TrueFire's Guitar Blog

Paul Rishell – Shake ’em On Down

Bonafide country blues guitar master, Paul Rishell introduces and performs Shake ‘em On Down from his TrueFire guitar course Dirt Road Blues. This classic Tommy McClennan tune is played with a capo on the second fret and centers on a driving D chord riff and open string rhythm part. Tune in next podcast for the breakdown. Get more videos, notation and tab for this guitar lesson on TrueFire TV.

We start with the performance of “Shake ’em On Down” by Tommy McClennan (Bluebird, Chicago 1939). Tommy McClennan, born in 1908 near Yazoo, Mississippi, was a small man, standing just 4 feet 10; He suffered from alcoholism, something that is evident in the sound of his singing on his recordings. He recorded 41 sides for the Bluebird label, and his big hit was “Bluebird Blues”, because the theme of the song expressed a desire to return to the South, a sentiment shared by many newly transplanted African-Americans at the time. He is reported to have died in poverty in Chicago around 1962.

“Shake ’em On Down” is played with a capo on the second fret and centers around a driving D chord riff with a great left hand rhythm part including open strings.