Slim Bryant: Early Country Guitar’s Last Man Standing

(via Vintage Guitar Magazine) by Rich Kienzle from December 2008

Thomas Hoyt Bryant, known to family and friends as “Slim,” met Perry Bechtel in Atlanta 1929. “I heard your record, ‘Wabash Blues,’ and I want to play it just like that,” he declared. “I can teach you that in 30 minutes,” the older man responded. “But if you want to play ’em all like that, you gotta take lessons.” That conversation changed Slim Bryant’s life – and the nature of country guitar.

In December 7, 2008, Bryant will be 100. Widely credited as the first country guitarist to infuse jazz and pop harmonies into the music, he’s the last living link between pre-World-War-II country music and the 21st century. In a performing career lasting nearly 30 years, he worked with two country icons in fiddler Clayton McMichen and singer Jimmie Rodgers, father of modern country music. Later, leading his own band in Pittsburgh, Bryant made broadcast history and became a regional institution. When that ended, he left a lasting impact teaching guitar to generations of Pittsburghers into the 21st century. Residing in the modest home he bought nearly 60 years ago in the suburb of Dormont, he remains healthy and lucid, a result of physical and mental calisthenics – and a mother who lived to be 104!

Little about Bryant fits conventional wisdom about early country performers. A product of the “New South,” he was born in Atlanta, the eldest child of Posey Bryant, an electrician who enjoyed old-time fiddling. Posey’s wife, Auroria, wrote poetry and played guitar in the formal parlor style popular in the late 19th century. “She sang and played (songs like), ‘In the Baggage Coach Ahead,’ a little bit of ‘Spanish Fandango’,” he says. Jim Scott, a black man who delivered ice to their home, also impressed Slim when he’d take a break, play Auroria’s guitar and, according to Slim, sing “whatever came into this head.”

Slim worked out his first guitar chords himself. “I got them from listening to records. We didn’t have a record player,” he says. “But the people across the street did.

After graduating high school in 1926, he seemed destined to follow his dad into an electrical career, working as an estimator for the Georgia Electric Company and spending his nights studying electrical engineering at Georgia Tech, all the while absorbing music through records and the rising medium of radio. Nick Lucas, the singer and guitarist known for the original hit recording of “Tip Toe Through The Tulips,” became his first guitar hero. Seeing him perform in Atlanta, playing a steel-string Gibson revealed to Bryant the full potential of the guitar. “I never heard anybody who could sing and then play a chorus,” he declares. “I liked his playing when he played a solo. It wasn’t real complicated or anything, but it was first.” His second hero is less surprising. “For one-string stuff, I loved Eddie Lang. He was great. Too bad he died at such a young age, but he had a great influence on me. I learned his jazz tunes and played ’em on the radio. Of course, there were other people, but those two were the basic guys I was influenced by.”

Atlanta became the birthplace of commercial recorded country music after local fiddler John Carson performed on WSB Radio and recorded “Little Old Log Cabin in The Lane” in 1923. Soon, a younger giant of old-time fiddling emerged – Clayton McMichen. Born in 1900, McMichen, nicknamed “The North Georgia Wildcat,” grew up in Atlanta and joined the recording “supergroup” Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, which included another pioneer country guitarist, Riley Puckett. While the group’s strong record sales boosted McMichen’s stature, he preferred playing pop and jazz with his other band, McMichen’s Melody Men. Slim, too, played in a local string band. “McMichen’s cousin, Elmer, and I and a boy by the name of Hoyt Newton and a banjo player by the name of Woods. We learned from each other. I got a book of chords and learned to play.” His first guitar, best he remembers, was a mahogany-bodied Martin Style 17 – the company’s first steel-string model. “I bought it at the Cable Piano Company for 30-odd dollars and paid (so much) a week on it. Perry Bechtel sold it to me. He was the salesman at Cable Piano.”

From the KDKA TV “Country Fair” TV show in the mid/late 1950s, with KDKA announcer/disc jockey/local jazz musician Sterling Yates sitting in on clarinet. Jerry Wallace is using his Les Paul goldtop with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.

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The Beatles Album Covers Explained

From the psychedelic nostalgia of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the simplicity of crossing Abbey Road, these are the stories behind the cover of every Beatles album.

(via udiscovermusic) by Paul McGuinness

From the very beginning, a big part of The Beatles appeal was visual. In his book The Art of The Beatles, Mike Evans explained, “their image was always unique. Unlike their contemporaries on the music scene, whose style reflected the times, The Beatles invariably helped to establish fashion.” From their pre-fame days, they always had a look – uniform, in every sense. When they first emerged, the press was obsessed with their mop-top haircuts, their matching Cuban-heeled boots, their collarless jackets. How they presented themselves was vital to what made them so… different. And nowhere was this reflected more consistently than on their record covers. Photography, illustration, graphic design – Beatles album covers changed them all.

Before The Beatles, album art was designed to sell the contents – song titles and sales messages on top of the artist’s bright image. But within a few short years, The Beatles album covers were works of art in their own right. Images such as the half-lit heads on With The Beatles, the psychedelic nostalgia of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the simplicity of crossing Abbey Road rank as some of the most influential and enduring art of the 20th century, clearing the way for others like The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and countless others to go even further.

Here are the stories behind some of The Beatles’ iconic album covers…

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Quora: What is the best instance of a band or musician “stealing the show” despite not being the main act?

Answer by Brian Moore

In the mid-70’s, folk-rock trio America (“Horse With No Name”, “Ventura Highway”, “Sister Golden Hair”, etc.) were near the peak of their popularity, and I decided to get tickets to their show at Detroit’s Masonic Auditorium. When I got the tickets, they indicated that there was an opening act – Eric Carmen, who had recently released his debut album and had a fairly big hit with the ballad “All By Myself”. Not knowing any of his other music, I figured I could suffer through his 45-minute set in order to see the main act.

Little did I know that prior to going solo, Eric was in a power-pop band called The Raspberries, who had had a few minor hits in the early 70’s. We showed up expecting a “snoozer” of an opening act, but when Eric came out, the majority of his material was rockier music from his Raspberries days. Songs like “Go All The Way” and “I Wanna Be With You” completely surprised the crowd, who were expecting a soft-rock balladeer.

Eric ended up doing multiple encores, which was unheard of for an opening act. When America came out for their part of the show, they were almost booed off the stage by fans in the crowd, begging for Eric to return for another encore.

Video of the Week: Is THIS the best song of ALL TIME?

She Spent Two Years Writing for an Acclaimed Album — and Made Only $4,000

(via Rolling Stone) Brian Hiatt

Writing songs for top acts used to be a reliable source of income. Now, thanks to a rapidly changing industry, songwriters face trouble making ends meet 

AFTER YEARS OF struggle and even a few months of homelessness, Kimberly “Kaydence” Krysiuk was sure her big break as a songwriter had finally arrived. In August 2018, Ariana Grande released her fourth album, Sweetener, and there, at Number 12 on the track list, was the acerbic kiss-off ballad “Better Off,” co-written by Krysiuk two years earlier over a Hit-Boy beat. At age 27, she had achieved every young songwriter’s dream, her lyrics and melodies sent aloft via a superstar’s silky voice. The world was hearing her work. Big money, she assumed, was on its way.

At the time, she didn’t mind that Grande took 10 percent of the songwriting credit for what Krysiuk describes as “changing three or four words,” tweaking the lyric that ended up as “watch you smoke and drink.” (Producer Tommy “TBHits” Brown, who worked on “Better Off,” disputes Krysiuk’s account: “That was definitely not [Grande’s] only contribution,” he says. “We sat down there with the entire song and worked on it together. [Grande] is very, very hands-on with everything she does. She’s not one of the artists that just take songs and doesn’t do anything.”)

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The Death of the Key Change

(via Tedium.) by Chris Dalla Riva

One of the strangest things about Michael Jackson’s solo career is that he didn’t release that much music. In the two decades after his adult debut—1979’s Off the Wall—Jackson only released 5 solo albums, totaling 59 songs. As a point of comparison, in the two decades after his solo debut, Paul McCartney—the only realistic competitor to Jackson’s title as King of Pop—put out 14 albums containing 176 songs.

Nevertheless, given that nearly 40 percent of Jackson’s songs during this period were top 10 hits, it’s safe to say that he still wears the crown. Among those hits, there’s always been one song that’s stood out to me: “Man in the Mirror”.

Man in the Mirror” is gospel record that sees the narrator looking to make a positive change in the world but quickly realizing that he first needs to make a change in himself:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror.

I’m asking him to change his ways.

And no message could’ve been any clearer:

If they wanna make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make a change.

Part of the reason this record stands out among Jackson’s solo songs is his vocal performance. From “Billie Jean” to “Dirty Diana” to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” the vocals on many of Jackson’s hits sound frantic, like he’s navigating through a labyrinth. “Man in the Mirror” is not like that. Jackson sounds comfortable and empowered. That performance makes the record distinct in his oeuvre.

But there’s another reason it stands out: the key change from G major to G# major that occurs at around 2 minutes and 52 seconds…

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I’m the Last Person on Earth Still Buying CDs. Here’s Why…

I seek order in the form of a ludicrously large CD collection.

(via CNET) by Erin Carson

One dark day, a fresh-faced person in a lab coat will try to coax an old Spoon record out of my ancient, gnarled hands. And upon that day there’ll be a tussle. 

I won’t be letting go of that jewel case easily, and I look forward to that day when, with whatever strength I’ve got left, I get to educate that youth about CDs.

Approximately 82 million people in the US paid for music streaming services as of 2021. In 2022, vinyl sales hit a ludicrous 43 million in the US

Yet here I am, vowing to be the last person on Earth buying CDs…

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Quora: Why didn’t The Beatles record ‘A World Without Love’?

(via Quora) Answered by Eli Matawaran

John Lennon thought the first line, “Please lock me away”, was laughable. And he added:

“I think it was resurrected from the past…I think he (Paul McCartney) had the whole song before the Beatles.”

Yes, McCartney had written it when he was only 16 and before the Beatles but it was an unfinished song.

Maybe Lennon didn’t realized it was unfinished because he had already rejected it based on the first few lines.

When McCartney moved into the London home of his then girlfriend Jane Asher, he shared a room with her brother Peter, a singer-guitarist…

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Video of the Week: Glen Campbell’s Phenomenal Guitar Solos

On a Lighter Note…

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