Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > slow blues
slow blues
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groyster1
3321 posts
Feb 07, 2019
9:19 PM
why do some think slow blues is more difficult????I thrive on slow blues.....I guess fast tempo is more difficult for me....blues jam on Wednesday night I do fills behind vocalist and guitarist......and the chord changes are not as difficult to hear......give me slow blues!!!!!!!!!!!!
SuperBee
5812 posts
Feb 08, 2019
1:31 AM
I think it can be difficult for the rhythm section to hold it steady.
And I suppose maybe if you get really caught up in what you’re playing there can be a risk of losing your place. I mean if you start listening to your self too much and forget to listen to the band, but that’s just bad playing of course.

I’m with you though George, I like to get the slow blues in.
Martin
1526 posts
Feb 08, 2019
6:49 AM
One difficulty you can experience on a slow blues is that you, and the audience, actually get to hear yourself, since the volume usually is lower on such material. If your playing/tone/timing etc is bad, then you stand more nakedly exposed in your shortcomings.

As for me, I´m always on the market for a slow blues ´cause that´s when you get to play with nuance, if you´re in a band with loud guitars, drummers and so on. (And one of the bands I play in is just that.)
dougharps
1903 posts
Feb 08, 2019
7:33 AM
I really enjoy singing and playing a slow blues song I know (about 60 beats/min.) when playing in blues bands/groups. It is usually challenging to players who are new to it, particularly guitar players who learned guitar while playing blues-rock or rock. They don't know what to do with the space and lose their place when first encountering it. However, several good guitar players with a wider range of musical experience seem to have no problem grasping the slow pace, even if they are also monster rock players.

When teaching the song to a new band/group that I will be fronting (usually as a sub) or when a player sits in who has not heard it there is a tendency for them to want to go to the change to the IV after the first two bars, apparently counting it as 4 bars, twice as fast as it is. This is after verbally explaining the pace, counting it out, and singing. They just think that it needs to go to the change, and go there. The song is a 12 bar and doesn't have a quick IV.

Having come to recognize this problem, when I introduce the song to someone I make certain that the bass and drum players understand the pace before starting. I sing some of it off mic and count it off. Despite explaining it to all the musicians, I also will start the song by taking it around instrumentally for at least 24 slow bars, starting harp without accompaniment and flashing chord signs with one hand, until the whole band is on board. Once a band learns it, I do not bother with the chord signs.

A slow blues gives you room for expressive playing and is a great contrast to moderate and fast blues. I enjoy fast jump blues material, but I really like doing slow blues when playing with a blues band in a blues setting. There is room enough at that speed to leave space and play with feeling.

I often play harp in other genres, but when playing with blues musicians a slow blues is really satisfying.
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Doug S.
barbequebob
3563 posts
Feb 08, 2019
8:34 AM
For ANY groove at ANY tempo, truth be told, if you have rhythm sections that have at least one member, whether it be the drummer or the bass player, or much worse, BOTH OF THEM, it's difficult to do ANYTHING AT ALL if either or both of them have lousy time and in the vast majority of open jams anywhere in the world, that's often the case at least 50-85% of the time and too often harp players have HORRIBLE TIME TO BEGIN WITH and can't count out the tempo and WRONGLY believe that all drummers and bass players naturally have excellent time and any pro would laugh in your face if you said a dumb thing like that because they ALL know for a fact THIS IS NOT TRUE AT ALL!!!! At too many jams, for many of the jammers, everything is always about the soloing and little else beyond that and the pro attitude is that IT'S ALL ABOUT THE GROOVE and if the groove is already a mess to begin with, no lead player in the world regardless of how good you think they are can overcome that at all. It's another reason why I get on harp players cases about getting their time straight.
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Sincerely,
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
http://www.barbequebob.com
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
The Iceman
3768 posts
Feb 08, 2019
10:47 AM
IMO, at jam situations, the drummer sets the stage volume (as long as there are no insane electric guitar players up there!). When I see a jam drummer pull out brushes, it gives me hope in regards to respectable volume.

Drummer/bass have to lock in if you want groove. Can they? In the past, even with slow blues, sometimes I'll signal the rest of the jammers to stop playing except for bass/drums during my solo...then it's obvious if they can or can't.

There is nothing quite like that clean palette to start with that consists of only bass and drums, over which harmonica has free reign and doesn't have to compete with the other instruments in the mid range.

btw, IMO, whoever is stepping forward when it is their solo time is allowed to expect the other musicians to support him/her and take direction....always defer to the soloist!
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The Iceman
hooktool
190 posts
Feb 08, 2019
12:38 PM
So, George, and anyone else, what are some favorite slow blues?

John
jbone
2834 posts
Feb 08, 2019
1:35 PM
For me at least early on my hazard was playing too much or trying to force the change early. I am seldom at a jam these days and it I was I'd call off Stormy Monday or Five Long Years. If I had confidence in the band I'd call Love in Vain.
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groyster1
3322 posts
Feb 08, 2019
5:51 PM
stormy Monday is my favorite......5 long years pretty good too......I just love to do fills......Ive heard all my life when they come......but if they give me solo.....my best shot
jbone
2835 posts
Feb 08, 2019
7:46 PM
I sing all 3 of those Groy, so they are a piece of cake if the band is on board.
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nowmon
200 posts
Feb 09, 2019
7:23 AM
If you can`t sing it,then you are out of the groove.If you know what you`re playing,and can sing it, then you can play behind the beat,jump ahead a little bit on the turnaround.Stop playing,and come in with horn hits...Know the song first,than it freedom of jamming....
Thievin' Heathen
1112 posts
Feb 09, 2019
6:33 PM
I find that too often "Slow Blues in E" is a condescending offering for the harmonica player made by guitar players who have no Muddy Waters in their repertoire who will shortly return to playing Santana and SRV, badly.

Last Edited by Thievin' Heathen on Feb 09, 2019 6:34 PM
groyster1
3324 posts
Feb 10, 2019
12:34 PM
the key does not matter to me...….whatever the key.....Ill cross it
dougharps
1904 posts
Feb 10, 2019
4:31 PM
Here is the song I have covered at the same slow tempo as the recording. The song caught my attention quite a while back when I first bought the CD.

The song has gone over well with the audience in a number of local performances with bands and at a couple jams. When first singing/playing it with others I recognized that some guitar players tended to go to the IV too early. Because of that experience, I take special care to successfully convey the groove to the musicians playing with me.


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Doug S.
indigo
552 posts
Feb 10, 2019
9:31 PM
@Thievin'
Totally agree with you.And they always play it like a Dirge.
And often goes on for way too long because they don't know how to end it.
Thievin' Heathen
1114 posts
Feb 14, 2019
5:26 AM
The drummer is all over the place, no groove, everybody sounds like shit and they come away with their reinforced opinions of the harmonica as a toy.
The Iceman
3773 posts
Feb 14, 2019
11:35 AM
+1 to Thievin's observations.

Back when I was a lot more active, I'd be asked to join a band on stage (due to my reputation proceeding me) for a tune or two. Band leader would tell me during a break that they'd do 3 songs and then call me up. So, I'd listen to 3 pretty hip tunes by the band, be called up and band leader would tell the band "OK. Slow blues in E".....man!
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The Iceman
Diggsblues
2202 posts
Feb 14, 2019
1:20 PM
I think the key to playing a slow blues is having a "singing" tone and good control over your bends.
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dougharps
1906 posts
Feb 14, 2019
1:27 PM
If you only play as a side man and go to a jam, you are totally dependent upon the choices of those on stage, who may likely include Stevie Ray Wannabes. If you grant them license to rock out, the less knowledgeable will do their thing without regard for others and actually undercut their own abilities.

If you are the singer, you call the song and key, and get to lead the band (to the extent they are lead-able and you step up to lead). As the singer/leader, you get to END the song, too, IF you take charge and communicate.

R.J. Mischo has done workshops on how to work with bands/musicians, as has Jason Ricci. R.J. often uses local bands when touring, and offered good ideas, including starting the song with just harp and having the band join in once the progression is established. He did note that sometimes you just have to go with what you can, if the band doesn't get it despite your efforts.

Most of the musicians at our local blues society jams are at least decent players, want to sound good, and will work with you as best they can. I go to jams about two or three times a year. Perhaps I have been lucky in the jam groups I have played with. It sounds as though those posting about having such bad experiences at jams have really bad local jams, or perhaps have unreal expectations of blues jams.

Though I seldom attend the jams, I am known locally from my playing/singing in bands and from sitting in with other bands. At the last jam I attended, the host band (who I did not know prior to the jam)invited me back up to play in the short closing set at the end of the jam. I was flattered, since one of them played harp, too.


P.S. I still enjoy slow blues, even if it takes effort to get the groove established!
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Doug S.
SuperBee
5822 posts
Feb 16, 2019
8:46 PM
Hooktool: "... what are some favorite slow blues?"

i like this one in its various forms. this is very much in the style given it by Jr Wells
SuperBee
5823 posts
Feb 16, 2019
8:48 PM
this one is a great old favourite and has the bonus of serving as a great introduction to playing 3rd position.

SuperBee
5824 posts
Feb 16, 2019
8:52 PM
and this one

SuperBee
5825 posts
Feb 16, 2019
9:03 PM
i dunno if people think of this as a slow blues but its around 60-65 bpm



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