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Elizabeth Cotten on Martin Carthy BBC4

DigiTrad:
FREIGHT TRAIN
OH, BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE
SHAKE SUGAREE


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songs2play 02 May 02 - 06:42 AM
Nigel Parsons 02 May 02 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Bullfrog Jones (on the road) 02 May 02 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,BobbyM 02 May 02 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,MCP 02 May 02 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,T-boy 02 May 02 - 07:38 AM
Bullfrog Jones 02 May 02 - 11:05 AM
English Jon 02 May 02 - 11:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 02 - 11:39 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 02 May 02 - 11:55 AM
RoyH (Burl) 02 May 02 - 02:14 PM
GUEST 02 May 02 - 02:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 02 - 02:30 PM
BanjoRay 02 May 02 - 05:16 PM
Bill D 02 May 02 - 07:48 PM
Bill D 02 May 02 - 07:56 PM
Art Thieme 02 May 02 - 08:05 PM
songs2play 07 May 02 - 03:34 AM
GUEST 07 May 02 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Sonja 08 May 02 - 12:42 AM
BanjoRay 08 May 02 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Mark Ross on the road in Montana 08 May 02 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,julia 08 May 02 - 01:04 PM
Murray MacLeod 14 Mar 07 - 12:14 PM
The Sandman 14 Mar 07 - 04:23 PM
BanjoRay 14 Mar 07 - 04:33 PM
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Subject: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: songs2play
Date: 02 May 02 - 06:42 AM

Did my eyes deceive me or did a see a very nice lady, by the name of Elizabeth Cotton, fingerpicking to "Freight Train", left-handed and UPSIDE-DOWN, on the Martin Carthy TV Prog on BBC4 the other night. Or was a trick of the TV ? If so, how the h*ll do you tab that.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 02 May 02 - 06:47 AM

Must be "Cotton - pickin'" easy *BG*


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,Bullfrog Jones (on the road)
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:06 AM

A guy who comes to one of our sessions plays like that. You don't want to be following him if you don't know the chords!

BJ


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,BobbyM
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:20 AM

Tab for freight train - http://guitarvideos.com/tabs/freight.htm

It don't look inverted to me.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:28 AM

She was famous for playing in that unorthodox mannner - a right-handed guitar played left-handed and upside down, contributing to her own sound. I've only ever come across one person in the UK playing like that in the last 35 years.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,T-boy
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:38 AM

I may be wrong, but didn't Dr. Ross play like that? Also, I believe, Albert King. I remember someone on the UK folk scene doing it too, one of 2 brothers, called Mark something. I suppose it can't be too difficult, as long as you start that way and pay no attention to anyone round you.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 02 May 02 - 11:05 AM

How 'bout Jimi Hendrix? Or perhaps it was normal on whatever planet he was from.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: English Jon
Date: 02 May 02 - 11:28 AM

Elizabeth Cotton claimed to have written (and probably did write) freight train. She was left handed and self taught, hence the unusual style.

EJ


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 02 - 11:39 AM

Sensible thing to learn to do, since most of the guitars around are strung right-handed. I've occasionally had a go at a left-hand guitar, being right-handed - it feels really strange, but it could be fun. Maybe sometime I'll string up a guitar of my own left-handed.

The other thing I've thought of is trying a left-hand strung mandolin, because that'd give you the same string values as the bass four strings on a standard guitar, but in reversed octaves, and standard guitar chords would work, but sound comnpetely different. Anyone ever tried that? (So far I've never run into a left-handed mandolin.)


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 02 May 02 - 11:55 AM

Hi Bullfrog Jones!

Sorry to be picky, but you are slightly misinformed.

Hendrix was left handed, and played on a right-handed guitar - but with the strings reversed (1st where the 6th should be, and so on). Quite a few other southpaw guitar-slingers do do this. The thickest string is farthest from the ground for them, as it is for us. So the chord shapes which their right hands make are essentially the the same as the shapes made by the left hands of right-handed pickers.

It's much rarer to find someone who plays left-handed on a normally strung right-handed guitar, like Libba Cotton - Albert King was the only other example I could think of. Doctor Isaiah Ross played open tuning with a slide,which is a different technique, and must be easier to reverse. Whereas Ms Cotton was finger-picking in normal tuning, and thus playing the thinnest strings with her thumb, while plucking the basses with her fingers. Just thinking about it makes me feel dizzy - but she made it sound beautiful, bless her!

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 02 May 02 - 02:14 PM

Elizabeth Cotton's story is remarkable. As I heard it she applied for, and got, a job as a domestic with a family who were interested in music. When she saw the children playing on guitar she mentioned that she 'used to play'. They handed her a guitar, and the rest is history. The name of the family -Seeger! If you don't believe me, ask Peggy. Ms Cotton was a genuine artist. It really doesn't matter what hand she favours, or how her guitar is set up, the main point is that she played enchanting music.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 02 - 02:28 PM

There's a brief biography of here in the 'magazine' section of Mudcat. Click here


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 02 - 02:30 PM

As fot tabbing it, you'd just label the strings the other way round.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: BanjoRay
Date: 02 May 02 - 05:16 PM

Libba Cotton also used to play 5 string banjo upside down, picking the fifth string with her index finger - awesome stuff. My friend Mitch Proctor (of R Cajun and The Zydeco Brothers) plays guitar, fiddle and mandolin that way, all beautifully. It must save a lot of bother buying new instruments if you're left handed. He's a bit single minded - when he comes to our Old Time session in Sheffield (UK), he won't play any Cajun tunes, because he's "got his Old Time head on".

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: Bill D
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:48 PM

Bill Birchfield, of the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers also played guitar upside down & backwards pics from festival

(and, boy those folks could play!...Joe Birchfield had the best version of "Ragtime Annie" I ever heard!)


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: Bill D
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:56 PM

another pic of Bill playing banjo backwards


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 May 02 - 08:05 PM

BILL STAINES plays upside-down and backwards too-----same as Libba Cotton.

(Her biggest problem was keeping her skirt down.;-)

(art thieme)


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: songs2play
Date: 07 May 02 - 03:34 AM

Got a picture of Libba's style on following web page. Pity can't see right hand. http://bluesnet.hub.org/waterman/cotton.html


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST
Date: 07 May 02 - 01:48 PM

blicky


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 08 May 02 - 12:42 AM

I've read that Elizabeth Cotton's first guitar didn't have strings on it, so she just put the strings on it the way that seemed natural for her, and that's why, being left-handed, she put them on in reverse order and chorded with her right hand. Dunno if it's true, but that's the story as I was told it.

Sonja


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: BanjoRay
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:27 AM

Sonja - her strings were on in their normal positions - being left handed, she played the guitar upside down.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,Mark Ross on the road in Montana
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:58 AM

Miss Libba learned to play by surreptitiously learning on her brothers guitar when he wasn't home. She couldn't restring it or he would have suspected something, so she developed her unorthodox style. Using her 1st finger on the bass gave it a certain feel which CANNOT be duplicated by us mere mortals. She wrote FREIGHT TRAIN when she was in her 'teens, I believe. When she got religion, she gave up playing guitar for many years, and only resumed playing after she went to work for the Seeger family. By the way, Jim Rooney who know is a big producer flatpicks bluegrass upside down & left handed.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 08 May 02 - 01:04 PM

Smithsonian Magazine did a little piece on her. It's probably on their website.


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 12:14 PM

Yet again, Youtube is your friend.

Elizabeth Cotten playing "Freight Train"


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 04:23 PM

Thanks murray,I then went onto the related video of WizzJones in newquay in 1960,and lo and behold my cousin Sue,is being interviewed in a programme about the beatniks,this is a hilarious video .


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Subject: RE: Elizabeth Cotton on Martin Carthy BBC4
From: BanjoRay
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 04:33 PM

Thanks Murrey for spelling her name correctly for the first time in the entire thread (some of the mistakes were mine!)
Ray


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