Delta Momma Blues will help you practice your alternating bass technique over melodic chord changes. The song has a relatively simple melody that sounds awesome when combined with the moving bass pattern.
If you can play this song, you can start to tackle more complex songs in the genre.
Here is my version of the guitar arrangement:
The song is in the key of C. There are 3 chords in this song: C, G, and F.
But don’t worry! There is an easier way to play a first-position F chord that all blues players used because it’s much more practical than the barre chord.
When you play the F chord, hook your thumb over the neck to catch the 6th string 1st fret, barre the top two strings at the 1st fret with your pointer finger, and then use your middle and ring finger to fret the remaining. You’ll want to keep your pinky free to play melody notes.
Every finger style blues player utilized this position when playing the F chord. It should look like this:
The C chord should look like this:
Hold the G chord as shown below:
This song is an 8-bar blues in the Piedmont style—the chord progression is as follows:
C | C | F | F | G | G7 | C/G | G/C
A lot of tunes in C use this progression. Dave Van Ronk’s version of Cocaine Blues is a good example.
To begin learning Delta Momma Blues, play the alternating bass over the progression so you can practice quickly changing chords.
If you forget which note is next while learning the song, try humming the melody to yourself and see if you can find it. The note is always going to be accessible within the chord shapes you are holding.
Here is my version of Delta Momma Blues tabbed out:
This may look complicated but if you just play the melody notes you’ll see it’s a very simple melody over a repeating bass figure.
This song is a great one to practice singing over because the melody of the verse matches the vocals
This song was recorded by Townes Van Zandt on his 1970 record Delta Momma Blues:
Another version I like was recorded by Steve Earle on his album Townes:
Notice how the two versions are very similar but also different in what melody notes are hit.
This is a good example of how you can make your own arrangement of a song. You need to retain familiar elements to keep the song recognizable, but you actually have a lot of freedom to experiment and find your voice.
Next, let’s take a look at how we can make the alternating bass pattern more exciting.