Online Guitar Lessons - How Long Blues (Leroy Carr)
Leroy Carr was a piano player who is usually associated with his musical partner Scrapper Blackwell. They recorded many sides throughout their collaboration and toured extensively all over the U.S. Scrapper Blackwell's guitar style was a cross between delta and ragtime sounds, often with an asynchronous bass which didn't hold a true monotonic bass, or a true alternating bass pattern either. This is one of the marks of a true master - the picking thumb is truly independent and moves anywhere over the strings in order to to produce a rich variety of guitar sounds.
The song is another example of the 'woe is me, my woman is gone' style of blues, which was a very common theme. In the context of those times, material for blues was all around - black men living as second class citizens, scraping a living, traveling everywhere to play music, drinking too much and having failed romantic relationships due to all of the preceding!
I decided to retain the attractive melody for the lyrics, and the basic chord structure and simplifying the delivery. The appeal of this version is created by a strong monotonic bass, which occasionally breaks out into singles string bass runs, heavily repeated treble string phrasing and a short instrumental break providing variations around the verse structure, which is basically the same each time it's sung.Thus can be played with or without picks, and I tend to use picks for public performance, as I like to 'throw' the picking thumb down onto the bass strings, immediately damping with my right hand palm - this produces an percussive effect which accentuates that phrase and builds tension towards the end of the verse.