Bluesman Beginner’s Guide

blues guitar art

How to be a Bluesman

If you want to know how to be a Bluesman, you will need to begin with a song and a guitar. Majority of the Blues lyrics starts with: “Woke up this morning”

I got a girl who’s all that is a bad start of a Blues song. However, if you feel like doing it anyway, try to slap something ugly on the next line: I got a girl who’s all that, wish she’d look less like a wombat.

It ain’t hard to compose a Blues Song. If you got the first line, repeat it again over the next four bars and then just rhyme with whatever comes to mind. In fact, the repetition of the first line was invented to give the Blues singer time to compose the next line on the go as most of the original Blues was improvised. Example:

I got a girl who’s all that,
Wish she’d looked less like a wombat,
I got a girl who’s all that,
Wish she looked less like a wombat,
Her eyes looked both ways
When she crossed the road today

Go for a Ride

Blues cars are Cadillac, Chevy and rusty pickup trucks. No Bluesman drives a Volvo, BMW, Range Rover or Jeep. More often Blues takes you on a semi-truck ride or a cargo train heading south.
An even better idea would be to cover a few hundred miles on foot with nothing but your beat-up old guitar behind your back, a 6-shooter in your pants and readiness to start pushing up Daisies at any moment.

Blues can happen to you in Detroit, but it can’t happen to you on the beaches of Oahu. And it certainly can’t happen to you in Canada. Utah or Oklahoma will consider your gutter as just another depression needing a small orange cylinder pack with a note from a doctor. The best places for the Blues are still Chicago, New York or Kansas-City. Places without rain can’t have the Blues ever. You can’t pick your fights in the Blues. You gotta be low-down and beat down. You gotta be so down that your mother would refuse you shelter if asked.

Balding man is not yet worth the Blues. Balding woman however certainly is. Breaking a leg skiing in Aspen is not the Blues. Having an alligator bite your leg off – is.

Blues can’t happen in an office or a local Walmart. However Walmart’s parking lot at night is a perfect place for the Blues.

Pick a place to practice

Best places to sing the Blues are:

  • On a highway
  • In jail
  • On a highway on your way to jail
  • At the bottom of a glass

Worst places to sing the Blues are:

  • In MET
  • In an Ivy League college classroom
  • On a golf course
  • In a Swiss hotel

Compare notes

You have the right to sing the Blues if:

  • You are dirt-old
  • You are dirt-poor
  • You are blind or missing limbs
  • You shot someone in Memphis
  • Your soul is restless

You don’t have the right to sing the Blues if:

  • You have a Hollywood set of teeth
  • You are blind to certain things
  • You have a pension, checking account or trust fund
  • The guy in Memphis survived

Teenagers can’t sing the Blues. They are not ready to push up Daisies at any moment. Blues can be sung by those who have parted ways with their childhood. Parting ways with childhood means living to see the age when you are legally allowed to get on an electric chair for shooting someone in Memphis.

Blues is beyond color. Tiger Woods can’t sing the Blues but Stevie Ray Vaughan is forever at the top. Ugly-ass white dudes contributed well-enough to the Blues throughout the history.

Pick your drink

I asked her for water and she gave me gasoline is the Blues. You could also ask her for:

  • Whiskey/Bourbon
  • Muddy water
  • Coffee, black

Not at all a fitting Blues drink would be:

  • A long island, a mojito or any other cocktail
  • Aged wine
  • Fruit punch
  • Fiji Water

Pick a way to leave

Dying in a flea-bag motel or from a drive-by shooting is a Bluesy end. Catching a knife from someone’s jealousy is also a Blues-approved way to drop. Electric chair, being hit by a semi or an overdose alone on your porch is another option.

You death won’t be Blues if you’ll catch a stroke on a tennis court, during a liposuction or overdose in Bel Air.

Choose a Blues Name

A fitting Blues name for a woman would be:

  • Big Mamma
  • Fat River Dumpling
  • Mustang Sally
  • Layla

A fitting Blues name for a man would be:

  • Fat River Dumpling
  • Willie
  • Little Willie
  • Big Willie

People named Candy, Rainbow, Edmund, Harold, Cnut, Hathacnut can’t sing the Blues no matter how many people they ice in Memphis.

Beginner’s Guide to Picking a Blues Name

Pick a physical disability (blind, crooked, limp, lame, crippled etc.)

Add a fruit to your first name (lemon, apple, tomato etc.)

Pick a last name after one of the Presidents (Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Obama etc.)

blues name chart generator

Get rid of junk

Don’t try to sell a story about your first world problems. As long as you have an iPhone, Alienware and Razer, you don’t have the Blues. Destroying it would be best. Burning it all down with your own house. Throw a bottle of the cheapest liquor at it. Put a few bullet holes through it point blank.

If you follow these rules on how to be a Bluesman, you will most likely end up hanging somewhere outside Memphis but there will be someone who’d call you a Bluesman.

How to Be a Blues Man on Guitar

This one is a little trickier… You gotta feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel. If you fall asleep withing 10 seconds of hitting the pillow, you might need to go out and find yourself a bit more. For more “on paper” approach on how to be a Blues Man on guitar – consider reading Keen Kord Guitar’s Twelve Bar Blues piece first. Go watch Crossroads and half a dozen documentaries with actual Blues people sharing their life story. Then go read a bunch of biographies and then forget it all, grab a guitar and jump a freight train. That’s where you will learn how to handle a guitar like a Bluesman.

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