Corey Harris – Special Rider Blues – YouTube

My favorite teacher of the blues, generously dishing it out one week at a time at Sonic Junction as one of their first teachers. He even teaches this version of “Special Rider Blues” in an odd tuning of his own invention, inspired by the time he spent with Ali Farka Toure. Mr. Harris is a very generous teacher with a real head-full of music and clear passion for what he does. This is one dude I would love to spend some time talking to.

But check out this guitar playing. He’s got a syncopated bass going on in 12/8 time with a nice modal melody on top. Most people who approach a song like this get dazzled by Skip James’s original playing on this tune, so it’s nice to see someone who has found a way to complement James rather than copy. James was such a virtuoso that it takes much time to master his playing. Harris took the tune to Mali and found a new way to express James’s music. read more

Cultural Equity Research Center

Alan Lomax

Source: Cultural Equity Research Center

This is the source for what I assume is most of Alan Lomax’s field recordings. I would need to go through the catalog numbers, but really I don’t want to; whether or not the complete recordings are available, this is a great resource for teaching or just for listening. I love the prison recordings and the Southern country blues in particular, but I’m also partial to the calypso and the other Caribbean recordings. I’m definitely assigning this for class listening projects, asking students to identify and describe or defend individual compositions or groups of compositions. read more