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How did Henry Thomas play guitar?

Thebeforeclaptons 15 Jul 07 - 09:03 PM
Peace 16 Jul 07 - 12:44 AM
Goose Gander 16 Jul 07 - 01:04 AM
Mark H. 16 Jul 07 - 06:58 AM
pitheris 17 Jul 07 - 06:37 AM
Brian Hoskin 17 Jul 07 - 10:36 AM
The Sandman 17 Jul 07 - 04:42 PM
PoppaGator 17 Jul 07 - 05:40 PM
pitheris 17 Jul 07 - 11:46 PM
Goose Gander 18 Jul 07 - 12:53 AM
The Sandman 18 Jul 07 - 03:44 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Jul 07 - 04:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Jul 07 - 04:42 AM
The Sandman 18 Jul 07 - 04:55 AM
Bernard 18 Jul 07 - 07:32 AM
PoppaGator 18 Jul 07 - 11:51 AM
The Sandman 18 Jul 07 - 01:04 PM
M.Ted 19 Jul 07 - 12:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jul 07 - 04:25 AM
The Sandman 19 Jul 07 - 05:41 AM
Brian Hoskin 19 Jul 07 - 05:46 AM
The Sandman 19 Jul 07 - 05:52 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jul 07 - 06:09 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jul 07 - 07:03 AM
M.Ted 19 Jul 07 - 01:56 PM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jul 07 - 03:27 PM
M.Ted 19 Jul 07 - 10:25 PM
GUEST 20 Jul 07 - 04:51 AM
PoppaGator 20 Jul 07 - 02:06 PM
M.Ted 20 Jul 07 - 08:37 PM
pitheris 20 Jul 07 - 09:28 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 20 Jul 07 - 10:54 PM
M.Ted 21 Jul 07 - 12:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 07 - 04:42 AM
Johnhenry'shammer 21 Jul 07 - 05:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 07 - 07:24 AM
NormanD 21 Jul 07 - 07:27 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 07 - 09:07 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 07 - 09:18 AM
NormanD 21 Jul 07 - 10:12 AM
Ned Ludd 21 Jul 07 - 12:33 PM
M.Ted 21 Jul 07 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,hg 25 Nov 12 - 11:59 AM
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Subject: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Thebeforeclaptons
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 09:03 PM

Hi, I'm a rudimentary blues guitarist living in London who was recently flounced at an open-mic night when a robert johnson type player mopped the floor with my lacklustre performance. The shame has driven me out of the limelight. Anyway, I want to become proficient in a blues style, but one that is mostly unexplored, so I was wondering, does anyone have any tips about the way that Henry Thomas played, seen as his blues gets me dancing and singing better than any and I want to busk it and do it justice!

Many thanks,

Ben Jones


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 12:44 AM

Google

Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas


From a site: "Thomas's sound, like his repertoire, is unique. He capoed his guitar high up the neck and strummed it in the manner of a banjo, favoring dance rhythm over complex fingerwork."


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 01:04 AM

Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas from www.cascadeblues.org

Henry Thomas from the Handbook of Texas Online.

Discography from Folk Music Index

Thomas, Henry (Ragtime Texas Henry)
   Appearance as principal performer

Arkansas, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 3 [1927]
Bob McKinney, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 7a
Bob McKinney, Country Blues Songbook, Oak, Sof (1973), p174
Bull Doze Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 14
Bully of the Town, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 7c
Charming Betsy, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 20
Cottonfield Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 2
Don't Ease Me In, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 15
Don't Leave Me Here, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 23
Fishing Blues, Anthology of American Folk Music, Smithsonian/Folkways SFW 40090, CD( (1997), cut # 84 [1928]
Fishing Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 18
Fox and the Hounds, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 4
Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 8
John Henry [the Steel Driving Man], Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 1 [1927]
Jonah in the Wilderness, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 12
Little Red Caboose, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 6 [1927]
Lovin' Babe, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 21
Old Country Stomp, Anthology of American Folk Music, Smithsonian/Folkways SFW 40090, CD( (1997), cut # 35 [1928]
Old Country Stomp, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 19
Railroadin' Some, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 22 [1929]
Railroadin' Some, What's the Use of Walking; Black Hoboes & Their Songs, Kerr, Sof (2006), p113/tk 9 [1929]
Red River Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 5
Run, Mollie Run, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 9 [1927]
Shanty Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 10
Take Me Back, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 7b
Texas Easy Street, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 16
Texas Worried Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 17
When the Train Comes Along, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 13 [1927]
Woodhouse Blues, Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), cut # 11


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Mark H.
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 06:58 AM

Hello Ben.
High capo, simple strums, eg. boom - chick, with basic figures, bouncy and danceable. I'd rather hear that than any number of "watch me!" Robert Johnson wannabes, and speaking from long performing experience, so would most audiences, so more power to yer elbow my friend.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: pitheris
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 06:37 AM

Here's a few Henry Thomas Recordings from the Internet Archive.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 10:36 AM

Henry Thomas was also a quills player, introducing that to your act would certainly set you apart from the Robert Johnson brigade.

all the best with this

Brian


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 04:42 PM

you cant seriously put him in the same class as John Hurt,Blind Blake,Bill Broonzy.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 05:40 PM

Being "seriously not in the same class" as those intrumental virtuosos is pretty much the point here, isn't it?

I think the beginning player who posted the request is trying to emulate an artist whose overall performance is admirable and worthy of imitation, but whose guitar-playing technique sounds simple enough for a "rudimentary" player to handle.

Not a bad way to get started. "Feeling" the blues is more important than technique anyway, so the sooner a player can master some songs into which he/she can fully invest heart and soul, the better.

Perform with true feeling, keep at it, improve, learn to relate to an audience, etc.; the time will eventually come when the player will want to learn some more challenging pieces, and will be ready to play 'em right.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: pitheris
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 11:46 PM

[QUOTE PoppaGator]
"Feeling" the blues is more important than technique anyway, so the sooner a player can master some songs into which he/she can fully invest heart and soul, the better.
[/QUOTE]

Very well put.


And you can't seriously put John Hurt,Blind Blake,Bill Broonzy in the same class as Robert Johnson.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 12:53 AM

From the liner notes to Going Away Blues (1926-1935)(Yazoo L-1018), in reference to the song 'Railroading Some' by Henry Thomas, recorded in 1929 . . .

"Henry Thomas' Railroading Some, one of the most 'primitive' blues ever recorded, is done with quills and a guitar capoed on the seventh fret in standard tuning. The irregularly-phrased piece begins with a loose eight bar format and ends with no bar format whatsoever. Nor does it follow any pattern of chord changes. Except in accompanying his immitation of a train whistle by strumming open strings, and in ending the piece with a section in the dominant of G (D), Thomas alludes exclusively to the G chord. The quills are in the key of A and the guitar comes out sounding the key of D because of the capo. In using the G# note on the quills in the train whistle imitation he produces the effect of the Lydian mode."

No one is credited for the extensive liner notes.

I tried to transcribe the lyrics, but they are basically undecipherable.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 03:44 AM

Pitheris,Sorry I have a different opinion to you.
Poppagator,Ienjoyed his quill playing otherwise Ithought hewas pretty average,.Music is very subjective,Henry Thomas doesnt do much for me.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 04:02 AM

Judged from the clip - he had a nice voice pitched quite high and clear. the guitar style reminded me a little of dave Van Ronk in his more rumbustious moods - Don't you leave me here - maybe.

I'd learned make me a pallet from Derek Brimstone - so the line make a palet on the flo', so your man won't know - was a new one - or perhaps I'd just forgotten it.

I wouldn't make that guitar style a big thing in life - there doesn't sound too much there to me.

I'd love to know where these brigades of Robert Johnson soundalikes come from and where they go. I never hear anyone like him. In fact I'm beating myself up because I can't afford the six hundred quid to go on a course in Northampton next month where Scott Ainslie is tutoring - surely the only man who comes within a mile of the authentic RJ style.

In this country we've got Kevin Brown, who is very good, but he hardly constitutes a brigade - worse luck.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 04:42 AM

Coming back to the original post - the whole point of the blues - indeed any musical accompaniment, isn't some sort of head cutting competition for adolescents.

in this game the only way to deal with the opposition is to ignore it. the only way to get that edge that you are looking for, is to have something to say (in the artistic sense) when you get up there on stage. the musical vocabulary you employ is quite secondary. the man who bested you did it from a facility of copying RJ - a neat trick, but hardly inspirational. Don't let some musical Rory Bremner hold the keys to your soul.

what is it about your life that you have to express? If nobody has written the songs, then you must try and write them, if you want to be in the game.

there is no guarantee of success - most of us never really add up to much as artists. But if its what you've got do - good luck.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 04:55 AM

Good points WLD,personally I would advise a beginner to get a good fingerpicking technique and a good flat picking technique.technique is important but only as away of being able to express your feelings,I agree Technique for techniques sake is not music.
piedmont style of guitar picking is a pretty good starting point ,Broonzys style with off beat bass is more difficult,but is something to aspire to.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Bernard
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 07:32 AM

If you enjoy what you do, the audience picks that up and shares your enjoyment and enthusiasm. That's all that matters!

Pigeonholing people's performance styles is one of my pet hates... everyone is unique - so celebrate that!


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 11:51 AM

Confession: I have never either heard Henry Thomas, nor even heard of him. (Never heard, or heard of, quill playing, either.) I merely deduced from the poster's comments that Mr. Thomas apparently performed with an admirable degree of exuberance, and that his instrumental technique seemed basic enough to be easily learned.

I think this is an admirable approach to learning to play the blues, or indeed any musical form. Find something you like AND that you think you're capable of learning at your current skill level, and have at it. And if your choice is somewhat obscure, so much the better; your listeners will enjoy the privilege of being exposed to something new. (They might even give you credit you don't deserve for writing your own music ~ but that's another topic...)

I've heard plenty of blues and trad-jazz wannabes slavishly imitate recorded masterpieces without communicating the slightest degree of sympathetic feeling or even basic understanding of whatever song they're trying to copy. I don't recommend this approach, and certainly don't enjoy having to sit through such performances.

A particular pet peeve of mine is when the performer consistently drops a couple of beats or a measure at the same point in the song, every time around. These little "wrinkles" are improvised interjections that the original artists used occasionally, even randomly, NOT at the same point of the same verse every time out. When the original artists played and sang these little irregularities, they always did so with some emotional/expressive "meaning": when repeated by rote, as thought they were part of a "composition," they lose all relevance.

Pitheris:

Thanks for the quote-with-compliment. I am truly sorry to be responding back with a quote-with-disagreement: :^)

And you can't seriously put John Hurt, Blind Blake, Bill Broonzy in the same class as Robert Johnson.

Well, it's a matter of personal opinion. I certainly agree that Robert Johnson was a genius, especially when considered in historical context; while strongly influenced by earlier artists (especially Son House), he really did seem to come up with something entirely new, startlingly modern, and (we're told) did so very suddenly and unexpectedly.

I, for one, however, consider John Hurt equally unique and brilliant if not moreso ~ and John lived long enough to be "rediscovered" and thus make homself known to us as a wonderful person as well as a great musical artist. AND, one with a portfolio of original songs and unique reinterpretatoins at least as impressive as RJ's (albeit stylistically quite different), and considerably larger.

Blind Blake and Bill Broonzy were pretty outstanding, too, and I'm sure they have their own adherents/fans to plead their case. Blake ceratinly takes a back seat to no one as an instrumentalist ~ one reason that I'm not a great Blind Blake scholar is that I've never learned to play in his highly demanding style. And Broonzy, while perhaps less of a guitar virtuoso than the others mentioned here, was certainly a great and very influential blues singer and all-around performer and artist.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 01:04 PM

slavishly copying is foolish,for example, all stefan grossmans tabs are useful, providing you realise its only a stepping stone,what you should be doing is learning it, then putting your own bits in,of course that takes time ,but this is partly acheived by doing alot of listening.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 12:48 AM

I am not sure that the player that "mopped up" our friend here was a bona fide Robert Johnson impersonator--there are a lot of people who play RJ tunes, but damn few who play them the way RJ did--For one thing, he, and his contemporaries, played a lot louder than folks today. Forget those "lite" strings-- they played on busy streetcorners and in noisy jukes, where they had to draw attention to themselves without amplification--

At any rate, Henry Thomas' style actually was a precursor to the RJ style, a bit more simple, a bit more raw-- make it nice and loud, and you'll blow everyone else away.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 04:25 AM

Know EXACTLY what you mean M Ted - with the strings. The legends, the bits people have tried to work out,...it all serves to mystify an era which no one of any education or great critical faculty ever saw.

And when you think about the facts - they don't seem to make any sense.

Strangely enough I think our own era of folk music will be shrouded in mystery for people in 60 to 80 years time. No one is writing objectively about the music, and its context.

Weigh all that street corner and juke joint stuff against the delicacy of Robert Johnson's playing and the poetry of the songwriting. Whatever was on his mind when he made those recordings, it wasn't street corners and juke joints.

Another one that always has me puzzled is Leadbelly as a children's entertainer. I bet they were soon wishing they'd booked Billy the Balloon Bender.

Theres a brilliant passage in the Ewan MacVicar/Hamish Imlach book where Hamish gets a gig at Butlins Scotland. In a way it sums up the interface of a very genuine artist with society.

If you believed the angry insistence of some of the people on this mudcat page, you would conclude that folk music was a really popular movement people were humming The Dowie Dens of Yarrow on every street corner.

Everybody has a corner to fight, and no one is telling it the way it is.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 05:41 AM

good points WLD,but nobody would pay you to perform,or even want to listen to most of the football songs[21century folksongs],.
what I have been doing is deliberately drawing out people like Jim Carroll,to get more information,about traditional music.
personally, when I am playing for my own leisure,I play other things as well as English/Irish traditional,such as blues.
but when I perform people expect certain types of material,in the same way people did not expect of Leadbelly[the Dowie dens Of Yarrow].
NOW as I like all sorts of folk music[apart from football songs] that is not aproblem for me.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 05:46 AM

Most of Robert Johnson's fame and acclaim has come long after his untimely demise. He was not nearly so well known or applauded during his lifetime. Part of this was due to his relatively quiet delivery, which wouldn't have carried too well on a street corner, in a juke joint or at a saturday night fish fry.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 05:52 AM

BARBECUE BOB,However played a stella guitar made in Atlanta,which were fairly loud, as were twelve strings,WHICH was leadbellys favoured instrument


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 06:09 AM

What strikes me Captain, is that Henry Thomas is a lot more credible as a working musician than RJ.

Look how something Stackolee/ melds into something likeFrankie, and then segues into something like make a Pallett.

Doesn't it remind you of these pub singers where The wild Rover goes into the Black Velvet Band and that goes into American Pie and the Jim Reeves Medley (a bum grabber for the eleven o'clock heroes).

You can argue that RJ could play anything when the occasion arose, but I sincerely believe that you pay for any lack of focus.

I bet that stuff about him being poisoned by a jealous husband is a load of crap - I bet it was the landlord who was pissed off cos he didn't 'keep it lively!'

i used to have this gig on Sunday dinner times playing C and W to the punters in a club in Leicester before the stripper arrived. You know the sort of room the much despised Bernard Manning would have had eating out of his hand. However he was £500 and I was £30 including the agents fee - so there I was.

I remember one of the acts had scrawled on the wall of the dressing room - "They don't scare me!" I heard later that one singer was tied to a tea trolley, and pushed down the hill outside.

Robert Johnson who apparently managed or tried, to create music of such complexity and beauty, whilst keeping the other thing going - speaks louder to me than the people who reckon themselves the natural inheritors of Michael Coleman and Sam Larner.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 07:03 AM

PS Captain my only hit was a football song. Robert's only hit was about his car. the same kind of car favoured by John Dillinger. I think maybe they both could have done with a faster getaway from their gigs!


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 01:56 PM

Charlie Patton had a lot more of what might be termed "complexity and beauty" in his music than RJ--Neither of them had a "fairly quiet delivery"--they were full out players--Louis Armstrong was a full out player too, and also managed to be incredibly subtle and nuanced.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 03:27 PM

I don't know Patton's work, although I've heard it odd times. When I first heard RJ when I was 16, he(and Leadbelly) seemed very African and Primitive to me - I was used to PPand M. I still don't think RJ is the easiest artist to come to terms with.

Complex and beautiful enough for me.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 10:25 PM

You should listen to Patton. He was much more recorded and listened to in his time than RJ, and RJ lifted liberally from him. Also, for anybody that doesn't know about it, Yazoo's "The Roots of Robert Johnson" is a "must listen"--


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jul 07 - 04:51 AM

In response to the original post, if you're looking for a style of blues guitar that's fun/appealing & not too hard to master, check out Frank Stokes, a Memphis bluesman whose style was rooted in the older, simpler, pre-blues period (like H Thomas); if you like HT, you're gonna like Stokes too - especially his numbers with Dan Sane, recorded as the Beale Street Sheiks, fine, rockin' stuff!..
    Please remember to put a consistent poster name in the "from" box when you post a message. Anonymous messages risk deletion.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Jul 07 - 02:06 PM

One more observation: We have no way of knowing how Robert Johnson, or anyone else among his contemporaries, actually sounded in the context of a loud juke joint or a busy outdoor streetcorner, nor how he approached playing in these most common venues for blues players in his time and place.

We only know how RJ sounded when given the opportunity to play into a microphone, on a borrowed guitar presumably of higher quality than his own, in a hushed San Antonio hotel room. It would be surprising if he did not play with a bit more "delicacy," and perhaps include a few more embellishments, than would have been part of his "normal" nightlife performances.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Jul 07 - 08:37 PM

A good and reasonable point, PG--what and how he sang and played was never documented. We do know that a lot of his guitar arrangements were lifted from, or heavily influenced by, earlier popular recordings--check the "Roots of of Robert Johnson" CD to hear the originals(including Henry Thomas)--

There is good reason to believe that, rather than spending time with the devil, as claimed, he spent it with a record player.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: pitheris
Date: 20 Jul 07 - 09:28 PM

Here are a couple links (from Archive.org) of some Henry Thomas tunes.

Bob McKinney
Texas Easy Street
Old Country Stomp


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 20 Jul 07 - 10:54 PM

Imitation is the purest form of a lack of creativity.

Henry Thomas needs no apologies. I love his stuff.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 12:55 AM

For a lot of musicians, Jerry, creativity never comes in to play. They are happy to play note for note what someone else wrote--


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 04:42 AM

Theres more than a few embellishments there. The rhythmic complexity for one thing, the haunting lyrics.... this is a soul set free from his time and place.

Playing all sorts of dumb stuff - strictly within your ability, to put food on the table; and the fireworks starting when you get home - or to a quiet place when homes a long way away. That's how I've had to live most my life, and I rather think RJ had the same sort of life - albeit shorter. I think many musicians - jazz ones particularly, do.

If you buy into the lifestyle. Caveat Emptor.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 05:26 AM

Henry Thomas closes out the Anthology with Fishing Blues on the guitar and panpipes. The concept, an ode to sport fishing, doesn't seem to be that great but I have never been able to sit still while listening to that song. There's nothing wrong with simple music if it makes you feel good.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 07:24 AM

Blind Boy Fuller also did some nice simple things - just based around the Keep on Trucking chords. If you play the chords on their own they are almost a tune - so any ornamentation sounds pretty good - to the layman at least.

my advice would be . Listen to Donovan's version of Keep on Trucking, learn its structure - then see how far that will take you into Blind Boy Fuller. which is apparently difficult - but not really - unless you can do it like Ralph McTell, and you can look good - without being THAT good..

The plus point from your point of view is that its not pyrotechnics -from day one, like Robert Johnson is.


the trouble with the model you have chosen is that this bloke henry Thomas is rather good at what he does. He sort of makes it look easy through spending his life getting it right.

Its a bit like sumo wrestling. Obviously its a fairly simple sport which most people can understand. But theres probably more to it than getting fat and grabbing at jock straps.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: NormanD
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 07:27 AM

I first came across the name of Henry Thomas on Bob Dylan's "Freewhelin" album. He does a version of his "Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance?", which he turned into a Bob Dylan song.

Next up, The Lovin' Spoonful recorded "Fishing Blues", and there are loads of other versions of this around too. In fact, The spoonful even wrote and recorded a song called "Henry Thomas", which is well worth digging out (to add to any confusion, they took the tune of a Cannon's Jug Stompers song for the melody).

Canned Heat's great song "Going Up The Country" - which was a UK hit in the 60s - is their adaptation of another Henry Thomas song, "Bulldoze Blues"(?).

So, some of his music may be better-known than he is. No photo of him exists, as far as I know.

His music often got lumped together as part of "primitive blues" (no, I don't much like the term either), and he was seen more as a "songster" than a blues player. Most of his songs were not conventional blues, though I'll leave that to a separate discussion.

You can get get hold of a Geoff Muldaur guitar instruction dvd / video where he looks at "Fishing Blues". So, you could be like all the other RJ look-a-likies, who probably learned to play from blues instruction dvds, and learn at least one fancy version of a Henry Thomas song. Otherwise, Poppa G's and others' advice about feeling the song and making it your own is something I'd go along with.

Now all I need to do is buy some quills - in a variety of keys - and adapt a harmonica harness to hold them...... Any advice on that, anyone?

Norman


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 09:07 AM

There you go - the warning signs! Geof Muldaur is a shit hot country blues guitarist. It must have something fairly substantial in it to interest him.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 09:18 AM

Adding to what I've already put. My best guess is that someone like Muldaur, with his practised ear would immediately pick out the subleties that made it authentic sounding. It would be easy to end up sounding like a dum- ching refugee from the Burl Ives Song book when tackling such an apparently artless technique.

I made the same sort of mistake, when I attemted to take up the five string banjo one time. The trick is not to look like a beginner.

Try something with more chords and add what you can.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: NormanD
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 10:12 AM

"....a dum-ching refugee from the Burl Ives Song book...."

I love that!


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 12:33 PM

bulldoze blues....fantastic! It took a whole band to imitate that.


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 04:32 PM

just to keep things interesting, check this, recorded in 1941 at the Fort Valley State College Folk Festival in 1941 ( linked to http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ftvhtml/ftvhome.html)-Sonny Chestain--Po Boy Long Way from Home


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Subject: RE: How did Henry Thomas play guitar?
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 11:59 AM

redux


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