The city of St. Louis played host, in the 1920s and 1930s, to one of the most distinctive and vital blues scenes ever documented on record. Like Memphis and Atlanta, St. Louis served as a sort of magnet, attracting musicians from the surrounding hinterlands and providing performance opportunities that were not available out in the country. Many of the St. Louis musicians were transplanted Mississippians, like Charley Jordan, while others, like Clifford Gibson and Teddy Darby, originally hailed from Kentucky. The various early influences that the music of these players displayed ended up coalescing into something that might be called the “St. Louis sound”.
Included on this DVD are transcriptions and teaching of the songs of Teddy Darby, where the guitar and voice track each other closely, Clifford Gibson, with his distinctive approach to playing in Spanish tuning and the mysterious low cross-note sound, Charley Jordan, with his acrobatic thumbwork and occasionally raggy sound, and the enigmatic Lane Hardin, who only recorded two titles under his own name. The songs selected for inclusion in the lesson have been chosen to introduce you to a variety of different tunings and playing positions, and employ different right hand approaches that will expand your ability to utilize techniques like thumb lead and brush strokes.
A PDF file is included on the DVD which can be printed out into an easily readable, 8.5” by 11” booklet, including not only detailed transcriptions of the songs, but the songs’ lyrics, as well. As well, all of the original recordings from which the transcriptions were made are included on the DVD.
Titles include: TEDDY DARBY Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues CLIFFORD GIBSON Don’t Put That Thing On Me CLIFFORD GIBSON Brooklyn Blues CHARLEY JORDAN Big Four Blues CHARLEY JORDAN Just A Spoonful LANE HARDIN Hard Time Blues
95 minutes • Level 2/3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Under Professor John Miller's guidance, your guitar can party like it's 1929. That was back in the golden age of St. Louis Blues Guitar, around when the home team boasted an historic lineup of string dazzlers. Not only could moonshiners Teddy Darby and Charley Jordan intoxicate you with liquid refreshment, but also with their handiwork on the frets. Darbys' cross-note “Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues” uniquely works the thumb like a dog, providing its responsibilities of phrasing melody and even playing lead lines over the course of the song's ever changing meter. Jordan grants less mercy. In keeping with its train theme, “Big Four Blues” complexly rolls on the power of that thumb in perpetual chug. More forgiving is his cascading rag-like take on the anthem to constant craving, “Just A Spoonful.” Clifford Gibson resumes the thumb theatrics on “Brooklyn Blues,” before casting voodoo over the relaxed swing of “Don't Put That Thing On Me” Mystery man Lane Hardin, blues phantom, injects Depression-era peril into the unusual moaning drone of “Hard Time Blues.” And Miller is wise to it all. His DVD tutorial coaches you on their playing secrets (backed by their vintage recordings), where being all thumbs has its advantages. – Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag