I should have a workshop up tonight if everything goes well. It’s inventory time at work so everything is at a break-neck pace and my schedule changes at the drop of the hat. I’m getting ready to leave now and I should be home late tonight and have enough time to record a workshop and get some teaching done.
I also want to thank everyone who has installed the BanjoMania.net app on their Android devices. For a small website, there are now over 100 users!!!
I don’t know why I didn’t post this video of Pat teaching June Apple before, but here it is. This was recorded at Fred Fest and it was a great time!!
Sandy took Amber and I to downtown Chicago this weekend and we had a great time.
The two ladies went downtown early on Friday and I followed after work. We went on a dinner cruise and I couldn’t help but think about the last time we had done that. Fourteen years ago on our first anniversary, I booked us on a romantic midnight cruise. The problem is that Sandy is NOT a night person. This time around it was dinner time, so things were perfect.
Saturday we walked around the downtown area, ate and then went to Cirque Shanghai Extreme. It was a great show and I loved the aerobatics.
Sunday, we woke up, had breakfast and made our way home. Now I have to see if I can get motivated enough to work on some workshops.
See you all later,
A couple of weeks ago, I went off to the wilds of Pennsylvania to meet up with some friends for a great time of songs, stories, food and booze. The problem is that I haven’t played my banjo since I’ve gotten back.
Fred had his banjola and I fell in love with playing it all over again. I have had a banjola for years and I love the thing, but I go long, long periods without playing it. To be honest, I’ve had one in my hands only once since Neil at Buzzard Mountain Banjos, made me my custom long neck banjo. I love that banjo and it goes with me everywhere I go in the Continental United States. There has only been a handful of days that I haven’t played it since I got it last year at the Henry Reed Memorial Fiddler’s Convention in Glen Lyn, VA.
I got my banjola when Sandy and I went to Ireland years ago. I found it in a shop in Dublin gathering dust and got a great deal on it. I couldn’t put the thing down and played it everyday. I love the tone, I love how easy it is to play, and I love the fact that I can play it as much as I want and not wake anyone up.
The only problem is that I am now neglecting my banjo!!! I am starting to feel bad and I can feel it staring at me wondering why I’m playing this old wooden thing when I can be waking the neighbors with a “real banjo”.
Damn you Fred, my banjo hates me now!
The funny thing is that Joel came over last night and brought me my guitar that he was doing some work on. I hate playing guitar so both the banjo and the banjola have nothing to worry about!!!!
See you all next time!
I got a couple of great email messages today and both concerned the sound of the banjo in playing ballads. The answer is not a simple one. It really depends on the sound that you are looking for in the song.
Sometimes you want to give the song some drive, even if you are not playing any melody with it. Sometimes you just want to put a little something into the songs without taking away from the music.
On many ballads, I really like a light touch. In this video you can watch Tommy Makem using the up-picking method or “Seeger Strum” to accompany him on Winds of Morning. The way he had arranged this song, the voice is the main melody instrument and the banjo is giving a light accompaniment.
On this song, Tommy is once again using the up-picking strum. This time, see how he uses the strum to give the song a great drive or galloping rhythm. He also using a down-strum to emphasise certain portions of the song to give a little kick to song.
Now, here is the great Grandpa Jones with the happiest of all songs about illegal booze: Mountain Dew.
Like the last song, the banjo is used to bring emphasis to the melody of the voice.
Here are two National Treasures, Stringbean and Grandpa Jones on Little Liza Jane. Notice that while they are singing, the banjos are keeping rhythm and then when Grandpa jumps to the melody, he uses the brush strokes to keep the rhythm going.
Lastly, here is Leroy Troy with his band, The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. You can see that when surrounded by other musicians, it sometimes a great idea to just accompany the rhythm and then break in when it’s “your turn.” The banjo is there and you can hear it, but with guitar, bass and fiddle you can hang back a little and enjoy the making of music.
Try all of these techniques, even when you are accompanying yourself. Let your voice be the melody instrument for a while and enjoy yourself, then when the song needs it emphasise the rhythm and/or melody and have fun!
I’m am really happy and excited to announce that BanjoMania now has it’s own app for Android users. The BanjoMania.net app keeps you updated with posts and files at BanjoMania.net on all of your Android powered phones and tablets.
The BanjoMania.net app is a free application! There are no fees and no subscription prices to download and run the app!
I haven’t forgotten about the iPhone and iPad users out there. There is an app that will soon be available on iTunes for both the iPhone and iPad.
Until then you can download the app here!
This weekend was one of the best I’ve had at home in a while. I had a little bit of free time and I took advantage of it.
Sandy and Amber ran a 10k race with Amber coming in third in her age group. I was really proud of her and wondered how well she would have done if she didn’t run the last mile barefoot.
I also started doing some string changes and set up on a banjo I am sending to a friend who needs one. I forgot how much I enjoyed working on a banjo that needs just a little something to make it sound good.
I also took some time to put together the DVDs of the Frailing Banjo Lessons that I’ve put off for a week or two. I was really happy with the end product. Sam the Man received his today and said that the video and sound quality was excellent. That really made my day.
I’ve signed up two more students for my Online Frailing Banjo Lessons through Skype. I think I can squeeze in a couple more, but free time is shrinking again.
I got up Sunday expecting to record some videos, but an old friend in a red flannel shirt called me and said, “Man, you gotta go to Money In The Bank at Allstate Arena. “ I dropped everything and took off to one of the best PPVs I’ve ever seen. Now I’m off to Green Bay to hang with my “old friend ” again to see how it all plays out.
So Sunday was shot as far as productivity goes and Monday would now be the same. Then came a call from Sandy asking if I wanted to go away with her at the end of the week. How could I say no?
The long and short of it is that I may not get any videos up this week. That may sound like bad news, but to me it’s good news. Remember to love life and always have time for friends. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have friends. I couldn’t sit in my own world with nothing but myself and my wife without going completely crazy.
Keep your friends close and enjoy yourself. If it means you have to delay plans, just do it. Life is short, be kind to others and have some fun. The internet will always be there.
What am I gonna do? I’m gonna go see CM Punk and then go away with my wife.
Since I’ve gotten some requests, I have made some of my Frailing Banjo Lessons available on DVD. The DVD is playable on most commercial DVD players and all laptop and desktop computers.
Every month, I will be making the DVD’s available for sale here at BanjoMania. I am hoping that this will be another great way to help people all over the world, learn and enjoy Failing Banjo
Just put the DVD into your DVD player and watch the frailing banjo lessons on your TV. The video and sound quality is excellent and you can see up close what the left hand is doing.
The first video covers the songs:
The Holy Ground
When The Saints Go Marching In
Will Ye Go, Lassie, GO?
Well May The World Go
The second DVD is available now as well. It includes the songs:
One For The Morning Glory
Long Black Veil
Farewell To Carlingford
Kelly, The Boy From Killarne
I was asked to backtrack a little bit and show a frailing banjo lesson on Mountain Dew. I usually only like to re-post songs that I recorded before I got the sound and HiDef correct, but you do what ya gotta do.
I hope you enjoy it and remember that there are hundreds of songs that use these same notes in a slightly different order. That’s like getting a hundred songs for one.
[G]Down the road from me is an old hollow tree
Where you [C]stand for a dollar or [G]two
The buzzards in the sky get so [C]drunk they can’t [G]fly
Just from sniffin’ [D7]Good Ol’ Mountain [G]Dew
They call it that Good Ol’ Mountain Dew,
And them that refuse it are few.
I’ll hush up my mug, if you fill up my jug,
With that Good Ol’ Mountain Dew.
My Uncle Mort, he’s sawed off and short,
He stands about four foot two,
But he feels like a giant when he gets him a pint,
Of that Good Ol’ Mountain Dew.
I know a guy named Pete, his hair ain’t so neat,
Though he fixes it with syrup and blue,
But it stays right in place, when he uses just a trace,
Of that Good Ol’ Mountain Dew.
Old Auntie June had some brand new perfume,
And it had such a sweet smellin’ pew,
But to her surprise, when she had it analyzed,
It was nothin’ but that Good Ol’ Mountain Dew.
The preacher walked by, with a tear in his eye,
Said that his wife had the flu.
She’ll be all right, if you give her a pint,
Of that Good Ol’ Mountain Dew.
I’m happy to announce that I’ve been able to setup some free time that allows me to add some students via Skype.
I really find that one on one instruction is the best way to start someone on their journey with frailing / clawhammer lessons.
The lessons will all be individualized from new player to someone who has been playing for some time.
The lessons are all 30 minutes and I am hoping with my new schedule, we can have some great flexibility with days and times to accommodate students from around the world.
The lessons can be used anytime within 120 days of purchase.
Please contact me before purchase to check availability at this link.