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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Must know tunes

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aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 01/22/2019:  06:31:56

I was watching Jack Rays' Honeysuckle Rose video yesterday and he said this is a very common tune to be called at a jam session. Got me to wondering, what are the most likely tunes to be called for, that is, at a banjo jam. I'm thinking maybe a top ten list. Going to a workshop this year and I would like to be somewhat prepared.

malarz - Posted - 01/22/2019:  07:00:36 has a list of suggested tunes if you were to attend that camp. Seems to be a good starting point. Pops Coffee (don’t know the web address) has a book/blog with a list of about 40 tunes-to-know.

i think any list you see will have at least ten tunes which immediately jump out at you, Learn those since probably you already know the melody and basic structure well enough to put chords to. The easier the better. In my entire playing life I’ve never been to any type of music session where I knew more than half of the played tunes. Often less. If the chord changes are simple then after one or two go-rounds I can fake it well enough to make it appear I know the tune! 

malarz - Posted - 01/22/2019:  07:12:59

Or, you might want to get in touch with the instructors at the camp and ask for a suggested list of tunes which they plan to introduce.

BACONFAT - Posted - 01/25/2019:  11:00:56

Give Jim Bottorff's Banjo page a try.
He has chord charts and play along (audio) to most
of the common jam tunes.

Hope that helps!!

JRay136 - Posted - 01/25/2019:  20:05:03

Hey Mike,

That's a good question and thanks for watching the video! Those resources are a good starting place for sure! I think it's a little bit regional in terms of a lot of standards but there are a certain number of tunes that are common in every scene. There's a list from the Midwest Banjo Camp that is pretty good. I've been trying to make sure I have lessons and versions of all of them up but here it is for you to check out!

1) All of Me (C)
2) Avalon (F)
3) Back Home Again in Indiana (F)
4) Basin St. Blues (Bb)
5) Bye Bye Blackbird (F)
6) Bye Bye Blues (C)
7) Chinatown, My Chinatown (C)
8) Coquette (C) or (Eb)
9) Dinah (G or Ab or F)
10) Exactly Like You (C)
11) Honeysuckle Rose (F)
12) I Can't Give You Anything but Love (C or Eb or F)
13) I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (C or Bb)
14) It's a Sin to Tell a Lie (Bb or C)
15) Jada (F)
16) Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Bb)
17) Lady Be Good (F)
18) Lulu's Back in Town (Eb or F)
19) Margie (F)
20) Pennies from Heaven (C or Bb)
21) Please Don't Talk About me When I'm Gone (Bb)
22) St. Louis Blues (G or Bb or F)
23) Sweet Georgia Brown (F or Ab)
24) Sweet Sue (G)
25) The Sheik of Araby (Bb)
26) The World is Waiting for the Sunrise (C)
27) Tin Roof Blues (Bb)
28) Up a Lazy River (F)
29) Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (F)
30) When You're Smiling (C or Bb or Eb)

I would also add When The Saints Go Marching In (F), Bourbon Street Parade/Bill Bailey (Ab/F), Darktown Strutters Ball (Bb or C), On The Sunny Side of The Street (C), After You've Gone (Bb, C or G), Ain't Misbehavin' (Eb), Five Foot Two (Bb), China Boy (F), Some of These Days (F), Tiger Rag (Bb-Eb-Ab), I Found a New Baby (Dm), Everybody Loves My Baby (Dm), My Blue Heaven (Eb), I'll See You in My Dreams (F), Royal Garden Blues (F-Bb), 12th Street Rag (C or Eb)

Also as a banjo player I would say 'Midnight in Moscow' starting in C minor and being able to modulate up a few times. To be honest if I'm playing with a band for the first time they'll often ask me to do a version 'The World is Waiting for Sunrise', 'Bye Bye Blues' or 'China Boy' so it's a good idea to have version of those worked up.

In a banjo jam. There's almost a set of different tunes. For a top 10 in my experiences so far I would say
1) The World is Waiting for the Sunrise
2) China Boy and/or Chinatown
3) Bye, Bye Blues
4) 12th Street Rag
5) It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
6) Midnight in Moscow
7) Avalon
8) Waiting for the Robert E Lee (I've only heard this at Banjo jams to be honest)
9) Alabamy Bound and/or Alabama Jubilee
10) Nobody's Sweetheart Now

Anyway hope that helps some!

hobogal - Posted - 01/26/2019:  00:07:02

Thanks Jack, that's a very helpful list. I am trying to figure out what to learn as a beginner. It would be fun to play with other people but the only musicians I know locally play guitar, fiddle, harmonica - no brass. I think I will post a separate question on this so as not to hi-jack the thread.

Edited by - hobogal on 01/26/2019 00:07:48

malarz - Posted - 01/26/2019:  05:16:02

Thanks for that list. I’ll add that, as a beginner since I have not memorized these tunes, I try to download the sheet music into my ipad and take that to sessions. Or, paper printouts are good, too. Just a little more shuffling between tunes.


aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 01/26/2019:  10:40:30

Hey thanks Jack. Appreciate you taking the time to comment on this.
I'm registered for the Midwest Banjo Camp so that list is perfect.
I enjoy and get a lot of benefit from the videos you put up on you tube, keep up the good work.

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