Monday, May 9, 2011

“Weeping Willow Blues”

Happy Monday, everybody, & welcome to the Monday Morning Blues.  Truth be told, I had two other blues related posts in mind for today, but this weekend’s initial churchmouse gig just took up a bit too much time.  It was great fun, tho!  There was a nice bunch of folks coming to Sisters Four Tea Room to check out both the lovely space & our music, & it seemed as tho a good time was had by all.  Any gig where we can get people singing along & dancing is really good by me!

But although I had to scrap a couple of more elaborate post ideas (both of which will appear in the future), I do have a bit of blues for you on this Monday.  As far as I can tell, this is the last “keeper” track from the 14-song cd I recorded last winter—that cd is called RFD Blues, & while I can’t sell you a copy over the ‘net (you have to come see me either solo or with churchmouse for that!) you can download it for free right here.  How’s that for a deal?

The song is “Weeping Willow Blues” by Blind Boy Fuller, an excellent guitarist & singer from North Carolina who was extremely popular during a short career that lasted from about 1928 to 1941, when he died at age 33.  Fuller is known as one of the mjor exponents of the “Piedmont style” of blues guitar, a fingerpicking style that relies heavily on alternating bass notes played with the thumb & syncopated melodic notes played with the index & (sometimes) middle finger.  The style is associated with players from Georgia, the Carolinas & Virginia, & is typically contrasted to the “heavier” guitar styles from the Delta & Texas.  Besides Fuller, other well-known practicioners of the Piedmont style include Blind Willie McTell, Blind Blake, Etta Baker & Elizabeth Cotton.  Also, just to confound geography, Mississippi John Hurt, who lived in Avalon, Mississippi in the heart of the Delta, played essentially in “Piedmont” style.

My fingerpicking style has some elements of the Piedmont style, but it’s certainly not a pure example of this—for one thing, it’s not as melodic as the typical Piedmont player’s.  I played this in E on my Regal single-cone metal resonator (Blind Boy Fuller played a National single cone resonator guitar).  The song is noteworthy to musicians because the chord progression is a bit unusual.  In a typical blues in the key of E, the A chord would be A major (or strictly speaking, A dominant seven); however, in “Weeping Willow Blues” the A chord is an A minor.  This is in large part responsible for the song’s unique sound.

Hope you enjoy it!


  1. An interesting tune, John. With that odd chord progression it almost doesn't sound like a Blues number.

  2. Hi Roy: Thanks! Yes, it's always a question as to what constitutes "blues" when you move away from the strict 12-bar pattern I suppose, tho of course a lot of Delta songs were only 1 or 2 chords. There's also a diminished chord in this one--happens quickly.


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