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Shake ‘em On Down
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from Paul Rishell’s Dirt Road Blues
This tune is Tommy McClennan’s arrangement of the song “Shake ‘em On Down,” a standard in country-blues recorded by many people. McClennan was born in Yazoo, Mississippi in 1908 and died sometime in the early sixties while living in Chicago. His big hits were in 1939 with the Bluebird label: “Bottle It Up and Go” and “Bluebird Blues.”
“Shake ‘em On Down” uses standard tuning with a capo on the second fret, so we’re in E. It centers around a driving D chord riff with a great left hand rhythm part, including open strings. This song is very driving and rhythmic— a great way to blow the cobwebs out. Starting in the D position, double-pinch the D, then take your first and third finger off, leaving the high E string down. The guitar is wide open, the right thumb comes down, the fingers come up and then down again. There’s a lot of compression on the pinches, then a lot of energy on those open guitar strums. Emphasize that when you come back to the pinches again, bringing it down dynamically. Now bring your D figure up to the fifth fret, and you’re just going to pinch that and slur the whole chord. Again take your fingers off, leaving one on the high E string, and just whack the whole guitar, wide open. Just before it starts to sound awful, shut it down.
Now to the IV chord: open A. Walk up to the G. You’re going to add the B string at the third fret and then the E string at the first fret, and you’re going to move that 7th. Walk up, thumb the A string with your right hand, pull the E and the B strings, and then thumb the A again. Bring the 7th in, and just pinch the E and the A strings, and then bring your finger back to that B string at the third fret from the capo.
For the V chord, it’s just root to 7; right thumb on the A string, pull the E and B on the root. Go to the 7th and pinch and pull. Walk back up to the G and then back to the D figure. Shake ‘em on down.
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