Updated: Oct 1, 2018
This article is not intended for the beginner guitarist, but for the student who has an intermediate or advanced knowledge of fingerpicking and can read tablature, as best illustrated in Happy Traum's Fingerpicking Styles for Guitar (Oak Publications).
Mississippi Blues, * a flowing, beautiful, 12 bar blues, was recorded by Willie Brown and released on the Library of Congress label (Negro Blues & Hollers, AFS-L59). It is much like the blues piano styles of the 'twenties and 'thirties, and contains an element of classical ragtime.
Because of the complexities of this piece, I have used several devices in the tablature to help you find the correct hand positions. The left hand fingersare numbered (1 for index; 2 for middle; 3 for ring finger and 4 for the little finger).
You may have trouble grasping the song at first , but stay with it. It's well worth the effort! Listening to the record will help you to get the feeling and tempo of the song. As you play it, try to keep alternating bass good and strong, since it is essential to the feeling of this style.
* This song can also be heard on How to play Blues Guitar (Elektra #234). It is played on the record by Rory Block (aka "Sunshine Kate"), backed up by Stefan Grossman. Credit must be given to Rory and Stefan for carefully transcribing this difficult piece.
Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine, September 1968