The song of the week is 'Lonesome Road Blues' (a.k.a. 'I'm Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad) in the key of G.
Here is one of the first sung bluegrass versions of Lonesome Road Blues I remember hearing. It is a live recording of the Stanley Brothers, and it is played at quite a fast tempo:
The Stanley Brothers - key of G
Here is what is probably the most well-known instrumental bluegrass version of Lonesome Road Blues, played as a banjo-feature tune on the Flatt and Scruggs' album 'Foggy Mountain Banjo', and at a slower tempo than the Stanley Brothers' live version:
Flatt and Scruggs - key of G
Here is a sung version by Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music
Bill Monroe - key of C
Finally, another sung version in a live performance, by a young Japanese band. Since there are breaks in this version played on four different instruments - banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and they are all really good, I was happy to come across this version on youtube.
Bluegrass Police - key of G
The chord progression used in the versions of Lonesome Road Blues on the recordings given here is the same one that I use when leading the song:
(Prog. W4 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout)
...though, I have heard it played at some jams with the last line played as 1511 (Prog. V4 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout), and/or with the third line played as 4416m.
Notice the Bb note in measure 2 of lines 2, 3, and 4 on the melody sheets attached here. Relative to the key of G, the Bb note is the b3 (flatted third scale degree). Together with the b7 (for the key of G, an F note), making good use of this note will often add a 'bluesy' characteristic to your playing.
Lonesome Road Blues is one of those small handful of songs that at a typical bluegrass jam it would not be out of the ordinary for it to be played either with or without singing.
Lonesome Road Blues is also one of those songs that may be sung either with or without a chorus. Other songs that have been played at the jam that are also like this include: Down The Road, Handsome Molly, Amazing Grace, and Little Birdie. When sung without a chorus, the set of lyrics that make up the chorus in the versions of Lonesome Road Blues that use a chorus will usually be sung as one of the verses in the song - usually as the first or as the last verse, or as both.
For most of the songs that may be sung either with or without a chorus, I tend to choose to sing them without a chorus when I lead them at a jam, and this is how I sing Lonesome Road Blues. This arrangement allows more time for a greater number of breaks to be played without making the song unusually long.
Jason's Beginner Jam Blog 2017 - 2018
Songs regularly called at the Beginner Bluegrass Jam and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order