December 11, 2023

Blast from the Past

Here is the unbelievable Merle Travis beating Angus Young to it, but only by around 40 years or so! Pay close attention to Merle’s fingers and you’ll see that he is using a technique similar to Doc Watson’s. It’s amazing what these guys can do with just so little.

Merle’s guitar playing style was developed out of a native tradition of finger-picking in Western Kentucky. Among its early practitioners was the black country blues guitarist Arnold Shultz.

Shultz taught his style to several local musicians, including Kennedy Jones, who passed it on to other guitarists, notably Mose Rager, a part-time barber and coal miner, and Ike Everly, the father of The Everly Brothers. Their thumb and index finger picking method created a solo style that blended lead lines picked by the finger and rhythmic bass patterns picked or strummed by the thumbpick. This technique captivated many guitarists in the region and provided the main inspiration to the young Travis.

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