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Richard Burnett's Blackberry Blossom

Posted by bsed55 on Monday, February 13, 2012

likes this

I saw James Bryan this past weekend at the University of Chicago Folk Fest, and I heard him play this tune, which I thought sounded nice, but to my ears didn't resemble the Blackberry Blossom that most people know. But it was played in Bryan's patented long bow style, often stringing 4,5, and even 6 notes in a bow stroke. 

Tonight I sat down and learned the tune after having listened to it quite a bit. I think I had it after about 45 minutes. And WOW!! This tune is a blast to play.

I'm keeping in mind what he said his father told him about minimizing the effects of the changes in bow direction. In other words, aim for smooth seamless transitions. And not too fast. 

Well, I think there's probably a lot of us that want to sound like James Bryan when we grow up (judging from the full hall of listeners).

7 comments on “Richard Burnett's Blackberry Blossom”

Cyndy Says:
Monday, February 13, 2012 @7:50:15 PM

Is it anything like Garfield's Blackberry Blossom?

robinja Says:
Monday, February 13, 2012 @9:25:11 PM

Bruce - I'm curious if you got a close look at James' bowing. I took a class from him a couple of years ago and was astonished at how much sawstroke James did. His bowing was very fluid and it sounds like a lot of slurs, but I didn't find that to be the case. Not trying to be critical of your blog - just curious. I may not have observed it correctly. Anyway, he is quite amazing to listen to and to watch and is such a nice Southern gentleman, to boot! BTW - is that the Burnett of Burnett and Rutherford? I'll have to hunt for the recording.

bsed55 Says:
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 @5:56:15 PM

In answer to your last question, Judy, I'm assuming it is. Now as to the bowing (and this wasn't the first time I saw him) I didn't hear or see a lot of saw stroking. Let me try to put it another way:

It LOOKED to me like he was stringing lots of notes in single bow strokes. Then when I got home and I only had the audio to go on, I reproduced the sounds I heard from him by doing what I thought he did. (If he hadn't done it that way, then I wouldn't have been satisfied that my version (when I was done) was a close facsimile of his.
I hope that helps.
I should also say that I've learned two other tunes from his playing, I adopted the same strategy to learning them, and the results were the same. That is, I was satisfied that my version (closely) resembled his.

bsed55 Says:
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 @5:59:31 PM

Cyndy--I think it's different, but I can't say I know Garfield's B.B. In fact I can't even remember what key that tune is played in. Burnett's is in G.

farmerjones Says:
Friday, May 25, 2012 @9:11:51 AM

I most definately want to grow up to sound like James Bryan.
(Baby Ben)
Almost brings me to tears.

Supertone Says:
Monday, December 30, 2013 @11:19:12 AM

got to this conversation a bit late...Burnett did learn Blackberry Blossom from Ed Haley. He recorded it for Columbia in Atlanta in 1930. Recently reviewed an interview with Burnett where he discusses Haley as the source for the tune.

bsed55 Says:
Monday, December 30, 2013 @1:06:12 PM

Much appreciated!

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