Sooo, it looks like last week's newsletter hung up and didn't send. Sorry about that. We'll combine content today to catch up.
We continued our study of I Ain't Got You this week by learning to listen.
Shoji walked us through careful, thoughtful, targeted listening as part of studying music.
Step one: Put away your harps.
Step two: Listen to something beyond the harp and vocals. What are the other instruments doing?
Step three: Don't move your body; don't tap your toes or hands; don't sing along. Use your brain only.
He argued that he (and other instructors) don't need to teach you anything - you just need to learn to use your ability to listen.
We listened to the Billy Boy and the Jimmy Reed versions of I Ain't Got You in this way and heard so much we hadn't noticed or thought about before. We heard all the other instruments, even when they were buried in the mix. We found it became unclear whether that's really a harp solo or perhaps a guitar solo on the Billy Boy version. And we got a solid sense of the form of the song.
All by listening.
We should all be doing this constantly with songs we are studying and working to play.
Thanks for the crucial lesson, Shoji!
Apologies for the broken link to the Jimmy Reed transcription of I Ain't Got You last week. It is corrected here: transcription.
Joe played and discussed a couple additional Billy Boy Arnold versions of I Ain't Got You:
In 1992 he recorded a version that was released in about 2005 on the Consolidated Mojo cd. And in '95 he recorded a version on Alligator records that you will find on the appropriately named Eldorado Cadillac cd. Check them out; apply your listening chops from Shoji and see what there is to learn from the various versions out there.
This song has breaks in it and Joe made the point there are two good reasons for you to learn to correctly signal breaks - one, it looks like you're in control of the band and two, having the band stop makes your audience pay attention.
Bonus quote from Highway RickEy that, um, may or may not be good advice:
"If the band is playing too loud, you're not playing loud enough."
- Listen, grasshopper!
Don't miss these cats teaching at the Midwest Harmonica Workshop, running June 9-12:
Nico Wayne Toussaint
Jeremy Moondog J Jongsma
Lamont "Harmonica" Harris
Clement D Bashir
Live performances, jam circles, group classes, Q&A sessions, equipment vendors and more. Full details and registration here.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew