Here's Why I Don't Like Blues (And Need Help)

SgtStryker0331

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I grew up on blues influenced rock guitar players, and I know the history of it all reasonably well, so I'm trying to encourage my own appreciation.

However, when I try and consult the original blues guitarists, I find their recordings are nearly nonexistent guitars. Instead I get a harmonica screaming at me, or similar. Maybe somewhere in the background there's a guitar, but it's uninspiring.

I'm sure I'm not the first to have this problem. I know it's out there. Reading books like Keith Richards's autobio inspires me to go check out his influences. But when I do, I encounter the above.

Suggestions? Where can I turn to absorb some real blues guitar?
 

180gROC

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Do you play in a group, or mostly alone?

I find being able to lay back and support the song very inspiring. Letting the harmonica player get some is admirable as well. Everyone gets a turn.

If you play blues alone, you should. :naughty:
 

SgtStryker0331

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Do you play in a group, or mostly alone?

I find being able to lay back and support the song very inspiring. Letting the harmonica player get some is admirable as well. Everyone gets a turn.

If you play blues alone, you should. :naughty:

Haha...I'm not a glory hound. Support/rhythm is all good. I'm a bedroom rocker anyway, so I'm stealing no one's spotlight.

I have nothing against the whole blues harp thing, of course. I'm just looking for recorded blues guitars to absorb more influence.

Even when I listen to samples of albums of blues guitarists I'm like, where's the guitar? It's been weird.
 

LiveSimply

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I don't have to venture further back than the three Kings (Freddie, Albert and B.B) to find my blues guitar inspiration. Those three guys are the base of my learning and have more material that I could ever imagine incorporating.

However, here's a guy that B.B. has listed as one of his principal inspirations.

Lonnie Johnson.... the man had skills:

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu2Smmcuu2Q]Lonnie Johnson - Another Night to Cry (1963) - YouTube[/ame]
 

AngryHatter

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I grew up on blues influenced rock guitar players, and I know the history of it all reasonably well, so I'm trying to encourage my own appreciation.

However, when I try and consult the original blues guitarists, I find their recordings are nearly nonexistent guitars. Instead I get a harmonica screaming at me, or similar. Maybe somewhere in the background there's a guitar, but it's uninspiring.

I'm sure I'm not the first to have this problem. I know it's out there. Reading books like Keith Richards's autobio inspires me to go check out his influences. But when I do, I encounter the above.

Suggestions? Where can I turn to absorb some real blues guitar?
You missed it...
It never was about guitar. Virtuoso players they aren't.
The Claptons...Winters etc made it about guitars.
 

mdubya

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Imho - just about everything one needs to know about blues guitar is contained in this one performance.

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfoDms7i1WU]BUDDY GUY - FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES - LIVE 1970 - YouTube[/ame]

Again, jmho.

If the old blues isn't doing it for you, listen to Jeff Beck's Truth, Clapton with the Bluesbreakers, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

Keith Richards pretty much listened to Chuck Berry. If you can't hear guitar listening to Chuck... :hmm:

Peter Green burning the house down

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxgY9eEFiYM]I've Got A Mind To Give Up Living/ All Over Again - YouTube[/ame]
 

Thumpalumpacus

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Make the jump between guitarist and musician, and you'll get it. There's so much fantastic music that doesn't feature a single guitar.
 

JonR

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Thanks to mdubya for posting the greatest electric blues guitar recording of all time (at least, the greatest that I've heard in the 42 years since I first heard it)...

But if you want original blues guitarists - by which I guess we mean the oldest ones we can find on record - try some of these (guaranteed no harmonicas anywhere):
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXC1jjRCXtg]Blind Lemon Jefferson - Match Box Blues - YouTube[/ame]
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTP-8VfIvn0]Blind Blake - Diddie Wa Diddie - YouTube[/ame]
Those guys died before they could be filmed, but these stars of the 20s/30s didn't:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-pShRISHnQ]Big Bill Broonzy 1957: 3 Songs - YouTube[/ame]
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytVww5r4Nk0&list=RD02BtZ6DoeimP4]Skip James sings "Crow Jane" - YouTube[/ame]
and the guy that taught Robert Johnson:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdgrQoZHnNY]Son House "Death Letter Blues" - YouTube[/ame]
and - sorry there's a harmonica in this one, but the guitar is definitely the star:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWSB_AllWuo]Bobbie Leecan & Robert Cooksey - Blue Harmonica (1926) - YouTube[/ame]
 

JonR

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Oh, and here's some early Lonnie Johnson with Eddie Lang - guitar on guitar! no vocal or harp to get in the way: nice modest title too...
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iPA7oNRr5o]Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson - Guitar Blues - YouTube[/ame]
 

djlogan33

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I grew up on blues influenced rock guitar players, and I know the history of it all reasonably well, so I'm trying to encourage my own appreciation.

However, when I try and consult the original blues guitarists, I find their recordings are nearly nonexistent guitars. Instead I get a harmonica screaming at me, or similar. Maybe somewhere in the background there's a guitar, but it's uninspiring.

I'm sure I'm not the first to have this problem. I know it's out there. Reading books like Keith Richards's autobio inspires me to go check out his influences. But when I do, I encounter the above.

Suggestions? Where can I turn to absorb some real blues guitar?

========================================================
Real Blues music is not about the type of guitar you play...
The real soulful and passionate blues guitar playing comes from the heart, soul and fingers.
My guitar instructor could make a $100 no-name Walmart guitar sound better than I can my '58 RI...:dude:
 

Thumpalumpacus

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... but if you absolutely need killer guitar in order to understand the blues, look no further:

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCjFRNWN3o4]Born in Chicago-Paul Butterfield Blues Band - YouTube[/ame]

Mind you, there's great harp on there, too, but get a load of those fills -- they leave me shaking my head every time.
 

Stinky Kitty

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Learning riffs from instruments other than guitar is a powerful way to grow.
As Thump stated so well - think like a musician, not just a guitarist.
 

EasyAce

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I have nothing against the whole blues harp thing, of course. I'm just looking for recorded blues guitars to absorb more influence.

If you listen to the Chess recordings of Sonny Boy Williamson, a great blues singer and harp blower, you won't be lost for the guitar work of Robert Jr. Lockwood. Lockwood's playing on those recordings is an absolute primer on how to accompany a singer/harp blower/other instrumentalist. In due course, Lockwood himself recorded as a leader, and he proved an excellent lead guitarist.

That said, you may have been looking in the wrong places for solid blues guitar work, lead or rhythm alike, regardless of the style or the era. Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton, arguably the two seminal Delta bluesmen, accompanied themselves on guitar and nothing else. Lonnie Johnson's already been mentioned. Likewise Blind Lemon Jefferson

Give a pull, too, on these players, in no order of preference:

B.B. King
Albert King
Mike Bloomfield
T-Bone Walker
Otis Rush
Buddy Guy
Fenton Robinson
Muddy Waters
Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry (now, there's a team who knew how to balance the harp and the guitar!)
Peter Green
The Eric Clapton of Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton and Fresh Cream
Lonesome Sundown
Guitar Slim (Eddie Jones)
Bukka White
Lightinin' Hopkins
Blind Willie Johnson
Son House
Skip James
Eric Bibb (a contemporary acoustic bluesman)
Taj Mahal
Gary Clark, Jr.
Michael Burks
Junior Kimbrough
Luther Allison
Elmore James
Robert Pete Williams
Barbecue Bob (arguably the first important bluesman to do it with a 12-string guitar)
Memphis Minnie (a terrific guitarist and singer)
Tommy Johnson
Albert Collins
Jimmy Rogers
Robert Nighthawk

. . . among others.

There are hundreds of ways to approach the blues with a guitar.

And don't be afraid to listen to some of the jazzmen who never forgot the blues. You'd be amazed at what they might offer you about playing the blues even if many of them weren't guitarists. Jimmy Smith (organ), Miles Davis (trumpet), Thelonious Monk (piano), Milt Jackson (vibes), Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Jimmy Giuffre (clarinet and saxophones), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Red Garland (piano), Wynton Kelly (piano), and Horace Silver (piano) can suggest at least as many things to you as such guitarists as Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, and Kenny Burrell.

Happy journey!
 

JonR

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Memphis Minnie (a terrific guitarist and singer)
Amen! Dig this groove:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SafFvXV6tA]Memphis Minnie - Kissing In The Dark - Blues - YouTube[/ame]That woman knew how to swing....
 

huw

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We've already had Lonnie Johnson - my favourite blues man, so how about my favourite blues lady?

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - the guitar break is at about 1:25:

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeaBNAXfHfQ]Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Up Above My Head - YouTube[/ame]

There are slicker players, sure, but by God that woman moves me!

:)
 

JonR

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Well I'm shocked no one mentioned one of my personal favorite...The late great John Lee Hooker. http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_uri=/#/home
http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_uri=/#/home

Er, those links don't go to JLH...

I think we all know him, I was offering examples of older acoustic players (pre-WWII). JLH was great, no question, with his own idiosyncratic style.

Here's his original Boogie Chillun:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4pp02_GN9A]John Lee Hooker Boogie Chillen original 1948 version - YouTube[/ame]

One of his classics:
[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veam26T9WR4[/ame]

And some nice film of him from 1964, with one of the all-time classic 1-chord riffs:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLciraVczRI]John Lee Hooker - I'm Leaving - "The Beat Room" Show (1964) - YouTube[/ame]
 

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