TRJ - February 2023 - You Gotta Walk That Lonesome Valley - Mississippi John Hurt + Keep Your Lights Trimmed & Burning - Jorma Kaukonen

You gotta walk that lonesome valley

One of my favourite Country Blues artists, Mississippi John Hurt, famous for his fingerstyle playing. He only made one or two recording sessions in the nineteen twenties, but would not establish himself as a recording artist due to the economic hardship following the great financial crash and the following great depression. He returned to his beloved Avalon to be a simple share cropper.

Because one of the recordings was called Avalon Blues, in the early nineteensixties, during the great folk revival, someone actually travelled to Avalon to try and trace any information on Mississipi John Hurt. They directed them to a simple share croppers cabin, and found John Hurt, who was rediscovered and went on to perform for the last years of his life. I have been working the past few years to learn but a few of the many great songs he recorded. This one is a spiritual, which has a very soothing rhythm, and reminds one that the last trip one makes one makes alone. There is a nice recording of this song in a TV appearance of John Hurt in a program by Pete Seeger.

This is my attempt at capturing but a part of what John conveys in that song, which basically only has two chords. There is some selective muting of the bass strings going on. It has taken me months to get this one down, and then even more time to get and targeted practice to get the singing timed out properly.

And yes, this one recording obviously took several takes to get it passably right.

Another for this month:

Jorma Kaukonen - Keep Your Lights Trimmed & Burning


That’s some really nice work Tjeerd.

Definitely getting the vintage vibes front your singing too.


Great stuff Tjeerd! You projected some real atmosphere with that song.

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That’s a cool story and even more impressive fingerpicking, my thumb gets cramps even by looking how you manage to play that song :grinning: very nicely played!

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Awesome Tjeerd. Following on from your performance on Saturday in the open mic, I am very impressed with your finger style playing. Vocals compliment this song perfectly. You’re an inspiration :+1:

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Hi Tjeerd,
Nice fingerpicking that looks really super smooth :sunglasses: :clap: and :sweat_smile:. And I’m sure it’s well executed,…I’ve never heard this… at least a lot has been walking in the song I almost got that :sweat_smile: too…

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Great finger picking and vocals Tjeerd! Very smooth performance.

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Lovely relaxed version with those moving G shapes. Nice one.
You could also try making the slide from chord to chord into a bigger feature to really get that “back porch” feel

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That was great Tjeerd. Nice picking and loving the vocals.

Great story as well. A nice way to see out your days.

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@liaty happy you like it. I found out that becoming confident with the singing can pull me trough iffy spells whilst playing fingerstyle as well, whilst not being 100% on the vocals and the lyrics will throw me off balance in both.

@twistor59 Hi Phil, thanks, yes that’s what I am aiming for.

@adi_mrok Hi Adrian, its a flow kind of thing, I find the groove mesmerising, thats what attracted me in it, there is the bass, and the midrange, and the melody all going on at the same time. Once you have it going, it becomes kind of easy and soothing. The difficult thing in the end was to time the vocals properly, especially the mother and the father bit, because it leads by a quarter note.

@MadModMcd Hi Ian, I am really impressed by your kindness too! Corona and early retirement sure helped me to where I am right now with the guitar, but also playing with others and listening.

@roger_holland Dankjewel! The song is actually all about those very last steps that we take in this world before departing. The song is kind of meaningful to me, as both my parents have passed away, and I personally had two narrow escapes in the past 20 years

@TheCluelessLuthier Thanks Mark!

@Eccleshall Well spotted, and thanks for the supporting thoughts.

@sgtcolon Thanks! These Country Blues players were so great!


This is my version of a Gary Davis classic. I took most of it from an instructional DVD by Jorma Kaukonen. A lot of work got in this one. When I tried to play this with a bass player, it appeared that my timing was fully off. Forcing me to relearn it with metronome, Guitar Pro and company, which is a painful experience, slowing it down to 50% again, and slowly building up speed.

Still, as a solo piece this ahould serve, and although the lead riff is still completely ragged, it kind of hints where things should be once I have it mastered.

The songs by Gary Davis are simply wonderful. He performed as a street musician in the New York of the early sixties. Apparently he was a great teacher too, because
Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), Stefan Grossman and other Village dwellers all found their way to him in Harlem in 1960 New York, to be taught fingerstyle Blues. They all later went on to teach his playing, and put out lots of teaching CD’s and DVD’s. That is how I learned about him.

He was a Reverend too, so he made extensive renditions of Gospel songs. Death don’t have no mercy in this land, I heard the Angels Singing (Eric Bibb), Keep your lights trimmed and burning (Jorma Kaukonen), are mixed with songs like Cocaine Blues (who else but Keith Richards) and Hesitation Blues (Jorma again).

Looking forward to comments and suggestions


Hi Tjeerd

Being new to all this, I can’t offer anything other than that was really great.

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Well played, Tjeerd, sounded good to me. Beyond me to make suggestions.

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Sounded great to me Tjeerd! :+1:

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That was terrific Tjeerd. You really captured the delta blues vibe in that one. Super picking and vocal combination.
You mentioned the timing issues when you played along with a bass player. That’s something most of us won’t have to worry about as we don’t play with anyone else. :smiley:

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@DavidP, @CateB , @Notter thanks for the feedback. You are really too kind.
@sairfingers. Hi Gordon, RE

But then again you mentioned you are using TRIO+! The only difference there is, the bass player can (and WILL) tell you where you are going wrong if you found one who is prepared to do a rehearsal with you, so you find out sooner. :wink: In all seriousness, even though most of us learn and play solitary, with or without backing tapes, or other gizmo’s, there is real joy and learning in playing together. And, in most (Blues) Jams, there will be a bass player and a percussionist.


Thanks for honouring the old blues guys. On top of everything, Rev Gary Davis was blind so was Blind Boy Fuller and as was this guy:

Fantastic and great tone too. I must change my strings. I have played Death have no Mercy and St Louis Tickle too. One of my dream pieces to learn to play is Blind Arthur’s Breakdown (oddly by Blind Blake).

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Well now Tjeerd that was fantastic. Wonderful playing and singing. Never heard of Gary Davis but I think I’ll be checking him out.

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Hi @rorystrat and @SgtColon thanks you for the kind appreciation. One of the most prolific artist making interpretations of Gary Davis songs is Jorma Kaukonen, I include a spotify link to a live concert where he plays Keep your lights trimmed and burning, Death don’t have no mercy (mentioned by @rorystrat above) and Hesitation Blues. Jorma was actually taught by Gary Davis (as was Stefan Grossman).

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