Monday, October 27, 2014

Blues Mandolin - Part One

In the early days of the last century, the mandolin gained popularity both as a blues instrument and as the backbone of the early African American string bands. Several of these groups added mandolin to guitars, banjos, fiddles, jugs and kazoos to play energetic and heart-felt renditions of blues and ragtime songs. Bluegrass players, from Bill Monroe onward, incorporated blues licks into their playing. Steve James knows this music and its history well, and he brings it clearly into focus on this fun and funky lesson.

Mandolin novices will start out by learning a basic G scale and how to alter it to create a blues scale. Check out Divin’ Duck Blues by the great Yank Rachell. Once you learn some of the primary blues chords on the mandolin, you'll quickly see how it can become a wonderful accompanying instrument with the use of partial chords for rhythm comping. Turnarounds, double stops and variations on a walking boogie-woogie line are all essential parts of a blues repertoire.

Some other Blues tunes to learn include: The Lonesome Train That Carried My Gal Away, from the recordings of Charlie McCoy and the Mississippi Sheiks, Big Joe Williams’ Juanita Stomp is played on a “high-strung” mandolin (the lower strings are tuned to octaves) and features a rockin’ blues riff in A, Saturday Night in Jail, contains double stops, chord comps, blues licks and scales and, Shotgun Blues, which sounds great on the electric mandolin.


Irish Dance Traditions

Dancing in the Middle Ages (England) Irish dance dates back to its origins in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries and became closely ...