This morning a bad storm is rolling over Crisfield. This always makes my migraines, arthritis and neuropathy scream. I was randomly surfing the web to take my mind off the pain and I discovered some news from way back in April. Gene Shay, a Philadelphia DJ who hosted a folk music program on WHYY when I was a teenager, died of Covid-19.
For about five solid years I spent every Sunday night with my one semi-functional ear to a boombox speaker. The radio would be tuned to Gene’s show. I would have my finger on the record button, ready to spring into action the moment Gene played a good song
I can still remember the night I heard Mississippi John Hurt sing Coffee Blues on his show.
I drove Gene Shay Crazy. I would call his show complaining about the songs I did not care about and making requests for every song I had read about in music books. It got so bad that when I finally met Gene in person at a convention twenty years ago his face contorted into a knot, tightening into a moue of displeasure until he moaned, “Oh God! It’s YOU!” before running away.
Goodbye, Gene. Thanks for the music. You will be missed.
If you like these tracks, don’t be bashful. Spread the word. The country blues is not exactly mainstream. Factor in the banjo and the bottleneck and the result is the kind of thing that needs to be shared to be discovered. I could use your help in that department.
As winter rolls along and I get more comfortable with the mic, we will be going into some more complicated slide pieces. The more I use the bottleneck, the more intuitive it becomes. Almost like an extension of my voice. I am excited to see how far I can take the banjo and slide combination – both acoustic and electric.
The bottleneck blues banjo tracks I recorded a few days ago are starting to show up on cloud services.
I’ll share links as I discover them.
This has been fun. Home recording without my hearing aids was frustrating at first, but then it became sort of empowering. Expect more as time allows.
Not sure where they got that cassette…
Keep an eye on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube Music and other sources for streaming music. I just uploaded four tracks to the services, and I will be adding more on a steady basics for a while.
You can pre-save The New, New, New Minglewood Blues on Spotify today, and be in tune as more tracks go up
Before anybody asks, no. This has nothing to do with the big project. That is a different thing altogether. More on that down the road.
Also, concerning slide technique: I use extra light strings and an extremely low action. I like glass slides. The tone is all in the touch – and the touch only comes with practice.
If you like this sound, just get a slide and start playing barre chords while you sing folk songs. Over time, after singing several hundred songs, your technique will improve. That’s how I got touch and technique where it is. You can too.
Gus Cannon did it first. Then The Grateful Dead recorded it as The New, New Minglewood Blues. So, I did it on the banjo. With a bottleneck. Now it’s The New, New, New Minglewood Blues.
High quality MP3 can be freely downloaded from:
Flac files can be picked up on Bandcamp: https://banjoblues.bandcamp.com/
People have been asking me for ages to post tracks on Bandcamp.
Now, I know people say that all the time. In my case, people have really been asking me to post some audio files in some sort of central location for a long time.
I started the page today. Jinx Blues and Samson and Delilah are available for download. More tracks to come.