Boy, am I embarrassed. I kept waiting for someone to post the Tune of the Week last Friday -- and I just discovered that it was my turn! I could just skip it, but I thought I'd do a short post about a tune that I started on working on yesterday: Walt Koken's "Sequoia Farewell." It's on his Hei-Wa Hoedown album.
If you don't have that CD, you can buy the single track for 99-cents:
This is one of the catchiest banjo tunes I've ever heard. Even people who hate banjo will like this one. At first, I thought it would be fairly impossible to learn, but I'm making decent progress. Maybe I'll have something post-worthy in a few days.
Walt plays it in Em, and (probably) uses standard G tuning. Here are the chords (I think). The first time through he plays it AABC, after that it's ABC. At one part he just goes crazy and stays on the B7 chord:
Part A ====== Em/// Em/// Em/// Em/// Am/// Am/// Em/// B7/// Em/// Em/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em///
Part B ====== B7/// B7/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em///
Part C ====== Am/// Am/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em/// Am/// Am/// Em/// Em/// F#7/// F#7/// B7/// B7///
That F#7 might be some other weird chord, but it's close.
My tip: Forget about trying to figure it out in standard G tuning. It seems to be a lot easier if you use a minor tuning. I've been playing it in the key of Dm, using this tuning: aDADF. (thank you, Amazing Slow Downer) . That means the chords must be dropped down two half-steps
As far as I can tell, there are no other recordings of this tune. Nothing on YouTube, and nothing in the BHO jukebox. And no tabs. However, this is a BHO topic from last year: banjohangout.org/archive/177094.
Hopefully, someone plays this tune and will post a recording. And tell us how they play it.
Apparently, there's not much interest in this tune, but I can't stop playing it.
Some of the chords listed above are wrong, so I'll correct them for future Googlers who are trying to learn this tune. Here's a revised chord chart that (pretty much) shows the way Walt plays it. It may not be 100% accurate, but it's more accurate than what I posted earlier. The D part remains a mystery.
Start by strumming a B chord, then these parts...
AABC AD AC AB
Part A ====== Em/// Em/// Em/// Em/// Am/// Am/// Em/// B7/ B/ Em/// Em/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em///
Part B ====== B/// B/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// Em/// Em///
Part C ====== Am/// Am/// Em/// Em/// B7/// B7/// Em/// Em/// Am/// Am/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// B7/// B7///
Part D (??) ====== B/// B/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// Em/// Em/// B/// B/// B/// B///
Almost sounds as though there are some klezmer modes involved here. I got close to some portions of the tune, in standard G tuning, playing on the 4th and 1st string, trying to dampen or control the middle strings, and striking the 4th string (the "bum") while brushing the 1st string (the "ditty") -- with a chuck approach thrown in there.
Hey, J-Walk. I checked out the tune, loved it, downloaded it, and have had a bit of a go at learning it. I'm going to stick with G tuning and will let you know if I make any progress. I really like what little I've heard of Walt Koken's playing. I love how he combines chords and multi-string brushes with complex melodies. It isn't the either/or affair that it's sometimes made out to be. Nice selection. I'm inspired to do a TOTW now and will have to get myself on the schedule. --Paul
I will be interested to hear how you make out in G tuning. It seems like too many closed chord shapes for me. In Dm tuning, there are a lot more open strings that resonate and sound good. But I think that's contrary to Walt's style.
Also, check out his Banjo Ma'am on the same CD. It's a lot easier to play -- but playing it like he does is a major challenge.
I'm not a member, or whatever, so I couldn't reply. I have that tune tabbed out somewhere. It's about four pages long. I could convert it to a jpg, if you want to post it. Might not be able to do it until Monday or so. Let me know.
I'm working on a new banjo CD, and we have a new Orpheus Supertones CD coming out next week with Hilary Dirlam playing string bass on it.
I asked Walt to go ahead with the JPG version. I'll relay it to BHO when it arerives.
Walt Koken sent me tab and music for Sequoia Farewell today, with the intention of having it shared with BHO folks.
I have attached the music to my BHO “photo file” on my BHO member page – my handle is “brooklynbanjoboy.”
I have also attempted to embed them as attachments to this thread.
I will send copies to John “J-Walk” in case he can figure out a way to attach them in a manner that might be more user friendly.
Walt told me:
“I play it out of the G tuning in the key of E minor. It was inspired by then governor of California Ronald Reagan who was against the idea of saving the primordial redwood forests, and said “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”, a typical capitalist concept that by selling off the trees, the money could heal any irreversible damage.
I tried to give the tune a Spanish feel, and thus the minor key with the minor sixth (C) on top of the IV-7 chord (B7).
That gives it the tension of a diminished 7th, which repeats every 3rd fret.
It’s a bit out of the box for old time music, but obviously not out of the musical realm of the five string.”