Thursday, August 20, 2009

Just Him and His Guitar

I'm no authority, but it seems to me that if there is anything that separates the early blues of the Mississippi Delta from the early blues music of New Orleans, or Kansas City, or other locales, it's the notion of the travelling blues guitarist-- Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Son House, and on and on, men who worked the juke joints and work camps, earning their livings with a guitar. For years Chuck Berry did the same thing, travelling alone, (sometimes playing alone for a song or two when he got fed up with a weak pick-up band!). People sometimes complained about what it did to the quality of the music. Even Chuck Berry admitted that it meant a more simplistic brand of music-- usually emphasizing the biggest hits and songs with the simplest chord changes. He did it to simplify his own life and make more money. But whatever the reason, and whatever the effect, it was part of a tradition of America's first guitar slinging wanderers.

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