Jim Bruce Guitar Lessons
Jim Bruce Guitar Lessons

Piedmont Blues


The Piedmont plateau stretches from New York State into Alabama, the Piedmont blues region remains a subset within this larger area. Really, culturally-defined territories are liquid structures that usually elude solid border line. For the sake of clarity, this essay defines the Piedmont blues region as spanning from Danville, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia, running approximately 325 miles from northeast to southwest and being seventy-five to one hundred miles wide.

Blues in the Lower Chattahoochee Lowland has considerable associations to the Piedmont blues culture. Piedmont blues' raggy, finger-picking six string format is imitated by numerous Lower Chattahoochee blues musicians, and numerous Piedmont blues songs have indeed ended up being Lower Chattahoochee benchmarks, encompassing Blind Boy Fuller's "Step it up and Go"

" Amidst the rolling hilltops, compact ranches, foundries, and fossil fuel and railway bivouacs of the countryside Eastern side Shoreline Piedmont, in between Tidewater coastline and the Appalachian Mountain ranges of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, white and black business and societal habits have lapped over substantially-- much more so than in the neighboring regions or the Deep Southern states. Piedmont blues formats demonstrates this, coordinating hints of gospel, fiddle harmonies, blues, grass roots, and jazz within its moving, exhuberant noise."

Noteworthy Piedmont Blues Performers


blind willie mctell piedmont blue gutiar performerBlind Willie McTell (1901-1959) matured in Statesboro, Georgia, and helped make his living as a well-known street entertainer. Performing on a twelve-string acoustic guitar, he was tape-recorded often by field-recording researchers going to Atlanta in between 1927 and 1935. His tunes were copied by Taj Mahal and the Allman Brothers, to name a few. McTell's arsenal covered anything from blues, mixed race folk music, and holy songs. His decades of street singing in Atlanta, and in the modest medicine tents that journeyed the country side, were primarily behind McTells comprehensive and wide-ranging range of tunes. McTell was cared for from 9 years old in Statesboro, and where he in the first place picked up the blues.

Blind Blake was truly probably among the most proficient blues musician of the period and is taken into account by many being among the greatest traditional acoustic blues guitar players of all time. He seemed to be a roving singer, and the arsenal of songs was large, incorporating blues, ragtime segments, and gimmick tunes. His performance is noted by a speedy finger technique. Blind Blake recorded 81 individual tracks on Paramount from 1926 throughout 1932, and he joined forces with a variety of eminent blues musicians, consisting of Ma Rainey, Gus Cannon, and Papa Charlie Jackson. Blake faded away right after his very last Paramount appointment in 1932.

Etta Baker, coming from the Piedmont city of Morganton, North Carolina, personifies a fusion in melodic formats much like John Cephas. Baker's grandaddy was certainly a banjo pro who enjoyed dance tunes and whirls. Her dad showed her the blues together with lounge tunes, psalms, as well as Tin Pan Alley pieces of that time. When a young adult, Baker performed for private functions and barn dances, nevertheless right after her wedding in 1936 she set down the acoustic guitar and the banjo (other than friends and family events) to care for her 9 little ones as well as to earn a living at the Skyland Fabric Works. 

In the video below Jim Bruce teaches Blind Boy Fuller's Piedmont ragtime blues guitar style:

To most people the term ‘East Coast’ conjures up sophisticated images of New York, Washington or New England, but the Blues has its roots in the warmer soil further south where the tobacco grows. The respected Blues writer Bruce Bastin coined the phrase Piedmont Blues to describe the music from the coastal plain stretching from the Appalachian foothills to the Atlantic, and from Virginia down through the Carolinas and Georgia to Florida.

Piedmont guitar style has folk and ragtime influences, and is played with a light touch and a jaunty swing. Sometimes finger picks are used for volume, and there is often a hint of banjo technique in the typical Piedmont sound.

Blind Blake was a notable exponent of this style, with clean picking, steady rhythm and tasteful and imaginative phrasing making him a best selling Blues artist. Throughout the 20’s he played on streetcorners, Saturday night dances and fish-fries all up and down the Georgia and Carolina coastline. His instrumental, ‘West Coast Blues’ was a hit on Paramount in 1926, and he recorded more than 80 tracks before his demise in 1933.

Blind Boy Fuller and his blind mentor, Gary Davis also recorded in the 20’s. Davis taught Fuller many guitar tunes and was an excellent harp and banjo player: Fuller preferred a National Steel guitar which he often played with a bottleneck. Reverend Gary Davis found the Lord in 1937, and his repertoire moved away from ragtime towards a more gospel styling. His wide range and ‘happy organ’ guitar made him a favourite of the 60’s folk-blues revival. Fuller moved to New York and after years of ill-health died there in 1941. 

By then a young Josh White, who learnt Piedmont style guitar as a ‘lead-boy’ for many blind players, was also a NY resident. Very many Piedmont musicians gravitated North to New York, just as Delta musicians had taken the train to Chicago, and planted their country blues in an urban environment that would both assimilate and change it.

Article Source: http://www.allaboutbluesmusic.com/piedmont-blues/




Around 1973, together with her youngsters leaving home, she gave up her employment and commenced to playing for audiences anew, receiving invites to gigs and folk events. In 1991 she received a National Heritage Fellowship created by the National Endowment for the Arts. Baker's raggy triple note guitar techniques evokes Elizabeth Cotten, Blind Willie McTell, and Floyd Council. (Source: Blues Routes Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1999).

Sonny Terry - Blind ever since youth, Saunders Terrell (1911-1986) was birthed in Greensboro, North Carolina. He teamed up with McGhee (1915-1996) in North Carolina in nineteen thirty nine. They had already each been brought in into the path of the renowned Blind Boy Fuller and collaborated with him before his passing away in 1941. In the very early 1940s, they lived in New York and right into a collaboration that would certainly come to be the longest-lasting collaboration in blues antiquity.

Blind Boy Fuller (1908-1941) is probably the most well-liked and significant Piedmont blues performer of all time. Similar to Blind Blake, his song list was enormous: he performed Piedmont, blues and the pop of those years, all played on his National acoustic guitar. As told by Barry Lee Pearson, Fuller was equipped "to adapt and copy the winners of many other musicians-- in this particular way, he was a gatherer of techniques, similar in numerous approaches to Robert Johnson." Similar to Johnson, Fuller lived the hard blues life, dying at the age of thirty-three in 1941. Most of Fuller's tunes are performed by Lower Chattahoochee musicians, such as the Piedmont timeless standard "Step it Up and Go".

Elizabeth Cotton (1895-1987) spent her working time in family jobs, to start with in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, precisely where she was birthed, and after that across Washington, D. C. Her acoustic guitar and four string banjo collection was pulled just about completely from styles older than the blues: jazz, drifting songs, Gospel, kid's songs.

A superstar guitar player, Reverend Gary Davis (1896-1972) was good at extemporizing ceaselessly in many keys. Raised in South Carolina, he learned off the blind musician Willie Walker. He instructed Blind Boy Fuller and also at time in the nineteen thirties was anointed as a Baptist preacher. His religions restricted his performing worldly music. He relocated to New York in the early forties and earned a living as a minstrel.


 
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