Alright, so I’m usually not really into blues, and I think it might be because I just don’t know much about it. I have heard some absolutely awesome blues music here and there, but I never picked up the titles of the songs, or the names of the artists. The only exception is Death Don’t Have No Mercy, by Reverend Gary Davis, which is absolutely amazing, and the only reason I know the title of that one is that I heard it in It Might Get Loud, so I was able to check the title later on.
Anyway, I’d like to listen to some more blues, but it’s a hard genre to break into, when none of your friends listen to it, and it’s never played on the radio. So can anybody recommend some good blues music, preferably along the lines of the above mentioned song?
Wow. There are so many different styles of blues, and not a whole lot of artists with the depth and breadth of the Reverend. Are you looking for more acoustic stuff? Are you only looking for holy blues, or something more ragtime influenced. There’s a lot of people I could recommend.
If all you know of the Rev. is Death Don’t Have No Mercy, you might just want to stick with him for a while and enjoy all the styles in which he could play - like this:
Thanks for the tip. The program you mention is quite late in the evening here (11pm-4am), but I may be able to catch the beginning of one. The list is very nice, though, so I’ll try going through that on youtube. Thanks.
Thanks for that clip. I have indeed been looking through more Rev. Gary Davis stuff, and I do like most of it. Regarding what style of blues I’m looking for, I can only say that I don’t know, since I don’t really know any of the styles. :)
For now I’m mainly interested in acoustic stuff, I guess. No bells and whistles, just a guy with a guitar would be enough. :)
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I’ll try looking into some of those names. I don’t suppose you could recommend a specific song or two, from among those artists?
Thanks. I managed to find a few of the tracks on youtube, and while it’s not quite what I’m looking for, some of it is quite good, so I might pick up the album anyway. :)
Excellent choice. For Blues neophytes, I think its good to start off with compilations. That will expose you to a wide range of styles, and from there you can zero in on particular artists you like. A personal (obscure) favorite of mine is Showdown. It features the late Albert Collins, the late Johnny Copeland and a very young Robert Cray.
I can also recommend either the 20-year or 40-year Anniversary collection from Alligator Records. Either of those will provide an excellent selection of blues greats.
That whole ragtime-flavored style of the Reverend’s is called Piedmont, and it originated in Georgia, the Carolinas, and to a lesser extent Florida. If you want more, there’s Blind Boy Fuller (who studied a bit with Rev. Davis), Blind Willie McTell, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, and Mrs. Etta Baker.
More contemporary there’s Larry Johnson, Roy Bookbinder, Jorma Kaukonen, and a host of others who studied at his feet (Rev. Davis used to charge $5 for guitar lessons, and a friend of mine in college was one of his students). I had the opportunity to meet the Reverend on a couple of occasions, but unfortunately he passed before he could fit me into his schedule.
If you want to go way back to the source, you can’t do better than Blind Blake, one of the few guitarists Rev. Davis admired (for his “sportin’ right hand”).
Okay, since you actually seem to be familiar with this album, let me put this to you:
The third track, where it starts with a slow bass progression for a couple of measures then Jimmy descends in with a bent note . . .
I swear to you I can’t listen to that without imagining a coven of bass wizards that have been playing that bassline for two or three days, hoping to conjure Jimmy Hendrix. He comes in on that descending bent note doing the stereotypical three-point superhero landing and proceeds to rock faces.
Go listen to it and picture a guy, barely able to raise his head, just putting out that bassline for two or three days straight. Maybe it’s just me, but I absolutely love listening to that piece of music for visuals.
If, like a lot of people, you’re more – heck, even passingly – familiar with blues-based material from the '60s and '70s, you might find some of the “Blues Roots of…” compilations fun. The Early Blues Roots of Led Zeppelin, which I like a lot, looks to be a fairly representative example.
I don’t think Catfish is still a going concern, but a couple of other UK labels (Snapper, Proper) have different collections on offer. (I can’t vouch for the sound quality / remastering, though.)
There’s actually a surprising number of vintage blues recordings from the '20s, '30s and '40s floating around on YouTube. Because I can rarely resist an opportunity: Lucille Bogan’s straight up filthy and emphatically NSFW “Shave 'Em Dry.”