Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poor White Boys and the Slide

Yesterday’s pedal steel guitar post sure got my feet moving.

Once again the influence of Hawaiian music has shown up on the Bus. It got me to thinking about another genre of American music that was influenced by the slide guitar of Hawaii. I have often mentioned the influence of the Hawaiian slide guitar style on two seemingly different genres, country and the blues. The two are much more closely related than most folks think and neither would sound as they do today if it were not for the interchange of ideas, licks, and influences of early musicians.

I have discussed the popularity of Hawaiian music in this space so many times before that I’m sure some of you riders are rolling your eyes and thinking “There he goes, wondering off to Hawaii again.” Don’t fret, I’ll skip the Hawaiian lecture today, you all know the routine by now. I just wanted to point out that the rural white country musicians picked up a thing or two from the waves of Hawaiian music that rolled across America during the first few decades of the twentieth century.

On the drive home from the plant I thought about what music I would post. The first artists that came to mind were Darby & Tarlton, Frank Hutchison, and Riley Puckett. When I got home, I searched through my collection for other early white country musicians that had picked up the slide guitar. I found plenty of examples; in fact, I was surprised at how many I found with just a quick pass through. After pulling out many records and listening, I decided to go with my first thought. All were from the rural South, all worked for a living (Riley Puckett, blinded shortly after birth, played on street corners in Atlanta for change, Darby & Tarlton worked at a textile mill in South Carolina, and Frank Hutchison was a coal miner from West Virginia), and all were early pioneers in country music that had been influenced by both Hawaiian music and by their black musician neighbors.

Riley Puckett - A Darkies Wall.mp3

Frank Hutchinson - KC Blues.mp3

Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton - Lonesome Frisco Line.mp3


Blogger lynne said...

Wow, gave me the shivers .. who's in the image?

September 13, 2007 12:15 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi Lynne,
That pale, lankey fellow in the photo is Frank Hutchison. Just a ghost of a man once you wash off all of that coal dust, eh?

September 13, 2007 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Riley Puckett blew me away! This is absolutely amazing picking. All three posts definitely show the strong influence of Hawaiian and Black music. Great choices, Ed!

September 13, 2007 6:19 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

wow, ed. this is the kind of stuff that humbles me into wanting to hang up my guitar. 'course your fiddle posts usually have a similar effect ...

September 13, 2007 7:58 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

You can see why I was so disappointed that the Riley Puckett 78s from our friend Wes have so much surface noise that the music is nearly obscured. Riley Puckett is most well known for his time as one of Gid Tanner’s Skillet Lickers, but his most impressive guitar works were solo outings.

September 13, 2007 8:08 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I know better than that, Ken. You won't hang up that guitar or your fiddle, you'll use these great tunes as inspiration.
I believe you've said before, the playing may not always be good, but few things can compare with the joy of making music.
Play on, my friend, play on.

September 13, 2007 8:12 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

true that, my friend ....

September 13, 2007 8:44 PM  

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