Mel Bay Presents Western Swing Guitar Style (Joe Carr)

Joe Carr
Mel Bay Presents Western Swing Guitar Style (Book)
Mel Bay Publications, Inc.

It's not all that unusual to hear a bluegrass band try to swing. After all, the gap between bluegrass and western swing isn't all that great. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys were more or less contemporaries of Bill Monroe, both extending the boundaries of their regional musical influences. Both were influenced by traditional dances, but Monroe incorporated blues into bluegrass, while Wills added elements of jazz.

You can hear the difference by listening to the two versions of Sally Goodin recorded by Ricky Skaggs - the Scruggs-influenced version with J. D. Crowe on Crowe's landmark Rounder album, and the stunning Texas swing version with Boone Creek a few years later, which took its inspiration from the playing of Benny Thomasson.

Joe Carr's instruction book Western Swing Guitar Style is just the thing for those of us who started out playing bluegrass. Starting with the basics of the walking bass notes that add the color to the guitar rhythm, going on through chord voicing and substitutions, this book will have you swinging along in no time.

Carr tabs out the backup parts for 20 different tunes, covering familiar instrumentals like Dusty Miller and Sally Goodin, traditional tunes like Big Ball In Cowtown, waltzes and general patterns for ballads and blues. The tablature is clear and easy to follow, and Carr includes some basic hints for embellishments and substitutions along the way.

The book is accompanied by a CD containing all of the songs in the book, recorded both with a band and without. The guitar is in one channel, the rest of the band in the other, which gives you a chance to work out on your own. If you've ever wanted to learn to play serious western swing, Mel Bay's Western Swing Guitar Styles is for you.

(Mel Bay Publications, Inc., #4 Industrial Drive, Pacific, MO 63069-0066)
Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, November 1998. Used with permission.