San Francisco, California, USA – The Rough Guide To
Bottleneck Blues (RGNET1151CD ) focuses on the timeless recordings of the
original blues legends and pays tribute to the second-generation bottleneck
masters of today.
The mesmerizing sound of a bottleneck slide across guitar strings is synonymous
with the Delta blues. Developed around the turn of the last century,
bottleneck-playing cultivated great variety and skill, from the
Hawaiian-influenced guitar style of Casey Bill Weldon to the twelve-string
guitar brilliance of Blind Willie McTell and the gospel playing of Blind Willie
Johnson. Muddy Waters was born in Rolling Folk, Mississippi, in 1915, and is widely
acknowledged as the ‘King of Chicago blues’. A popular Delta Juke Joint player
in the mid-1930s, ‘I Be’s Troubled7 was one of his exhibition pieces that was
recorded as ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’ in 1948, after he had migrated north to
By the mid-1930s Robert Johnson had become the most progressive bluesman around,
with ambitious guitar and vocal arrangements. He recorded numerous immortal
blues classics, such as ‘Come On In My Kitchen’/ and he has become an icon for
many rock musicians.
Born around 1890, Charley Patton has often been hailed as the ‘King of the Delta
blues’. His coarse, earthy voice reflected hard times and hard living, and ‘A
Spoonful Blues’ describes the consequences of using cocaine. Son House was a
Southern Baptist preacher before he started working as a hired musician around
1926. Patton arranged his first recording debut after House had been imprisoned
at Parchman Farm Penitentiary, and the bleak lyrics to ‘Country Farm Blues’
evoke House’s experience as a prisoner.
Bukka White also spent time in the notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary in 1939,
where ‘Sic ‘Em Dogs On’ was recorded.
Bob Brozman studied music and ethnomusicology at Washington University, focusing
on the earliest roots of Delta blues. He has successful collaborated with
artists on Riverboat Records and his arrangement of Charley Patton’s ‘Poor Me’
takes him back to his musical roots.
From 1965-1975, Stefan Grossman studied and traveled with some legendary blues
figures, including Fred McDowell, Son House and Reverend Gary Davis. ‘Memphis
Jellyroll’, an improvised bottleneck piece, is taken from one of his numerous
Martin Simpson was born in S*censored*horpe in 1953, and his beautiful version
of ‘I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes’ shows the impact on his playing of the
great early bottleneck blues exponents.
Born in Texas around 1900, Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the
greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. ‘God Moves On The Water’ tells the story
of the sinking of the Titanic, a disaster that for many African-Americans
represented the destruction of the myth of white superiority and invincibility.
Blind Willie McTell was a twelve-string-guitar genius and his unique style – a
form of country blues, bridging the gap between the raw blues of the Mississippi
Delta and the more refined East Coast sound – can be heard on ‘Mama, ‘Tain’t
Long Fo’ Day’.
Born around 1904 in Tennessee, Fred McDowel’s intense voice and bottleneck
playing gave his music an edge, as heard on ‘Fred’s Worried Life Blues’.
Furry Lewis was born in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1893 and ‘Falling Down Blues’
is a track from his first recordings and shows him at his creative peak.
Kokomo Arnold was one of the bestselling acts of the 1930s. A left-handed
bottleneck guitarist who played his guitar flat across his lap in the Hawaiian
style, Arnold influenced the likes of Robert Johnson and his distinctive and
intense technique can be heard on ‘The Twelves (Dirty Dozens)’.
Known as the ‘Hawaiian Guitar Wizard’, Casey Bill Weldon recorded close to
seventy sides between 1927 and 1938 and he was the first blues guitarist whose
playing evoked the sounds of Hawaiian steel-guitar sounds. ‘St Louis Blues’ by
Jim & Bob (The Genial Hawaiians) is also heavily influenced by the Hawaiian
Featuring music from Pete Harris, Sylvester Weaver, Alien Shaw, Willie Harris,
Hambone Willie Newborn, John Fahey and Dan Pickett, The Rough Guide To
Bottleneck Blues contains some of the finest slide playing that still has an
ability to captivate and amaze.
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central