Talkin’ Blues with Keith Wyatt: Slim Harpo’s Grooving, Down-Home Rhythm Guitar Style
These audio files are bonus content related to the May 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.
“Swamp blues” aptly describes the steamy blend of down-home blues, New Orleans R&B and Cajun styles that emanated from the Louisiana back country in the Fifties and Sixties.
The epicenter of swamp blues was the Crowley, Louisiana studio of producer-songwriter J.D. “Jay” Miller, whose recordings of local African-American artists for Nashville’s Excello label defined the genre.
Among such colorful names as Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, Lonesome Sundown and Whispering Smith, Miller’s most commercially successful artist was James Moore, a singer, guitarist and harp player better known as Slim Harpo. Harpo’s mix of traditional blues and popular dance rhythms had a particularly powerful impact on the early Sixties British pop scene, with the Rolling Stones and other bands widely covering his songs and using them to inspire their own writing.
At the same time, Miller’s quirky production style turned swamp into a recognized musical adjective.