Diddley Bow Demo

Lonnie Pitchford

Diddley Deep

In footage filmed during the making of the 1992 country blues documentary “Deep Blues” Lonnie Pitchford demonstrates the use of a diddley bow.

The most common form of a diddley bow consists of a length of bailing wire stretched between two nails on the wall of a building with is then played with a slide. This makeshift instrument taught many a delta blues man the rudiments of guitar playing before they ever owned a formal instrument. Lonnie tells us that according to Robert Jr. Lockwood even Robert Johnson started out on one.

“Deep Blues” is a superb documentary that vividly illustrates the enduring vitality of country blues, an idiom that most mainstream music fans had presumed dead or, at best, preserved through more scholarly tributes when filmmaker Robert Mugge and veteran blues and rock writer Robert Palmer embarked on their 1990 odyssey into Mississippi delta country. What Arkansas native and former Memphis stalwart Palmer knew, and Mugge captured on film, was that the blues was not only alive but still intimately woven into the daily lives of rural blacks.

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