Tag Archives: Delta Blues

Hallucinogenic Toreador

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Several weeks ago I watched ‘Sound City’, Dave Grohl’s documentary about the LA recording studio that has serviced dozens of classic albums. Towards the end, Dave & Krist from Nirvana play with Paul McCartney. Macca uses a CBG which looks odd but sounds great.

I week or so later I was chatting with Chris Olley and he said that after that movie the price of a decent CBG went up from around £60 to a few hundred quid.

I had a look on EBay and found a few decent looking user made instruments. One particularly instrument caught my eye. Instead of a traditional box it had a round body, being made from an Acacia fruit bowl. It’s was finished with Jack Daniels labels and looked TDF. Unfortunately I bottled on the final bids as it closed a little under £100.

Undeterred I emailed the seller. As it transpires a retired musician living on the edge of the Peak District making instruments for enjoyment. We agreed on a new build and I had an option on finish. It was a fairly spontaneous choice evolving from the conversation but I’m pleased with the use of Salvador Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador as the theme.

I collected the guitar earlier in the week. Plugged in and with a little reverb, with its hard wood bowl base and resonator filters (plumbing accessories?) it has a rice deep tone. It’s has a high action but is perfectly suited it slide playing.
Metallic and ringing, full of innate noise.
As the maker pointed out, the original CBG users had crates, planks and fence wire to work with. It’s not the sound that counts, but what you do with it.

That’s my next quandary.

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Son House

A brief post, mainly as a follow up to the Martin Simpson article.

Last year I had a bit of blues revival. Most of it came about through Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, but I also had a good dig around in older forms of the music. This included the King trio (Albert, BB & Freddie) and some of the really old guys like Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton & Son House.

Son House has one of those classic bluesmen stories. Young into the Mississippi Delta scene (late 30’s) little recorded and then disappeared until the Newport folk revival in the 60’s that bought Bob Dylan and commercial folk music to the world.

Along with Patton & Johnson, Son House was one the artists recorded by John & Alan Lomax, ethnomusicologist who toured the States recording all sorts of regional music that might otherwise have faded into hearsay.

Many of the songs these men wrote and performed have twisted and evolved into modern folk, rock, pop & rap. Listen to enough of these songs and you can spot them every where.

Many of the recordings made by the Lomax’ (father & son) are available on the US Library of Congress website which is a thoroughly engrossing place to visit.

The following recording is apparently all of the songs made by Son House between 1941 & 1942. To the best of my knowledge these are of an age to be freely available. They are posted here for interest and are not to profit.

Son House – The Complete Library of Congress Sessions, 1941-1942

Eddie James “Son” House Jr. (vocals, guitar); Willie Brown (guitar); Fiddlin’ Joe Martin (mandolin); Leroy Williams (harmonica)

1. Levee Camp Blues
2. Government Fleet Blues
3. Walking Blues
4. Shetland Pony Blues
5. Fo’ Clock Blues
6. Camp Hollers
7. Delta Blues
8. Special Rider Blues
9. Special Rider Blues
10. Low Down Dirty Dog Blues
11. Depot Blues
12. Key of Minor
13. American Defense
14. Am I Right or Wrong
15. Walking Blues
16. Country Farm Blues
17. Pony Blues
18. Jinx Blues, Pt. 1
19. Jinx Blues, Pt. 2

This is Son House playing live. The film is undated but I suspect its early sixties.

Oh yeah… the picture at the top is my lovely Tanglewood Bluesound guitar. A prize possession even if I can barely play a note!

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