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clawhammer Ska

Recent BHO - 13 hours 56 min ago

Whilst walking my dog the other day it occurred to me that Ska might translate to clawhammer quite nicely. Does anyone play any arrangements of ska tunes? Or is this something that only works in my thoughts?

Thimble Weight

Recent BHO - 14 hours 9 min ago

I'm always noodling with banjo tone. It varies with genre of course, and is very subjective. Latest try was to double up the middle (trim and braze) of a regular brass dunlop pick for claw and frailing. The re-worked result was a more substantial thimble. Over all balance of the strings between finger and thumb appeared better, and the tone seems more "bell" like. The starting mass of the pick was 2 grams, and the modified thimble came in at 4 grams. I know it seems insignificant, but it makes a difference in attack, tone and playing feel. I figured I'd pass it along. One more aspect of banjo tone to chase.

TOTW 19 April 2019: North Carolina Breakdown

Recent BHO - Fri, 2019-04-19 07:36


Today's Tune of the Week is North Carolina Breakdown, an old-time tune written by "Fiddlin'" Arthur Smith


Smith (1898-1971) was born in Tennessee and picked up the fiddle at an early age. He started out playing at local dances and fiddler’s conventions, but later joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1927. He performed with a number of bands including “The Dixieliners” and the “Tennessee Valley Boys.” He also recorded with a number of musicians, including: The Delmore brothers, Roy Acuff and Merle Travis.


According to his son, he wrote “North Carolina Breakdown” in about 1937.


Here are links to his recordings, accompanied by guitar:





It has become a cross-over tune played by both bluegrass and old-time musicians.


Bluegrass Version (Kathy Kallick Band)




Old-time Versions:


(Chance McCoy)



(Cathy Fink)



Here’s a little more info on the tune:



Listening to his recordings, he plays the “B” part a little differently than the way I’ve heard it played in most old-time jams. I think he starts with an “E”? chord, (somebody help me out here) where I learned to start the "B" part with a “C” chord.


Ken Torke has tabbed it out at Tater Joe’s:




Here’s the way I learned it, along with a tab:










Recent BHO - Fri, 2019-04-19 07:12

Has anybody else given up on trying to memorize tunes and is now just usin’ music or tabs to play ‘em?

I think that’s about what I’m gonna do. My old brain just ain’t up to learnin’ and holdin’ ‘em any more.

Cathy Barton Para RIP

Recent BHO - Thu, 2019-04-18 19:03

I just read on Facebook that Cathy Barton has passed away. She was a fine banjo player and singer. She hailed from out in the mid-west which is not a part of the country most folks think of when thinking of clawhammer banjo. Here she is playing Red Wing on Hee Haw.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRw43mZls1Q&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3vIiBqr_H_Hn4kEOo_lSIvqM5xwLKs9bzg1mN6dAXacNtlYMKPU75awcM


Recent BHO - Wed, 2019-04-17 23:35

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