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I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest Bottleneck Blues Slide Guitar cover. It’s called ‘The Black Ace’ and was originally written and performed by Buck (Babe) Turner in 1937. I learnt this number whilst on the road traveling for 6 months with my wife Laura, on our honeymoon. This song certainly was a challenge to play, and really pushed me as a bottleneck slide guitar player. I performed it live, so the recording process was a bit stressful! Don’t worry I will be releasing the video very soon that accompanies this one, and I’ve made sure the swear words have been edited out!

A bit about the ‘Black Ace’

“I Am The Black Ace, I’m the boss card in your hand” – Turner, ‘The Black Ace‘ 1960.

The ‘Black Ace‘ was one of the few blues-men who played exclusively in the bottleneck slide guitar style. His name was Buck (Babe) Turner but he often went under the pseudonym of the ‘Black Ace‘. The song was originally recorded in 1937 and then again in 1960, I’ve covered the 1960s version. The ‘Black Ace‘ predominantly played the lap steel guitar, of course, I don’t play this instrument so I’ve arranged the piece for Bottleneck Blues Slide Guitar. Born in 1907, Turner began to play guitar in the early 1920s and was local to Hughes Springs in Texas. Impressively he actually taught himself to play guitar. It wasn’t until the 1930s that he began to take his music seriously, and became a protege of Oscar Woods, another fantastic lap steel player.

“Black Ace” 1960, playing a Triplate Squareneck
source: Front cover of Arhoolie F 1003; photographer: Paul Oliver

In 1937 Turner recorded 6 songs with Decca records in Dallas. This was about the time he recorded the original version of ‘The Black Ace’ which you can listen to and buy here. In that year he also started a radio show in Fort Worth, using the Black Ace as the theme tune. in 1943 Turner was drafted into the US army and gave up playing music for a number of years. It wasn’t until 1960 that Chris Strachwitz the owner of Arhoolie records persuaded him to record an album for his label. This is when Turner rerecorded his version of ‘The Black Ace‘, which is the one I have covered. Sadly Turner died of cancer in Fort Worth in 1972.

Learn more about my version of ‘The Black Ace’

Lawless Luke Cable Bay New Zealand, Delta Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Here I am with my Black Jack Deluxe Cigar Box Guitar from Drummond & Hammett, this guitar literally went half way across the world with me and I always found time to practice!

As I said previously I decided to start learning this piece when I was traveling around the world with my wife Laura, on our honeymoon. I took my trusty Black Jack Deluxe Cigar box guitar, from Drummond and Hammett. This guitar was the perfect size for me when traveling as it was super thin, and light! It took some discipline to make sure I continued to make progress learning this Bottleneck Blues Slide Guitar piece, but slowly and surely I continued to work my way through it.

Technical stuff & equipment used

Lawless Luke "The Black Ace" Movie still B&W, Delta Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Here’s a picture of me during the filming and recording of “The Black Ace” in my home studio last year.

This Bottleneck Blues Slide Guitar song is in open G tuning and it’s originally in the concert key of A. I changed the concert key to C as the original was a bit low for me to sing comfortably. For the recording I plugged straight into my iRig Pro Duo and recorded on my iPad pro in Garageband. In my opinion this is a perfect compact recording solution and works fantastically well for field recording. You can even use batteries with the iRig Pro Duo which is super convenient. For the slide work I used my Jim Dunlop Glass slide, which worked a treat. The vocals were recorded using a Shure green bullet to get that authentic blues tone.

Thanks for reading

As always thanks for reading my Lawless Luke blog.  If you like the post please subscribe here for regular updates.

Take it easy,

Lawless Luke

Sources: Wikipedia, Bottleneck Blues Guitar by Woody Mann.

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