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With a genre as old as the blues, it seems that it might take our entire lifetime to hear all the greats. For a long time I thought I had checked out a lot of the best and although I knew there were many more out there to be found, I never really expected them to just fall into my lap.
Today while checking out some other concert footage I happened upon a little clip of a resonator player playing slide blues guitar, but using the entire instrument not just the strings. The man playing was Bukka White, one of the earlier blues players from the time of Charlie Patton, Son House and Robert Johnson. Although the name instantly rang a bell, I have never checked out his music until I found this clip.
Here is the video, thanks as always to YouTube and to NaOH123 for uploading this high quality version:
I think if you watch the clip you see what most struck me about this performance. Yes it is starkly honest, authentic and real, some things I love about early acoustic blues, but the way he uses the entire instrument as a way to make percussive additions to the music is just amazing. It is in the true style of early blues where players would use whatever they could as slides, to create the most expressive music they could. It is a spontaneous sounding technique, but obviously practiced in a way to keep it loose, live and as real as possible. Great innovation and style.
Some may claim that a man playing solo guitar completely unaccompanied would be boring, but I think Bukka White is a prime example of why this music was so infectious. Early acoustic blues is just so alive and full of fire and life whether that be sadness and pain or joy, the music is just bursting with real life emotions and that is what makes it great.
Early acoustic blues will always be one of my favorite genres of music and I'm always interested in discovering new artists who may have been forgotten by time. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more music by Bukka White in the future, if you're into blues, you probably should too.