When I think about the great guitar players who influenced me, and there are many, both through recordings and people I knew personally, the one guy that really changed my life at the tender age of 23 or so was Ted Bogan. Ted played with Carl Martin and Howard Armstrong as part of, naturally, Martin, Bogan and Armstrong, “the last of the old-time black stringbands.” Ted played those big chords that moved up and down the neck behind Carl and Howard’s lead work, or behind the vocals. He was the glue that held everything together and made their sound work.
The thing is, he was primitive enough that I could see what he was doing after awhile. Unlike, say, Freddie Green (six notes to the chord, one chord to the beat, no cheating) Ted’s work was actually possible for a young folkie like me to follow. He’d do a whole string of chords that would go up from say the 3rd fret to the 12th and then he’d look up at the audience and grin.
Yeah, the guy was having fun and that’s what it’s all about. I had started listening to Western swing at about the same time as I first heard these guys and the parallels were amazing. The same kind of chords and the same kind of rhythmic feel worked in both genres. It really became the basis for my entire way of looking at the guitar.