How to Play Winin' Boy Blues by Orville Johnson (Guitar Lesson)

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Orville Johnson

Winin' Boy Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his interpretation of the piano-based song "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton.

Taught by Orville Johnson in Fingerstyle Blues seriesLength: 29:33Difficulty: 3.0 of 5


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Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


mark681137mark681137 replied

What fun, quite the workout. I feel quite accomplished after some success

cutchincutchin replied

The audio goes out of sync with the video at 2:01 of the video. I hope this can be fixed.

COLINFOLKCOLINFOLK replied

Excellent Lesson.Very well explained and informative.

melodiusthunkmelodiusthunk replied

A big thanks for this one, Orville, such a classic, and a tasteful interpretation of it too.

robertm90robertm90 replied

Hey Mr Johnson, I was wondering if there is a full version of this posted on Jamplay yet? If not, what can I use as the turn around between verses? And can you post the lyrics that you'd sing with this tune cause I've heard so many variations. Thank you!

robertm90robertm90 replied

nevermind on the lyrics! Just saw them.

gharringtongharrington replied

Wish to report I've finally gotten down all Whinnin Boy fingerstyle with lyrics sung on the Spanish Tinge beat successfully. It took much careful watching and practice,but it's worth it and fun. Better each time.

gharringtongharrington replied

I mean 6 note

Orville.JohnsonOrville.Johnson replied

It is a challenge to put your singing together with an unfamiliar rhythm. When you began playing it was probably hard to sing and strum with a simple rhythm but it got easier thru repetition. This will come to you if you stick with it.

gharringtongharrington replied

I'm back a year later trying to get thumb and lyric word to match up under Spanish twinge 4 note ryhym Surpringly difficult to get words in right place while finger style notes came much easier Keep rewinding trying to get it down

dannycdannyc replied

Ok, after many months of other instructors helping me, I am finally ready to see if I can learn blues from Mr. Johnson, who I can see is a master at his craft. Now, I must ask, should I dump the thumb pick I have grown accustomed to play with?

Orville.JohnsonOrville.Johnson replied

You can use your thumbpick if you like. I use one sometimes, but I also like the tone I can get with my bare fingers.

sherry1352sherry1352 replied

THIS IS SO LOVELY!!!!!!

leo_isleo_is replied

Thank you Orville. You're playing is wonderful and you explain in a relaxed and very approachable manner.

crickylulucrickylulu replied

That's a fun song to learn. Thanks, Orville! I really love your teaching style!

revcarevca replied

Is it just me or is there a an extra measure of the C chord in the tab - measure 8 of page 3? I can' t fit this second measure of C in and still match Orville's playing and singing.

gharringtongharrington replied

Thank you. My "Planxton" improves daily but progress on Whinin is trickier. Biggest challenge: My difficulty singing the lyrics to the "Spanish Tinge" rhumba beat. It is like patting your head and rubbing your belly. The 2 elements seem like oil and water early on. I keep using the rewind button to suss it out.

nash24nash24 replied

Orville, thanks for your lessons. I always get a lot out of them!

Sandy GSandy G replied

Orville, i just wanted to let you know that i got so much out of this lesson. For one thing , the concept that the Ab7 and G7 on the bass strings are an abbreviated version of the full chord , with a much different feel than when poirtions of the chord are played in the mid or upper range of the guitar. Now this has launched a big project where i'm experimenting with little pieces of all types of chords :-}

arrtvandelayarrtvandelay replied

My first video lesson at jamplay and I'm already learning so much! Thank you Orville

drjgruverdrjgruver replied

I've always liked that song. Thanks for teaching it Orville. Are you going to post more lessons?

Orville.JohnsonOrville.Johnson replied

Yes, there's more in the pipeline. Keep coming back and I'll be happy to make some more for you.

djrohrerdjrohrer replied

Orville, Thanks for taking the time to explain everything so clearly. I can understand all the moves, and, though I can't play it in time yet, I know that will come with practice.

Larry PrinceLarry Prince replied

If you're interested theres a definition of 'winin' boy' here: http://www.stevemanngtr.com/sblues.htm Also, a staving chain was a real tool, used to hold barrel staves in position prior to putting on the hoops.

Orville.JohnsonOrville.Johnson replied

Stavin' Chain is also a mythical character in African-American folklore who has a way with the ladies.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

That's interesting. I was wondering what the heck that was when I was doing the lyric sheet for this one.

Larry PrinceLarry Prince replied

Thanks nessa. I should've known you wouldnt post anything that was incorrect :)

tamartintamartin replied

Thanks for a great lesson. Your instructions made that song extreamly approchable. I really like the feel of that kind of music.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

yeah...no kidding! This lesson couldn't have been easier for me to transcribe! BTW, the tabs / notation are now posted. I'll be putting in the chord charts here shortly.

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied

Nevermind, he explained later that he "likes to use alternating bass" but in the intro he didn't. My bad.

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied

Matt, I think there is a slight mistake in the tab. When he goes to the A7 and then moves it up a fret, he specifically says he keeps playing the A in the bass (and does so) but in the tab, it has it alternating between A and E.

Larry PrinceLarry Prince replied

Another great one, Orville. Sort of a nit-pick but is it winin' boy, or WHININ' boy?

nessanessa replied

It's spelled correctly. I did my research and actually had to correct my spelling before posting. :) I know it's strange but the official spelling is "Winin" for the song.

Fingerstyle Blues

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The blues is a distinctly American style of music. Many popular genres such as jazz, rock, and country music draw upon basic blues concepts. Consequently, it is advantageous for any guitarist to study the blues.



Alternating BassLesson 1

Alternating Bass

In this lesson, Orville introduces one of the basic fingerstyle techniques - the alternating bass technique.

Length: 14:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Winin' Boy BluesLesson 2

Winin' Boy Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his interpretation of the piano-based song "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton.

Length: 29:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Blues TurnaroundsLesson 3

Blues Turnarounds

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

Length: 16:30 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Payday BluesLesson 4

Payday Blues

Orville Johnson teaches the fingerstyle blues song "Payday Blues."

Length: 19:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Walking Bassline with ChordsLesson 5

Walking Bassline with Chords

Orville Johnson demonstrates how to play a walking bass line in conjunction with chordal accompaniment.

Length: 18:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
One Dime BluesLesson 6

One Dime Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his take on a blues standard entitled "One Dime Blues."

Length: 13:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
I'll Fly Away - Piedmont StyleLesson 7

I'll Fly Away - Piedmont Style

Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel tune "I'll Fly Away" in the Piedmont style.

Length: 18:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Beulah LandLesson 8

Beulah Land

Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel song "Beulah Land."

Length: 12:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Make Me a Pallet on the FloorLesson 9

Make Me a Pallet on the Floor

Orville Johnson teaches "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" in the Piedmont style.

Length: 17:58 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
How Long, How Long BluesLesson 10

How Long, How Long Blues

Orville teaches the a fingerstyle version of the classic blues number "How Long, How Long."

Length: 23:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Common Blues MelodyLesson 11

Common Blues Melody

Orville Johnson teaches a common blues melody that has been used in several classic songs including "Louis Collins."

Length: 15:09 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
St. JohnnyLesson 12

St. Johnny

Orville Johnson reviews an original tune he calls "St. Johnny" in this lesson.

Length: 44:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Blind Blake StyleLesson 13

Blind Blake Style

In this lesson, Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of Blind Blake with some fun tips and tricks.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Substitutions: MajorLesson 14

Chord Substitutions: Major

In this Fingerstyle Blues lesson, Orville Johnson uses the 12 bar blues in C to talk about chord substitutions.

Length: 35:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is CallingLesson 15

Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling

To demonstrate the relationship between gospel and blues, Orville Johnson teaches an arrangement of an old gospel tune called "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling".

Length: 20:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord Substitutions: MinorLesson 16

Chord Substitutions: Minor

Orville Johnson is back with another fantastic lesson on chord substitutions, this time in a minor key.

Length: 19:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mississippi John Hurt StyleLesson 17

Mississippi John Hurt Style

Orville Johnson demonstrates Mississippi John Hurt's style using an old spiritual song called "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder".

Length: 10:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Skip James Style Part 1Lesson 18

Skip James Style Part 1

Orville Johnson explores the style of Skip James in open G tuning.

Length: 19:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Skip James Style Part 2Lesson 19

Skip James Style Part 2

Orville Johnson takes another look at the style of Skip James, this time in cross-note (D Minor) tuning.

Length: 25:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Bo Carter StyleLesson 20

Bo Carter Style

Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of blues artist Bo Carter in this lesson.

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Jelly JellyLesson 21

Jelly Jelly

Orville Johnson walks through "Jelly Jelly," an original piano blues style song.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Travis Picking Pt. 1Lesson 22

Travis Picking Pt. 1

Welcome to part one of a two part lesson bundle where Orville breaks down Travis Picking, a fingerstyle pattern made famous by the great Merle Travis.

Length: 21:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Travis Picking Pt. 2Lesson 23

Travis Picking Pt. 2

This is part two in Orville's Travis Picking demonstration. Orville now teaches how to increase speed with the picking hand. Then, he explains how to improve synchronization between the picking and fretting...

Length: 23:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Scrapper Blackwell Part 1Lesson 24

Scrapper Blackwell Part 1

Welcome to part one of a two part mini series on the great guitarist known as Scrapper Blackwell! Orville tackles the unique techniques Scrapper utilized.

Length: 28:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Scrapper Blackwell Part 2Lesson 25

Scrapper Blackwell Part 2

Now that Orville has introduced Scrapper's style, he covers some more difficult techniques that he used.

Length: 17:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mississippi John Hurt Style 2Lesson 26

Mississippi John Hurt Style 2

Orville Johnson delves into the style of Mississippi once more. This time around he takes a look at a song that is inspired by "Frankie and Albert".

Length: 16:17 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 1Lesson 27

The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 1

Orville talks all about the style of Elizabeth Cotten, an acoustic fingerpicking legend. He uses a song called "I'm Going Downtown" to showcase her way of playing.

Length: 38:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 2Lesson 28

The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 2

Orville dives back into the world of Elizabeth Cotten. This time around he teaches a newsong called "Sugar" and introduces other common musical themes she was known for.

Length: 18:20 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Heavy-Time BassLesson 29

Heavy-Time Bass

Orville Johnson likes to use a technique called "Heavy-time bass" when playing the bass notes on his guitar. In this lesson he teaches you how adding this trick to your arsenal can make you a more versatile...

Length: 25:29 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Orville Johnson

About Orville Johnson View Full Biography Orville Johnson was born in 1953 in Edwardsville, Illinois and came up on the St. Louis, Missouri music scene, where he was exposed to and participated in a variety of blues, bluegrass and American roots music. He began singing in his Pentecostal church as a young boy, in rock bands in middle school, then took up the guitar at 17,with early influences from Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Chuck Berry. In the early 1970's, Orville spent several seasons playing bluegrass on the SS Julia Belle Swain, a period-piece Mississippi river steamboat plying the inland waterways, with his group the Steamboat Ramblers.

Orville moved to Seattle, Washington in 1978, where he was a founding member of the much-loved and well-remembered folk/rock group, the Dynamic Logs. Other musical associates include Laura Love, Ranch Romance, File' Gumbo Zydeco Band, Scott Law, and the Twirling Mickeys. Johnson, known for his dobro and slide guitar stylings and vocal acrobatics, has played on over 100 albums. He has appeared on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion, Jay Leno's Tonight Show and was featured in the 1997 film Georgia with Mare Winningham. His musical expertise can also be heard on the Microsoft CD-ROMs, Musical Instruments of the World and the Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball. He teaches as well at the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Country Blues Week and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

Orville released 4 recordings in the 1990's: The World According to Orville (1990) Blueprint for the Blues (1998) Slide & Joy (1999) an all-instrumental dobro tour de force and Kings of Mongrel Folk (1997) with Mark Graham. He also appeared on 4 discs with the File' Gumbo Zydeco Band and produced Whose World Is This (1997) for Jim Page and Inner Life (1999) for Mark Graham. In the 21st century, he has released Freehand, a new Kings of Mongrel Folk disc, Still Goin' Strong, and been featured in the soundtracks of PBS' Frontier House and the Peter Fonda flick The Wooly Boys as well as the compilation cd Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar.

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