Friday, May 10, 2013

Merle Travis - Walkin' the Strings

Merle Travis is another country/folk/bluegrass guitarist that I never knew much about, but this record is a fine place to start! Opening up with the blindingly fast title cut, you experience what Travis is known for - his dexterous finger picking, learned in his home in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky from local pickers such as Ike Everly, father of the Everly Brothers.

These cuts are all from the 40's and early 50's and were done for Capitol Record's Electrical Transcription series, which meant that these were used for radio spots to fill out the time, so all are fairly short - some less than a minute - though some are full songs. Apparently, Travis had no problem recording to order and would either adapt an old tune learned back home or write something right then and there. Everything here is simply Merle and his acoustic Martin D-28 guitar, which allowed him the flexibility to start and stop as needed. There are a few vocal numbers, but the best work here is Travis working out on the guitar.

Any guitar aficionado should own this record, just so that your ears can be astonished as the simultaneously bass and treble runs that fly by, and wonder how this is just one man and one guitar. A great collection of American music played by a master guitarist!