Finding the Groove

A discussion of the blues for blues lovers and fans.

Finding the Groove

Postby jeffl » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:03 am

Last night at our weekly jam I tossed out "Smokestack Lightnin' " for the first time. Several of the players are not really blues guys, so when I started the tune I sat on the riff (I play harp, although I coulda jus' as easily led it on the keyboards) for about 32 bars. It took me about 16 bars of eye contact with the drummer to get him behind the beat and once he got there I spent another 16 gettin' the rest of the band in the hole. The young guys are lookin' at me like "What the heck are ya' doin' ? Once we got 'em all settled in we were good to go. I think some of those guys might be startin' to "get it". They were all ecstatic about how we pulled it off, and I'm thinkin' that there's some hope for 'em.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby LesFromChicago » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:27 am

Congratulations!

It is very hard to get those locked into with 1-4-5 to operate in 1-1-1. :wink:
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby jeffl » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:06 am

LesFromChicago wrote:Congratulations!

It is very hard to get those locked into with 1-4-5 to operate in 1-1-1. :wink:
You're so right Les. It's kind of a joke with alotta musicians Ithink-- at least anybody who's accustomed to playin' with rock musicians. I've got one buddy (a veteran gigger) who thinks every song should have a bridge...and he's a pretty good songwriter.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby Bournio » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:24 am

I got some funny looks tonight at an open mic, I play Levee gonna break, as just about a 1 chord song, I love the variety that the 4 notes in a tonic minor with sharp 9 chord, can give you(or a tonic minor chord, with a major third added too)

I've not had the pleasure to play with musicians so set in their ways, but I assume it'll be an experience when I do so!
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby stumblin » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:47 pm

jeffl wrote:
LesFromChicago wrote:It is very hard to get those locked into with 1-4-5 to operate in 1-1-1. :wink:
You're so right Les. It's kind of a joke with alotta musicians Ithink-- at least anybody who's accustomed to playin' with rock musicians. I've got one buddy (a veteran gigger) who thinks every song should have a bridge...and he's a pretty good songwriter.

That's so true.
Almost every time I try to play a one chord song, like Smokestack Lightnin', Brownville blues etc, someone will insist on trying to force chord changes in where there isn't one. I guess "1-1-1" (great coinage, Les :mrgreen: ) just isn't what most guys (usually the ones who are approaching blues from a rock perspective) are used to.
Still, it's fun to confound people's expectations, even if it doesn't always sound too pretty 8)
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby LesFromChicago » Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:44 pm

stumblin wrote:
jeffl wrote:
LesFromChicago wrote:It is very hard to get those locked into with 1-4-5 to operate in 1-1-1. :wink:
You're so right Les. It's kind of a joke with alotta musicians Ithink-- at least anybody who's accustomed to playin' with rock musicians. I've got one buddy (a veteran gigger) who thinks every song should have a bridge...and he's a pretty good songwriter.

That's so true.
Almost every time I try to play a one chord song, like Smokestack Lightnin', Brownville blues etc, someone will insist on trying to force chord changes in where there isn't one. I guess "1-1-1" (great coinage, Les :mrgreen: ) just isn't what most guys (usually the ones who are approaching blues from a rock perspective) are used to.
Still, it's fun to confound people's expectations, even if it doesn't always sound too pretty 8)



Sometimes, though, when I play a one-chord song for too long or just sometimes a couple of minutes, the tension builds too much and i just have a need to go to the four for a bit just to get the emotional release of dropping back into the one. Does that make sense to anyone else?

and sometimes I'll deliberately do what probably ought to be a one chord song with the singing done mostly on the four. I mean like I will play the smokestack lightning groove on the one for 2 or 3 bars or measures or whatever you want to call it, then change to the four to sing a line, then start all over again and repeat for a bunch of lines. It is kind of like merging smokestack lightning with rolling and tumbling but never going to the five at all, if I decide to sing a 'punch line' like would normally be done on the 5, I will sing it on the one.

I do like that for a few of my songs, but I must confess I am pretty much a one-four-fiver with most of my songs. Too much Jimmy Reed as a child maybe. Although on Jimmy Reed's "Now Appearing" album he had a neat one-chord number "Me and My Baby Walking Down The Road" or some such title.
Now if Jimmy Reed could do a one-chord song, surely those rockers ought to able too.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby jeffl » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:16 pm

If you play with guys who are straight blues players, you're lucky. But in my experience, alot of us play a mix of rock, folk, blues,country, and a smattering of other genres. Of the guys in my jam group, only a couple of 'em have played straight blues in the past; I've had to school 'em as much as I can, and I'm not a guitar player, nor am I extremely knowledgeable on the genre... other than having played the blues for about 40 years. I also believe that most rock players like to play SOME blues tunes, and then they may lean to the rock derivations of those tunes (Doors' "Back Door Man", Foghat's "I Jus' Wanna Make Love to You" , etc.). They need to be introduced to the basic concepts of the blues, and they have to get to that place in the music that previously was hidden from their view because it is down low... a place in your soul. They may scoff at it until the day they "get it". However, if you're liked and halfway respected musically, you may find ( or may have found already ) that some are amenable to treatment. In the case of "Smokestack Lightnin'" on this past Tuesday, I could tell that they were gettin' it, 'cuz they finally fell into line and then they enjoyed the hell out of it!
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby Les Forgue » Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:01 am

jeffl wrote:If you play with guys who are straight blues players, you're lucky. But in my experience, alot of us play a mix of rock, folk, blues,country, and a smattering of other genres. Of the guys in my jam group, only a couple of 'em have played straight blues in the past; I've had to school 'em as much as I can, and I'm not a guitar player, nor am I extremely knowledgeable on the genre... other than having played the blues for about 40 years. I also believe that most rock players like to play SOME blues tunes, and then they may lean to the rock derivations of those tunes (Doors' "Back Door Man", Foghat's "I Jus' Wanna Make Love to You" , etc.). They need to be introduced to the basic concepts of the blues, and they have to get to that place in the music that previously was hidden from their view because it is down low... a place in your soul. They may scoff at it until the day they "get it". However, if you're liked and halfway respected musically, you may find ( or may have found already ) that some are amenable to treatment. In the case of "Smokestack Lightnin'" on this past Tuesday, I could tell that they were gettin' it, 'cuz they finally fell into line and then they enjoyed the hell out of it!


A true leader is plain and simply someone others are willing to follow; sounds like you're a true leader like that.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby jellyroll baker » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:05 am

No no no guys, you got it all wrong! My little guitar book right here tells me that to play blues you play a 1-4-5 twelve bar pattern. Anything else just ain't the blues! The book says so.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby maxx england » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:30 pm

Just put the damned thing in top, put your right foot on the deck and aim for the horizon. Our tame bass player didn't understand until he found out that, unlike anything else, there were no limits to his improvisation, then he took off and Went Somewhere.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby jeffl » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:10 pm

Les Forgue wrote:
jeffl wrote:If you play with guys who are straight blues players, you're lucky. But in my experience, alot of us play a mix of rock, folk, blues,country, and a smattering of other genres. Of the guys in my jam group, only a couple of 'em have played straight blues in the past; I've had to school 'em as much as I can, and I'm not a guitar player, nor am I extremely knowledgeable on the genre... other than having played the blues for about 40 years. I also believe that most rock players like to play SOME blues tunes, and then they may lean to the rock derivations of those tunes (Doors' "Back Door Man", Foghat's "I Jus' Wanna Make Love to You" , etc.). They need to be introduced to the basic concepts of the blues, and they have to get to that place in the music that previously was hidden from their view because it is down low... a place in your soul. They may scoff at it until the day they "get it". However, if you're liked and halfway respected musically, you may find ( or may have found already ) that some are amenable to treatment. In the case of "Smokestack Lightnin'" on this past Tuesday, I could tell that they were gettin' it, 'cuz they finally fell into line and then they enjoyed the hell out of it!


A true leader is plain and simply someone others are willing to follow; sounds like you're a true leader like that.

Actually Les, being normally a sideman, I'm more of a CHEER-leader than a leader, lol! I put on my "Howlin' Wolf uniform" once in a while and lead a tune from the harp spot, but I enjoy encouragin' guitarists and singers to push themselves a little and get outa their comfort zones.
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Re: Finding the Groove

Postby unquashable » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:14 pm

Me an' my harp player, well, we jes' love dem blues. We could play one chord forever...
...But someone else would eventually pull the plug. Really though, harmony and melody are really secondary to the groove, the rythm. Playing the right notes in the right order is one thing. But to play them at the right time, with feeling is another thing.
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