Detuned to add growl to his classic piece, Belton Sutherland’s Blues #1 (mistakenly named Blues #2 in the video by me), is a true display of Sutherland’s raw style.
Putting aggressiveness and character first, those loose sweeps with his right hand almost give a nice distortion effect. Then, with his left hand, he capitalizes on the detuned guitar to play huge bends, giving a quirky yet tasteful sound. It’s also a sign of what’s to come with his next 2 songs.
Watching the Lomax videos, it’s easy to tell that Sutherland is right at home. And indeed, he plays on Clyde Maxwell’s porch — a close friend and neighbor of his — with an audience of friends and family. Supposedly, during the time of the Civil War, Sutherland’s grandfather actually owned most of the land of Camden. Then, being born in the same year as Robert Johnson, Sutherland would live with his entire family in this area for most of his life (apart from a big chunk of time in Chicago). That “home-y” feel, on the porch with the crickets chirping in the background, is probably what has skyrocketed Sutherland to internet fame over the past few years.
As for Blues #1, the song is a great one, especially as one of the only three recordings where he really displays his style. Adding on that virtually no other player uses his techniques (like those big over-bends), Blues #1 is a great start to learning Sutherlan
Tired of sleeping, low-down lonesome cell
Tired of sleeping there, low-down lonesome cell
And I wouldn’t’ve been here, hadn’t’ve been for Nell
Kill that old grey mule, burn down the white man’s barn
Kill that old grey mule, burn down that white man’s barn
I didn’t mean no trouble, I didn’t mean no harm
I want you to love me or leave me, girl, anything you wanta do
I want you to love me or leave me, anything you wanta do
What a strange thing happenin’, someday might a-happen to you
Well you say you gonna leave me, said you’re goin’ away
Well, you said you’re gonna leave me, pretty Maggie, said you was goin’ away
I said, luck be the fortune, you’ll come back home some day
I said luck beats a fortune, gonna make you come some home someday
*Thanks to Weenie Campbell for the lyrics
Year of Recording
3 September 1978
Canton, Mississippi (at Clyde Maxwell's house)
Field Recording by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long