Redd Volkaert is one of the unsung heroes of country music these days. He’s a little off the beaten path, based in Austin, TX instead of Nashville. But his playing with Merle Haggard has made many country fans take notice. He also ripped a great solo on Brad Paisley’s “Cluster Pluck” all star jam. His own solo albums are no slouch either! We’re going to look at 4 Redd Volkaert licks from Merle’s tune Swining Doors from Haggard’s Live at Billy Bob’s recording.
If you find these licks (and Redd’s playing in general) interesting, make sure to check out my new Chicken Pickin’ book here. Tons of great stuff in there by all the country masters.
Redd Volkaert Lick 1
Redd starts us out with a lick over the Bb7 chord. This lick is really simple – just following the chord tones from the flatted 7th (Ab) to 5th, and then a bend from the second degree up to the third to complete the top part of a Bb7 chord.
Redd Volkaert Lick 2
The second lick we’re going to check out features a really cool hemiola. Hemiolas are musical figures that imply one time signature while another is happening. Here, Redd is implying 3/4 over 4/4. The lick starts on 1, then 4, then 3. He then resolves the lick with a blues-y line that resolves to the root of the chord. This one is over an F chord.
Redd Volkaert Lick 3
Our third Redd Volkaert lick uses some creative bending. He starts with the flatted 7th on the 11th fret of the E string and bends the flatted third up to the 3rd of the chord. He then changes the high note from the Eb to C, but continues the bend. Really cool way to keep a bend going while changing the notes around it.
Redd Volkaert Lick 4
The final Redd Volkaert lick we’ll look at is a classic lick taken from the history of country music. Redd’s probably studied the roots of country as much as anyone and pulls this one out of the old Merle Haggard tune “Strangers.” Check out the original on YouTube. This is a really cool throwback to some of the great, original country music from the 1950s.
Make sure to check out my chicken pickin’ book for even more great stuff inspired by Redd Volkaert. He is one of the best country guitarists out there – and one to definitely check out.
If you’ve been reading my page for any length of time you probably know that I am a huge Brent Mason fan. Not only is he a great player, but learning Brent Mason chicken pickin licks is a great way to start chicken pickin’ right away. He’s played with a ton of great Nashville artists. But if you want full introductions, check out his own page, and some of my other Brent Mason posts and transcriptions. Let’s get to the chicken pickin’!
This lesson is all based on Brent’s playing for the Toby Keith hit, As Good as I Once Was. The tune has a hilarious music video, so check it out below.
Brent Mason Chicken Pickin Lick 1
This first chicken pickin lick is a great example of using bends to go from note to note. He is playing over an F chord, and moves the 2nd of the chord (G) up to the 3rd via bend. The lick is finally resolved to the root at the end.
Brent Mason Chicken Pickin Lick 2
This lick uses the same basic concept as the previous one. The difference is that the bend is happening on the D string! When bending the low strings you really have to get some momentum on the string, and pull it down to the center of the guitar instead of pushing it up towards your head.
Brent Mason Chicken Pickin Lick 3
The third one we’ll check out is a great example of using the 6th interval. This interval has been used in country music since the electric guitar was first introduced, and is a very stylistic sound that will make your playing sound instantly authentic. He starts with the 6th between the 5th and 3rd of the chord and moves down diatonically (within the scale) to the 3rd and root. This same concept can be played really on any set of strings so make sure to explore using it all over the neck.
Brent Mason Chicken Pickin Lick 4
The last chicken pickin lick we’ll get into here is from the end of the tune. This lick uses the famous ‘cluck’ that chicken pickin’ got its name from. Just deaden the D string with your left hand to get the cluck sound. The higher notes just trace the F dominant (mixolydian) scale down from the 3rd to the 5th.
If you’re a seasoned chicken picker or just getting into the style, make sure to check out my book on Chicken pickin’. It’s full of 100 different chicken pickin’ licks. But the thing that sets it apart from other ‘lick books’ is that these are all presented in context so you can sound like an authentic country player immediately. You don’t have to cheat on your significant other, get into booze, get on a train, or anything… just check out the book!