Tampa Red may not be a household name in today’s musical landscape but in the 1920s -1940s he was a star whose recorded works numbered into the hundreds. He was an integral part of the “roaring twenties” Chicago blues explosion that shaped the city into the Blues Mecca it so proudly boasts of to this day.
Dubbed the “Guitar Wizard” his skill using a slide was unmatched with a clean, clear tone coupled with razor sharp precision that can only be described as highly sophisticated. He played exclusively out of Open D tuning (D A D F# A D) (aka Vestapol tuning) when using a slide and his technique was completely evolved by his first recordings in 1928. Although the licks, chords, and progressions, may not vary much from song to song Tampa Red played in many different styles including; slow blues, up tempo boogie woogie, hokum, ragtime, and of course his extraordinary lyrical instrumentals.
Tampa Red put the slide down in the 1940s but continued to make recordings well into the 1950s helping to usher in a new era of electric Chicago blues that would soon be heard the world over with larger than life characters. But it’s the magic of his earlier recordings that etched him in stone as one of the legends of the blues and a slide guitar icon.
In this lesson Tom Feldmann takes you through nine tunes that Tampa Red recorded in the 1920s-1930s showcasing his varied song styles and masterful slide technique. All the songs are played out of Open D tuning and employ a mix of slide and fingered chords. The songs will prove a challenge to any level of player and the skills mined from this course will take your slide playing to a whole new level.
A detailed tab/music PDF file is included on the DVD. The original Tampa Red recordings are included in the Bonus Audio section.
Titles include: Things ‘Bout Coming My Way, Black Angel Blues, Western Bound Blues, No Matter How She Done It, It’s Tight Like That, Boogie Woogie Dance, Denver Blues, Please Mister Blues and Bumble Bee Blues
118 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Hudson Whittaker AKA Tampa Red was one of the most prolific early Country Blues recording artists, and also one of the most precise players of slide style, recording slow, fast and Hokum style tunes in what some call the Piedmont, or Ragtime style, which is my personal favorite. He literally recorded hundreds of songs; also backing female singers along with piano players, and in the process influenced a great many subsequent players, including B.B. King, who redid Red's "Black Angel Blues" as "Sweet Little Angel." Tom Feldman is a great player AND a great teacher, and that tune is one of 9 included here, across a variety of tempos and including a couple of the Hokum numbers. The pattern is as in the many other titles we've reviewed: Tom plays the piece first, then talks about the various elements involved, showing them, and then he plays the whole piece very slowly in split-screen where you can see both his hands at the guitar. All of the tunes are in Vestapol tuning, an open 'D' in the tuning section at the beginning. I've enjoyed watching Tom so much I was sitting here thinking I'd love to see him do a concert some time, and perhaps even get some of his original music. Lo and behold, and at the end he does play a piece that I think is his own, using various of the techniques and licks he's taught, and perhaps making up a few of his own! As is generally the case, there is a PDF file featuring the tablature for what you see being played, and this DVD also includes all 9 of the original Tampa Red recordings of the songs you've been taught! You'll recognize variations on many familiar melodies, for instance also that tune you heard from Cream that goes‚ "If you lose your money, great God don't lose your mind." The opening tune, called here‚"Things About Coming My Way" is a variation on what you'll remember as "Sitting On Top Of The World," and also bears a melodic relationship to songs like the Gospel "You Got To Move," and Red's own ‚"Hurts Me Too." Very good stuff! - Marc Bristol/Blue Suede News
Review: Hey, you blues bottleneckers out there: Know broomduster Elmore James or Robert Nighthawk, who slid the frets like spreading honey? Well, if you’re not already wise to Tampa Red, then be sure to thank Chicago’s prewar “Guitar Wizard” for feeding both of them. For Elmore, “It Hurts Me Too” famously infiltrated his setlist; for Nighthawk, Red’s whole approach—clear, precise and articulate—was what struck a stylistic nerve.
Tampa Red, you see, was a Depression-era rock star in a bow tie, who made records by the truckload over the span of the 1920s-1940s. Yet other than the pageantry received back in the day, the once top-selling star is now often passed over when talk turns to slide royalty.
But leave it to Tom Feldmann to champion Red for two hours by breaking the code to “Things ’Bout Coming My Way” (prototype for “It Hurts Me Too”) and eight other of his classics. Included is “It’s Tight Like That,” whose risqué double-entendres made 1928 blush. Two years later, “Boogie Woogie Dance” lived up to its active name, only to be reversed by 1934’s “Black Angel Blues” (aka “Sweet Black Angel”), a slow blues of everlasting proportion (ask Nighthawk, Earl Hooker and B.B. King). With typical matchless enthusiasm and expert guidance, Feldmann strings together one check-this-out lick and you-gotta-see bass move after the next.
Eventually, Tampa would flip on an amp. Yet it’s the pre-electric brilliance in the finger-wagging sass of “No Matter How She Done It” or the instrumental intricacy of “Bumble Bee Blues” that yielded Red’s killer stuff. – Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag