So, I’m at the 2007 IBMA in Nashville, and I’m sitting in the Bishline Banjos booth, where I am discovering that not only is Rob is a great banjo player and a super guy, but he is also building gorgeous and great sounding banjos. I covet them. Anyway, there was a woman there doing the same thing who turns out to be my new friend, Kat Duke. Kat and I seem to have precisely the same musical tastes. She loves everything from Earl Scruggs to Delbert McClinton, but she loves nothing more than Atkins/Reed style guitar, of course. She told me about this young man, on YouTube to your left, named Gareth Pearson and his great version of the Jerry Reed tune, A Little Bit Of Blues. Check it out yourself. She’s not wrong, right?
I have always thought this was one of Jerry’s great tunes, but I never learned it, in part because I didn’t think it would be easy to play well on steel string guitar. Guess I’m wrong about that. At least for Gareth. After Kat told me about Gareth, I decided to order his CD, called Adrenaline Rush EP, and I’m glad I did. There is some great great guitar playing on there! I did this transcription of A Little Bit Of Blues from the cut on that CD, and it is almost identical to the YouTube clip embedded here.
A few words about the tab. For one thing, it is in swing time, and in order to get it sounding right and to capture the feel of Gareth’s performance, I notated it as precisely as I could, rather than using straight eighth notes. This makes for a very ungainly looking tab, but don’t let it intimidate you - it’s all pretty obvious once you get going on it. Also, some of the slides and rhythms will sound funny on the MIDI here since the TablEdit generated MIDI’s don’t capture the subtlety of guitar slides. But, for practical purposes, almost all of Gareth’s slides fall right out of the chord changes, so they will be as easy to play as anything else about this tune, FWIW. Also, I tried to capture some of Gareth’s more complicated rhythmic adventures, like the measure of 12/8, and I think I have done it fairly well, but it’s best to listen to the real thing while learning this.
If you download the tab, be sure to check out the Notes section where I have tried to offer a few hints on playing this beast. A couple of things right off the bat. The first is that Gareth uses a lot of percussive effects in this tune, and it sounds great. I did not notate that in the tab. Once you learn it, you can throw those in fairly easily if you like. He also does a sort of reverse rasqueado on parts of the up-the-neck variations which I also did not notate - but once you learn the tune, you can think about adding that if you like.
There is one very important technique, that I should mention. You have probably noticed that this tune is built around what Dr. John calls The Famous Lick, to wit:
Or at least that’s how I hear it. The Famous Lick feel was co-opted for guitar long ago by Chet and especially Jerry, but it seems to be enjoying a rising and recent popularity in bluegrass in the playing of Bryan Sutton on guitar and also in the playing of Noam Pikelny on banjo - both great players, btw. Of course, Bill Keith has been doing this on banjo for more than thirty years. Suffice to say, great musicians just love The Famous Lick, and so do I. This is the long way around to saying that to get it on the guitar, such as in the first two measures of A Little Bit Of Blues, you have to drag your first finger across the strings, sometimes using a pull-off - to get the deedle-lit-DUM - be thankful I’m note there singing it for you. Anyway, you’ll get the idea, and that’s enough technical notes.
Play MIDI of the tab
Download: A Little Bit Of Blues tab here (Note: If you have not downloaded this tab since 10/28/07, you do not have the latest version)
(in TablEdit Format, which you can download a free viewer for)