John Wheatcroft brings you a big plate of hot country with a generous helping of blues on the side, courtesy the Tele-toting Brad Paisley.
John Wheatcroft looks at the bluesier side of country picking wizard, Brad Paisley.
country guitarist who’s no mean blues picker either.
Brad Paisley has had a remarkable career. the 42-year-old singer, songwriter and picker has sold over 12 million albums, gained three Grammys and is a bona fide member of the Grand ole opry. if we also take into consideration over 30 top ten Billboard singles, over a dozen CMA awards and a stable family life with film star wife Kimberley Williams, it’s fair to say Brad has made quite a good job of things so far.
it’s not for no good reason, either, as Brad is a fantastic singer and an intelligent and prolific songwriter. What we’re interested in here though is his guitar playing - he’s no slouch here either.
Actually it’s not the first time that we’ve looked at a country guitarist in this column. Players such as Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan effortlessly move between genres, sometimes within the same song. in fact you can often hear country, blues, jazz, rock’n’roll and rockabilly influences all mixed up to create one huge hybrid language. Brad is most definitely open to all of these influences. While his writing style, image and much of his vocabulary comes from classic country, you can easily detect traces of jazz, blues and rock in his playing - even the odd bit of tapping makes an appearance. His open-minded approach is refreshing, and if you’d like to know more about the influences that make up his style you should check out his 2011 book, Diary of A Player: How My Musical Heroes Made A Guitar Man out of Me.
there are two complete 12-bar solos this month, in the blues and country-endorsed keys of A and e respectively. one of the things i had to get my head around when approaching learning some country-based ideas was the concept of key-specific phrases, meaning that a specific lick in the key of G may not necessarily have an identical version in the key of A. there might be a similar idea, but, due to the abundance of open strings, certain ideas only work in one key; whereas in jazz the concept of transposing each and every idea through all 12 keys is accepted protocol, and open strings only rarely make an appearance. With this in mind, most country
coldplay, My chemical romance, jazz, and instrumental music that’s obscure - I have a very wellrounded iPod. Brad Paisley
players stockpile ideas and organise them around their respective open chord, so an experienced player will have dozens of C,A,G, e and D form ideas. Country music is quite often a ‘sharp’ key music, with loads of tunes found in G,D,A, e and so, whereas jazz is most often associated with flat keys, F, Bb and the like. Of course, there are exceptions and many artists purposefully blur these definitions. Remember that you can always use a capo to access new keys and it’s not unknown for a player to completely retune the guitar a half-step or more lower to facilitate familiar finger shapes in new keys, so it’s good to remember the old saying, necessity is the mother of invention. While we’re at it, another good one is practice makes perfect, so what are you waiting for? NEXT MONTH: New blues tutor Les Davidson looks at Carlos Santana ’s bluesy side
Brad Paisley with one of his Bill Crooke Tele style guitars
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