Monday, May 01, 2017

One More Thing For My Resume...

This past trip to Chicago we went off to eat at a famous pizza place. I forget the name but there is at least 4 places in town that clam to have invented the deep dish pizza. I think I've eaten at two of them. That's not the thing that I want to add to my resume although the pizza thing might sound touchingly funny in an obit. In the neighborhood of the pizza place was The Old Town School of Folk Music. They were offering a class on the slide guitar style of Delta blues man Robert Johnson. I walked a couple of blocks down the street and signed up for the class. That's the thing I want to add to my resume, studied at the Old Town School.

The school is Chicago's place to be a source of lessons, performances and celebration of music from all over the world. Lot of bands I would like to see play here. On site is also a very nice music store. I usually carry a slide with me but mine was in my suit case at the house so I bought one, they had my favorite in stock and a thumb pick and they held my drivers licence which granted me the use of a perfectly serviceable acoustic guitar.

You may know of Robert Johnson. Most of what is known of him is legendary. A fair to middling singer and guitar player plays around some, disappears for a while, returns and has developed an unearthly style like no one has ever heard. It's rumored he met the devil at one of the many crossroads that grid the Mississippi Delta cotton fields. The devil tuned Robert's guitar for him and he was a different musician when he took it up after this. The trade off was his soul. Robert recorded about 30 sides in San Antone and Dallas, had his photo taken about twice and was reportedly poisoned by a jealous husband at a gig in Greenwood, Mississippi and spent his last hours on his all fours barking like a dog. He had got to hear maybe his two of the recordings he made. In the 60s the great English blues and rock guitarist who heard these recordings  asked, "who is the other guy playing with him?" and white guys like me have been trying to cop his licks every since.  

Here's a photo of the guy who taught my class. His name is Paul Kaye. He has played with Buddy Guy, Honeyboy Edwards and many others. 

Now as you may have noticed I like to play slide and have a style of my own. This was a good class for me because it's always nice to try to learn a lick exactly. That way you can have a stepping stone to open up other new things. We worked in two turnings, D and G. D is just like the E tuning I use just a step lower so good usable material. I don't use G much but I suppose if I was backing some one that used the key of G a lot it might be handy to have this in the bag of tricks. I took a couple of videos so I could remember the class and Paul asked that we not upload them.   Here's a clip from his web site of Paul doing his thing:

Paul had cds of his music for sale. He was a nice guy, I bought one. 

I am on the school's list now because I got an email today about a Big Bill Broonzy workshop. Looks like all kind of things from Johnny Cash Ensembles to electric blues to acoustic finger style. These Sunday afternoon courses were $25 for 90 minutes and there are many opportunities for 8 week courses. 

So there you have it. I have studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music with a guy that has played with many of the masters.  I turned in the loaner guitar and got my drivers licence back. I have two other slides like the one I bought in Chicago. I'm not sure which is which but I am taking one off to the woodshed to practice. 


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