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Blues Guitar Lessons- Blues Before Sunrise by Scrapper Blackwell

Jim Bruce, Blues Guitar Teacher and Author

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2 Videos (29m)
    • Blues Guitar - Blues Before Sunrise Lesson Preview

      2:35
    • Blues Guitar Lessons - Blues Before Sunrise - Scrapper Blackwell

      26:50

About This Class

The Blues Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell

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Born in Syracuse, Carolina, Scrapper Blackwell was one of sixteen children. Part Cherokee, he was raised up and spent most of his life in Indianapolis. He was given the familiar name , "Scrapper", by his grandma , because of his prickly nature. His father played the fiddle, but Scrapper taught himself how to play the blues guitar at an early age.

Even when he was a teenager , Blackwell worked as a part-time blues guitar player, wandering as far away as Chicago. He was a sullen man, generally keeping to himself and difficult to get along with. In spite of this , Blackwell established a duo with piano player Leroy Carr, whom he ran across in Indiana in the 1920s, which was a productive working relationship.

Blackwell also made recordings on his own , including "Kokomo Blues" which became "Old Kokomo Blues" (Kokomo Arnold) before it was transformed again into "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson. Blackwell and Carr traveled extensively throughout the mid-west states and through the South from 1928 to 1935 - one of the stars of the acoustic blues guitar scene, recording over 100 tracks.

After Carr died, Scrapper returned to performing in the late 1950s and was recorded again in June 1958 by Colin C. Pomroy. He was going to resume his blues guitar career when he was shot and killed during a robbery in an Indianapolis alley. He was fifty nine years old . Although the crime remains unsolved, police took into custody his neighbor for the murder. Scrapper Blackwell is buried in New Crown Cemetery, Indianapolis.

Blues Before Sunrise is played in the key of E. Although it follows the generally accepted chord progressions, he hardly forms a straight chord, but uses combinations and half chords to great effect. His technique is neither alternating bass or monotonic, but can be either! The thumb was very flexible and could play any of the strings.

In general, Scrapper's blues guitar style was richer and more diverse than many blues men - probably due to his partnership with Leroy Carr, the blues pianist who he traveled around with.

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Jim Bruce

Blues Guitar Teacher and Author

After making a living out of playing acoustic blues guitar in Europe for many years, I became interested in teaching online about 15 years ago, and began creating lessons. In 2103 I was voted N?2 top blues guitar teacher by users of Truefire.com.

While blues guitar remains dear to my heart, the last year I've been concentrating on novel writing and future classes will reflect this. It's all about creating and being the best we can possibly be!

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