chef.”

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Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/atlanta-bluesmen-peg-leg-howell-gang/

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“Columbia Records came to Atlanta in November 1926 and recorded a variety of spiritual acts and blues guitarist Peg Leg Howell. Born in 1888 in Eatonton, Georgia, Joshua Barnes Howell was a generation older than most of the prewar Atlanta bluesmen. Like Lead Belly and old Henry Thomas in Texas, his repertoire extended to country reels, field hollers, ballads, and other pre-blues styles. He attended school through ninth grade and learned how to play guitar in 1909. In an interview with George Mitchell, the researcher who rediscovered him in 1963, Howell explained, “I learnt myself – didn’t take long to learn. I just stayed up one night and learnt myself. . . . I learned many of my songs around the country. I picked them up from anybody – no special person. Mostly they just sang, did not play anything.” Over time, Howell learned to play guitar in standard tuning, as well as in Spanish, open C, and Vastopol, which he used for slide. (For more on the Spanish and Vastopol tunings, see Blues Origins: Spanish Fandango and Sebastopol, http://jasobrecht.com/?s=vastopol.)  ”

 

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Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/atlanta-bluesmen-setting-stage-1910-1924/

“During the Roaring Twenties, Atlanta, Georgia, was home to a thriving community of bluesmen whose styles were as just distinctive as those of their counterparts in Texas and Mississippi, Memphis and Chicago. Peg Leg Howell and His Gang specialized in countrified juke music set to guitar and violin. Barbecue Bob, who became Columbia Records’ best-selling bluesman, framed his songs with zesty bass runs and rhythmic slide played on a 12-string guitar. His older brother Laughing Charley Lincoln was a less flashy 12-stringer whose dark personality belied the “laughing” shtick on his 78s. Their childhood friend Curley Weaver expertly played 6-string slide guitar as well as the old-time frailing and more recent fingerpicked, ragtime-based “Piedmont” styles. Their associate Buddy Moss, a talented harmonica player and guitarist who came to commercial prominence in the early-to-mid 1930s, drew from their sound, as well as what he’d learned from records by Blind Blake and others. Blind Willie McTell, truly in a class of his own, blended religious material, ragtime, and country blues, emerging as one of the greatest bluesmen of any era.”

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Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/blind-lemon-jefferson-star-blues-guitar/

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“Blind Lemon Jefferson, who began recording for Paramount Records in late 1925, became the most famous bluesman of the Roaring Twenties. His 78s shattered racial barriers, becoming popular from coast to coast and influencing a generation of musicians. His best songs forged original, imagistic themes with inventive arrangements and brilliantly improvised solos. Portraits of Afro-American life during the early 1900s, his lyrics create a unique body of poetry – humorous and harrowing, jivey and risqué, a stunning view of society from the perspective of someone at the bottom. To this day, he ranks among the most gifted and individualistic artists in blues history.”

 

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Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/dust-broom-story-song/

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By Jas Obrecht   May 8 2011 :

“The passionate, hard-driving blues song “Dust My Broom” has been filling dance floors and exhilarating listeners for more than 60 years. The song’s been covered by countless performers – a quick search on youtube turns up versions by Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, The Yardbirds, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Ike and Tina Turner, Taj Mahal, Freddie King, Luther Allison, Junior Brown and Warren Haynes, R.L. Burnside, Duwayne Burnside, James Son Thomas, ZZ Top, Gary Moore, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, G. Love, Todd Rundgren, and the list goes on. Along the way, the song’s been adapted to piano, accordion, acoustic guitar, and, most of all, electric guitar.”

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Author : Jas Obrecht

Source : http://jasobrecht.com/papa-charlie-jackson-popular-male-blues-singer/

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“Papa Charlie Jackson was the first commercially successful male blues singer. A relaxed, confident crooner and seasoned 6-string stylist, he launched his recording career in 1924 and became one of Paramount’s more popular artists, releasing 33 discs by 1930. His classic versions of “Salty Dog,” “Shake That Thing,” “Alabama Bound,” and “Spoonful” set the template for many covers that followed. Playing fingerstyle or with a flatpick, Papa Charlie conjured a strong, staccato attack on his big guitar-banjo. His unstoppable rhythms were perfectly suited for dancing, and along with his label mate Blind Lemon Jefferson, he was one of the first bluesmen to flatpick solos on record.”

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