Here is one version of my arrangements of Leadbelly's classic, The Bourgeois Blues. I say 'one of my arrangements' because I don't think I have ever played it the same way twice since I added it to my live repertoire forty odd years ago. It's a very basic 12 bar blues structure, no frills in that department, but as you will hear, there are many many things to can do to a standard 12 bar progression.
This is in G and it's in Dropped-D tuning.
After recording this and watching the video back I started wondering if I should bother notating it and doing the TAB for it. I've been playing this for so long that I'd forgotten just how much detail I've injected into it over the years. But I transcribed it anyway, I think more as a challenge to myself than anything else. Picking it all apart and figuring out the timing was no small feat, and it's all there for you to work on if you want. There is certainly no need to try and learn it note for note (even I couldn't do that!) but you can pick out some interesting little fragments to add to your bag of tricks if you're into this kind of music.
I won't try and comment on every passage but do take note that I'm always working around a 7th chord. The three chords -- G, C and D -- are all dominant 7ths, and all the little bits and pieces are 7th flavored. As you can see, the bits and pieces are everywhere, and the trick is to (1) see them down there and (2) to keep moving between them all in a flowing, musical fashion. For me, now, after all the years I've been playing this, I can do it in my sleep and do it differently every time, but it does take work and perseverance and a good mental fretboard map.
Need I mention it? Yes: my mental map is the subject of my teaching package 'PlaneTalk
', now also available as on online course with immediate access. You will learn the very simple 'trick', for lack of a better word, that I use to see the whole fretboard as a logical, useable, friendly, familiar, well-worn playground. Read all about it here
I'll include a link to two different versions of this I did with two of my bands. I'm lucky to be able to play with Australia's best, as you will hear. This quieter version
is basically a jam with some very gifted friends at a small club not far from where I live. You'll hear me on slide and vocals. The other guitarist is James Kelly, an absolute master of the instrument, more into jazz and fusion that the blues, but you'll hear some beautiful, inventive playing from him. The bass player is Greg Lyon, a dear old friend is probably the most musical person I've ever met.
This second louder version
is my Sydney band The Train. This was taken off a CD we released that was recorded New Year's Eve 1997. The tapes were shelved for 14 years and when we listened back we decided to compile an album to sell at our gigs. You'll hear my old buddy Kevin Bennett on the other guitar and harmony.
I hope you'll be able to glean something from this. I know I had fun, yet again, playing it for you.
I'll come up with something a little easier for my next lesson!