Furry Lewis Style is Killer

Another Delta bluesman — Walter “Furry” Lewis was a great guitarist and improviser…

You might not understand everything going on
in this video, but don’t worry because
with the “Deep Delta Blues” package, you’ll
get it all tabbed out.

But even if we don’t get all the right hand
picking stuff, you can learn a lot from
this video just from the chord shapes
he’s using.

We see we have a “D” shape moved up
2 frets to make an E…

And then we also have like an A7 shape
that’s moved up 2 frets to the B7.

What I mean is, you have a normal A
major open chord, and then you can
hit the G note on the high E string…

That’s an A7…You can also use your
pinky to hit the high A note, to make
what some people call a “long A” chord.

I was aware of these shapes, but I hadn’t
thought to just move those shapes up
2 frets to get the B and B7 chord
as part of a blues…

That’s pretty neat 🙂

Again, you’ll have to grab the tabs
in this package to get all the right
hand picking stuff.

Let’s take a look at “Dry Land” now in detail.
Just a couple of technical points before we get
into the tune itself, one is that in the right
hand I tend to anchor gently with the little
finger of my right hand here on the pick guard.

And what I find is that by doing that I’m able
to achieve a really strongly oriented sense of
where each of the strings are and I just feel
pretty clear. Whereas if I floated freely I
don’t think I would be quite as clear. Also,
it kind of gives you a little bit of a fulcrum
there to get a strong rhythmic sound.

This guitar is a 1985 Martin OM-28 Herringbone
Custom, which I had them make for me, in case
you’re interested in that sort of thing. You may be.

Now, if we look at “Dry Land” what we’re going
to see is a song that’s essentially and 8-bar
blues and it’s what you might say a kind of
song family. There are many of these in the
country blues. Big Bill Broonzy’s
“Key to the Highway”, John Hurt’s “Sliding Delta”,
“Crow Jane” by Skip James, Carl Martin did
“Old Time Blues”, so it’s a progression you
encounter frequently in the music. What I would
like to do is work through this song sort of
phrase by phrase, very slowly, giving you a
chance to see what both the left and the right
hand are doing at any given point.

So as we start the tune, it does begin with E,
but in terms of what the left hand is doing,
you’re actually beginning in a D position,
just as though you were going to be playing
a D chord. It also begins on the 4th beat of
the measure prior to the down beat. So if you
think of this in terms of counting it in, it’s
going to go like this: one, two, three, four
and one and two, three and four. There’s the
first measure.

Now, I’ll just do that again slower so that
you can observe what the left hand does.
Basically it’s sliding up two frets and as
you come to the 4th beat the index and middle
fingers come up. So here we go. One, two, three.

Now, that last note that you hit in the bass
is a little bit dissonant, but what’s going
to happen is it resolves really smoothly into
the B-7th chord that follows. Now, if you look
at the right hand in this passage, the thumb
is sort of living up here on the 3rd string.
It’s something that may be a little bit
unfamiliar to you, but what we find as we
look at this music is that Furry is very free
in his thumb work. He’ll do alternations; he’ll
thump with the bass occasionally and sometimes
the thumb ends up all the way up on the 3rd string,
as it does in this instance.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *