Watch the Very Berry: Rhythm online guitar lesson by Joe Deloro from Blues Rock Road Trip
Like most established musical styles, Blues-Rock is easier to play than it is to understand. Although expressed in two words, it's a varied mixture of many elements. In order to understand it, you need to know the necessary historical roots, the underlying music theory, and then connect the dots. And, those dots take a fair amount of effort to locate since they're mostly found on an obscure musical map of eras, people, places, and sounds.
For example, just making the connection between The Rolling Stones', "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (initially recorded at Chicago's Chess Records in 1965) and Muddy Water's, "I Can't Be Satisfied" (recorded at and released on Chess Record's predecessor, Aristocrat Records in 1948) leads in many directions. And, although Blues-Rock is at the least a hybrid of Blues and Rock, many other styles (Country, Gospel, R&B, Folk etc.) have been merged successfully with it over the years. The primary connection on this trip though, is with the Blues itself.
Not to worry. In this lesson and those that follow, the text in part one of each lesson (the rhythm part) will focus on the underlying concepts and theory. Then, in part two (the solo part), the text will cover the basic roots, cities, and/or regions, so we can comfortably navigate, and connect a few dots along the way.
As the title above suggests, we're about to look into a bit of the Chuck Berry rhythm and lead approach, loosely based on his classic, Johnny B. Goode, from Chuck's Chess Records era (1955-66).
Most importantly, Johnny B. Goode is a very cool straight/shuffle hybrid. Here's why. As far as the rhythm part is concerned, it's very unusual in its approach to a 7th chord 12 bar blues shuffle in Bb. Instead of doing the obvious, shuffling barred 7th chords (with triplet-based eighth notes) to match with the shuffle feel of the bass, drums, and piano, it tightly goes against them, with "power" chords (instead of 7ths), played with a straight feel (even eighth notes).
Sounds weird, but as you'll see and hear on the original recording, the audio example below, and the lesson ahead, if it's done with care, it creates a very cool groove when combined with a straight eighth lead part as in Johnny B. Goode. Also, by using power chords (root and fifth) the 7th chord sound is lighter, since it's only stated by the piano and inferred by the bass and lead parts.
In addition, the "two against three" (rhythm and lead vs. piano, bass, and drums) effect is nicely balanced throughout the song, because when the lead parts aren't present, the lead vocal (also straight eighth notes) replaces it. Also, this sound works best with a 5 or 6-piece band, not two opposing guitars. Finally, although Johnny B. Goode's not your typical shuffle, it just proves the cliche one more time - if it sounds great, it is great!
So check out the audio example below to hear the full effect of the straight rhythm and lead against the shuffled bass and drums. Like all the other audio examples in this course it features a slightly different version of the rhythm and lead guitar parts played together with the bass and drums.