Monday, November 05, 2007

I'd be honored if you'd give a listen to my grandpa playing Denver Blues on his Martin 3/4 guitar twenty some years ago.



Grandpa played in the finger-picking style, also known as fingerstyle, and this manner of guitar picking has a great kinship with the river-bottom blues style of guitar picking. The thumb plays the lower strings as the rhythm accompaniment while the index and middle fingers play the melody and harmonies on the middle and high strings.

Music has been my abiding passion my whole life, and I really learned first to love music at grandpa's feet, listening to this superb guitar. I can fall in and out of love with new music all the time, but there is only one true body of music to which my soul resonates, and it is this, played by my grandfather's hands and informed by his life of joy and tragedy. I'll post more of his music soon, but this, Denver Blues, is one of my favorites.

Grandpa started playing when he was just a few years old, around the time of WWI. I have another song recorded that he learned in 1922, and in addition to the folk tradition, I think the finger pickers of that era were playing in a manner evocative of the jazz/ragtime and blues transformation that American pop music was undergoing at the moment. Grandpa was a woodman, and felled many a mile of timber in his day, much of that wood for furniture. Who knows-- maybe there's an antique stick of furniture in your house that passed through his hands? Anyway, I'm pleased you've taken a moment to think of my grandpa, and I thank those of you who've listened to him.

JPG asked for a link to a video of this style of playing, and here's an older blog post of mine that has video of another Ozark fingerpicker named Jimmie Driftwood who plays a guitar built from the headboard of his grandmother's bedstead. Filmed in 1988 at the age of 81, he was a real old-timer and he was born 7 years before my grandpa. Jimmie Driftwood wrote "The Battle of New Orleans" to get a class he was teaching interested in the subject. Jimmie strums more than my grandpa. Grandpa primarily plucked the strings, as you can hear, but there's a definite kinship in their styles.

24 comments:

Xavier said...

Damn! He's good!

phlegmfatale said...

Thank you, xavier. I'm kinda proud of him.

Christina said...

That's your Grandpa, playing by himself?!!

Wow.

More? Please?

Lin said...

He kicked butt - he had me rockin', mamma! Can you put his music on an MP3, CD or a cassette? If so, bring a copy when you show up. I should have our front sitting porch and cowboy saloon with music capabilities done by then!

Ambulance Driver said...

Damn, that's some pretty good blues guitar!

JPG said...

Outstanding, Phlegmmie. I'd really love to see film or vid of Mr. Kent's fingerwork. Do you have any links to someone doing thaqt style picking?
JPG

Suzi-k said...

hi, found you on AD's comments page, enjoyed your name, and now I also enjoy your blog! And your grandpa rocked! (Emma too)

DBA Dude said...

Awesome, the dude could really play.

More soon please?

Deepwater said...

Your Granpa sure could make that ol' Martin talk - thanks for sharing...

Squeaky Wheel said...

Neat!

Myron said...

And all my grandpa could do was tell lies, er, tall tales.

I'm very much looking forward to more of your grandpa's music.

Mushy said...

Wow, that is fantastic! I love it!

That, my dear, is my kind of music, but I can't imagine how much it would mean if it were my grandpappy playing it! What a treasure. Thanks for sharing it with us.

phlegmfatale said...

christina - yup, that's one guitar - it sounded even more amazing in person. :) Glad you liked it!

lin - yeah, I'll do some cds and mp3s and I'll send you one, which'll be sooner than my next trip to NM. :)

ambulance driver - I think so!

jpg - I don't think any videos exist of my grandpa playing, but I've posted a link on this post to another similar Ozark fingerpicker named Jimmie Driftwood

suzi-k - THANKS so much for stopping by today of all days. I'm thrilled to share him with a wider audience.

dba dude - I'm honored you liked it - you have great taste in music. OK, I won't lie - I KNEW You'd like it! :)

deepwater - I'm honored you took the time to listen

squeaky wheel - thanks!

myron - thanks so much!

mushy - Thanks! Yeah, you're a real blues fan - I thought you'd appreciate this. But yeah, we were rich beyond measure with this kind of music. He was a phenomenal talent. Thanks for listening!

James said...

Your grandpa was a hell of a player, Phlegmmy, and I'm sure he'd be tickled to know that his granddaughter was so proud of him.

SpeakerTweaker said...

LaP,

That was some rockin (chair) guit-fiddle pickins, there!!

That man did it the good ole fashioned way. I could listen to that on continuous loop sippin on MS Moonshine on the porch of a place with no view/sounds of civilization for miles.

Or maybe top-down cruisin a country back road at 10 or 15 miles BELOW the speed limit. That was GREAT!



tweaker

PS- Thanks for stopping by the blog earlier. I've been pining for some hits on that last post, but a nearly 2 week dry spell's gonna cost you some comments. Here's to hope!

Buck Pennington said...

Dang, I sure enjoyed that, and can't wait for more...much more. I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit at your grandpa's knee while he was playing. You were privileged, indeed, Phlegmmy!

LJ said...

Phlegmy that was just bloody wonderful! Thank you for posting it!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That was incredible, PF! You grandpa certainly had an amazing talent. How very lucky that someone had the foresight to record him. Thanks for sharing that!

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Wow, that was cool as hell. We've got pictures of my grandad and others with musical instrument, but no recordings. Too bad. You're very lucky. That was great.

skywriter said...

What a legacy of talent. .. no wonderful you are so gifted in many things. That man is GOOD!

JR said...

Thank you very much for sharing that with us, I am looking forward to more.

Hammer said...

Fantastic. I love this type of music.

DirtCrashr said...

I feel so uncoordinated next to guitar pickers...

phlegmfatale said...

james - thank you, and I know he would - he was very proud of his thirty-something grandchildren. Well, most of us!

speakertweaker - thanks for coming by to check him out - I think he was a real talent, and he was very generous with his music and his love

buck - yeah, we were all blessed - it was indescribably sweet to hear him play. I'd give up a lot in life to be in the room with that music one more time...

lj - glad you liked it, and I'm glad you have a sound card now!!!

barbara - yes it was fortuitous that someone took the trouble to document his wonderful music

fhb - glad you liked it, and I do feel lucky to have this

skywriter - aw shucks.

jr - yw, and thanks for listening!

hammer -it's golden, isn't it?

dirtcrashr - yeah, it's amazing what they can do, in my opinion!