Joe spent time last night breaking down the elements of Help Me. First up, chord bombs. We hear solidly rhythmic playing of those big chords from Sonny Boy through much of the song. They are definitive for the song and hit on the 2 and the and of 2. You can't play these timidly and need to be in the pocket. If you're sideman on this tune, play these anytime you're not soloing and don't let your ADD kick in and wander off.
How do these chords fit into history? Joe doesn't hear a lot of it from Sonny Boy in other tunes, but it is evident in a lot of Walter Horton's playing, whether on Help Me or other songs. Check Feznecky for one. And for you proud owners of the Filisko & Noden canon, have a listen to Love Gone Bad for chord use.
Other Sonny Boy elements to note in Help Me are bright head tone; the edgy, mechanical repeating licks; and the 3/4 headshake with some bend on it. Then of course there's that incredibly distinctive vamp sound that starts from a full tongue block and builds up back pressure.
Joe again emphasized that a second position minor tune is dangerous territory because harps are tuned for major chords. But you should take the opportunity to work on your bending chops and grow. Sonny Boy plays the three draw at least a little flat - sometimes arguably a little on the sharp side of the flat third, but his charisma and confidence carry him. You can't count on that. Work on your blues scale playing!
- Next week is the last class of the session, so get yourself re-registered.
- Joe will be in town next week but then away for four weeks. Zoe and Grant have you covered in the Level III classes and Shoji and RickEy are planning things for the Performance class discussions, so don't miss it.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew