Monday, October 4, 2010

"Cool Drink of Water"

Happy Monday everybody.  As you’re reading this, I’ll be traveling in the Golden State on my way to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops perform at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico.  Wish you were here, as the post card says!

So it will certainly be a musical Monday for me, at least in the evening, & I’m hoping to make it a musical Monday for you as well with another edition of the Monday Morning Blues.  Today’s song is a true classic—a blues by the great Tommy Johnson, one of the real Delta blues’ legends.  Although Johnson only left a recorded legacy of 16 songs from two recording sessions, several of these are standards: “Big Road Blues,” “Canned Heat Blues,” “Maggie Campbell,” & “Cool Drink of Water” are all songs any acoustic blues musician should know.

Johnson’s version of “Cool Drink of Water” is characterized by his trademark singing range, which could go from a baritone growl to a haunting falsetto—similar in some respects to the “high lonesome” sound we associate more with “mountain music.”  Now I can do a baritone growl, but I can’t reproduce those high tones—however, I’m satisfied overall with the way I perform this song.

I play “Cool Drink of Water” fingerstyle on my Gold Tone roundneck dobro (see pic)—no slide.  The guitar is tuned to an open D (I believe Johnson recorded this in E & in standard tuning).  As far as the recording goes, I’m experimenting with a one mic set-up.  Although I’ve always recorded “live” (i.e., I don’t record either the vocal or the guitar as discreet takes), I’d mic the voice & guitar separately, the way I do in live performance.  Yesterday I recorded a few songs with our Shure KSM 27 condensor mic, which picks up both the voice & the guitar, & overall I was pleased with the results.  It does, I think, bring more immediacy to the recording, tho it also limits the adjustments in balance you can make when processing the sound.

Hope you enjoy it, & have a great Monday.


  1. Nice music. Have a good trip John. To hear good music in a brewery - now that is some dream.

  2. Hi Alan: Greetings from Chico, A & thanks! Of course, as a non-drinker, the brewery angle will be wasted on me!

  3. Good work, John. Yeah, it does sound more "live" with just the one mic. And oh how I envy you getting to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops in concert. Have fun!

  4. Hi Roy: Thanks! I want to experiment more with the miking--sadly, I've never been very happy or comfortable recording myself. But yes, am very excited about seeing the Carolina Chocolate Drops tonight!

  5. Hey, you're near my neighborhood! California had thunderstorms so watch out. I wish I was in Chico! I'll follow the Carolina Chocolate Drops on Youtube.
    Thanks for the fine blues, I love this song

  6. Hi Dianne: Thanks--glad you liked the song--a trifle overcast in Chico this morning, but no rain or electrical storms! There are a lot of good Carolina Chocolate Drops' vids on YouTube!

  7. wow. i do wish i was in chico tonight. which is really saying something. :)

    love the dobro, too.

  8. Hi Joaquin: Thanks! & interesting site you have there.


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