Hillbilly Blues Guitar

by

 from http://www.guitarvideos.com:

Included on this DVD are songs from Clarence Greene, known mostly as a fiddler, but an ace guitarist, Dick Justice, who in his one day in the recording studio waxed ten masterful performances, Frank Hutchison who excelled at lap slide, harmonica on a rack and conventional blues picking, Sam McGee, a banjo and guitar master who went on to star on the Grand Ole Opry, Hobart Smith, a musical powerhouse, Maybelle Carter, a rocksteady and beautifully lyrical player who may have been the most influential of the bunch and Emry Arthur, a soulful singer and player who recorded one of the earliest versions of Man Of Constant Sorrow.

excerpt from David Bradford  (www.19thcenturyguitar.com):

The guitar was largely ignored by rural white musicians until around the turn of the twentieth century. The sudden popularity of the instrument among white “hillbilly” musicians probably was due to the fact that – then as now – young whites were attuned to musical trends in the black community and eager to learn the latest black styles. The blues – which was just coming into its own as a distinctive new style – was probably the hottest, most exciting thing those white country boys had ever heard, and the guitar was a key part of that excitement.

“My daddy ran a little store, and these section hands would come over from the railroad at noon,” recalled early Grand Ole Opry guitarist Sam McGee of his childhood in Tennessee. “Well, after they finished their lunch, they would play guitars. …  That’s where I learned to love the blues tunes. Black people were about the only people that played guitar then.”

The guitar – and along with it the blues – was introduced to white Appalachia by African-American musicians, principally railroad workers, deckhands on river boats, and men coming into the mountains from other parts of the South looking for work in the mines and lumber camps in the early part of the twentieth century.

Frank Hutchinson,  (1898-1945), a white blues musician from Logan County, West Virginia, first heard a black guitarist with a railroad crew that came through the area when he was seven or eight years old. Norton, Virginia banjo-playing coal miner Moran Lee “Dock” Boggs (1898-1971), as a small boy, was fascinated with the music of a black man named “Go Lightening” who walked along railroad tracks playing his guitar. If Hutchison and Boggs’ memories are reliable, black guitarists were in Appalachia at least as early as the first decade of the twentieth century.

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