Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking

Justa Picker 05 Dec 03 - 04:05 PM
Mark Clark 05 Dec 03 - 04:40 PM
PoppaGator 05 Dec 03 - 04:46 PM
dwditty 05 Dec 03 - 04:52 PM
Wesley S 05 Dec 03 - 04:52 PM
Leadfingers 05 Dec 03 - 05:42 PM
Peter T. 05 Dec 03 - 05:44 PM
Murray MacLeod 05 Dec 03 - 06:09 PM
Mark Clark 05 Dec 03 - 06:42 PM
Dave4Guild 05 Dec 03 - 07:11 PM
Steve-o 05 Dec 03 - 07:46 PM
Mark Clark 05 Dec 03 - 11:23 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 05 Dec 03 - 11:35 PM
GUEST 06 Dec 03 - 12:39 AM
GUEST,Biskit 06 Dec 03 - 02:39 AM
Mark Clark 06 Dec 03 - 02:52 AM
Mark Clark 06 Dec 03 - 03:23 AM
M.Ted 06 Dec 03 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,equalrice 06 Dec 03 - 05:56 PM
Mark Clark 06 Dec 03 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 06 Dec 03 - 06:29 PM
GUEST 06 Dec 03 - 10:34 PM
Peter T. 07 Dec 03 - 11:31 AM
Mark Clark 07 Dec 03 - 09:32 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 03 - 01:21 AM
M.Ted 08 Dec 03 - 03:12 AM
Art Thieme 08 Dec 03 - 12:56 PM
Art Thieme 08 Dec 03 - 01:02 PM
Mark Clark 08 Dec 03 - 02:27 PM
M.Ted 08 Dec 03 - 02:30 PM
Peter T. 08 Dec 03 - 05:16 PM
Amos 08 Dec 03 - 08:06 PM
M.Ted 08 Dec 03 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 09 Dec 03 - 11:06 AM
Mark Clark 09 Dec 03 - 12:45 PM
Mary in Kentucky 09 Dec 03 - 01:46 PM
Midchuck 09 Dec 03 - 01:59 PM
M.Ted 09 Dec 03 - 02:45 PM
Mark Clark 11 Dec 03 - 03:22 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 03 - 05:44 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 03 - 06:22 PM
Mark Clark 12 Dec 03 - 07:00 PM
GUEST 12 Dec 03 - 08:33 PM
FJGI 13 Dec 03 - 06:50 AM
M.Ted 13 Dec 03 - 06:20 PM
Mark Clark 22 May 04 - 01:35 PM
GUEST 23 May 04 - 04:59 PM
GUEST 25 May 04 - 12:38 AM
Mark Clark 17 Aug 04 - 06:23 PM
Mark Clark 17 Aug 04 - 06:26 PM
GUEST 17 Aug 04 - 07:55 PM
GUEST 18 Aug 04 - 12:23 AM
Mark Clark 18 Aug 04 - 02:08 AM
GUEST 18 Aug 04 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 Aug 04 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 Aug 04 - 11:54 AM
GUEST 29 Sep 09 - 02:27 PM
Stringsinger 29 Sep 09 - 02:46 PM
Mark Clark 30 Sep 09 - 01:41 PM
bankley 01 Oct 09 - 11:09 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:



Subject: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Justa Picker
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 04:05 PM

(For the Mudcat archives and the 8-10 people who might read this before it drops off the page to languish in obscurity.)


THE EVOLUTION OF
COUNTRY FINGERPICKING
By Rich Kienzle


SUCH AS EARL SCRUGGS' rolling in style of 5-string banjo helped define the sound of bluegrass, the fingerpicked guitar-both electric and acoustic-has shaped the rhythm and tonal color of country music for several decades. Of all the country guitar styles, none are richer or more complex than those played with the fingers. And none have had such far-reaching effects on other musical idioms.

Popular history has generally credited only a few guitarists-most notably Merle Travis and Chet Atkins for the development of the wide range of fingerpicking styles, but the truth goes much deeper. The evolution came through the creativity and ideas of many musicians, the majority of them in western Kentucky-some not well known more than 20 miles from their homes.

The basic fingerpicking style (known as the "choke" style) consists of the right-hand index finger picking out the melody while the thumb, usually equipped with a pick, plucks out a constant alternating bass accompaniment. The net result is a self-contained, rich, varied sound that gives the illusion of a lead and rhythm guitar being played simultaneously. Talented players have introduced their own individual variations of the basic style to create a personal sound. In the case of Merle Travis, he also brushed the fourth, third, and second strings with the thumb on the upstroke while muting the strings with the heel of the right hand, which created a percussive bass-chord accompaniment to the lead. On occasion, Travis would add even more variety by interjecting a single-string melody. Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed use many or all of their right-hand fingers to create their sounds.

The earliest fingerpicking styles evolved slowly, handed down from guitarist to guitarist in the Appalachian regions. One of the first influential guitarists from this area was a black man named Sylvester Weaver. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1897, Weaver was apparently the first blues guitarist to ever record. His 1924 recording of "Smoketown Strut" for Okeh demonstrates the basic elements of country fingerpicking with its syncopated bass, clearly articulated melody line in the key of C, and the use of a roll similar to that later popularized by Earl Scruggs and Merle Travis. Weaver also composed a tune called "Guitar Rag, " which upon even casual listening is clearly the antecedent to the famous "Steel Guitar Rag" composed and recorded by Leon McAuliffe with Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys in 1936. His intricate style led Okeh recording executives to dub him "the man with the talking guitar," a description later applied to both Travis and Atkins.

Weaver was not the only black guitarist playing in that style around that time. To the south, Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake (from Tampa, Florida) developed highly complex, intricate styles, but their impact was little felt outside their immediate regions until they recorded several years later. Another black guitarist, Arnold Shultz, may have had an even greater impact on the development of Kentucky fingerstyle.

Shultz, a fiddler/ guitarist who played around western Kentucky, had a profound impact on white guitarists in the region. Though segregation was the norm throughout the South (and in the North more than many realized), rural western Kentucky seemed surprisingly open-minded to interaction between white and black musicians. Shultz was a favorite at white square dances where he met and influenced, among others, a young Bill Monroe. He also may have predated Weaver with his guitar techniqueborn in 1886 in Ohio County, Kentucky, he was nearly a decade older. Though Shultz never recorded, according to Charles Wolfe's excellent book Kentucky Country (University of Kentucky Press), some who remember his playing have compared it to Blind Blake's.

But the musician who apparently benefited most from listening to Shultz was a white guitarist from Muhlenberg County named Kennedy Jones, who added his own concepts to the style. Kentucky guitar researcher Bill Lightfoot's 1979 interview with Mose Rager, published in a folklore magazine entitled Adena #4, reveals Rager's recollection that Jones pioneered the use of a thumbpick to produce an enhanced bass accompaniment. Jones also varied his chord positions. "He'd go way down on the neck," Rager told Lightfoot. Rager also credits Jones (apparently having never heard Weaver) with creating a multiple-finger "roll." Lester "Plucker" English was another

Muhlenberg guitarist whose knowledge of chord construction and popular music had an impact. Travis remembered listening to Rager and English playing together, and contrary to what one might think, Tin Pan Alley played afar more prominent role in the repertoires of the area's guitarists than country songs. "Little Brown Jug," "Has Anybody Seen My Gal," and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" were all favorite instrumental numbers of Rager, English, Ike Everly, and other guitarists of the era, as were blues tunes. In 1968 and 1980, Merle Travis continued in this tradition by recording entire instrumental albums of pop tunes.

Rager and his longtime friend Ike Everly (father of Don and Phil) became a team by the early '30s, having met while working in the coal mines, They became popular regulars on the local house party circuit, where they exerted their influence on many budding guitarists, among them an adolescent Merle Travis. Everly, who also played professionally, had a slightly different style, and careful analysis suggests that Rager was the unifier of the earlier styles of Shultz, Jones, and English.

In 1943 Rager took the plunge into professional music. He worked on the Grand Ole Opry with Grandpa J ones briefly and then joined up with fiddler Curly Fox and his wife, vocalist Texas Ruby. He can be heard on Fox's 1947 recording of "Black Mountain Rag" on a solo that, though more restrained, leaves little doubt of his impact on Travis. He may also have done some recording with Fox and Ruby on Columbia before leaving music to return to Muhlenberg County.

At the same time all this was transpiring in Kentucky, down in middle Tennessee Sam McGee was working on his own fingerpicking guitar style. Born in Williamson County (south of Nashville) in 1894, he began playing fiddle but quickly graduated to guitar. McGee was influenced by a variety of factors, among them the playing of black laborers who frequented his father's store and the lessons he took from a black guitarist named Jim Sapp. According to McGee's biographer, Charles Wolfe, he may have also been influenced by the "parlor" guitar styles of the late 1800s, judging from certain songs in his repertoire. His playing style was similar to that of the Kentucky fingerpickers: Alternating bass notes created a bouncy accompaniment while the fingers picked out bright melodic flourishes on the treble strings.

Sam and his brother, fiddler Kirk McGee, were among the earliest performers on the Grand Ole Opry, where they worked with Uncle Dave Macon and Fiddlin' Arthur Smith's group, the Dixieliners. Though he performed at the Opry for many years and recorded several instrumentals, Sam remained a relatively obscure figure until folklorists rediscovered and extensively recorded him in the '60s and '70s. Wolfe sees a number of reasons for this, among them McGee's inherent shyness, the fact that he didn't

record any Strong-selling guitar numbers, and the lack of decent amplification systems at the Opry tent shows he and Kirk often played. Nonetheless, McGee's style was an important-if belatedly recognized-aspect of country fingerpicking that undoubtedly influenced many guitarists within range of the Opry's radio signal. There were others in the South also experimenting with fingerpicking during this period. Among them was Roy Harvey. Best known for his work with Charlie Poole's North Carolina Ramblers, he also recorded fingerpicked guitar duets with Leonard Copeland and Jess Johnson.

All of this had a profound impact on the young Merle Travis. Born in Rosewood, Kentucky, on November 29, 1917, Travis became fascinated with the playing of Everly and Rager and made it a point to show up whenever they performed in the area. Rager remembered him as an intense, apt pupil. "Sometimes I'd make achord, "he told Bill Lightfoot, "and Merle'd say, "Let's see you do that again." And that's how Travis got to listenin' to me and started playin'. And I declare, I thought he made a good 'on myself."

Following a hitch in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Merle Travis moved across the Ohio River to Evansville, Indiana, where his brother Taylor lived. One night he played an Everly/Rager-style version of "Tiger Rag" at a marathon dance that was being broadcast over local radio. Shortly after that he caught on with the Tennessee Tomcats, a local band, then moved on to a better-known act: fiddler Clayton McMichen's Georgia Wildcats, where he was known as "Ridgerunner" Travis.

From there he went to a group known as the Drifting Pioneers who, in 1939, joined the musical staff at 50,000-watt WLW Radio in Cincinnati. His abilities as a guitar soloist were obvious to the management, and he began playing often over the station (though he caught some flak from the station operators over his use of an electric guitar). That association with WLW initially did more than anything else to spread the gospel of fingerpicking.

One true believer who picked up the WLW signal on his two-tube Allied radio one night in Mountain Hill, Georgia, was aspiring 16-year-old Chester Atkins. Merle's playing sealed his musical future. "His style was closer to that sound I had been searching for than anything I ever heard," Chet wrote later in his autobiography, Country Gentleman (Regnery). His inability to get a consistent signal from WLW may have indirectly contributed to his finding his own approach to Merie's playing, since he had to experiment without the benefit of hearing him constantly.

In late 1943 Travis and his close friend Grandpa Jones recorded the first masters ever issued by the King label of Cincinnati (later a distinguished country and rhythm and blues label) as the Sheppard Brothers. In February 1944 the pair did another session that included Merle's performance of Alton Delmore's "What Will I Do," which featured his vocal and lead guitar backed by Jones' rhythm guitar. The solo break may be the first substantive recorded example of the Kentucky fingerpicking style. Unfortunately, the record wasn't issued for over a decade and was then was buried on a King anthology LP, Nashville Bandstand.

Merle's success at WLW influenced two of his colleagues there. Staff guitarists Joe Maphis and Roy Lanham both learned the Travis style, albeit in their own ways. Maphis, a confirmed flatpicker, developed a variation of the Travis style that involved holding a flatpick with the thumb and index fingers of the right hand while picking out the melody with the middle finger. Lanham, a native of Corbin, Kentucky, who excelled at jazz in the George Barnes style, learned the Travis method in a more conventional way.

In March 1944 Merle pulled up stakes and headed for Los Angeles, hoping to capitalize on the strong reputation he had built in the Midwest. He quickly found work as an extra in western movies and as a sideman with the western swing bands of Porky Freeman, Texas Jim Lewis, and Ray Whitley. By mid 1945 he'd recorded the first disc under his own name. "That's All," released on the local Atlas label, was a tune he and Jones had written in Cincinnati but, ironically, instead of fingerpicking, a stinging, single-string blues guitar solo constituted the instrumental break. At that point Travis was still a couple of years away from recording an instrumental under his own name. It appears that the first instrumental commercially recorded in that style was Chet Atkins' 1946 recording of "Guitar Blues" for the Nashville-based Bullet Records (also the first label to record B. B. King). The tune was a mellow, after-hours blues recorded on electric guitar and featuring a surprisingly sophisticated Owen Bradley arrangement complete with bluesy clarinet.

Travis had continued his association with King Records on the West Coast, doing some production and working as a session man. When former WLW colleague Hank Penny moved west in 1945 to lead a western swing band, Travis went into the studio to back him. Among the 12 songs they recorded was "Merle's Buck Dance," a solo instrumental derived from "Buck And Wing." He'd learned the song from Mose Rager, who'd learned it from Kennedy Jones. Travis' pulsating, syncopated thumbpicking provided the rhythmic foundation for virtually all the songs recorded at that session. He also contributed a blistering, intense solo on "Steel Guitar Stomp" (out of print), a throbbing instrumental featuring Noel Boggs' steel guitar.

By 1946, Travis' reputation was such that he'd begun doing session work for Capitol Records, the major independent label on the West Coast. One recording on which he was prominently featured was "Ridin' Down To Santa Fe" by Shug Fisher And The Ranchmen Trio, a group styled after the Sons Of The Pioneers. His solo break on the song constitutes one of his finest instrumental moments on record-easily the equal of the Penny session. Merle also led his own western dance band in the area.

In March, Travis was signed to Capitol as a solo artist, and his first release was recorded with a sassy honky tonk band. "Cincinnati Lou"/ "No Vacancy" became a major hit, yet it featured no guitar soloing. Nonetheless, both songs underscore the influence Travis' guitar work had on the rhythms of his material. Virtually all of the country hits he had in the '40s, from "Divorce Me C.O. D." to "I Like My Chicken Fryin' Size" and "Sweet Temptation" are built around the same syncopated rhythm that came from his thumb. After that first single, he began taking guitar breaks on his records, which helped expose his playing to a nationwide audience, as did the instrumentals he recorded for Capitol Transcriptions with acoustic guitar (later issued as Walkin' The Strings).

By the late '40s Merle's recording success and the popularity of the Capitol transcriptions had established him as the nation's preeminent country guitarist. Only Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith enjoyed similar stature, and Chet Atkins' popularity was just beginning to build after his 1947 signing to RCA Victor.

A number of fine guitarists developed in the wake of Travis, among them Texas based singer Hank Thompson. Thompson was one of the few western swing bandleaders to sing his own lead vocals and have hit country recordings well into the '50s. He became an excellent Travis-styled fingerpicker, following Merle to the point of having Gibson custom-build him a Super4OO electric with inlays, pickups, and a vibrato unit similar to those used by Travis.

Much more obscure but no less talented was Al Meyers, who worked in California as a sideman with the Hollywood-based western vocal trio called the Georgia Crackers (Bob, Slim, and Hank Newman). When Bob Newman began doing solo recordings for the King label in the early '50s, Meyers was often prominently featured. He also did some Travis-styled instrumentals for King, backed by Jerry Byrd on steel guitar, which were later issued on a budget anthology album. Whether Meyers played in a purely Travis based style or used a flatpick to approximate the sound is difficult to tell.

By 1950 Chet Atkins' reputation had begun to emerge in a substantive way. He'd had a solo spot on the Opry as Red Foley's guitarist around 1946, and then worked as a sideman until Steve Sholes signed him to RCA in 1947. His earliest Victor recordings were more or less in the Travis style and featured vocals. There's some speculation that Sholes originally had him in mind as direct competition to Travis, who was then racking up numerous country hits. It soon became apparent, however, that Chet's direction was more oriented towards instrumentals.

This, in fact, was probably why Chet's impact appears to be greater than Merle's. While Travis was concentrating on a career as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Chet was almost exclusively recording instrumentals. While Merle was recording vocals for Capitol, Chet was racking up numerous instrumental hits and gaining a strong reputation for his work in the fledgling Nashville recording scene. Though Chet has stated that he finds it rough to listen to his early recordings due to the less-than-outstanding recording quality of that day, they were highly sophisticated in their musical content. His sidemen were always top-flight and complemented the sophisticated influences his recordings showed.

Chet distinguished himself stylistically from Travis by freely working in musical ideas from Les Paul, Les' mentor Django Reinhardt, and various other non-country instrumentalists. The Reinhardt spirit seems to pervade many of the early Atkins sides, as fellow Django devotees Homer Haynes and Jethro Burns (on rhythm guitar and mandolin, respectively) backed Chet.

Several of Chet's instrumentals, particularly "Galloping On The Guitar" and "Main Street Breakdown" (both recorded in 1949), became popular as themes for country music discjockey shows. The 1951 release of Chet's first 10' RCA LP, Chet Atkins In Three Dimensions, spread his reputation, as did his subsequent singles and albums. It was not until about 1954 that Capitol released Merle Travis' first instrumental album, The Merle Travis Guitar. Meanwhile, guitarists around the world soaked up the Atkins influence, picking up second-hand what is now commonly termed "Travis picking" or the "Travis style."

Other guitarists were emerging in the same style by this time, among them Jackie Phelps, who worked on the Opry. In the mid '50s Phelps joined Roy Acuffs Smoky Mountain Boys as their first electric guitarist when Acuff, stung by rock and roll's success, tried integrating the electric sound into his own for a brief, unsuccessful period. Widely respected in Nashville for his fingerpicking abilities, Phelps was often teamed in recent years with the late Jimmie Riddle on the Hee-Haw television show. Another equally talented but even more obscure Kentucky fingerpicker popular during that era was "Spider" Rich, a friend of Atkins. Some artists influenced by the Travis/ Atkins style approached it their own way, such as singer/ guitarist Billy Grammer, who in the '50s featured a number called "The Merle Travis Blues," in which he used a flatpick to cross-pick Travis style licks.

Another who absorbed much from both Chet and Merle was Winfield Scott 'Scotty" Moore. As lead guitarist with the Memphis based Starlite Wranglers, he often supplemented his income with studio work. In July of 1954 Scotty, along with bassist Bill Black, recorded with Elvis Presley on Eivis' first Sun sessions. As Presley sang "That's Airight (Mama)," Moore chimed in with accompaniment and leads virtually identical to those of Travis and Atkins. In the process, he made the fingerpicking style an integral portion of rockabilly guitar. [Ed. Note: For an extensive overview of this style, see the Roots Of Rockabilly features in the December '83 issue.] Scotty, as well as Chet, had such an impact that more than a decade later their styles are apparent in the solo breaks of George Harrison on several Beatles tunes, among them "I'm A Loser" and "She's A Woman."

Two other legendary early rock stylists heavily influenced by the Atkins/ Travis style were the late Eddie Cochran and Duane Eddy, who (although his hits don't reflect it) is an expert fingerpicker. Both even emulated Chet's choice of guitar-the Gretsch 6120. The lesser-known Hal Harris was a Texas based country and rockabilly player who also excelled in this style. Though he approached it with a more primitive sense of phrasing than did Scotty Moore, his pulsating, harsh sound worked well on many country and rockabilly recordings for the Houston-based Starday Records. He was featured prominently both on George Jones' gospel number "Taggin' Along" and "My Baby Left Me," a cover of the Presley hit by singer Leon Payne recording under the pseudonym of "Rock Rogers." The rockabilly guitarist who took the Atkins/Travis styles a quantum leap ahead was Georgia-born Jerry R. Hubbard. Best known as Jerry Reed, he began as a rocker recording for Capitol. But by the '60s he became a Nashville studio musician of the first magnitude, best known for his "claw" approach to fingerpicking. Where Travis used the thumb and index finger almost exclusively and Atkins used thumb and at least two other fingers, Reed used them all. He created driving, harmonically-rich percussive leads far beyond anything Kennedy Jones could have imagined. Atkins' influence gave him discipline, sophistication, and a clean, uncluttered approach to single-string leads interspersed with fingerpicking. More recently Reed has downplayed the fingerpicking to concentrate on mastering flatpicking. In any case, his considerable instrumental talents have been somewhat overshadowed by his raucous hit recordings and thriving acting career.

Merle Travis' youngest disciple, Tom Bresh, got his tutelage from the master himself Travis had known Bresh, born in 1948 in southern California, since he was a small child, and taught him his fingerpicking style while Bresh was quite small. Through his teens, Bresh was featured in Las Vegas with Hank Penny's country/ pop/jazz stage show (he replaced Roy Clark) and often played Travis-styled solos such as "Wheels" onstage. It was Bresh who officiated at Travis' funeral in Oklahoma in November '83.

Another Travis adherent who has become a strong influence is Arthel "Doc" Watson. Primarily known for his flatpicking, he is, nonetheless, a longtime admirer who often fingerpicks Merle's tunes such as the Delmore Brothers' "Deep River Blues" arranged in the syncopated Travis style. To this day, Watson has continued to play in the Travis style, using a thumbpick on his acoustic guitar. Doc's son and playing partner-an excellent fingerpicker himself-was in fact named after Merle.

Chet Atkins' most distinguished recent disciple, Lenny Breau, has come far from the days when he worked at emulating Chet's solos to become one of the premier 7-string jazz guitarists of the current period. Nonetheless, the influence of Chet still manages to show through in his playing, particularly on the Atkins/ Breau collaboration album, Standard Brands. Their jazzy duet interpretations of "Taking A Chance On Love" and "This Can't Be Love," though unorthodox, are basically a sophisticated continuation of the Kentucky fingerpickers' tradition of playing Tin Pan Alley songs. Later guitarists including Marcel Dadi have brought their own concepts to the Travis/ Atkins style. And perhaps that is the best place to leave it. Suffice to say that through this convoluted evolutionary process, the popularity of country fingerpicking has mushroomed from a parochial style limited to one region in western Kentucky to a sound heard on country music recordings throughout the world. It is a style that, in many ways, changes but also remains the same-as galvanizing and uplifting as the first time Travis or Atkins heard it. Its popularity remains as a memorial to Merle Travis, the man who first spread the word, and its impact on country and rock music is still being felt and probably always will be.


Article from: Guitar Player magazine,
Written by: Rich Kienzle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 04:40 PM

Hi, Justa,

I haven't read the article yet but will as soon as I post this and move the thread back to the top where it belongs. Personally, I find that yours are some of the most interesting and useful threads we have.

Thanks,

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 04:46 PM

Wow -- thanks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: dwditty
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 04:52 PM

this makes 3 besides yourself.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Wesley S
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 04:52 PM

Hey there Justapicker - good to see you back. You've been missed. Thanks for the article.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 05:42 PM

Only 8-10 reading a post ?? I doubt it- Most get more than that in replies,and the number of replies has got to be only a fraction of the
people who read and DONT have any thing worthwhile to add.Must admit I
found the article interesting myself. Ta Mate.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 05:44 PM

Ah yes, but what of Darby and Tarlton! yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 06:09 PM

"......Merle Travis' youngest disciple, Tom Bresh, got his tutelage from the master himself Travis had known Bresh, born in 1948 in southern California, since he was a small child, and taught him his fingerpicking style while Bresh was quite small......"

Well, well, well.

And there was me thinking that Thom (sic) Bresh was actually Merle Travis only son.

Can somebody clarify this one please ?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 06:42 PM

What a great article. Kienzle is a well known author on country music and certainly speaks with authority. It's easy to believe he had to wrestle with the problem of where to stop; how to keep the article from becoming the book it probably could be.

He doesn't point out that Marcel Dadi figured out this complex style on his own in France and left as his legacy—Dadi was killed aboard TWA Flight 800—some of the best instruction materials available for this style. I don't think too many of Merle's or Chet's arrangements are on the net but there is a good collection of Dadi's music as TablEdit files.

Kienzle also fails to mention that Thom Bresh actually is Merle Travis' son. Either he fails to mention it or all the stories going around are just urban legends and there never was any truth to the stories. According Rick Fielding (posted in another thread) some of the film of Bresh and Travis playing together was shot before Thom knew Merle was his biological father.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Dave4Guild
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 07:11 PM

I'm pretty certain that this interesting article was written to a deadline for the publication and it has been researched along familiar lines - previously published articles and the evidence from recorded music and interviews with those people who for many reasons were singled out as being worthy of interview.
I suspect that this sort of debate could continue ad finitum, but I think the origins must go much further back in time, to before the music was ever recorded and indeed before there was sufficient interest to write about it.
There was no mention for example, of the competition between the guitar players and the piano players of the day to create the sounds of the popular music of the time.
There is also the problem of the precise definition of "Country fingerpicking". If your definition includes a particular finger pattern using a a prescribed number of RH fingers applied to a specific type of music (also subject to a definition!)we could get into all sorts of murky arguments.
Welcome back JP - as usual your threads are of the greatest of interest and here in the UK it's late so I'll let the arguments develop and come back to it when I'm awake!

Dave Bennett


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Steve-o
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 07:46 PM

Guess I'm number 10 of your readers. It's a very interesting article, with lots of stuff I certainly didn't know. For example, I've often heard that Ike Everly was an important early fingerpicker, but never heard a record with him playing. I still love to play in this style- it just seems to give so much fullness and variation to guitar music. Thanks a lot, JP. OK, no more readers allowed.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 11:23 PM

Ike Everly was a featured performer at the University of Chicago Folk Festival one year. He was truly amazing. He also participated in the free workshops that festival holds in Ida Noyes Hall on Saturday and Sunday. It was really a treat.

There was a PBS television special documenting the Everly Brothers career and their reunion concert at Royal Albert Hall. I taped the original broadcast but I see it's still available as a DVD. The program includes a very short clip of Ike in a performance and, a visit with an aging Mose Rager. As I recall, Mose plays ‘Back Water Blues’ in the Kentucky Thumb Pick style he's known for.

There are other videos of Travis and Atkins, some with clips of Rager and Everly, at Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop and probably other places too. Perhaps Camsco can supply them as well.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 11:35 PM

Interesting article. Don't suppose having read it will make me play like Merle, huh?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 12:39 AM

..very interesting article. However, I subscribe to Guitar Player magazine and seem to have missed this artice. Is it recent?

This article has given me some ideas for Christmas gifts. My dad listens almost exclusively to "Travis style" thumbpicking, and Merle's anthology or Chet's biography would be an excellent gift for any thumbpicker aficionado. Thanks, dude.

P.S. A word of warning to travelers passing through Muhlenberg County, Kentucky: If you get pulled over for a traffic violation and you have a flat pick in your pocket, the fine is doubled. Carry a thumbpick, though, and you may just get off with a warning. ;-) Happy Trails.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Biskit
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 02:39 AM

WoW Justa Picker! that was a great post! Thanks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 02:52 AM

I don't think the article is recent. Justa evidently copied the article from this page at the Roy & Marianne Lanham web site. The Lanham page contains identical formatting and the same paragraph flow errors as in Justa's posting.

Roy Lanham, mentioned in the article as a colleague of Merle's at station WLW in Cincinatti, is a world-famous guitarist in his own right including his work with The Sons of the Pioneers.

The Lanham site contains another great article by Rich Kienzle that appeared in Guitar Player Magazine in March of 1987. That article begins:
HILLBILLY JAZZ

Merle Travis once said, "I get out a couple of Roy Lanham albums and play them. Then I listen to some of my recorded efforts and come up with this sort of remark: 'Dadblame, buddy, that's awful!'"

Travis, the father of the fingerpicking style that bears his name, always minimized his own vast talents, but his comment on Lanham's abilities is no exaggeration. Lanham, who has served the Sons Of The Pioneers for 25 years, is only the second guitarist in the group's entire 52-year history. What many western music fans don't realize, however, is that Lanham is also a jazz guitarist of impeccable taste…
It's great to be reminded of wonderful musicians like Lanham, Atkins, Travis, Rager and Everly. The ability and contribution of these musicians goes far beyond what most of us will ever appreciate. This music came straight out of aural tradition and needs to be preserved along with other great music. And if my own ear is any judge, Justa is doing his part to see that it's remembered.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 03:23 AM

Poking around, I came upon a great discussion of Travis picking at the Web site of the Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club Message Board. Like Mudcat, the old discussions are still around and seem to contain a lot of good information.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 05:04 PM

Rich Kienzle wrote the book that accompanies the Merle Travis boxed set, and it provides even more information on evolution of the style. Even still, this piece has a lot of great info--I didn't realize that Joe Maphis originated the flat pick and fingers style, which was used by a lot of the pickers around where I grew up--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,equalrice
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 05:56 PM

Just skimming through, but didn't notice Maybelle Carter mentioned. I know she picked the melodies mostly with her thumb, but seeing that her playing is featured on some of the first country sides (i927), her influence can't be discounted. Along with the Delmores, she was one of the first recorded fingerpickers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 06:24 PM

I too am a big fan of Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family but I think Kinnzle and Justa are talking about the origins of a specific style variously known as Thumbpicking, Kentucky Thumbpicking, Travis Style, Choke Style (a new term to me) and possibly other names. Justa has recorded in this style and has even composed his Mudcat Rag in this style especially dedicated to this Web site and its members. You can hear that tune on the Mudcat Orchid CD.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 06:29 PM

Thanks for the article.

Good to see some fine country music historical overview here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 10:34 PM

...geez, well so much for the Christmas gift idea. Chet Atkins' autobiography is evidently a collector's item, now that he's passed. The book is out of print and copies for sale by private individuals range anywhere from $75 to upwards of $200 +. Merle's boxed set is $129.00, but Walkin' The Strings is closer to the average price for a CD, and if the audio snippets are any indication, there's some fine acoustic thumbpicking on there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Peter T.
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 11:31 AM

Chet Atkin's Autobiography (Country Gentleman) is very good for the first two thirds, and then fades away.

yours,

Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 09:32 PM

An interesting thing about the development of Kentucky Thumbpicking is that none of the early players seemed to think of themselves as folk or traditional musicians. I've read that Merle Travis was very resistant when asked to write some songs that sounded traditional or folk. Among the songs he reluctantly turned out were Dark As A Dungeon and Sixteen Tons. He never really liked those songs—although he later claimed to “just love” Sixteen Tons after Tennessee Ernie Ford made him a bundle of money with it.

And of course Chet Atkins used to regularly win top honors in the Playboy Jazz Poll.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 01:21 AM

It could be argued and debated from now 'til doomsday whether the Kentucky thumbpicking style has more in common with jazz or folk. Or both. Or neither one. Or a conglomeration of many styles. Just like in psychology when researchers debate whether such and such behavior is due to biological or environmental causes. Usually the answer everyone somewhat agrees on is, "a combination of the two."

The article Picker posted at the outset pretty much nails it. What makes the style unique is the thumb keeping constant accompaniment on the bass strings while the fingers pluck the melody. As that style evolved, I think it got more sophisticated as jazzy influences crept in with the addition of more complicated chords - adding 6ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, and sharping and flatting all these intervals, etc. These embellishments, of course, came from the players themselves as they incorporated the music that influenced them into their own efforts. Some sort of recombinant process may be at play in the realm of creativity.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 03:12 AM

I would be curious to know what a "traditional" or "folk" style of guitar playing would be--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 12:56 PM

A folk syle might be Estil Ball, Mississippi John Hurt, ----possibly even what I did (although trad-folk-revival would be a better designation for moi.)

Gamble Rogers belongs on the list of great Travis-style pickers.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 01:02 PM

Libba Cotton also. Many of the so-called "songsters" of the Piedmont territory. About 75 or more of the old country blues legends
too

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 02:27 PM

I still remember being a kid of 20 and meeting Ray Tate for the first time at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Ray asked what I played and I said—parroting the current folkie kid vocabulary—I played Travis style. So Ray asked to hear something and I probably played some Elizabeth Cotten tune and Ray just looked at me in wonder, explained that I wasn't playing Travis style at all and proceeded to give me a demonstration of real Travis picking. The OTSFM was still in Old Town then, at the top of a long dark narrow flight of stairs on North Ave. I was lucky he didn't just throw me down the stairs. <g>

Justa Picker had a previous thread called Travis Picking - Misconceptions in which he tried to lay out the things that make Travis Picking (Kentucky Thumbpicking) different from other fingerpicking styles and why the others can't appropriately be called Travis Picking.

Except for Arnold Schulz, who no one living today remembers, there really is no direct line of antecedents leading to Rager-Everly-Travis-Atkins style picking. The Piedmont and Delta styles can be traced back but the Kentucky Thumbpicking style seem to be much like bluegrass music in that it just sprang forth fully formed.

M.Ted, I tend to think of Piedmont and Delta styles as folk styles but of course they aren't the only folk styles. I suppose an academic might classify flemenco as a folk style.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 02:30 PM

Most of the playing styles seem to have fairly shallow roots--not to say they aren't great styles, but they seem to be more favored by revivalists than reflective of the past, and tend to lead back to
early recordings of the above mentioned folks, --old recordings, with the exception of a few blues artists, don't show much guitar, and there isn't much to document how folks used all those instruments that Sears & Roebuck shipped out to the hinterlands--

Blues guitar playing seems to mostly have been modified from old banjo and piano styles, and there doesn't seem to much outside of blues guitar going on--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 05:16 PM

Never let it be said that I contradicted M.Ted without trepidation, but (as I hinted at with my mention of Darby and Tarlton, whose records are full of guitar), there was lots going on -- Tarlton's slide (and Hawaiian slide in the wings) for a start. And what of Riley Puckett?

yours,

Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Amos
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 08:06 PM

What indeed?

JP, thanks for a faskinatin' article!!


A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 08:36 PM

Again, I am not saying that there was not great guitar playing--I am saying that it was created from diverse elements into new styles--really innovation, not tradition, in order to satisfy the performing and recording needs of relatively recent times. There seems to be no traditional guitar style to accompany the traditional cowboys songs, no traditional appalachian guitar style, etc--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 11:06 AM

THis is a great article-- includes ideas I agree with and disagree with. His central figure is Merle Travis and as an hourglass-- "These were Travis' sources. This is Travis. These are the people he has influenced" it's great. Where I disagree is on emphasis. Just for an example, Roy Harvey is mentioned, but Maybelle and Riley aren't. Cannonball Blues, anybody? (yes, she learned it from Leslie Riddle; where did he get his ideas?) and Riley's Fuzzy Rag. . . I also don't think that EC Ball's style is that different from early Merle Travis. As M. Ted says, there was lots of great guitar playing. . .and there were MANY "traditional guitar styles". . . and I think Maybelle invented lots of them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 12:45 PM

M.Ted, What you say makes a lot of sense. (As seems so often the case.) I've read that historical cowboys didn't play guitars, at least not on the big drives, because they aren't easily portable on horseback and don't weather well. Their lifestyle and mode of travel meant a lot of unaccompanied singing, harmonica, jews harp, and perhaps the odd mandolin or fiddle with the corners smoothed off.

Likewise early blues were played on fiddles, partly because of sheer availablilty and partly because the instrument isn't limited to the European scale.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 01:46 PM

And don't forget Bardstown's own Pat Kirtley. http://www.win.net/~mainstring/welcome.html

There is some info about Kentucky guitar following the link on the homepage.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Midchuck
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 01:59 PM

Not mentioning Maybelle is logical, since she was really a precursor of modern flatpicking than of fingerpicking, even though she played with fingers and a thumbpick.

Some variation of the Carter lick - pick a bass note on one, rest (or hammer on) on two, downstroke on the trebles on three, lighter upstroke on trebles on four - is used for most country and bluegrass accompaniment with a flatpick.

Peter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 02:45 PM

I have dug out the Rich Kienzle book that comes with the Bear Family Boxed set(which shows that Merle did much more than fingerpick),which seems to have been written much later than this--in it, he says that Kennedy Jones learned the picking style from his mother, Alice Jones, who was a multi-instrumentalist, and also taught music, and not from Arnold Shultz, as is often thought--he also quotes Merle as saying that as a boy, he'd learned a lot from 78's, particulary one of Nick Lucas(who guitar solo version of "Tiptoe thru the Tulips" introduced the guitar to the popular music audience)--

On thing that bothers me about Kienzle--he talks about "syncopated bass" in both this article and the book, and in Travis picking, the bass plays square on-the-beat eighth notes, while the melody or lead line is the thing that is syncopated--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 03:22 PM

Western Kentucky University hosts the Kentucky FolkWeb site that includes an article on “That Muhlenberg Sound” by Erika Brady of Western Kentucky University. The article talks a little more about Kennedy Jones and his first use of the thumb pick.

I was just rewatching my copy of the Vestapol video Legends of Country Guitar which begins with Mose Rager playing I Am A Pilgrim and talking about how they learned to play the thumbpicking style. Rager says:

“Colored fellers way back yonder played that thumb pick just as far as I can remember.”
He then goes on to say that he first “got onto” the style from a man named Levi Forrester from Depoy, KY. (The liner notes say Levi Foster but I've played that sentance over and over and I believe Rager is saying Forrester.) Rager says of Forrester, “…he didn't have no thumb pick but he played the thumb lick.” He doesn't mention Kennedy Jones at all.

The liner notes to the Vestapol video do mention Kennedy Jones and say that Rager first met Jones in 1925 and by that time Jones was using a thumb pick, the first one Rager had ever seen.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 05:44 PM

Dr. Brady has been researching the evolution of the "Muhlenberg sound" for some time now. There was word from guitarist Steve Rector (a lesser known but talented thumbpicker who lives in the area - often sharing a stage with the likes of Eddie Pennington, who is widely regarded as the guitarist alive today who plays most like the original "Travis style") that she was to have been working on a book ....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 06:22 PM

...I have e-mailed Dr. Brady and I made her aware of this discussion in the hopes that she will find time to grace us with her presence and provide her own perspective.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Dec 03 - 07:00 PM

Thanks, GUEST. I sure hope she decides to add something. I know I'd be interested and I'm guessing everyone else here would like to read what she has to say as well.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 03 - 08:33 PM

In an e-mail from her, Dr. Brady responded that unfortunately she was too busy with professorial duties to contribute to the discussion right now, but she did alert me to the fact that Eddie Pennington will have a new CD coming out in April of next year on Folkways. She also said the CD will have some "really great liner notes by Joe Wilson of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. I will be saying a few words, too, but I don't have a lot to add
to Wilson -- he corrects a lot of misimpressions and gives a fine
overview of the style."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: FJGI
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 06:50 AM

Hi,

Great article !
Regards from Spain


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 06:20 PM

On the issue of misimpressions--it seems to me that a lot of confusion come from what the old players themselves said, partricularly as to what they learned and when-- musicians are not, for the most part, scholars, and the tend toward the "good story" rather than the factual story--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 22 May 04 - 01:35 PM

I thought it was time to refresh this wonderful thread again and to mention in passing that I've now heard Steve Rector, the guitarist GUEST referred to above, play and he is indeed a wonderful player. Steve Rector was among the performers at last weekend's Tribute to Merle Travis: National Thumbpicking Guitar Contest at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas.

Steve referred to the Taylor flattop cutaway he was playing as a “poverty box.” He has found no way to make a living playing Travis (Kentucky Thumbpicking) style acoustic music and spends most of his time playing a Telecaster behind a country band.

Sad to say, he's probably right. There were only three or four hundred people in the audience Friday night for the concert. Considering the concert featured some of the best thumbpickers working today, I expected to see a much larger crowd.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 23 May 04 - 04:59 PM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 04 - 12:38 AM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 06:23 PM

Yes, Mountain View is a great spot for music. I was down there this past spring for the Thumbpicking Contest and had a great time.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 06:26 PM

Oops, that post was supposed to go in another thread. Sorry.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 07:55 PM

Rector was playing a Taylor? Last time I heard him play and talked with him, he was playing a custom made guitar out of Tennessee by a man whose name escapes me now...seems like it started with a "G." ...I just did a google search...Gallagher guitars...(In case the html didn't work, it's www.gallagherguitar.com) ...anyway...

I guess he got tired of it. He said the bass strings were too boomy. I was going to suggest mixing-and-matching string gauges, but...wasn't thinking too fast on my feet. Pat Kirtley or somebody must've talked him into a Taylor. I think Pat is a spokesperson or one of those guys travels around and conducts workshops as part of a promotional thing for Taylor guitars.

(again, http://www.win.net/~mainstring/welcome.html for Pat Kirtley info)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 12:23 AM

forward slash, back slash...so confusing, who can keep them straight...thanks little mudcat elf for fixing my post....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 02:08 AM

Oops! My error. I just went back and checked photographs I took at the Thumbpicking Contest and Steve is definately not playing a Taylor. It look as though he is indeed playing a special Gallagher of some sort. It looks like a round-shouldered, single-cutaway, fourteen-fret dreadnought with a slotted peghead. I'ts probably the same one he's pictured holding on his CD. Based on the Gallagher site, it doesn't seem to be a standard model.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 08:25 AM

...Yeah, he told me that he had specified what he wanted on that guitar. I don't remember all that he told me but one of the things he said was that he had wanted an open headstock, for what reason I don't know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 11:46 AM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 11:54 AM

Have just skipped through this thread admittedly quite quickly but don't seem to have noticed a mention of Eddie Pennington who is still playing this material. I Had the pleasure of hearing him at a festival three years back and then spending about two or three hours with him at a private party where he played non stop. I bought one of his cd's then and recently picked up the new one on Smithsonian Folkways.
If you are into this style of playing I would reccomend that you give him a listen. Eddie is from Kentucky and knew some of the people mentioned in the article.

Be warned though you might want to throw away your guitar after this.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 02:27 PM

Interesting thread.


Mted wrote:

"Most of the playing styles seem to have fairly shallow roots--not to say they aren't great styles, but they seem to be more favored by revivalists than reflective of the past, and tend to lead back to
early recordings of the above mentioned folks, --old recordings, with the exception of a few blues artists, don't show much guitar, and there isn't much to document how folks used all those instruments that Sears & Roebuck shipped out to the hinterlands--

Blues guitar playing seems to mostly have been modified from old banjo and piano styles, and there doesn't seem to much outside of blues guitar going on--"


I remember reading that the guitar didn't become a regular featured instrument in rural/southern/mountain white areas until like the 1920. I read that many of these whites areas were still playing banjo and fiddle and reported that they first saw guitars when black workers were carrying them around. I believe the Carter Family and Sam Mcgee both confirmed that the guitar was rare in white communities in their neck of the woods.


Guest wrote:

"It could be argued and debated from now 'til doomsday whether the Kentucky thumbpicking style has more in common with jazz or folk. Or both. Or neither one. Or a conglomeration of many styles. Just like in psychology when researchers debate whether such and such behavior is due to biological or environmental causes. Usually the answer everyone somewhat agrees on is, "a combination of the two."

An interesting quote by Chet on the difference between himself and Merle:

Chet Atkins, liner notes to 1996 reissue of the album Walkin' the Strings:

Though Chet Atkins was the most prominent guitarist to be inspired by Merle Travis, the two players' styles were significantly different. As Atkins explained,

"While I play alternate bass strings which sounds more like a stride piano style, Merle played two bass strings simultaneously on the one and three beats, producing a more exciting solo rhythm, in my opinion. It was somewhat reminiscent of the great old black players


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 02:46 PM

There is a possible antecedent. The fingerstyle players from Africa. Zaire in particular.

Early ragtime pieces seem to have been a staple of Piedmont style blues.

Frank


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 01:41 PM

It's sure nice to see this thread pop up again. These were the discussions that I always liked most. Well, these and Art's recollections. Well, those plus Rick's thoughts... and Frank's and M.Ted's and... OK a whole bunch of folks.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Evolution of Country Fingerpicking
From: bankley
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 11:09 AM

I hope Mudcatter, Jayto comments on this... he used to hang out a lot at Mose Rager's place when he was just starting out... he told me that Mose' daughter, Friz, lent him her daddy's guitar just this past week-end for the Merle Travis Fest in KY... what a treat... anyhow he has some old tapes made at the Rager house and we cleaned one up and put it on CD... 17 minutes, charming snapshot of the man at home, talking, playing and singing...
bless all those thumb pickers... they sure opened up the instrument to a lot of possibilities.... R.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 17 February 2:57 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.