Corey Harris

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Boats Up the River


Bass and First Riff

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Boats Up the River > Bass and First Riff

In this lesson we will be learning John Jackson's classic Piedmont blues tune, "Boats Up the River" in the key of C. This is a simple tune, but pay attention to your tempo and the rhythm of the tune. I hope you enjoy it.

Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Fingerpicking
Corey Harris
John Jackson
Piedmont Blues

Print Print Chords & Tab

Boats Up the River background listening: John Jackson

loop @ 1:09 run-through

loop @ 3:30 bass for first verse

$5.3 $4.2.$3.0 $6.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.4 $4.3.$3.0 | $5.5 $4.4.$3.0 $6.5 $4.4.$3.0 $5.5 $4.4.$3.0 $5.4 $4.3.$3.0 | $5.3 $4.2.$3.0 $6.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.4 $4.3.$3.0 |
$5.5 $4.4.$3.0 $6.5 $4.4.$3.0 $5.5 $4.4.$3.0 $5.4 $4.3.$3.0 | $6.3 $4.0.$3.0 $5.2 $4.0.$3.0 | $6.0 $5.2.$4.2 $6.0 $5.2.$4.2 $6.0 $5.2.$4.2 $6.0 $5.2.$4.2 |
$6.1 $4.3.$3.2 $6.1 $4.3.$3.2 $6.1 $4.3.$3.2 $6.1 $4.3.$3.2 | $5.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.3 $4.2.$3.0 $6.1 $4.3.$3.2 $6.3 $4.0.$3.0 | $5.3 $6.3 $5.0 $5.2 |

loop @ 4:32 middle part (will breakdown in lesson 3)

loop @ 5:29 breakdown of 1st riff

$5.3 $4.2.$3.0.$1.3 $6.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.3 $4.2.$3.0.$1.3 $5.4 $1.4 $4.3.$3.0 | $5.5.$1.5 $4.4.$3.0 $2.3 $6.5 $4.4.$3.0 $5.5 $4.4.$3.0.$1.5 $5.4 $1.4 $4.3.$3.0 |
$5.3.$1.3 $2.1 $4.2.$3.0 $1.3 $6.3 $4.2.$3.0 $5.3 $4.2.$3.0.$1.3 $5.4 $1.4 $4.3.$3.0 | $5.5.$1.5 $4.4.$3.0 $2.3 $6.5 $4.4.$3.0 $5.5 $4.4.$3.0.$1.5 $1.3 $6.3 $1.0 $4.0 $2.3 |

loop @ 6:08 turnaround 1st verse (will breakdown in lesson 2)

loop @ 8:24 1st verse slowly

loop @ 8:55 closing thoughts

 

 

Comments

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lazarlem
lazarlem Jun 17, 2015

Finally ,a song I can play eyes closed.  There used to be a song in the folk movement, Pre- Dylan, called Frieght Train. Had the same chords and almost the same melody.  You wanted to play folk, you had to practice Freight Train.  But if you already know something you dont learn. I started playing Slide, Keep Your Lamp, and You Got to Move, songs from that folk time ago and way before.  I enjoy that slide, some part of me responds.

 

You said on a post to me that you're just following in the footsteps of the great one.  I'm just stumbling along

 

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Jun 24, 2015

Greetings, yes I first heard Elizabeth Cotten's version and immediately loved it.  I never knew if it was the original version or not, but it pre-dated the folk music movement by decades.  

lazarlem
lazarlem Jul 03, 2015

Of course you're right. I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Elizibeth Cotton. There were few new tunes in the folk movement , everyone mostly sang what had been prveviosly recorded,  until Bob  Dylan. He split the sky wide open, as a songwriter, and even wrote a few new blues. 

Vinny
Vinny Jan 20, 2013

As to Damian's guitar, from his description I would say it is definitely a pre-war guitar.  It could have been made by any of a handful of manufacturers around Chicago or in Michigan that all made private label, no-name guitars (what they call OEM's now).  Probably solid tone woods, and AGED - and that's what makes the tone in a guitar.  Probably fat neck, and you should check the bracing and see if it is ladder braced.  All a formula for great tone.  The weakness in these guitars is generally the action.  As they did not have truss rods, the neck would warp.  Also many of them had basically mandolin type frets, which are playable, but we have forgotten that the guitar became a popular consumer instrument over time, and was greatly influenced by the introduction of open tunings and the popularity of the Hawaiian guitar style.  So the frets were not that critical.  Since your neck was broken, it probably was somewhat straightened when it was re-glued.  There are also a lot of simple things one can learn to do adjusting saddles and nuts that can improve the action.  If you or your Dad are handy, you can find on You Tube now instructions on how to do anything, including resetting the neck, a re-fret, etc.  For myself, I find it better to slowly over time make improvements on a very old aged guitar than spending a lot of money on a new (good) guitar.  If you find even a 50's Harmony Sovereign, all solid tone woods, sixty years of aging, it probably has a non-adjustable truss rod and the neck will be relatively straight.  So Damian's guitar should sound great.  Now all these are overpriced on Ebay these days, but you can get great guitars for practically nothing at garage, yard and barn sales.

Vinny
Vinny Jan 20, 2013

Value to a player and price are not the same thing.  Pre-war even pre-50's Stellas, Kays, Kalamazoos, Regals, Harmony's, were mass produced and economical for consumers to buy, but they were not cheap guitars by today's standards. They would all have been well designed, hand crafted, made of solid and probably aged tone woods, made in the USA.  And even Gibson made instruments for private labels. Also these guitars were typically ladder braced, which is where the classic blues sound comes from, had fat almost baseball bat type necks, which have much great resonance and sustain.  The combination of that neck and aged Mahagony and Spruce cannot be matched in sound by a new guitar.  Kalamazoo's were Gibson guitars, with no truss rod, cheaper fingerboard material and no fancy inlays. Roy Rodgers, the great slide player, once said that if you didn't buy it in a pawn shop, it's not a blues guitar.  They were also typically made with wider necks (at least 1 3/4" nut width up to 1 7/8") and were 12 fretters.  This is also comfortable for older blues music because of the chord forms used down low, and the fact there is not a lot of playing up the neck.  In the last twenty years there has been a return to vintage design: OM, OO, OOO, body styles, 12 fret guitars, as Corey is playing here.  Even a cigar box made in the 30's was a significant object, though.  It would have been hand crafted and made out of very high quality wood; and, in fact, have real acoustic qualities.  One must remember that the banjo is an African instrument, having evolved from a long tradition of putting strings across a drum in a multitude of cultures.  Lightnin' Hopkins made his first guitar from a cigar box and wire taken out of his screen door. 

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Jan 13, 2013

@Corey....we thank you for coming in Sardinia with all your band....;)

Was Johnny Shines who said that Robert Johnson loved to play Kalamazoo Guitar and Stella...isn't it?.....ANd, as far as I know, Stella Guitars NOW are very expensive..This is really funny...:)))..Our society is slaved by Marketing

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Jan 08, 2013

@damian paskell...your Dad was right!  Thanks for sharing.  Good luck on your search.  The right guitar will find you.

lazarlem
lazarlem Jul 03, 2015

Quick story about your words. I taught a young woman how to play because she had broken her leg and couldn't leave the guest house ( I dont remember what country). It came time for her to have her own instrument and in the car cruising to find a guitar shop,  She said, "How will I know what guitar to buy.  How will I know"  We found a few stores but none ha the right guitar. In the third store she walked over to a guitar, picked it up, played it a little.  She had found her love.

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Jan 08, 2013

@Alex...thanks for sharing the story and for all the kinds words.  I think you are right in saying that a good guitar 'helps'.  When we listen to the old blues players we should remember that many of them (not all) could not afford very expensive guitars so they were playing whatever they could find.  Many of them came from places where there were no music stores and their first guitars were home-made.  When they did get guitars they were often cheap guitars like Stella, Silvertone and Kay.  So I find that touch feel/vibe are more important than playing an expensive guitar.  it is what player puts into the instrument from within himself that is important.

damian paskell
damian paskell Jan 08, 2013

Great! Lol! nice story Alex sj,  yeah i just needed some ideas as to what to try out, with what you said in mind i think i will keep saving and maybe that gibsonette is out there, for me?

 Corey hey man,  maybe someday i will be a professional HA!  :) in fact i chuckled bcos i travel a bit and the guitar i have at this moment is an old thing with no name on  it, my brother found it in a rubbish collection, its very very budget  it had a snapped neck and several holes in it when it was found, most of it got glued back together with gorilla glue by my father and was basically my first guitar, 12 fret spanish sort of style, well i put some v low tension steels on it, the dull echo it produces from its extra sound hole and the twang of steel on what is nearly balsa doesnt much enhance my playing and i think others are surprised by its sound :0

Anyway it doesnt matter much if it gets broken and the sound is rather original ;), my dad says thats how a lot of the first blues guitars were, I kinda feel its charged with all those hours of enjoyment myself and who knows who else has had with it too. Maybe sj felt like that when he got his guitar back from the musician??

Well ill keep looking for that guitar eh Thanks for your responses

Peace out Now brothers!

JD Krooks Crouhy
JD Krooks Crouhy Jan 05, 2013

Haha, that's was Corey ! You're lucky he played your guitar :)!! Now you know how your guitar sounds at it best  !! i missed corey in Paris in 2012 :( but next time i'll bring my guitar just in case ;)

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Jan 05, 2013

@Jd..I do agree...recording king are really good guitar...a friend of mine has a 000 and it really sounds nice...

Well here we have the inequivocable proof of what I was sayin before.^__^..the quality of sound isn't very good because it's recorded with a smartphone. Live was much more better...Corey played amazingly and I appreciated a lot the reggae vibes of his band too...I still have in my mind the image of Gordon dancing with his saxophone...see how is crucial that 80% you were talking about??? and now I'm signed...I can't say if I'm playin bad that is a matter of guitar :D

JD Krooks Crouhy
JD Krooks Crouhy Jan 05, 2013

@Alex, nice story ! Who was the bluesman ?

I think also that all is in the finger but good gear help too. I finally have my dream guitar (my gibson l-50 because L-4 are too axpensive !) and finally i have the sound i wanted for years !! My epiphone emperor doesn't sound as good ! although taj Mahal play the same very well ;) !

I think that 80% in the finger and 20% in the gear. I'm teaching electric guitar and have a cheap fender squier from China (200dollars) that i let in my classroom. Some of my students have real US fender or gibson (about 1200 dollars) but in a beginner hand their guitar sound worst than mine. They feel "upset" but understand that gear is not all. 

@Damian, for this range you have a lot of choice : vintage, new, brand... I think recording king make good guitar for cheap price. I have only a vintage paror but my next folk would be a 

http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/RO227.htm

Because i like wide neck, the OOO form with less bass than a dreadnough, rosewood warmer than mahogany and cheap price because i can't afford a 00-28 martin that i love ! One of my student got one and she's cool for blues !!

Best

 

JD

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Jan 05, 2013

In the evening I saw his concert..he was playin with his band...all great musicians...playing every kind of music...reggae too...then he just took the guitar and played solo 3 traditional blues songs ...a part from the fact that I was continuosly shaking the arms of my loved girlfriend sayin...he's playin my guitar, look, look!! You know I was again a kid of 3 years old...but, most important thing, my guitar in his hands sounded like an old gibson of the 20s (valuable more than 3000$) and in that moment I really understood how much a good touch really makes the difference...wood, gauge strings,shape, and first of all price where in that moment canceled..My epiphone cost 250 euros....In two words he demonstrated how much marketing really affects in a negative way our life..Babylon was burning in that moment. Knowledge and practice really make the difference...Every guitar offers a whole different kind of sounds and it's up to us and our ability to discover where to pick to let them came out..He only needed a couple of minutes and this is not exacly a good spot for gibson marketing sector :DDD

For sure a "good" guitar helps...but I stress again the verb...."Helps" ......In my humble opinion off course...

Welcome here in Sonic Junction...

Ciao Alessandro (Italy)

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Jan 05, 2013

@Damian if I could say just two words about blues guitar...I'm lookin for a good one too except for the fact that at the moment I don't have money....I've tried many and for blues I think that in general Gibson produce really good guitars but just because I like a warmer sound...in fact I don't like really much martin guitar which for me are too bright and clear...For that range of price you could have a gibson l1 (the replica of Robert Johnson guitar,not one of my fav) and the L00 Blues King but if you like a wide neck than it's better, in my opinion, Gibson Keb Mo signature...These are all good guitars but you pay such a hy price because of the brand...In fact you could spend less and have nice guitar too all in solid back top and side...A good one is the Tanglewood TW73 Vs...It's cheap and nice..parlor size. And I do love fylde guitars (listen Eric Bibb) and Corey's guitar..

But a part from this in terms of guitar I always like to tell a nice anecdote about this summer. I had to play in a blues festival in the place where I come from, which is Sardinia and the same day, on the main stage there was the gig of one of my blues heros with his band playin in electric...I was really in touch with one of the organisers of the festival and I think in the morning, just a few hours before the beginning of the sound check he asked me if I could borrow my acoustic guitar to this great blues player...I was so happy to have received by him this request but I told him:are you sure? Mine is not a professional guitar, It's just an epiphone el 00, (solid top and laminated back and sides)..Do you think he will like it? He answered me: he said that, if possible, he needs an acoustic guitar.....then I replied...ah ok, if it's not a problem for him for sure it's not for me...perfect!!!!!

 

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Jan 05, 2013

@Corey..thanks for posting the video of the blues houseparty...They all looks really genuine people! :))

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Jan 04, 2013

@Alex...John Jackson was one of the greatest acoustic guitar players.  He influenced a lot of people and represented the real Virginia Piedmont Blues.  I'm sure that by now you have found some more videos of him online.  One of the first blues gigs I ever had was opening up for him here in Virginia.

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Jan 04, 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e21nqPuo6HU

 

Blues houseparty video featuring John Jackson, John Dee Holiman, Archie Edwards, John Cephas and others....

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Jan 04, 2013

@damian paskell...I would say find what works for you.  If you like a wide neck then get that.  I don't think more frets will really make any difference since fingerstyle doesn't really need them.  I don't think a custom design is really worth the money that it costs, unless you play professionally often.  Thanks for posting.

damian paskell
damian paskell Jan 03, 2013

hey corey whats up brother?, feeling your soul and rhythm has really boosted my skills thanks man!

you have probably been asked a thousand times but i am new to sonic junction :)

question ; what would you recomend or suggest for a good blues guitar and string design, i like a wide neck for fingerstyle and obviously the more frets the better? is it worth looking into a custom build? my price range is $1500 

 

thanks keep up the good work

 

blessings and peace to all

damian

 

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Dec 30, 2012

@Corey..I didn't know John Jackson...Lookin for different versions of "That will never happen no more" I found his video playin the tune...He seems to be a very calm and peacefull person...plus he's very relaxed while he plays....I've noticed thing of this players of Delta Blues....If you take a look at videos of Skip James, Son House and John Jackson too, they all have very short trousers that show their socks....incredible and extravagant  socks!!! Really funny...maybe this manner of dress was fashionable at that time!!! :))

JD Krooks Crouhy
JD Krooks Crouhy Dec 29, 2012

Nice tune ! I love John Jackson ! I had a DVD of him with this song but it seemed to difficult for me when i began, but now's the time too work it :-) thx Corey

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Dec 29, 2012

@Mike and daddyray...cool.  I really dig this tune 'cause it reminds me of my friend John Jackson. He was %100 original.  He played a lot of the old tunes like Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Blake.  I used to think that he wrote this tune too, but Jeff Scott (his nephew) tells me that John's brother Jack wrote it way back in the day.  Down home Virginia vibes!!

 
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