Acoustic Blues Guitar Video Lesson Preview - Come On Boys by Blind Blake.
From Mississippi Blues Guitar To Ragtime Blues GuitarThis style of blues guitar built on the basic picking patterns of the original delta blues guitar style and added a little something that opened up the possibilities fore guitar finger picking and how to play the blues.
This was the alternating thumb pattern of playing the bass notes. Instead of hitting just one bass (monotonic bass), the thumb hops from one to another and makes a 'bum chick' sound, which can either be damped by the palm of the picking hand or left to ring, depending on the songs being played.
This style was later developed into what is known as Travis picking and modern guitarists have built a hugely complex style of guitar finger picking based on it. Without the innovative work of Blake, it would have been much more difficult.
Blake was at his best in the 1920s, just after and during the ragtime piano boom. The bass pattern in all ragtime piano pieces can be very well approximated by the alternating bass pattern when finger picking acoustic guitar. Although several guitarists were using the alternating bass (Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James) only Gary Davis and Blake really mastered the thumb rolls we find in Blake's best work.
Blake's Ragtime Blues Guitar Thumb Roll.
the thumb hits three bass strings in alternating pattern, then Blake
would often hit two strings in the space of one beat! he achieved this
by slipping his picking hand thumb off one bass string to the next. It's
a good trick to do, but the timing has to be impeccable, or it just
comes out a mess.
The most complex form of this can be found in his instrumentals in the key of C, where he thumb rolls his basses with a C chord, before doing the same thing with the following chords of E7 and A! Very slick and impressive. When you try it, you'll notice that your thumb gets sore very quickly. Blind Blake probably had massive callouses.
Ragtime Blues Guitar Chords - Key Of G.
For this song Blake's chord structure is easy - mostly G, D/D7 and A/A7, with a little E7 used in the turnaround. It's slow as well, which is a great help to us. Many of Blake's songs in G are fast, and it's hard to hear what's going on sometimes. Here it is very clear and we can get to grips with it. You don't need the chops to play it at the right tempo, but you need to practice to get that bouncy feel - without that, it's nothing.
Singing The Blues Blind Blake Style
it's true that he wasn't much of a singer, his finger picking guitar
style carried him along. He had a playful style of singing, as though he
wasn't too serious about it, or anything else for that matter!! His
guitar style was a bit like that also, giving the impression that it was
just a few little tricks.
I have a feeling that he practiced many long hours to get those little tricks. Whatever, it is a huge challenge to sing along with some of Blake's creations and here again he gives us a treat by presenting a song that contains most of his licks in the key of G, but it's slow enough for us to get a hold of - thanks Mr Blake.