Thursday, February 26, 2009
the inimitable mr byrd shows how it's done
I hadn't heard that Snooks had passed until I read your blog today. He
was certainly one of the greats. I watched the video and it looked like
he was just using his index finger - interesting technique. The
comparison that came to mind was Wes Montgomery - who only used his
thumb. He held it in a certain way so that he could use it for both up
and down strokes - simulating a flat pick. Of course it was that
technique which gave him his characteristic tone - and I don't know any
other guitarist that used the thumb in that manner. My favorite of his
disciples - Emily Remler - used a pick to approximate his tone.
Joshua Rifkin once spent several hours with Professor Longhair
attempting to learn his technique. He finally gave up - he couldn't do
it. He was classically-trained and schooled in a variety of styles, but
he could not get Fess's (who knew so little about theory tht he didn't even
know the names of the chords he used) technique.
Thank God for video - at least musicians are able to see what these
masters were doing.
i had the great pleasure & honor of seeing mr byrd one month before his death, his penultimate performance at tipitina's. i took a handful of posters from there that night. i gave one to mike. he was smart enough to have his framed. the only one i kept was taped to my fridge in gulf breeze for years. the brilliant piano prodigy, james booker, had a regular monday night gig at the maple leaf bar in new orleans. i kept putting off going to see him(maple leaf wasn't on my usual new orleans bar routes). i never did get out there to see him. he died when he was 44yo.
it's best to see the greats when you can. there are no guarantees.
btw, see any familiar faces in the musicians backing up fess?