Inspired by The Bluegrass Situation’s MIXTAPE series, each month I will ask one of my favorite slide slingers to list five of their favorite songs (some of them featuring the slide of course).
I’m kicking things off this month with my own list. I can create a play list that lasts for days with this theme in mind. So, I picked songs featuring some of my biggest influences.
TRACK: If I Should Wander Back Tonight
ARTIST: Josh Graves with Flatt & Scruggs
I love the energy in Josh’s playing in this video. There is some serious attitude and some great blues/swing licks that he puts right in the pocket. Since Josh kicks it off and takes two solos, this clip provides great insight into how he approaches improvising around the melody. Playing in F without a capo is tough enough. Notice how he frequently looks up to make eye contact with the camera/audience.
TRACK: Wayside Tavern
ARTIST: Jerry Douglas & Peter Rowan
The first time I saw Jerry play live was at McCabe’’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA. He and Peter were touring in support of this record. My folks bought me a copy after the show and almost 20 years later I still get chills when I listen to this track. Jerry has such a vocal-like quality and his phrasing is so expressive. This is a great lesson in how to back up a singer. He is one of the best at guiding the listener through the song and giving the singer support. His second solo gets me every time (2:57). There is a lot of space between the phrases. Listen to how each phrase swells in volume. It’s so expressive. I love the rhythmic variations and syncopated lines. This one tugs at my gut every time.
TRACK: These Days
ARTIST: David Lindley with Jackson Browne
I love David Lindley’s playing. He is definitely the king of tone when it comes to rock lapsteel playing. When he’s backing up a great singer/songwriter he always plays the right thing in the right moment. I love how he intertwines with the vocals on this track. He is a master at guiding the listener and dynamically shaping the song. Great phrasing, great tone and beautiful counter melodies! What’s not to love?!
TRACK: Precious Lord Take My Hand
ARTIST: Bryan “Josh” Taylor
Talk about making the slide sound like a voice! Josh Taylor is my hero. He has such great phrasing and a really nice touch with the volume pedal. I love the pacing. He does a great job building up to the climax. I get goose bumps every time around 1:05 and 2:22. The entire performance flows so beautifully. Like a great singer, the music flows without hesitation from his mind through his instrument.
TRACK: Live On BBC Radio
ARTIST: Debashish Bhattacharya
I love the spirit of this piece. Debashish’s technical abilities are mind blowing and his musicianship is just as amazing. The ideas he plays don’t seem possible with a slide even at a slow tempo. I just can’t get enough!