Milk Cow Blues

Here are two breaks for the classic Milk Cow Blues. The arrangements here are more western swing than bluegrass, but that shouldn't stop you playing Milk Cow in a bluegrass band!

The first break is a statement of the melody, adapted more or less from western swing fiddle, and using tremolo for some of the long fiddle notes.

The second break is 90% blues guitar, adapting licks from the playing of the great Lester "Junior" Barnard, who was on the Bob Wills recording of Milk Cow Blues on 25th March 1946. You can hear this recording on Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys: the Tiffany Transcriptions Vol 3, currently available on CD on Rhino Records. Barnard was playing blues on electric guitar at the time the genre was being invented. He had two different pickups on his guitar, and fed them both into the same amp, using two leads. He was slurring and bending notes all over the neck, creating a dirty blues tone which cannot really be reproduced on a mandolin. Nevertheless, I've tried to borrow some of his licks, which certainly makes for some interesting playing outside the bluegrass idiom!

Unless otherwise indicated the slurs from grace notes are created by sliding. Play with all downstrokes (except for tremolo) at medium blues tempo, quarter note (crotchet) = 112. As with Money Honey, I've opted for 12/8 timing in the tab. The resulting MIDI playback is a bit too bouncy, but is closer to the swingy sound of this kind of music than 4/4 with triplets. Indeed, I'm impressed that the MusEdit MIDI playback can make good sense of the tablature. Slow tunes with lots of tremolo and syncopated stuff are difficult to notate accurately and even more difficult to read. I'd go so far as to say that you need to listen to the MIDI playback to make sense of this tablature. And do get hold of The Tiffany Transcriptions Vol 3 for some of the best music the Bob Wills band ever made!


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