How to Play Back at the Chicken Shack by Jimmy Smith

Hey, how’s it going this is Jon McLennan with Guitar Control, I’m going to show you how to play a great Blues tune called “Back at the Chicken Shack” by Jimmy Smith and Kenny Burrell on guitar. They were one of my former teachers and I play their songs almost every gig that I’m leading. I play this song on it’s original key, in the Key of F.

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Click on the Tabs button to follow the chords and tabs.

What I’m doing here is thinking about an F chord because this whole tune is basically a simple blues in F. So I start by this triad here, which is one, two, three, just three notes there and I’m going to start playing the root note at the 3rd fret on the 4th string and then I’m going to play it twice, then I blues hammer-on like thinking of a minor triad to a major triad. In this case it would be a dyad, so I’m really playing two notes and I’m visualizing it like a minor D major chord.

So play that 3rd fret then hammer-on, then lay my third finger down on strings 2 and 3, the same two strings that I did the hammer-on. Third finger goes down and then I’m going to slide up my fingers 1 and 2 to the 5th fret on the 3rd string and the 4th fret on the 2nd string very, cool bluesy sound making it F7, part of an F7 chord. Let’s try that together, it’s not sliding right on the downbeat, and then I do this tremolo thing. I just drag my lick back and forth and then I go back the same way that I can, meaning I’m going to put my third finger down on these two strings 2nd and 3rd string, then I’m going to hammer-on again from 1 and 1 to the 2nd fret on the 3rd string and 1st fret on the 2nd string. Again from the tremolo, let’s do it without the tremolo for a second.

That’s the essence of the riff; you’re just going to add this very common blues thing like piano players are comping over basically an F7 chord like Muddy Waters. All this stuff is tied together in the tapestry of the blues, we’re going to do that riff twice which I’m thinking of an F7. That’s the one chord in the Blues in F then we’re going to move up to the four chord which is F, G, A, B flat. Fourth note of the major scale is how you get the four chords, so now I’m going to take that same riff back to our triads. Let’s say I was thinking of an F triad here and I’m going to move that up 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, frets and I’m going to a B flat chord which is the four chord, and I’m going to repeat the same riff. I’m going to play that note twice again and do the dyad, hammer-on, drop my third finger, mash it across with the slide.

This time I’ve come up at frets 9 and 10 on the 2nd and 3rd strings, that’s B flat 7. I see the chords on the neck as I play this, not thinking of the scale, I’m just leaving the chord and then back, just once there on the four chords B flat then we’re going back to the one chord.

Here I go and do a little extra with my third finger and then hammer-on, then I played the 3rd fret of the 4th string and play it again and do a hammer-on again. A little reiteration of the same repetitive kind of things so from the four chords, here’s my favorite part of the turnaround and that’s going to lead us up to the five chords on an F blues. C7, then I go up to the 5th note of the scale. That’s how you figure out the five chords. So I’ve got the 5th fret on the 3rd string and then I’m going to slide up from the 4th fret to the 5th fret 2nd string and then walk up chromatically. So I’ve gone from the 4th fret to the 8th fret without skipping any frets and then go back to the 1st note.

What I recommend is copying the fingering that I’m doing. Second finger, first finger, and slide up with your first finger and then just go 1, 2, 3, and 4. What I’m going to do is go down 2 frets and copy paste the same thing and end with this F note 3rd fret 4th string pull my finger over, third finger mash it down back up like a roll just popping my finger and I do a little same bluesy hammer-on, the one we were doing earlier the third finger.

Now it comes to full circle where I started, thinking of that F triad. If you want to take it a step further and you want to do something really cool. Pedal a C note on top, you’re going to play the same rep but when you hit here, you’re going to add this note with it and that gets you through “Back at the Chicken Shack”. Thank you so much for watching I really hope this video lesson helps you out and inspires you makes you want to pick up the guitar and play more every day. Make sure you subscribe on our You Tube Channel and we’ll see you in our next video lessons.


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