View Full Version : Blues Fans! Please recommend some music to me
09-20-2002, 08:12 PM
So I was just listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan's The Sky is Crying album, and there is this short little song called "Life by the Drop" on there. Basically it is just SRV and accoustic guitar doing this little bluesy song. I guess this is accoustic blues, yeah? Where can I get more music in this vein? Thanks dopers.
09-20-2002, 08:29 PM
Oh, jesus, here's another Chicagoan who's never heard acoustic blues. The blues DID exist before WWII, my friend.
Off the top of my head, try any John Cephas and Phil Wiggins album. They do North Carolina Piedmont blues on nonelectric guitar and harp and vocal only. Also, they're contemporary, so there won't be any scary fuzzy stuff on the recordings.
If you want to dig back into the dim past, give Charley Patton a go. That's stone Delta blues. And Blind Willie McTell for the early Memphis style.
09-20-2002, 09:41 PM
Robert Johnson is essential.
09-20-2002, 10:05 PM
Rhum, ignore Ukulele Ike's condescending attitude (where do they find these moderators anyway?), but pay attention to his suggestions. They ain't half bad.
09-21-2002, 09:02 AM
Ah, it's engendered by envy. You know how hard it is to find good Chicago blues in NYC?
09-21-2002, 09:12 AM
Oh, an interesting side note on RC's recommendation.
The Columbia Roots & Blues label did a huge two-disc "Complete Robert Johnson" around ten years ago, which sold enormously, due to heavy review attention from swooning critics eager to display their roots-music savvy.
It turned out to be the aural equivalent of a coffee-table book...millions of folks not clued into the blues bought it, listened once, thought "What the hell is this?" and buried it in the back of the CD collection.
It IS essential, it's a great recording, and you can pick up a like-new copy for five bucks or less at most garage/yard/stoop sales!
09-21-2002, 09:39 AM
Thanks for the tips! Didn't they release a huge Charley Patton box set last year? ($300 IIRC) Ukulele I am going to look for a John Cephas and Phil Wiggins album this afternoon, I will report back! I have some of the John Hurt albums, which I enjoy, esp. the live one that has very good sound. Is the Complete Robert Johnson album decent sound quality, or is it a "historical recording?" Not that I mind too terribly much either way. Thanks again.
09-21-2002, 09:40 AM
The other thing about the Complete Robert Johnson - by complete they mean if he did two takes, they're both there - is that even at the time it was dirt cheap. Buy this record, but, if you're new to the genre, don't try to listen to it all in one go.
I'd suggest some Lightenin' Hopkins. And if you already like SRV, he did an Unplugged session that's pretty good. It includes a sensational version of Pride and Joy.
09-21-2002, 09:42 AM
Sound quality? It was recorded on shellac, so all things considered it sounds great.
09-21-2002, 09:44 AM
The first Hot Tuna album, titled appropriately enough, "Hot Tuna," is all accoustic blues performed by Jorma Kaukonen - one of the best blues guitarists around. It's well worth checking out!
09-21-2002, 10:25 AM
Some personal favourites are John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal, although I'm more enamoured of TM's world music endeavours than his straight-ahead blues.
09-21-2002, 10:46 AM
Doyl Brahmall & Jr.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Oh yeah, and that B.B. King guy isn't either.
09-21-2002, 11:10 AM
Labdad I have added Hot Tuna to the list. Hawthorne I know it is an old recording, but some transfers are better than others, I guess that is what I was asking, sounds like it is a good one. I will def. look for that SRV Unplugged album. Thanks for that.
Hodge I also like TM do you have a particular favorite blues album of his?
09-21-2002, 11:34 AM
A fun album is Showdown by Cray, Collins, and Copeland. 3 great guitarists doing some blues standards. It's electric, tho.
09-21-2002, 01:03 PM
Originally posted by Rhum Runner
Hodge I also like TM do you have a particular favorite blues album of his? From his early years, I like Giant Step, which is a mix of acoustic and electric blues. The sound quality isn't always the best but the music more than makes up for it.
More recently, Kulanjan is a fascinating mixture of blues and west african music. The plinking sound of the kora (kind of an african lute) wonderfully complements TM's bluesy vocals.
09-21-2002, 08:02 PM
Oh, yikes, I got aplenty! To narrow it down a bit:
The Arhoolie label (http://www.arhoolie.com) is a wealth of acoustic blues recordings. I'd recommend Mississippi Blues Jam, in Memphis( Vol 1&2). This collection has Sleepy John Estes, Bukka White, Fred McDowell. Furry Lewis, among others. Also on Arhoolie: Fred McDowell, Mississippi Delta Blues , 'bout my fave blues musician, next to Lightnin' Hopkins. I love Arhoolie's The Hopkins Brothers, a recording of Lightning with his brothers Joel and Henry. That was my fave blues record for a couple of years. A Lighning Hopkins collection that is purty swell is the Rhino Records anthology: Lightnin' Hopkins:Mojo Hand.
For the roots of a lot of Ry Cooder's riffs ( the soundtrack of the movie Paris ,Texas), and a whole lot of truck commercials, Blind Willie Johnson is the Man. He 's lonely and right blood-curdling. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson can be found on Columbia/Legacy.
Another great label is Yazoo Records (http://www.yazoorecords.com). Lotsa acoustic blues there. One particular fave is The Roots of Rap/Classic recordings from the 20's and 30's. What it says, showing that dealin' with the Man everyday has always got folks pretty damn sick and tired.
A more contemporary acoustic blues musician is Corey Harris- I'd put him as the Taj Mahal of the 90's-00's. Between Midnight and Day is a good start. He has an amazing, powerful voice, and a great knowledge of blues tradition.
If ya like Taj Mahal, well, ya can go fishin' with him (http://www.musicmaker.org/tajtourney.html) this February. MusicMaker has a lot of releases by lesser known blues artists, and is devoted to getting them money due; they also pay for medical needs and emergency expenses. Taj Mahal has supported their efforts for many years.
Finally, check out Living Blues (http://www.livingblues.com) magazine. It has been around for decades (and occupied 11 years of my life). A great source of blues info!
09-21-2002, 09:05 PM
I would also recommend Robert Johnson. There's something about RJ that is just spooky. I mean, aside from the legends about selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads. But the man and his music sound simply...haunted. And his guitar style has never been accurately copied, IMO.
If you want some more accessible acoustic blues, I would recommend Eric Clapton's "From the Cradle". He covers many of the classics of early acoustic blues, and he IS Eric Clapton.
09-21-2002, 11:52 PM
Keb' Mo' does some great acoustic songs, and if you get the chance to see him live, don't pass it up.
F. U. Shakespeare
09-22-2002, 08:42 AM
All good suggestions, to which I would add:
- Tommy Johnson, a Mississippi Delta performer roughly contemporaneous with Charley Patton;
- Son House, ditto;
- Skip James, one of the most talented and unique-sounding of all bluesmen. From southern Mississippi, not technically Delta).
- Blind Lemon Jefferson, a Texas bluesman of enormous originality and influence;
I will carry coals to Newcastle, and recommend the Robert Johnson recordings;
And yes, Charley Patton is essential, in my opinion, the greatest of all. But surviving copies of his records are in really bad shape -- you need to develop some 'scratch tolerance'.
When listening to really old, scratchy recordings, it may help to not listen to them back to back with modern recordings -- better to let your ears adjust to the higher noise and lower dynamic range.
Spend a little time listening to nothing but old blues, and you will be hooked (at least I was.)
09-22-2002, 08:58 AM
Update - Went to the store yesterday and picked up Cephas & Wiggins "Homemade" which I have been enjoying. The blues section was a little small, so my choices were limited. Thanks to all who have offered sugggestions. I am def. goign to pick up the Robert Johnson albums when I can find them. Perhaps a trip to Amazon is in order!
09-22-2002, 10:22 AM
A good starting point to explore the many shades of blues is Rhino Records outstanding Blues Masters collections. They break the blues down into various categories and each volume has a number of different artists to explore.
The link below will take you to the albums where you can sample the cuts, but I haven't been disappointed with any of them yet.
Blues Masters, Vol. 1: Urban Blues
Blues Masters, Vol. 2: Post-War Chicago
Blues Masters, Vol. 3: Texas Blues
Blues Masters, Vol. 4: Harmonica Classics
Blues Masters, Vol. 5: Jump Blues Classics
Blues Masters, Vol. 6: Blues Originals
Blues Masters, Vol. 7: Blues Revival
Blues Masters, Vol. 8: Mississippi Delta Blues
Blues Masters, Vol. 9: Postmodern Blues
Blues Masters, Vol. 10: Blues Roots
Blues Masters, Vol. 11: Classic Blues Women
Blues Masters, Vol. 14: More Jump Blues
Blues Masters, Vol. 15: Slide Guitar Classics
Blues Masters, Vol.16: More Harmonica Classics
Blues Masters, Vol.17: More Postmodern Blues
Blues Masters,Vol.18: More Slide Guitar Classics
Blues Masters Sampler
A word of warning though. Everytime I go on the Rhino site I get sucked into exploring it for hours. Particularly the video.
09-22-2002, 02:09 PM
Rhum Runner: Keith Harden used to play excellent acoustic-blues several nights a week in Urbana. But I just found his website and it looks like Ukulele Ike has summoned him to Geneva, NY. You might take a look at some of the smaller places with live music, maybe someone else has filled his shoes.
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