Playing Little Hat Jones songs

OK, I guess I’m a late enrollee in the Little Hat Jones fan club. Been digging, playing and teaching “Kentucky Blues” and “Bye Bye Baby Blues” lately and thought I’d chime in about them on here.
What beautiful, unusual and different-from-each-other songs those two are! In “Kentucky,” the singer is an expert at escaping from the law, which is always on his trail. Even a legendary lawman with a team of bloodhounds is no match for our hero, who gets away “like a submarine.” What a great image, disappearing like a submarine, gone without a trace. In “Bye Bye Baby,” sung in a different part of his range, straining to hit the high notes which makes it sound even achier, he is a rejected lover who still has hopes even as he says farewell forever. That verse where he says “can’t carry you” but then in the next line rethinks it and asks “don’t you want to go?” is just too much.
As for the guitar parts, they are not what they seem at first. On “Kentucky” there seem to be some extra notes sounding during the main I and IV chords. He might be doing the same descending pattern on the third string as on the first string, but not striking that string much, so you get a suggestion of those notes. Try it and see what you think.
The “Kentucky” intro, which returns in each verse, I think is single-note lead-in on fifth string to three-finger B7 shape at fourth fret (ignoring the capo), then slide down and back up a fret, then 3200 on the four high strings, then a full B7, with high string open and then closed, then E7, which moves around for the turnaround,
“Bye Bye Baby” — the turnaround I think is fancier than it seems at first. Instead of just descending from third fret to 0 on the fourth string, try 3003, 2013, 1303, 0003 on the four high strings. Sounds old-fashioned and ragtime-y, and he seems to do that.
The other strangeness on “Bye Bye Baby” is during the second line, coming back from the IV chord to the I, he adds some strange and wonderful thing on the third string, putting a finger on and off the second fret about three times. Listen and you’ll hear it. It is quite tricky to fit it in.
Oh, and back to the “dozens” verse of “Kentucky” — I’m pretty sure he’s talking about the “mother” (or “mothers”), not the “money” that your father had. Maybe the oilmen on the other side of town talk about your father’s money when they play the dozens, but in Little Hat’s community I doubt it, even if it sounds like that.
Have fun with these songs!

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2 Comments on "Playing Little Hat Jones songs"

  1. chuck Boyd
    21/12/2014 at 1:47 pm Permalink

    I wrote about your Friday night gig at Home Team BBQ in Charleston on my blog. Enjoyed it as much as the first time I heard you there. Please come back again to Charleston. Soon.

    As I said in my posting, I wish I had written down the artists and songs you played for us.

    Any chance of getting a copy of your set list? I’ll look them up and be better informed. Thanks!


  2. chezztone
    21/12/2014 at 2:33 pm Permalink

    Hey Chuck! Thanks for coming back for some more blues. Glad to hear you enjoyed the show. I will add you to my Charleston email list so you’ll find out when I am playing here again.
    I am still in Charleston through Jan. 8! Let me know if you know of any house parties or other events that could use some good live blues. I am available! Offering lessons, too, if you want to learn how to play this stuff yourself.
    As for the set list — it doesn’t exist, sorry! But some of the artists whose songs I played are Ma Rainey, Bo Carter, Georgia Tom, the aforementioned Little Hat Jones, Muddy Waters and Furry Lewis. Cheers and Happy New Year!

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