Posts in Category: Music

Everyone’s Grandpa

Guess I’m doing banjo week, so here’s another great banjo player. Louis Marshall Jones, better known as Grandpa Jones was a staple on Hee Haw and the Grand Ole Opry.

Grandpa got his nickname at a young age for acting fussy and grumpy. Being the consummate performer he was, he knew a good thing when he saw it and adopted the image as his stage persona almost immediately.

Jones played clawhammer style banjo. Unlike bluegrass, where you wear finger picks and pick up on the strings, frailers use the back of their fingernails to strike down on the strings. One of the knocks against banjo knocking is it doesn’t have much drive. I think Grandpa drove the rhythm ok myself 😉

More Banjo!

You can never have enough banjo as far as I’m concerned. So I’m doing another banjo related post. Probably because mine are stuck behind a bunch of moving boxes where I can’t get to them. I had them accessible, but my wife blocked them in. Hmm, wonder if that was by design? Nahh, you can never get enough banjo!

Anyway, here is the great Doug Dillard and his band with the equally great Vassar Clements on fiddle. If Doug looks vaguely familiar he and his musical family were called the “Darlings” when they stopped by to jam with Andy Griffith at the sheriff’s office.

Play it Like Earl…

Just about every aspiring banjo player starts off wanting to sound like Earl Scruggs. While Earl didn’t invent playing the banjo with three fingers, he certainly was the one that perfected it and brought it to popularity.

Earl was right there next to Bill Monroe when Bill was becoming the father of bluegrass. Then Earl was right there next to Lester Flatt when bluegrass invaded our living rooms and movie theaters.

In 1969, after 20 very successful years, Flatt and Scrugs decided to part. Flatt wanted to stick to traditional music, and Earl wanted to keep branching out.

In 1969 he formed the Earl Scrugs Revue with his three sons and continued to branch out and expand “banjo music” until his bad back forced him off the road in 1982.

Here’s a snippet from their appearance on Austin City Limits

So while it’s fun to “play it like Earl”, it’s also fun to remember Earl always liked to find new ways to play it.

Free Music!

If you’ve got an Android device and live in the US the Google Play Music site has about a dozen full albums currently listed for free.

They’re mostly Country artists, and mostly greatest hits compilations, but you can’t beat the price.

Links are in the articles:

[Freebie Alert] Grab these 5 gratis Google Play music albums in the US

Free alert: ICON albums

Oldest Banjo Recording Known

Here is a podcast from the Washington Post about someone’s awesome junk pile find. In a box of old wax cylinders there was a recording from 1891 of Charles Asbury playing Haul the Woodpile Down.

It was recorded during the height of Minstrelsy by one of its top stars. While modern sensibilities are rightly horrified at the thought of white performers donning blackface to portray stereotypical characters, at the end of the 19th Century, it was by far the most popular form of “authentically American” entertainment.

How popular was it? Literally every stereotype of African Americans was born on a minstrel stage. Kids today still hear Campton Races when they turn their jack-in-the-box handles. Modern variety shows still employ the staging of the minstrel shows.

Minstrelsy was a weird time in American history that produced a lot of ugliness that we reject directly, yet built the backbone of American entertainment that still delights.

Happy 80th Eddie Adcock

Yesterday, one of the remaining living legends of bluegrass banjo celebrated his 80th birthday. Eddie Adcock was one of Bill Monroes Blue Grass Boys. He was an originalCountry Gentelmen. He started the first “Newgrass” group, II Generation, with his wife Martha. He has played country rock and outlaw country. He’s done just about everything but brain surgery in his awesome career.

Oh wait, did someone say brain surgery? In October 2008 Eddie was facing giving up playing due to hand tremors. While under local anesthesia forDeep Brain Simulation surgery Eddie played his banjo so the doctors could check out what was happening in real time.

And here’s a whole range of Eddies mastery

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