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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > First Position Slow Blues suggestions
First Position Slow Blues suggestions
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226 posts
May 03, 2020
9:08 PM
My band just added a slow blues in G to the set list, and I've decided to take the opportunity to approach it in first position.

I'm not going to do the Jimmy Reed high end thing. I plan on playing the low end, down and dirty on this one.

I know how to play first position on the low end. Meaning I know what notes work, and can hit the bends. I know the scale and a handful of riffs. But I haven't used it much. Actually I've probably never played a full song in 1st position on the low end. Mostly I've just used it over the four chord when playing cross. My vocabulary is very limited, so I'm looking for suggestions for listening to get some ideas. I'm not looking to learn anyone's solos note-for-note. Just need to do some listening to get some ideas.


Jim McBride
6618 posts
May 03, 2020
9:38 PM
here is a link to a document i made of some songs featuring diatonic in 1st position in keys G Ab A Bb and LowF iirc

its just a word document, hopefully that's accessible

let me know if there is any problem grabbing it

27 posts
May 03, 2020
10:27 PM
I immediately thought of Big Walter Horton's album "Can't Keep Lovin' You" and the song "Hard Hearted Woman" but, went and checked SuperBee's list.....wow, you have everything you should ever need right there.
6619 posts
May 04, 2020
12:02 AM
I cant take much credit for that list; the source document has been doing the rounds for quite a long time. i think the latest recordings included are from early 2000s.
I believe it was made by one of David Barrett's students. He went through 521 albums of largely harmonica-centric music and listed the key and the harmonicas used.
there is quite a bit of duplication but over 7000 tracks in all. I did work out how many unique tracks at some time but cant bring to mind just now.

all i did was make it into a spreadsheet, which allows me to dial up these kinds of cuts of the info. comes in handy from time to time. I've shared links to it here before but happy to do so anytime if someone wants it. its an MS excel 2010 file
1648 posts
May 04, 2020
5:11 AM
@jpmcbride: If you can handle octaves, I´ve found that those "avoid notes" (B4,5,6) get a bit more attractive if you double them w/ an octave up or down.
Can´t point to any sound samples right off the bat, tho, sorry.
227 posts
May 04, 2020
6:58 AM
@superbee I got the doc,thanks!

Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
217 posts
May 04, 2020
10:01 AM
“Trust My Baby” Rice Miller. Very soulful.
3174 posts
May 04, 2020
12:05 PM
I do believe that I introduced the Barrett list to this forum-but the true credit goes out to Lance H ,a student of David's who took the time to dig through all of the songs,warts and all.

As far as first position goes-Hoochie Coochie Man comes to mind.
And also "I Want To Be Loved" Key of C .

Last Edited by tmf714 on May 04, 2020 12:11 PM
4154 posts
May 05, 2020
3:58 AM
My suggestion would be, don't listen to harp players. Listen instead to horn/organ players and try to imitate what they do using 1st position harp playing.
73 posts
May 05, 2020
6:18 AM
Rhythm Willie recorded many sides using 1st position and he had a "jazzy/trumpet" approach, different from many rural players we're used to listen. Sonny Boy I recorded a lot in 1st position, and I think he influenced many of others came after him in Chicago. Willie Cobbs seems to prefer 1st position over the others, and has an interesting result.
1 post
Sep 27, 2020
3:22 AM
SBW2's Trust My Baby is mentioned above. Might be also worth giving Kim Wilson's take on it a listen, from his Tiger Man album.
1440 posts
Sep 29, 2020
1:08 AM
Learn the the Ice Cream Man solo by John Brim.

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