Mark Wilson’s BlueGrooves
Booker T. Blues
This month’s lesson is modeled after a classic Booker T. & the
MG’s groove. In this I-IV-V in the key of E minor, the rhythm guitar
doubles the hook-laden bassline, which is all that’s really needed,
offering enough rhythmic and harmonic support for the lead guitar
while still leaving space. To help make this shuffle flow, the guitar
should mimic the strong swing feel provided by the drum part.
There are several different ways to pick this when played at a
relaxed tempo: we could use down, down, up, down, down or we
could use all downstrokes. Feel free to experiment in order to find
a groove that suits you.
The first three notes outline an E minor pentatonic: the root (E),
the flat third (G) and the fourth (A). When it changes to the A
minor chord, the same lick simply shifts up a fourth, ending up
with A, C and D. Split the riff by moving to the third position with
your first finger centered at the third fret and the root note played
with the third finger on the low E string. When moving to the V
chord, or B minor, simply move this formation up to the fifth position with your first finger on the fifth fret.
The motif of this lesson’s solo is based on the E minor pentatonic
scale and highlights the flat 5. The recurring theme, coupled with
the heavy swing feel, is a common approach to blues soloing, and
it fits right in the pocket here. This solo also features liberal use of
whole step bends and downward slides.
The riff starts on the “and” of four, and is based around the 12th
position. Due to the amount of bending involved, try using the
traditional blues approach, substituting your third finger in place of
your pinky, which will offer up smoother vibrato and bends. Also,
remember to use the fingers behind the note to reinforce the bend
and try dampening the unused strings with the right hand thumb.
Watch for the triplets in measure five from the solo, followed by a
glissando in measure seven and finishing it off with a cool octave
lick to fatten things up a bit. Try hybrid picking it for another flavor.
Play around with the timing and phrasing to come up with some
ideas of your own. We’ll see you next month!
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