Jim performs CC&O Blues by Pink Anderson.

Pink Anderson Bio - Ragtime Blues Guitar - The Roots Of the Blues

pink-anderson-ragtime-blues-guitarPink's birth place was in Greenville South Carolina. Having taught himself to play  a variety of instruments, he began playing for Dr. Frank Kerr, who ran an enterprise which became known as the Indian Remedy Company in 1914 to sing for the public audiences while the doctor peddled his unique 'elixir '.

In the city of Spartanburg, Anderson met and teamed up with Simeon "Blind Simmie" Dooley in (around 1916), who showed him how to play fingerpicking acoustic guitarAnderson had a little previous experience at playing in string bands. When he wasn't working and playing for Dr Kerr's traveling show, he and Simmie Dooley might play for small parties and other gatherings. 

Pink Anderson' picking style was fast, light and ragtimey - this means that the basses were alternating and rythmic, producing a syncopated happy sound great for dancing. It's essential to control that picking thumb when attempting this style of playing.

Problems with his heart eventually caused him to hang up his guitar professionally in 1957. 

Little Pink Anderson Album Cover

After having a stroke in 1954, he just about stopped picking guitar, and never again played with his characteristic style and flair. He passed away in 974, when he had another heart attack when he was 74. He's buried at Spartanburg, back where he came from. 

Anderson had a son, who also plays guitar and is known as Little Pink Anderson - he plays blues guitar and lives in Vermillion, SD. Listen to Little Pink talk about the blues and his father in the MP3 below:

Little Pink Anderson Talks About his Father Pinkney.mp3

It's unfortunate that Little Pink Anderson, Pinkney’s son, was inevitably compared to his Dad. In fact, Little Pink was quite a good guitar player in his own right. However, at that time in the sixties blues music of his style was quite uncool, as far as he was concerned. However, Little Pink needed to make a living and so the best idea was perhaps to piggyback on his Dad's reputation and play the blues.

The younger musician got help from organisations such as the Music Maker Relief Foundation, who helped him with buying quality guitars and arranging tours. It's striking, but even in the sixties and seventies the son of a famous Blues musician could hardly make a living out of playing the music he loved. It’s just basically the roots of all the modern music that we know today.

Just like in the old days of his father’s time, life was no picnic for Little Pink. In the early seventies he went to prison for 7 years for robbery and was always in trouble with drugs and alcohol. After leaving prison he started to play his music again but his health deteriorated. He was diagnosed, and given treatment, for diabetes.

After this time he started to tour and perform again and play the music that is Dad helped make so famous. It's fortunate that there was this continuation of the style of the old Ragtime & Vaudeville Blues by his own son. In this generation, new and younger guitarists are exploring and discovering the magic of these old fingerstyle blues patterns, once again bringing it to audiences all over the world.

Pink Anderson Songs List

  1. CC and O Blues
  2. Every Day In The Week
  3. Ain't Nobody Home But Me
  4. Betty And Dupree
  5. Boweevil
  6. Chicken
  7. Greasy Greens
  8. I Got A Woman 'Way Cross Town Town
  9. I Got Mine
  10. I Will Fly Away
  11. I'm Going To Walk Through The Streets Of The City
  12. In The Evening
  13. In The Jailhouse Now
  14. John Henry
  15. South Forest Boogie
  16. Sugar Babe
  17. That's No Way To Do
  18. The Kaiser
  19. The Titanic
  20. The Wreck Of The Old 97
Rural Blues Music Travelling Shows Pink Anderson Simmie Dooley

Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley

CC&O blues is one of my favorites and so I went out to learn how to play as best I could - you can see and hear the result in the video embedded above. There's a lesson for it in my online blues guitar course 'From Texas To the Delta', but it's fair to say that it isn't exactly the same as Pink played it. For one thing, the original features two guitars, Anderson picking with a capo high on the guitar fret-board, probably with a standard D shape root tuned to dropped D, and Simmie Dooley plays in C chord progression with an alternating bass.

The result of two guitars played in fingerstyle in the same key, but using different chord shapes due to the use of a capo, makes for a very complex sound - much more complicated than it really. That's the beauty of ragtime and Travis finger picking - one guitar sounds like two, and two sound amazing, when it's done right. 

For the lesson that I prepared, I chose to transcribe the higher guitar part (Anderson's) and I think it worked out pretty well, capturing the feel of those times, when show tunes were intended for people to dance or tap their feet to. These were hard times and joyful distractions were very welcome to rural audiences.

Listen to the MP3 snippet below - you can clearly hear the higher part of the guitar picking collaboration with Doolie. It's at the same time delicate and complex, but driving as well:

CC and O Blues Pinkney Anderson (Trimmed).mp3

Pink Anderson Guitar Lesson

After the short intro high on the fret-board, a standard D chord is used in drop D tuning
, so both Dooley and Anderson can alternate those basses. As is normal when singing along with complex finger-picking patterns, it's dumbed down a little while the words are sung and then a more complicated flourish is added at the end of each line. 

It's this little addition after each line of verse that fascinated me and caused me to learn how to play this great old ragtime blues song. Check it out on the image below, where I've shown a few lines of the guitar tab to illustrate the fingerstyle technique:
Guitar Tabs Showing First Part Of CC and O Blues by Pinkney Anderson

The pink anderson floyd council Connection

Funnily enough, these three artists came from Carolina . Floyd Council, Pink Anderson ( Pink Floyd borrowed their names ) and Scrapper Blackwell - these guys really knew how to play the guitar!

Floyd Council wasn't very well recorded as a performer in his own right, but sometimes played in studio recording sessions playing behind 'stars' such as Blind Boy Fuller, another South Carolina artists . His guitar was syncopated and could be described as a combination of ragtime and  a Texas blues style. 
Pink Anderson (I don't believe that they ever collaborated or even crossed each others path !) played ragtime guitar and performed in traveling medicine shows.

Scrapper Blackwell was an extremely varied guitar player who wrote many memorable songs, such as Blues Before Sunrise and Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.

His creation 'Kokomo Blues' was made famous by Robert Johnson by the name 'Sweet Home Chicago'. Scrapper provided classics which were to provide inspiration for later masters of blues music. Although Scrapper didn't teach Johnson how to play the guitar, he still owed him a great deal.

Floyd Council (Born September 2, 1911 and died May 9th, 1976)  was a well-known performer of the Piedmont ragtime blues sound, which was well liked all through the southeastern region of America during the nineteen thirties .

He started his career in the 1920s, performing with two brothers, Leo and Thomas Strowd calling themselves "The Chapel Hillbillies". He also played on some sessions with Blind Boy Fuller during the thirties . His muscles were partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke in the nineteen sixties , but it seemed that his mind was still sharp. However, he was never able to recover his playing ability, although still finding time to show others how to play the guitar. Council died in 1976 after a heart attack,  just after going to live in Sanford, North Carolina.

Author: Jim Bruce 
Date: 2014-05-27
Category: Music

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