Early Rockabilly can be boiled down to just a marriage of rock and hillbilly music. Some of it can be thought of as the orchestration of boogie piano. The other side of that coin are the tunes that are sped up versions of Appalachian or hillbilly tunes with the accents shifting from beats 1 and 3 to 2 and 4 or what people call the backbeat. The vocal stylings pull from the crooners like Bing Crosby for tone, Appalachian phrasing and blues inflections.

Of course, it’s impossible to put every rockabilly artist under this umbrella, but it’s a good place for us to start. Those early rockabilly guitar heroes were drawing early on from blues and country fingerstyle blues for their solos. It wasn’t long though until elements of swing, rock and roll, and yes even Latin music, start to show their influences on their improvisation.

In this performance study, I’ll first demonstrate the track and then break it down measure-by-measure, technique-by-technique. This is a straight up rocker tune, which is very Chuck Berry inspired. With a driving shuffle like this, you don’t want to go for nuance. You want to use concepts that create energy and anticipation. So we are going to use double stops, blues scales, the Bigsby and whole tone scales. I tend to lean to playing more aggressively on the rock and roll shuffles as well.

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