Saturday, May 15, 2010

Indianapolis Grit

Pete Franklin- Guitar Pete's Blues

"Q: Have you always played in the same style, or have you tried to change recently to keep up with the times?

A: Well, in a way of speaking I have changed a bit, to keep up, but generally it is along the same lines. I like a certain blues that I like better. And I can play two types. In fact I can play folk blues...

Q: What do you consider "folk blues"?

A: These are the original blues that came out of the cotton fields. And then there is, like I said, the modern type on the style of T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, and all the rest. Well, I try to play a little of that too.

Q: But you like the old style best.

A: That's my heart. The old style is what I really dig the most.

Q: Are there very many playing in the old style left in Indianapolis still?

A: Well, just about all the guys I named off are old, not that old. They aren't ancient, I'll put it that way.

As far as young musicians playing folk blues- you never find them. The youngest one that I know is Meshack Thacker and he's about 35 or 36 years old. Frankly, I believe that me and Meshack are the youngest.

Q: Are the older people who play country blues from all around the South or are most of them from, say, Mississippi, or...

A: Every one of them I know is from the South except me. The others are not from any certain section. I know them from Kentucky, from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, from Mississippi. All over.

Q: Do you think that there is a certain sound that developed, perhaps from the influence of the people coming from different parts of the South, into what could be called the "Indianapolis blues sound"?

A: Yes, I think so.

Q: Could you define or characterize it?

A: Well, just about all of us that lived in Indianapolis at that time played on the order of Scrapper Blackwell.

Q: So that Scrapper was a very influential person then...

A: No, there were guys that played guitar like that before Scrapper was born but they just were never heard of!

Q: Then it's not really true that Scrapper was a large influence around Indianapolis and that people copied his style.

A: In other words, I could play a guitar plenty before I ever went around the corner with Scrapper Blackwell and I definitely didn't learn anything from him. Neither did I copy his records. But just being around him every day and being around Jesse Eldridge every day, now that's who I tried to practice after.

Q: Do you think that Scrapper learned as much from Jesse as he did develop his own style?

A: Well, now Jesse didn't only play blues, he played more than blues. Scrapper, he played only blues.

Q: With regards to blues do you think that Scrapper would have listened to Jesse or developed his own style?

A: Scrapper didn't originate that style of playing. I don't know who did but I been hearing that style of playing guitar ever since I was a small boy. Like I said, a lot of them boys didn't even know Scrapper. I'm not down on Scrapper, because I think that he was one of the best that ever lived playing blues, but as far as creating that whole style by himself, he didn't. I can say the same for Wes Montgomery. I showed Wes some chords, and almost everyone who played guitar in Indianapolis knew Wes, he didn't originate that style. Those octaves what he plays, he originated that style. I'll go along with that, but when he left Indianapolis he wasn't playing no octaves, and I'm sorry that he played those octaves because, frankly, Wes plays so much guitar till them octaves... His fingers were as fast as greased lightning but he sat there playing with them octaves. He felt the same way but the public liked it. I'll tell you something else, Wes Montgomery hated blues anyway you burn it? He was a jazz man all times. I knew him before he could tune a guitar."
-Living Blues Magazine,

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Anonymous said...


mudcatz said...

I've got to confess, I never heard of Franklin until you first posted this. Thanx for the turn-on! My third time reading interview...

"A: No, there were guys that played guitar like that before Scrapper was born but they just were never heard of!" Testify, Pete, testify!

Richard said...

Got to say this Pete Franklin album is in the top two or three blues albums I've heard. Very raw but elegant, and with an audio quality far better than other blues music recorded at the time. Just him and his guitar or piano for each song. Can't get much better than that.