Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Banjo Feast #1
Happy day before Thanksgiving all! Hope your preparations are going swimmingly, & for those of you who are traveling, hope your journeys are safe.
Of course, holidays can be mixed blessings some times—& with that in mind, I thought I’d offer a little something over the next few days to brighten your mornings, or whatever part of the day you may visit Robert Frost’s Banjo. & those who are enjoying a festive holiday—well, this should just brighten up your day a bit more, as it should for our many friends outside the U.S. who are free & clear from the Thanksgiving frenzy.
In an old Peanuts comic strip, Linus once observed that, “The way I see it as soon as a baby is born, he should be issued a banjo.” This, in Linus’ view, would cure existential angst. I tend to agree with Linus on this point—so I’m offering a banjo feast from now thru the weekend—excepting Friday, when we’ll be enjoying Bernie Jungle’s Homegrown Radio appearance. Otherwise, each morning thru Sunday, two banjo songs!
& not just banjo songs: as Thanksgiving is the foodie holiday par excellance, they’ll all be foodie songs too. Today’s selections are the enigmatically named “Rush in the Pepper,” performed by one of my favorite old-time banjoists, Cathy Moore of Banjo Meets World. Tho Ms Moore has a serious day job in a whole other field, she is a very talented player, & there are also some great instructional videos on her blog & her YouTube channel. She brings verve & an uncanny rhythmic sense to the banjo, & I always enjoy listening to her play. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way.
The second video features someone else who was both a performer & a teacher—the late Mike Seeger, who was responsible for bringing so much old-time music to people’s consciousness from the 1950s until his death last year. Seeger was in his own way as much of an apostle of the banjo as his half-brother Pete, & in fact concentrated more than Pete on the real old-timey sound. Mike made much of his mark with the wonderful band, the New Lost City Ramblers, but he was also an accomplished solo artist who excelled on a number of instruments. Mike Seeger is playing one of the first tunes many banjo players learn, “Bile Them Cabbage Down” (“Bile”=”Boil”), but he brings a real artist’s take to the simple tune. He’s also playing a gourd banjo—this is truly vintage sound! Please note that Mr Seeger had some problems tuning the instrument, so the tune itself doesn’t start until around 1:50: take heart, all musicians who’ve ever gone thru that on stage—it happens to the best!
Enjoy! & tune in tomorrow for more of the Banjo Feast!