Monday, April 12, 2010

Sliding Delta

Happy Monday everyone! Coming at ya this morning with a new installment of the Monday Morning Blues—a few folks have mentioned that they've missed yours truly playing the blues here on Robert Frost’s Banjo, & as the spring/summer performing season will be starting soon, this seemed like a good opportunity to get back to the Monday blues feature. I’m learning several new songs for the upcoming season, so recording will also be a big help to me in that process! Monday Morning Blues probably will be appearing every other week for the foreseeable future.

Today’s number is a Mississippi John Hurt song called “Sliding Delta.” Blues purists would no doubt object to playing the song on a 4-string cigar box guitar, but a purist I’m not. Don’t get me wrong—I have a huge amount of respect for the old-time blues players, but I don’t see that respect means playing note-for-note transcriptions of the original players’ versions. What I try to do is make the songs come alive in the best way I can—which means playing to my own strengths.

The lyrics to “Sliding Delta” are interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the “Sliding Delta” was the name of a train that ran past Hurt’s home in Avalon, Mississippi. My guess would be that the “Sliding Delta” was a branch line of the Illinois Central, which serviced (& continues to service) that area of Mississippi, but that’s just speculation—I can’t find anything very specific about this. The reference to “that big Kate Allen,” that “has ways just like a man” is also intriguing. According to a thread on the excellent Mudcat Café site, this “Kate Allen” is the name of a steamboat on the Mississippi River—which makes sense with the line, “it steals your baby everytime she land.”

For those who missed the cigar box resonator guitar’s maiden voyage here on the Banjo, I should say that the instrument was made by Darren “Big Daddy” Dukes of Back Porch Mojo. It’s a nice instrument & lots of fun to play.

Speaking of fun, hope you enjoy the song!

In other bloggish Monday news: You can hear yours truly playing a much different guitar style, with Eberle playing flute, over on Eberle's Platypuss-in-Boots blog right here!

& if you're in the mood for some French poetry in translation, please stop by my Alcools blog. Today's post is my translation of Apollinaire's "Crépuscule"


  1. Ah, the famed cigar box resonator! It's so cool. Thanks for a fun start to my week, John!

  2. John--

    Check out a guy named Dan Reeder, a fine and original songwriter who makes his own guitars and amps.

  3. Hi Willow & K

    Willow: So glad you enjoyed it!

    K: That's great stuff! The trombone & the big bodied acoustic guitar are particularly mind-blowing.

  4. It certainly makes a great sound. I bet it's hard to put down.

    Enjoyed the flute and guitar piece, too.

    At the risk of sounding like one of those nauseating TV presenters who effortlessly slides a plug for some product into his patter, have I ever mentioned my other blog

  5. Hi Dominic: Thanks, yes it is fun, tho I must admit to feeling a bit constrained sometimes by only 4 strings. Checked out your site--good stuff!


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