Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snooks Eaglin

New Orleans R&B guitar slinger and singer, Snooks Eaglin passed on last week at age 72. Eaglin's guitar playing was characterized by an idiosyncratic finger-picking style that combined rhythm and lead playing with an incredible, crisp snap unlike anything you've heard by anyone else. I’m a guitar player who also uses an odd combination of thumb and fingers to pick and strum, but I can’t quite figure out what Snooks is doing or how he does it. He was reputed to have a vast repertoire of songs at his disposal and a tendency to perform without a set list, forcing his band mates to keep on their toes.

Here's a video of Snooks playing "Lipstick Traces," a song written by Naomi Neville, which was the pseudonym often used by Allen Toussaint. "Lipstick Traces" was made a hit by Benny Spellman in 1962, later covered by the O’Jays. It's a great tune and a perfect demonstration of Eaglin's impeccable rhythm guitar work.

Here's the tune "Red Beans," which shows off a little more of Eaglin's lead guitar stylings.

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