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Dueling Geniuses

Steve Martin and Kermit the Frog perform Dueling Banjos.
posted by quin on Aug 22, 2013 - 61 comments

 

Go, Eddie, go!

See string svengali Eddie Peabody drive three count 'em THREE ladies crazy with his smooth-as-silk strumming on three count 'em THREE exotic instruments: Strum Fun, for sure! And not only was ol' Eddie a suave lady's man, he was surely one of the best violinists (when it comes to bird calls, anyway) of his day! And what say we drop in and watch the wild and crazy guy strutting his stuff, doing a bit of crooning, banjo picking, toy-violin sawing and who knows what else, with His College Chums. We'll close it out with Eddie and the Beachcombers, as the irrepressible picker and grinner demonstrates some newfangled *electrified* instruments! Thanks, Eddie, and keep on plucking, baby!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 15, 2013 - 13 comments

Smooth pickin' and sweet harmonizin'

Friends, neighbors, let's drop in on ol' Don Reno, Red Smiley and the Tennessee Cut Ups for a heapin' helpin' of some of that good old time country/bluegrass goodness, shall we? What say we kick it off with their fine rendition of Love Please Come Home? Mmm-MMM, so satisfying! You know, the boys had their own lil' ol' TV show, too, brought to you by the fine folks over at your local Kroger grocery store, and I'll just bet you'd like to watch the pilot episode, now, wouldn't you? Well, here's Part one, and there's... [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 2, 2013 - 3 comments

The first rule of Banjo Club

In the Banjo Club by Ewan Wardrop
posted by rebent on Jan 8, 2013 - 10 comments

"Is it fair to say you just weren't made for these times, Frank?" "Is it? Uh, I dunno. I think everything's just as it should be."

Frank Fairfield is a folk musician who feels like he came fresh out of another century. He plays banjo (The Winding Spring & Nine Pound Hammer and Cumberland Gap), guitar (Call Me A Dog When I'm Gone and Bye, Bye, My Eva, Bye, Bye), and fiddle (Rye Whiskey and Poor Old Lance [with quartet], which is the piece that introduced me to him).
posted by Rory Marinich on Dec 2, 2012 - 16 comments

Grandpa Jones

He won't win any accolades for subtlety or refinement, perhaps, but he was a beloved entertainer who stomped his feet and threw himself wholeheartedly (and very, very energetically) into every tune he ever performed, from the early days of country radio to the Grand Ole Opry to television's Hee Haw series. I'm talking about Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones. Today's his birthday, so why not drop in on some of the Grandpa performances on offer at ye olde YouTubes, such as Good Old Mountain Dew, Night Train To Memphis, Are You From Dixie or The Kickin' Mule. When he wasn't hamming it up for the camera, though, his vocal performances were often much more varied and accomplished. Check out, for example, his delivery and vivacious yodeling on T For Texas. And here he turns in a solid, honest version of the great Merle Travis classic, Dark As a Dungeon [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 20, 2012 - 34 comments

Octo-nom

Thieving octopus (SLVimeo, warning: banjo)
posted by zippy on Oct 1, 2012 - 58 comments

Banjo Underground

I Was Climbin The Stairs At Machu Picchu / Found My Cellphone And Tried To Reach You. Chester, Nova Scotia's Old Man Luedecke does what he does best: strums a banjo and tells some wandering stories, live at Toronto's Great Hall. Also in his backyard. On his davenport. In the bathtub. Sometimes he does covers. Sometimes he makes them more interesting by translating them into a language he doesn't speak.
posted by mannequito on Sep 16, 2012 - 7 comments

We'll be having cake and ice cream when she comes.

Like many other great American folk songs, She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain reaches us through the filter of both religious and secular movements. The music underneath the words has its original genesis in a spiritual sung originally by slaves and later popularized in the black churches of the south; the lyrics we know today – the version which came into the larger cultural vernacular and which spawned various children’s versions – was, originally, a protest song. [more inside]
posted by luriete on Jul 30, 2012 - 36 comments

Just What I Needed

This is a single-link YouTube post in which the Freebadge Serenaders, a "discount jazz" duo from Sacramento, play the Cars' classic "Just What I Needed" on washboard, cowbell, banjo, and kazoo, live on local NBC affiliate KCRA. That is all it is.
posted by escabeche on Jul 29, 2012 - 33 comments

Who Will Sing for Me? Earl Scruggs

Earlier this year, Steve Martin penned a loving tribute to Earl Scruggs, published in New Yorker. "Some nights he had the stars of North Carolina shooting from his fingertips. Before him, no one had ever played the banjo like he did. After him, everyone played the banjo like he did, or at least tried." A few minutes ago, Steve Martin offered a rare somber tweet: "Earl Scruggs, the most important banjo player who ever lived, has passed on." One could do worse than spend some time watching and listening to Earl Scruggs perform.
posted by spock on Mar 28, 2012 - 103 comments

RL in '78, TJ in '83

Oh yeah. There he is, Mr. RL Burnside, in the year of nineteen and seventy eight, Independence, Mississippi, porch fulla kids, singin' about when his first wife left him, million-dollar smile on his face. And there he is again, with his guitar and amp, out by the barb wire fence, a poor boy a long way from home. These two little gems just added to the Alan Lomax Archive YouTube channel, where you'll also find some wonderful newly-uploaded clips (filmed in 1983) from fretless banjo plucker Tommy Jarrell, the toast of Toast, North Carolina.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 15, 2012 - 9 comments

Joe Thompson, American musician, RIP

African-American fiddler Joe Thompson, probably the last living link to the black string band tradition of the 19th century, has died at the grand old age of 93. Hear Joe and his cousin, banjoist Odell (who passed on back in 1994) offer some reminiscences on the origins of their music, and a spirited rendition of Cindy Gal. Here's the short but sweet and deliciously ragged Old Corn Liquor. Hear Joe and Odell in concert in 1988, part one and part two, and this little ditty from a living room in 1987. And there's... [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 24, 2012 - 9 comments

How is Banjo made?

Bill Rickard makes banjos. (SLVimeo) [more inside]
posted by scruss on Oct 12, 2011 - 8 comments

Sleepy Man Banjoy Boys: not at all like the Jonas Brothers

Let me introduce you to the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, fans of the Earl Scruggs style and sound. Don't be fooled by their name or their youth, as they have two speeds: fast and faster. Their name comes from their youngest member, Jonny Mizzone, who often played the banjo on a bed. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 20, 2011 - 17 comments

Jubilation Day

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers prove that music videos are truly for the birds.
posted by hippybear on Jun 13, 2011 - 21 comments

"I just don't know what the limit is!" - Earl Scruggs

In 1969 banjo virtuoso and bluegrass innovator Earl Scruggs parted ways with his longtime musical partner Lester Flatt and the band they led to great popularity and acclaim, The Foggy Mountain Boys. Scruggs wanted to push his musical gifts as far as they could go. In 1970 he was the subject of a PBS documentary where he played with artists such as Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, The Morris Brothers, The Byrds, Charlie Daniels, Bill Monroe, Joan Baez, various friends and family members, and even records a track accompanying a Moog. You can watch the whole thing online: Earl Scruggs, His Family and Friends.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 28, 2011 - 17 comments

an old song, and some new thoughts on it

When you see a song from 1924 called "Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy", you just wanna hear it, right? Then, maybe, read some contemporary observations on it. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 21, 2010 - 35 comments

Wild Turkey Music

In the late 90s EMI's Songbook Series released an album, "Where Were You When The Fun Stopped" with tracks chosen by author Hunter S. Thompson along with detailed liner notes. Since you can't get the cool notes or photos, why not enjoy Hunter's country and folk flavored taste at your July 4th revelry of choice? Ballad of Thunder Road - Robert Mitchum : I Smell A Rat - Howlin' Wolf Big Momma Thornton : Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum : The Hula-Hula Boys - Warren Zevon : Maggie May - Rod Stewart : The Wild Side of Life / It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels - Hank Thompson feat. Kitty Wells & Tanya Tucker : Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band : Mr Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan : Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed : If I Had A Boat - Lyle Lovett : Stars On The Water - Rodney Crowell : Carmelita - Flaco Jiminez feat. Dwight Yoakam : Why Don't We Get Drunk - Jimmy Buffett : American Pie - Don McClean : White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane : The Weight - The Band : Melissa - The Allman Brothers Band : Battle Hymn of the Republic - Herbie Mann (cover) [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Jul 4, 2010 - 32 comments

entertainment for the impecunious

Julia Kotowski, otherwise known as entertainment for the braindead, has released several rather good albums under a Creative Commons licence: Hypersomnia, Hydrophobia, Seven (+1), Raw Timber and the banjo-heavy Roadkill.
posted by scruss on Jun 2, 2010 - 3 comments

"I'm a huntin' that man who first thought up Daylight Savings Time"

Still reeling from losing that hour of sleep Saturday night? Check out this catchy old country tune from old-time banjo-playing sensation Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones in which Grandpa rants about Daylight Savings Time. [more inside]
posted by hiteleven on Mar 15, 2010 - 29 comments

Someone who once had a lot of free time # 12 & 34: Brian's huge chordlist collection

I had this concept--after a strange dream, while scoping out the I Dreamed I Saw st. Augustine tab in my just-in-case-it-disappears downloaded dylanchords, of ...St. Augustine as a slow moody slide in Open D ala Blind Texas Marlin. But then I got to wondering whether someone might have a chord dictionary online where a few variations on a first position B Minor in Open D might be found. Voila! Achtung, Baby! Behold Brian's huge chordlist collection. Oh, man, he's got your standard and open tunings on guitar plus mandolin, uke, banjos, bouzouki, pipa and lute. A living room guitarist's must have, no doubt, although a few more open tunings for pipa would have been nice... [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Dec 9, 2009 - 6 comments

The Beast of the Long-Neck Banjo

Billy Faier got tired of burning copies of his long-out-of-print albums, and is giving them away: The Art of the Five String Banjo (1957), Travelin' Man (1958), The Beast of Billy Faier (1964), Banjo (1973) and Banjoes, Birdsong and Mother Earth (1987). [more inside]
posted by scruss on Jun 28, 2009 - 13 comments

Folk Music from 1947

To Hear Your Banjo Play is a documentary by Alan Lomax from 1947. It is narrated by Pete Seeger and features Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee among others.
posted by RussHy on May 23, 2009 - 15 comments

S.S. Stewart’s banjo and guitar journal.

"Miss Annie Oakley sends us a note from London, England, Sept. 21 [1887], 'Your little banjo you made for me (The American Princess) has attracted considerable attention here and given satisfaction.'"
S.S. Stewart, one of the premier American banjo makers of the last decades of the 19th century, also published a newsletter filled with bombast, testimonials, and banjo sheet music. You can see some of Stewart's banjos at Bill's Banjos. You can also read Stewart's banjo novel Black Hercules, or The adventures of a banjo player.
posted by OmieWise on Apr 20, 2009 - 9 comments

Mountain Bluegrass

Music in the Digital Library of Appalachia provides an unprecedented resource for study of repertoire, technique, lore, and the musical interchanges among the region's traditional musicians. Once you know what you like, it's easy to find the music live with Blue Ridge Music Trails. Meet musicians who have grown up with that music, visit settings in which Blue Ridge folk music thrives, see traditional dancing, and in many cases, take part in the festivities. The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, winds through the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Along the trail, the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Traditional Country music is as beautiful and rugged as the landscape itself. [previous 1, 2]
posted by netbros on Mar 8, 2009 - 12 comments

Wade Mainer, Old Timey Banjo Player

Wade Mainer played a two-finger style of banjo, between old timey and bluegrass. Here is an interview he did with David Holt at the age of 97. Part 2. Part 3. Still playing strong!
posted by RussHy on Feb 1, 2009 - 9 comments

Dock Boggs, 1966

As a young man in the 1920s, Dock Boggs [previously] recorded some songs that were released as 78s, and they are wonderful treasures of southern Americana, but I was always even more fond of his recordings from the 1960s, when, as an old man, he was rediscovered during the folk boom. So I was delighted to find that three of his 60s-period performances have recently shown up on YouTube. Here's Pretty Polly, Country Blues and I Hope I Live, all from 1966. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 2, 2008 - 15 comments

I'm in ur head fixing ur brain

Bluegrass banjo player Eddie Adcock underwent brain surgery while awake and playing the banjo. [more inside]
posted by mandal on Oct 15, 2008 - 37 comments

A barber came to Bristol...

Eighty one years ago to the day, barber, banjoist and balladeer B.F. Shelton travelled from his home in Kentucky to take part in a recording session in Bristol Tennessee. Now referred to as the "Bristol Sessions", these recordings are widely viewed as some of the most important and influential in American music history. The four songs Shelton recorded that day, stark, simple and immensely powerful in their unadorned honesty, can all be heard here. After Bristol, Shelton never recorded again. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 29, 2008 - 16 comments

Stranger with a Camera

What happens when a US President declares war on a concept? In 1964, Canadian photojournalist Hugh O'Connor traveled to eastern Kentucky to document the battlefields of Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty and was shot for trespassing. The incident is the subject of a wonderful documentary, Stranger with a Camera by filmmaker Elizabeth Barrett, produced by Appalshop, a non-profit organization in Whitesburg, Kentucky, that works with local artists to promote self-representation in media and the expediency of culture to counteract a stagnating local economy. Makes you think twice about nostalgic representations of poor Appalachian coal miners plucking their banjo strings in the hollers, doesn't it?
posted by billtron on Apr 15, 2008 - 14 comments

Boggs and Gedney, a perfect match.

The stark, modal banjo and achingly poignant, weathered voice of the great Dock Boggs [previous] are the perfect aural accompaniment to a slideshow of William Gedney's [previous] powerfully intimate photographs: Kentucky, 1964. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 15, 2008 - 11 comments

Transpose? Naaahhh!

The Sterner Capo Museum For anyone who has found themselves reduced to the pencil and rubber band.
posted by Miko on Apr 3, 2008 - 29 comments

The banjo's great great grandaddy.

So, you hollow out piece of wood into an oblong bowl shape, and you attach a dowel to it. Stretch a dried animal skin over that, and put some strings on it. Instruments of this general construction and in a range of sizes can be found from Morrocco to Nigeria and everywhere in between. It goes by any number of local names: Malian masters like Bassekou Kouyaté and Cheick Hamala Diabaté call it ngoni. Senegalese Wolof griots like Samba Aliou Guissé call it xalam. And Morroccan gnawa musicians like Hassan Hakmoun and Hamid El Kasri get way funky on the larger version that they call the gimbri or sentir. [not: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 9, 2008 - 13 comments

Salih Korkut Peker, strings man from Turkey.

Whether on fretless electric guitar or fretless Turkish banjo, mister Salih Korkut Peker sounds mighty fine. And here he is again on banjo, getting down on some Turkish grooves with percussionist Gencer Savaş. Sweet! [note: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 6, 2008 - 33 comments

No dueling

Improvisations on modified banjo and guitar by Paul Metzger. Please click through to his videos first, then to his recordings. His use of java means that I can't link directly to them. [more inside]
posted by klangklangston on Feb 22, 2008 - 24 comments

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He plays the banjo, but he isn't just some hick. He enjoys Chicks, jamming with friends, wide open spaces and fights.
posted by stavrogin on Jan 18, 2008 - 74 comments

Buketastic Formby

Is it a banjo? Is it a ukulele? No, it's a banjolele! [more inside]
posted by MaryDellamorte on Jan 17, 2008 - 36 comments

Down with the old folks at... MySpace.

Each of the following MySpace Music pages features bios and/or photos and/or videos and/or miscellaneous related materials and/or up to four songs by each of the following Old Time, Traditional, Appalachian folk (and related) artists: Lowe Stokes, Clarence Ashley, Charlie Poole, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, Roanoke Jug Band, Roscoe Holcomb, Hobart Smith, The Weems String Band, Burnet & Rutherford, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, John Masters, Dock Boggs, Tampa Joe & Macon Ed, William Stepp, Buddy Thomas, Buell Kazee, Isidore Soucy, John Salyer, Cousin Emmy, Luther Strong, Elizabeth Cotten, Fred Cockerham, G.B. Grayson, Melvin Wine, Lewis Brothers, Uncle Dave Macon, George Lee Hawkins and Wilmer Watts. And here's some general Old Time (etc.) pages, featuring various artists: Dust To Digital, Traditional Music of Beech Mountain and North Carolina Folklife Institute. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 24, 2007 - 17 comments

Stringbean. And his banjo. And those pants.

For lovers of old-time, mountain banjo styles and songs, Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs are revered figures. To many, however, plucker and singer David Akeman remains uncelebrated or unknown, even by his stage name of Stringbean. Is it because he was for a time actually famous as a country music showbiz staple, and therefore lacks folk cred? Or maybe the purists just can't get with those low-hanging pants the man was known for, his original hillbilly homeboy styling? Or was it cause on any given tune his left hand would likely be off the neck of the banjo more than on it? Whatever the reason, it's time folks took a new look at Stringbean. After all, the lines between folk and commercial styles have always been blurry in American music. Let's hear it for Stringbeeeeeeeaaan! [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 17, 2007 - 15 comments

Plink

Banjo
posted by Mblue on Jul 24, 2007 - 61 comments

Lots of free acoustic music lessons!

MusicMoose wants "to provide the world with free, useful music lessons, and a community based site to help back it all up." The site contains hundreds of free video music lessons (often containing notation and/or tablature) with a distinct focus on acoustic and bluegrass music, all taught by some pretty badass pickers (including the astonishingly good mandolin shredder Anthony Hannigan). There are also obligatory but very useful forums. Takeaway: the whole thing is free and you don't have to register to watch the lessons.
posted by kosem on Jun 29, 2007 - 15 comments

Rock Songs on Alternate Instruments

Van Halen's Eruption on Violin | Elton John's Rocket Man on Banjo | Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody for solo classical guitar | Foggy Mountain Breakdown arranged for electric slap bass | Toto's Africa for Acoustic Guitar | The Postal Service's Such Great Heights for Voice
posted by jonson on May 21, 2007 - 51 comments

UkeTube: Roy Smeck

You really shouldn't miss the snazzy ukulele stylings of the great Roy Smeck, strummer and showman extraordinaire, who was not only fast as greased lightning, but for whom the ukulele also occasionally functioned as a wind or percussion instrument. The man was indeed a wizard of the strings: just give him a slide and watch him lay down that Hawaiian sound. And as you'll see here, he was still going strong in his later years. [most links to YouTube]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 23, 2007 - 15 comments

The Atlas of Plucked Instruments

The bouzouki, the saz, chonguri and sarod, the veena and the shamisen, the cuatro and the oud. These and many hundreds more are to be found at the Atlas of Plucked Instruments. Plenty of guitars, banjos and mandolins as well.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 29, 2006 - 12 comments

No one cries when you cut up a banjo

Ask yourself: Do you play banjo when you are alone? Have you played banjo first thing in the morning? Are you the butt of a million jokes? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may have a serious problem. Fortunately there's help: Banjo Players Anonymous. via
posted by Turtles all the way down on Nov 23, 2006 - 52 comments

Paganini, Orff, Macchio, Banjo

Long before Robert Johnson ever went down to the crossroads, violinist & composer Niccolo Paganini was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical ability. Evidence against this theory: Paganini's 5th Caprice actually prevented the devil from stealing The Karate Kid's soul (the devil settled for stealing Ralph Macchio's career instead). Evidence in favor of this theory: When played on acoustic guitar, the virtuosity in his 24th Caprice really seems supernaturally inspired. For my money, however, the perfect storm of ominous music & stringed instruments comes together in this version of Carmina Burana (mp3 direct download), arranged for solo banjo.
posted by jonson on Sep 27, 2006 - 35 comments

I'm going to make you squeal like a scruffy nerf herder.

Here is a guy playing the "Star Wars" theme on a banjo.
posted by ND¢ on Jul 27, 2006 - 60 comments

I want to be your clawhammer

So, you want to play banjo? But not that bluegrass nonsense. You want to keep it real--play the old-timey clawhammer/frailing stuff. Then you will want to read Patrick Costello's "The How and Tao of Old Time Banjo," available for free (thanks Creative Commons) and of course download the podcast lessons. This is okay, too. Too hard? Start somewhere.
posted by imposster on Apr 7, 2006 - 27 comments

The Hoosier Hot Shot Show

Are you ready, Hezzie? I have a complicated family history that allows be to be simultaneously from Washington state and Indiana. Over the last few years my tastes have migrated toward post-rock and traditional music played with a certain frantic desperation. Somehow, I knew that Indiana was a crossroads for these styles of music - but somehow, I missed out on the Hoosier Hot Shots, apparent popularizers of the beloved washboard!
posted by mwhybark on Jun 14, 2004 - 4 comments

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