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What Blues songs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tombolino, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Hi there

    'Im a guitarist learning bass. There is a weekly open blue jam not far from where I live, full band. Wondering what blues songs suggestions you may have? I know the list can be huge....Im looking to learn a few songs that may be well known to start with that people would know (note: I wont be singing, just bass).

    Thank you.
  2. 1. Please fill out your profile a little more so that people can give you answers tailored to your experience/location/equipment/etc...

    2. Specific tunes called at blues jams can vary by region, but they can also vary by the type of players at the jam. Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, for example, Stevie Ray Vaughn tunes are usually a safe bet in any jam session. The types of tunes called can also vary by jam - I've been to some jams where the house band and most of the participants are older guys who call very traditional blues tunes, and only traditional blues tunes. Other jams I've seen tend to be looser, with more modern tunes called, along with some standard rock and R&B tunes.

    My advice would be to not worry about specific tunes per se; rather, start throwing on random blues albums and try to play along by ear. While there's plenty of harmonic/formal variation within the blues idiom, the basic structure of the 12-bar/I IV V blues is standard enough that most of the classic tunes (i.e. - those most likely to be called at sessions) are harmonically very similar - it's the feel that's different. I've played many jams where I've never heard the tunes being called, but the leader will simply call out "Shuffle in A with a quick IV chord," and we're off. There are a few standard basslines that, once learned, can be applied to most of the tunes called at sessions. With a little at-home practice and some time spent listening at the jam session, you'll begin to recognize many of the standard basslines.

    Another piece of advice regarding jam sessions in general - if you're just starting out and trying to get comfortable with a scene, you can always go hang out at the jam a few times before sitting in. Introduce yourself to the house band on breaks, ask questions...make yourself known. You can usually get a feel for how welcoming the players are to someone new to the music.

    That being said - make sure you can play "Mustang Sally"...
  3. Your role in a blues jam is to play the chord tones of the chord progression (the 12 bar blues progression is fairly cut and dried) and stay out of the way of the solo instrument. If there are drums, lock in on the kick drum, if there are no drums you are the beat master - keep the beat with a basic bass line.

    The 12 bar blues progression:
    • Four bars of the I chord, or some will have one bar of I chord, one bar of the IV then two bars of the I chord, then
    • Two bars of the IV chord, then
    • Two bars of the I chord, then
    • One bar of the V chord
    • One bar of the IV chord
    • One bar of the I chord
    • One bar of the V chord to loop back and start over. If ending the song let the last two bars end with the I chord.

    Here is a video lesson using only roots. The last four bars are a little different on this one. Be aware the 12 bar progression is not cast in stone. The first four bars can take the "quick change" of adding the IV in the second bar and then the last four bars can end with the dominant chord to make the loop back or just end with the last two bars being the tonic I chord. A quick question to the rhythm guitar; "Is it a quick change in the first four bars" and then take for granted it will end with the dominant chord and loop back.

    Have fun.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Stormy Monday always goes over well.

    Pride and Joy is a safe bet.

    Red House.

    Then just for fun see if anyone knows "Keep Your Hat On". It's not strictly blues but it always killed at a jam where I was the house bass player for years.

    Lot's of Allmans gets a pass at blues jams.

    Have fun with it.
  5. A few good albums to listen to would be: "From The Cradle" - Eric Clapton, "King Bee" - Muddy Waters, and "B.B. King Live At The Regal".

    If you know the basic 12 bar, 12 bar with a quick change, you can play a hell of a lot of songs. There's a few variations of the turnaround (as Malcolm mentioned), but you'll pick those up easily enough. Do a Google search for 12 bar blues and you'll find plenty of good sites which outline the most common variations. 8 and 16 bars are the other commonly used progressions, and they follow quite simple forms as well.

    Best of luck at your blues jam,
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