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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jesse Fuller's mighty twelve strings guitar



This afternoon, a lazy, rainy, autumn-like Sunday afternoon, I indulged in some good, ol' blues records, spinned on the EMT 930st: Big Bill Broonzy on Philips, Jesse Fuller's "Frisco Bound" and his mighty 12 strings guitar on Arhoolie, Son House and Skip James on Vanguard...

Beside enjoying all the above, it was years since I listened last time to this Jesse Fuller's disc and, folks... the old bluesman from Cincinnati really swings: his "Motherless Child" it's to die for.

I still had in my ears a Sam Mitchell's awesome version of this tune, from "How to Play Blues Guitar - Vol. 2 " by Stefan Grossman, with Sam, Mike Cooper and Jo-Ann Kelly, where Sam used Grossman's own, mighty Stella 12 strings acoustic, tuned down to B and I immediately recognized the source and inspiration: Jesse Fuller!

Jesse Fuller owns a very unique guitar sound, more akin a voice, than a string instrument: it's coming from a very cheap, battered, old, huge twelve strings acoustic, as shown on Arhoolie's cover, maybe a Stella... it's growling and rattling, low in tone and, also if far from being a perfect playing, his bottleneck screams and his version of "Amazing Grace" is giving shivers and goose-bumps: like listening to the source, the spring where ALL Americana comes from.

This mono recording - made in 1955 - it's truly powerful, with the bluesman introducing every tune with some words, and an immediacy seldom heard everywhere... it's almost a field-recording, BUT still keeps the feeling mr. Fuller be in your room, with his working trousers and BIG hands and all... impressive.

... and his voice: low, dark, deep...

An intense listening session, indeed.

1 comment:

Paul Hostetter said...

FYI, Jesse's guitar was a Maurer, made by the Larson brothers of Chicago. I was with him when he discovered it had been stolen out of his Ford station wagon in Detroit in about 1962.