MANDOLIN BLUES From Memphis to Maxwell Street, Rich DelGrosso. CD TABLATURE

MANDOLIN BLUES From Memphis to Maxwell Street, Rich DelGrosso. CD TABLATURE


Mandolin Blues

From Memphis to Maxwell Street
Series: Mandolin
Format: Softcover with CD - TAB
Author: Rich DelGrosso

Travel back in time as acclaimed mandolinist Rich DelGrosso, author of the best-selling Hal Leonard Mandolin Method (00695102), traces the history and music of America's rich blues tradition through the eyes of the mandolinist. Follow the lives of players like Yank Rachell, Howard Armstrong and Charlie McCoy, and then learn their timeless music with standard notation, tablature, and an accompanying full-band CD of all the tunes in the book.

Inventory #HL 00695899
ISBN: 9780634072499
UPC: 073999178531
Width: 9.0"
Length: 12.0"
80 pages



Many thanks and hugs for my fiancee, Lisa Henry, for always standing by me, supportive and patient whenever I get into the "mando zone." Baby, you're the best!

It was my late wife Maureen who taught me to write music more than thirty years ago. She opened up my world of opportunity and I will always be grateful. Thank you, sweet Mo.

Thanks to James "Yank" Rachell and W Howard Armstrong for sharing their music and experience with me. Our times spent together changed my life as a musician. They were my teachers, my mentors. Howard inspired me both in my music and my art, and his gentle and warm spirit carried me through some tough times. I miss them both greatly.

This project could not have been completed without the help and support of my colleague and good friend Ernie Scarbrough. His skill as a musician and recording engineer pulled this work togetherl In addition to riding the console, he played bass and drums on the tracks. Ernie, 1 can't thank you enough! Thanks to Hal leonard for the opportunity to bring this great music to the world. After so many years and countless articles in magazines, it is great to now have it all in one volume. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to my many students who work with me in chipping away at the ice. There is so much good music to discover as we study the past together. irresistible music, skilled players, and passionate artists, who can ask for more?


About the Author

Rich DelGrosso is the leading proponent and expert on mandolin blues. The Blues Foundation in Memphis, TN, nominated him for a 2006 Blues Music Award in the Best Instrumentalist category According to Mark Hoffman, co-author of Moanin' at Midnight, the Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf, Rich DelGrosso is "the greatest living blues mandoman, the best since Yank." He has performed at clubs and festi\'als for the past thirty years, mentored by and performing with blues and string-band legends James "Yank" Rachell and Howard "louie Bluie" Armstrong. A respected writer in the blues realm, Rich's work has appeared in Living Blues, Mandolin World News, Frets, Mandolin Magazine, and Footsteps. He has been a writer for Blues Revue magazine since 1991 and an associate editor since 1996. A renowned teacher, his latest workshops have included the Telluride Blues and Brews, the Centrum Blues Workshop in Port Townsend, WA, and Mandolin Camp North, in Boston, MA. He received the "Keeping the Blues Alive" award (KBA) in 1989 from the Blues Foundation for his work coordinating

the Augusta Heritage Arts: Bluesweek. Rich will return as coordinator of Bluesweek in 2007. As his fans will tell you, this is not the same old blues. DelGrosso has a sound all his o,vn. As Przemek Draheim of "The Voice of the Blues" (Radio Bravo, Torun, Poland) wrote, "The sound of your axe is one of the coolest things l've heard in blues' It is old-school, rooted in history, but forging new ground. Rich can stand with any guitar slinger, and he often does!"

Rich's new release, Get Your Nose Gutta My Bizness! featuring Pinetop Perkins, James Harman, and Doug Macleod, is available. Bizness was reported on the Living Blues Top 15 radio charts for

the first four months after its release in the fall of 20051

For more info on Rich DelGrosso


From Memphis to Maxwell Street

the intro to DelGrosso's book by Hal Leonard Pub.


“They were led by a long-legged chocolate boy and their band consisted of just three pieces, a battered guitar, a mandolin and a worn-out bass . . . thump. thump, thump went their feet on the floor. Their eyes rolled. Their shoulders swayed . . . it was not really annoying or unpleasant. Perhaps ‘haunting’ is a better word . . .”


The words of W.C. Handy, band-leader and composer in 1903, describing one of his first encounters with the “blues.” The story continues with the trio exciting the crowd and earning more tip money than Handy’s band. Handy decided to add the “blues” to his repetoire resulting in his claim to be the Father of the Blues.


This is the story of the black mandolinist in America. In the hands of the black string band performers, the mandolin was there to nurture the infancy of ragtime and blues. It’s crisp, tenor voice was a perfect complement to the guitar and piano and its soaring tremolos energized the jug and street bands of the Deep South. An inspiration to composers Scott Joplin and W.C. Handy, the mandolin helped to shape the music that would gradually evolve into rock and jazz and their descendants.


At this point in the American timeline, Memphis, Tennessee, was the center of African-American culture and the crossroads for touring musicians. Players like Vol Stevens, Will Weldon, Eddie Dimmitt and Charlie McCoy added their string band skills to some of the bands of the day, like the Memphis Jug Band and the Mississippi Sheiks. From these collaborations came some of the popular blues/folk/bluegrass chestnuts like “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” and “Stealin.” Most people know of the legendary Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters. But only his hard-core fans are aware that on his first recording on Stovall plantation in Mississippi, Burr Clover Blues, Waters was a member of a string band, the Son Simms Four, with Simms on fiddle and Louis Ford on mandolin.


In the surrounding countryside other musicians and bands flourished. W.Howard Armstrong and Carl Martin and their Tennessee Chocolate Drops performed for medicine shows, parties and fish fries. Yank Rachell traveled about, playing the deep blues with his guitar partner Sleepy John Estes. Young Bill Monroe played guitar with a black fiddler named Arnold Schultz. Monroe then took the fiddle music of his Uncle Penn and the blues from Schultz and blended them together on the mandolin, creating a new American genre that came to be known as bluegrass.


As blacks migrated north to escape the social oppression and poverty of the South, the musicians were among the throngs settling in Chicago, St. Louis, New York and Detroit. The players from Memphis and Mississippi traveled due north to Chicago, and Handy’s Park in Memphis was replaced by the Maxwell Street market as the street-scene-center for the blues folks. Carl Martin and Johnny Young were often seen playing the mandolin with the harmonica and guitar players of Chicago’s Southside. Young often played electric mandolin with Muddy Waters and piano great Otis Spann. Waters had relocated to Chicago, where he popularized the electrified blues combo sound, which was copied by embryonic rockers both in the States and the UK. Blues Rock fans are aware that the greatest rock and roll band, the Rolling Stones, started as a blues band playing “old school” blues covers. Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were aware of their roots. They asked Ry Cooder to play Yank Rachell-style mandolin licks on their early cover of Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain (Let It Bleed, London Records nps-4).”


As more players pick up the mandolin, interest in the work of these seminal artists is growing. In the hands of Ry Cooder, Steve James, Andra Fay, Billy Flynn and others mandolin blues lives today. Everywhere I go people comment on the sound of my playing or on my writing for Mandolin Magazine. They want to know where it comes from.

And so the story begins.


Hampton Institute Hampton, Va. (circa 1898)

Library of Congress, Prints & phographs


The Mandolin in America

The mandolin was in fashion. It was the "rage."

Italians who emigrated from Europe to the u.s. in the 1850s comprised the largest Italian population outside of Italy. They introduced the mandolin to North America. Its popularity as a parlor instrument blossomed quickly and strains of mandolin waltzes, light classical pieces, marches, rags, and cakewalks filled the air of the eastern cities. Women added decorated mandolin cases to their accessories instead of purses. It was "in."

Scott Joplin, one of Americas most prolific and famous ragtime piano composers, was inspired by the bowl-back, eight-stringed instrument when he penned "The Entertainer." As Peter Gammond described this piece in Scott Joplin and the Ragtime Era, he noted that "the first strain [contains] octave chords with an added interior third, although not easy to play, probably have the intended effect of imitating mandolin chording." Joplin dedicated "The Entertainer·' to "Mr. James Brown and his mandolin club." In 1890, American luthiers Lyon and Healy employed Italian and Spanish craftsmen, and by 1897, they were making 7000 mandolins per year! The inexpensive instrument spread across the country and Cleveland and Kansas City were considered mandolin "strongholds." Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward added mandolins to their catalogues as the instruments spread in popularity. In 1914, James Reese Europes African- American Clef Club orchestra was the first to present "pop" music at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Backed by drums, basses, pianos, violins, woodwinds, and twenty-sewn harp Guitars were forty-seven mandolins


Blue Notes, Seventh Chords, Bars, and Back Beats

What is the blues' You would be amazed to hear that even blues fans don't agree on a definition. For some it is strictly racial in origin, music born out of slavery, oppression, and deep poverty. For others it is music that expresses "blue" emotions, or the poetry of the blues. The record industry focused on these criteria as they waxed the early performers, even though these same artists were professional, versatile, and open-minded, playing every type of music under the sun. Imagine Muddy Waters singing a show tune; he did, but it wasn't what the record company wanted. Record vendors likewise struggled with the genre, finding it often difficult to draw the lines between jazz and blues and blues and rock. The racists of the South recognized the sexual energy of Elvis' blues as they tried to ban his imitation of the blues singers he grew up with in Memphis. So the debate rages on, but not for us. We will operate with a working definition of the blues, or what it means when you take the bandstand and say "let's playa blues."

Analyzing the blues style from a music-theory perspective, it's all about:

• Blue notes

• Harmonies based primarily on seventh chords

• Specific predictable progressions (l2-bar, 8-bar, etc.)

• Rhythms driven by back beats

Armed with these simple tools, you can jam on a blues with anyone.


Blue Notes

Blue notes gave the style its name. These notes are the flatted third, fifth, and flatted seventh scale degrees. Today there is plenty of music that employs the flatted third, fifth, and flatted seventh, but in the blues, emphasis on these notes and how they sound dissonant against major scale tones creates the "blues mood." In any given blues, the blue notes are not used exclusively and are often replaced by their natural counterparts, but by giving them more force and duration at key points in a progression, the music is given more feeling and soul. Check out the following scales. The parent major scales are shown first and are followed by the parallel blues scales.


The term "blue note" is sometimes used to describe the tonal area that exists in between the flatted and natural notes. Blues players and singers often bend or slide between these tones-particularly between the natural and flatted third-which creates a major to minor shift. Or happy to sad. This is another distinct blues characteristic.


Maxwell Street

From the 1920s to the present, Maxwell Street in Chicago has served as LheBeale Street of the North. At the crossroads where the poor African-American community merged with the jewish, Maxwell Street was bustling with commerce and music. It was home for many of the people who migrated north and had enjoyed the open-air markets of their birthplaces in the South. It was where musicians met to play and form associations. This led to the great blues bands of Chicago's Golden Age. Muddy Waters lived on West 13th Street, just a few blocks from the market. He and jimmy Rogers could be heard on the street on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, competing with the squeals of children as they raced about in and out of the merchant stalls, surrounded by the smoke from the pork chop and sausage stands. Snooky Prior and Floyd jones bragged of collecting more money in their buckets than they could ever make in a night at a club.


Photo by Kenji Oda

Bernard Abrams grew up on Maxwell Street in the 1920s. In 1945, he converted his home into Maxwell Radio, TV, and Record Mart, where he sold electric appliances and recordings. Inspired by the music he heard on the street, in the back room of his workshop he created the Ora Nelle label, named after Little Walter jacobs' girlfriend. It was a good business move at the time. The singers, wanting to promote their records, set up in front of the store and drew crowds. Some performers not on the label were still drawn to the store, folks like Elmore james, Aretha Franklin, and B.B. King. At one point Abrams was so successful that his neighbors called him the "Mayor of Maxwell Street" because he owned one square block of it. johnny Young was one of the first to record for Ora Nelle, but it did little to help his career. Pete Welding of Testament Records recorded Young with Otis Spann, Big Walter Horton, Little Walter jacobs, and Robert Nighthawk Young also played with Muddy Waters. These recordings feature some of the best Chicago blues-raw spontaneous, and strong-what Howard Armstrong would call the "low-down, diny blues."

At one point, in the early '70s, Mick jagger was spotted playing on Maxwell Street. The Stones, on tour, stopped in Chicago to explore the roots of their music. They visited and recorded at Chess Records, where they were surprised by Muddy Waters, who was painting the walls. jagger was strolling in the market when he stopped behind Nate's Deli, the "soul food" restaurant of the market. Someone handed him a guitar and he played for the people. Most of the locals didn't have any idea who he was, but they were no doubt amused by his accent.

Today there is a community of blues fans who are trying to preserve a small segment of the street. A new blue record store has opened in what was Leed's Mensware, next to Original jim's Hot Dog Stand at Halsted. This store is also the site for the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition, who has established a small museum. Piano C. Red and his Flat-Foot Boogie Band still work the street every Sunday, usually in front of the johnnie Dollar Thrift shop, one of 400 vendors open for business.

Maxwell is still the place to go to try out your chops and make a few bucks .




The Mandolin in America

Blue Notes, Seventh Chords, Bars, and Back Beats


12-Bar Blues in C ("Quick to the IV")

8- Bar Blues in G ("Circle of Fifths")

Duet in G

Duet in G (Triplets)


Rags, Drags, and Stomps

Coley Jones and the Dallas String Band

Dallas Rag

Jackson Stomp

Knox County Stomp

State Street Rag.

Vine Street Drag


Vol Stevens

The Jug Band

Vol Stevens' Blues


Memphis and Beale Street.


Will Weldon

Will Weldon's Blues


Eddie Dimmitt

Eddie Dimmitt's Blues

The Spectrum of Mandolins


Charlie McCoy

Charlie McCoy's Blues .

A Gig Is a Gig


W Howard Armstrong

Strings and Things

Betty and Dupree.

Howard Armstrong's Blues

Pulling Doors .


Carl Martin


Yank Rachell

Yanks Style and Technique

Yank Rachell's Blues

Early This Morning

A Mandolin for a Pig


Maxwell Street.


Johnny Young

Johnny Young's Blues

Young's 8-Bar Blues ..

Taking the Bandstand


Rich DelGrosso..

DelGrosso's Blues (It's Funk). .

Selected Discography

Mandolin Notation Legend

Tuning Track .

Price: €20,99