Thursday, November 08, 2007

Before Electricity

The weekend is at hand! Time to get off my soapbox and let the worries of the world melt away.

A few weekends ago we made a trip to Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains to pick apples and stock up on fresh cider. There is a carboy in the pantry, filled with six gallons of cider and yeast happily fermenting. I reckon it will be ready to bottle up in another week or so.

The other day I found myself involved in a conversation with a few younger folk and the subject turned to great guitarists. Most of the names that these kids mentioned were from my generation; Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, and some where their own contemporaries, a few that I was not familiar with.

One of the youngsters wondered aloud why there were no well known guitarists before the ‘60s. Before I could answer, the others reminded him that there was no electricity and therefore no electric guitars(!), and the conversation turned to other subjects.

I didn’t get a chance to remind them that Les Paul (born in 1915) was playing his electric guitar way back in 1936 and several generations of musicians would be thrilled to play just half as well.

Back in those dark days before electricity, there were a few old timers who could wrangle some wonderful sounds out of those old hollow-body, wood acoustic guitars. And there are quite a few still doing it.

Melvin Dupree - Augusta Rag.mp3 [1929]

Sam McGee - Buck Dancer's Choice.mp3 [1926]

Kenny Baker & Josh Graves - Carroll County Blues.mp3 [1973]
a special thanks to rider Laurel for sharing this wonderful album

Bayless Rose - Jamestown Exhibition.mp3 [1930]

Bill Carlisle - Bell Clappin' Mama.mp3 [193?]

Y'all have a good weekend!


Anonymous G-Dub said...

Mom and Dad,

I rode the bus to work first thing this morning. The music was great!

I sat in the back. But I stood up in the aisle and did that silly little buck dance I do when I've had a few cold ones. All I had was a cup of coffee, but there was this guy named Sam McGee playin his guitar in front, and I couldn't resist.

Don't worry, I don't think anybody saw me, They were all payin' attention to Sam at the time.

Now I'm ready for the weekend.

I'll see you soon,


November 09, 2007 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Yo!, Cap'n Ed! Kenny and Josh are a KILLER duet ... that is such great music to start out a day with ... I'm kinda surprised to not see a track or two by Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman's guitarist who was the first to use an 'electrified' instrument with a big band ... or maybe that's for another post, right? Thought so ... But there's Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon, and a whole bunch more that were playing and becoming the 'stuff of legend' that would inspire the future Allmans, Claptons, and Becks of the world ... And you're right on the money about Les Paul - he was doin' it WAY before anyone else even suspected it could be done ...

November 09, 2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Don't forget Charlie Christian who pioneered electric guitar AND jazz band racial integration! Great post. Whether it's music or politics, the Bus is always a great ride....

November 09, 2007 11:49 AM  
Blogger Minerva said...

Morning Ed, couldn't sleep and I'm up playing your tunes. 'Jamestown Exhibition' reminds me of the bass run I play in Ella Speed. Keep up the link with the past. I am so enjoying my cuppa....String Rambler, Pretty Polly, Cherokee Shuffle amongst my favs. AND Jubilee has a lovely ring to it.

November 09, 2007 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Great toe-tappin' tunes to start the weekend!

November 09, 2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Skippy said...

I have to agree with you that there were loads of great guitarist before electricity. In just the few songs you posted, the technical expertise was ever present. In later years (Les Paul was a great example)players learned to combine the technical aspects of playing that fit the music of the day with the added benefit of electronics to "tweak" tones from the instrument.

Have a great weekend!

November 09, 2007 3:08 PM  
Blogger Jim H. said...


Got the Arhoolie boxed set yesterday. Without the Bus, I mightn't ever have heard of Arhoolie Records and its remarkable catalog. Also got a delta blues CD from them with some Bukka White tunes. What a voice!

So please accept my thanks for your educating me and expanding my musical horizons.

Jim Haas

November 09, 2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

This pickin' is HOT! As a Dobro player, I'm partial to the Baker/Graves cut. This is the Dobro as She should be played. I'll be looking for this album on CD. Thanks, Ed, and thanks, Laurel. Gee, I never thought I could use that many commas in such a short sentence!

November 09, 2007 6:25 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Dan, I don't believe I've ever seen so many commas congregate in such a short sentence. Josh Graves' Dobro sure is sweet. I have considered a post pairing Baker/Graves and Blake/Taylor. I believe that would be as close to guitar/Dobro nirvana as one could possibly get.

November 09, 2007 9:09 PM  
Blogger Minerva said...

Hi Ed, I have been reading some of your older posts and came across the one for transferring LPs to PC. I have been doing this thru LP Recorder quite successfully. I was however, interested in all your information. You mentioned you uploaded at 120 bits. I am uploading some Van Ronk tracks which I hope to put on tomorrow and noticed they are 320bits will this matter. Why 120bits?? Media Max is the program for storing online media. It is free and holds 4000mbs

November 10, 2007 7:48 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Jim, glad to hear you've got the Arhoolie set. It really is an amazing collection.

November 11, 2007 4:51 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Lynne, The only reason I used to post at 120kbs was my limited storage capacity. That is no longer a problem as I now have 3gb of storage.

So you use LP Recorder, it is an Aussie software, you know. In fact for LPs I have been using LP Recorder for years.

The problem I have with Media Max and other online storage spots is that they are blocked by many corporate firewalls (including the one where I work) and most riders on the Bus visit when they are taking a break during the workday.

November 11, 2007 4:57 PM  

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