Monday, August 2, 2010

"Levee Camp Moan"

Happy Monday!  It’s time for the Monday Morning Blues again, but I’m doing things a bit differently from here on out—the tune is embedded in mp3 form, not as a video.  Why this change?

A few reasons.  First, I’ve been procrastinating recording a cd, & that’s something I really should get done because it will add at least a little more "mad money" from gigs.  While I have a high tolerance, & indeed great enjoyment, for playing & performing, I tend to have a low tolerance for the recording process—while I generally like having done it, I don’t so much like doing it, & it’s always a bit of a problem with anything creative when result is valued over process.

So I’m hoping that the shift to mp3s on the Monday Morning Blues will be a motivating force.  In addition, tho, I can get much better quality recordings with our digital workstation than I can with our webcam; & on top of the marginal sound quality on the webcam mic, there’s the problem that the audio & the video are a split second out of sync, which can be a bit “crazy-making” to anyone trying to watch.  & at this point, anyone who’s followed the blog for any length of time knows what I look like when I play guitar & sing!

Today’s song is by the great Son House, one of the real masters of the delta blues.  Actually, House did two versions of “Levee Camp Moan” that are quite different—this one is based on the first version I heard, on his Delta Blues & Spirituals (Capitol); there’s also an older take of a similar version that I believe was recorded prior to son House’s “re-discovery” in the 1960s.  House was certainly important to the history of blues as a mentor to Robert Johnson, but he was a first-rate blues musician in his own right, with a powerful slide style & vocals of amazing power.  In addition to serving as a mentor to  Robert Johnson, House also mentored Howlin’ Wolf & Muddy Waters, & was close to his Charlie Patton & Willie Brown.

The tune was recorded on our Boss digital workstation.  It’s a “live recording”—no overdubs, vocal & guitar performed together.  There was some minor tweaking with EQ & reverb, but all fairly minor stuff.  I record using an AKG 880D mic for the vocals & a Shure Beta 57a mic for the guitar—same set-up as when I play live.  The guitar is my Gold Tone resonator, in open D tuning—&to any purists: yes, I know Son House recorded this in open G.

Hope you enjoy it!


  1. Well, I've been missing out somewhere. That was a revelation. I was enthralled. Thanks.

  2. Fun listen, as always, although I'll have to admit, it's just not the same without seeing your charming self, John.

  3. I would have to agree with willow...:)
    but you should enjoy doing what you do as much we have enjoyed seeing you do what you do.

    got that?


  4. Hi Dave, Willow & Rene

    Dave: Thanks to you! Glad you liked it.

    Willow & Rene: I'm certainly interested in your feedback--will admit I'm a bit surprised, as I've also gotten quite a bit of feedback about the synching problem between the audio & video, as well as about the audio quality, & also about the fact that I don't come across on the webcam recordings with the same energy as I do in live performance. In terms of your comment, Rene: it's not so much that I enjoy "real" recording more than the webcam stuff, it's just that there's more practical reason for me to do regular recording. The webcam recordings aren't high enough in audio quality to be used on a cd that would be sold at gigs.

    I would be interested in other folks weighing in on this question.

  5. You totally spoil your readers John! This was excellent. :-) And I appreciate the embedded mp3s!

  6. made my day. resophonic and lyrics sung with soul.
    have a creative week, John

  7. I enjoyed the song, and now I notice that the audio is better by comparison with the youtube video. Good luck with your work on the CD; I hope these recordings do give you a motivating push.

  8. Whilst I understand your reasons for switching to MP3s, like others who have commented, I shall miss seeing your face, the sight of which always seemed to dilute the Monday blues effect.

  9. Hi Dianne, HKatz & Alan

    Dianne: Glad you liked it--I always appreciate your support of the blues here on RFBanjo!

    HKatz: Thanks--yes, the audio is better for sure, & I do think this will be a good motivator!

    Alan: I hear you, & what you, Willow & Rene have said means that I'll probably periodically post vids, tho definitely not until I'm done with this project.

    Still interested on feedback re: the vid vs. mp3 question. I will say that based on comments I've received outside of this comment string, the mp3 backers are in the lead.

  10. Hi Raquelle: Sorry! I was sure I'd responded--well, I had in my head! Thanks for the kind words--if you see what I wrote at the bottom of my response to Alan, you'll see that actually more people (counting folks who are contacting me by email etc) are pro-mp3. But it's interesting to me to consider what folks like about each medium.

  11. Great stuff, John. Funny enough, I've was listening to Son House (Death Letter Blues) yesterday.


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