Trixie Whitley and Unlikely Cool Chords

I'm always looking for new chords, new voicings and sounds. And I'm convinced, if you keep your mind and ears open, you can pick up new ideas from all sorts of players. Trixie Whitley is a fantastic musician with a beautifully soulful voice. I first heard her in a little club in L.A. (with surprise guest Daniel Lanois backing her up on guitar!) and was struck by a number of things, not the least of which was her simple, funky way of moving around the guitar neck. Check out this video of her singing a cover of an old blues tune called "I'd Rather Go Blind":

Solo version (you can see the chords best here)

Version with guitar, drums and cello; dripping with groove (Bonus: you get to see Daniel Lanois dance/direct).

In E minor, she lays down a cool part on guitar, basically sliding around a power chord shape, just going with the open strings which are sometimes dissonant, and it sounds great. Lets take a look at the chords:


| Em      G      |  A5              |

Stock, open Em voicing down low on the neck. Moves a finger up to take the bass note G (kind of G chord-ish, mostly Em/G) and then slides up to an A power chord shape letting the open strings work some magic (implied Am9 chord for the theory inclined).


C5         |  G5          | B5       | F5          |

This is cool. She just slides around a power chord shape built off the sixth string. Now, there is some finesse involved so don't just nail the open strings (don't mute them necessarily either - its a feel thing), but here are the chords:


| A5         |  B5          | C5       | D5          |

Kind of the same thing going on here. Power chord shapes move up the neck. Also, there is a short section of three descending chords that happens right before this. Same shapes. Can you figure it out?

So, check it out. Its not technically challenging but a good reminder that music doesn't necessarily have to be to work well. 

Anyway, keep your ears open for unusual sounds and fresh approaches to things you think you already know. Those open strings give the simple power chords all kinds of great chord extensions and color. And go listen more Trixie Whitley.