At the Christie show today, I bought a junker 4-string banjo with a project in mind. When I get around to it (I’m going to finish the mountain banjo I’m working on and make a couple gourd banjos first), I’m going to fix it up and convert it to a 5 string open-back banjo. The rim is in good shape but could use refinishing. The head is maybe ok. Hardware should be replaced. I’ll build a new neck. I’ll decide later on if this one will be fretless or if it will be my first foray into fretting.
We had so much fun square dancing when we were at Merlefest, we really wanted to do some up here in Toronto as well. The first opportunity we found was a dance called the Hogtown Hoedown that took place tonight in a church hall in mid-town Toronto. It featured Jacque Adain calling and the Lonesome Ace Stringband playing. We went with our friends I & E, who we always enjoy spending time with.
At Merlefest, we did big circle country dancing and tonight it was old time square dancing. They’re similar in many respects and different in others. I’d say tonight’s dance was more difficult overall. There were times I had trouble following the caller, but fortunately I wasn’t alone and others were getting messed up as well. On other dances, we had an easier time of it. In all cases though, it was a lot of fun.
There were people there at various skill levels from duffers like us to really experienced dancers. Tuffy P shot this next bit of video – we sat out this dance.
I just finished the “Heavy Duty” Brake Fluid banjo. This is another A-scale oil can banjo using an “ebay neck”. I replaced the plastic nut on the neck with bone, and I made a cedar bridge. The tail-piece is once again a kitchen fork. I strung it with Nylgut strings. I’ll have to figure out some kind of strap for it. I’ll shoot a video soon so you can hear how nice it sounds. I’m learning that every can is a little bit different.
I think this can will be for sale, so if you’ve always wanted an oil can banjo, let’s talk. My email address is on the about page of this blog.
Here’s another Canadian old time gem, featuring two of our great fiddlers, Graham and Eleanor Townsend..
I’m amazed at how much fantastic music we have immediate access to these days…
I came across a remarkable video this evening, shared by doghousedonnie
It features some home movie footage of a Saturday night wedding celebration at Keon’s Hotel in Chapeau Quebec and a live recording of the wonderful Mac Beattie and his Ottawa Valley Melodiers performing Saturday Night up the Gatineau. Great tune. Great little movie. I thought you might enjoy this one as much as I did, so I’m sharing it here.
Time for a Daily Dose. Let’s start at the start – with Clarence Ashley. Nice interview segment with this one…
Here are Sutton, Holt and Coleman…this version starts with a great little story about Doc Watson.
The Coo Coo has a lot of legs and still gets played a lot today. Here are the Avett Brothers
I really like the way Townes Van Zandt used to play this song as well.
There are lots of approaches to playing the banjo and plenty of banjo styles too. Here’s a photo of some of the participants at the banjo demonstration at Merlefest 2013. You’re looking at Ivy Sheppard, Randy Sheets, Riley Baugus, David Holt and Laura Boosinger. For an old time music freak like me who is trying to learn to play the banjo, this was golden.
Merlefest offered us quite a variety of music, with something like 90 acts and a dozen stages but we found ourselves spending lots of time at the Traditional Stage. For me, it was a great opportunity to enjoy performances by Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin, two of my favourite old time musicians.
We had a chance to hear them perform at various workshops and even providing music for old time mountain dancing. Kirk Sutphin plays fiddle and banjo, including fretless banjo, and Riley Baugus plays banjo and guitar and is among the best singers we heard through the festival.
The South Carolina Broadcasters are one of the groups performing at the upcoming Merlefest. I found this performance of Let me Fall on the YouTube.
The Cumberland Gap, a mountain pass in the Appalachians located where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet, is also the name of a song first recorded in 1924. There are countless versions. Here are a few that I really like.
Let’s start with bluegrass, and Flatt and Scruggs.
Now on to Old Time and Tommy Jarrell on the fretless banjo
Here’s a combo called Notorious. Very nice playing
And finally, the Rockridge Brothers