A master of slide guitar, “Mississippi” Fred McDowell was the most influential American Hill country blues singer. Creatively, he had played slide with a pocket knife, a beef rib bone and then later switched to a glass slide for its clearer sound. Making music since the early 1900’s, the man projected a slick and steady groove you could almost categorize as drone. His rhythm and riffs were hypnotic and heavier on percussive elements and African rhythms than traditional delta blues. McDowell’s style and music helped form the hill country blues sound and he was a great influence on later artists such as Junior Kimbrough and R. L. Burnside. From plowing fields to picking cotton while making such beautiful music — numerous artists such as the Rolling Stones and the Black Keys covered some of McDowell’s songs if not tried to emulate his sound for their own.
McDowell is definitely true vintage gold. Check out the classic video below of him playing slide to “Shake ‘Em On Down.”
“If you pay attention — what I sing, the guitar sings too, and what the guitar says, I say.” ~ Fred McDowell