The Rough Guide To Blues Legends: Blind Blake

Known as both a six-string wizard and a gregarious hard-living drinker, Blind Blake’s complex and intricate fingerstyle techniques and diverse repertoire have influenced and inspired generations of players, including Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell, Ry Cooder and John Fahey.  He is credited as one of the earliest practitioners of Piedmont finger style, characterized by a picking approach in which an alternating thumb-bass pattern supports a melody played using the treble strings creating that memorable ‘boom-chick, boom-chick’ pattern.

His first solo record, released by Paramount, included a B-side cut of ‘West Coast Blues’, heard on this Rough Guide. This early tune has all the hallmarks of what was to become Blind Blake’s calling-card guitar style: it’s an upbeat rag number and features Blake’s natural, in this case almost recitative-like, singing tone. ‘West Coast Blues’ is also cited as the first song to include the word ‘rock’.

‘Come On Boys Let’s Do That Messin’ Around’ includes one of the first scat solos ever recorded. Unlike some of his predecessors, Blake was happy to experiment allowing his music to dance the line between blues, rag and hokum. On ‘Dry Bone Shuffle’, Blake’s line-up includes a bones player. The bones are an instrument made, quite simply, from a pair of animal bones or wood. The clickety-click articulated rhythm made by the instrument is heard rattling throughout the track. On ‘Sea Board Stomp’, Blake’s guitar is purposefully played to sound like a bending horn, while ‘Sweet Papa Low Down’ is a quirky Charleston for plinky-plonk piano, cornet, xylophone and Blake’s jiving guitar. The onomatopoeic tune ‘Diddie Wah Diddie’ is a classic ragtime blues stuffed full with double-entendre.

The bumper bonus album features more riotous ragtime and hokum from the 1920s and 1930s. Join the party with tracks from Blind Willie McTell, Papa Charlie Jackson, Willie Walker and more.