Instrumental Blues
August 5, 2004 8:52 PM   Subscribe

BluesFilter: Looking for some instrumental, ideally guitar only, delta blues. slide/electric/both/neither recommendations ok.
posted by juv3nal to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Warning, self link.

Try Molten Mike - a mix of delta blues and other things.
posted by tomierna at 9:12 PM on August 5, 2004

Response by poster: I didn't find a single sample on there without vocals...and none of the samples, at least, sounded very delta to I missing something?
posted by juv3nal at 9:42 PM on August 5, 2004

Check out Memphis Minnie. Except she sings. Never mind.
posted by swift at 9:42 PM on August 5, 2004

paging y2karl, paging y2karl, the illuminated Resonator is shining in the North Sky...

juv3nal, does the era (and subsequent sound quality) matter?
posted by TomSophieIvy at 9:56 PM on August 5, 2004

I can't think of a strictly instrumental album, but the best Delta Blues players I know of are Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Johnson, Willie Brown, Skip James, and Charley Patton.

For slide, you'd be hard pressed to find a better or more influential player than Elmore James, but he ain't Delta. Neither is the tremendous Hound Dog Taylor, but if you're looking for colorful examples of the genre you should check him out. Same goes for J.B. Hutto, his Hawk Squawk! record in particular. Again, not Delta. Chicago, but Slide.
posted by dobbs at 10:20 PM on August 5, 2004

For a modern interpretation of Delta Blues, check out Corey Harris, especially Greens From the Garden.

Don't think you're going to find much without vocals.
posted by geekhorde at 10:35 PM on August 5, 2004

Never occured to me to recommend modern Delta players. I'd go for Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. I'm too lazy to confirm but last I checked, both had multiple albums available on the cheap from emusic.
posted by dobbs at 10:50 PM on August 5, 2004

How about Blind Willie Johnson's Dark Was The Night - Cold Was The Ground? The only vocal is Johnson moaning along with his guitar. It'll make your hair stand on end.
posted by timeistight at 10:51 PM on August 5, 2004

Blind Willie McTell is a nice crossover between East coast blues and delta blues. Great 12-string stuff.
posted by swift at 11:14 PM on August 5, 2004

For voice and guitar only, limited to the actual Delta, my choice is Mississippi John Hurt, as soulful a voice as ever there was. His "Best of " album, actually a live recording of a college concert, is what you are loking for. But don't rule out great Texans from similar backgrounds like Lightning Hopkins and the mesmerizing Mance Lipscomb.
posted by planetkyoto at 12:57 AM on August 6, 2004

Response by poster: i kinda suspected there wasnt going to be much without vocals but i figured if there was anything askme would know.

if anyone feels compelled to add suggestions, harmonica is okay by me too.
posted by juv3nal at 2:44 AM on August 6, 2004

The Delta tradition doesn't really have a separate instrumental repetoire. Train songs, like those played by Bukka White and John Hurt seemed to fill the bill for instrumental effects on slide. You have to remember, back in the 1920s and 30s Black southerners still had their own fiddle music and String bands and harmonica players like Deford Baily provided a lot of the dance music.

Check out the disturbingly named Weenie Juke Radio. Huge amounts of public domain blues from the 20s and 30s, and you can make up to four requests an hour - they usually play within ten minutes of request.
posted by zaelic at 3:16 AM on August 6, 2004

Delta blues is descended in part from work songs (cf. John and Alan Lomax recordings) variously known as "field hollers," so lyrics were the main thing at first, and I suspect that's why there is so little instrumental only. However, they played to accompany dancing as well, and so there are instrumentals sprinkled in amongst. Lots of online recordings at that second link.
posted by planetkyoto at 3:27 AM on August 6, 2004

What zaelic said, and basically everyone above him.
posted by planetkyoto at 3:28 AM on August 6, 2004


Molten Mike's whole catalog is definitely not on the site. He has four albums, two of which are predominately blues, and one has more delta flavor to it than the other.

The fourth album is a compilation of all of the Blues from the other three.
posted by tomierna at 10:46 AM on August 6, 2004

For a more modern (and, honestly, amazing) take, try Chris Whitley's Dirt Floor. Recorded in a day and only 26:51 long, but not a wasted second on it.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:39 PM on August 6, 2004

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