LEARNING

Tom Collins created an incredibly effective and free YouTube resource, Banjo Blitz, that was the primary ingredient in my learning clawhammer banjo.  If you're new to clawhammer, in my opinion, this is where to start.  Join Tom's Patreon community, Banjo Quest, for more information.  While there are many other great online resources, Tom's module-based platform is simply the one that resonated most with me.  Tom is also an incredible player and teacher, and everyone should buy his album "Sinful to Flirt" to hear killer banjo and fiddle.  He is heavily inspired by Round Peak clawhammer. 

I bought several books when I was learning clawhammer.  The one that helped me the most, while also leading me to fall in love with Round Peak, was Brad Leftwich's "Round Peak Style Clawhammer Banjo" book from MelBay.  The book comes with dozens of sound clips of Round Peak songs, including Brad playing versions of songs by different well-known Round Peak players.  It's very interesting -- you can really hear small differences in approaches to songs.

 

Additionally, I bought Brad's "Old-Time Fiddle" book, which includes fiddle sound clips for many of the same songs covered in the banjo book.  I would learn the song on banjo, and then play banjo along with a loop of Brad's fiddle tracks until I got the song down.  This was a very, very useful method for me.  The pictures below have links to each of the books.

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Also, a fellow named Cameron DeWhitt runs a blog called "Get Up in the Cool" -- see more details here.  Learn who's who in this world by listening to all his old podcasts.  He does a good job and has been able to get some great guests.

HISTORY OF THE BANJO

As outlined in "Ode to Clawhammer," the banjo and the clawhammer style of banjo has roots in the West African slave trade.  I encourage any new players on my site to check out the following artists and resources.  It will enrich your own banjo journey.

Artist: Jake Blount

This guy is a killer musician, banjo and fiddle, and a great source of information about the black history (that is, 'the' history) of the banjo.

https://jakeblount.com/

Artist: Rhiannon Giddens

Off the charts and widely recognized for her solo work and her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Take a listen to her Tiny Desk Concert.  You'll get it.

 

https://www.rhiannongiddens.com/

Artist: Dink Roberts

Dink Roberts (d. 1989) is difficult to get your ear around when you first hear him.  You wonder what the heck he's even doing -- and yet after a while you hear the syncopation and sophistication in his playing.  Some of the mechanics in this video are still hard for me to de-construct, something I love about listening to him.  There's a magic to it.

Book: Banjo Roots & Branches

From its history via the akonting in West Africa, through the Caribbean, to American via the slave trade.  This is a great book for anyone who wants to get pretty deep into the history of the banjo.

Order on Amazon.

BUILDING

For those interested in learning to build an open-backed banjo, I'd recommend the following:

 

(1) An online course by Noel Folstad of Capital City Banjos.  He developed a 52-step course that outlines, in detail, how he builds his 'jos.  Check it out.

(2) www.banjocraft.com.  These folks also published a book, much of which is available on their website.  Both the book and the website are solid resources.

COMMUNITY

There are many resources and ways to get connected with this strange group of folks -- far more than I can list.  But here are a few:

Facebook groups include "Clawhammer Rules" and the cleverly-named "Clawhammer Banjo."

 

If you're on Instagram, start following a few of these hashtags: #dropthumbsnotbombs #clawhammerbanjo #openbackbanjo

And then there's www.banjohangout.org.  The amount of content here is mind boggling.  Join, converse, ask stupid questions.  There are forums for it all.

© 2020 by moi.