Not exactly as Brownie McGhee played it , but hey - a lot of fun anyway (it's the main thing.)
In this free guitar tutorial, I've taken a song performed by Brownie McGhee and tried to give it a different flavor, as I generally like faster guitar picking and always experimenting with new finger picking patterns.
On the face of it, the guitar part doesn't seem that difficult, as I only use one finger and a simple two stroke alternating bass rhythm. Each time my thumb hits the D string in the alternating bass pattern, my finger hits it right afterwards, which gives the piece a faster 'de dum da de dum' rhythm. I call it the 'string share technique' and I use it in several blues songs in styles that vary from ragtime blues to delta blues, and sometimes when playing bottleneck songs in the style of Son House.
Of course, and type of blues is helped out tremendously by adding a harmonica. In the hands of an expert with feeling, like Ken Mayall, the effect is to produce an incredibly down South feel and it helsp this kind of blues music to flow.
Although I teach this technique in the video with bare fingers (I do this in all of my blues guitar lesson videos) I play this live with finger picks, which tend to give it more 'punch'. For one thing, a pick is a natural amplifier, so great for street playing. For another, that plastic thumb pick gives the music a certain bounce.
Finger picking guitar using a heavy thumb pick is a lot of fun, if you can control it! For example, instead of just plucking the bass E guitar string, you can throw the thumb down onto it, producing a percussive effect which should be damped immediately with the palm of the picking hand.
Whatever style you choose, bare finger or finger picks, keep a nice steady pace and don't forget to have fun with it -- this is what it's all about.
Walter Brown McGhee matured in Kingsport, Tennessee. He contracted polio at the age of 4, which left him with a severe limp and a lot of time far from school to practice the guitar chords that he 'd gained from his daddy, Duff McGhee. Brownie's more youthful sibling, Granville McGhee, was likewise a skilled guitar player who later on struck huge with the romping "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee"; he made his label, "Stick," by pressing his maimed brother or sister around in a little cart moved by a stick. A 1937 operation sponsored by the March of Dimes brought back many of McGhee's movement. His jaunts brought him into contact with washboard player George "Oh Red" (or "Bull City Red") Washington in 1940, who in turn presented McGhee to skill scout J.B. Long.
Brownie McGhee's death in 1996 was a massive loss in the blues field. Together, McGhee and Terry worked for years in an acoustic folk-blues bag, singing ancient ditties like "John Henry" and "Pick a Bale of Cotton" for pleased audiences worldwide.
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