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Spider John Koerner

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GUEST,Jim 02 Aug 06 - 11:19 AM
Wesley S 02 Aug 06 - 11:46 AM
open mike 02 Aug 06 - 02:09 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Aug 06 - 02:26 PM
Leadfingers 02 Aug 06 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Jim 02 Aug 06 - 03:28 PM
Wesley S 02 Aug 06 - 03:57 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Aug 06 - 05:25 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Aug 06 - 05:37 PM
Leadfingers 02 Aug 06 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 03 Aug 06 - 04:00 AM
greg stephens 03 Aug 06 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,Rick S 03 Aug 06 - 04:20 AM
Stefan Wirz 04 Aug 06 - 03:41 AM
GUEST 05 Aug 06 - 01:28 AM
Barry Finn 05 Aug 06 - 02:17 AM
Bob Coltman 05 Aug 06 - 06:17 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Aug 06 - 03:08 AM
Baby Grant Johnson 22 Mar 09 - 07:11 PM
Charley Noble 22 Mar 09 - 08:35 PM
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Subject: Spider John Koerner
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 11:19 AM

I was a big fan of the Blues, Rags and Hollers albums that John, Tony and David put out in the '60s. I looked up Spider John's website and was glad to see that he's still performing, but all the pictures showed him playing either a 12-string or a six string. In the Blues, Rags & Hollers days he played a seven string. This was not a George Van Epps style 7-string with an extra bass string, nor was it a lenny Breau style with an extra treble string. It had an octave string added to the G string. Does he still play this guitar?
My reason for asking is that Martin has come out with a seven string with an octave G string called the Roger McGuin model. I've seen a couple of articals on Roger where he talks about this guitar, but nowhere does he mention Spider John. Although Roger's playing sounds nothing like John's, I'm sure that Roger must have been aware of the Blues, Rags & Hollers albums. Not many folkies made it through the sixties without hearing them.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Wesley S
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 11:46 AM

I loved those Koerner Ray and Glover records. Great stuff. My guess is that the McGuinn Martin sounds way too nice - it won't have the funk that Spider Johns 7 string had. It was a unique sound to be sure.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: open mike
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 02:09 PM

i think you can find a record by those guys from www.redhouserecords.com
his page is here: http://www.mwt.net/~koerner/
and he and his buddies can also be found on the PBS River Of Song


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 02:26 PM

I'm a fan, too, but I wasn't aware that he ever played a 7-string. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen (or noticed) a 7-string guitar.

I just looked at all the old pictures I could find on his web site, and when he isn't playing a 12-string, there isn't a good enough view of either the strings or the tuning pegs to know for sure what he's playing.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 02:29 PM

And I still 'do' Taking my time ! Learnt it in the late sixties - still a good fun song !


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 03:28 PM

Leadfingers, I still do "Banjo Thing". I don't think I've ever heard "Taking My Time", but the only records I had of theirs were Blues, Rags & Hollers and Lots More Blues, Rags & Hollers.
I also do "Titanic", learned from David Ray. I often play "Good Time Charlie's Back In Town Again", but only in my living room, never in front of an audience.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Wesley S
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 03:57 PM

Jim - From the photos I've seen from that era it looks like he took some old guitar and added an extra tuning peg on the top. It was definately a home made conversion.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 05:25 PM

It sounds like the kind of thing a person might do if he couldn't afford a good 12-string guitar, but he wanted to get some of the sound of a 12-string, and happened to have an old beater 6-string that he could afford to experiment with.

Otherwise, it would be a lot easier to take a 12-string and remove 5 of the strings!

And Spider John, from what I know of him, sounds like the kind of guy who might try an experiment like that.

Maybe he quit using it when he got a good 12-string.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 05:37 PM

Another possibility just occurred to me--maybe he wanted a 12-string but didn't know where to buy one! Maybe 12-string guitars were hard to come by when John started his career. Maybe there weren't any stores in Minnesota that carried them!


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 05:42 PM

I used to know a guy who took a cheap steel strung and added THREE tuners , had four pairs and an octave ninth (fifth) - Called it a Guinjo and tuned it to open G !! WEIRD !!


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 04:00 AM

Wasn't he trying to emulate Big Joe Williams' guitar?


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: greg stephens
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 04:07 AM

Big Joe Williams' guitar had nine didnt it? I'm not sure which were doubled: DGB perhaps? Anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: GUEST,Rick S
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 04:20 AM

I believe that on Lonnie Johnson's records he made with Eddie Lang in the 20s, he plays a 7-string?


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Stefan Wirz
Date: 04 Aug 06 - 03:41 AM

see more about that Big Joe Williams' 9-string guitar at http://www.wirz.de/music/willbigj.htm

Stefan Wirz


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 01:28 AM

I run into him in Florida a lot. He grew another finger so he could play that guitar better....


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Barry Finn
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 02:17 AM

As a teen of 16 I used to hear him playing by himself (Mr Bones would stand in with him quite often & a few others once & a while) in Cambridge, just outside of Harvard Sq at the Plough on Mass Ave, I kept going back there over the years & would catch him there every so often. He seemed to hold court there, he sure held the patrons attention. After I was old enough to legalily be in bars, he'd be the only reason I'd return to the Plough, what a dump. Thinking back on the place the only thing of class there was him.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 06:17 AM

Yes, 12-strings were indeed hard ( = nearly impossible) to come by in the 1950s. As I recall it, no major guitar maker made them. My first c. 1957 was a giant made I think by a Portuguese-American from New Bedford, the neck too long for contemporary strings, which were shorter. The next c. 1958 was a smaller Mexican model that sounded beautiful but snapped its neck, the wood like cheese. (The famous cactus-wood guitar?)

When Martin finally started making them I couldn't afford one. When a friend and fellow singer acquired a cutaway Martin 12, I was plagued with thoughts of burglary.

Thank goodness for Alvarez.

Then, of course, Jim/Roger McGuinn & the Byrds made it a standard-line instrument c 1965. Even Pete Seeger hadn't been able to do that.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 03:08 AM

My favourite tracks were on that Blues Project album - Southbound Train, with Tony Glover, My Little Woman.

On the Blues rags and Hollers set - I liked Creepy John, probably best. Blues rags and Hollers was very successful in England - John Lennon named it his favourite album of the moment at the height of Beatlemania, and of course its sales really took off.

I only saw him play the one time - at Les Cousins, Soho of course round about '68.- he played a loong version of Duncan and Brady. Grumbled about the length of the sets he had been asked to play.His work seemed to sprawl, in contrast to artists like Ralph McTell whose works were tight, carefully constructed vignettes.

Years later I talked about him to Derek Brimstone, who went round with him a bit in those years in England. Derek was said he seemed a bit distracted - sometimes playing te same song twice in an evening and not noticing. Something, I later saw Alex Campbell do.

He did a lengthy interview in Folk Roots a few years back. One of the few times I've felt tempted to buy that magazine. he was an interesting guy. he knew he'd lived through a whirlwind era, and realised he'd made a solid contribution to the world of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Baby Grant Johnson
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 07:11 PM

As far as John's 7-string goes, whenever asked he says he got the idea from Big Joe Williams' 9-string guitar. He had at least two guitars that he made into 7-strings. One was a wood body I'm not sure what brand. On Blues, Rags and Hollers he plays mostly on steel bodied National 7-string. I think he sometimes plugged into a small amplifier. He definitely likes to tinker, lately he has been building a boat. 12-string guitars were maybe somewhat hard to come by in the late 50's but obviously Dave Ray had a couple. There is an ad from around this time in the Little Sandy Review (Minnepolis folk periodical) for "Smith" 12 string guitars. Dave had a Smith 12 for sure. John began playing 12 string guitars by the early 70's for sure. He had a Yamaha he used in the early-mid 70's, then by 1981 an Epiphone that he modified a bit. Lately he has also been using a weird old Gretsch 12-string that is pretty cool.


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Subject: RE: Spider John Koerner
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 08:35 PM

Neat!

Charley Noble


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