Blues Guitar Fingerpicking - Floyd Council - Lookin' For My Baby
Floyd Council has long been a favorite Carolina blues man of mine, for a variety of reasons. I don't go too much much the accepted legends like Robert Johnson and others (I think Johhny Shines was much better at what he did) and some of the minor blues such as Floyd really knock me out with their approach and style.
Of course, his playing is a lot like the heavy Piedmont ragtime guitar picking of Blind Boy Fuller, another South Carolina Man. Fuller was a student of Reverend Gary Davis for a while, but they fell out. Fuller moved on to commercial success with his broad ranging appeal, while Davis the master guitarist went on his own way making a living playing on the streets for many years.
Davis was taught in part, or at least very heavily influenced by Blind Willie Walker, who was renowned to be the very best in Carolina when Davis and Fuller were young men. Often, the excellence in style and technique becomes distilled the further removed the students become from the original stylist - Walker to Davis to Fuller.
Reverend Davis - The Master Of Fingerpicking Blues GuitarNo doubt Fuller was an excellent guitar picker, but nowhere near as inventive musically as Davis - he just used the older guy's tricks to good advantage in producing commercial hits. He was a superstar of the day in those years. While we know that Fuller was under Davis' wing for a while, it's not clear where Floyd picked up his considerable blues guitar fingerpicking skills. It seems that a regional style developed and most guitarists came under it's spell to various degrees.
Piedment Acoustic Blues Guitar - A regional StyleFloyd's delivery was really like Fuller's, so maybe they had more contact in the early years than we know, maybe before Fuller became a success. he did play second guitar to six of Fuller's tracks. It was rare for Fuller to allow himself to be accompanied by another blues man, so he must have rated Floyd's guitar skills very highly.
Very often, ragtime pickers are always thought to use two finger and a thumb, just because the music is syncopated, rhythmic and generally more complex than say, other forms of blues picking like Delta blues guitar. However, many of the best players just used their forefinger to make that fascinating sound - these include guitarists like Broonzy, Fuller, Gary Davis, Pink Anderson and of course, Floyd Council.
These guys used different tricks to make the music move along so well, such as crossing over their thumb and finger strokes to create syncopation, and using alternating finger/thumb combinations to produce fast single string runs on the treble (or bass) strings.
The bass pattern was more or less alternating using the thumb, but the best players toyed with this pattern considerably and were able to break out of it anytime, either using the thumb for the treble strings, double timing the basses or perhaps stop timing as well. The master blues men could do these things. Not only could they do these things, but they invented them, so we owe them a lot.